First heard this from a movie where the music is far more important. The faces don't matter, nor do the names. The clip here is chosen because the voice echoes in the brain when the headset is on.
Once this was put on auto-repeat for the transition from home to work, while heading into the Rising Sun's default mode. Tried to do it justice by following along, repeating every line, again and again. One day…I'll get there. Of that, I'm certain. Maybe even see it coming.
He told me something about the Default and the Playa where people burn effigies of The Man…
When we were kids, we used to have a “what if” conversation that went like this:
Him: So, you’re walking down the street and someone hands a slice of cheese. What do you do?
Me: You eat it.
Him: No! You say ‘Thank you.’
He was right. I could never figure that out. Intent always seemed to rule out over manners and mindfulness. How could I not think of other people?
He asked honest questions and gave honest answers.
Once, he was riding on the back of a moped. When the scooter hit an oil slick, the good lad instinctively tried to cradle her head, Number 9’s. Even though he wasn't near being old enough for a license, he was the kind of young man who would do that, the 'right thing' for the girl (usually at his expense). Number 9 was fine, so that was all and well. Thank god for leather jackets and combat boots serving more than a function of faux-intimidation or deterrence...
But when I asked myself what I would have done, the uneasy feeling was all that was there. Instinctively? I would have tried to save myself before I could think about it. And then probably wished I was dead.
We hadn’t seen each other in well over a decade, not since he’d had a barrel pushed in his face and thought it was time to just get the hell out of Dodge. He’d just been back from The Playa and just happened to be up in my neighborhood, half on business. The Internet had only reconnected us a few years before. I found him being incredibly private. Working around computers, data, uber-geeks, engineers, and all that information…some people don’t want to be around those kinds of machines when they get home. Not even a TV.
(No need for anyone to listen unless lots of time on hand)
We had a good time talking about everything, just like we had before. Only this time, things were a little different. We could look back on life, remember, and fill in the details about how messed up things were. He could remember everything, like it was yesterday (probably because he'd written it all down).
He'd dropped out of school so he could work, save up, and get out.
Didn’t really miss a thing.
After going back to Japan, I learned that he was dying. Fortunately, his insurance was unlike what most people can dream of affording. Some companies do take care of their people (at least while you are with them). He had to be fattened up before going under the very accurate machine that was actually part of him…he laughed, “Part of me is in that, I helped make that at the last company I was with. Just wish it would give me super powers or something.”
Funny how he could laugh, at least until it got bad and he couldn’t talk. And still, he went to work for most of it. What he couldn’t do was take pain killers. He was one of the unfortunate few who didn’t have a system that anything would have worked on.
Still, he had a hell of a support network, part of which included a gesture I had no idea about until after the ordeal. The Cardinal was throw-away merchandise no one wanted (dirt-cheap). I’d sent it as a joke. That’s how our humor was. Off-beat and never what you'd think. Over a year later, an image arrived, snail mail.
|"Dear Will, Living Large. Sincerely, The Cardinal"|
Note: Apparently, 'The Cardinal' turned out to be a perfect distraction, maybe similar to a Vodun fetish. I can only imagine what they did to him...but I don't want to go there as my taste for AC/DC is strictly limited to music.
Before it was his turn to almost die, we talked about the one who did. She was sort of like Queen of the Misfits. Pretty enough to turn heads and get the drooling cowboy hats riled up enough to want to "just have a little fun" with the kids around her. Either that or drive up, pull out the ol' S&W, call you a freak, just to fuck with you (all in good humor). Teach 'em a lesson. Yeeehaw!
No one wanted that kind of attention. Most of us just wanted freedom. And a few of us learned a thing or two about surviving…not like that was really a choice. Fortunately, when we were actually old enough to drive, things changed for the better.
In his near-dead condition, he had an epiphany (think that's what they call them):
"I never thought I'd say this, but you know what?
I want to make a lot of money so I can do things.
Isn't that funny?
I realized that while I was almost gone."
Fortunately, he survived and is doing well. He was lucky. Cancer didn't get him.
Cancer got the Queen. She is remembered as such because she’d once painted a queen bee in a chamber being gassed with WHY at the bottom. It was almost as if she had painted her fate. She could be a real mean sometimes. Last time we'd talked, she'd effectively told me to 'fuck off'... 'cause that's the way she was. Hell, we were just kids.
I never made it back for the funeral, but a lot of the other people did. They never talked like they wanted to. They’d all been through
shit stuff, but kept the meeting clean, out of respect for the parents’ of the deceased. In a lot of ways, growing up fast has a way of holding people back when they get older, almost like something's missing.
And we weren’t even into our thirties when it started. In the end, the one who said ‘life is for learning’ also passed along this gem with regard to what we’ve all got to look forward to. The message goes something like this:
Losing people... it comes with the territory as part of life.
As you get older, this is something that will start to happen more often.
"So, why that Ralph Stanley clip at the beginning?"
Didn't really know why till I listened to it again and saw all those faces. He'd always said that he had wanted to be a mortician. As fate would have it, he ended up assisting in the birthing of the very technology that has kept him away from undertaking.
(The Last Wake just happens to be the title of the next post on the menu, featuring our late great-granduncle 'Yo' - in his early days)