From Jester To King LXXI
By Simon Barget
A friend of mine died yesterday. I was in total and utter shock and I still am. When someone you know dies, someone you know very well, and you’re both only 48, well then you start to worry. You start to realise what it’s like to be mortal and fragile, to be susceptible to going at any time. You realise you can go at any time, no difference between him and you. His decline was fairly sudden. I hadn’t seen him in three weeks, and when I’d seen him he’d been fine, the next thing I know he’s dead from a heart condition. I didn’t know anything about the heart condition, I just found out at the funeral. And it was so sad being there. He wasn’t the best friend I’ve ever had, but I knew him well, well enough. I knew him enough for him to be the first person I know well of my age to have died. And that is the watershed. And I was so wrought with sadness, sadness for him, for not being alive, for not being flesh and blood, not having beating heart and a pulse, not having blood coursing through his veins, not displaying those signs of vivacity and health, I was sad that he was no longer able to feel what it was like to be living. What would it be like for his young kids who would grow up not knowing their father and would have to have a new one that they didn’t really like? What would it be like for his wife? And no one else seemed to be sad, grappling with these questions, but you never know, maybe they’re thinking that of you, as unless you’re outright crying it’s hard for people to know how you’re actually feeling. But I wanted people to know how sad I was feeling and I wanted them to know it and feel it to.
Then they showed some of his little doodles at the funeral, they were these weird little animations with graffiti-like writing, and those were the best he could come up with when living, and I mean the guy was not an artist, I mean I thought he was artistic and that’s why I liked him, but he spurned all that for a job in media and he’d become a director, risen up the ranks, and you can’t say you’re an artist if you waste your life in commerce, and his whole life had been dedicated to success, to convention and what he retained for culture and art were at very best tangents. But now he was dead they couldn’t say much about the agency or the team that he managed so they showed us his doodles.
Afterwards we argued about sandwiches. Apparently Cole was on the cusp of socking me one just for eyeing one up. Sandwiches in short supply. But he’d always had it in for me so no great surprise. And at least I confronted him about it after and he didn’t seem so cavalier when I did. And then as if to confirm or amplify all my misgivings, Ashley turns up, yes the dead man was called Ashley, Ashley sits down at one of the pub benches and starts having a natter, and there I am hoping that people will be a little bit more earnest and just plain sad especially since he is now here, and so I want to tell him I love him but there’s no way I can do that, then it dilutes down to I know how he feels, but I don’t get the chance because he’s not in that mindset, and he is not sad about it at all, just chatting happily at one of the benches, and then after a while I feel like turning to him and saying have some bloody respect, you’re dead, don’t you have any empathy, any idea what it must be like for you not to be here, which sort of translated into: what it must be like for us who cared about you, feeling what it might be like to not be able to be alive anymore, but I could never be brave enough to do something like that so I just idly sit back and watch the proceedings.