by Peter Coca

I remember it was one of those beautiful spring afternoons in the Big Apple - Eddy had invited me and my gal over for lunch - he was living on the upper Westside then, overlooking the park - after lunch Eddy sat down at the piano and asked us what we wanted to hear - he loved to sing

now Eddy always reminded me of Gene Kelly - and not just because he was a song and dance man either - no, he looked like Gene Kelly too

I remember Eddy had the sleeve of his T shirt rolled up over his shoulder - exposing this tattoo - it said Mom

I felt like I was in one of those class "B" bubble gum flicks from the gold old fifties - all cuddled up with my gal on the couch - listening to Eddy belt out one show tune after another

got to siiinnngg - got to siiinnnnnngggg

but now Eddy was on his last leg - he was coming to the end of his road, laying back there in his recliner, puffing on oxygen, glued to the tube - God he was fighting so hard to stay alive - and I couldn't figure out why

why, Eddy, why - I kept asking myself - why

hell man your skin's right down to the bone - you're in constant pain, and it ain't gonna get any better my friend, you know that - so why are you fighting so hard to stay alive

I couldn't figure out why - I guess one has to be there

Eddy must have picked up on my vibes - 'cause he looked over at me - and I knew that he knew what I was thinking

and he knew that I knew, that he knew - that I knew - that he knew

and he started laughing - I know - I know - I know - he said - I know - but I just can't let go

I started laughing too - we both sat there - laughing our asses off

Eddy said that Nerup wanted to let go a long time ago - but Eddy wouldn't let Nerup throw in that towel yet - oh no, not yet - Eddy was not ready to let go yet - not just yet

you see many, many moons ago - Eddy started getting into eastern philosophies and religions - hell, he even went to India and became a swami and a sannyasin - a follower of Bhagwan Shree Ragneesh's - we used to call them the Red People way back then, 'cause they always wore these bright red colors, right down to their underwear - anyway Bhagwan changed Eddy's name to Nerup, and Nerup wanted to let go a long time ago, he was ready to take that final step - but Eddy, that tough little Irish kid, who had to fight his way out of Hell's Kitchen - was not ready to let go yet - oh no - not yet - Eddy was not ready to throw in that towel yet - not just yet

that was one of the nicest afternoons we had ever spent together, I lit up a jay, and Eddy ate a brownie - we toasted the sixties - those were the best years of my life, that's for sure

that's when I first met Eddy - I had just gotten out of the army, and I started hanging out in the Village

man did I get turned around - Bleecker Street was on fire - Irenic Slogans were heard everywhere - soapbox orators were on every street corner - and Dylan could be heard singing throughout the whole goddamn Village - the time's they are a-changin' - yeah they sure the hell were

I was another one of those war babies, who had turned into a flower child - love was in the air and us hippies were everywhere

and I took my first acid trip - God what an awakening that was, this illusion got shattered for the first time - I shattered the illusion, and it scared the hell out of me - it was the most terrifying night of my life. Thank God Eddy was around to help me through that hell - I called him up and he talked me through it

we ended the afternoon talking about life and death - yeah we got into metaphysics - what was this all about and why, why were we here - why, why, why, why, - yeah we got high and tried to figure out why - God I was truly gonna miss this guy - he was one of my last links to the good ole sixties

well that pain finally even got to be too much for that tough little Irish kid from Hell's Kitchen - yeah Eddy finally started to see the futility of it all - it was now becoming clear to him that it was time to let go, time to throw in the towel - so he started saving up all his morphine and sleeping pills and when he thought he had enough - he said “now remember - I want it to be a celebration, no tears, I want you all singing and dancing - no tears, let the good times roll”

Lady Zee flew in for the celebration - she was Eddy's oldest and dearest friend - so she flew in with her husband Bill, to spend Eddy's last weekend on the good ship lollipop with him - Diva, T.C., and I stayed away - No, I think I was the only one that stayed away, T.C. went on the road for a couple of weeks, he wanted to see what this country was all about, while Diva and I were checking in on Eddy, and Eddy waited for T.C. to get back from his tour of the USA before he pulled the trigger - that's my little metaphor for popping them killer pills and going down for the final count

Lady Zee called me up bright and early Monday morning to tell me that it was all over - Eddy had sprouted his wings, said Lady Zee, he was off to see the Wizard, down that yellow brick road

I took the bus on over - it was one of those beautiful, sunny summer mornings in L.A. - made you feel real good to be alive

Eddy's words were floating through the rivulets of my mind, like a little white ship heading out into that uncharted dimension - Eddy said he never realized how wonderful it was to be alive, until that ole medicine man pulled down the shade one day and said

“you got AIDS boy - you’re gonna die”

God, that was one of the saddest days of my life - me and Eddy went back many a moon

well my bus finally got to Eddy's place, and I found the gang all there, well part of it anyway, the rest of our adopted family were scattered out all over the country - like I said Lady Zee was there, with her husband Bill, and I spotted T.C. eyeballing the T.V. set, he looked like he was trying to figure out the best way to get it back to his place

and Diva greeted me with tears in her heart “I'm sad so sad - but I'm happy for him, really happy for him, said Diva - he suffered so much”

grief seemed to bring out the child in Diva - she looked just like that little kid who came up to me in acting school one day and said

“hi, my name is Diva - what's your name”

God she made me feel like crying, we had lost so many good friends, and this one really hit home

oh, Poo was there too, how could I forget Poo - Eddy's ex-roommate Poo - God, he looked so sad sitting there on the couch, like some old martyr getting ready to walk up on to his cross again

"woe is me” I could feel Poo crying deep down inside "woe is me"

his long stringy hair was hanging down along his gray beard - his eyes all puffed up - and the back of his hands red, from wiping away all the tears

“woe is me”

now it had been rumored that Poo was hitting that bottle more and more as time went on - yeah, he was needing more and more of that Southern Comfort as time rolled on

Poo swallowed the last of his jug and asked me if I had any pot

“sorry” I said “but the cupboard's bare”

“do you have anything” cried Poo “ I’ll take anything”

not a thing I told him

T.C. pulled out the list - Eddy's will, the who gets what list, and it was long man, let me tell you it was long - Eddy was one of those pack rats - he had the first pot he ever cooked in, the first book he read - God, there were five rooms filled with shit, and a couple of huge closets - and now we had three days to get rid of all this stuff, and to the people Eddy was leaving it to

now as T.C. was reading off who gets what to us - from Eddy's

"who gets what list"

he was playing around with this beautiful embroidered pillow, there were a bunch of these pillows scattered around the room

“oh” asked T.C. absentmindedly “what about all these pillows, does anyone want these pillows”

a long gravid pause ensued - then Poo slowly raised his hand and meekly he said

“well if no one else wants them, I'll take them”

T.C. suddenly turned away from Poo, like he was about to laugh or something, then he got up and rushed out of the room, and everyone followed him - except for Poo and me that is, it was really weird

and I was just about to say something, when Diva stuck her head back into the doorway - so as Poo couldn't see her - and she motioned for me to be quiet

“ssshh” whispered Diva “I'll tell you later”

so I let it go, and asked if there was anything to eat, I was hungry as hell, Poo volunteered to go out for coffee and donuts - it was a good excuse for him to get another bottle - and as soon as he got out the door, all hell broke loose in there - the four of them went rolling around the floor like buffoons - laughing like fools

“what the hell's going on here” I yelled out

T.C. started to say something - but Diva cut him right off

no, no, no, said Diva - I'll tell it, let me tell it, I have to tell it - well, said Diva “you know Eddy was saving up all his pills right - I mean the guy had enough goddam pills to kill a couple of elephants - but you know Eddy - it wasn't enough to do that stubborn bastard in”

suddenly Diva looked up at the ceiling, like she was looking into them pearly white gates of heaven - and she made the sign of the cross and said

“excuse me Eddy - I'm sorry, you know I love you, we all do, but you were one hell of a stubborn bastard”

“well anyway” continued Diva “Eddy had covered all his bases, I mean like the man didn't want to end up a vegetable, on top of everything else, if those pills didn't do the job - well they didn't, but like I said, Eddy had covered all his bases, he had asked Poo to use one of these pillows

“alright, alright, I yelled out - that's enough, I get the picture - you people are sick, really sick”

“us sick” yelled T.C. “he wants to keep the pillow”

and they all went rolling over the floor again laughing like fools

“sick, sick, sick” I yelled out again “you people are really sick”

Poo returned with the coffee and donuts, and we all sat around telling our Eddy stories, while dunking our donuts into hot steaming spiked coffee

we all had lots and lots of Eddy stories