It's bright. Bright was never really my style. Whatever, I really don't care. It was a lot rougher than I thought it was gonna be, but other than that it was exactly like I wanted it to be. I am dead, and my death was my life.
My name is, or was, Andrea McDirkin. I know, I know, geeky name. I was known all my life as Andy, few people knew that my name was really Andrea. I would have legally changed it to Andy but I didn't really get that far. My life wasn't really all that interesting until the last couple of years, so that's where I'll start.
It was about two years ago when four of my friends and I decided to form a rock band. I don't really know why, but it seemed like a really good idea at the time. Looking back, though, it was pretty random and kinda stupid. I remember that Tom played the electric guitar, Simon played the drum-set, his brother Doug played the bass, Lori played the keyboard, and I sang. It was pretty radical.
But then there was school. Ug, school wasn't ever my thing. It's not like it was hard or anything, actually it was really easy. It's just that I didn't want to have to deal with it. I was one of those kids who always did their homework in ten minutes during the period before it was due. And I only ever missed three or four questions. So what was the big deal? I obviously understood the material! You know, I bet I could've made honor-roll if I hadn't cut classes so much. Phfft! Whatever.
But what really blew was work. A waitress at the local diner making barley enough to fill my gas-tank. It sucked ass! I always got stuck serving the creeps and weirdos, too. But Jack Harvey, the owner/my boss, he was really nice. He was like the brother I didn't hate. Whenever I needed extra cash he would find odd-jobs for me around the kitchen and he pretty much let me make my own schedule. But the one thing that really made him the greatest man I'd ever known was that whenever things got heated at home (which was often) he let me stay with him no questions asked, wanting nothing in return. He was a saint in an apron.
The day after the band formed I remember closing up with him.
"Uh, Mr. Harvey?" I said, wiping off a table, "this might sound strange but I just joined a band, and. . ."
"And you're going to have to be spending a lot of time at practices and gigs." he finished for me. "I understand, I was a seventeen-year-old kid not too long ago. Do you mind working double and triple shifts?"
"Then I don't mind you having to reschedule."
We finished closing and was about to leave, but he stopped me.
"Oh, by the way Andy, for the millionth time it's 'Jack'!"
Simon and Doug were always fighting. Doug was a year younger than Simon, who was my age. But they looked exactly alike, it was really weird. Simon was as little emo, though, so it was pretty easy to tell them apart. They fought over everything, but their arguments were more like competitions to see which brother could outlast and out-stubborn the other. I mean, seriously, they might as well have kept score! It was ridiculous!
Our first band practice was pretty pointless. We hardly did anything. We all just sat around and talked about band names. I don't really recall who we wound up as, but it doesn't really matter. We also talked about what kind of sound we wanted to make and we messed around with our interments and junk like that. The next practice though, we really buckled down. I think it was technically two days, but we got an entire song written. We were all really into it and everyone had great ideas.
The third practice, though, that's what I've been working up to. The third practice is where my story (and my death) really begins.
Doug brought it in. He said that he'd paid top dollar for it and that it was premium, but I don't know. He rolled it up in a thin piece of paper and lit it. They all took a drag and then it came to me.
Sickly sweet smoke hung heavily in the air. I couldn't see. The lit end glowed brightly, staring at me like some evil eye. I wasn't afraid. I was willing. Maybe it was just that angry glowing eye hypnotizing me. I put the paper between my lips and sucked in like some fish gasping for poisonous air. It was like ice-cold sweat running through my blood stream. My body dripped with invisible acid, the drug oozing out of my pores. I felt sick, but I didn't care. I liked it. It was a creepy sort of happy that I felt right in the middle of my forehead. The world was enhanced and, at the same time, distorted. It was very deranged. I was living in an abstract painting and what should have been fear and confusion was joy and dizziness. All I can remember is a vibrantly colored blur around me and inside of me.
The next day I woke up at the crack of noon and felt like everything I had experienced last night suddenly hated me. I had the same sick feeling, but this time I didn't like it. The creepy-happy in my forehead was replaced by extreme pain. Seriously, kids, don't do drugs. Not only will it kill your brain cells, but it's addictive. Very, very addictive. . .
A few days later, we had another "practice". And then another, and another, and yet another for about three months. Between joints we actually did write some music, and it was alright stuff for cannabis-educed noise. One night, we were all sitting around tokin', and Tom had what we considered to be a rather profound thought.
"Hey, guys," he said, "what would be the coolest way to die?"
"Whaddya mean?" Lori asked.
"Like, I wanna be bumped off by the mafia for hookin' up with the bosses daughter. You know, something that would be impressive!"
"Well, I'm not gonna die." Lori stated.
"How?" demanded Doug.
"I'm just not, that's all."
I sat in silence for a moment, thinking.
"I would like to die going down a waterfall." I had been considering it for a while, and that seemed like the best, most fitting answer. They all laughed at me. "No, think about it! That rushing sensation; it's almost like flying, I bet. That feeling of waitlesness, just being carried and not having to worry about getting lost or where you're going. The water cleaning your body and cleansing your soul. Everything just washing away, all bad vibes being flushed out. I mean, there's not even a need to breath! Yeah. . . falling down a waterfall. . ."
"Wow," Lori sighed, "that sounds beautiful."
"Andy," Simon put his hand on my shoulder, "I'll go down with you.'
I grinned at him. Then Doug started arguing with him about something-or-other and I went home. I don't remember my dream from that night, just that it scared the bejesus out of me!
The next morning I had to work all day.
"Hey, how's your band coming?" Jack asked me .
"Well, maybe when you guys get good you can play a gig here?"
"Yeah, sure." I shrugged. I had the shifts from opening through to lunch. It was very early in the morning. I took glasses and bowls out of the dish washer and set them in the cupboard. The breakfast crowd would be there soon demanding their eggs runny, their bacon crispy, and their coffee black. We worked in silence for t most part, occasionally asking the whereabouts of something, or telling where to put something. It was kind of awkward. Finally, Jack stopped beating around the bush.
"You know what I mean. You've been kind of. . . not all here lately. Like you haven't been sleeping, or eating, or. . .
Andy, you know I've done things that I'm not proud of. You know that I had a drinking problem. So I know the kind of effect alcohol has. . ."
"Jack, I'm not drinking." I reassured him. I was telling the truth, but I wasn't being honest.
"Yeah, I know. You're way more messed up than an alcoholic. Andy, seriously, are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." I totally was not lying. I was fine. There was no harm being done. I wasn't wasting any money on it and all we did was sit in Toms basement when we smoked it. "I'm just kind of stressed out. Over the band, you know?"
"Okay, if you're sure." I knew that he lost all trust and respect for me right then and there. We continued to open in complete silence. Costumers came, the other waitresses showed up, I worked until my shifts ended, and I left. I'd never been so glad to get away from Jack in my life.
We should have taken that night as an omen. Tom was tweaked. He flipped out, screaming that he wanted the stuff so badly that he had to quit. That didn't make any sense to us, but we realized that the guy yelling it wasn't Tom. We were frightened. We moved the band minus Tom to Simon and Dougs basement. We got high and everything was normal minus Tom. We tried not to think about it.
These were the occurrences of the first year of my death. Lori had taken over electric guitar. We actually had played a few gigs and considered ourselves to be quite popular. Especially when we were high.
There was one night when Doug talked about getting some syringes. I told him 'no'. 'It was too dangerous'. 'That was how people got AIDS'. 'I was okay with putting that stuff in my lungs but there was no way I was going to squirt it directly into my blood stream'. Truth be told, I just don't like needles. I eventually talked him out of it. I don't know for sure, but I think he might have been shooting-up on his own. That would make sense because, well, this is about when it happened.
We were smoking, laughing, talking to inanimate objects, you know, the usual. Suddenly, this big guy burst through the door and started shouting about money and we all knew that he was Dougs drug-dealer. And I know what you're probably thinking, but I honestly have no idea if he was black or white, or clean or dirty. I tried to forget. I remember the commotion. The yelling, the punching, then the blood. Lots of blood. And screaming. And tears. Lots of tears.
We all sat there sobbing over Simons stabbed body. The drug-dealer had fled. Doug was paralyzed with horror and sadness, but mostly with guilt. He knew that the knife was meant for him. His brother was protecting him. They looked exactly alike.
Simons breathing became light and shaky. We all told him not to do it. We told him not to leave us. His blood soaked into my jeans as I knelt there next to him. God, he looked so frail. I remember looking at him. I watched his face go pale. I watched his eyes grow dim. I watched his final breath of air go passed his dry lips. I watched him die.
Lori had dialed 911, but she couldn't do anything but scream. I remember the sirens. And the blanket going over Simons Stoney looking face.
Simons funeral was the most painful experience of my life. It hurts me to think about it. Before they put his casket in the ground, everybody put a flower on it and said a prayer for him. I put a bright red rose on his coffin and made a promise instead of a prayer.
My life was screwed up. I was a junky, nobody ha any respect for me, my life wasn't going anywhere, and I watched as my best friend was stabbed and killed because of a drug addiction we all shared. I had messed up pretty bad. If I could have quit, maybe the rest would fallow and we'd be on track and Simon would be alive. . .
The day after the funeral I put on my blood soaked jeans. Simons blood. I got in my car and I drove. I forget where I drove to, all that matters is what I drove to. I stood there for a while. I starred long and hard at the icy water. I jumped in.
It was a little bumpy and uncomfortable at first, but then I dropped.
There was a rushing sensation; it was almost like flying. It was a feeling of waitlesness, I was just being carried and didn't have to worry about getting lost or where I was going. The water cleaned my body and cleansed my soul. Everything just washed away, all bad vibes were flushed out. There wasn't even a need to breath.