I had to try one more time. As I approached Rob’s Douglas Hall room, I could feel the heat coming from his sickened body. He was dehydrated and vomiting. My poor friend had that terrible Kaiser roll disease.
But he would not take medicine or food. Rob barely drank water. I even offered him a beer once. For the first time in his life, he declined. The virus was eating at him and I had to try one more time.
“Hi, Rob,” I said. He merely grunted. “I have some food here for you. Some Jell-O, a bologna sandwich and some leftover pizza from the cafe …”
“Ah, cafeteria pizza,” he interrupted in his strongest whispering voice. “Please, put that on my desk. Let it live.”
There he went again. Let it live. Let the virus live. Peace, love and death for all.
This “let it live” was becoming his death knell. Being a true lover of every living creature, he wanted his Kaiser roll viruses to live, multiply and be happy. Eating food and drinking water would only kill the poor creatures. He made the argument that there was only one of him and millions of those cute little viruses. Rob wanted to become the martyr for the new metropolis growing inside his body.
“Rob,” I said. “This has got to stop. They are only viruses. Stupid, brainless viruses who care about nothing but eating your insides.”
“Stupid to you,” Rob said. “But who are you and I to make that decision? Are we God? I think not. You cannot expect me to wipe out an entire population of innocent viruses who do not know any better. I could never sleep at night knowing I have robbed my soul of all morality.”
I opened a pill bottle I brought. “Here, at least take some aspirin,” I pleaded.
But he rejected with a weak push of his hand. “I will not. Aspirin will only aid the massacre. Those others who eat, drink and get well in two days will go to hell. But I will not compromise …” Rob vomited in the garbage can next to me. “Sorry. But like I said, I will not compromise my ideals.”
“What kind of ideals are those!” I screamed while he cringed and covered his ears. “What kind of ideals will you have when it’s all over? I’ll tell you what kind. You will have ideal stiffness, coldness and whiteness. Yes, you will be ideally dead!”
I broke down and cried. My friend, after removing his hands from his ears, patted me on the head.
“It’s all right. I don’t expect you to understand. I am doing what I feel I have to do. You see, I talk to my viruses. We are friends, and I am at peace with myself. After talking to one and looking one in the eye, it’s like … well, like I know them. Tell me, could you look even a virus in the eye and kill it?”
That was it. I gave up. Obviously, the virus had gotten to his brain.
Rob is still living now, but barely. The viruses are continuing to multiply, and I guess in a way he is happy about it. He still talks to the viruses. One time, he even wrote me a letter. It said, “I’m going to marry one.” He asked me if I wanted to go to the reception.