PORTRAIT OF A MISSED FRIEND
His young body entombed for eternity in this long varnished box? Hard to believe.
The coffin, held by two cords, slowly slips into its grave, the heavy silence of the cemetery hardly troubled by quiet sobs. Some murmured goodbyes, several roses thrown below ground and here we are walking towards the exit, in sad and quivering little groups.
I had not seen him in a long time and had only heard occasional updates. Everything about him was shrouded by an aura that was captivating, though sometimes repulsive.
Nearing the cars, tongues loosened. We let ourselves laugh, reminiscing about his endearing, delinquent personality.
During his last detox, he supposedly seduced several nurses and had sex with the director on her desk, before moonlighting as the coach of the local soccer club.
In his own shameless way, he was the greatest seducer that we had ever known. The kind who expertly handles women, but without any passion, because, as he confided in me once in his hoarse voice, “believe me man, when it comes to pleasure, nothing beats smack.”
Just as he had prophesized during one of our nights of bingeing, we found him stiff, alone in an attic apartment, holding his last syringe.
What remains of him for us are dozens of hilarious memories that his tragic destiny shrouds, in hindsight, in an ironic fate.
He was a misfit with an uncertain charm, an impulsive who lived in the present, without thoughts or plans, which gave every one of his acts a rare authenticity.
He was a bluffer, and a tightrope walker exercising his gift of acting in the precarious settings of daily life.
The thought of never seeing him again troubles me profoundly. A bit like the attentive observation of a candle dwindling, at the moment when the flame transforms itself into a grayish smoke escaping from a charred wick, soon dead and shriveled.
Text published in my book Spirit (2008)
Translated from French by Nicolas Allinder