A day with the dead

At 3:35 in the morning, she awoke at the whisper of her name, unraveled and shared the blanket, put her arms around me, kissed me soft like a kitten, and immediately fell asleep again.

There have been certain difficulties, yeah, but these last few days have been so much more than a schmoe like me could hope for. And we only met because we liked each other's zines? 

♦ ♦ ♦

The photographer flaked out, didn't call to finalize the details and didn't answer the phone when she called, so there was no photo shoot for Sarah-Katherine. She was disappointed, sure, but we improvised a back-up plan of spending the day with dead people, and it worked out nicely.

♦ ♦ ♦

We rode the #6 bus to Mountain View Cemetery, walked through the giant mausoleum maze, and onto the graveyard proper. It's an enthralling place, and more peaceful than anywhere among the living. It was eerie, strolling between the headstones, but also fantastic — a few hours walking atop centuries of corpses, wondering whether anyone still mourns the children who died in the flu epidemic of 1917, and how many of the people under us had been assholes. Most of them, probably. Some things never change.

The worries of 1995 seem as trivial as they are, when you're stepping on the dead by the thousands. When we reached the neglected and crumbling tombstones of people people born in the 1700s, we leaned on another monument in disrepair and kissed.

On our way out of the cemetery, we stopped at the guard's station at the gate, and since the guard wasn't there and the door wasn't locked, we went inside and rifled through the logs and incident reports. So prosecute us. Taking several pages as souvenirs was Sarah-Katherine's idea, but it was a good idea.

Maybe I've mentioned once or twice that I'm not a "Support your local police" kinda guy, and what's a security guard, except an unsworn cop with even less training and oversight? Here's one of the incident reports, from a security guard who could probably have a fine career as a full-fledged police officer:

September 11, 1994, 19:00 hours

Male Caucasian jumped over the fence, coming from cemetery. I had him jump back over the way he came, warned him that he was trespassing, and escorted him out through the gate.

I had to read it twice to be sure, but that's a security guard forcing a trespasser to jump back over the fence — to trespass again. What a silly, childishly authoritarian command. What if the now-forced trespasser falls off the fence and breaks his back?

Anyway, back to sweeter stuff: Sarah-Katherine and I walked through a sketchy part of Oakland, talking about dreams, and then a pretty stretch of that city, talking about death.

We rode BART to the end of the line and back, because Sarah-Katherine is almost as fascinated with public transit as I am, and BART can be a fun ride.

Then we took the bus into San Francisco, a much better view than riding BART under the water. Up at 16th Street, we walked the north Mission, the neighborhood where I lived a month ago, past the apartment I shared with Pike voluntarily, and with Terry against my will. When Sarah-Katherine said she liked the neighborhood, I smiled.

Oh, I've complained about it, sure, but if it wasn't for Pike's godawful girlfriend, I'd still be living there, amidst the graffiti, crackheads, and whores — and liking it. Nobody 'normal' could like my old neighborhood, but I did, and Sarah-Katherine does.

All during her stay, she's been saying things I believe but hardly ever hear anyone else say, about everything from poetry to anarchy to justice or the lack thereof; and now, about the beauty of the slums.

I'm a weird person. Probably sick in the head, or so I've been told often enough it's probably true. And it isn't often that I'm with someone of approximately my level of sickness. Just about everyone I know is either too normal or too crazy, but Sarah-Katherine is like the third bear's porridge. Just about right.

She's so easy to be with, sometimes my intentions aren't even filthy, and I'm comfortable just loitering with her. She makes something as mundane as a bus ride into something special, but maybe our time is over. She's flying home tomorrow.

From Pathetic Life #14
Sunday, July 16, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. I came for the movie reviews and appreciate them very much, Green Room was terrific, but also this is really beautiful. Young love! Thank you for the writing.

    1. I always resist the word 'love' unless it's love, and much as I liked Sarah-Katherine, much as I wonder where she is now, it wasn't love. Maybe it could've been, but it never got the chance...


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