I remember New York!
The real Statue of Liberty is bigger. I'd have made some crack about this being the only game in town, but the government shutdown was averted for the time being.
So the next day wore on, and I hadn't heard a thing. I contented myself to believe the age-old adage that no news was good news. I mean, if there was bad news, surely I'd have heard about it by now, right? Around 3:00 in the afternoon, still having heard nothing, I called a friend in New Jersey. I could barely recognize his voice. It sounded deeper than usual, and I thought for a second it was his father. That all cleared up, I asked, "So, is he alive or what?"
I have no recollection of my immediate response. What I remember was five minutes (or so it seemed) of me begging my friend that he was joking with me, that the news he told me wasn't real. "Listen, I promise I won't be mad at you if you're joking around. Please tell me you're joking around." Over and over I kept saying, imploring, promising I wouldn't be mad at my friend if what he just told me wasn't true. But he could only say,
"I wish I was."
I wasn't crying. I was too shocked to cry just yet. I don't remember how much detail I found out in that conversation. Probably just the basics, that he was found by his mother and sister hanging in the shed at their country house in upstate New York.
I next called my closest friend in the city, who was also friends with him. He wasn't in, but I'm sure he could hear the desperation in my voice on his answering machine as I begged him to call me back. I wasn't going to leave that kind of news on a machine. Next I called my parents.
"How are you?"
"I'm fine. No, I'm not fine..."
I still didn't cry. I didn't want to cry in front of my parents, even on the phone. I held it in until my friend got my message and called me back. Then I let it all out. I hadn't cried for almost 9 years until that point, sitting on the floor leaning my back against the couch and clutching the phone as hard as I could. But I had a grimmer task ahead of me. I had to inform the New York contingent one agonizing phone call at a time.
Each time I told them the news I felt guilty. I felt like I was deliberately hurting them with this news that made them so sad. I also felt like I was lying to them. How did I know he was really dead? I'm just taking the word of one of my oldest closest friends who I spoke to on the phone. I didn't see any pictures, or any body, I just heard words. I was spreading false information, and making all of these people sad unnecessarily, hearing them cry and scream every time I gave the news. Why was I doing such a terrible thing to such nice people? How could I be such a jerk?
I don't remember how many calls I made before I passed the responsibility over to another one of the NYC gang. They could put the word out into the boroughs. They could spread the sadness just as well as I. I had plenty for one day. Besides, there was a lot more to come.