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The International Writers Magazine
: Hero Worship

Jean S. Brown

"Will we ever get in?" Jasmine asked. She was tiring from waiting outside the auditorium. Sweat dripped from her brow, and formed large circles under her arms, turning her indigo tee-shirt a greenish shade of midnight.

Cassandra knew that the question was rhetorical. She handed a purple jawbreaker to Jasmine. "Here. Grape."
"Ooh, my favorite. Thanks." Jasmine popped the candy into her mouth, and began rolling it around with her tongue.
Cassandra stayed standing and polished off the last few drops of her diet soda. She hummed one of Silver’s songs to herself. "It's like deep space here. My soul is cold and thin. But I can not give up; I will not give in…" It was a nice contrast to the August heat.

The girls looked around at the others who were waiting to see Silver in concert. Nearly all were under the age of thirty and dressed in black, with dyed hair and body jewelry.
The crowds hustling by the auditorium were more varied. There were business types in suits, skate boarders, and excited Asian tourists on the street. Latinas and African-American women lugged shopping bags. Cologne, cigarettes, Spanish, and rap music hung in the smoggy air.

One neatly dressed, olive-skinned young man stopped and grinned at Cassandra and Jasmine. He had a grinning face and a pencil-thin mustache. He was carrying a mini-cam.
"Hello, ladies," he said. "I'm a reporter for the local network, KDBC. You can call me Billy."
Cassandra said, "Hello, Billy."
Jasmine ignored him. Even with her shirt torn, her hair spiked, and her nose pierced, she looked like a thoroughbred. The reporter stared at her for a long moment.

Then he turned his attention to Cassandra, who was looking at him with open curiosity. She was not pretty. But she was interesting. She was wearing purple and black hair, a glitter-painted face, a red rose tattoo on her upper arm, a long black sheath dress, and a crescent-shaped silver pendant.
Billy gestured at the mini-cam. "Mind if I record?"
Cassandra shrugged.
"Tell me how long you've been waiting here."
"About four hours."
"How long have you been Silver fans?"

Cassandra reflected. The artist seemed as familiar as her skin. She had spent many hours getting to know him. She had memorized his music, poems, videos, and interviews. She knew how and where he had grown up. She knew how he had become a performer. She knew his real name before he became Silver. Indeed, it seemed as if she had always known him.
But of course, it wasn't true. She had never met Silver. She had never even seen one of his other live performances during the three years he had been famous.
At last she said, "Well—"
"All of our lives," Jasmine suddenly piped up. "Since the universe was formed, throughout space and time, we've been waiting, waiting…"
"… waiting for the end of strife, waiting for the end of life …" a man began to sing.
"…waiting for the future past, waiting for the final collapse, waiting for the sun to die, waiting for the darkened sky…" Cassandra and a few others joined in.

Nearly the entire crowd began to sing. "It's coming… It's coming …. It's coming…. NOW!"
There was the crashing of glass on pavement as several soda bottles were destroyed. The crowd kept singing for a few more verses. When they reached the end of the song, there was another crashing, then a satisfied silence.
Quickly, the crowd settled back down to individual murmuring and soft talking. Billy beamed. He had recorded it all.

When the audience finally got inside, the wait lasted longer while the roadies put the final touches on the stage. The crowd became more and more restless.

At last, the place went dark. Bathed in a stream of scarlet light, dressed in black, Silver came out onto the stage. His arms were spread as if to embrace them all. Then he knelt on the stage and put a microphone up to his mouth.
Cassandra could hear him, breathing into the microphone. The drums began to beat and the bass thrummed and the guitar sang. The synthesizer began to warble, to shrill, to scream, and to groan. The stage lights changed to blue, and Silver began to sing. His voice sounded like an angel's.

For nearly three hours, the audience sang along as the band performed Silver’s songs about love and hate, hope and despair, and creation and destruction. They played them all.
Except for one. Cassandra wanted to hear the song she loved the most. "Faithful" always seemed like it had been written just for her.

Finally, the familiar words came. "I call out to you. Only the wind replies. It doesn't comfort me. It tells me only lies…"
Cassandra's heart nearly broke through her chest. She wept. He was there, a hot light in the cold darkness. She could feel herself descending into the heat, into Silver. Cassandra hurried down to meet him on the stage.

But when she arrived, it felt like she had run right through him, as if he were an insubstantial spirit. She stopped and turned around, but she couldn't go back again because the security guards grabbed her and held her. She looked back at Silver, and saw the truth.

The singer floated over to a space a few feet from Cassandra and knelt about an inch off the ground. His auburn hair flowed over his shoulders. His impossibly beautiful face was like the sun.

He looked up and fastened his azure eyes on Cassandra's. In them, Cassandra saw her own reflection. She saw planets and stars and black emptiness. She felt the throb of the jungle and the pull of the deep. Death was surely coming, but right now Cassandra was dancing through life, and she was not alone. She had Silver with her.

Joy seized her. She stretched out her hand. Cassandra knew that Silver could not really touch her, because he was made only of light and not of flesh. But at this moment it didn't seem important.

Silver smiled at her as he finished the song that belonged to Cassandra. "At last, my faithful one, my beloved," he sang, "at last, you are here."

© Jean S. Brown June 2005

Jean has recently published a collection of short stories called Belly Flowers & Other Stories 2020

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