Friday, 27 June 2008

Obituary: R.I.P. Jimmy Bogeyman

I can tell you, with fair scientific certainty, that scent is the most powerful memory-evoking sense we have. You smell something and BAM, your neurons fire off at dizzying speeds, suddenly bringing to mind things long past, even long forgotten but always, there, buried from the edge of consciousness to the deepest recesses of your mind. However, there is - well, you do not call it a sense, else we would have all gone mad - one other thing that, in my opinion, triggers the recall of more memories than anything else: sudden death. It doesn't warn you with sickness, it is not announced in a courtroom, it simply strikes in an instant and makes its presence known through a series of seemingly unrelated and inevitable coincidences. It was just such a string of random events that led my mother to ask me:

"Do you know a Dimitris Mavrakis from Chios?"

Now, my mother is a professor of Psychology and she knows how to measure her words and make them seem innocent enough; but frankly, I've been watching her for 26 years now and I am a big fan of criminology and forensic science (CSI is to blame), hence, I know from voice inflection and the directionality of her eyes, when something is amiss.

"Why? Did something happen to him?"

"Well, he's had a motorcycle accident and he is in the hospital."

"...I see. Is it bad?"

"Quite; he took a pretty nasty hit."

"Well, how bad is it?"

She knows she cannot say anything less than the truth but she is not really sure how I will take it, how well I knew him, if more than passingly.

"..."

"Mom?"

"He died. His inner thigh artery was severed in the accident and though they performed vascular surgery on him, he bled to death. How well did you know him?"

My mind kick-starts its defenses and I go emotionally blank. My voice is really impassive when I answer her.

"You knew him too; he was the guy we called 'Bogeyman'". She gasps in surprise. Dimitris, who I had started calling "Jimmy" around 10 years ago, was known all over the village where I had been going on summer holidays, as the "Bogeyman". It was not a moniker WE had given him; the younger kids of the village, with whom he used to play chase, affectionately called him that because of his amazing set of growls, roars and grimaces.

Earlier in the day, after the news had settled down in my stomach, somewhat, I went through my old photo albums: he is in the first page of the 1999 album, along with Billy, Michael and myself. Then, an odd memory poured forth... I remembered, on that year, we four used to get on our bikes, climb up and down a few kilometers of burning, summer asphalt and reach the beach called "Black Pebbles". The name is only half-right, since "Blackstone" or "Black Rocks" would have been more appropriate. It is a locale where, in ancient times, a volcano erupted, showering the place with black, volcanic stones of all sizes and shapes, for miles. As the centuries went by, the sea hewed these rocks into neatly curved shapes, creating a unique, stone-covered beach, where it was more likely to cut your foot on a soda bottle, than a rock. On especially hot summers, like the one back in '99, we would shower the beach with water, causing steam to erupt from the -well- black-hot stones.

"The Four Stinkin' Caballeros"
(Jimmy, Michael, Myself, Billy)

That year, Michael and I intended to find the highest point on the rocky cliff-side dividing the beach in two, and jump, between a triangle of sharp rocks, protruding from the water. It was a business that had started in the summer of 1998 and our personal bet. Jimmy and Billy had come along with us and considered us rather crazy. Well, we were frigging 17-year-olds - what did you expect? Now, the first thing I remembered, was how much we would sweat on our bikes, trying to reach the beach - to the point that Billy anointed us "The Four Stinkin' Caballeros" (not an exact translation but close enough). Secondly, I remember how we would goad and tease Billy and Jimmy, until they finally jumped, triggering a 4-hour repeat process of the dangerous dive. I remember Jimmy saying, in local vernacular:

"You 're two crazy sons o' bitches, but it's OK" and then he jumped into the water again. Today, I thought about these multiple dives, dives we repeated year after year, until life got in the way of us being as we had (seemingly always) been. We could have gotten ourselves killed, more than a 100 times and yet we didn't and it was all laughter and teaching the younger ones how to dive like we did and strawberry and orange sherbets and hot dogs on the beach ; and then, back in the village, at night, the (only) local arcade, bonfires on the beach and so on and so forth...

However, Jimmy got killed in a motorcycle accident in Athens, on the 26th of June, 2008. He was 23 years old. I had not seen or heard from Jimmy in almost 4 years (since I stopped going on vacation in Chios), except for the odd e-mail. However, I haven't forgotten. I never forget. Once upon a time, with an ancient camera that had belonged to my grandfather, I recorded our adventures and mishaps, with the sole purpose of reminiscing along with my childhood friends, year after year, while getting ready for each successive craziness. I am a person gifted with a long memory; and obsessed with it. I have been keeping the record of time for over 10 years in pictures (far longer in my mind) and not once did I imagine opening it for such a sad occasion. Life (and death), as always, defy imagination.


I have no answers for the Great Beyond, only theories, only beliefs. I did not know what yours were, my friend, as we only talked about such things when we had nearly fainted from the booze. If there is a distinction between Good and Evil where you are headed, I know the good guys are lucky.

Godspeed Bogeyman,

Speedgrapher

4 comments:

Skuld Skauksson said...

Skata!!! Einai to deytero skatenio neo pou akouw mesa sth mera... Kai ta dyo exoun na kanoun me filous filwn mou... Drit!!! Chikuso!!! Ti na pw... Kouragio se mas (s' esena dhladh speedy kai kyriws sthn oikogeneia kai tous ypoloipous filous tou paidiou...) H dikh mou 8ewrhsh kai antilhpsh gia ton 8anato dn symbadizei bebaia me tis dikes sou, alla wres wres 8a edina o,ti exw gia na brw ton tropo epitrepsw ston eayto mou na dei ta pragmata diaforetika ap' oti ta blepei (kai den einai 8ema kleistomyalias, if you dig it...)

tkas said...

its always sad when a young man dies.Sory to hear that. On the other hand I still cant believe that the bloke with the long hair its you......Man thats rich..I think I am going to keep this foto to illuminate all my dark moments :P

DRAGONBUNNY said...

AGORINA MU LIPAME K GIA TA SXIMA NEA K GIA TIN XAMENI ZOI TU FILU SU!
PANTA INE TRAGIKO OTAN XANETE ENAS ANTHROPOS PU INE NEOS K EXUME PERASI TOSES K TOSES MONADIKES STIGMES MAZI TU, ALLA NA XERIS OTI PRAGMATIKA XANETE ENAS ANTHROPOS, OTAN KAPIOS TON XEXNAI, K IME SIGURI OTI AFTO TO PEDI THA ZI GIA PANTA MESA STIN KARDIA SU!
KURAGIO K OTI XRIASTIS PES MU TO!
FILAKIA POLLA KAT!

Speedgrapher said...

I want to thank everyone for their kind and discreet support and can only hope that Jimmy's family and closer friends receive at least as much.

Peace