They grieved for him silently for the most part, once the initial shock wore off. Each in their own way. Slowly, as the news spread, people trickled in. At first, it was just family and close friends, then in large groups, acquaintances, old flames, college classmates. So many people remembered him; a kind word, a helping hand.
The memorial was beautiful. Some were weeping, but only silently. Everyone remembered and tried to respect his well-known wish: Smile at my funeral. Dozens of them spoke, telling of how he touched their lives, selflessly. Made them realise what it was they wanted to do with their lives. How his smile had moved them all so deeply. How he’d always been laughing, always trying to make everyone smile.
Towards the end of the ceremony, just as people were about to leave, his lawyers walked in. Said they needed everyone, just about everyone to stay. Apparently, he’d left a message for them all. A video tape, with the explicit instructions that it be shown to everyone who came.
A large television set was arranged for, and the tape pushed into the VCR. An expectant crowd leaned forwards; some anticipating a reading of his will, wondering what he’d left them; others simply curious to know what he could have known he wanted to say to them even before his death.
Static. Then a hand moving away from the screen as the camera was turned on. And there he was, sitting on a simple chair, smiling calmly like he always had. To many, it seemed at the time as if the dreaded event had never happened, as if he were just somewhere else, talking to them all via video conference or something. And then he started talking.
If you’re seeing this, I’m dead. Heh. I’ve always wanted to say that. I hope you idiots aren’t all dressed in black, weeping around an open coffin draped in flowers. I sure as shit hope to God not.Static.
Now, some of you are expecting me to start reading out which of my ample worldly possessions go to whom, and I’ve got a good feeling I know who you all are, too. Well, tough shit. My lawyers will do that in private, later. But I respect the fact that you’re here, eagerly listening, sitting at the edges of your seats, barely able to conceal your greed behind what is now your rapidly fading glee.
No, that’s not what this tape is for. This tape is so that those of you that have the wrong impression of me get the story straight. I know some of you would have eulogised me, said lovely things about me. Mary, I bet you told everyone the story of how we met. And Paul, how we built that treehouse one summer and I taught you how to hammer a nail in straight. I bet you all said how you really enjoyed all my annoying habits and that as you now realise, much too late, that’s the reason you loved me.
Well, this message is for all of you so that the record’s set straight. I hate myself. I always have. I couldn’t stand my guts and I don’t know how you idiots did. Mary, I cheated on you. Thrice. Once with your sister. I’ve done things that would make you people look back at me and ask yourselves if you ever knew me at all.
And the answer is no. You didn’t. No one did. And that’s why you liked me. And that’s why I hated myself. Because I knew me. And that’s why I’m in that coffin. You cannot imagine the relief I’m feeling as I tell you this. Good bye, and good riddance.