Chapter 16 : Memories Haunt Me
February 18, 1999
July 4, 1991.

I'm haunted by memories. Memories that snake through the back of my mind and inconveniently decided to pop out from time to time.

My mind is like a sponge, soaking up details, snippets, pieces and shards of life as it trips on by. Bring me on a guided tour and, foaming at the mouth, I will be able bring you to each of the sites and explain to you it's significance.

Ask me the name of the person you just introduced me to, what I had for lunch two days ago, or what year I went to Saint Martin, and I will blankly stare at you.

Memories are funny like that. I'm haunted by memories that I can't remember. I'm haunted by memories that I can not forget.

The body lay before me, as I gazed down through the three flights of stairs. I had been called for from the roof, where William Tell was being serenaded by the booms and claps of M-80's and glittering lights exploding over the Charles. The urgency of the call had my at full speed, until I hit the top of the landing just outside the apartment, Apartment #3...

From next to the body, the glistening wet face of Emma stared up at me, hand clutching his to her chest, and I froze. My eyes had registered what was going on, but my mind blocked it out, a sense of urgency running through it, coursing through the neurons as adrenaline exploded through my body, legs taking stairs three, four at a time downhill.

"Don't move him," someone said, as I saw the body twitch slightly. It could have been me that said it.

Emma looked at me as I came up across from her as she looked back down at him, softly repeating "It'll be alright. Stay with me. Stay with me."

The blonde was in the corner standing, silently weeping, as Emmy held her.

The gay man who had hit on me earlier came in through the brownstone's front door.

"The ambulance is pulling up," he declared, slightly out of breath.

The foyer was suddenly swamped by EMS workers in blue and white, a fitting mix for the night as red cascaded off the walls from the spinning lights outside on Commonwealth Avenue.

"We need some room, can you move everyone outside?" It was one of the workers. I collected the girls and brought them outside. His girlfriend was going in the ambulance with them. We would follow in a half hour.

We gathered on the lawn that divided Commonwealth Avenue, nervously smoking cigarettes in the damp air as fireworks glowed across the white of the ambulance pulling away, cascading red flashes fading in the distance replaced by the lights from the show overhead, reflected from the dew on the trees surrounding us.

Emmy's partygoers slowly made their exit as they learned of the tragedy that played out beneath their feet, silently, and without their knowledge. We stood in a circle, the four of us, like stagecoachers defending ourselves against the classic Indian attack out west.

Nerves frayed, hands shaking, my gay suitor offers up a joint to help everyone calm down. Some jokes get cracked, but the mood stays as dark as the night now that the fireworks have ceased, seemingly in respect for the events unfolding.

I hail a cab for Emmy, Emma, and myself and the three of us are whisked off to the hospital, to sit in a private waiting room with the boy's girlfriend who's eyes are stained red. I fear the color will never change back.

We sit, waiting. Hushed words between conspirators, comfort in the form of cliches and denial, and the waiting. Yes, the waiting. Tears dry up as the hands of the clock tick on by. Until there is nothing more I can do but head back to my hotel room to grab a fitful hour of sleep before work.

I can't concentrate. A day passes into two, three. Daily calls with Emmy give no progress until day three. "His parents decided to take him off life support."

Each year I watch the fireworks, coming to enjoy them a bit more as time moves on. But I always light one for him, and watch as that rocket soars into the sky.

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