Memory Motel: A Rock And Roll Fantasy, Part Five Section Two: Elijah Alone
While Mick was back to being a nine year old boy on his own Island in the Aftermath, Jagger was becoming a God On Earth, nothing too small for the world to not chew up and spit out. And at some point during all this, word got out that there was a lone survivor and then a wall of silence from the Rolling Stones management, and as words slowly shifted out Elijah was the most famous coma patient in the world. The press converged on the Jones’ with checkbooks and with dreams, but Elijah wasn’t there. When he came out of the coma in a rush, his eyes flew open and there was no gearing up his brain slowly; the last moments before the crash flooded him and left him insane with pain, he opened his eyes, screamed, closed the, opened them again. “Alive. What was he doing alive?’
The following year was one long refusal to cooperate. No interviews, no discussion, no explanation, no closure, nothing. Not with the public, not with his family, nobody. He spoke in private to Keisha’s Mom, and, needless to say, she leaked it to the press. But he didn’t tell her anything much, and he understood. Fame was addictive. But Elijah had been around fame a lot and it didn’t impress him and he was too depressed any way, so he kept it all well away from him.
It took him a year to make it home, where he picked up and paid the mortgage on the house, gave his Mom a stipend, and his big brother an allowance, and he managed the rest to make sure he’d never have to work again while he considered how it would feel to live elsewhere. Back to L, maybe? Maybe the city. But what difference did it make, really? He couldn’t run away from Keisha’s memory and how much did he want to.
If Elijah had been a little less depressed, if he wasn’t changing his own story, he’d have realized his dreams weren’t quite what he thought they were, they were crash and burn, but they were also life and afterlife. He would have felt that Keisha wasn’t as far away as he thought she was.
“I haven’t given up on life but I’ve… maybe I have. “ Elijah is sitting on the stairs outside his Mom’s house and he can feel her eyes on him, worried that he won’t be able to pull himself through. “Maybe I won’t. I can’t keep seeing Keisha everywhere I look. I never believed in ghosts but I feel haunted by her. I can’t sleep, I can’t work, I have enough money to do nothing and that’s what I want to do till I join her. Nothing.”
The past two years… He worked so hard on walking again because he needed the pain to keep himself sane. After the death, when he came out of the coma, all he wanted to do was turn it off and 18 months after coming out of the comas, two years after returning home and Elijah was considering suicide, turning it all off once and for all.
“I want to turn it off. I want to not think about the hookers I’ve been sleeping with, searching for any woman who resembled Kaisha, dreaming of her. I’d pay $5.000 for the night, for some woman to pretend she loved me, to pretend she was Kaisha. I could imagine her hands on my face, her mouth on mine and then… the fear, the lurch, like a sudden dream of life, like a prophecy, like a culmination of years and bang… it was over.
“I was just closing and opening my eyes, I thought the world had stopped in 2024, that is when my life stopped, but it went on and three years later the clock on the wall says May 2028, the world at school or work or life, people still lived you know, and maybe write a book or a song, or go back on tour.”
A dog wandered over to Eli, looked up with an expression that seemed to say, yeah, now this, so what? Elijah had no interest, he was a cat person at best but even if he was a dog person, he’d want a cool well-mannered mongrel, not this fancy pants mammal. “Still a pup though, those blue eyes…” It triggered something in Eli’s memory but he couldn’t quite get there. She looked up at him with longing but he figured she had to belong to someone. No collar, no nothing. he pushed her gently away, and she ignored him
He got up and walked from Northern Boulveward towards Steinway, forgot about her, till a cop stopped him. “You need to put that dog on a leash, Sir.” She said.
He looked down at the doggie walking beside me and was going to say something but he had nothing he wanted to say. Why not, right? If somebody wants her, they can have her. And if not, well, nobody much wants him either so that’s alright. He picked her up and carried her walked across the bridge to Steinway and down Steinway where he knew of a pet store. He bought her a leash, and then all the other crap you buy dogs, then grabbed a Green Cab home and introduced her to the family.
“I guess you can mourn with company now,” his big brother said. He was, frankly sick of the sight of him, and if Eli didn’t actually own the house would undoubtedly have had him removed. When Eli thought about it, he didn’t really blame his brother. When Eli finally moved in two years ago, Tyrese thought that as he reached and Eli neared 50 years old they could reboot their youth, become brothers again. But it takes two to reboot and when one of the two won’t participate for month after month, it gets annoying. Elijah just wanted to left alone, to daydream, to imagine she was still alive, to imagine he had convinced her not to get on that damn plane. To brood on his loss. And that’s all he did.
Mom was happy her son took some interest in anything besides his solipsistic sorrow and only Keisha’s parents seemed to be on the same page. He would go next door and they would sit in silence for hours, interrupted by the occasional sigh.
“Shut up, Ty” Mom said. “Eli, I think this is a good thing. And the doggie is so cute, what’s her name.”
Well, there couldn’t be much doubt, could there? “Blue Eyes” he said and that was that.
When folks asked, Eli liked to claim he trained Blue himself, but really, she camed ready trained. Blue was obedient, well natured, more like Saint Blue. Nobody complained, not even Ty. The dog was perfection. She slept in his room all night and now the weather was changing they walked around the borough, sometimes over the 59th street bridge, all the way to the Village. Both of us deep in thought. Definitely him, definitely buried deep in his imagination not realizing time was passing him by. Daydreaming Keisha lived, daydreaming she was walking by his side around around him , mhand on the leash, the cars roaring past us a lane away, and bikes pushing them to the side, “get out of the way”, they’d move to the side quietly in single file and then spreading out again. “Here Blue… here…” and baby? Our son? Daughter? Both? He could imagine this son, jumping up and down, playing with Blue, Keisha’s indulgent eye fixed on the child.
But really, there was just Blue and Eli walking and walking, A$AP Rocky on my headphones. Just the two, everyday like the one before, drifting into the summer with no end in sight.
Eli would walk and he’d dream and he’d walk, he could feel his legs growing stronger and his body snapping back into its old form, even stronger, he wasn’t drinking or taking drugs and though he hadn’t joined the gym, he was doing weights at home and me and this little dog, man, Blue must have been made of steel. He could walk for hours on end and then they’d stop at an outdoor café on Avenue A, she would lay down next to his chair, drink some water and some of his burger and then they’d walk to Tomkins Square Park and they’d lie on the lawn and snooze the afternoon away. He wondered what Blue would dream of, she was happy enough, she’d be wagging her tail and chasing cats I bet.
Those were the best sleeps for Eli, at night he’d go too deep into his dreams and wake up screaming but for just n hour, with the dog next to him, he’d have live dreams, unconcerned, with no Keiosha except somewhere in the background he would catch a glimpse of her. He’d not be sure why she was doing what she was doing. Sometimes in a Manhattan condo looking over 5th avenue, sometimes she would be asking after him, wanting to see Eli again. Sometimes she’d be among friends, but in these dreams, these were later than the dreams he had in bed. It was like something had happened and she was still there.
Eli found them very comforting, these dreams, if you had walked by him in the park you’d have heard him laughing in his sleep. They weren’t really about stuff, much of the time they were hard to differentiate between dreams and real life: they were filled with parks, and sun, and Blue Eyes, they were running, Eli would throw a stick and Blue would chase it down and bring it back, over and over again, and slowly he would notice Keisha somewhere out there. Nearby. He could just about see her outline, but he couldn’t reach it. It didn’t bother him too much, it was enough to know, to feel for sure, that somewhere Keisha still existed and he could leave it at that.
Too tired to walk back, Eli would grab a cab and find himself snarled in traffic with the pup, her head in his lap slept even more and the man wondering what if anything it all meant. Was she alive, did she survive, was she a ghost?
When Elijah got home, he went in search of some answers online, but if there was a truth about ghosts, or dreams, he certainly couldn’t find them. He went to bed, tired, uneasy, Blue at his feet and he awoke to a storm outside. Walking down to the kitchen, his mother was ashen faced and his brother looked ashamed and angry at the same town. “What’s going on… Why is, what’s happening?’
His Mom said nothing, and Jones just shrugged, and Elijah glanced down at the New York Post to see a picture of himself, looking gaunt and tired and the legend: “Suicidal Stones Survivor Speaks”. Which he didn’t of course. Eli opened to Page Seven, where Tyrese’s exclusive interview with Us Magazine, along with secretly taken photographs, told in detail the difficulties Eli had in getting used to life after Keisha. Yes, and it was the use of Keisha’s name that made Eli snap. He stretched over the table and went straight for Tyrese’s throat, they fell to the ground, pounding against each other, with ferocious punches. And then Tyrese stopped punching back and Elijah felt his rage subside. Finally, he could hear his Mom cries. Elijah read the story, there were quotes from his other two brothers and his mother. Paid job, hit job. As though he hadn’t always been moody and quiet, as though the changes weren’t just one of degrees. The story was ginned up for publications. It made him sound crazy and maybe he was but he wasn’t that crazy. He got off his brother and went to his room, packed his bag and called an Uber. He walked back down the stairs where Tyrese was nursing a black eye and walked past him without saying a word. “You as well, Mom? How could you?” AEli said.
“You haven’t treated us right, you haven’t treated us with love or respect, you’ve been entirely selfish.”
“I bought you your home.”
“Youb treat us like we’re guests here…”
“How? I never say a word…”
Elijah just shook his head. “well, it is yours now.” He said and walked out the door. The paparazzi and newspaper guys were outside his door as he stepped into the car. Where to now? Where to go next?