Shawn’s former roommate Anthony stopped by my home after hearing the terrible news. I didn’t feel like having company, but like with so many of Shawn’s old friends, Anthony wanted desperately to know what happened—what killed him? How did he die so suddenly?
Dealing with Shawn’s family in Los Angeles and arranging for the shipment of his corpse had exhausted me. I felt tired and used. I couldn’t bare one more question about his final days. Flying a casket from New York to Los Angeles is not cheap. I certainly didn’t have the money to send him home for good, neither did Shawn’s family. I expressed my outrage with his family to Anthony. He seemed more concerned about what I had done with Shawn’s marijuana when he died than a ‘mother-in-law’ that I had never met. I told him to help himself to what was in the cigar box. I certainly didn’t feel like smoking anything that would depress me more.
“What are these?” Anthony asked while removing a clear plastic bag from under what appeared to be at least fifty buds.
“They look like E pills to me.”
“Can I take one?”
“Sure I said,” without informing him of the Valentine’s Day Card that I found on the window next to Shawn’s bed on the day after he died. I had given him that card just a few weeks prior. Inside was my writing—a little note that said this:
“Enjoy the chocolates and don’t share any with your pieces on the side.”
Inside the card was a little white pill. I took it as a sign from beyond. Shawn always said that the closest sensation one can have to the afterlife is a trip on an E pill. At that moment, it occurred to me that he may have simply killed himself and the pill he left behind was a message and a way for me to reach him in the afterlife—‘relax and enjoy yourself while I’m gone,’ the pill seemed to say to me.
I found the card and pill when I came home from the hospital. I wondered how many if any he had taken. Was his death suicide? Why were there so many pills stashed away with in his illegal drug box. What was he doing with them? Perhaps he was dealing again. I didn’t know. Physicians at the hospital didn’t mention anything about a drug overdose. They seemed to think that the cause of his death was Tylenol taken in excess combined with complications from a Hepatitis infected liver.
“Don’t you think that if you gave birth to someone that you would have at least a little compassion and want to stand next to your child when they die?” I asked Anthony.
“Uh huh,” Anthony nodded while stuffing his pockets with Shawn’s expensive hydro weed.
“She didn’t want to come to New York, Anthony. I offered to pay for it. I told her what the doctor’s told me—that he was going to die very soon. They were in denial about it, even his brother Woody wouldn’t listen to my pleas that someone from the family come to New York to take care of him. ‘Call and keep us updated’, was all that they asked. How sad it was for him. Poor Shawn, voiceless and stuck in a coma could hear me even though he couldn’t speak. I promised him in the hospital that I would get his momma here. She wouldn’t come though. I felt so powerless watching him die. He seemed to slip out of consciousness after a few days passed and his mother never showed up in that hospital room. I’ll never forget the smile on his face, despite the tubes that ran down his throat when I promised to get his mother here. All he wanted was to see her again. She would not come to New York though.”
“You need to take one of these and come out to a club with me,” Anthony insisted. “Shawn told me that his mother had problems with her legs. Did you ever think that perhaps she was too disabled to travel?”
“No. I didn’t realize that. I feel like such an ass.”
“So how did you get his body to LA?”
“Pernessa Seal, his former boss paid for it.”
“How did you manage that?”
“I called her and demanded that she pay for it. She fired him you know, just a week before he went into the hospital.”
“Why did she fire him?”
“Budget cuts. The Balm In Gilead lost a federal grant and his boss, Pernessa had to let him go. It had nothing to do with budget cuts. Shawn told the bitch where to get off and she fired him. I have known Pernessa for almost ten years, long before I knew Shawn. She was the chairman of the board of Harlem United, a charity where I once worked. It’s such a small world, you know. When Shawn told me where he worked, I knew all about the place and Pernessa Seal—the power-hungry Oprah wanna be. She fired him because Shawn refused to go with her on a trip to Tuskegee. She only took him to conferences so that he would carry her luggage from the airport. Shawn had enough of kissing her ass. He refused to go and so she fired him.”
“That’s fucked up.”
“Well anyway, I called Pernessa and told her that she had better do the right thing and pay to have his body shipped to LA. Believe it or not she listened to me. I only heard from the family once more after the body arrived safely in LA. His mother called to let me know that she received all the cameras that I had mailed to her, but she insisted that the most expensive one was missing from the batch.”
“You must be joking.”
“Hell no. On second thought, give me one of those pills and let’s go out tonight. I think Shawn sold his camera and bough me those pills. On second thought, give me back that pot you put in your pockets. I didn’t say you could have all of it– just a little to remember him by, that’s all.”