I am sorry, dear reader.
This story is incredibly sad.
Like . . . Torchwood sad.
Like Artax in the swamp of sadness sad.
It is sad for multiple reasons.
But it is living in my heart . . . in my brain . . . in my soul.
I HAVE to write it.
I have to get it out.
I tried to write this a hundred dozen times, but always put it aside.
A large reason I couldn’t write it is because my own life is in turmoil and I am floundering in a dark teal sea of scattered broken promises and floating violet glass shards of broken dreams.
Another reason I keep putting this story off is because it’s morphed into different events across three time periods. The story changed as life was happening.
And the last reason —
and one of the reasons I’m writing this prologue
(the first being to warn you this story is SAD)
the last reason is —
I am going to piss a few people off.
People I love dearly.
But do I stay silent in order to avoid hurt feelings?
(A voice in the back of my brain shrills:
“Does anybody give A FLYING FUCK about my feelings?”)
Or do I type about the pain in order TO GET IT OUT OF MY BRAIN AND HEART and possibly connect with and uplift someone else going through this same thing?
I do the second.
So here it is.
I called out the greeting as I walked in the archway of the room.
Suzie didn’t answer.
Of course she didn’t.
I stood at the top of the stairs of a large living room, surveying the contents.
I ignored the urn at the far corner for the time being.
Suzie collected amazing things. Nostalgic things. Creepy things. Colorful things. Retro things.
Now she was collecting dust at the corner of the room.
There was a video I shot with Suzie several years ago with a joke about dust. It was funny then. It’s funny now.
Suzie was funny.
This scenario is not.
A eyeballed a gold glitter dress made of pine branches wrapped around a mannequin — clearly a Christmas decoration.
It was March 14th.
“David won’t take down the Christmas decorations,” I called across the room. “It makes him too fucking sad.”
Next to the mannequin was a 50’s pink bar. I ran my eyes over the items neatly displayed across and beside the bar as I talked. “I asked him if he wanted me to help him put anything away, but he doesn’t.” A Donnie and Marie Osmond record player. A plastic group of barn animals with Santa hats and hinges in their jaws stared at me. They’ll probably sing if I press the button. I didn’t press the button. “I’ll bet he keeps all the Christmas decorations out until next year.”
A teal candle with gold stars. A statue proclaiming “WELCOME to Fabulous LAS VEGAS.” A slot machine. A clock with dice for numbers. A pink . . . is that an ashtray with a brain in the middle of it? “Of course, Monkey is knocking over the little trees in the hallway display.” A fake plant. More candles. “David said Monkey became extremely clingy the night you died.” A stack of tie-dyed pillows. “The question is, did you tell Monkey to give him extra affection?” My eyes moved around the room. A wall hanging of a forest landscape with a painted Pac Man chasing painted ghosts hung above the sofa. “Did you possess Monkey and that’s actually you walking around the house, knocking over tiny Christmas trees?” A toy card dealer with a set of dice. “Or does he just sense David is different and needs more love now?”
A bookshelf full of movies and games. Suzie introduced me to Plants Vs. Zombies years ago. “Do you remember that concert we went to that we almost got thrown out of?” White curtains with retro pink and green geometric shapes scattered across them. “You wanted to go because Pam Tillis was singing a solo with the choir, and the conductor was stupid-ass weirdly conducting with her hand held up like a claw and she would wave it at the choir like she was clutching for them . . .” More candles. More fake plants. “. . . and I leaned over during one of the songs and whispered dramatically, ‘Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains,’ and you laughed so hard you damn near fell out of your chair and people in the audience gave us disapproving stares. . .” A black and grey pillow with Halloween images on it. A brightly colored throw blanket. “And then we ran into Pam in the bathroom during intermission and she said something friendly to us and you were super happy and when the lights went down again and the conductor stood up with her claw hand we both burst into muffled snorts of laughter and so many people were mad at us and I was convinced we’d get tossed out but we didn’t.” A huge abstract painting of – was that Jesus? – in large brushstrokes and crazy paint colors on the wall.
“Of course you remember that moment. I’m sure you remember every moment.” A spinning wheel. An electric guitar. “They are all crashing down on me lately.” A fake fur blanket. A basket of game controllers. “But what do you care?” A tiny tuba. Some sort of award trophy thing. “You fucking left us all.” A weird calm floated across the room, and I felt this overwhelming idea that it was just her time to go. “BULLSHIT!!” I screamed, turning toward the urn I had been speaking to but ignoring the whole time. “FUCKING BULLSHIT!!” I felt tears well in the corners of my eyes. The calm energy stayed in the room. I wasn’t surprised. Suzie had spent her life looking at the other side and bringing messages to people in this one. I didn’t have an ounce of her talent, but I have empathic abilities. I didn’t know if that was why I could sense her, or if she was just that strong. Whatever it was, the calm in the room was making me angrier. I tripped over a guitar case on the floor.
“Do you remember,” I began, working hard to keep my voice even, “that first psychic fair you went to? I was working for you at your booth. I loved doing that. I jokingly called it pimping you out,” A pile of crystals. A pile of, was that feathers? “I’d sign people up for tarot cards and reiki sessions with you, and you’d do the sessions. It was hella fun. I love the atmosphere of those metaphysical fairs. The colors, the trinkets, the crystals, the people, the energy . . .you know, like this room. . .” Two white retro chairs. A crazy geometric patterned floor rug. Red blankets. Zebra-striped throw pillows. “I bought a malachite heart from a vendor there, and I got a past-life reading from one of the psychics. It was really cool. You got a reading from one of the most popular psychics the last day of the fair.” Purple candles. Sandelwood incense. A wooden clock. “I remember you came out of the reading and was kinda dazed. Said she’d given you so much information you’d need awhile to process it.” A little wooden man. A large Alice in Wonderland with a Cheshire Cat on her shoulder. “You said she told you that you’d be very successful in later years with your new psychic medium business.” I studied another award on the wall. “She was right.” A framed card. “Of course, you know that.” A large carousel music box with horses. “But you told me something that is stupid creepy now.” A vintage silver record player.
“You told me that the psychic told you how and when you were going to die.”
A gold fake vintage microphone. “When I gasped and asked you what she said, you looked away and said you were still trying to process it all.” A wire outline wall hanging of a guitar. “I never asked you again and you never told me.” A little alien. She had a ton of aliens. Most of her alien collection was in the back room with David’s recording equipment.
What in the world was David going to do with all her aliens?
I sat down on the fireplace hearth next to her urn and stared at a life-sized bust of Elvis, complete with a full wig. “Did she tell you that you were going to die of a terrible virus because you would buy into the bullshit that it wasn’t real and refuse to get the vaccine?” I curled my legs to my chest and wrapped my arms around them. “DID SHE?!” I screamed at Elvis. “AND IF SHE DID, AND IF YOU WOULD’VE TOLD ME, WOULD I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO REMIND YOU ABOUT THAT MOMENT AND CONVINCE YOU TO GET THE GODDAMN FUCKING SHOT??!?” I briefly envisioned swinging my left arm forward and hurtling the pretty mosaic urn off the hearth – shattering it in a million pieces.
I buried my face in my knees.
I sat like that for forever.
“BRRRR-RAWWRRRaaaarrr?” I felt a headbutt on my right ankle. I looked up, startled.
“Hello, Monkey,” I told the beautiful fluffy black cat.
I reached my hand out, and Monkey ran his head under it. He planted his two front paws on the side of my leg and gently extended his claws, starting to make bread.
“OUCH.” I reached under his soft underbelly, detached him from my leg, and pulled the cat close to me. He curled in the small space between my chest and my bent legs, purring. I laid my forehead on the top of his head, spilling tears over his fur. He let me.
Tired of yelling at Suzie, I focused on Monkey. “I was there the night she found you, you know,” I told him, my nose buried in his sweet-smelling fur. He purred louder. “You were a baby – a tiny little kitten. A group of teenagers had found you at a car wash.” Why was I telling my dead friend’s cat a story? “Suzie and I used to meet at the grocery story up off 40 highway, and one of us would leave a car there and we’d carpool into Nashville together.” He extended his front claws again and started to make bread on my arm. “One night when I was dropping her back off at her car, there sat this group of teenagers with a stray kitten they’d found.” I lifted my head and wiped my face with my sleeve. Monkey turned a circle and settled back into my lap. “That kitten was you. She named you Monkey because . . .” I looked at a Monkee’s lunchbox. “Well, I always supposed it was because of her favorite band, but it might’ve just been you were a little terror as a kitten.” I wiped my sleeve across my face.
“Did you know how Suzie and I met?” Monkey, half asleep, didn’t answer. “We met one Halloween a hundred years ago when I was working as a Ghost Tour Guide in downtown Nashville. I loved that job. Made thousands of dollars at the thing – before the recession and the world started going to hell in a handbasket and here we are now still falling and failing and . . .”
Tears filled my eyes and spilled over my face in a huge rush. More drops fell on Monkey’s fur. He didn’t budge. “Did Suzie tell you to be nice to all of us?” That weird calm, it’ll-all-be-ok energy filled the room again. “Of course she did.
“Where was I? Halloween night. 2000-and-something. I was a ghost tour guide, and they came on my tour. Suzie was dressed as a fucking Twister game. Had a spinner on her head like a hat – it worked too, the little arm would spin around and around. Suzie was stupid excited to go on the tour. It was close to her birthday – Halloween, I mean. David was with her, and he was so calm and relaxed it balanced her enthusiastic energy perfectly. She was practically running circles around him in excitement. I liked her immediately.”
Monkey lifted his head and gave a tiny, “mmmrrrrww!”
“You too, eh?” I stroked the kitty down his back.
“Suzie’s grin never left her face the entire tour. Some stops she’d bounce up and down on her heels with glee, and the little Twister Board spinner on her hat would twirl around. When the tour was over I was not surprised at all when she bounded up to me and exclaimed, ‘OH MY GOD THAT WAS AMAZING are you guys hiring I totally have to be a ghost tour guide!!’
“And she was. I recommended her to the tour company and she started the next week. We were friends immediately after that.”
Monkey rolled over in my lap and batted at the string hanging off my hoodie.
“We had friends over here last night. David played music for the first time since – well, he played and sang. It was amazing. Like at my wedding.” I smiled a little. “I had a super-small wedding. Suzie was in charge of the music – which was a bluetooth speaker and an iPod, and she would’t pay attention to what I was saying about how the playlist was set up and she said she wouldn’t screw up the music and she wound up screwing it up-” I giggled. “And after the reception we all sat in the living room of the bed and breakfast and played music and sang all night.” I sighed. “It was lovely. But anyway, some friends came over and we all sat around and sang and David looked less sad than I’d seen him this whole visit. . .” my throat caught. “He is so sad and so mad and he’s mad at the wrong people but I am never ever gonna tell him what in the world would I even say . . .” I broke off. “David told me yesterday that the hospital hung up on him three times while Suzie was there. Each time he’d called them to demand they treat her with Ivermectin they hung up on him.”
I’m just going to pause this fucking story and put this link:
Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19
And this link:
Vaccination after COVID improves immunity; ivermectin fails in major trial
AND WHY NOT THIS LINK TOO WHILE I’M AT IT:
Why the Covid cult of ivermectin won’t die
“I swear to fucking god, Suzie . . .” apparently I’m talking to Suzie again. “It took every ounce of energy to keep my face stoic when that man spouted that paste nonsense to me. You two are – were – SMART PEOPLE. WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?”
What happened, indeed. I’m far too tired to try and answer that. Cognitive dissonance. Fear. Propaganda. That’s all I got at the moment.
Because that analyzation is buried in anger and grief.
Both bullets I’m firing at the energy of my friend at the moment.
“He loaned me your car and I drove it for half an afternoon before I noticed it had a GODDAMN QANNWHATEVER RABBIT STICKER ON THE WINDOW,” I shrilled. Monkey jumped off my lap.
“Sorry, Monkey, sorry Monkey, I’m sorry kitty kitty your mom has angered me.” I stood up, stretched my arms above my head and dropped them in frustration.
“I don’t know what to do.” The energy in the air listened. “I am so mad at you. I am so mad at David. You believed the wrong people. And it got you fucking killed.” Tears streamed down my face again. Jesus was blurry. “It killed my Mom.” All I saw was brushstrokes of color. “And she GOT the fucking shot.”
Monkey wound around my ankles. I picked him up and rocked him like a baby.
“Tell her I said hi,” my voice broke. “Tell Jethro – Abby – Kashyyyk – all my fuzzy ones . . . tell them I love them.” Monkey purred. “I know they know that, but tell them anyway. I’ll tell David you’re here. I don’t think he feels that yet. He’s wondered why you haven’t said hi in his dreams, you really should do that . . . especially when you’ve visited everyone else. Three times for me, thanks for that. It is – it always will be – a pleasure to see you on some plane of existence. Next time you can leave out the dinosaurs. That was a little too exciting.” I swear I felt the air shimmer around me like laughter.
I turned and faced the urn on the hearth. I set Monkey on the floor and took a step forward. David had tacked one of her flowers to the side of the urn. Suzie always wore a flower in her hair. Wound around the petals was a piece of her hair. It shimmered in black and purple. I reached out to touch it. Proof she had existed. Proof she was gone.
“I love you, Suzie. I want to punch you in the face. I will forever feel those two things together in your memory. I am so so so so so sad. And I miss you.” My vision blurred again. “Thank you for the laughter. And the music. And co-starring in my video blogs. Thank you for all the fun. And the friendship.”
I reached in my pocket and took out the little malachite heart I bought at that first psychic fair a lifetime ago. I carefully placed the little stone beside what remained of my friend.
I turned on my heel and walked out of the room.