It seems like everything makes me want to cry these days. Everything. Either because it's too damn sad or too damn beautiful. Or maybe I'm just too goddamn morose. Anyway, it's always there.
I'm off to yet another funeral Friday. Forty-three years old. Third heart attack, or so I hear. I'm heading that way too and I know it, but it still ain't enough to steer me off that track. I'm smoking a cigarette right now and drinking a beer and hoping to god I can get enough sleep tonight that when I grind my teeth in the office tomorrow it won't be because of the thing that finally makes me take a fire axe to my goddamn computer and call it a day. I'll probably eat a cheeseburger.
These people, they always die of something. Not old age, but something. Drugs, suicide, murder, murder-suicide, AIDS, cancer...
Knowing them, it makes you wonder how you're
going to end up. And how much you'll leave unfinished. I'm always worried that for me, it'll be a half-read book. If there's an afterlife, I'll have to wander the globe searching for someone reading that book so my spook can finish it over their shoulder before i can ascend, or whatever.
But what if there's a nuclear war and no one reads books anymore?
A long time ago, I used to run with Dan Gaubatz. He was like no one I'd met before or since. "Puckish," his ex-girlfriend told the papers, and it suited. I was 15, he was about 20, a Swarthmore student and budding comedian. I don't know why he ever put up with me, but he did. There was nothing I could realistically offer, no angle for him. Dan didn't need one. He was that kind of guy. Used to let me crawl in his kitchen window and crash on his couch if I needed to. Cooked me dinner. Never touched a drop except on his 21st birthday, when he had a couple beers. No drugs, no nothing. Bike messenger. To this day, I can't drink Red Stripe without thinking of him.
His roommate found him "unresponsive" in his bed one night. His big, stupid heart gave out, something about a busted valve. He had either just been engaged, or soon would be. They put a few ropes up on the campus in his honor, near the dorms, with a plaque about his "playful nature" or some such gibberish. Like that was supposed to help.
At the funeral, I wore a torn black rain coat and felt like a damn fool. A girl I barely knew kept weeping and dabbing her eyes with this hideous glob of tissue and saying a sentence over and over to me, but I couldn't understand her. I didn't care what she was saying - I just wanted to bend her over a pew and show her what life was all about. Death does funny things to people. It's always made me want to screw, which, obviously, is the opposite of death.
I later found out she was trying to tell me that his parents wanted me to have his bike. A Cannondale, top of the line. The same one he used as a bike messenger. I used it to run drugs either to or from my house.
Some scumbag later stripped it for parts in Richmond. I don't know what ever happened to the frame. I still have the gears the cops recovered, but that doesn't seem like enough.
Maybe I'll do something with them one day, something artsy that he'd like.
Yeah, and maybe I won't be found "unresponsive" one day, too.
Still, it's nice to dream.