Theyíre still alive

 

I first suspect something is wrong when I see the headline of the New York Daily news saying: ďPresident Kennedy is dead.Ē

The problem is: this is 2008 not 1963, and the story claims Kennedy died of old age.

Me and my buddy are drinking at our usual watering hole down on Sullivan Street, a place whose name has changed a dozen times since we first came here, but never the feel.

I point the headline out to him and he laughs, calling it a practical joke.

I try to get the bartender interested, but he claims Iím drunk and cuts me off.

I just stare at the headline, at Kennedyís wrinkled face and wonder if something is wrong with me.

I convince my buddy to leave, figure it must be me.

Outside in the cool air without the bartenderís prying eyes, I feel sane again.

This is Greenwich Village being gobbled up by the money-grubbing NYU campus, as normal as everyday.

I even laugh, telling myself how foolish I am for letting some prankster get under my skin.

Iíve always been a sucker for pranks.

At that point, we get to the Bitter End figure we can check out what oldies band is playing there this week. The sign, however, is advertising a solo gig by Jimi Hendrix with an upcoming schedule of Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly and John Lennon.

I grab my buddyís arm and show him the sign.

He is impressed with the stunt; but Iím out of my mind, knowing finally that Iím going crazy, or someone is pulling the greatest prank ever pulled.

I tell my buddy Iím not feeling well and need to go home.

He feels sorry enough for me to flag down a cab.

An Arab or Indian driver asks my address.

Iím glad to be out of sight of people Iím shaking that much.

I close my eyes, struggling to calm down.

At this point, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.ís voice comes on the radio and I jerk back in a panic.

What is this?

I never heard this speech before.

The driver eyes me oddly.

Of course not, this is a live broadcast from the UN on the 40th anniversary of Civil Rights legislation.

I fling the door open at the next light and rush out.

I need to get away from anybody who thinks these people are still alive.

Especially Buddy, who grew up with me and should know better.

I need to find something real, something sane, something I know is part of my life.

But as I run everything seems weird to me, my eyes unable to focus on anything, recognize anything, everything just a smear of lights and blurred faces.

I donít see the police until they grab me Ė and then I see only the swastikas on their shoulders and hear Buddy telling them ďthis is him.Ē

Iím the one upsetting the public order.

When the cops push me into the car I notice the poster on the grate with the picture of what looks like Adolph Hitler, but it isnít. Itís Hitlerís grandson quote from his grandfatherís victory speech at the conclusion of World War II: ďWork makes you free.Ē

The doctors treat me well here, telling me how they understand and intend to help me.

They even let me watch and interview with Marilyn Monroe, who still looks great in her nineties.

Buddy visits and tells me how good I look and how well Iím getting on.

I knew heís crazy.

The only real comfort is the drugs the doctors give me to stay calm.

But I can never get enough to keep me from screaming at night.


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