Okay, so the piece I wrote is not the piece I “promised” a couple of hours ago.
Yeah, another song got in the way. I’ll append that song to the end of this post, after the flashfiction piece, but suffice it to say that this particular song is one that absolutely demands a story. Actually, it demands a far longer and more meaningful story than what I have written here, but this is all I have at the present moment.
One thing I will add is that I have several friends who played professional hockey at the highest levels. My friends…they lived this song when they retired. While many had family and friends and enough of a life outside of hockey to cope, for others retirement began a descent into booze and drugs and a need to escape.
For some — a few — it began a descent into death.
In what I wrote below, I couldn’t get away from that. I couldn’t get away from my friends. I couldn’t get away from those for whom the loss of the spotlight meant the loss of…everything.
This song, then…
This song has power. You have to listen to it, and I mean really listen. To the words. To the emotions. To the truths. To the costs that everyone has to face at one time or another. In the (sad) words of Connor and Oz, “there’s always a price to pay.”
Who Are You?
A screaming crowd in a full arena. All the cries for more echoing and drowning out the world itself. All the warmth and affirmation. All the love.
He remembered it all. He remembered the goals. He remembered the cheers.
He remembered when everyone knew his name.
Now, no one knew it.
He remembered, also, that last game. He remembered the boos. He remembered the catcalls for more.
The whiskey went down unnoticed. Just as the pills had gone down unnoticed.
The crowd wanted more. He tried, as he always had. He tried to give more. Tried to be what he once was.
He tried, and he failed.
But still, the crowd wanted more.
He, too, wanted more.
Another handful of pills. Another swallow of booze.
Everyone wanted more. Everyone wanted what he could never again be.
Even as the numbness came, he could remember the crowd…
He could remember the cheers, could remember the emotion…
He could remember the autographs, and the cheers…
Just as he could remember the time — just a few hours ago — when the kid had looked at him and asked, “Who are you?”
**Note — I’m using the live version of this song because it has more power than the original album version. Look, I know it starts slow, but just listen. Really, just fucking listen. It’s well worth it.