January 13, 2016
“I got here as soon as I could.” Pulling the scarf from my neck, shedding my coat as I hurried down the hall, heart pounding, panic welling suddenly through the pain I was already in, as the ghosts of old fears suddenly haunted me again.
“He’s been in there for three days. Hasn’t eaten. Isn’t answering his phone.”
“I know.” I’d tried to call the second I’d heard. I’d left a voice mail that probably didn’t sound like much since all it was was the sound of me trying not to cry, but holding back from crying meant I couldn’t speak, either. “But he’s alive?”
“It’s that or a ghost is changing what song is playing.” I could hear the strains of a live version of “Hallo Spaceboy” through the door.
Carynne looked tired, like she hadn’t slept for three days, either. I hugged her. “On the first day I could hear him crying sometimes, but not since.”
“I’m a wreck, too,” I said. “I can’t even explain why.”
She patted me on the shoulder. “You’ll be all right.”
Will I, though? Nothing’s the same now. It’s like that whenever someone so significant to your life dies. The whole universe around you changes. And this wasn’t even someone I knew personally.
Carynne left me and I knocked on the door. “Zig?”
No answer, but I could hear some rustling.
“Zig, it’s me. Can I come in?”
Still no answer. I wondered if he had gotten hold of some prescription meds he wasn’t supposed to have or what.
I had been crying off and on ever since hearing about Bowie’s death. I simply wasn’t prepared for how strong I felt about it. I hadn’t realized what a large part of my understanding about what it means to be a rock musician, a creative person of any kind, stemmed from his existence.
And now he was gone. I banged on the door, feeling like tragedy is a contagion sometimes, like one bad thing begets another, and I’d be damned if the universe was going to take both Ziggy Stardust and my own Ziggy away. “Ziggy! You’re freaking me out!” I started to cry and yell and I think I even said the thing about Ziggy & Ziggy and the universe. And who knows what else, but I guess something got through.
He opened the door a crack and it opened wider because I was slumped against it by that time and I half-fell into the room, blind from tears and grief.
But I could hear his voice. Ziggy’s, I mean. My Ziggy’s. “It’s okay, Daron. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.” He had turned off the music and I could hear him clearly.
He helped me to my feet and wiped my eyes with the silk sleeves of the kimono he was wearing and I blinked and looked around the room. At first all I could make out was that there were blobs of light all around and then as my vision cleared I saw what he had been doing for three days.
He’d been making tiny paper lanterns with David Bowie’s face on them, and stringing the room with all kinds of lights. Some of them must have been strands of Christmas lights unwound, while others were hanging from threads from the ceiling. They must have had LEDs in them of some kind.
On the radiator cover by the windowsill was an altar. A shrine. Tall glass tubes of saint candles lined it, two or three of them flickering, already lit. Hung in the window itself was a poster of Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King.
I swallowed, trying to get my voice back. I managed to croak out, “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Ziggy took my hands. “He’s not gone. He’ll never be gone. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Saints can’t be canonized until after their ascension.”
He pulled me deeper into the room, until I was surrounded by the lights.
“Have you been listening to the new album?”
“Pretty much nonstop,” I admitted. “Since the day it came out, I mean.” Which was only a few days before his death, but still, I felt it was important to be specific.
“He knew he was dying. He said goodbye the best way he knew how. He turned his death into a work of art for a reason. To give us this message.”
“What message?” I was skeptical. When Ziggy went hypomanic he sometimes heard voices or got…interesting…notions.
“That art is the only way to live forever. To live true. That’s what his message always was. The reason he was always changing. The reason his art never stood still, wasn’t because art is ephemeral. It’s because art is timeless. He’s left us an entire legacy to listen to and fight over and argue about. Forever. Neither of us knew David Bowie the man. We only knew David Bowie the artist, the idea, the concept of him. AND A CONCEPT CANNOT DIE.”
I felt his fingers brush my cheek. All the little lights were reflected in his eyes which weren’t overly dilated. He looked tired, but not like he did after a three-day long manic episode. He looked as beautiful as ever. And sane. “That…makes sense.”
“He’ll still be there when we need him. Light a candle with me and the pain will go away. Come on.” He led me to the altar, put a box of extra long matches in my hand. Each candle had a different picture of Bowie on it. I chose the one from the cover of Aladdin Sane. I lit it and got down on my knees.
“Do we pray now?” I whispered to Ziggy.
“No. Now we sing.”
There was exactly one song that was appropriate for that moment. You know the one. I only made it through the first verse and one time through the chorus but that was enough. He was right. The pain of loss lifted. My lungs felt full for the first time in days. My voice was shot to hell from crying but it didn’t matter. We sang together and slipped instinctively into our old harmony without trying.
Music is magic. Music is the human spirit. It comes right out through our mouths when we sing. It flows through our fingers when we beat drums or pluck strings. The vibrating string is at the core of the universe, what makes everything alive. I’ve known that to be the truth since the last day of 1989.
We are alive, and when we are not, there will still be songs. Ziggy’s right. It’s okay. As long as there is someone alive to sing the songs, it will be okay.
(Not part of the timeline obviously.)
That was absolutely awesome — thank you.
Tastefully done, thank you.
Ouch. Wonderful, but still ouch. Thank you so much for sharing this. It was very cool to get a look into the present timeline, even if only to view reactions to this sad, sad event. Yesterday’s pre-chapter post was great to read as well, thank you for sharing that too. Sending love to ctan, Daron, Ziggy, and all the rest who may need it.
Thank you, this was wonderfully done.
Thank you. Love to all.
OH, GREAT video choices as well. I was lucky enough to see The Outside Tour twice. With all those drums…damn, this song rattled the roof!
So, a glimpse of the future. If this is canon, then Z&D are still talking. We can infer that they are not living together and might infer that Ziggy is living with Carynne. There is little physical interaction between Z&D in this post. Evidently they hand’t had contact since Bowie’s last album came out.
And we have what might be a tentative diagnosis of bipolar disorder, also sometimes called manic-depressive disorder.
Surgeon General’s Warning: The following two paragraphs may induce rapid sleep. Also, if you sufffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, please stop reading.
Since symptoms rarely manifest before age 25, if this is the same condition present in 1989 it’s unlikely that it’s BPD. Perhaps, if the conditions obtained in the interim led to BPD diagnosis, it’s cyclothymic disorder. Sort of “BPD-lite.” And, a major environmental factor in BPD is childhood abuse, quite often sexual abuse. We need a lot more information about Ziggy’s childhood and, I believe, about the father who was putatively never there. His influence may have been exerted over a very short time, but I believe it was profound and troubling.
In 1989 the most commonly-prescribed drugs for manic-depressive disorder were, as I recall, Zyprexa and Risperdal. The former is dangerous for Ziggys profession, the latter is explosively dangerous for Ziggy’s profession. Tegretol was certainly available for treatment of the mania, and, coupled with a mood stabilizer or anti-depressant, would probably have been an appropriate treatment given Ziggy’s profession. He simply would have had to limit performances during the mania phases because tegretol would leave him unable to give a Ziggy-style performance.
OK, now safe to read. There are other fascinating lines of speculation arising from “shedding my coat” (they aren’t in LA), “he’s in his room” (not rooms or suite or apartment or hovel), “Do we pray now?” (Daron’s confluence of religion and music has not changed). The other fascinating lines of speculation number less than four thousand.
And, mathematics has explained that the vibrating string actually IS at the center of the universe. It’s calle “M-Theory” and requires a ten- or eleven-dimension universe. Child’s play for a mathematician, or a musician.
I chose to go the “Daron is an unreliable narrator” route. Meaning he may have purposefully left out important details so that we don’t “know how it all ends” between them. Daron and Ziggy not being together is not necessarily telling, because who knows where their careers take them in 2016. Maybe Daron recently released another solo instrumental album and was out promoting it? He specifically left out how he got into the house/apartment/dwelling. Did he have to knock? Did he have a key? Is it a place they actually share? He also left out a specific designation for the room Ziggy locked himself in. A bedroom? Ziggy’s bedroom? Their bedroom? Some other room altogether?
What we can take from this is that they are still part of each other’s lives and still draw comfort from each other when things get rough. And they still mean enough to each other for Daron to refer to him as “My Ziggy.”
Incidentally, THIS is the exact reason I want to read Daron’s story until the day he is gone. “And they lived happily ever after” would NOT be satisfying. Even Harry Potter’s 19 Years Later epilogue probably wouldn’t be enough. Wherever Daron choses to end his story is still going leave me wanting more. I say that with absolute confidence, because I love this story that much!
All of what you say is true. We’re left with many fascinating issues and possibilities. The only thing we know for sure is that they are in one another’s life and, if the diagnosis is bipolar disorder, it almost certainly is not the same condition he suffered when he went to Betty Ford or before that. This last one is amost certain because 22 would predate the earliest recorded onset of BPD. Not that this is impossible, because nothing is impossible.
Agree with you completely. I have my own ready-for-web serial coming of age story written two years ago. I’m dissatisfied with it, in part because it concludes shortly after the protagonist’s thirtieth birthday. Also, compared to DGC it sucks. Then again, compared to DGC most things do.
I want to see Daron and Ziggy when they’re in their eighties and have a fight at the altar about the music at their wedding. And Ford Cutler, by then on social security, is the ring bearer, while Courtney’s youngest great-granddaughter is the flower girl. The officiant is Malia Obama, who had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for offing John Mills.
Hey, this could get fun. Maybe have the EPA declare Digger’s grave a toxic waste site.
Remind me not to take a drink before reading your posts. Fortunately it was only water sprayed onto my phone but I don’t think electronics like taking baths. Digger’s grave a toxic waste site = priceless.
If anyone is going to rewrite medical textbooks it’s Ziggy. That’s one little ball of sweet, vulnerable, self-assured yet insecure, adorable, pain-in-ass fucked-up, that is. (Can you tell I simply adore him?)
s, of course you’re right. I was just told by my oncologist that it’s impossible for me to have IBD because I’m 67 and onset has never been recorded that late. My 38 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Hirschprug’s, which is in all cases diagnosed in infancy. Except it isn’t.
I’ll get off the BPD bandwagon. Daron is an unreliable narrator, and it’s entirely possible that Ziggy has never uttered the word mania.
I find this series an open invitation to cognitive dissonance. I can simultaneously believe that he is a factual reporter and an unreliable narrator. That keeps my mind busy enough that I do things like donate the extra eleven dollars after forgetting I had, thirty seconds earlier, donated the five bucks that had me so excited.
Tomorrow I’m investing my entire life savings in a brilliant invention the guy calls a “wheel.” It’s round. The guy’s a genius.
You are so funny. I love your posts.
Daron still gets me all the time with his unreliable narrator thing (read: human). I try to remind myself that just because he thinks it or even observes it doesn’t mean it’s true because he may not have all the information or he may just be wrong. But it doesn’t always work. I still get blind-sided and sometimes look back at something and think “how could I have missed something so obvious.” That’s part of the fun of this story and part of the brilliance. I have learned something though. I never ever let myself get too excited about an upcoming event (anymore). The three times I did…1) The charity show in New York. Ziggy… 2) Daron and Ziggy reuniting. That went well… 3) Daron and Ziggy meeting up in New York. And Janessa happened. So I’m keeping my expectations tempered from now on, thank you very much.
Hey, this could get fun. Maybe have the EPA declare Digger’s grave a toxic waste site.
Ditto. And yes, I have left out a lot of specific details because ctan will have my head if I give away too much.
Thank you for this and for what you said before the last post. Two months later and it still hurts to think about.