I had an interesting visit today. From Sebastian.

He was in a wheelchair, unable to walk, and was terribly jaundiced. He had a blanket across his legs and Joy, Liz’s cat, was curled up into a ball beneath his yellowed hands. Before he arrived I was informed that Sebastian’s survival was still in question. I had done tremendous damage to his body when I gave him the extra dose of morphine. I hadn’t meant for all of that to happen, but it did. And now it was time to face the music.

“Hello David,” he began, wheeling his chair next to mine. I was seated at a table and he pulled up next to me, but not very close. “I trust you are well.”

I figured my best bet was to come clean right away. “Sebastian, I…”

“Let us not begin with your apology,” he interrupted. “That would be too quick, I think.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, determined to input that much at least.

“Sorry?” he asked. Joy stirred, but didn’t move other than to twitch one ear.

“I shouldn’t have done….”

“What you have done cannot be ignored, David. I nearly died. I may still. A price must be paid.”

“I understand. When we return home I will turn myself over the police.”

“No!” He slammed his hand down on the table. I jumped. Sebastian’s eyes were like claws, pulling me back into the conversation. “I love Elisabeth too much to take you from her again.”

“At this point, I’m not sure Liz will care much about whether or not I’m around.” I slumped in my chair.

“Are you still so selfish?” He was whispering, almost to himself, but angrily. “Will nothing teach you?”

“Selfish?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I’m willing to pay for what I’ve done.”

“No. You are not. You are willing to be punished. Paying for your crimes requires something altogether different.”

“What, then?” I asked.

“You must become better.”

“What are you talking about, Sebastian?”

“I will give you your life back. I have already paid for your crimes personally. I pay for your life with my own. But there is a condition.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“You must be a better father than you were a friend. Because I love Elisabeth I do this for you. Because I once loved you like a brother, I do this for myself, that I might have some hope of enjoying brotherhood again. But it will always be different for us. For her. But for the boy, there is a chance that his father will always be a man of nobility. Become that man.”

And with that, my fragile French friend backed his chair away from the table and made for the door. He slapped his hand once against the wall and an armed guard opened the door from the outside. Joy slipped off his lap and ran off. He turned, to say one last thing. “Start now.”

And then he was gone.