copyright © 2001 Lee Moyer

A Feeling of Death

By Lee Moyer

Begun 12/05/01

Performed 12/07/01

I get a strong feeling of death here.

This is your roommate on drugs- In the middle of a cemetery.

But like what if this isn’t the end?

What if there’s more? But there’s no David Bowie there?

What if he stayed behind? What then?

What if he… you know what I’m saying…

This is your roommate still on drugs.

The Egyptians. Ah. They knew all about the afterlife. People put too much emphasis on the whole pulling-the-brains-out-through-the-nose thing… I mean look at the quality of those Mummies! That was craftsmanship!

This is your roommate talking about his great passion- Ancient Egypt. Sitting on a fraying caned chair painted that hideous avocado that had been so popular a few years earlier. Is he on drugs? Maybe. But when it comes to ancient Egypt, you can never tell.

Your roommate Billy is high of voice and nervous of manner- excitable. You’re not sure the drugs are a good thing. The dirty brown bong water mildewing his shag carpet surely isn’t a good thing. His new boyfriend is definitely not a good thing (and "thing" is really the only word that seems to fit). And his family- They are the worst of the lot.

Possessed of epic ignorance, disguised behind the thin Southern veneer of hatred and bigotry. When he lived at home they were mean to him all the time. And you don’t want to be mean, not to Billy. He was mean enough to himself. He’s is a fine, caring, sensitive person and he takes abuse personally. His mother hurt him most…. not that most of his friends care. He’s so much fun to hang out with that they make him their own sort of whipping boy. And he takes it all in with a bittersweet smile, happy of their attention. He’s as sweet a person as ever there was…

And if he uses illicit substances from time to time, so what?

If he lets himself be mistreated by others, well that’s just his way. If he wishes for a better relationship with his parents, well who doesn’t?

He’s going to inherit the earth after all. You know he is.

And if he’s taking risks with sex and drugs, well… what are you going to do about it? Are you going to sit him down and have a talk. Are you going to talk some sense into the man? Tell him how much you care? Tell him that he’s going to inherit the Earth?

Is that what you’ll do?


That’s what I did.

And then, in a way, I inherited the Earth.

It really wasn’t supposed to go like that.

I’d convinced Billy that he needed to be treated better and that a change of scene could only help.

Billy and I both left, but we went to separate places. He eventually returned to the house where we’d been roommates, and to the same destructive friends and behavior. I never did.

I saw him seldom in the year that followed.

I saw him once in the hospital.

He was his usual jolly pixilated self, the only difference was his hair. I told him he looked good bald, and he did. Like an adult for the first time- shorn of golden ringlets of his youth.

He spoke of his friends, the ones who’d been so helpful. The ones who didn’t sit him down and tell him he’d fucked up and that things would have to change. That he deserved better. That we both did.

He spoke of the nurses. So great, so loving, so unlike his own family. So supportive of the dying- and that was him- the dying. They understood him and made his days better. At last, the perfect roommates. But the best roommates never last… I knew that now.

I went back to see him once more, while I still could. It was evening and I went alone. The nurse checked on him and told me that he was asleep. Then she whispered that he was really awake. Did I want to see him?

Did I want to see him?


Did he want to see me?

That was the real issue. Did he want to see me? The one who knew it

didn’t have to be this way. The one who told him so. The one he’d disappoint by dying.

No. He didn’t want to see me.

I handed the Nurse a small golden box I’d brought and waited quietly while she passed it to him. I waited to hear him open it. I waited to see if he’d call for me then.

He didn’t.

I walked quietly away and never saw him again.

(Long Beat)

I get a strong feeling of death here.

This is your roommate’s urn.

The Egyptians. Ah. They knew all about the afterlife.

These are your roommate’s ashes.

I didn’t know what it was. But he had it with him in the bed. He was holdin’ onto it tight at the end. I wanted to meet you and thank you for that. You did make it?

This is your roommate’s mother. The woman you’ve never met. The woman who never got it, who never understood, who never loved her son.

You tell her that it’s called an ankh. It’s a symbol that the ancient Egyptians used to represent life. You made it out of clay and painted it in gold. You tied a purple ribbon through it and put it in a golden box. You were so sorry for her loss. You felt sure it was her loss.

Well, when we put William’s body in the fire, we put your gift in with him. Is that alright?

Is that alright?

Is that alright?




"A Feeling of Death" debuted December 7, 2001.

[Lee Moyer's website]

[Back to Library] Home