By: J.J. Cheesman
The last chat I ever Brody was the strangest, most wondrous, and beautifully terrifying conversation I ever had, and it changed my life forever. Are you familiar with the writing of Edgar Allen Poe? If not, don’t worry, I wasn’t either. But Brody was, he was obsessed with him. Brody was an English Literature major, and of all the works he liked to talk about, ‘THE RAVEN’ was his favorite. He knew it by heart, and he made sure that I, and all our other friends knew it too.
Brody was also a writer, he spent a lot of time when we were younger inside, typing up a storm on his computer. He was very secretive about it, never showing any of his writing to anyone, no matter how much he was asked to show his work. You might think, then, that because of his behavior and interests that Brody was a sad individual. Well, Brody actually happened to be the life of any party. Everyone loved him.
Whenever Brody came home from Chicago; where he went to college, everyone was made aware. Facebook notifications, and texts of all sorts from friends would blow up my phone, letting me know that Brody was back in town. The nights were always long, and mornings were always late for the time he was home. I would be out with Brody and the rest of our crew, going from bar to bar, partying it up until two or three in the morning. Because, well, that’s just what we all did. It was boring when Brody was gone, and when he was around everyone was drawn to him, so I ALWAYS knew when he was in town. That’s why it was so strange, that at 12:00 A.M. on Monday last week, I was awoken by a knock at my door.
Now to be quite honest, I was never as smart as Brody. I never went to college, but I DID have a job at a factory in town. It had been a long shift at work that day, so imagine my anger when I was startled out of my sleep at such a late hour. I got out of bed and grumbled while I was half asleep, all the way to the door and swung it open, ready to shout at whoever was behind it. To my surprise, Brody stood there on my porch. He smelled of booze, and he had tears in his eyes.
“Brody…? What the hell is going on? Are you okay?” I asked, and when I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I added, “and when the hell did you get back?” Brody wavered a moment, but steadied himself by placing a hand on the door frame. “Hey Luke… I got here just a little while ago, I didn’t know if you had time to talk or not.” Brody sniffed loudly, and it seemed that he might start bawling right there on the porch.
“Dude, of course, come in!” I moved aside and out of the doorway to let him through, but Brody didn’t move.
“Actually, can we talk outside? I really need the fresh air…” I nodded and stepped outside with him, and we sat down on the two chairs that I have out on my porch. I waited for Brody to speak, but his red puffy eyes stared out into the darkness of my front yard, and he remained silent for a long time. So I decided to break the ice.
“Brody, what’s going on, are you in trouble or something? Is it your parents?” I asked, and when I did, Brody smiled and chuckled in a genuine manner as a couple tears freely fell from his face. He was breaking my heart, and I was at a loss for words. Brody wiped his face with the back of his hand.
“No, I’m not in trouble, I just have a lot on my mind. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen after tonight. I sent you an email, did you get it?” He asked. I shook my head and pulled out my phone to check. I hadn’t looked at my email in weeks.
“No” Brody put up a hand, and I stopped.
“Don’t read it now in front of me, I’d be too embarrassed.” I did as he asked, and put the phone back in my pocket. He breathed in heavily, and exhaled his breath in one long, breathy discharge.
“I’m going to tell you something Luke, something I’ve kept from everyone here for a long time, because I didn’t know how to say it. But I want to tell you, because you’ve been my closest friend since grade school, and you have always been there for me.” I grew worried, what could it possibly be? Was Brody actually in trouble? Was he sick? I waited, impatient and scared of what he was about to say.
Brody didn’t look at me, he kept his gaze fixed somewhere out in the distance, and finally he spoke.
“Luke, I’m gay.” Brody said sadly, as if he told me he murdered someone. I was stunned for a moment, and then I couldn’t help but laugh loudly. Brody turned to me then, with a solemn and serious look, he was about to say something, but I cut him off.
“That’s IT?” I asked. He looked a little surprised.
“Look man, I’m sorry I laughed, I don’t mean to take it lightly, it means a lot that you told me. But you don’t have to be so sad about it, it’s who you are! You’re my friend man, I don’t care what your interests are, you should know that!”
It was true too, I didn’t care what Brody did with his life, and to be honest I wasn’t TOO surprised. Brody did have one or two girlfriends in high school, but he was never serious with any of them, and as far as I knew he hadn’t been with a girl since then. Brody smiled, and then he too, laughed. He seemed happier then, and lighter too. Even the strong smell of booze started to ebb.
After that, we began to talk normally again. We started reminiscing about old times, and talking about which one of our friends was the most annoying. I asked him about school and how that was going, but he didn’t have much to say about that. Brody and I were talking so intently that I had lost track of the time, and the first few beams of daylight began to creep over the horizon.
“Looks like I should get going.” Brody said, and I nodded.
“Yeah, I can’t believe we were out here this long, do you want a ride?” Brody’s parents’ house; where he stayed when he came back to town, was just down the street. He usually walked whenever he visited, and when I looked in the driveway, I saw his car wasn’t there.
“Nah, man I can walk, you get yourself some sleep.” I stood, and Brody extended his hand as he did the same. I grabbed it, and pulled him into a tight embrace.
“I love you like a brother, you know that right?” I said.
“Yeah…” He said, choking up just a bit.
“And you won’t forget it?” I asked him.
“Nevermore.” He said.
When we came apart, he asked.
“Can you do me a quick favor, and get me a glass of water?” He asked. I nodded and went inside to get it. When I came back out, Brody was gone. I thought that most likely he’d just been exhausted and wanted to get home. I went inside and drank the water myself, then I went to bed and crashed. Several hours later, I was startled awake once again, this time to the sound of my cell phone ringing. I groaned and slapped my hand around the nightstand in search of the cell. When my hand found it, I answered it with an irritated,
It was Jenny, a mutual friend of Brody and I. She was hysterical and in tears.
“Luke… oh god Luke… Brody’s dead!” I bolted up in my bed. “What!?”, I shouted, “How, what the hell happened!?”
“It’s terrible Luke, his parents got the call this morning! He hung himself, Luke!” Jenny then broke into a fit of uncontrollable sobbing. What the hell did she mean? It didn’t make sense. I felt a little better then, she must have been mistaken.
“Jenny, why would the police have called his parents, I just talked to him, he’s home.” I said, a little more calmly. From her end of the phone, it didn’t seem as though Jenny heard me over her own crying.
“Jenny!”, I yelled, “Calm down a second, okay?” Jenny’s sobs quieted down a bit and she seemed to gain some composure. After a minute, her voice came back.
“I’m sorry Luke, it’s just so sad, his roommate found him yesterday when he came home, he got drunk and hung himself with his own belt. Why the hell would he do that Luke?” I was going to tell her that it was impossible. Brody couldn’t be dead in Chicago; I just spoke to him. But something made me stop. Something Brody said just before he asked for a drink of water, ‘Nevermore’.
“Listen Jenny, I have to go.” I hung up the phone, and I dove under my bed to grab my laptop. I booted it up, and went to my email. I had thirty-one new emails. They were all from Brody, and all but one had official looking subject titles. The last one sent however, had a simple title, ‘I’m sorry Luke’. Within it, was a letter fraught with drunken spelling errors and mistakes. It was the last thing Brody ever wrote, and it was his suicide note.
Within it, he spoke of how he had always felt alienated. He suffered from depression, depression that was worsened by his thoughts of feeling like he was weak for feeling sad. He wrote about how he didn’t know how to make himself feel better, and that he refused to see a therapist, because in his mind he would be a freak. Then, lastly, he told me about how he finally got the courage to admit to his parents that he was gay, and they disowned him for it. His father called him worthless.
He said that he had always known his son to be a faggot, and that he was never to come back home again. In his words, ‘Nevermore’.
I didn’t call his parents to confirm his death, it was all over Facebook soon enough. Besides, I refuse to even see the pieces of shit who, in my mind at least, had a hand in killing my best friend. You deserved better, Brody, God dammit, you deserved so much better. I should have helped you, I should have paid more attention, I should have been the friend you thought I was.
Somehow, from beyond the grave, you came to ME for a closure that was never given to you in life, and that’s an honor that has been given to me, that will never, EVER, be matched.
I’ve read all of your stories by the way, another honor that I’m not worth having. I read them over and over again, hoping that one day, I will be able to mutter to myself.
‘’T is some visitor, entreating entrance at my chamber door.’