Straight on Till Morning
And fever dreams of fairy magic
Last month it was raining in California, and I had just been diagnosed with throat cancer, so I was melancholy and crying in showers. But this month, the sun is shining the way it is supposed to; and instead of lamenting the past like some clichéed character from an Arthur Miller play—mumbling emotional monologues as the spotlight fades to black (and half the audience falls asleep)—I was visited by a beaming and beautiful (almost-alive again) River Phoenix.
His strawberry blond-hair falling in front of his champagne colored eyes in an asymmetric punk cut, his veins still bleeding from where he slammed his last hit, but smiling at me like in his death he was finally able to be his truest self. He was wearing cute pale blue Andrew Christian shorts that showed off his package, and a clean white t-shirt like the one he wore in Stand by Me, and he was sitting ankles-crossed at the foot of my bed as I slept. He was having a conversation with Norma Jean Mortenson, who had stopped dying her hair blond a few years ago, and was now wearing shoulder length warm brown curls as sweet as melted caramel. She was absently drinking a fruit smoothie with pomegranate and kale (always trying to flush the pills from her system), and speaking in that famous breathy voice that made even gay men swoon. And she and he are discussing all the things they didn’t get to do.
All the things that I was still able to do.
All the things that I secretly still wanted to do.
River Bottom was talking about visiting the underground sex clubs in Germany, and kissing strangers in a gondola at sunset in Venice, and Marilyn Monroe purred saying,
“That sounds just delicious River,” with so much magic in her breath that I got an erection while I slept.
And then she told him about her dreams to write sci-fi scripts, and to produce and to finally be seen as something more than a just a pretty face.
And River turned on my PlayStation and mostly let his character run into walls as I explanined to him “the Internet.” And after his pixelated avatar died a particularly gruesome death, Monroe made her eyes go real wide like she had just thought of something and said, “Our dreams are not kept in our broken bodies, but in the ‘second star to the right and straight on till morning.’” God, she is beautiful.
Chemo and radiation start next week and, even though HIV is still rattling around somewhere in my blood, so is Germany, Venice, and The Novel I never thought I would finish (that I finished!), and more dreams that I haven’t even dreamt yet….
I finished my novel!
You know the one I’ve been talking about for the past six years. You know the one about fairies and “faggots” and the Devil and his twin brother God; and the salvation and destruction that can happen when one falls in love with the wrong one. The one about addiction; and poverty; and friendship; and race; and the magic that lives within our blood—the one where butterflies in California and people being burned alive are beautiful signs of the apocalypse…. You know the one that has been the one creative focus of my life for the last half decade—keeping me from performing or submitting work, the one that was workshopped with Lambda Literary four years ago and that was conceived while I was high in a bathhouse (and made me stop what I was doing and take out my notebook and write the words “Once upon a time Justin Michael Clover was a demon.”) The one that I hope will change the way queer people see themselves and how they see God. The one that I pray will be a lasting part of my legacy? I finished it! I finished the first draft thirty minutes before midnight on the eve of the New Year! And now I am editing and looking for a publisher.
Did you hear me Universe, I’m searching for a publisher!?
I finished a novel.
I finished a [email protected]!ng novel.
Imagine what else I can do?
Twenty years ago, when I first contracted HIV a doctor told me that I would have five to ten years to live. I was twenty-three and homeless and addicted to crystal meth and wandering the streets with only 120 T cells swimming around in my bloodstream, and I figured that I might as well use up this body like a bottle of expiring milk. I lived my life in the philosophy of Marilyn Monroe, River Phoenix, and James Dean (who they say would sleep with anyone who would give him a smile). I didn’t think the world had anything to offer me but sex and death; and more importantly, I didn’t think that I had anything to offer the world….
But I am forty-two years young, twenty years HIV-positive, and fighting cancer, and I just finished writing a novel!
I wonder what other dreams haven’t we dreamt yet?
Rest in peace, my dear Norma Jean.
May I do your memory proud, Mr. Bottom (one bottom to another).
And may all the prettiest angels smile big for you, Byron.
Love and Light.
Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.