The Blaspheme of Joshua

I can catch the last ride on the number 5 shuttle out of Hollywood. I’ll sit in the back of the bus, so I can watch the panoramic images of Los Angeles at night drift by like dream, like before it was demystified by something as ordinary as a stroll, when a spotlight was special, and not the output of loud, buzzing machines taking up much needed parking space.

As I watch buildings pass by, I’m sure I’ll think again of how small Hollywood looked while walking between the buildings, rather than the grandiose scenes shifting by, row by row, as though I were channel surfing on a night when all of the shows on TV are set in the same city, all the same skylines, the same patterns of light, only without the theme song.

I often think of all the people who have ever come or gone to Hollywood in search of a dream, or just simple livelihood. I wonder about the unfulfilled souls in search of immortality, and I sometimes feel sorry for the majority who fade into nothing, while I stare into a sky, full of countless stars, some shining brighter than others, while others dim and go out.

It takes a while to reach the beach. The sun sets majestically on the water, which reminds me of His eyes. Joshua’s eyes, the skyline in which I so clearly saw forever, in which I could see the end of me. They will sparkle in my mind. I will recall the sandy timbre of his voice as I stand at the shore, scattering his images over the water, like ashes, like they were nothing. I’ll memorize his face, create an icon in my mind, as I take one last look at each photograph before throwing it away.

I can be back in Hollywood by sunrise. I’ll stop at Highland and make my way back toward Hollywood Boulevard. Saint Cecilia’s Church is near there. Seems like I ought to see it. Maybe I’ll stop in and light a candle, a blue one, maybe two. That’s it, two blue flames for Joshua. I feel a song coming on.

Sister CeCe liked music. Maybe she wouldn’t mind my being there. I could attend the morning services, and mouth along to all the responsorial praises and blessings. I can contemplate sin, and how unforgiving the so-called angels of this city really are, and about what it means to love the sinner and hate the sin. There are some sins worth hating more than others. In the eyes of a fallen angel, I thought I saw Paradise. I’ll reflect on that.

I will have a drink at Schwann’s when they open. It’s a tourist trap, I know, but the Rat Pack used to hang out there. Maybe I’ll have an Irish Coffee. It’s too early for Jim Beam with a splash of water. They’ll notice me. I intend to pop in and out, then be forgotten for the time being. From there, I’ll continue on toward Hollywood, stopping somewhere along the way to buy a bottle of Cabernet and a pack of cigarettes.

I can see it now, how I will cross the yellow tape at Mann’s Chinese Theatre, light a cigarette, and drink the wine as I think of the stars that have walked among the monuments around me. I see Frank Sinatra, his footprint dwarfed beneath my shoe as I marvel at how slight he actually was at one time, how delicate his footstep, how quaint his hands.

I will adjust the blue-gray fedora on my head with my cigarette hand, and salute with my drink hand as I think of Joshua in a different time, when he was a muse and not a fallen man, when he was charmingly unaware. Imagine, looking like that, like it was no big deal. I had given him wings. I remember the way he filled with pride, like brandy filling a snifter, or was it just a body filling with brandy? I will tribute his memory with a toast, a eulogy so soulful, anyone with an ear will want to hear. I will raise my bottle high and wait for the sirens.

I might tell them my name is Frank, see how far I get with that, and simply tell them about the rather ordinary events of my day. They must have figured out most of what I’ve done by now. I’ll explain the pain of seeing an old friend fading that way; how his polish had turned to tarnish; that underneath the stone was a diamond. I would have given him diamonds if I thought they could save him, or even if he had just asked for anything that shined. I’ll tell them that, how I shot him once before, with a camera; made him an angel, gave him wings.

When Dick says I have to get booked and fingerprinted, I’ll say I can dig it. When he says I have to pose for my mug shot, I’ll remove my hat and hand it off to the handsomest cop in the room, spit-spot my hair, flipping the front just above my left eye, and pose with the calm coolness of someone who has willingly surrendered on his own terms. Then, I will take a moment to loosen my tie.

On a clear day, I can see forever; I can see the end of me. It is a blasphemous thing to burn for an angel. I know, yet on my day of reckoning, the face I will see before the Light will be that of…straight-shot to the sun: gold; the skyline: blue; those eyes; the sand and smoke, and all the colors of the world haloed around his head; when green made red close in on the blue; the lights; camera. Joshua. Shoot.

Marcus Hamley studied English at the University of North Dakota and is currently enrolled at Turtle Mountain Community College, where he is studying Native language and culture. He intends to use his degree to contribute to the community through encouragement and instruction, in hopes of helping Native students learn how to best utilize their skills to express and communicate effectively.

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