Friday, May 03, 2013

Stations of the Breath - Part Three


Continued from Part One and Part Two.

A missive from Lloyd on his mention in the last chapter:

That Lloyd sounds like a jerk.

He didn’t use the word jerk. The word he used summed up his thoughts perfectly but it’s a lot less offensive in his locality than to most of my North American readers, so let’s just say ‘jerk’ which isn’t nearly as evocative, but it’ll do. Lloyd comes back later, near the ground zero of this tale, but I don’t remember him in the next part. Which doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.

For some reason, I remember Dale instead. He was tall, Korean, a good trombone player and either dated a friend of mine or (for reasons best known only to them) didn’t mind people thinking that they were dating. He is the first person I remember speaking to after Zoe’s funeral no more than an hour later, one of the groups of smokers lingering at the double doors beside the breezeway. He was giving cigarettes away to anyone who stopped to chat. I didn’t smoke but took one, grateful to concentrate on the nicotine alone.

He was a music student and I was in theatre, so I didn’t know him very well. I always thought of him as a friendly if quiet guy, so it was surprising to find him holding court with such authority. Everyone got a smoke and an “Are you okay? You’ll be okay,” rundown. I remember the shell-shocked mourners smoking and staring at anything other than each other, and hearing Dale say “If anybody here – anybody – ever gets that bad, you can call me. I’ll give you my number. I don’t care if it’s 4am. Just call me, I’ll talk you down or find somebody who’ll help. Anybody.”

I heard him say it four or five times over the three cigarettes he’d given me, which made me nauseous, which was better than thinking about Zoe. He didn’t make the offer earnestly; it didn’t sound like he expected to change anybody’s life or dedicate himself to telephone psychiatry. It sounded more like a matter-of-fact, pragmatic offer; something along the lines of nobody wants to see this again. Call me, it might help. Don’t let it happen again.

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