(Dear Reader, have you missed any earlier scenes? Catch up with this link: Stalker)
Fall 2009, New York City
It’s a small canvas bag from New York’s St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. The bag, wrapped in plastic, behind glass, is the last item in the exhibit.
“Do you know what this is?” Ms. Ono asked. “When John passed away, the coroner’s office took all his clothes. And I was called in, and they just gave me back this brown paper bag. It was very hard for me, but I insisted on having this bag in the exhibition. I think it’s a very good lesson for people to know what violence means.” Yoko Ono to Allan Kozinn, New York Times, 9 May 2009, regarding the exhibit, John Lennon –the New York City Years
Where was Stalker? He was on a bench, watching one of the videos. Or, was he gazing at Lennon’s piano, at the cigarette burns? He wasn’t beside me when I came to the end of the wall, and saw the bag. Lennon’s last clothes. The bloodied eyeglasses. The tribute by Yoko. Her saying that this bag was all she was left with. At the end, all they could give her was this bag. The irony, I thought. Lennon, the legend, reduced to humble remains. How could it happen? The rest of the exhibit was his life; but here, finally, I felt his death.
We are so small and vulnerable. Even the richness of a soul like Lennon’s, the depth and complexity of a bond such as John and Yoko’s — even their bigness could not surmount the smallness of the body, the shortness of our existence.
Picturing Yoko, left with just the bloodied remains, I cried. I stood in front of the glass and the bag and her message against violence and I pictured her left behind and trying to be brave — she knows everyone hates her, deep down, they resent her! — and my tears flowed and then I felt the sobs come. How many people were in this room, watching the video screens with the movies, the home movies, the tenderest moments made public (isn’t that what an artist does?), giving homage to the piano as though John’s spirit still banged at its keys? A large room, crowded room. It was okay with me — I’m a public crier — I cry without shame, anywhere, anytime — but I feared Stalker would be embarrassed by me. I walked to a corner and cried into the wall.
Stalker found me. Looked at me with a question. Silently I led him by hand to the last exhibit. I pointed to the bag. I could not say anything; I tried but nothing came out. He saw my tears. He eyes said he felt for me. For his hero. He took me in his arms. I cried into his shirt, the shoulder of his black shirt. “My Yoko,” he whispered.
My tears were for his bag. I feared one day, I would be left with his bloodied clothes. I knew that one day, the hospital would be bagging his clothes. His glasses.
“My Yoko,” he whispered. He took my hand and led me out of there. But I was forever Yoko.
. . . to be continued
Also — Stalker, the Soundtrack
© Barbara E. Berger, 2011, all rights reserved. “Stalker” is a work of fiction.