I tap my fingernails against the clipboard on my lap. The sound echoes through the dark dreariness of empty space. It’s darker than the darkest night, yet I can see the cold metal chair across from me. It’s in disrepair and the paint has chipped from use. My legs are quivering as I bite my lip in anticipation. I look up from the emptiness lying below me. Kurt is there. He surveys me with a long drag of his cigarette. His faded jeans are wrinkled and torn at both knees. A pilly sweater covers his thin figure. His hair is dirty and bedraggled and he smells musty like antiques in a basement. I am in awe of his presence. He carries a bitter scowl offset by a delicate glow encasing him.
“You’re here, Mr. Cobain,” I manage to whisper.
“Call me Kurt. I’m twenty seven for fuck’s sale, not a corporate asshole in a business suit,” he snickers. His use of the English language is a slap in the face. I take a deep breath as I’m about to ask him the one question I’ve been persuing my whole career.
“Well, Kurt.” Calling him by his first name itches my tongue. “Why on earth did you kill yourself?’
“All you people are just fucking dying to know aren’t you? It wasn’t Courtney or Frances or my fans.” He shrugs. “I got cool, ok. My creativity wasn’t worth shit anymore. I explained why. Maybe you should go read my note again, kid. There’s no secret meaning. I’m not worth overthinking about. You can only stay true to your music style for so long. I was done after Smells Like Teen Spirit, I really was.”
I feel anger boil through to my brain. He wasn’t telling me anything, I didn’t already know. He was so arrogant, so self-righteous. This was an interview. He seemed to think I was here for his own entertainment.
“You should just leave, kid. I’m no good for anyone. I’m an empathetic fuck-up. Stay in school,” he continues. Smoke emerges from the corner of his mouth. Kurt coughs loudly.
“For someone who’s put on such a pedestal, you’re very rude. I don’t think you’re fair. You left Courtney and Frances with no warning. Your wife and your daughter. What the hell?” I shout.
For the first time, the corners of his mouth form a smirk. He even utters a hearty laugh that shakes the darkness from all angles. His tone softens.
“I like you, kid. I had an attitude like yours. It got me killed.” He laughs extremely hard, like it’s the best joke he’s ever heard.
“My name is Bethany.”
“Ok, kid. What do you want?”. I settle with the fact that he’s not going to call me by my name.
“Why did you shop at the Salvation Army, even as a profitable musician?”
“I liked saving money, being frugal, the whole America dream. It wasn’t a trend for me. It was a part of my life fame couldn’t change,” he answers.
As I scribble on my clipboard, Kurt gets up and swaggers away in that childlike walk he never grew out of. He winks. He quickly dissipates into nothingness. Disappointed, I sigh into the darkness. On my clipboard, in stressed, jagged lettering, is the sentence “God is gay.” In the distance, the grungy riffs of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sound through the emptiness with a loneliness that electrifies my heart.