1506 c/o Barry Basden

May 1506

Columbus woke in the early morning hours needing to void again for the third time that night. He swung his feet to the floor and rested a moment before trying to stand. His knees hurt so bad he hadn't been able to lower himself onto the chamber pot for months, unable to rise again once he sat. Instead, he hobbled to the window and urinated into the flower bed. The burning sensation as his urine dribbled out almost made him gasp. He stood straining for several minutes. Finally he gave up with a weary sigh and shuffled back to bed, his bladder still half full.

Columbus was a wealthy man at last, but what good was all the gold his holdings in the New World earned if his body betrayed him. He lay awake thinking back over his trips to Hispaniola, especially the first one, into the unknown, when some thought he might sail his three ships right off the edge of the earth. What exciting days they were, despite the hardships. And the Indian woman he'd lain with. How fine she'd been. But even she abandoned him when the troubles came and he was arrested.


His reverie ended when dawn sent its weak light into the room and he readied himself mentally to face another day. He wished he were young and strong again. He'd even make the same mistakes. What did it matter? He could no longer read his accounts or oversee his businesses and had to trust that his son would not cheat him, but he didn't really care. His wealth could buy him nothing of value anyway.

The old man struggled to rise but a sudden pain made him gasp and he lay back. He tried to inhale but it felt as if an elephant were sitting on his chest. He clutched at his night shirt and his head flailed from side to side but he could not budge the oppressive weight. After a few moments a blood vessel burst in his eye and he ceased to struggle and turned his head toward the window for one final look at the reddening Spanish sky.