A friend told me a tale awhile back that captured my imagination. I’ve been turning it over in my head for months because I thought it had the makings of a great fictional story. I decided to write page one of my loose idea tonight. With great trepidation, here it is, hope you like it, but that’s just for my ego. The odds of getting to page two are pretty long.
I guess you could have called it a suicide note, though I never really thought of it that way until this moment. For years I thought of it as more of a successor to the letters sent from Roman prisons by Paul or to Martin Luther King’s letter from a Birmingham jail. It was the finest, most insightful writing I have ever known. It brought me to tears when I read it and it brings me to tears now just thinking of it. There was more truth in those six torn notebook pages, front and back in increasingly dull pencil lead, than in all the newspapers I have read. I cannot tell you what it said because to summarize in my own words would do him injustice. I cannot show you what it said either. For twenty years I carried around that letter in my wallet. When I needed comfort or inspiration, or when I wanted to just remember my friend I would take it out of my pocket and read it. But I got drunk one night and tried to share it with a girl I thought had soul and the bitch took it from me and lost it. I’m usually not wrong about people like I was that girl. Damn, I wish I still had that letter to show you. And no I don’t know why I never copied it; I think maybe I couldn’t bear to see the handwriting reproduced, something would have been lost in the translation.
Suicide note….yeah, that’s pretty much what it was. We had already drifted apart before they caught him and I blame myself even though I know in my mind I was not to blame. The heart, more precisely the soul sometimes knows more than the brain, and though it cannot answer how, it insists to me to this day that I could have kept him near. But he wanted excitement on a level that far exceeded hopping freight trains and getting high on the roof of the courthouse and posing as journalists to interview the Stones backstage at the Superdome. It was not for the money either, or the drugs; he cared not for the one and had access to all the other he could stand. I was not the only one who wanted him around all the time by a long shot. He did it so he could understand the books he read, to live the experiences he did not trust his imagination to comprehend. For enlightenment. He did it with full awareness that it would kill the boy, the young man we thought we knew. The thing is, getting caught and thrown in jail did not kill him, so he wrote that one last letter, got released on a technicality or a bribe and then left his old life behind and disappeared. On second thought, maybe it was not a suicide note. Maybe it was a lifeline. Did he entrust me with that letter, beautiful true words he would no longer possess so part of what he had been would not die when he cut all ties but would be forever preserved as his masterpiece? Was there a reason he kept the single thread of his prior life attached when all the rest were blown to bits? Hell he’s got me thinking everything is all my fault again and now that I don’t have the damn letter any more and he might have been relying on me to get it back to him some time….. I guess I’m gonna have to try to find him.