As he entered Pat's room, he identified the sweet aroma: it was the after-shave Pat was wearing when they first met: Barry discovered later and to his consternation that it was an expensive one, too.
The bed was empty and neat. Pat was sitting in the bedside chair, where he had not sat for weeks. He was wearing his silk Chinese dressing gown, was freshly shaved and his hair had been smartly cut. He almost resembled his healthy self.
"What an old queen you are!"
Pat grinned. Then, biting his lower lip in concentration and effort, he raised his hand a little, pointing the outsize geriatric remote control towards the foot of the bed, at the television and VCR. Barry turned to look at the screen. There was a flicker, a brief snowstorm and then, in blue-tinged monochrome, Dusty Springfield appeared. There were the long black eyelashes, the backcombed peroxide hair, the long dress, the flowing hands and wrists. Dusty, in all her lesbian loveliness. 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me'. All she wanted was for you to be close at hand. She would understand, she sang, if you remained just for a while.
Barry looked back to Pat. He was looking up into Barry's face, mouthing the words, entreating Barry to believe him.
Barry found himself kneeling by his lover, clasping his hand. He lowered his head onto Pat's lap. From deep, deep down in Barry's gut, from some vast interior space, he felt a painful shift. It jolted up to his chest and stuck there. Then another internal movement displaced the first, pushing a knot the size of his fist upwards to his narrow throat and out into the air and light. He gave one great sob.
The guilt. The loss.
He could feel Pat's free hand on the back of his head. Pat was tapping in Morse: dot, dot. That's 'I'. Then dot, dash, dot, dot: 'L'. Then U, V and U. 'I LUV U.'