The last time I saw Talker alive was last summer. That June day — full of reckless vainglory — Talker had attempted to scale the the falls in the Lower Falls Gorge: to out patch Sam Patch. Instead, Talker slipped away into the foam. The last I saw was his soul ascending upwards through a hole near the McDonald’s on Lake Avenue. Unlike Patch whose body was found frozen in an ice pack, Talker’s remains remain undiscovered.
After his demise, I returned to my staid life as a high level manager at a prominent local corporation. At the same time — to preserve the memory of my sunken comrade — it was I who arranged a trust fund to pay all required fees whereas Talker will live in perpetuity on the internets.
Periodically, I return to that final story (that I had mournfully penned in memorium). The views, facebook shares and comments have trickled down near zero. The only traffic left are zombie websites offering super force viagra.
I still do sometimes think of our fallen fool. Late at night, after dispensing my corporate duties, I take to my study and my stamp collection.
Though not given to his monomania, I feel Talker-as-muse. Licking and placing my stamps into phantasmagorical patterns, I unburden my pent up imagination. Brazen and bold in my glued tableauxs, I sense the equal thrill Talker felt as he looked downward from the precipice of the Gorge.
Last night when driving along South Avenue, I thought again of him upon seeing a sign for that evening’s Grand Torch Light Tour in Mt. Hope Cemetery. As he would have gone, so too would I. But upon arrival, the event was sold out. My inhibited self would have gone home, but I was in search of Talker.
I remember he had told me of a place in the iron fence surrounding the cemetery with a gap just large enough for a man to squeeze through. Actually, an eccentric physics professor at the University of Rochester with wild white hair had installed a green rope allowing easier progress down the hill and into a parking lot. Every day, the professor would absentmindedly amble from his apartment on South Avenue through the cemetery, shimmy down his rope, and from to there to his physics lab on the river campus.
I found the hole, proceeding through the cemetery, first passing the Spanish-American War veterans and widows grave site. Peering under the moonlight at the long dead men and their wives, I recalled how Talker’s beloved and now bereft Audrey had also visited the graves.
I also remembered how Talker had turned his Spanish-American War dissertation into a serialized screen play, Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story. I found the work to be uneven and unpolished, much like what Cora Crane had said to Steven Crane about his own screenplay in Scene 21:
As for Black and Blue, it has all the defects and grandeur of its creator [Crane]. The Roosevelt parts are your fawning for literary fame at the expense of your art. On San Juan Hill is you [Crane] the absurd and flimsy egoist.
As I am a man of ample means, I plan to produce and shape his screenplay into my own vision, Mr. Tucker’s Vivid Story.
I then tried in vain to find the graves of famed Rochester poet Adelaide Crapsey and her brother Philip who had also died after serving in the Spanish-American War. Sitting under the moonlight, I recalled how Audrey had also visited Adelaide’s resting place and how Talker had gone with James Caffrey — toting Caffrey’s Adeldaide collection — on a similar pilgrimage. On the bench pondering poesy, I made some mental notes for my own work in progress: “Late Night Thoughts of a Philatelist.”
When I reached the main gate, sans ticket, I faced a moment of decision. Bow out timidly and abandon the search? No — hurriedly blending in with the throngs taking the grand tour — once more into the breech.
First, I went to the spot near Warner Castle where Talker had entertained two of Rochester’s most comely young ladies. Talker’s ascent to heaven has left on this earth a trail of tears and broken hearts.
Then it was the spot were Stalker had lept into the crowd when playing Jack the Ripper at the Rochester Candlelight Ghost Walk. I have long disapproved of the mayhem created by his all too convincing performance.
Quite frankly I was glad when Audrey gave him his comeuppance. As Leslie would write of Audrey’s lynching:
Looking too gleeful and self-satisfied for my taste at the terror he had sown, my brother peered upon the scene of the crime. Audrey felt this was the time for Talker to finally be rendered mute if not moot.
Then, feeling Talker’s spiritual presence, I was drawn to a crucifix inside a mausoleum. Inside, the guide told us a story about the first Mayor of Rochester. Suddenly, behind me I heard a gurgling sound.
All in all, the Grand Tour proved a delightful evening. I returned home to finish composing Mr. Tucker’s Vivid Story and “Late Night Thoughts of a Philatelist.”