The Requiem Drop Cafe - The Stardust Road
Well, here we are.Â You and I and this urn of ashes.Â It seems fitting, here at journey's end, to reflect on the life of our saintly Nicholas before we scatter his last remains on the wind blowing from here and down to the Lethe River below us.Â Or rather, to review the little we know about it from empirical evidence â€“ from factual records.Â But there is more information from a very strange source indeed, and I will refer to it later â€“ for such adds a completely different dimension and perhaps helps to flesh out what we know about him.
My research shows that there was no father's name on his birth certificate.Â It merely showed his mother's name, and that she had called him Nicholas Saint.Â As an aside, there was an oblique and vague allusion to his birth in a small item in the local church newsletter of the time.Â It made an obscure reference to a scandal surrounding the defrocking of the parish bishop.Â It mentioned that he had been involved with a young parishioner who subsequently fell pregnant to him.Â And that the archbishop was investigating an allegation that mother superior had also possibly been in a forbidden liaison with the bishop.
The church newsletter also mentioned in passing that the young parishioner had run off with a sailor; but that the editor hoped the young woman would repent and resume her Christian duty of looking after her young son.Â Apparently, rumour had it that the sailor had soon deserted her.Â But was the young woman in question the mother of Nicholas?Â We simply do not know.Â Perhaps it was just a curious coincidence.Â Perhaps not.
We do know that Nicholas was abandoned by his mother when he was still a young boy.Â For records at the local orphanage listed his admission, and noted when he had absconded.Â The church records in the adjoining parish also revealed that his mother died by her own hand and was buried in unconsecrated ground.Â Which is so terribly sad.
Various former members of the God's Hitmen Motorcycle Club confirmed that Mongrel and Hope â€“ also known as That Bitch â€“ saved Nicholas from the dangers of living as a homeless waif on the dog-eat-dog streets of the precinct of Hades.Â They took him in and looked on him as a son.Â There is no question at all that they loved him dearly, for he was often referred to as our little saint within the hearing of club members.Â Those interviewed also remember him fondly, but details were sketchy.Â For they were dispersed in a number of old people's homes, and most were suffering from the vagaries of old age â€“ failing memories and dementia.
However, they recalled that Nicholas, as a teenager, had a crush on an older girl who was an associate member of the club â€“ Sissy!Â Strangely enough, although her desperate search for a man was a standing joke in the club, Sissy just wasn't interested in a relationship with Nicholas â€“ who was a few years younger and more immature.
Of course, despite their failing memories, all of the old people sharply remembered the shoot out on Purgatory Junction, and of Mongrel dying in the arms of his wife in the entrance hall of the club.Â Of her dealing out vengeance through a blazing shotgun until she was shot dead herself.Â Of Sissy committing suicide in dealing out blind justice through the carnage of a bomb belt, blowing all of the Devil's Henchmen to hell except for one.Â And Spider, not much more than a boy, had later been hunted down and murdered by the God's Hitmen.Â His killing had been only referred to in passing, either because the old folks couldn't remember it clearly or they were ashamed of it.Â But they did recall that by the time of the slaughter, Nicholas had already been incarcerated in the asylum for quite some time.
The records of the old asylum confirm this as fact.Â Nicholas had been there a number of years before the mayhem and death of his de facto parents.Â But his foster brother and sister do recall their parents visiting him a few times just after the motorcycle accident in which Nicholas sustained head injuries so horrific that he had to be placed in long-term care.Â But that they had stopped visiting because Hope in particular found it just too distressing to see him in that condition.Â It was just too hard to bear.Â Hospital visitor records and interviews with former staff members confirm that Nicholas had no other visitors beside these.
Interestingly, the foster brother and sister both separately remarked that for many years after the death of their parents, they felt that a benign presence was watching over them, and that such was Nicholas himself, even though he was locked away in the asylum.Â And that they had felt this strongly, particularly in their childhood years.Â Maybe Nicholas had been astral traveling.
If he did, it was just as well, for a check of the yellowing police records of the bloodied mayhem had made a passing but brutal reference to him.Â He was referred to as having been a young thug who had been strongly associated with the Hitmen bikie gang.Â And that although he had no criminal record, not even a traffic infringement, it was just as well that he was comatose at the time.Â In the unlikely event that he awakened from that state, the brain damage made it highly likely that he would never be released from the asylum, which itself was secure.Â Thus he would not pose any possible threat to society.Â And he was not a person of interest regarding the inquiry into the bikie violence.
As an aside, there is an interesting curiosity.Â The asylum records revealed a number of very strange coincidences.Â The good lady doctor who treated Nicholas, and was the head psychiatrist of the institution, as well as being a psychologist, was herself subsequently committed as an inmate.Â Apparently, she went totally insane after her daughter was killed in a traffic accident.Â She, too, died in the self-same asylum, sometime after Nicholas did.
He died where we are now actually sitting.Â Then, of course, it wasn't The Star Drop CafÃ©.Â It was still the small slaughter house catering for the asylum.Â How he got there remains a mystery.Â However, it was the insane lady doctor who found him, slumped as if asleep on an old work bench.Â He was cremated, as we know.Â But we don't know why his urn of ashes was placed in the attic of the hospital.Â For there were no relatives to claim them.Â One can only guess that after the urn was stored there, it was forgotten.
Perhaps divine providence meant for me to find them there.Â That's precisely what my young clairvoyant friend believes.Â Strangely, her name is Faith, as was the name of Nicholas' mother. Â It was the rather weird experience of my psychic friend â€“ it initially freaked her out â€“ that lead directly to the telling of these stories about the journeys of Nicholas while he was apparently still incarcerated in the asylum.
One morning I had quite casually mentioned to Faith that I was thinking of writing a Christmas story with a difference.Â That I had, or so I thought at the time, accidentally stumbled on some old newspaper cuttings in the library about the Christmas Night and Boxing Day bikie slaughter.Â And I was going to adapt it for use in a story about abject hate and violent death on the very day that celebrates the birth of the symbol of eternal Love, in a manger.
In the middle of the night Faith rang me, blown away by a ghostly visitor â€“ it even made my hair stand on end.Â It wasn't an apparition as such.Â Rather, it was a gentle voice in her head which introduced itself as Saint Nicholas.Â And would she please take notes about his life to pass on to her writer friend.Â Which she did, with her skin crawling at first.Â He said he'd return every night to dictate more about his life until the story was told.Â Then perhaps the writer might be so gracious as to tell his story to the world.
There are many strange things mentioned in the notes of the ghostly dictation.Â All of which, I think, I've remembered to use in the Tales from the Divine Drop CafÃ©s series of stories.Â But there are a number of curiosities which I can't logically resolve. For instance, Sasquatch using a solar-powered laptop computer connected to the internet â€“ when such technology did not exist.Â Or the use of cell phones by Mongrel and That Bitch.Â But then, perhaps time is not as we think of it.Â Maybe, if it exists at all, it is a facet of eternity â€“ which is this instant constantly, with always having no direction.
And what do you and I really know about time?Â We both know that it converges.Â Yes, we do!Â We know that you and I can not only travel in time but that we do so constantly.Â It's easy enough to illustrate.Â If we couldn't time-travel we wouldn't be meeting this very instant.Â Yes, at this precise moment.Â When I wrote the stories about Nicholas, which apparently I did in the recent past, I was in the present when I was actually writing them.Â I knew that you, reading this now in the present, would do so in the future.Â For as you read this, you are most certainly in the present.Â Whereas even as I write this in my present for you to read in the future in your present, even though this was actually written in the past .... Is your head spinning?Â Present tense.Â Shall I simplify this â€“ the convergence of both past and future right into the here and now, into our present?Â I'll do it anyway!
Here I am writing this on one of the coffee tables that once belonged to the now long defunct The Star Drop CafÃ©. I'll rename it The Requiem Drop CafÃ©, given that we are here to scatter the ashes of Nicholas.Â I am writing this eulogy now in a somewhat eerie sort of setting in the present for you to read in the future.Â Yet as you read these words it is still the present.Â You think that you know that this was written in the past, when it was also the present.Â But the words are transporting me into the future as a traveler from the past to meet with you in the here and the now, which is the only time we can meet.Â And though our bodies are apparently separated by time, out minds do meet when there is no time â€“ now!Â This very instant!Â Perhaps proving that we are not bodies; and isn't time travel so very easily accomplished!Â I could add that when your body dies the world still spins on but when your mind ceases, then your universe is snuffed out â€“ but I won't.
For we are here to say farewell to Nicholas.Â I've decided to scatter his ashes on the grassy banks of the Lethe River below where I sit writing and you sit reading.Â I doubt that those who named it were aware that of the five rivers said to be surrounding hell, one was called by that very name.Â Just as well that the river below us in not the River Styx, for the Ferryman might grab us and row us across to deliver us into hell.
Why scatter the ashes here?Â Why not!Â For Nicholas spent most of his life in the asylum on the hill above us.Â He must have seen that river often â€“ but a river just too far away.Â And I can see a little grass-lined cove that seems to be a pleasant spot.Â And it doesn't matter a damn at all if hell is on the other side of the river, or on this side as well â€“ which it probably is.Â Should there be a gentle and loving God, Nicholas wouldn't be concerned about his ashes being scattered down there on the wind.Â For in life he'd gone deeper into hell than anyone else I've ever gotten to know.
Now, Nicholas, dear friend, you are safely home at last beyond the stars with Miss Right in the halls of our Father.Â Farewell!
And goodbye to you my friend, sitting here reading this.Â I hope that you have followed your heart and escaped from your own asylum.Â You're still in it if you think Saint Nicholas of the Divine Drop CafÃ©s was totally and utterly mad.Â And you will still be standing unknowingly on the shores of the rivers of hell â€“ forming a vast sea of hate, attack and guilt; and having no safe haven, no lamp in the darkness and no love given without condition.
But I hope, my friend, that you walk a stardust road, with the God of your heart holding your hand.Â May this story be the one which is told of you: Once upon a time you lived happily ever after.
At last, the tale is finished, the song is sung, and only the words of your story are yet to be written.Â May God smile upon you and walk with you all your days.
Tales from the Divine Drop Cafes