O N E, the Bronx
“A Double Funeral”
Somewhere in the Bronx a sea of red brick high rise tenements hits a long highway bed and then the dead place of poverty becomes a green and hilly oasis. This juxtaposition is striking.
They all found their way north along that endless highway to a place called Wakefield.
Victoria Christiana Contreras was dressed in all black, a lace vale covering a pretty albeit heavily make upped face and contacts which turned her eyes vaguely feline brown blue. Her husband, Ernesto Rafael Contreras was in denim jeans and black shirt as he owned no funeral appropriate suit and had only sobered himself up long enough to attend the two funerals. He was unshaven; his baby face was markedly hard for the first time in many years.
The weather was poorly.
It was nearly New York Winter, but it had refused to snow this year. They were in a crowd of several hundred mourners anonymously performing mass mourning while numerous people did so more dramatically.
The first Funeral was for Sebastian Adonaev. It was very well attended considering all the bridges he had burned that year. But very few people believed he was really dead.
Everyone was speaking of “seeing it coming.” Also of his epic potential now buried just as many had suspected before his 30th year.
It was rather like a circus actually. There were way too many people speechifying, justifying and explaining, and there was an overabundance of booze flask flowing. And many of the mourners were black, and many were wearing blue ambulance Class A uniforms which was striking too. His parents were kind and bourgeoisie. They didn’t break down or cry. They just quietly held court and whispered on the sidelines, his mother in particular with select old friends paying their respects over whisper.
It was a closed casket. Sebastian had shot himself twice in the head with pistol and then toppled seventeen stories off a roof. There was very little left of his face.
It was theoretically a Hebrew funeral. But the only thing Yiddish about it was that it was done on the tasteful but cheap. He went in the ground less than 24 hours after his alleged suicide.
There not being a note was the most un-nerving aspect of the whole thing.
Sebastian was amongst other things a prolific writer. Not leaving a suicide note was highly suspect, vaguely anticlimactic. But, the inner circle knew exactly why he’d gone and done what he did, what he thought he had to do.
“Over a woman that didn’t even love him,” explained his best friend Nikholai Trickovitch. And then he spat.
“I want to see the body,” demanded a woman named Anya Drovtich with thick black dreads and the blue FDNY uniform that many are wearing illegally out of respect for the fact that Sebastian had once been an EMT with that organization until they fired him.
She said what many were thinking, but few other than the parents, Trickovitch or Mickhi Dbrisk had the cred with the dead to declare.
Victoria and Ernesto quietly stood in the background of the mob of sorrows. They recognized many of Sebastian’s associates and former lovers and comrades from the Z.O.B., his gang, clique, club, and ‘cult’ (which many have and did still call it), whatever it had been, or still secretly was.
Victoria knows the female faces slightly better than the male ones. Ernesto was more involved peripherally in the internal club politics.
“The casket stays closed sister,” declares Mickhi Dbrisk, a tall Jamaican in a black pea coat. His grey-blue-black armband and the small silver pin on his left lapel indicating him as a person of authority here.
“I won’t believe he’s dead until I see the body,” Anya repeats.
The mob mills about in the brick house cold, the mother of the dead man nods to Mickhi Dbrisk. Sebastian’s mother has circular, red wizard spectacles. His father is portly and normally jovial, albeit not really such as his first son’s last first funeral.
Dbrisk opens the casket.
And there lies the body of the poet, paramedic and rebel hooligan Sebastian Adonaev. He appears to be wearing a pair of bootleg designer Ray Band dark sun glasses. A Haitian flag is tucked in his left lapel.
Four hours, three shots of vicious Rakia, two Coronas and a car service ride later.
Somewhere on the coast of Brooklyn.
The second funeral is quite small and fancy. It’s on the other side of town. Ernesto and Victoria take a black town car hired out from the Mexican Express. Sebastian’s funeral was in the Bronx and Dasha’s is in Southern Brooklyn.
There are fewer than two dozen people there. No speaks anything but Russian and no one cries. Dasha looks as beautiful dead as she did alive, like a gently sleeping doll. The funeral was nominally Russian Orthodox, as that was her husband’s religion. And although Dasha was technically Ivoryish, the husband has spared no expense. Her mother had been flown in from Penza, on the husband’s insistence she was to be buried here and not brought back to Russian.
There were a couple lady friends that Victoria knew without knowing. There was an assortment of men, looking suspiciously at each other.
Ernesto’s Russian was much stronger than Victoria’s though it was his third language. He made out vaguely hushed interaction. Scene size ups.
Victoria knew very little about the nightlife of Dasha outside of the Bulgarian Tavern ‘Mehanta’. Only that there was husband named Maccluskey and a boyfriend named Surge, and also a corporate lawyer named Dmitry. She had a best friend named Tanya.
She could basically only guess at who everyone else was besides the husband. Maybe.
Allegedly Dasha’s heart had stopped roughly 24 hours ago. The medical examiner inconclusively blamed a hazardous midnight cocktail of red bulls, vodka shots and cocaine, but Dasha wasn’t really known to play with that stuff, anymore.
The paramedics found her body at the Stillwell Station. She was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital.
She had in her purse, amongst other things a small book of poems written to her by Sebastian Adonaev. He allegedly killed himself just a day after confirming she was gone.
“Allegedly, blat” was the only word in English being bandied about this funeral.
“Who is to blame for the death of my daughter?” her mother asked Victoria in broken English when no one seemed to be paying attention, “which one of these men?”
“I don’t know.”
“Dasha told me that there was some crazy ambulance poet in love with her. She hinted that this man had been trying to steal her away for about a year. Who killed my daughter’s heart?”
“I don’t know,” repeats Victoria.
“Is that man here now, this Sebastian?”
“No. He’s dead. He shot himself twice after seeing your daughter’s corpse. We just came from his funeral,” says Ernesto quietly.
Ernesto looks like he might cry looking down at Dasha’s body buried in Peony flowers and fancy white casket. He had loved her too, while still loving his wife of course. Everyone had loved Dasha Andreavna, without knowing very much about here because she was young and free and exotic and beautiful and impossible to tame.
Many men here had tried, her husband included.
“Who is to blame for this catastrophe?” asks the mother again.
And nobody really knew. Allegedly a lot of fucking things had happened over the course of the year 2012, in the wilderness of New York City. Also called by some The City of Many Many Lights.
“A senseless tragedy. A senseless goddamn waste of…,” the very well-dressed man in the custom cut black suit whose name is Dmitry Khulushin, who had almost said ‘talent’ aloud, but instead, said “…of perfection.”
Dasha’s mother began to quietly sob which is permissible for a woman and mother to do at a Russian funeral. Her daughter had come a very long way to die for absolutely nothing.
Ernesto grabs Victoria by the arm, “It’s time to leave.”
And his eyes say he means it.
Ernesto looks as though the hard defenses of his man code machismo will crumple any minute now. They wait in the cold outside the funeral hall for another Mexican Express cab to take them home. Ernesto finally begins to weep heavily without sobs for Dasha whom he once very much loved and Sebastian who was one of his closest friends. He had introduced them and thus felt now more than any other moment in the year responsible for what had happened. In both Peruvian and Russian culture, real men do not by any stretch of imagination cry in front of mixed company. Wives included.
But cry he does wiping away the tears as they form. Victoria is an American, the children of Fenian Catholics. Fenian Catholics make up about 1/6th of the population and cry in front of whomever they want.
The cold wind blows deathly. The Mexican Express is nowhere in sight.
Victoria Lynch takes out a leather bound volume of Sebastian’s poetry on the subject of Dasha Andreavna. There were three copies only. She finds some solace in having the only copy that will survive the ordeal. He had always told her he hoped his poems would absolve him of the calamity caused by loving that woman.
Rafaela Ernesto mourns. Victoria Christiana reads on.
There are 99 poems in total. Sebastian had loved Daria something endless. And when she died there was nothing on this cold earth left for him to love. Himself included.
Her tragic tale then concluded, I, Valera also called Sebastian think to myself; ‘we could blush at the pain we’ve caused others in the name of good causes. But, we do not.’
“We surely pulled that job off, albeit most traumatically,” I testify to her and the bugs in the wall of the safe house.
“Never send a man to do a woman’s job,” Daria replies.
“Highly dramatic, I applaud you. A grand and deceptive opening. Though not the double funeral I was thinking of. Certainly that was indeed a most tragic day,” I tell her.
“We were only parted for a lunar month,” she reminds me.
“Well if my memory serves me correctly, prior to that month I had to wait 28 years to find you. I was speaking more to those we may have briefly traumatized with our out of body elopement.”
She gives me a stern stone face.
“You’re completely whipped. Is that the right word? Whipped?”
“It is dorogaia. And perhaps I am. Whipped like a planation slave until I can no longer feel pain or fear. Such was needed to love you as I did.”
“And to love me as you do?!”
Her face again feigns a pout.
“Possessing you has only intensified it I must confess.”
Then suddenly a mad woman’s devilish happy grin.
“Do you remember the games I used to play?” she asks.
“Used to, ha. Or, still do?” I say tracing a figure eight with my finger about her navel. When you used to make me prove how much I loved you with epic impossible feats?”
“I loved those games!”
“And I would deliver on them each time with a larger ante.”
“That was something. The moon! You shouldn’t have,” she smiles.
“My first story then to counter your opening reminder of our sad funeral will be about the only woman I’ve ever encountered who has more wild machinations in her head than you and the emancipatory mission to retrieve the man who made me the zealous partisan I am today.”
“Maya and Andrew,” she whispers her eyes now ready to devour detail.
“Emma and Avinadav,” I say using their truer names.
“How your Sebastian came to be intimate friends with the mother and father of the Mahdi and Messiah of our age, was due to his brief stint in Israeli night life promotion which led to my eventual enlistment in the fledgling Résistance movement there. I’d gotten banged up. I’d seen real bad things happen to my comrades during the purge of the underground.”
“Tell me more,” she says in Russian.