A/N this is my long due tribute to one of the greatest writers, and greatest men, of this century. While his books may not have had such depth as the ancient writers, or C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkein, we love them for their simplicity, truth, and values that they inspire us with. 22 Redwall books, and many others are his legacy. But more than that, the mark he's left in anyone who's read a line of his writing is also a timeless legacy. God bless you Brian.:)
Disclaimer: I do not own the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series.
Requiem for a Dream: the Teller of Tales
In England, at a Cathedral, in the churchyard, there lies a man. A man who built dreams, fed hungry imaginations, and colored the world with his shade of fantasy. His colors so vivid, blind children could see them; his tales so true, the spirit yearned for more; his heart so big, it finally burst, and the friend of young and old alike departed on the last journey, leaving behind a timeless legacy to those who knew and loved him.
One boy in particular owed him much, because Brian Jacques wrote his story and published it to the world as a novel, to be taken as such, or perhaps as more, by any who would hear the tale.
A tall, tow-headed youth stood at the gate of the ancient cemetery; by his side was a large black Labrador retriever. An air of gloom pervaded the air, stifling them. At last, the boy in ragged street clothes put out his hand and closed it around the latch of the wrought-iron gate, but he paused. A sigh, a hesitation, open the gate, walk in. His dirty sneakers sank into the tall grass. Tail hanging low, the dog followed. His intelligent eyes shone with sadness as deep as the boy's. Slowly, almost reluctantly, the boy walked among the graves, some old, some fairly new, some not yet grown-over with grass and wildflowers, until he came to stop at a grave that had been dug one year ago, when the creator of dreams and teller of tales was buried.
The dog hung his head, as if paying respect to the departed, and the boy crouched by his companion's side, taking in his fist a lump of dry earth. His mysterious eyes shone with unprecedented wisdom and mixed emotion. Whether to comfort himself, of to dispel the thick gloom, the boy began to speak to his dog.
"Ned, we finally came to pay our respects. He's gone, and we never saw him after that day we told him our story. He was like a grandfather to us…" he said sadly. The dog, Ned, nosed his snout under the boy's hand and wagged his tale sympathetically.
"I know," he continued, as if answering a silent communication. "we had to follow the Angel's command, but I would have liked to see him again." A drizzly London rain began to fall, and still the boy knelt there as the dirt turned to mud and covered the knees of his tattered jeans, his grey-green eyes gazing unswervingly upon the headstone; it read:
James Brian Jacques
June 15,1939-Febuary 5,2011
Beloved husband, father, author, and friend to all.
He was a weaver a dreams and a great bard,
may he sleep peacefully in the sunny slopes and silent streams.
The sadness in that strangely young, unbelievably old body of a fourteen-year-old finally welled up and burst out in tears spilling from those wonderful eyes as he whispered, placing his mouth close to the earth:
"Goodbye Brian. There was so much I wanted to tell you, so many tales to impart. I guess I'll see you again, someday, perhaps centuries from now, in the sunny slopes and silent streams. God bless you."
A neatly dressed teenaged boy with brown hair and hazel eyes walked the wet London streets in the direction of the old Cathedral. His blue umbrella bobbed over his head as his eyes darted about worriedly in search of his friend. The blond boy had suddenly disappeared when Jacob's mum mentioned how close they were to the Cathedral, and hadn't returned for two hours.
Jacob, as the brown haired boy was called, had decided to go look for him. He liked the tall boy, Ben, immensely; Jacob already sort of idolized him since the day before when he'd suddenly rescued Jacob from ravenous street-dogs, heaving him single-handedly over a high wall at a dead end of an ally where he had been cornered while his huge dog dominated the fight. In gratitude, Jacob's mum agreed to let Ben stay with them, as he said he didn't have anywhere to sleep and no food. Though at first apprehensive about the ragged, tough looking youth, Jacob's mum quickly discovered that Ben was polite and humorous, capable, smart, and only lacking comfortable means to support himself and his friendly black-furred companion, the intelligent Labrador.
Jacob arrived at the gate of the ancient cemetery, feeling out of place wearing a dark blue hoodie and fashionable blue-jeans with colorful rubber bracelets on his wrists. He leaned on the gate, uneasy in the forbidding atmosphere of the graveyard.
"Ben! Are you there?" he called. When nobody answered, he gingerly swung the creaking gate open and picked his way through the muddy grounds, carefully protecting his sneakers. Eventually, he sighted his friend. Opening his mouth to call out, he checked himself, watching Ben in puzzlement.
Ben was slumped in front of a headstone, his head bowed low, water running in rivulets through his hair. The wet soil had sunk him past his knees as his body bowed in grief, his fingers digging into the ground; he was seemingly unaware of the his ruined jeans, his drenched clothing, even of the mournful hound at his side. Curious, Jacob walked over to them and stood by Ben, holding the umbrella over them both.
After a moment, "I'm sorry…" whispered Ben.
He didn't reply. Crouching, Jacob peered sidewise at Ben; his eyes were squeezed shut, tears pouring out despite himself. At last, he looked up, but still didn't turn to Jacob, lifting a hand to wipe his cheek gruffly, leaving it smeared in grime. Ben's eyes opened, startlingly bright and striking against the dark backdrop of misting rain. Then he smiled. A small, grateful smile.
"Requiescat in pace Brian." Ned sat up and gave three short barks, walked to the headstone, and rested his chin on it a moment, then returned to Ben's side. Standing, Ben finally turned to Jacob.
"I was looking for you. Who's grave is that? Did you know them?" Jacob asked.
"It's Brian Jacques. Yes, I knew him for a short while."
"Oh, that's his grave? I couldn't get over it when he died, I grew up with his Redwall books," he said, surprised. They paused a moment in silence. Then Ben said, stroking Ned's smooth fur:
"Yes, a requiem for a dream, certainly."
Though Jacob puzzled over that, Ben made no explanation as they walked back to Jacob's house while the drizzling rain gradually came to a stop. What Jacob did not understand, however, was that James Brian Jacques left not only a gift of story to us, but an eternal dream whose requiem will be forever carried in our hearts.
A/N For those of you guessing, Ben is basically immortal, hence the cryptic references here. If you haven't read this series, I HIGHLY reccomend it, esp. if you're a fan of Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan.:3