Yesterday marked the three-year anniversary of a suicide in the family: Hunter Brumfield III, friend, bandmate, bon vivant.
It's not an occasion to celebrate, but the anniversary was observed. Today I hiked up the Indian mounds with Brett Underwood and Lindy Woracheck, who is for all intents and purposes the dead man's young widow.
It was Lindy's idea. We had planned to pray. Out on the town the other night, we talked elaborately about how we would pray together up on the Indian mound.
We didn't pray. We were reverent, but not prayerful. We looked out toward the bluffs and then out toward the river, all full of thoughts.
Lindy wondered if a line of distant smokestacks marked the spot where she and Hunter had once seen a giant fireball from up there. I said most certainly so. That is Granite City Steel. I grew up in its blazing shadow. That fireball was the hell I was trying to get away from for half my life.
She remembered driving by the steel mill with Hunter one night on the way to a Three Fried Men gig in Granite City. I could never forget that gig. It was on a Friday night. Hunter killed himself that Sunday, on a day he had planned to help me move. That Friday night in Granite City had been our last gig together.
Driving back toward St. Louis, Lindy remarked that we had never prayed up on the Indian mound. I said praying was kind of my thing, so I had waited for someone else to bring it up. I didn't want to cram it down anybody's throat. But nobody else brought it up.
I suggested we pray together on the drive back, but that didn't go anywhere. As a sort of sacred consolation, I recited Black Elk's prayer. Brett and Lindy seemed to savor that. We talked about Hunter's spirit, and how badly he had haunted so many of us, but, oddly, not Lindy.
We had one beer together at The Tap Room before splitting up. Talking at the bar, Lindy remembered meeting a backpacker in Finland on a previous anniversary of Hunter's death. This guy was toting a large edition of W.B. Yeat's Collected Poems, the same edition she remembered Hunter having possessed.
She opened the book at a point where a piece of paper had been left as a place marker. On the left, she said, was a poem about a boy who had lost his mother. On the right was "Laughing Song." Lindy had to laugh at that. She had sang Hunter's "Laughing Song" with him many times and never guessed it had a literary source.
She said, "I could see him, reading the song about the boy who had lost his mother" [the death of Hunter's own mother had weighed heavily upon him, and he was buried beside her after he killed himself] "and then seeing the light-hearted 'Laughing Song' and ..."
She hurried to the bathroom -- I thought, in tears. Linday said afterwards she had to pee and blow her nose from allergies.
After she had come back to the bar, she said, "When you are alive, you celebrate your birthday. So when you are dead, we should celebrate your death day. Just think, Hunter is only three years old in his new world. I can just see him toddling around hell."
Fred Friction dedicated his show yesterday, on Hunter's death date (July 31), to his former bandmate and dear friend. It's streaming online on the Fishin' with Dynamite page on the KDHX site.