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Dreams of a Phoenix
By Jimmy Rose
I go through stages. There are times I see him in films or maybe just his image, and I hate him. I hate him for leaving us behind, leaving so few films, for leaving our world because his body was full of poison willingly taken. Then I hate him because he's gone, taken a selfish path, and I'll never get the chance to meet him in person. Not that it ever would have come to pass anyway.
Then something will happen. Usually it will be a faint memory, not very tangible, but cords are tugged and paths are created leading me from one careening thought to the next which inevitably ends up staring him in the face. And then I fall into obsession, maybe even idolatrous worship. I curse myself for throwing away in hasty frustration the articles and pictures I've collected. I return the Glatt biography to its place next its mates (biographies of Oscar Wilde, Leonard Bernstein, Mozart, and Faulkner) from the box of crap collected for the next garage sale. "Stand by Me" gets pulled from the same box and is replaced on the shelf with "E.T.", "Cyrano de Bergerac," and "Cinema Pardiso" (films so grouped because for whatever reason they make me ache). I scour the web for information, pictures to replace the ones thrown out, and those like-minded: the people who after four years are still saddened by this loss, who see his face and yearn for life to return, who ask "Why?" and receive no answers, who remember hearing the news - where and when and how - just as our parents remember Kennedy (I was in a Denny's, talking about "My Own Private Idaho" with some of the cast members from a local production of "The Skin of Our Teeth". Someone casually mentioned his death the day before. I shrugged it off, but the moment I got home I turned to CNN. I heard the announcement then, sitting alone in the dark around 3:00 A.M. glad no one was awake to hear me cry), and the people who never knew him but want simply to thank him for touching them with honesty, with sincerity, and with the force of memory.
And then the dreams begin. I have three dreams about him - always the same.