I entered stage right. Dead silence echoed through the room followed by the low ruckus of my footsteps that filled the air of the nearly empty auditorium, as I walked towards the center of the stage. I looked out at the coward. The seats were mainly occupied of familiar faces. Faces that displayed woe. All eyes on me, I know the audience is dying to hear what I have to say. I look at the coffin behind me, and the man that lies inside it. I raised my wine glass as I clear my throat in a desperate act to extend time.
“What can I say that hasn’t already been said?” I said.
What can I say?
“Loved by many and hated by few,” this, of course, was half true.
Hated by few and loved by fewer.
Someone in the audience whimpered. I felt the pressure one gets, not from preforming a public speech, from having to debate about speaking kindly about one or being honest.
“You know, I met Tony back in college. He had just gotten out of a relationship and his mother just died,” I laughed to loosen the tension then took a sip of my drink.
“Some year. But you know, I think that’s when he found his true self. Ha. It’s funny, I still remember him approaching me one day and saying ‘I don’t care anymore. I’m fucking done. I can’t do anything right.’ And I said, ‘Tony, if at first you don’t succeed try and try again.’ Sure, he killed himself but the most important part is he stuck through it.”
I waited for a reaction. There was none. I stared at my drink for an infinite second. Jesse would’ve loved that joke.
I looked behind me again in hopes that maybe his death was some over extended prank. It wasn’t. You selfish bastard. I took another sip of my drink. I’m going to need a new glass soon.
“He was one heck of a guy. A bit on the lazy side but nonetheless one heck of a guy.”
Should I speak the truth?
What is the truth?
“The truth is,” there is a slur in my speech.
I requested another drink. I only hope the drink gets here before my buzz goes away, and the realization of my words starts to make sense. I paused for a while before saying anything else.
“Um… I wrote a poem that I thought I should preform on stage. You know how Jesse had a thing for the theatricals.”
I shuffled through my back pocket with my right hand, searching for the crumpled piece of paper, while trying to keep my drink balanced with the left. Not in my right butt, perhaps the left cheek. Nope. Maybe I put it in my other pockets. No. I constantly checked each pocket in hopes that maybe it will magically appear. I proceeded doing this action of feeling on myself for two minutes. I did it in such a smooth motion you would think I was dancing.
“Well it seems I can’t find, but that’s okay because I have it memorized,” this was a lie.
My new drink finally arrived. I gulped the reaming drops I was rationalizing, and place the empty wine glass aside and raised the new one. Okay here we go, time to improvise.
“Oh… how my heartaches cause it ended,
but thrives cause… it happen!
He was old and young…
Now he’s dead.“
I let out a long sigh and spaced out for a movement, staring at the lifeless crowd that appeared deader than the body behind me.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t ready for this. I don’t think any of us were. The last time I heard from Tony was three weeks ago, maybe. We talked on the phone about the last eight months since we last talked. He sounded okay, I guess. He didn’t sound suicidal but to be honest I don’t know what suicidal sounds like. If it sounds like the voice of a tranquil mind then I can only assume we are all feeling suicidal.
“When we talked he had told me he had finally moved out of his parents and to Hollywood. He’d always talked about moving to Hollywood – he talked about a lot of things; the past, the future, but never the present. To him Hollywood was everything. It was where people went to turn their dreams into reality. It was where anyone can become someone. He saw it as a glamorous place built for and by perfectionists. A pretty white lie that covered it’s monstrous truth with a fake surgically placed smile.”
I finished whatever wine was left in my glass and placed it on the ground.
“The truth is Tony was a dreamer. He had everything that characterized a dreamer inspiration, motivation, determination. He always believed that you should never do anything unless you’re happy doing it… But in this world dreamers don’t make it too far in life, for life is filled with undesirable things that we must do to get by. I think he realized this day he moved to California. The reality of the city was too much for him and it ate him alive. Hollywood consumed every daydream fantasy he had for himself; because it’s not the people who inspire things but the money behind it that drives it all, and money was the one thing he didn’t have.
“During our last conversation, he talked about the progress he made with the movie script he was working on, and all the deals he was getting from different ‘movie agencies’. ‘I’m getting overwhelmed by all the different offers,’ he said. ‘I may just pick the one lets me direct the film.’ I responded with gratitude for at the time I believed it to be true. He elaborated the plot of the script to me. A kid with a dream cliche. The story wasn’t bad but there is an old saying about movies, ‘if you see one then you seen them all.’ Nowhere during our last talk did he hint his depression, his money problems, his drug and alcohol addition. He hid that as well anyone could with a fake smile.
“Tony’s death wasn’t a suicide. It was a murder.”
I turned around one last at time and said my final goodbyes to a friend, and exited stage left.