No-Accounts: How the Novel Came to Be (7)

No-Accounts ends with a true story, disguised as fiction. After Peter’s death, Martin is despondent. His team leader, Mort, comforts him and tells him that another AIDS patient is awaiting his help. Martin demurs, saying he’s not ready; he’s not sure he can face another death. Mort tells him that the patient requested Martin by name. It turns out to be a friend of Peter’s. Martin reluctantly accepts the assignment and begins his second stint as an AIDS buddy.

That’s precisely how I was assigned my second patient. I went through the same routine five more times until I put aside being a buddy and went on to work on other causes.

My team leader was not named Mort, but he died a year or two later from AIDS. In his honor, I named Martin’s team leader Mort. The dictionary meaning of the name is “a note sounded on a hunting horn when a deer is killed.” It is also the French word for “death.” As I have done so often in my fiction, I chose a personal name with symbolic overtones.

Last year, the Eric Hoffer Awards recognized No-Accounts. But the greatest honor I received came from the author Juris Jurjevics, who wrote a recommendation for No-Accounts that moved me deeply:

“Tom Glenn lived his novel seven times as a volunteer assisting HIV infected men to die. This is fiction taken from life written by a hero who accompanied the terminally ill as far as any mortal could, devoting himself body and soul to their comfort and helping them make their exit with dignity. It is one man’s story of committing unconditionally to another. A love story like no other, it is uplifting and wrenching and rewarding beyond measure.”

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