Too Old to Die Young
By Gonz Blinko
“Hey Gonz!” I heard Blind Christian call. He hadn’t spoken for about three days so I wondered what he wanted.
Samhara said that BC had eaten some of the kebabs she made out of the bull shark and would come into the camp site for the odd bottle of water but he remained silent. She described his activities by saying that he had found himself a place to sit inside a long abandoned Calusa midden and that he spent his time arranging broken bits of oyster shells into something that looked like equations. Now and then, he would grunt but wouldn’t emit anything resembling a word.
“Gonz, over hear!” Yelled BC and I started walking toward his voice. “I’m coming,” I yelled in reply.
I could hear BC making sounds on what seemed like a wall of broken shells and such. I climbed up and dropped over the other side into BC’s midden. “What do you want?” I asked.
“Sit down,” he said.
I poked around until I found a relatively flat surface on which to sit and plunked my ass down. “So, why are we sitting in a mosquito infested Calusa midden in the middle of nowhere Florida?”
“I would have been very sad if Caroline had been eaten by the shark,” said BC as if he hadn’t heard or was just ignoring my question.
“Me too. I think I taught her how a blink can tell the difference between a bottle nose dolphin and a bull shark but I think she just gets out of the water as quickly as possible when she starts hearing the big fish jumping. So, you’ve never said, do you like Caroline?”
BC went quiet for a few moments and then said, “I can’t say that I know her well enough to form an opinion. She seems pleasant enough. I’m just sick of our friends, our crowd, and our heroes dying young, dying violently, killing themselves or just dying all of the time. It’s like death follows us around, Gonz.”
“I know what you mean BC,” I added, “I completely lost it with memories in front of CBGB a few months ago.”
“So, why did so many of my heroes commit suicide?”
I thought for a second and had no answer, “I suppose they all had their own reasons.”
“I’ve had my reasons but never succeeded; now I’m just a loudmouth blink with a blog.”
“You’ve done some good stuff…” I started.
“What of our entire generation of greatly wasted minds will last? This midden we’re sitting in is thousands of years old. The most clever software on Earth is obsolete in two or three years. Who is going to read Blind Confidential in a few months if we stopped writing it? Nothing we do matters for a shit and it never did.”
“Samhara says you’ve been doing math with oyster shells,” I said trying to change the subject.
“All around this area, everything, the mangroves, the trailer parks, the houses, everything got rearranged in the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, the Calusa built this midden as a shelter from hurricanes and a thousand years, maybe longer, it’s still here and if a hurricane showed up today we could ride it out, albeit uncomfortably, in this spot.”
“Really?” I asked, not knowing much about these oyster shell piles.
“With all of the 20th century technology, half of New Orleans is still missing nearly two years after a single storm but these walls that surround us showed up on this island before the Spanish got to Florida. The Calusa may have died off from European diseases but their engineering will outlive us all. We, on the other hand, will leave nothing behind but Styrofoam and radioactive waste.”
“That’s pretty depressing BC.”
“Sometimes I wish I had died with the others when we were still young. Sure, live fast, die young – boy I fucked up part two.”
“That’s silly BC, lots of people still know you, still respect you, still read your stuff, still call you for advice…” I started in trying to cheer up my oldest friend.
“Who gives a shit?” BC exclaimed, “No one will hire me for a real job, all of my best stuff was done in the past, I’m just an old recovering junky blink with a blog.
“And,” BC continued with his rant, “Why didn’t we die with the others? You and me Gonz, we did all the drugs, all of the violence, all of the trippy travel to fucked up parts of the planet, ran with dangerous motherfuckers, stuck needles in our arms filled with god-knows-what in some outback in places we forgot we visited and, unlike the lucky ones, we’re still breathing!
“What’s wrong with us?” He yelled as he kicked at his oyster shell equations.
I sat quietly, it wasn’t the first death wish rant I’d heard out of BC and it probably wouldn’t be the last.
He continued, “Look at me, I’m hiding in an ancient structure and I can’t remember what I’m hiding from. I’m not getting any younger and I still don’t know what to do when I grow up. Why didn’t someone shoot me back when I could have left a young and relatively good looking corpse?
“Why did people revive me every fucking time I OD’d?
“Why couldn’t I just have collapsed like Coltrane at 40 years old?”
BC rambled on like that for another half hour or so. I finally started to get pissed off. I jumped up and grabbed BC by his shoulders and kicked him in the back of one of his knees knocking him down to the floor of our ancient shelter.
“You really wanna know why we lived and the others didn’t?” I yelled.
Panting and surprised by my quick take down, BC said, “Yeah, why?”
“Because death rejected us.”