by Angeliska on December 24, 2010
Hey Flee-flee, long time no see. I’m not sure how else to do this, but in my usual way,
which always seems to help me a bit – and sometimes others too. Maybe if you’re out
there somewhere, a buzzing column of light still flitting around this plane for awhile more,
you’ll find your way into this ether and be able to read this. I can’t believe you’re gone, and
you probably can’t either. I’m guessing one minute you were making some dinner, or fiddling
around with a project, or reading, and the next – some guy was up in your house with a gun.
I know your bravado, and I’m sure you tried to defend your home, and maybe deal with this
person who was, no doubt, in some way involved in all the recent robbings, violence and
attacks. I wish it was him and not you, kid. He put a bullet in your head and left you lying in
a pool of blood for your roommates to come home and find. He’s still out there, and will
probably do it again, if given the chance – and there will be loads of chances, because
all our friends are basically sitting ducks. Unarmed, in shoddily protected old houses that
aren’t hard (apparently) to get in to. Meanwhile, the police are no help at all. I heard that
last night, they arrested one of your friends who was freaking out with grief. What the fuck
is that? They also tried to say that your death was a suicide, which I, and everybody else
who knew you know is utter bullshit. Not to mention your neighbors who told the cops that
they clearly heard multiple gunshots. Not to mention the fact that you didn’t own a gun, and
that you had so much to be living for. I know you did. I wish you had the chance to live it.
I wanted to say that I’m sad that we hadn’t gotten to sit and talk in such a long time.
Every time I ran into you over the past few years, it was a quick hug in the middle of
a parade – you looking stunned, and me rushing back so as not to lose my companions
in the flood of revelers. Just the other day, a bunch of your pals and I sat in my warm
kitchen, admiring these photobooth self-portraits you made, and telling stories about
you. I asked them to give you a big, sloppy kiss for me, and I dearly hope they did.
You might not know this, but I’ve treasured this little strip of photos for years, and
loved seeing your face every day on my refrigerator. Now you’re on my altar, candles lit.
I wanted to tell you thank you, again – for being so good to me when I first moved
back to Austin right after Katrina. I remember that night outside the Carousel Lounge,
at the benefit we’d put together. You came up to me, so determined to help me with
whatever I needed. You offered to bike over with dishes and silverware the next day.
You showed up and put in the elbow grease when few of my old friends made any
effort to help. You came over almost every day to lend a hand with painting, moving
furniture, and later, cleaning mold off of the treasures I was able to salvage from my
house in New Orleans. You were there with me when Myrtle called to tell me that she’d
been in my house, and that the roof had blown off. You held me when I fell apart, steered
me to the movies to see Mirrormask, in hopes of distracting me from my despair. You put
me to bed and sat silently near me, solid and full of empathy. You went to New Orleans
later, and brought back a bag of mix tapes I’d bemoaned leaving behind. You shimmied
up my rickety, blasted balcony and busted into the ruins of my old apartment to retrieve them
for me. You were the only person I know who would do stuff like that, selfless, dedicated and
sometimes foolhardy acts of love. Thank you for being so beautiful, so kind, and so good.
Wolf-eyed brother. Stray puppy with the hungry face. You tried to look tough, but anyone
who knew you will remember how your pale face would crack in two with that crooked
little boy grin of yours. Your busted up teeth later proudly replaced with silver, now soon
to be ash. That terrible-ass tattoo you got on your skinny white chest – a gnarly pirate
sneering beneath the words “If you ain’t a pirate, then you ain’t shit”. That’s the kind of
tattoo guaranteed to make a mother weep, though I know now she’d give anything to
see it again, to see your face. I feel so heartbroken for your family to get this news on
Christmas Eve. Anytime would be bad, but this? It’s just not right. How can this be?
It hasn’t really sunken in at all that you’re gone. That I won’t run into you at the St. Roch Tavern,
or here in Austin. The pieces don’t fit. You worked so hard to do right by people, and this is what
you got from humanity in return. It’s really hard for me not to be bitter right now. I don’t understand
what is happening in New Orleans, but it kills me that so many people I love are bearing the brunt
of this cycle of violence. I’m so scared for our city, for all of our friends. Please watch over them.
I know how much you loved it there – how at home you always felt in New Orleans.
It’s your final home now, and although I hope you can pass smoothly onward into
being part of everything, a part of me hopes that I’ll see a shade of you sitting on
a leafy back-stoop like this again. I love you, Jonny Flee – thank you for loving me.
Imagining you being dead isn’t really the hard part, you know. I just always
thought that if it happened, it would be some gory train-hopping incident,
or a bike accident, or, I don’t know – pirates or something. Not murdered.
Not shot in your house right before Christmas. I’m sorry you went this way.
I was hoping to see what kind of old man you’d make. Now you’re a lost boy,
forever – waving a wooden sword and swinging from vines in Neverneverland.
Jonathan Hall – “Flee” – May 2, 1983 – December 24th, 2010
To everyone else reading this, and feeling sadness and fear for the violence in New Orleans,
please – whatever you do, don’t write the city off. It terrifies me to think of any more loved ones
being made victims, but at the same time, I don’t want them to abandon their home. After Helen
was murdered, I had to stay away for a while. The fear and despair overwhelmed me, and I couldn’t
be there to celebrate Mardi Gras because of all the dark dreams I kept having. I regretted not being
there, and promised myself I would never miss another one. I’m keeping that promise, and I hope that
things will change soon, somehow. If you live there, please be careful, be canny, be safe. Make sure
that your house is secure. If you plan on getting a gun to protect yourself, please learn how to use it responsibly.
I can’t help but agree with friends who are wondering if the police turning a blind eye to the rash
of robberies, rapes and murders in the 8th Ward recently aren’t somehow in cahoots with the thugs
who are doing this shit. Sounds crazy, but when you look at this video from last month, and then look
at all the violent shit that’s gone down, it’s hard not to draw lines. These attacks have all been on our
friends – punk rock kids with nothing, no money, really, to take. So why are they being targeted? To get
them out? Or maybe it’s just random. Maybe the ten dollars from a bike-delivery kid on a shitty night
is worth it to them. Worth murdering for? It doesn’t make much sense. At the very least, the cops and
the city aren’t bothered that people are being predated on, especially since those people are “transients”
and “rowdy punk kids” who they don’t want here anyway. Much stranger things have happened in New
Orleans, where the city government and police force are so mind-bogglingly corrupt it’s hard to believe
it’s not Juarez. Watch this video and tell me there’s not something wrong with this picture:
“Cops call them a nuisance. Residents say they’re dangerous.
Now, some are wondering why transients, or gutter punks as they’re
often called, congregate in the St. Roch neighborhood.”
I call bullshit.