I notice the odd looks the moment I get out of the cab.
I live in one of the hippest communities in New York City Ė a place most folks would kill for but is so exclusive, murder is not an option Ė eternal youth is.
Fortunately modern science provides for us where Mother Nature fails and I am wealthy to have received an implant when I was still in my teens.
I donít understand the frown until I get up into my co-op and see the wrinkles.
Iím only 101 for Christís sake!
Iíve heard people at 200 sometimes showing signs of wrinkles, but no one at my age.
So I plug in and check the small screen that verifies my worst fears: implant malfunction.
Iím in a panic.
I call Phil and leave a message, saying I canít make it for our usual drinks.
The last person I need seeing me in this condition is Phil.
He and I bet when we got our implants on which of us would out live the other.
The one who wins inherits the otherís fortune.
I always figured I would never die and that someone somewhere would come up with an implant that would defy death itself so that neither one of us would lose the bet.
So I call the doctor, begging for him to see me right away.
Itís life or death, I tell him, little realizing everybody says that to avoid the weeks of waiting.
I also do not yet realize how true it is this time.
A pair of sunglasses hides the worse of the damage, though before putting them on I noticed that the wrinkles seem even worse than a moment earlier.
I tell myself, Iíll be all right; all I need is a minor adjustment.
I get to the doctor and he tells me the implant is failing and that it canít be replaced.
It happens from time to time, he says.
When it does, a person rapidly reverts to his real age Ė then dies.
I see Ė the examination room mirror Ė the wrinkles spreading across my face like a brush fire.
This isnít fair.
Old age isnít supposed to pop in on a person like this.
I counted a living another 200 years at lease.
Worse, I can hear Philís mocking laugh in my head and I want to murder him for it.
The doctor says I could try some of the alternative therapies such as surgery or drugs.
He gives me the address of a local clinic.
I hurry out, and oddly enough see Phil in the waiting from.
He pretends not to see me even though I know he does.
This is a relief.
The clinic hands me more bad news.
The surgery, which might slow the implant deterioration, wonít work with me.
So Iím stuck with drugs.
This means I wonít grow older at a rapid rate, but I wonít revert to my younger self.
Except for plastic surgery, Iím stuck with the wrinkles I have and those can expect to get worse over the next few years.
But what will I do with my life?
Where will I live or work.
My co opt will toss me out at the first sight of my wrinkles.
My boss wonít want an old dodger like me handling his accounts.
The clinic assures me that places exist for people like me, communities designed to handle an aging population.
It shocks me to learn that implant failures are more common than any of the manufacturers let on.
With no other options left to me, I make the move Ė only to find Phil living there already.
As sad as my situation is, Philís presence makes me feel better.
Heís still not sure which one of us will bite the dust first, and Iím glad.
Then one morning with my back feeling as if someone has broken it over night, I get up and seek out Phil only to find his room empty.
At first, Iím elated.
I outlasted that son of a bitch after all.
I think about his vast wealth and make plans for it.
Iíll be able to keep up my treatments and maybe hold off the inevitable for a little longer.
Eventually, the truth seeps in.
Phil was my best friend and I miss him already.
Life just isnít the same without him Ė especially since I always thought we would spend eternity together, forever young, and not rotting in our graves.