Monday, October 14, 2019

Elegy for Kurt by Eliza Mimski

Rebecca Jean is grief-stricken by the death of her hero Kurt Cobain; by Eliza Mimski.

He stuck the gun inside of his mouth. A single blast with a shotgun, the MTV news reporter said.

"Now he's gone and joined that stupid club," Cobain's mother was quoted as saying. The Morrison/Joplin/Hendrix club.

Man, that was cold, Lah thought to herself. Really hardcore. His mother must be some kind of a trip. Lah could relate, as her mother was a trip too. If Lah were to kill herself, her mother would say something choice like that, something of that order. Something stupid that totally lacked soul.

Lah sat paralyzed in the middle of her bed, surrounded by piles of dirty clothes, which offered some comfort, but not enough. Lights off, MTV running. She thought of how her heroes had died at 27 - Jimi, Janis, Morrison - and now Jimi, Janis, Morrison, Cobain. Twenty-seven must be a real killer year to get through. The phone rang, but she didn't answer it. It would be her one friend, Arcane, and she didn't want to talk to him. He had often accused Kurt of being a nihilist, so how could he understand the agony she was going through? Arcane would say something like... She didn't even want to think of what Arcane would say. F him. F Arcane.

Lah felt pain. Kurt had never hidden his pain, he had celebrated it, blowing it out of his electric guitar, and Lah had flattened her palms against the TV screen and made her eyes slits while receiving his psychic energy. It wasn't love, love was sick. It was a connection, a psychic connection. Lah had painted her room black, a black rectangle, like black box theater, and received his vibes through her television set. Lah's mother had asked if this band she was listening to was satanic. Lah was embarrassed over her mother's stupidity. Her mother didn't even know the difference between satanic and grunge.

Lah was miserable. She couldn't move, her psychic twin had vanished, leaving his music but his body was gone. He was gone, and Lah considered sticking a gun inside of her mouth and joining him.

Her parents had a gun. They kept it locked in the nightstand by their king-sized bed. The key was under the mattress, so if a burglar came, they could quickly find the key, unlock the drawer and blow the bastard to kingdom come. Lah was often tempted to talk to her mother late at night, during the bad times, the times when she felt so confused and didn't want to live, but she was afraid her father would think she was a burglar and blow her away.

Kurt, Kurt, Kurt. MTV played Smells Like Teen Spirit, followed by Lithium, followed by her favorite, Heart-Shaped Box. It was a tribute, the newscaster said. A tribute to Cobain. The newscaster's mouth was moving, he was preaching about Cobain, saying he was the closest thing to this generation's Lennon, but Lah didn't care about Lennon, and she wanted the newscaster to stop referring to her generation as Generation X, as if teenagers had a stamp on their foreheads, branding them, Xing them out. She watched Kurt's chiseled face, his cleft chin, how small he looked next to Krist who jumped up and down while playing the bass. Next to seven foot Krist, Kurt looked like a small blond ant. Lah wore her hair like Kurt's, dyed blond with dark roots growing out. She had even developed stomach pains like the ones that Kurt's doctors said were mysterious and couldn't find a cure for. Lah understood his stomach pains. They weren't so mysterious, it was just the body's way of expressing the pain when things got too bad inside. A way of being able to point to something, like a stomach, rather than feeling bad all over with no place to point to.

Lah needed to flee her room. It pained her to be in these surroundings. Again her phone rang, but Arcane could go to hell. She looked around, posters of Kurt hung all over her walls. Kurt posed before a microphone, his hair blown back, his lips gently singing, his blue Mustang guitar. Kurt standing in a bathtub, clothed, Krist on one side, Dave Grohl on the other. Kurt standing in the foreground, wearing big white-framed sunglasses, Krist and Dave behind him, leaning in with only their faces showing. She had a few posters of Guns 'n' Roses. She'd never gotten around to taking them down. Axl was an egomaniac. He cared only about himself. How could she have liked him for a whole year? She hated Axl. She picked up her shoe and threw it at him.

Lah found herself transported into her parent's bedroom. Things like this happened to her. Her mind would think of a place and then she'd show up. Maybe it was the marijuana. She smoked a lot of dank and it had probably ravaged her brain cells. Maybe she didn't have any brain cells left, like her science teacher had insinuated. Maybe her mind was without any cells at all, just a bald brain surrounded by chaos.

Her parents weren't home, they never were, and Lah found the key under their mattress, held it in her hand. She thought of how MTV had said that Kurt's face was barely distinguishable after the shotgun blast, and they had identified him by his fingerprints. That's the way Lah wanted her face to be - barely distinguishable - making her parents sick to their stomachs, making them puke on their expensive shoes. They would say things to the press like, She had always been such a normal girl, which wasn't the truth at all. Or, We loved Rebecca Jean, but she was just a little hard to understand. Over and over Lah had instructed her mother not to call her by her slave name, but her mother had only rolled her eyes. Or, her mother would say something stupid like, Now she's gone and joined that club. That stupid teenage suicide club. Lah could just imagine.

Lah, Rebecca Jean, would now join Kurt. They'd have their own club, just the two of them. She removed the gun from her parent's drawer - it was small with a snub-nose barrel and wood affixed to the handle, like those wood side-panels she'd seen on old station wagons on TV reruns. She opened the chamber and saw that it was loaded. She sat down on the hard mattress, some kind of posture-pedic thing because her father had a bad back, and played with the gun, twirling it around like the wild west. She caught a glimpse of herself across the room in the mirror of the sliding glass doors of her parent's walk-in closet. She thought she looked like Drew Barrymore in Bad Girls.

Lah grew scared, holding this gun. The handle was cold, and she cocked the trigger. She wished the gun had a long barrel so she could stick it far back into her mouth, like one of those tongue depressors that doctors crammed down your throat to torture you. She needed a 45, or a 38, or a Magnum 357. Go ahead, make my day. Maybe a Smith and Wesson. Or maybe she needed an Uzi. It would take a hell of a lot more to identify her than a fingerprint. She would kill the whole room.

Kurt was gone. He was never coming back. She could listen to his music but he would never be there, alive, for her again, ever. She could imagine him alive or pretend he was alive, but sooner or later she'd have to play the truth. She put the gun inside of her mouth and closed her eyes, sucked on the barrel. It was comforting to know that if things got too bad she could always join him. Down the hall she heard the phone ringing off the hook. She closed her eyes and sucked, cold metal on wet tongue. Her hero was gone. He was gone. She missed him and he was never coming back.

8 comments:

  1. Powerful tale, very relatable dramatization around a real-life tragedy. Lah's grief comes through raw and palpable, yet there's a hint of hope that her tale doesn't have to end as tragically as Kurt's.

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    1. Thank you so much. Yes, I meant it to be hopeful.

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  2. Even in old age it is easy to remember how much adolescence and the teen years sucked. Despite this having no relevance to older people now, it is easy to relate.

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  3. Lah's character is well shown. The bit about her throwing a shoe at Axl Rose's poster is classic. Three quarters of gun deaths in my country Canada are from suicides. A fifteen minute window of teenage angst leads to tragedy because the means to carry through with otherwise transient impulses are there. Lah is disturbed and moody but not atypical.

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  4. I totally agree that she is not atypical, and thanks so much for your comment...

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  5. Very powerful. In a way, hard to read, but you can't stop, which is a sign of good writing.

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  6. Great compliment -- thank you!!

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