I cannot remain silent. I reached my breaking point two weeks ago when you stood up on the table and shouted how you, Won’t stop believin’, to Mom, her face full of tears and sadness. What a spectacle you’ve become. It’s a mistake to put all your trust and love into this girl—this small-town girl you met on a midnight train. You’re a city boy, Bill, born and raised in South Detroit, just like me—like all of us. Where have you gone?
I put up with your crazy ramblings at first. The streetlight people and whatever other poisons that girl seeped into your heart. I wasn’t there the night she took you to see the singer in the smoke-filled room. You said it smelled like wine and cheap perfume. How it only cost a smile to share the night. You’ve been poisoned, Bill. That life is not for you. I don’t know how to try and reach the you from before. Before you were paying anything to roll the dice. Before you were livin’ just to find some emotion. Before you were hiding, somewhere in the night. But I believe you’re still in there.
Do you remember the night we were both drunk off a bottle of Cutty Sark in the beginning of November? You turned to me, a cigarette hanging from your lip and said “James, you know I’ve been working hard to get my fill. But in the end, some will win and some will lose.” There were strangers walking up and down the boulevard. You pointed to them and said, “Goddamn it, some of these poor bastards were born to sing the blues. But the movie, James. The movie never ends. It goes on and on and on.” And I remember taking the bottle from you and having a drink and thinking that maybe there’s some truth to that. Maybe that is the truth.
The next time we saw each other, you kept raving about the Streetlight People. I thought maybe you’d had too much to drink again, but you kept talking about that night—about that girl. You kept repeating that LSD crazed mantra
don’t stop believin’
hold on to that feelin’
Those words echo in my nightmares. Mom is sick with worry with you gone. She searches for your shadow in the night. I’m filled with something close to heartbreak, but with more fury. I can’t stop you from believin’. I don’t know who or what these Streetlight People are, but they’ve poisoned your mind, Bill. Them and this small-town girl, have taken you from us. I write this letter to you in hopes it might reach my Brother, not the man you’ve become.
SR Schulz is a writer and sometimes tweeter and really engaging and gregarious and a cool guy. Find him at @srschulzwriting in the tweeterverse.
image: Lindsay Hargrave