I, like millions of my, and next generations, was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of David Bowie. I heard the news in an email from my big sister, fitting really, as it was she who loved him first, back in the 70’s. A love I inherited.
I was travelling on that Monday, and not connected to social media most of the day, but in my own way wanted to write something. So I did, whilst on a ferry. On the same morning I’d seen my writing prompt for this week, which seemed oddly connected.
When I did get to see the outpouring on twitter etc., it was testament to the creative genius of the man how everyone seemed to have chosen a different track to remember him by. Music spanning genres and decades, electric and acoustic, but all crafted from the beautiful mind of David Bowie.
And to think, just two days before, my wife and I were marvelling as we listened to the Blackstar album, remarking on its utter brilliance.
…Waiting in the sky (A short fiction)
Our protagonist sits alone in his dressing room, staring into himself. With one finger he delicately lowers an eyelid and holds it still. With the other hand he applies the black pencil. He is the best man for the job. He is the best woman for the job. Whereas other men would be clueless and afraid of such a task, he is confident, skilled, and comfortable. And he is fearless.
There are still a few minutes until show time. He picks up his twelve-string and strums a few chords that sound lifeless, their resonance swallowed up by dressing room walls swathed in old, brown carpet. He takes a snatched drag on a cigarette left to wither in an ashtray two hours full of largely un-smoked butts, and mirror watches the whispered smoke snake and coil and fade. There are twenty-seven light bulbs framing the mirror, but it is he who burns brightest. Today is July the third, a diary date that he had noted many months ago.
There’s a tapping at the door and a familiar voice announces five-minutes until show time.
In the auditorium, we are waiting, all three thousand of us. We have manoeuvred and jostled ourselves into positions that give us a chance of catching a closer glimpse, a moment, his eye, him falling into our hearts.
The theatre is church dim, smoke hazy, throbbing with nervous anticipation, and anxious with excitement. Then the hum of chatter and laughter ebbs away from a collective sense of imminence. We have waited six months. We would have waited six more.
The players take to the stage. And then he appears; one hand gives a humble salute. We all holler and scream. They’re awaiting a lull, a quiet, and once we comply, they begin.
Three thousand minds become one. Together we sing and we dance. We will never forget this night.
After the final song our protagonist announces that tonight is the last time, that this was the final performance, that this is the end. We all think literally, we all think inside the box. We cry sadness all the way home, and then we cry joy, grateful for having had this night.
But it is not the end. Only for these particular flamboyant characters is it the end. They were a cast created by the mind of a grand designer, and only for them is the pageant over, darlings killed off in their pomp. It is now time for the new. It would be all too easy to continue wearing the same guise. But that’s not his style. He will discard advice from businessmen and bosses, all of those feeding from his flesh: from his melody, his craft, and his voice.
Our protagonist is a genius, he is an artist, and he is an innovator. He is shape-shifter, poet and creator. He is without fear, and will never rest on what has been, I suspect, not even as the final curtain falls.