Elegy for a lost friend

Posted on March 24, 2012



Mistah Kurtz – he dead.

You are still dead, and time, as David Bowie sings, takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth. Which would be funny if it were not so true. Three hundred and sixty-four days and every one of them I miss you. Some days are worse than others, and some, whisper it quiet, I do not think of you at all. Not until I lay my head on my pillow at night and set to dream, and in dreaming see you again and the memories comes back and I hurt.

Can twenty summers really have passed since I first met you? It had to be a summers day. Nineteen years old, basking in the afternoon sunshine, lounging tipsy in a park where now, as they do, they have built houses over our memories. I remember it all, laying on my back and dreaming up through the leaves of a tree, and you, you came over to me, pressing yourself against my lips, embracing me until your very being flowed through my veins, glorious, wonderful, beautiful you.

We never lost touch. So many others came and went over the years, but you, you stuck around like a true friend. Indifferent to the changing seasons of life, the good and the bad.  Sure, it is easy to be around when the times are good, when your racing across whole countries in the night, or climbing out of the warm sea and laying in the sand. When later wine is flowing and there is music and laughter and the whole world will go on like this until the end of time.

The other times though, the ones no one else but you saw, when the darkness crowds in and you find yourself sitting on a window sill, crying, at four in the morning, great sobs of terror rising and falling across your chest, the rain beating down on the windowsill, and out there, out there you can see the odd light still burning across the city, and seeing the lights you know is life out there, going on, but you, you just cannot face it. You, and you alone was with me right then, comforting me, seeing me through the storm.

Yes, there were times when we lost touch. Sometimes for a few months, once for three years, but every time you would come bouncing back along. Changed some, dressed in different clothes, but always you, that smile of yours, that wink, and we would collapse into each others arms, hand in hand, and that first touch would be like the first time all over, lost in the sunshine, starring at leaves, faces dreaming against the world.

Three hundred and sixty-four days. Not quite a year, but nearly. Imagine what fun, and trouble, we could have got up to in that time, nay one day. One day, imagine just one more day together, riding from morning to night, side by side, my hand on you, you within my blood, my mind, one complete wonderful perfect day. Of course it cannot be. For the truth is I killed you, and you are dead and over with, a thing of the past, no more.

At the end you had grown too strong, too poisonous, and I was addicted to you, unable to leave you behind. I could not just walk away from you, let you be, forget about you.  How could I ever forget about you? Instead I fought fire with fire, pouring poisons stronger than your own on to you, until you lay dead and I walked away, and I am sorry.

I saw you once, truly saw you, after it was done and you were buried. Of course, I think I see you everywhere, not just in my memories either. I see you in other people, in shops, in high streets, lurking in the background of films like some walk on actor hoping for their moment of fame. I even see you lying in the gutter, discarded and forgotten.

This time though, this was different. It was really you, around Easter time it was, not so long after you had died. You came to me and we sat together on a small wooden bench in a walled garden in France. You came, and we sat together a while, holding hands and looking out at the world one last time, saying our goodbyes, and then, then you went.

You had your faults, we all do, and you could be a right pain in the bum too, always wanting a share of my time, always looking over my shoulder. You smelt, there is no denying that, and most people did not care for you, saying how you took over everything, suffocated life, killed it.

In the end I could argue with them no more and I killed you.The secret truth is I am glad of it, that however much we might wish it different, life is better without you. And if I weep my tears fall not for you, but for my own past.

We had our time, and it will always be our time. Not their’s, they did not understand you like I did, but ours. Laying arm in arm in the sunshine, the green grass at our backs, only heaven before us. I will always love you. My beautiful, murderous friend. My first, my last, my cigarette.