Monday, December 31, 2012

Funeral for a friend.

It’s never easy to watch a former friend die. It’s not that easy to watch an enemy die either.

A lot of uncomfortable thoughts went through my mind as I sat by Steve’s bed.

I thought of how I had deserted my fine feathered friend, giving up on my role as a superhero in order to make some real money as a Canadian journalist. Perhaps I had become jaded, cynical.

Maybe I just got tired of busting corporate polluters. It was always the same thing with Steve.

He was always going after climate-change deniers, who were in his opinion at about the same moral and intellectual level as Holocaust deniers, or taking down abusive cops who stood idly by with their thumbs up their asses, laughing like hyenas while disabled people were driven out of their homes, and according to Steve, “Seeing all them miserable bastards walk free while their victims were marginalized, labeled, and ultimately destroyed by the very people who were responsible for their service and protection.”

Well. I was young back then and I guess we all did some foolish things…

If you can’t beat them, join them, right?

We all have to make a living, right? I got tired of living like a piece of shit, never having anything nice, unable to pay the rent or afford a good girlfriend. And who wants a bad girlfriend?

So I guess you could say I sold out my principles for a job. I gave up my freedom for bread. I gave up my integrity for a big fine car and a fancy house. I have the best food and the nicest clothes. Not that I needed the money, but I even married a rich man—just the icing on the cake, really. I don’t care if he blows the pool boy when I’m not around. He looks good in public and doesn’t ask too many questions about my own little peccadilloes.

But Steve had never seen it that way. And oddly enough, Steve had never condemned me for it either.

As Steve once said, “Many are called, few are chosen.”

I have to admit that one made my guts flip over when I heard it, but I don’t think it was meant unkindly. Steve could so easily offend, with his regard for truth, and his complete disgust with the crass, bourgeois materialism, the profligate consumerism, the conspicuous waste of the middle class, coddled and ultimately spoiled by decades of maternal Canadian social policy.

The most unimaginative and uncompetitive people in the world, really, except on a hockey rink.

Steve hadn’t regained consciousness in the last three days.

We were waiting for the end, the doctor and I.

Steve was suffering from ‘an accelerated frame of reference in relativistic terms,’ to quote Doctor Baldur Dash.

It was quite a mystery as to how it all happened. So far I hadn’t found the time to inquire further. Surely Steve had some friends? Someone that I could ask? What had Steve been working on recently? Where had he gone? Who was he after? Poor old Steve, better known as The Heron to tabloid crud-writers, was always after some member of the government, or what passes for corporate leadership in this country.

Steve was always after someone—and generally speaking, someone was always after him.

These people never go down without a big jet of ink, a good squirm, and one last, long, drawn-out slither.

While he wasn’t quite dead yet, his body was slowly collapsing in front of our eyes…sucked into itself as it passed into some other realm of null-space.

“Won’t be long now,” said the Doctor.

The beeps stopped beeping and the monitor showed a flat line.

The doctor looked at me. I shook my head, feeling that it was I who was killing my old friend.

But Steve had stated his desires clearly and firmly in his will, something very few superheroes ever think of. We all think we’re immortal, don’t we? But we all have to grow up someday.

No ‘extraordinary means,’ would be used to keep him alive beyond his allotted time on this Earth.

* * *

Three or four of us stood around as the casket was lowered into the roadside excavation.

Steve was to be used as backfill in a sewer-repair project. Considering how long and hard Steve had fought for the disabled, the mentally ill, the permanently unemployable, and working poor families in this here community, it seemed appropriate. Anyway, none of us wanted to buy him a plot. I suppose the others couldn’t afford to chip in, and I didn’t see why I should. The others drifted away, leaving me alone with a muddy hole in the ground and The Peacock eyeing me suspiciously from across on the other side.

“What brings you here?” She asked harshly. “Slumming? Come to have the last laugh?”

She was wearing a body stocking in November. They say poverty breeds virtue, but that’s an anti-Canadian attitude. Only extreme wealth and power gives a person the proper perspective to put the world and its dirty, stinking, penniless foreign people and unwanted regular Canadians in their rightful place.

“Steve still owes me fifty bucks. I suppose I’ll never see it now.” And then I turned and walked away.

I’m busy and duty has been attended to. Tonight I have to report on how we're going to cut corporate taxes below zero. Someone important will explain it to me. (I hope.)

My editor has been all over me like a dirty shirt, as I've been stalling for a few days on an important assignment, the one where I explain how the oil-sands are not really polluting at all and how everything is the fault of the Americans, or the Chinese, or the working poor of this nation. I sure wish I could have stuck around to find out what happened to Steve, but if it was a serious threat, I would be notified by authorities, and instructed on how best to downplay it in the evening news. Until then, why think about it?

I don’t get paid to think, just talk. I read the news with a straight face, and take myself very seriously indeed.

It’s not a particularly tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

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