A sort of remembrance/ode to my friend Cody, who died on November 21, 2003. Names are changed (except mine) but everything on this page is fact.

The last time I saw you was in the Starbucks parking lot. You were wearing your favorite sweatshirt, the old ratty gray one that Mike gave you two years ago. Your cargo pants are ripped at the knees and faded with age. One hand is stuffed into your pocket and the other holds your cigarette, barely burning in the November wind. It's strange; you probably knew that old sweatshirt better than you knew me. You went through everything together. You look as if you're holding the weight of the world on your shoulders, the building you're leaning against might not hold.

"Eva, hey," his face contorts into a threadbare smile. His eyes are like shattered marbles and his teeth are chattering, even though it's only autumn. "Got a cigarette?"
I remind him that I don't smoke, and he reminds me that I always keep a box of them in my backpack for emergencies. I give him my whole box and he pulls one out and stuffs the rest into his pocket. The streetlight makes his hair look blonder, and he almost looks angelic.
"Go home, Cody. It's past midnight." I nod toward the clock across the street, the bank that displays the time and temperature on a sign. "You have to work tomorrow."
"Nah. Work sucks."
"Humberto said he'd fire you if you're late one more time. You need the job."
He shrugs and puts his hands up, either a gesture of surrender or who- cares. "I don't need anything, Eva baby. Just the clothes on my back and a cig in my hand."
"You been shooting up again, Cody?"
"Just the needles, baby. Just the needles." He grins impishly and I will him to stop smiling, it makes him look haggard and ugly.
His sweatshirt hides his arm, the crook of his wrist where he would be shooting the stuff into his veins. "Let me see your arm."
"No way, babe. Not tonight."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I love your accent, did I ever tell you that?" He says distantly, staring right through me. "And for Christ's sake, smile a bit. Would that kill you?"
I scowl and give him the bird and he laughs. "Will you sing something to me?"
"What's your bloody problem, Cody? How about you give me a straight answer for once?"
His still-distant eyes search my face. "Sing me Edelweiss, Eva. You know I love it when you sing. Will you sing?"
"What's going on with you? What happened? Did your dad walk out again?" Trying to get answers out of him is like trying to catch a wasp; chase it and it weaves around you, catch it and it stings you.
"There's nothing wrong with my, babe. Life's good"
Through gritted teeth, "Then why are you standing outside of Starbucks at midnight?"
He shrugs. "Intuition. I feel it. Something's going to happen." He smiles again, face crinkling like paper in the yellow light. "I know. You're going to sing for me."
"You're impossible. Go home, go to sleep, get to work tomorrow. If you're at work tomorrow I'll sing." I sigh and step away from him, hefting my backpack further up my shoulder.
His face lights up like a firefly. "Promise?"
I smile in spite of myself. He's such a kid, even though we're both the same age, and really not children at all. "I promise." I take one look at him before I walk away, dirty blonde hair hanging over his eyes, baggy clothes hanging off his skeletal frame.
I keep walking, slowly. "Yeah, Cody."
"You know I love you."
"O'course, Cody."
I can feel his smile, even with my back turned. "Right, babe. See you in paradise." I wish I would have hugged him, that last time, but I walked home on the cracked sidewalk, my mind on other things.

Cody North did not show up for work the next day, or the next. On November twenty-first, his body was found in the alley of the strip mall, heroin and syringes in his bag and lying around him. His sweatshirt was still around his body, and the pack of cigarettes I gave him was empty.
The police questioned me; I was the last to have spoken to him. It obviously wasn't a murder, but they still had to know the approximate time of death and reason. I didn't know either, and could only make speculations.
He was buried two days later in a suit and tie. The Dean of Students arranged the funeral, as Mrs. North could care less about her son's whereabouts and was too strung-out to know the difference. We, the remaining bunch of Cody North's friends, laid his sweater and a pack of Salems on top of him. It wasn't right for him to go without it.
He would have never wanted this, an open casket for people to gawk and a grave six feet under. He looked so solid laying there. They're combed his hair back and put makeup on him; this wasn't right, it wasn't Cody at all. Here laid a boy who would never stand for this, but yet he was still. I half expected him to protest, but he was passive and allowed himself to be carted around like some sort of trophy, Look kids, this is what happens if you do drugs. I sang Edelweiss at the service; I owed it to him to make one part of the funeral seem like Cody.
I've yet to go a week without visiting his grave, and I sing for him every time.
The weight of the world has been removed from his shoulders at last and he can rest.