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Brookside is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I've ever seen in person or even on television, it's laid out in swirls and groves and I'd argue quite poorly planned in general, the sections are in places labeled alphabetically and in others by number, and in some places by both. I've spent many hours driving around looking through it, searching halfheartedly for Bill but never having the full on faith to look in proper. As I was driving through today, knowing this is one of my last days of child care as provided by children in school, and as I've just worked my first shift back at Teasers as of last Monday, it seemed like this wasn't something I could put off any longer. He's been dead for two and a half years and I suspect I was the first to have completed the journey through one of the cities largest burial grounds to find the unmarked gave where he lays.

The cemetery it's self is beautifully treed, with glorious markers, I've searched on a number of occasions for him, knowing he is in 38-0296. After half an hour of driving and finding sections A-P and sections 18-37 I finally downloaded a map of the cemetery to learn why I couldn't find 38. Select 38, is located beyond the military cemetery at the back, near the fence by where the airport and the highway connect, on the very edge of the property, there are no trees for a good football fields length and one would assume the cemetery it'self had ended where the beautiful grooming tappers into weeds and gravel and concrete bars and backhoes... But it does't around a curved road, with a collection of sparsely placed saplings less than 6ft tall is select 38, a series of mostly unmarked plots, in various states of freshly dug and grown over, some with small ground plaques to commemorate someone that was once cared about but mostly, unless you were to know where to look you'd think this tiny field of weeds was just overgrowth and storage. This is where they put you when you can't afford to die. When no one claims the body, when work, begrudgingly pays for the cheapest burial. I found myself drawn towards a poplar sapling as poplars are by far my favourite tree, their leaves applauding all summer long in praise of the breeze. And as I looked 3 feet from the poplar a small ground plaque engraved with the lyrics to "Blackbird" lay slightly overgrown, "take these broken wings and learn to fly, all your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive". I looked for some signage to point me in the right direction but there are no signs in select 38, no directions, for the most part I would imagine there isn't a lot of demand for visitors to this section. I noticed that under "Blackbirds" marker was a mental circle with numbers stamped, in fact they seemed everywhere in the weed jungle, cemetery markers so they know where they've stuck what bodies I suspect, "Blackbird" was 0297, how serendipitous. Kicking at the ground around me I found nothing, several feet away was 0294 so all that left was the space between overgrown with weeds, I pulled and dug, leaning gingerly up against the baby poplar, and there it was, an overgrown marker of a friend no one loved and no one remembers. In this field of nothingness, the wasteland of the cemetery there lies my friend Bill, with no marker, and no headstone. Adrift in a sea of lost, I scrubbed at the cemetery marker until the 296 was clear to me, and I spoke to him for awhile.

I will buy him a marker, I will remember.

I feel like it is my job to remember.

I know I couldn't have saved him.

I know I didn't kill him.

Sometimes though, you just need to do something. And I need to do this.

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Tip; the bartender on your way out the door.
Tip; your hat as you pass by him on the street.
Tip; the cab driver as he drops you in front of the bridge.
Tip; the bottle back and feel it's amber solace slide down your throat.
Tip; be sure to take off your jacket and boots.
Tip; as you stumble up to the platform, grab the railing.
Tip; over the edge as you fall into the dark.

Some days it feels like there is no other answer, just the bottle and the dark.

His last text message to her read: "Let love reign always, no matter the cost." When they found his body in a crack house two weeks later she wasn't surprised. Another of the drunks he'd worked with spared her from having to go down and identify the body. The two of them were really the only friends he'd had.

"You couldn't have saved him ya know," her partner offers the night of the funeral.

"I know," she replies; the tears starting again, stinging against the mascara that trails across her cheek bones, "but I could have tried harder."

Things are different after, she tries harder to keep her distance. He's not the only one, there are more, they come down daily for their liquid courage injections, don't want too much blood in their alcohol streams. One of them had a stroke a few weeks ago, came in to confess over a series of tequilas and vodka & waters.

She suggests a wager, to see who could be sober the longest. Bet a thousand dollars she didn't have on it. He's a competitive drunk and he accepts, they'll start next week, no the week after... It goes on.

In the DJ's jeep on a Thursday night ride home, she confesses to the wager and the DJ replies, "If he quits drinking we all lose. That guy spends a hundred grand a year in the bar. Your little bet could ruin us all!"

The lump rises in her throat as she counters, "We all lose if he drinks himself to death too. He's already had a stroke; he's got a fatty liver and an enlarged heart, the doc's only giving him six months if he doesn't smarten up."

"Yeah but, I mean, he can't quit drinking..."

She bites her tongue thinking loud enough that she's sure her friend can hear her. I can't have another one die on me. I'm at four since September. I can't do this anymore. Her tears are whipped away by the wind in the jeep and he kindly pretends not to notice.

The radio kicks in, breaking the silence as they bound over the potholes in the west end of town, some crass pop tune ringing in her ear drums as they turn the corner onto her street.

She jumps out of the jeep. "Thanks for the ride love, see ya tomorrow." She slams the rickety door and blows him a kiss, stumbles into her darkened house, reaches into the cabinet, mixes the vodka with some water.

Some days it feels like there is no other answer, just the bottle and the dark.

This was my week ten entry for LJ idol: topic "“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time” please read/comment/vote when available, there are some really talented writers out there.


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