Emily and I were dressed in all black, like the committed New Wavers that we were. We made our way through the morning wind to the cafeteria. Siouxsie and the Banshees were still playing in my head. Once we got inside the warm cafeteria I noticed the ambulance, police cars and fire engines outside the windows. I saw a white stretcher with what looked like a body on it placed inside the back of the ambulance. Emily asked me what was going on. I didn’t know.
No one in the cafeteria was eating. Everyone was looking out those same dreary windows. I held Emily’s hand tight in mine. I was already addicted to the small amount of physical affection she gave me. I did not realize then that for the rest of my life I would be addicted to physical affection from women.
As I watched the ambulance quickly speed away, Aron came up beside me. Aron was a friend of mine who by the age of sixteen was already hooked on cocaine along with his girlfriend Heather. I always wanted to do something sexual with Heather because she was distinctively beautiful with her long blond hair and blue eyes. Aron had told me that she was good in bed. Always wanted to be the one on top.
Aron looked at me and said, “Fucking Corey tried to kill himself.”
I don’t know if it was the initial shock, the weed, the blowjob or a combination of all three but for a moment I lost myself. I could see myself from a distance but it didn’t feel like me I was looking at. Reality contracted and it took Emily yanking my arm to bring me back again.
“What did he say?” Emily asked me.
Aron leaned forward and said, “Fucking Corey tried to kill himself.”
Corey was my best friend in high school. It mattered a lot to me because he was one of the cooler guys in the school. Even though I had heard that I was cool I never thought of myself in that way. I never felt good enough, always suffering from a terrible sense of myself. When Corey became my closest friend it felt like one of the better things that ever happened to me. But I could not understand why he would want to be friends with someone like me and feared our relationship falling a part.
Corey was sixteen but his height made him look older than that. He was the most New Wave guy I had ever met. New Wave guys like Corey only existed in London or New York I thought. Not at The Athenian School.
I knew Corey was interested in suicide but I didn’t think it was real. I just thought it was something he used to make himself cool.
He collected nooses and hung them on his wall. He was expert at freeing himself from a noose and would often show off while we were hanging out in his dorm room. He prided himself on being able to free himself from a noose “right before the lights went out.” I always thought it was fucked up but Corey was into death related things and listened to dark, electronic music.
But I knew this time it was not a mistake. The day before, Corey had had an upsetting conversation with his father. His father had threatened to disown him like he would often do whenever Corey would not conform to his will. Corey told me about how pissed off he was at his father as we sat in the smoking section smoking clove cigarettes. “I fucking hate that man,” I remembered him saying to me. But aggression was normal for us back then.
“He is not very alive,” Aron said to me as he shook his head.
Emily tried to hug me but I ran outside. I needed to find out what the fuck happened and where Corey was. When I got to Corey’s dormitory I was held back by school staff and police officers. “What the fuck happened?” I asked but no one had any answers. The music teacher who was smoking a cigarette said, “Go to the cafeteria and we will inform you about what is going on soon.” That is the thing I hated about adults, they never told the truth on the spot.
As I walked back to the cafeteria feeling like a part of my life was about to end, I remembered my conversation with Corey in the smoking section. I tried hard to remember the exact words he said.
“I hate the man. He doesn’t realize that the point of life is to have the experience of being alive before it ends. My dad and humans in general get caught up in so much petty bullshit,” Corey said to me as he smoked.
“Humans are moving from one experience to another. It is only the ego that attaches itself to one experience and says it is better than another experience. The ego wants to be special and so it judges experiences it does not like. But all experiences are equal,” Corey said. “But my father is too caught up in the bullshit to see any of this. He feeds of his ego all day long and I hate the man for it.”
Corey continued on, “A person wants to get to a point where they are not judging anyone’s experiences anymore. That is ultimate freedom, freedom from judgements. And the only way to free yourself from judgement is to free yourself from attachment to the ego That’s why I like the noose. When you get tight in there your fucking ego vanishes.” I listened to Corey without saying much. Sometimes that is all a person needs and besides, I didn’t know shit about what he was talking about.
“My heroes are not my parents or teachers or all the people they try and get us interested in in school. My heroes are the outsiders who live with such extremes in them. I want to pull myself away from mainstream society and live in a weird underworld but my father sees this as such a failure. I am supposed to go to college and get this respectable career and have a safe little life or else he will not support me anymore. This person that I am is not allowed and my father wants to crush it. He hates who I have become and judges me to death for not doing what he thinks is right. But fuck him. I am going to do what I want and he is going to be sorry for it.”
We finished our clove cigarettes and left the smoking section. I thought he meant he was going to live the weird outsider life that he was talking about and not going to care what his father thought. I didn’t realize he was speaking cryptically about what he was going to do that night.
As I walked back into the cafeteria I felt terrible about getting a blowjob when my best friend was almost dead. For the rest of my life oral sex and shame would be inextricably linked.