It was a suicide.
He had gotten drunk,
He tried going to the bar he worked at,
it was his night off,
but they turned him away.
“You’ve already had too much to drink. Go sleep it off, pal.”
Instead he went home,
put a glock 9mm to his head
And blew his brains out
on his back porch.
His roommate found him.
There was no note,
just questions left behind.
A week later was the memorial service.
He was an atheist,
a vocal one at that.
Had a tattoo of a rotting zombie Christ
on his arm.
But his family was devout Lutherans,
so that was the send off he got.
Standing against the wall,
in the small chapel,
the lines were clearly divided.
Seated in the pews were people
dressed in bright, happy colors.
Blues, greens, pinks, yellows, and lavenders.
Those were his blood relatives
and Lutheran members of the family’s church.
Then on the edges and in the back
Stood and sat his other family,
the metal heads, the punks, the ******* kids, and subculture misfits,
Dressed in black,
arms & legs tattoed with ink.
spoke in unison, reciting prayers and scripture,
While the kids in black, stood silent
Unmoved by the minister’s words about Christ.
The pastels bowed their heads in prayer, for the poor boy’s soul.
We in black looked around the room,
studying their pinched faces
while they remained blind.
One woman apparently could feel my stare
cause she opened her eyes, and looked right into mine.
Never will forget that look she had,
like she knew something I didn’t.
The minister in the white and green robe kept talking,
saying my friend was in the loving arms of Jesus.
Guess he forgot that suicides got
a one-way ticket straight to hell.
It was typical.
A spiritual buffet,
take what you like,
ignore what you don’t.
But I don’t blame them, not one bit.
What parent wants to imagine
their child burning in that lake of fire,
never to be held in their arms again?
His mother went up and said a few words,
funny ones from his childhood.
Then his neighbor went up and spoke,
then an old girlfriend from high school.
And then a great silence.
The podium stood empty.
Before I knew it,
my hands were gripping the wooden podium
and my mouth was talking.
Telling the pastels & black shirts kids
about the first time I saw him.
He was in the mosh pit doing spin kicks and backflips
like a five-foot-six, blonde, ninja in Saucony jazz shoes.
And how I never saw him be unkind or mean to anyone,
that he was a GOOD boy.
My eyes began to burn,
I felt my throat tightening.
“Really gonna miss him,” I managed to choke out.
I took my place back against the wall
as the slideshow & music started up.
They were playing The Beatles.
My friend was a Black Sabbath kind of guy.
Outside I saw faces not seen in years,
not since I was a 17-year-old kid.
I saw Matty standing there.
We had just buried another one
of the boys from the crew,
less that six months earlier.
Now Matty and I were the only ones left.
Went straight up to him and we both latched on,
sobbing & shaking
hugging each other as tight as we could.
“It’s too much, man. It’s too soon. They’re both ******* GONE.”
He was broken and I was worried about him.
Very much so.
Then we all met at a bar,
The one he worked at and got turned away from that night.
We told stories
like when everyone was trying to **** this girl
and he wasn’t, but she pulled him into a room
at the end of the night …
picking him over us all.
Or how he could make his ***** do all kinds of tricks,
disappearing and reappearing in his red *******.
“The popper” he called it.
We slammed down shots & brews
burying our little buddy, one glass at a time.
And the last thing …
His parents showed up at the bar
cradling T-shirts on hangars, his clothes.
I saw someone pick up his Blood For Blood shirt.
It had been OUR shirt, we shared it back and forth.
We both loved that band, they sang about “living in exile” like we both did.
“****, that was our shirt,” I said to the table of drunk and grieving friends.
“Well, go get it, man. Go on.”
I went up to the guy holding it.
“Hey man, that shirt means a lot to me, can I …”
Before I could finish, it was in my hands.
The guy gave a generous smile,
“Then you should have it.”
I sat back down at the table of friends,
holding the shirt up to my face.
He lingered in my nose, one last time.
But my little buddy was gone,
a faded T-shirt and a few funny stories
were all that remained.
We all toasted one last shot.
“to the lost …”
and the table of old friends all repeated,
“To the lost.”
Rest well in your dreamless sleep, pal.
Down the hatch.
Watch it go
With a black tooth grin.