Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 63 (Sasha’s Funeral)
Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 63 of the my online book “Excited Delirium”. Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index. Enjoy.
Sasha Pigeon would have taken great pleasure in knowing that his wake was the same day as the start of the Olympics in China. Unfortunately, this day would also live in the memories of billions around the globe as a day of horror, a day of shock and the day on which the world changed forever.
August 8, 2008 would live in the genetic history of humankind forever, like the Kennedy assassination or the intentional destruction of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Centre.
Sasha Pigeon had always loved the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. The euphoric sense of celebration. The repetition of the ‘peace and love’ message that permeated the conflicting sense of competition. The elaborate over-the-top staging and drama that was designed to outdo the previous activity. The open ceremonies seemed to him like a few hours of watching a live version of ‘Fantasia’.
He had actually gone to see the 1984 opening in Las Angeles and the 2004 opening in Greece, and he would have gone to Beijing to be a spectator with the entire Olympic games, had it not been for his sickness and poverty.
He would have loved to have been there in person because this year’s opening would be unique. For years, the Chinese government was promising something completely original. For many in China, when the number ‘eight’ is spoken in Mandarin it sounds very much like the Mandarin word for ‘luck’. It could also be interpreted as the word for ‘good fortune’ or ‘prosperity’.
It’s this superstitious belief in the power of specific numbers that have lead to a mania of sorts with things as simple as phone numbers. It’s said that a Hong Kong businessman once paid several hundred thousand dollars for a phone number that was 888-8888.
In Beijing, the ceremonies were scheduled to start at 8:08 PM, Beijing time. Because of the time change, this translated to 8:08AM on Friday, August 8 in New York.
Sasha’s wake was scheduled for 6AM, more than two hours before the intended start. The planners argued that it should be early, mainly so that visitors could still make their way to work, but also so that they could get to the party mode as the Olympic festivities began.
That didn’t include Eddie, Kite, Chaos and Hummus. They all went early to the wake, arriving at Finnegan’s, Sasha Pigeon’s favourite gay bar in New York, at around 6AM. None of them had slept the previous night, discussing what to do or how to prevent the planned disaster from happening. They had been frantic contacting the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Chinese Embassy and a few newspapers and TV shows, but all of their complaints had fallen on deaf ears. Or voice mail boxes. It seemed everyone in the world was covering the opening ceremonies, but few were around to heed their warnings. They posted an announcement on YouTube, but few people in North America were awake to watch it.
They stumbled into Finnegan`s, exhausted from the previous night and ready to hope that all that they had heard from Garamond and others and his mysterious files would all be an elaborate hoax.
Shortly after they arrived, the bar owner switched on the TV to the news to get the coverage they were seeking. Forest Samson was there, with dozens of others from the community, all of them already well primed for a celebration that would have been appreciated by their late friend.
“Eddie!” Forest yelled above the music. Forest and his band had just finished a small set of songs, the last being “Turn up the Sun” by Oasis.
Kite and the others couldn’t resist. They started teasing him and saying his name in a voice and manner that only 14-year olds in the school yard can do when teasing their friends. They were careful to be quiet enough so that Forest wouldn’t hear them.
He managed to smile briefly, and then reminded himself why they were all here. He put on a stoic face and flew over to Forest to embrace him. The hug was a little too long for everyone’s comfort, and then they realized that Eddie was crying, weeping into the shoulders of this other man. They could see him shudder a few times, and they awoke to the idea that Eddie was currently riding a roller-coaster ride of emotions, all of which were revealing themselves to him. All of which had been repressed for some time because of his ambitions with the OMNINet.
He pushed himself away from Forest and apologized for blubbering like an oaf, his words inaudible to his other friends, simply because of the tuning of the band in the background.
“We’re going to play a couple of tunes in a few minutes,” Forest said in Eddie’s ear. You’re sticking around for that, right?”
“Most definitely, I will. It’ll be great to see you guys playing again,” Eddie said keenly. Friends of Forest, or FOF, were an old standby when Eddie was in his party days with Sasha and the gang. They were very good, did mostly alt, 80s and 90s British stuff like Oasis, the Charlatans and the odd Black Grape song.
“Most of the songs that we sing are by bands from a lovely little English village called Manchester, named after our friend over here. Tonight, however, we’re playing something from a small band from Oxfordshire, a small band known as Radiohead,” Forest announced as he played the acoustic solo version of True Love Waits:
I’ll drown my beliefs
To have you be in peace …
“Oh crap …” Eddie sighed. Kite and the others surrounded him to hear Forest and watch their friend.
“Sasha used to sing this song to me all the time. I hated Radiohead, but this was one of the only songs of theirs that I kinda liked.”
… And true love waits
in haunted attics …
I’ll drown my beliefs
To have you be in peace …
“Hey Eddie,” Hummus started to ask, “how did Forest know that this was ‘your song’ with Sasha?”
“I didn’t think he did. Maybe he made an arrangement with Forest before he died? I don’t know,” Eddie said, shaking his head in amazement of the playing of the song and the emotion that it cast off.
… Just lonely, lonely
Just lonely, lonely …
“Uh … is it me, or do the rest of you feel a little awkward right now?” Chaos asked.
“Just a bit. I guess he’s trying to tell me something,” Eddie pushed back, annoyed. “Anyways, back off, or I’ll have to break you.”
“Sorry man,” Chaos said, realizing it was time to ease up on the teasing.
“No problem,” Eddie said, as he cooled off. “I feel a little tense these days. My business life is done. My personal life is for shit. And I’m at the wake for my ex. My employer is trying to destroy the world – or at least half of it. Yay. Fun times.”
“No kidding. We worked all night last night trying to get some things organized, trying to get people to listen, but we had no luck, man.”
“I know. Our efforts might still come in handy, but there’s no way anyone was listening to us. What a fucking joke,” Eddie announced with a huge sense of shame and embarrassment. He had joined up with the biggest frauds and crooks on the planet and he felt he had nothing to show for it.
“Eddie, I hate to be an arse, but we shouldn’t hang around too long,” Kite interrupted. “If we can still get access to your files, or maybe get some more stories out to the public, we can save more folks.”
“All right, all right, I’ll talk to Forest once he’s done and we’ll get moving on.”
Forest was almost finished, playing the last few chords of the short song about doing just about anything that a loved one asks, so the four of them stood and stared.
“OK everyone, sound check over,” Forest said into the mike and then leapt down to meet Eddie and his friends. “I’m sorry about using your song, but I know that Sash loved it. He told me a dozen times that I had to play it at his wake and he also wanted you hear. What do you think?”
“I think we need to talk later,” Eddie said as he embraced Forest. “I have to take care of some business right now.”
Just as he let go, they all caught the few keywords that they feared most that morning: “Beijing Crushed by 8.2 Earthquake. Details Unknown.”
They all looked at each other in horror and then each one reached for a different seat at the same time. As they sat, they all wondered aloud at the same time: “They fucking did it. They created the quake.”
As they spoke, Kite, Chaos and Hummus all went to the entertainment centre and switched on the news. They switched to the International News Centre, or INC, a media conglomerate owned by the OMNINet. A reporter was dictating a standard load of introductory commentary, all designed to transport watchers into the spirit of the games, but the reporter also kept alluding to several ideas that seemed a little odd: this launch will not be without its controversies, the Chinese government is currently at an economic standstill with Western governments, China may be actively supporting terrorism in Iran and other countries, challenges with Tibet and the need to liberate that country, and so on.
They were all a little confused because the reporting seemed so jaded.
And then it happened.
As the reporter stood outside what is referred to as the ‘Bird’s Nest’, the elaborate steel and glass stadium in central Beijing that would house the starting ceremonies, it collapsed in the background.
Within moments, absolute pandemonium erupted.
The Great 08 – the quake that would bring Beijing to its knees – had begun, just as Garamond had planned.
(Note: “Excited Delirium” is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .