First of all, I may need an introduction. My name is Draven Michael Lee. I live in White Plains, Maryland. A small town on the outskirts of D.C. where you're either a crooked politician, trying to win your next election, or you're a starving artist, trying to make it in the cold, cruel world called Reality. I'm the later. Well, not quite so starving and I'm a musician, but it's still the same principle. And I'm going to die in thirty-two hours and there's nothing I can do to change it. No. It's not what you're thinking. I'm not killing myself, I'm not that dramatic. I actually don't know how I'm going to die, I just know it's happening.
You see, I've always been a believer in God and that whole spill that goes along with that, so when a guy in white robes appears in front of you out of nowhere and says you're dying in forty-eight hours, a guy kind of tends to believe him, especially when he vanishes right in front of your eyes. So, you see, I'm in quite a fine shape, having spent sixteen of my precious few hours left on this planet, trying to come to terms with my premature death, considering I'm only twenty-four.
So, I'm sitting on my couch, Rancid blaring in my stereo, wondering what I should do. Should I go to the church on the square and try to repent twenty-four years worth of sin and wrong doing? Should I just stay on my couch, waiting for death to come to me, because I'm to lazy to try and find it? Or, there's always the possibility of trying to enjoy my last hours on this Earth, in the town that seems to serve as a death trap to anyone who steps inside it's borders.
I think I'll try to enjoy myself. So let's see, what do I want to do?
I've got thirty hours left on this Earth before I die, so naturally, I took a two hour flight to New York to see my family. Well, my brother, Lance. He's lived here for about seven years, having moved here after he graduated to get away from my parents. My parents weren't exactly happily married, they're divorced now. My dad lives in LA and my mom lives in Chicago. I don't care much for either one of them, considering the same attitude is returned all to humbly back to me. I just knocked on Lance's door. Number 34 of apartment building nine. I think he's coming, I'm hearing a bunch of rustling noises inside. The door knob's turning, and here's Lance. Wearing black from head to toe. Black hair, black shirt, black pants... well I'm sure you get my point. Lance is rather gothic, but's always been there for me.
"DRAVEN!" Lance yells, grabbing , me in a tight hug. "What are you doing here?!"
I tell him I've come to see him, see how he's holding up. He invites me in, telling me to sit down and take a load off. He starts asking me about things back in White Plains. I tell him I don't really know, that I've come up to see him, to leave White Plains behind me for awhile. He's laughing, saying he's got a spare room if I want it. I tell him I don't think I'll be needing it. He's got up to fix us something to drink. I'm wondering how I'm going to break it to my brother that I'm dying in twenty-nine hours. He's back now, pushing a glass of Coca-Cola in my hand. I take a large gulp and sigh. He tries to make small talk, but Lance really isn't the talking type, so we're sitting here in silence. I gotta tell him.
"Lance. I got to tell you something." I say.
"Okay." he replies.
"WHAT! What's... what's wrong?" he ask, his lip is trembling, the same way it did when he was trying to protect me from Dad.
"I don't know. I just don't have much time left. About twenty-nine hours, thirty four minutes, and three seconds actually." I say, looking at my watch.
Lance is trying to fight back the tears. He's never been very well at masking his feelings. I walk over to him, give him a hug, and tell him he's the best big brother in the world. He's crying now, tears are rolling off of his cheeks. He's saying he's sorry. I ask him what for and he says he should have got me out or stayed with me. I'm trying to comfort him, but I'm not doing that great of a job, considering my shoulder's soaked.
We've been sitting here for thirty minutes, me telling him that nothing's his fault and that I'm not mad at him. I keep telling him that I love him and that he's the only one I care enough to see in my last hours. He's finally stopped crying now. I suggest we go see a movie. He says that sounds like a pretty good idea, so he's pulling on his shoes. He's given me a t-shirt of his to wear. It says "Wanted Man" on the front, and in true Lance style, it's pitch black. He's reapplying his eye liner. When I found out my brother wore eye liner, I was a little shocked. I mean, he says it brings out his eyes and the chicks dig it, but I'm not completely sold on the idea, but that's Lance. He's my brother, and I'll love him no matter what, eye liner or not. We're leaving his apartment, heading for the Silent Cinema. Lance says it has old movies. Silent one's, one's where we can make up what they're saying. I guess that's Lance's idea of fun, so I'm going with him. We buy our tickets, ten bucks for a movie with no sound. Talk about a rip off. We're the only one's in the theater. The lights start to fade. The screen's growing brighter and the movie's starting.
The movie was pretty good. One with Charlie Chaplin in it. We're sitting in a diner, waiting to order. It's a small diner, one that looks like it belongs in the fifties. Lance says it's got killer food, but everything else sucks, but I kind of like it. We don't have things like this in White Plains. The waitress is asking Lance what he wants to drink. He says he wants a Dr. Pepper. She's turning toward me now. I quickly tell her the same as Lance, so she'll leave us alone.
"So, um..." Lance begins.
Like I said, Lance isn't really a talkative person. So now I'm trying to make small talk. I ask him how things have been with him. He says they're going pretty good. Says he's got a job at a record store and he's starting a band, they need a guitar player though. I jump and tell him I'm a guitar player looking for a band. He's really excited, but he's forgetting something. I'm dying in twenty-four hours, 7 minutes, and five seconds. And if the truth's to be told, I forgot it too.
The waitress is back now. She ask us what we want to eat. She's kind of cute. She's smiling at Lance a lot. Lance isn't smiling back. I guess gothic people don't smile. We order cheeseburgers. She gives Lance another smile and turns back toward the kitchen. Now it's back to the two of us again.
"You remember when I threw that fork at you and cut your head open." I say to Lance.
He's laughing and shaking his head.
"You didn't even get mad. You even told Mom it was a accident. That I tripped and my fork just flew across the room and cut your head open." I continue, twisting my straw paper.
"Yeah, I didn't want you to get punished. You're my little brother and it's my job to protect you." Lance says, looking out the window, out into the rainy New York street.
The waitress is back with our food. I say thank you and Lance just sort of grunts. I guess that's his way of telling me to shut up. We eat in silence. The waitress keeps smiling. I finally ask Lance what's the deal with her. He says that's Jacob's, one of his band-mates, girlfriend. Says her name is Sarah and she has a tendency to flirt with anyone who will talk to her. So, that's the end of that conversation. We sit for a few more minutes and decide to leave. Lance goes and pays the ticket. I wait outside for him. I say I want a nap, so we head back to his place where I can sleep part of the rest of my life away.
Well, I've literally slept half of my life away. Being that I only have 12 hours, 3 minutes, and 24 seconds left. I guess I should go to find Lance, so I get up and start searching for him. I don't have to look very hard. He's in the kitchen, making something that looks like a cross between the chocolate chip pancakes that Mom used to make on Sunday mornings and Dad's super special sugar syrup, that was really chocolate syrup he put in a plastic mayonnaise jar that he had scribbled "secret" on it with a Sharpie.
"Hey", I say to Lance. He jumps and swears loudly.
"Nice to see your still living." Lance laughs, then suddenly stops, realizing that his joke wasn't quite funny, but I chuckle a reply back.
"Yeah, hasn't got me yet."
There's a long silence, just like there's always been with me and Lance. We don't really need to talk. We can sort of read each others minds. When we we're little, Lance always knew what I was wanting to watch, when I was lying, when I was hungry. It's weird. Unfortunately, Lance wakes me up from Memory Lane. I'm back to reality, and the reality is I have 11 hours, 57 minutes, and 26 seconds until it happens.
"Have some... well I don't know what they are, but I think they're eatable." Lance insist, pushing a plate of burnt pancakes in my face.
I take them, grateful to have Lance talking. I gulp them down quickly, trying to avoid the terrible taste of burnt chocolate and sugar. Lance must have slept through Home Ec., I don't see how he lives off of his cooking.
"How's your food?" Lance ask.
"Um... good." I respond. I guess a little white lie won't hurt anything.
"You're a bad lair, Drave." Lance replies, with a chuckle. "They suck, the mix stuck to the bowl. I think they need more milk, but I only had half a cup."
"It's fine Lance, I wasn't really hungry anyway."
"Do you know how it's going to happen?" Lance blurts out.
"Nope, I just hope it isn't painful."
6 hours, 7 minutes, and 54 seconds is all I have left. I've been watching reruns of "M*A*S*H". I never really liked that show. It always seemed kind of boring to me. I'm not a supporter of our Armed Forces anyway. "Join the army! Meet new people! Then kill them with an SKS!" I used to have a T-shirt that said that. Lance bought it for me a couple of years after he moved out of the house. My mom saw me wear once, she smacked me and told me I should be proud to be American. I guess she was just doing her civic duty. Trying to mold my mind to be like sixty million other peoples. I guess she failed. She burned my shirt.
"So, Lance, is there any lucky lady?" I question, trying to get some guy talk in.
"Na, no one special." Lance hesitantly replies.
"Sure about that?"
"Well, I like this girl named Lea, she works at a record store. She's got purple hair, likes Minor Threat, Rancid, and Anti-Flag. I got her phone number, I've just never called her."
"Let's go see her. She's got to get a break sometime during the day."
"What! We can't go down there! I'll look like an idiot."
"Sure you can." I say, putting my Chucks' on and grabbing a jacket.
Well, Lance didn't really have any choice but to go with me, so he's walking beside me, his hands shoved deep in his pockets, identical to me.
"This is it." Lance says.
"She works at Louder Than Bombs?" I questioned.
"Yeah, she's an intern."
We take the elevator to the store part of the old building. The elevators playing "Miseria Cantera". I've always liked that song. AFI is awesome. A blonde headed girl with a pretty face runs up to Lance and hugs him.
"Hey." She says, extending her hand to me , "I'm Lea."
"Draven" I offer. We shake hands, and she starts talking to Lance about Sevenfold Stare, that's Lance's band's name. They're supposed to be playing a few songs for the company as a showcase.
Lea leads us back to what I guess is supposed to be her office. She tells me to grab a seat, so I set in the floor. My legs hurt, so I stretch them out, trying to relieve the pain of walking about five blocks in about three minutes. Things aren't quite so fast paced in White Plains. There's some small talk going on between the three of us. Lance and me have already had dinner, but it's about eight, and I guess it isn't too early for a midnight snack. So, I figure I can at least get a little flame going for my brother while I'm still alive.
"Let's go eat. I'm hungry."
"How can you be hungry, we just ate…" Lance pauses and looks at his cheap watch that doesn't have the right time, mainly because I know for a fact that it never worked since the second day he bought it his sophmore year from this bum on the street corner, next to High school Hell back in White Plains, but anywho…
"Hey! I'm a dying man! I don't think it matters how long ago I ate, I'm hungry."
Lea looks weird and now there's this awkward silence, kind of like when one of your friends have just told you something that's really crappy, ya know, something that really rained on your parade, but they're really happy about it and they expect you to be happy to. Yeah, one of those awkward silences.
"There's a coffee shop two blocks from here, it's not great, but it's okay." Lea says, breaking the loud silence.
"Cool," Lance says, "let's go."
3 hours even. What would you do with the last three hours of your life? Yeah, exactly my problem, but not really like I can solve it. I'm sort of setting here, in the Coffee Shop, listening to some guy read a poem. I think the guys gay, he's wearing a purple shirt. Isn't purple the national color for being gay? I don't know exactly, I don't keep up with that stuff. Anyhow, the gay guy's finished and Lance is heading up to the stage. That's a little odd. Lance yells back for Al to bring him an acoustic. I wonder what Lance is going to play. It's probably going to be something sappy to Lea. Lance's puttin` on the Lee charm, well I guess it could be charm.
"This song is for my brother, Draven." Lances whispers into the microphone.
Oh boy! My very own song. I hope it's a real heart stopper! Okay, maybe I shouldn't be quite so sarcastic.
"You're departing in three hours, and it's tearing at my heart. We used to be such great friends, I'll hate to see all the good times end. I guess God needs you more. You're my brother and for you, I'll always open my door."
Lance is still singing, but I tune him out. I'm a grown, dying man, I shouldn't be crying. I grab a pen from a near by waitress and scribble a note to Lance on a napkin.
Bud, I'll miss you. I'll think about you while I'm gone. See you on the other side.
The C chord was a little flat."
I lay all my money, $500 dollars, on the table, folded up with the napkin. I leave Lance's jacket on the back of my chair and walk off. It's getting hard for me not to cry. I'm leaving Lance, my brother, my best friend, but I'm a grown man and it's hard for me not to show my emotions.
I'm starting to get scared now. I have 2 hours and 15 minutes left. Death is on my trail. It's seining my leg hair. It probably wouldn't be so bad if I knew how I was going to die, but as I don't, I'm scared. Maybe I won't be decapitated. That would really suck.
I have 1 hour left. I took a walk, tried to clear my head. I'm feeling a little anxious. I don't want to die, but I sort of wish it would get here already. Sort of like finals, you don't want to take your Chem. II final, but you hate waiting for it to come. It's the same principle. I have no clue what to do. I'm thinking I should do something, besides what I'm doing now, which is setting on a bench in Central Park, just in case you were curious of where in the vast city of New York I was.
There's a guy, and he just set down beside me. He's a bum. He looks hungry and alone. I'm alone. He's alone. I think the whole world's alone. We set in silence for a good thirty minutes before he speaks.
"Hi. My name's Joe."
"Hi Joe.", I offer the guy my hand and he shakes it.
"What are you doing out here? I mean… shouldn't you be with your family?"
"Shouldn't you?" I ask in return.
"I am. We're all God's children."
"What kind of work do you do?"
"I don't work."
"Well, why don't you? You seem like a able bodied young man."
"I'm lazy." I say. He's starting to get on my nerves.
"Well, I gotta go Draven." He says.
"How did you know my name?" I question.
"We're all God's children." Joe walks away.
I look down at my wrist and I see the tattoo of my name showing. Joe's a smart guy. I don't want to be alone anymore. I get lost in all the holes I have inside of me. I want to talk to Lance, but I can't die in front of him. That's not right. I look down at my watch.