[[~She used her body just like a bandage, she
used my body just like a wound.
I’ll probably never know where she disappeared
But I can see her rising up out of the back seat now
Just like an angel rising up from a tomb…~]]
Life has a way of moving on and for the most part, time does heal wounds. It just leaves scars behind to remind you that you were hurt.
There are no band-aids for death. Those wounds—mental, spiritual, emotional—they never completely go away. Sometimes a memory comes out of nowhere and your mind goes back to that time… that time where you were hurt deeply.
Like flipping through a portfolio of drawings.
I used to draw and paint and experiment with all sorts of imagery. I loved drawing comic book superheroes (and villains). Chris thought it was cool that I could draw Wolverine and Superman and Spiderman and a whole host of others.
“Can you teach me how to draw like that?” he asked me one Sunday before life took its downward spiral.
And I did. Chris came to my house several times and we’d either sit at the kitchen table or at the picnic table in the back yard drawing. I showed him a few basics on using circles, squares, triangles and rectangles to frame out the characters’ bodies. All simple sketches that created the foundations of the actual pictures.
He got better as time went on. After meeting Christopher, Chris stopped drawing, or at least he stopped coming over for lessons.
While flipping through my portfolio—one my grandmother bought me when I was in high school and wanting to get into a local art school—looking at pictures I had drawn over the years I stumbled across a brown envelope, one I don’t recall putting in there.
I opened it and pulled out several drawings of a superhero, but this one I didn’t draw. They were signed by Chris. My skin tingled as if I had stuck my finger in a light socket. My breath caught and my chest tightened. I wiped my mouth.
The character on the images had a name that could be considered an omen if I had thought about it back when Chris died. His name: Funeral.
No crap. Really.
There were four images, but two of them stuck out. The one of Funeral with his mask pulled over his face, a cape apparently flapping in the wind. His hands were on his hips in that classic Superman stance. Chris had shaded a good chunk of the costume in grays and blacks. It was a good picture.
The second image was simply a casket. Not all that much of a sign you say? What if I told you the casket was closed? That’s right. The casket was closed.
Sometimes little things… little things bring those angels back from the tombs.
Like a picture.
A picture of four guys—two in their early twenties and two in their mid-teens–at a rest stop between Columbia and Charlotte on their way to Carowinds. They stand behind the snack machine bars as if they are prisoners in a slapstick comedy. Four young men, two of them with more in common than I guess they knew and the other two good friends at one time.
Who would have thought that image taken in the summer of 1995 would be the only image of the four of them together? It would also be the last time one of those four seemed genuinely happy with life, however short lived it was.
The picture disappeared long ago and I looked for it every once in a while when Chris came to mind. Then my dad gave it to me one day out of the blue. And memories… oh my goodness the memories that flooded me, that threatened to drown me. All these thoughts and sidebars and random whatevers and lyrics to songs and… and… and events that changed a lot of lives.
They are all things that I never forgot, but pushed way back to the recesses of my mind. They are in one of those books that normally sit on the shelf at the very top where no one else can reach it. But, there it is, sitting on the coffee table of my soul, the pages turning, the images all black and white and some of them a little grainy. If you flip the pages together starting from the beginning of the book, you’ll see the stop motion images play out in a cartoon-like movie. Isn’t that the way of memories?
It doesn’t take much to dislodge The Great Big Book of Memories from the highest shelf.
We live with those memories and we live with the deaths that happen in our lives. If we don’t, then we just die as well, but I’ve said that already. The dead are just that—dead. The living, however, are alive, unless they choose to never let go of the past.
Maybe that’s why I write this. That picture my dad gave me shook those cobwebs off that book of memories and opened up a little sadness that had passed years ago. I haven’t pulled out the images Chris drew. But, I did go back and read the original version of this story. So much was left out before that I tried to put into this one.
This is how I remember things and some may disagree with me on how events unfolded. That’s fine. To each their own and to those I say, have your memories. Again, this is how I recall things. Other folks may have had a different view, but they can tell their own stories, write their own words. This one belongs to me and I tell what I know, what I remember, what I feel…
There’s a lot of negative stuff in here–I’m quite aware of that. It is what it is. But, it’s not always that simple, is it? Chris was a good kid. I can’t stress that enough. Chris was a good kid. Understand that. Know that. Believe that. Like all teenagers, Chris searched for his place among his peers, among those he trusted and liked, among a world that wasn’t necessarily good to him. He and I had a lot of conversations in the course of the short time I knew him. A lot of them centered on that Laura girl I mentioned earlier.
Chris had a lot of questions about life, love, religion and why things happen. Many of those questions no one could answer for him, and to the same, no one can answer them for you. You have to live life to discover them on your own.
In an interesting turn of thoughts, sometimes you don’t realize how sad someone is until they are gone and you spend some time in solitary thought–just you and your mind. That’s when you notice things you missed before. The part of your mind that analyzes things until they are beaten into the ground takes over and you see things for what they were… or your mind tricks you into seeing things that weren’t necessarily there to start with.
I almost feel like Chris was doomed the day his momma gave birth to him. It’s bad to say that. The truth is so many people didn’t listen to him while he was alive. And now that he’s dead, they can still hear his voice…
I’m rambling. The thoughts are all scattered about and there is no real closure to something like this.
October is my favorite month of the year. The leaves are turning colors, the cool breeze is just that: cool. The mornings become nippy and my wife and I tend to snuggle a little closer under the blankets. Should I do one of those smiley face things here?
Halloween has long been my favorite ‘holiday.’ The creepy things, the horror movies, the scary shows, the cheesy songs, the Halloween theme, trick-or-treating and dressing up. I love everything about Halloween. The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is one of my all time favorite Halloween themed shows.
Halloween was also Chris’s favorite…
Maybe at some point this month, my wife and I and maybe even Chad can get to the cemetery and visit him. If we do so, I’d like to do something special. I’m not going to say what that is… just in case. But, if we do make it, I’ll let you know.
[[~But it was long ago, and it was far away
Oh God, it seems so very far;
and if life is just a highway, then the soul is just a car. And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are…~]]
Before reading any further, I would like for you to consider opting out at this point. There is only one other thing that needs to be told, though the actual details of it are a bit sketchy at best.
You see, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. No, it has the type of ending so many senseless deaths have. One with more questions than answers and, really, only two people know the real answers to those questions. One of them is dead. The other one is in jail.
I intentionally left out this part because I felt there was no real need to go into detail with: Chris’s death. I did that because I only have the mixed up confessions of the last person to see him alive as the map to what happened and when it happened.
It was a suicide pact.
It was a drug deal gone bad.
Chris tried to kill Christopher… blah, blah, blah.
Why and how Chris died isn’t the important thing. His life is. Remembering him is.
However, there are those out there who will feel cheated for reading over ten thousand words of this story and not finding out how he died.
Before you read the next couple paragraphs understand something: most of this is speculation, simply because of the information given and where it came from. It is the information put together by word of mouth, the newspapers, the local news stations and the court proceedings that ultimately found Christopher guilty of Chris’s death.
The police searched for a couple days for Christopher. They found him at a friend’s house, a little disoriented, tired and hungry. That’s what happens when you’re on the run and you have no where to go and no way to get there. I’m not certain if the friend called the police to let them know of Christopher’s whereabouts or if the cops had just followed him until he sat still long enough to move in for the arrest. No need for two young adults to die, right?
I gather he was interrogated. With or without an attorney present, I don’t know. I’d like to think he was scared, terrified even. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to say.
His first confession was that it was a suicide pact. That Chris was supposed to shoot Christopher with a shotgun, then turn the gun on himself. But, when it came time to do it, Chris couldn’t pull the trigger, so Christopher did. The problem here is that Christopher then chickened out and instead of following through with the pact, he set the trailer on fire and fled.
He recanted that statement and said it was a drug deal gone bad and that he didn’t even pull the trigger. Someone else did. Then why wasn’t Christopher dead as well? And why couldn’t he give the name of the person who supposedly killed Chris? Fear? Hell, I’d think going to jail or possibly facing the death penalty would be scarier than giving the name of the dealer up, especially if that person could go to jail for a very long time.
He recanted that statement as well and said that Chris tried to kill Christopher, that they struggled and that ultimately Chris was killed.
Then he went back to his original statement, the suicide pact. Only this time he said it was Chris’s idea.
When all the information came out about what happened, I called bullshit on a lot of it. Chris told me he was getting away from Christopher. I believed him. I speculated that Chris told Christopher that he wanted nothing to do with him anymore and Christopher got mad about it. Do I think drugs were involved. It’s possible. But, I also thought that Christopher stood to lose a lot if Chris told anything to anyone about the drugs and wear they came from. In a panic, Christopher took the shotgun and took off part of Chris’s head before setting his body on fire to hide the evidence. That’s what I speculated then.
As I’ve thought about this over the last few weeks, I’m becoming more and more convinced that my speculation was wrong. My thinking has changed. Why?
Goodbye is so final.
Chris told me goodbye that morning as if he knew–KNEW–that I would never see him again. At least not alive. I keep coming back to that. Do you understand? He said GOODBYE. If I’m completely honest with myself, I think I knew as well, though I might have thought he would run away and not come back. I never thought he would die…
As I’ve pondered this I’m closer and closer to believing that the two boys had a suicide pact. I’m not so certain that it was Chris’s idea. After all, he was a follower, not a leader. I also believe that it was more a murder/suicide pact where one would kill the other then turn the weapon on themselves. Chris wouldn’t have been able to follow through on this. Christopher would have been–or so he may have thought. I believe Christopher shot my friend in the head and the scene that played out in front of him as and after he pulled that trigger was so devastating that he couldn’t follow through. Panic probably set in for him–that Oh Shit factor that we’ve all experienced from time to time–and he had to do something with the body, but have you seen what a shotgun does to a person? There was a mess to clean up and Christopher didn’t have it in him to do that cleaning. Instead, he set Chris on fire and ran, hoping that by burning the body and the trailer that there would be no real evidence that a murder had taken place.
The problem with his thinking is that the fire department was quick to react to the phone call it received about a fire in Starmount. They were able to put the flames out before the trailer was completely burned down. And what they found inside was the body of a teenage boy, shot to death and burned.
There you have it. The somewhat inaccurate/accurate portrayal of the death of a friend. I only wrote this part for those who wanted to know, who would have been angry to not find out, who would have bitched and moaned and groaned about me wasting their time and not giving out the details of the murder/suicide or whatever it was.
I write. I paint pictures for readers by using words and showing them what I see in my head. I give them scenery and try to build characters and try to create situations for my characters to figure out and I let them figure out how to deal with it. But, I’m not painting this picture any more than what I have in these last few paragraphs. If you can picture the scene, go right ahead. I, personally, don’t want to see it anymore than my mind will allow…
There is one final piece to this story, one final thing that needs to be told. Until tomorrow…