Desole does something she's been meaning to do for years now.
We’d flown out to LA to meet up with Milo and everybody else for the beginning of the tour, which wasn’t set to start until next week. So I stayed with Milo and Desolé in their shared condo. Des was ecstatic about being with Milo again, which was good because when she was happy I was usually happy. But she refused to get me anymore Xanax saying she was tired of being my “enabler”. So I had to go to Bert for all my drugs now, which was okay because he kept them fairly priced.
Today I was sitting with Milo watching Law And Order when Desolé came in from the bedroom. I had to do a double take when I saw her. She was wearing her hair up in a bun with a red head band, black high heels and sheer stalkings. She was wearing a small black dress and in her hands she carried a bouquet of white roses and a black purse.
“Um, hey baby. What’s with the funeral garb?” I asked cautiously. She sighed and batted her eyelashes.
“Today is the anniversary of Leah’s death, so I figured I’d go pay my respects. I found out where her grave is. I’ve never been before.” she explained. My heart ached for her. I knew how hard it was to go and stand over your loved one’s final resting place. My family went to visit my grandmother’s every month.
“I’ll go with you.” I said, standing up and grabbing my coat.
“You don’t have too.” She said quietly as she followed me to the door. “I’ll be back this afternoon Milo.” she said.
“Do what you have to do chica.” he said with a nod. I picked up my car keys and too Desolé’s hand as we walked out the door. The sky was overcast, but it was still warm. It looked like it might rain later, but it always rained in the afternoon. California was just like that when it came to weather.
I let Desolé drive because she knew where she was going. She had one hand on the wheel and the other locked around mine. She stared ahead, seeming focused but I could tell her mind was elsewhere.
“You okay?” I asked carefully. She took a big breath and let it out.
“I think so. I’m just nervous. I’ve never been to her grave before. It’s kind of a big deal for me…” she said quietly. I stared at her. She looked very different with her hair back.
“I understand. I’m here for you if you need anything.” I offered. We pulled into the parking lot of the shabby funeral home. She stopped the car and looked over at me, flashing me a tiny little smile before we got out of the car.
Inside the funeral home was eerie and dim. It looked almost a little run down. The walls were dark beige and the floor tiling was cracked and dirty. There was a greasy young man sitting behind a desk pretending to look busy and important. It smelled like a dentist’s office and I felt kind of sick. We walked up to the creeper at the desk and he eyeballed Desolé in a way I didn’t like. She gripped my hand a little tighter.
“Hello and welcome to the Queen of Peace Cemetery where comfort and respect is always a virtue. My name is Francis, how may I be of service today?” asked the creep. He smiled and showed up his pointed and yellowed teeth. I pulled Desolé a little closer to me.
“We’re looking to visit Leah Margot.” Desolé said, holding her ground. “Could you tell us were she’s buried?” Francis nodded and started typing away on his computer. He stopped and turned the screen around to reveal a large map of the cemetery.
“She’s over here in the unknown’s section in the back. It’s a little far and confusing back there. Would you like me to escort you?” he said, pointing to the map.
“No, we’ll be fine thank you.” I said with the faintest sneer I could manage. Without looking back at him Desolé and I strolled outside into the grey morning.
We walked down the path toward the back of cemetery for a long time. A lot of the grave were crooked and cracked with weeds running up and down them. The grass was overgrown and all the flowers were wilted and dead. It was like all these dead people had been completely forgotten. It made me a little sad to see all the unkempt graves just sitting there, like they were patiently waiting for somebody to come along and care for them again.
We turned right into the “unknown” section. At first I had wondered why it was called this, but within seconds it became clear. Every grave said “Unknown” on it in the said Gothic font. None had flowers, most were cracked and dirtier than the other’s I’d seen. I felt even more sad and a little empty inside seeing all these lost dead bodies. I couldn’t even imagine how Des felt right now.
“Which one is she?” I asked, realizing we had no was of determining the graves. Desolé pulled a piece of paper out of her bra and read over it quickly.
“It said she’s row five, grave five. Dead center.” she said, squinting when she looked up. She stuffed the paper back into her bra and started to trudge through the over grown grass. I followed her as she counted along the graves until we reached what had to be Leah’s.
“How do you know this is her if its unknown?” I asked as we stepped in front of the grave.
“The website said she was later identified but I guess the assholes here were too lazy to fix it.” Desolé said grimly, routing through her little black clutch. She pulled out a tiny white candle and a lighter, but didn’t make any moves to the grave. We stood in silence for a few minutes.
“Am I supposed to say something? I don’t know what to say…” she said, turning to me quickly and then looking back down at her shiny shoes.
“You don’t have to talk.” I assured her softly. She bit her lower lip. And nodded. We stood in silence again for another moment before Desolé spoke up and addressed the grave.
“It just seems funny, I have all these amazing things I want to tell you, but I can’t even find the words.” she said. I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was about to cry. “I’ve met so many amazing people and done so many terrific and terrible things. I’m in a band. We’re about to start touring again. I keep that note you sent me in my bra at every show. I got engaged. I never thought I’d be able to love anybody again after you died, but here I am…I miss you more than anything.” she said, finally choking up. I reached out and held her hand as she cried.
“I think about you every day.” she sobbed quietly. She let go of my hand and knelt down, setting the white roses on the grave. She put the candle on top of the stone and lit it. “Gerard, do you have a Sharpie?” she asked, wiping her eyes. I nodded and pulled the pen I had out of my back pocket.
She uncapped it and wrote “Leah Margot, a beautiful and loving friend, cherished forever.” as neatly as she could before standing back up and handed me the pen.
She took my hand again and we made our way back. I glanced back. The grave looked pretty compared to all the others. The white roses really stood out. It started to drizzle so I put my jacket on Desolé. The candle had flickered out, but I didn’t tell her.
“Gerard, there’s something else I want to do.” she said once we were back in the car. She turned on the windshield wipers and pulled out of the parking lot. “Leah and I’s old apartment building wasn’t far from here. I read that its going to be cleared out and torn down.” her voice was hoarse from crying.
“We can go to it if you want. You think you’re up for it?” I asked, patting her knee. She nodded determinedly. We drove there in silence.
The building looked like it was about to cave in on its own. The grey bricks were cracked and vines covering almost every surface. The windows were grimy and old. Desolé stared up and it and took a big breath, gripping my hand for dear life. We stepped inside and the smell of piss and rats was almost overwhelming. You could hear rats scuttling in corners and water dripping from a rusty pipe somewhere. There was sing orange-ish light bulb that lit the stairwell we were in.
“Its only on the third floor.” Desolé said, already heading up the cracked cement stairs. The heels of her shoes made a soft clicking down as she walked. We got to the third floor and walked about down about a third of the hallway. The carpet was moldy and smelled like pungent mildew.
“This is it. Apartment 203.” she said, standing in front of the door. “All the locks have been taken off so a bunch of stuff is probably missing. But then again we didn’t really have anything of value.” she explained before she opened the door with green peeling paint.
The apartment had three rooms, a living room, a bathroom and a kitchen. And I thought my place was a dump. The TV was missing as was the microwave in the kitchen. Desolé stood in the center of the crappy little place and stared around, her eyes glossy and red.
“We used to pull out the sofa and sleep there. And we used to leave notes to each other on the fridge with alphabet magnets.” Desolé said, sounding very choked up once more. She put her hands in the pockets of my jacket and strolled into the kitchen.
It looked like somebody had lived here, but it was definitely abandoned. There were still cigarette butts in the ashtray. Desolé put her hand over her mouth as tears spilled down her cheeks when she looked at the refrigerator. I peered over and saw that it said “BE BACK AT NOON, LOVE YA DES”.
“I’m so sorry Leah. I should’ve been there. I’m sorry. I should’ve helped you. I miss you so much.” she cried, crumpling against the fridge and sobbing. I couldn’t stand to see her in this kind of pain, knowing there was nothing I could do to help. I let her cry for a few moments, letting her get it all out before I walked over and put my arm around her.
She pulled a note out of her pocket and stuck it to the fridge with one of the magnets. Her nose was red from sniffling and her make up was smudged.
“Let’s go home Gerard. I did what I needed to do.” she said, brushing the tears off her cheeks.
We left the rickety old building and started our way back to her condo. This had been a trip down memory lane in the most literal way I could think of. As we were driving I noticed Des was still crying a little bit, but she was smiling too. I was about to ask when she read my mind and explained.
“I’m happy I got the chance to do this. I feel better now. I feel like I can really move on now. I’ll still think of her every day, but now she can rest in peace knowing I didn’t forget about her.” she said, wiping her eyes again and smiling a little brighter.