You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #53 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.
The prompt asked that we write a story based on:
Celebrity Death, a Fan’s Perspective
Here is a story about a celebrity from my past. I hope you enjoy.
* * * *
When I was twelve, I stuck his poster on the ceiling above my bed. There was no place for it anywhere else in my room. Pictures of other teen idols already plastered every inch of the walls.
I sent for his poster via mail, no Internet in those days. I remember slipping twenty dollars into the envelope with the order form. I even wrapped construction paper around the bill so it wouldn’t be visible through the envelope. As a member of this musician’s exclusive fan club, I was one of the few given a chance to buy his limited edition poster. That’s how it was sold to me anyway. When I look back, twenty dollars was a lot to spend on something so trivial, but I had wanted it—badly.
The poster took exactly fourteen days to arrive. I remember this because it was the first of February when I mailed away for it. For two weeks, I must have listened to his album a hundred times while kissing his face on the cover even more times than that.
When I came home that Valentine’s Day from school, my mother both informed and chided me. She had a skill for doing that.
“I put some parcels in your room,” she said, as she paused while stir-frying beef and bok choy in the wok. The entire apartment smelled of garlic. “I hope you’re not wasting money on silly things.”
I made a face. “No, Mom. I’m ordering books and records, that’s all.”
I subscribed to both Columbia House Records and Columbia House Books. Membership consisted of paying a penny for a dozen albums and books, followed by a two-year contract to buy more books and albums at regular prices. I can’t remember how many more I had to buy, but it was worth it in the end. I loved getting mail, and Columbia House ensured I received something regularly.
Mom shook her head and returned to her cooking. “Oh … and there was a cardboard tube that came too. Your brother wanted to play with it, so I gave it to him.”
I don’t remember what else she said after that, if anything. I ran to my brother’s room and found the door closed. Unusual, since he didn’t normally close the door.
“Ha, ho, ha, ho, hiiii yah!” Sounds came from inside his bedroom, my brother’s voice.
I swung open the door to see my ten-year brother, clad in an undershirt and shorts, jumping on his bed with the tube.
He stopped in the middle of a kick and stood firm on the bed. Blood rushed to my face when I met his eyes.
“Give me that!” I lunged for him, but he leapt back like a Ninja.
“No!” he said and jerked the tube behind his back. “Mom said I could have it.”
“Mom!” I screamed as loudly as I could. “Jimmy won’t give me back my tube. It’s mine!”
We breathed hard staring at one another while we waited for her answer.
“Work it out,” she said finally, “or I’ll confiscate it.”
I had to get the cylinder out of my brother’s hands before he destroyed what was inside. Even as I fumed, I knew I had to remain calm. Jimmy jumped off the bed with the three-foot tube in hand.
“Who are you supposed to be anyway?” I asked.
“Fu Sheng,” he said, rubbing his nose as he offered a disdainful snort.
Fu Sheng was my brother’s hero—a martial arts film star.
“I see.” I slanted my head and squinted at him. “I don’t think Fu Sheng ever used a sword.”
“I don’t care,” he said. He eyed me with defiance and a firm grip on the makeshift weapon.
I took a deep breath as I envisioned grabbing the tube from him and whacking him on the head with it. I didn’t do it though, knowing the consequences would not be worth it. Instead, I had to do some heavy bargaining. My brother, to this day, is a steely negotiator, and he doesn’t compromise.
By the time I left his room with the poster, he had the tube, half my weekly allowance, and my word to do his share of the dishes for the remainder of the month.
It didn’t matter though. All was forgotten once I was inside my room. I knelt down and placed the poster on the floor. Two hardcover books secured the top corners as I gingerly unrolled the paper toward me. Made of shiny silver foil, I knew this would be my most prized poster yet. Etched into the surface was a black outline of my teen idol.
In black marker, he wrote “To my biggest fan. With love.” He signed his name in an illegible scrawl. My heart thumped. Though no colour reflected in the mirror-like surface of the poster, I knew I was blushing.
* * *
Ten years later, my teenage crush, Andy Gibb, died at the age of thirty. He was a talented musician and songwriter whose debut album, Flowing Rivers, spawned two number one hits: “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” and “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water.”
Andy was the youngest of the Gibb brothers, better known as the Bee Gees.
I don’t know what became of that poster of Andy Gibb, but for as long as I was in that room until I moved away for University, he had a place on the ceiling above my bed and in my heart.
Do you remember a celebrity death that affected you? Feel free to leave a comment or question.
Thank you so much for reading. ♥