Ode to Dead Young Friends
A Memoir by
Anthony J. Langford
The true story of four people who died too young.
A dedication to Youth.
Avita – A stunning but wild, free spirit. She is nineteen and has the world, particularly men, at her feet. Yet her desire to experiment and live on the edge is fraught with danger.
‘Life’s for fun. Live a little. ’
Andrew – A passionate country boy with fire in his blood. He loves his family and his friends and yet struggles with his emotions and his place in the world.
‘I'm not even thinking about next week. ’
Rosemary – A meek city girl just coming into her own. Some are late to the ocean, with barely a toe in, testing the waters and finally wading in, discovering how beautiful it really is, but only to be lost in a sudden wave.
‘I just… I don’t know if I can do this…’
Ryan – A confident young man with a zest for life. He is smart, well-travelled and seemingly has it all. And yet, while not as young as the others, he is still coming to terms with who is. For some people, for whatever reason, perhaps no reason at all, destiny conspires against them.
‘You do have to try and find happiness in life, wherever it is.'
Ode to Dead Young Friends
centres on the fragility of life, the bond of friendship, the rivalry’s, the intensity of emotion between friends and lovers, the misunderstanding's, insecurity's, breakdowns, the threat of violence, horrors real and imagined, learning how to manage the politics of sex, the emergence into an adult world and the devastating shock of loss.
Ode is the essence of humanity, captured in our most vulnerable time, when we are young.
(There is a long Introduction, so I will only post the first portion of it and also a snippet of Part One).
A Funeral is an odd place to begin a story. They are usually positioned towards the end, or perhaps in the middle, if at all. Anywhere but the beginning. Publishers will tell you it's professional Hari Kari to start any type of text with a funeral scene. I suppose they assume all funerals are morbid affairs. Not so. I've heard of some tumultuous celebrations, barely disguised rip roaring, drug induced orgies. A free-for-all drunken cacophony, with wine and song and pills. Perhaps I exaggerate. However, while most people believe in an afterlife of sorts, many of us are moving away from the traditional solemn and sermon based funerals. There are now 'Green' funerals, where the deceased is buried in biodegradable material and deposited in an eco-cemetery. In parts of New Orleans, they still celebrate the Jazz Funeral, complete with a jazz band as part of the celebration. There are internet funerals too. Streamed online for those who can't make the real thing. You never have to leave your loungeroom.
One in particular that I attended a few years ago was a veritable triumphant remembrance, complete with dance music and professionally edited video. This funeral, that of a dear friend, prompted me to contemplate other funerals I've been to. Even in the midst of writing this book I've had to attend one. We do expect a certain number of funerals in our lifetime. The chances are that number will increase as we get older. Yet I sometimes think that I received them in reverse order. At a young age, I experienced far too many.
Part One - Avita
Three Bedroom House with Two Others.
Own Room, Good Size.
Ring 9… ….
Avita was Hot.
A melting, heart wrenching, saliva inducing, stormy, lustful, raging, stunner. A girl that froze the speech from leaving your mouth. A girl that made you forget every normal social introductory norm including the English language. A girl that made me hard and soft at the same time. Yet she wasn't the first of the two girls I met. It was Maree who answered the door. I'll never forget that hair. There had to be an entire can of hairspray in that one do. The chemical smell almost gave me respiratory failure. I met her eyes and had to crane my head back to see the top strand. I almost cricked my neck.
I grew up in the country and had responded to an ad in the local paper. The town itself had around thirty thousand residents and I was looking for a place to live. I was seventeen and had moved out of home the year before. Part of the reason this happened at a young age, aside from the fact that I wasn’t getting along with my parents, was that they were building a house, literally on their own. They had sold their dilapidated weatherboard, (which would be demolished by the new owners) and when they had to move to their new abode, it was nowhere near complete, not one room. My parents, brother and sister had to share a tiny caravan out back, a proverbial sardine can. The small dining table had to be folded down to make the second bed. Barely room for them let alone for a fifth. It was probably a blessing to my parents as they had their hands full as it was and I had been an introverted, extroverted, disillusioned teenager. In other words, a shit. First I lived with one set of grandparents and then the other. I was running out of options.
Novel No. 4 - R.I.P. (Rest In Prime).
(2021 update: This is a very heartfelt book. Most of it is true. I'm not certain I will publish it. It needs some rewriting.