To Live Forever – Part 1
I’m going to take a page out of Cardiogirl’s book – er… an entry out of Cardiogirl’s blog – and reprint something from Way-Back-When. In her case, Cardiogirl posts excerpts from her diary, written when she was a teen.
Me, I’m gonna post fiction; a short story in three parts, originally published in my high school newspaper in 1983.
I was 17.
My Journalism class that year, was tapped to publish the school newspaper (The Husky Print) for the first quarter.
My teacher, whose name shamefully escapes me at the moment, told me I was to write a story. She was a big supporter of my dream to become a published author of fiction some day in the distant future.
My first deadline! I had no idea what to write.
I went home and told my mother, also a staunch supporter of my dream, the news, and asked for a suggestion.
“Write about a man who wants to live forever,” she said.
And so I did.
The Editor-in-Chief decided that the story was too long for a single issue, and suggested cutting it into three parts.
“What do I do for the rest of the term?” I asked the teacher.
She told me to bring a book to class until exam week. I very much enjoyed that semester, as I recall.
Anyway, here’s part one of the story – nearly 28 years old, now. All I’ve got to say to that is, “Holy shit.”
No one could forget the night Cecil’s friend died. His name was Gerry Thompson, but the people didn’t remember that. And as time passed, they didn’t recall the way he died, however grisly. They only remembered how Cecil changed.
Cecil Walters was born in 1871, on Christmas morning, and from the moment of birth, became the most popular boy on the block. He grew up handsomely, a smile always playing on his lips, and every girl in Brooklyn dreamed of becoming his wife.
On May 24, 1883, he met Gerald Thompson. Gerry’s family had moved from Manhattan, and the two families watched the fireworks over Central Park together, celebrating the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge. The boys were both 12 years old.
Cecil and Gerry were always together after that. They saw each other nearly every day. And as they grew older, took their girlfriends skating on the Union Pond in winter and dancing in summer. Cecil and Gerry often made the rounds of the taverns in Harlem together before catching one of the horse-drawn public buses back to their side of Brooklyn.
They also went to work together as stock boys in one of the department stores built up by Alexander T. Stewart.
It was in 1892, when at twenty-one, both were invited by their employer to attend a ball at his home, a huge marble structure, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. They had both advanced into the security department of the store.
“What’s this even all about?” asked Gerry, as they climbed into the private carriage they’d rented.
“It’s to celebrate. Their house is being replaced.”
“Replaced? They’re building again?”
Cecil laughed. “No, Stewart got an offer from some other tycoon. Those three houses on the corner will be replace by a hotel. It will be called the Waldorf-Astoria. His neighbour has a hand in the deal.”
Gerry whistled. “Boy! What I wouldn’t give to have that kind of money!”
They enjoyed the ball immensely. It was close to midnight when Cecil decided it was time to get Gerry home. He’d had a lot to drink and Cecil had had more than his share, as well.
“Tell me something, Cec….,” Gerry said as they staggered into the fresh air. “How sloshed am I?” He collapsed in a convulsion of giggles.
Cecil began to laugh uncontrollably. “Oh, you’re sloshed alright!”
“What’d I drink?” Gerry still laughed.
“Everything they handed you!”
Gerry, still laughing hysterically, began to cross to the other side of Fifth Ave., to where they were to meet their carriage.
Just then, Cecil heard a crash and the whinny of frightened horses. A carriage careened around the corner and Gerry was thrown under the hooves of the team. The runaway carriage continued on down the street.
In the silence, broken only by the distant voices from the Stewart home, Cecil looked at his friend’s motionless form lying in the gutter. He recalled a similar trick he’d played on Gerry and began to laugh again.
“Okay, Gerry, get up and dust your pants off. It’s a long way home!”
When Gerry didn’t move, Cecil stopped laughing. Their carriage pulled up on the other side of the street.
Cecil stepped off the curb to help Gerry up. He bent over him and was about grab his arm when he saw the blood, and the gory hole where Gerry’s face had been.
* * *
Oh, and as a PS, please help Cardiogirl save the Bacon.