“I will die if my life doesn’t change.”
“I don’t think the talk will be metaphorical. Death is literal in the Death Club.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Maybe you should try the theater department?”
The next person to be interviewed sat down in front of me.
“I’m very interested in dead animals.”
“Ever since I came home when I was seven to find my dog dead.”
“What happened to it?”
“Right. Well, I was thinking Club Dead would be about people.”
“Open my mind.”
“Long ago somewhere I had a relative who was a knacker.”
“A knacker picks ups dead animals.”
“And does what with them?”
“Eliminate them from public view.”
“A garbage man?”
“My relative was a woman.”
“Really. Is this a real word?”
“It’s in the dictionary.”
“I’m not convinced you’d be right for Club Dead.”
“I take care of all the dead animals used in science classes. When I walk upon a dead bird or squirrel in the woods I draw it. My dad drove my family on southern roads and he hit an animal. We stopped to look. It was an armadillo. I drew that.”
“It sounds as if you are a scientist or some sorts. Let me ask – why do you want to be in Club Dead?”
“I don’t have friends.”
“Sign up for Friends Club.”
“There is no Friend’s Club.”
“Make such a club.”
“Is that possible?”
“I made Club Dead.”
“I do think I’m a little too positive to be in a club called Club Dead.”
“Good luck then.”
The first possible member next sat down.
“Here’s my earliest memory: I hear my parents. This is what they said:
Mom: “Don’t take me there. I will die!”
Dad: “You’re exaggerating.”
Mom: “No, I will die!”
Dad: “Give it a try.”
“Where did you mom not want to go to?” I asked.
“How old were you?”
“No way could you remember that!”
“Yes I could.”
“How are you so sure?”
“Well, it happened. She did die.”
“I’ll save that for the club.”
“You’re making this up.”
“Am I in this dumb club or not?”
The next person surprised me. It was the girl with the multi-dyed hair.
“I missed my mother’s death. She’d been sick for so long that, well, her sickness was a part of the family, you know, like some family had a stutter and you stopped noticing it and just lived with it. During her last months of living I learned how to smoke pot, drink, kiss boys and one day she was in the hospital. Big deal, right? Nothing new there. She always went to the hospital. But she always came back. Now I’m out getting seriously loaded and listening to loud music, I thought I was pregnant, and I come home and dad takes me by the shoulders, looks me in the eyes and says – Dawn, your mom is dead. I think I laughed.”
“I laughed too.”
“When my uncle died. No, not when he died, but when I found him.”
“You don’t laugh much anymore.”
“I do tend to cry a lot.”
“I heard about this Cambodian woman who saw terrible things when her government went berserk. She cried for four years.”
“That’s a long time.”
“And then she stopped.”
“And she went blind.”
“I like talking to you.”
“Am I in the club?”
“Yes, Dawn, you are in the club.”
My two-weeks of interviews netted twelve members. Dawn was the only person from the first day of Club Dead to interview. The others eleven either responded to the revised flyer or word-of-mouth.
Every of the twelve asked the same question:
“What will we do in Club Dead?”
And I whipped the question back at them.
“What do you want out of Club Dead?”
Two answered: relief. Three said: I’m going nuts. I have to talk about this. The most original response was: to stop the dreams.
Many ended with: “Oh, I don’t know.”
I told the twelve “Welcome” and the date of our first meeting, next Monday. Most expressed a desire for it to begin sooner, but that at least Club Dead would exist. Monday it would have to be.
I wondered about the next step.