Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hymns to the Dead

You lot are dead. You know that, right?

Just grave dirt and food for the worms. Dead. Not coming back. Haven't you haunted me long enough, spiraling together in my memories? Yeah, yeah, I know. I don't write enough. But you want a story? Fine, then. Fair enough.

It was gray, that November. I remember it clearly. Every morning looked like god was about to piss upon the world; it was just ugly. Sometimes, when I take my late night walks, the clouds clutch at the stars and the sky and it still looks like that. Gray and hollow.

We were all young then, you know? We thought we'd entered the best time of our short little lives. Christ, it's a decade and I still remember my mother telling me that. “Your teens will be the best time of your life. You'll look back fondly on them.”

What a load of horse-shit. She died first. And yes, I'm talking about you. It was less than a month later. Tied a shoe-string around her neck in the bathroom and sat down. Passed out in the steam that lifted up, up, up. Like her vacating soul. We buried her in a pristine white coffin, the soil and grass damp and wet, and the sky still that ugly gray. Still looking like God might start pissing on us again at any moment. There was no blue sky above; nothing at all to mark the occasion except for that exceptionally white coffin meant to convey her purity to her Catholic parents. They found the suicide letters she'd been writing about her drunkard father and 'perfect' sister a week later. She'd been writing them for years; there were stacks of them. One of her drawers practically filled to the brim.

Can't imagine what that does to you; losing a sister, and then discovering she loathed you because she could never live in your shadow. I guess being a fuck-up has perks; you never have to go through that. Anyway, after that it becomes a blur. I remember the first ritual, and the nightmares. I remember the hate and the rage. But I remember the first real fight of my life, the way the world became a crimson-haze and the feeling of my fists pounding into soft flesh. I don't remember much else except that I wanted the world to end.

But I remember the Reaper dogging my steps, one step behind me, every day for the next four years. It was like because I'd decided I didn't feel like dying just yet, after all there were people who had to be tormented for contributing to my loss, then someone else had to go. One soul a year for the next four years.

It ended with Casey. Maybe he was the best of us. Maybe. He should've been a Rock Star, the way all teenage boys want to be. I remember sitting in my boxers and surfing the 'net when I found out. My parents had ditched me for three months for a sojourn to my stepfather's native land of Peru. I was utterly alone, except for Tyler standing in my doorway. He had this silly grin on his face, which made it all seem more real, as he told me to 'tuck it in, because...' Because I didn't want to be dangling out of my pants when he told me? Yeah. It was abysmally hot. Fresno summers always are. Anyway, I wasn't dangling out of my pants. I'd been listening to music and trying to forget that I was alone in that huge house for another month.

See, ol' Casey had been something else. He was dating this young jailbait teenage girl; sweet girl, don't get me wrong. And she gets in this fight with her old man. Casey, being the brilliant and romantic fuck that he was, decides he'll cheer her up. He drives her down to the Golden Gate bridge and they take pictures together. On the drive back he falls asleep at the wheel because the silly fuck probably hasn't slept in three days. The truck flips. She dies instantly. He clings on for the next day, the 4th of fucking July, and passes on.

We don't bury him in a coffin; ol' Casey gets incinerated. Which is how I'd prefer to go. They give him the most atrocious fucking service ever to make his mother feel better. Doubting Thomas. If I bite the dust with my ambivalence towards the creator remaining, someone had best make sure that never fucking happens.

And being that I've been to too many funerals; people say the funniest shit at them. Like: it wasn't his or her time. Like we fucking understand time, mundane or Angelic. Like we fucking understand anything except that one day we, too, will fucking die. It wasn't their time? How the fuck would you know. You're a fucking monkey with special thumbs just like I am. Shut your fucking mouth. It wasn't their time. What a load of shit.

With Casey, I lose sight of the Reaper for a bit. I still hear that laughter in my dreams sometimes, though. The same laughter that tells you that you're not in the clear yet. And there's this Tower coming on in the same dreams. Looming above. Man-in-black standing there with his book and asking, “son, you ready to die?”

Yes, sir. 'Bout as ready as I've ever been. Always been ready, I have. Been in love with a dead girl for so long that I don't quite remember which part of her was real. What I made up, what I fantasized, what actually happened. It's all a myth now and I'm quite aware of it.

But yeah, we all thought it was gonna be golden. That it'd be the time of our lives. And instead there was grave dirt and worm food and hate and disgust. Unending disgust. You wake up, years later, and realize you've been having the same dream for nigh five years and these fuckers; yeah, you fuckers, are haunting your memory.

Well, you lot can stay dead, I say. I was clever and walked out, see. No time for the Dead, when you are one of them and just can't shake it. It's not something you just walk off, being the dead among the living.

And high above there's those stars, with that same pissing gray shade of clouds clinging close and blocking out the light. Come to the light, they tell me. Seek the light, they tell me. The fuck did they know, anyway? Like they ever saw that blinding light and those burning wheels... Like they ever knew, ever felt it.

And the little jagged pieces leave such strange scars... I tell ya, you dead folks, it's real weird to be amongst you again. Thought I'd left this all behind. Maybe it was the half-mad Brit... Maybe it was some conjuration gone wrong. But that severing, that break apart, long after the Tower came down... It still haunts me. Ol' Babel's always coming down, I guess.

Well, at least it's with folks I know. Could always be worse. Could be alone again and haunted by some red-haired girl and not raven-haired angels. Been a decade of this so far, anyway... And I still miss you all every day. So how about telling me how this place of forgetting has been for you, 'eh?”

- Unsent Letter. January 12th, 2008. Signed: Jack.

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