Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Part 16 of the Griffin series.  This follows Annus Mirabilis.

When Helena died, Griffin had to be the organizer, the stoic presence.  He hugged and shook hands, he looked into the eyes of her tearful friends and relatives.  He stood in the front, closed casket of her mere feet away, minister speaking at the front, and he knew people were focused on him, how was he feeling, what could he be feeling.  There were flowers and pictures of her and he couldn’t look.  The minister had glasses and a white beard and was dressed in white and brown and he focused on him when he was looking up.  His name, and loving husband, were how he was mentioned, fourteen times to his count.  Richard sat next to him, head tilted, still.

During the reception that followed, Griffin would sneak outside and smoke, everyone's condolences becoming too much.  He found a spot that was away from other huddled smokers so he could be alone.  One of these times, he looked up into a crystal blue sky and whispered, you’re gone, just like that.  He feels a sprinkle of rain, impossible it seemed since there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  He closed his eyes, inhaled and exhaled smoke, felt the brief spray of drops touch his skin, imagined her standing before him.


When Richard died, swarms of young people attended his funeral.  Griffin was taken aback by the presence, that his son, only 23, had amassed this number of people who would attend his funeral.  They were well behaved, respectfully mournful, some even introduced themselves to him, offered condolences.  Outside, it was blustery, rainy.  The mourners scurried in wet, hair blown wild.

Griffin sat in the front row, was angry.  My son died alone at night on a city street, the gunman still at large.  Where were all you people then?  If any one of you were there, you so-called friends, he might still be alive.  He was prepared to eulogize.  He thought he might add, thank you for attending what is the end of my family.  Thank you for making me feel even more alone.  But he didn’t.

His previous film, Abandoned, had a funeral, had a son dying.  But there were other sons, others to carry the burden, the family name.  He had become some sort of prognosticator with his films.  If he filmed something, it would happen, and none of it was good.  He caught something on television mentioning Richard’s death and they couldn’t leave Black Thursday out of it.  The next anniversary was six weeks away and would they hit for a third time.

This filmmaking—it’s a curse, he thought, just before the funeral.  It’s killing people, my own loved ones included.  But it's all I know.  It's how I interpret the world.


When Griffin died, he had no funeral.  He specifically stated that he wanted no service or funeral but that he should be cremated and his ashes interred in a simple unmarked plot.  He had a written note that he wanted released upon his death but, in the weeks before his death, he destroyed it, burning it in the kitchen sink.

In a park near the city’s center, people gathered slowly for a vigil.  They were silent, a field of candles, gathering fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and people who looked like they held any of those distinctions.  People kept gathering.  It became an unstoppable force.  Screenings of his films occurred, there and other places around the world, including his last work, which had been released only two weeks prior to his death and had confounded everyone, and now, it was said, it was time to view his work as a whole, time to discuss the canon of Griffin.

Days stretched into weeks and people still gathered, though their numbers were fewer and fewer each day.  A handful kept the flame and then, one day, when the season’s coldest wind comes through, they too dispersed, their attentions moving elsewhere, their memories holding on only so long.  No one will write, this is the true last goodbye, as late year rain sweeps the city, cleansing it once again.