No. Cliff is still here, still hanging around, still watching over his family & those lucky enough to have had him in their lives.
He still talks to me, and I still talk to him. I listen to his advice about as often as I ever did, which is to say about half the time.
In death Cliff has grown even wiser. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi. But without the robe.
I suspect that one of the reasons Cliff has hung around these past years has not been just to help his loved ones through an understandably tough time. I think he was also finishing his law degree.
This is absolutely fitting with Cliff’s character, for even though the degree is of no economic benefit to him now, it does entitle him to add to his name the suffix Esq. These three letters can now sit with honor after Heller and before RIP. Which is where they would have wound up eventually anyway.
I have no legal right to grant the title, but fuck it, I’m doing it anyway, and proclaiming that my friend Clifford Heller, having earned the necessary academic credits and sat the necessary exams, should hereby be known as “Clifford Heller, Esq.”
Stranger still is the second honorific that Cliff has earned in his post-corporal time:
Japanese Porno God.
Earlier this year I posted a story entitled Cliff Heller’s Ghost Does Not Want Me To Have His Music. Immediately following the post, a strange thing occurred. It began attracting comments in Japanese. First one, then three, then seven, then nine. It's somewhere close to fifty now, and still accumulating.
I translated a couple using Babelfish.
“The winter of the high-class cherry is season of ephebe graduation. While also the women who, would like to eat the ephebe to do the eddy eddy it waits for your encounter. The ephebe is lifted up to such women, don't you try sending happy life?”said one, with a link to a Japanese porn site
“the place where masturbation of the woman is helped is the rescue section. looking at the masturbation of the daughter who is belonged here when it likes really meeting it is good helping masturbation and etching it is good it does get is possible with this because it is, it is the tasty bite”read another, also with porno link
The comments were on his entry, and his entry alone. I re-read the post to find a keyword - porno, fetish, cum shot, golden shower, Cleavland steamer, donkey punch, bukkake, spanking, schoolgirl, ben-wa, Zangle, double vaginal double anal, two girls one cup – anything…anything at all that might explain why a legion of Japanese porno minions had descended on my post about Cliff Heller. There were none. Not even the phrase “Anal Asians” (though I later used this in a comment of my own).
Confused, I shot an email off to my former intern, Hiro Hanako, a pansexual Japanese screenwriter now living on some sort of Zen sex-commune in the Kyoto suburbs. Along with the link, I attached Cliff’s picture.
The email wasn’t ten minutes gone before my phone rang. It was Hiro.
“Mr. Brown-san!” She squealed into the phone from 7000 miles away. “Do you know who your friend is? Do you? Your friend…he is…he is Saba Ookii-san! Mr. Big Mackerel!”Hiro was jabbering, half in Japanese, half in English. It was difficult to make heads or tails of what she was trying to say.
“Mr. Big Mackerel? What are you talking about?"
“Hai…yes! Mr. Big Mackerel! Gaijin King of Japan Special Seafood Fetish Movie! He make many, many movie in Japan during late nineties. Almost singlehandedly kickstart Japan Special Seafood Fetish industry. After Prime Minister caught with pants down in Tokyo movie theater watching Saba Ookii-san movie, big scandal. Saba Ookii-san forced to leave Japan. Never return. I cannot believe you are really best friend of Saba Ookii-san! Still have cult following.”
Then it hit me, like the cold slap of a wet glove wrapped around the dainty palm of a woman who doesn't like being touched there.
The late nineties. Of course.
Cliff had lived in Asia during that time, in Singapore, he’d said. Working for a bank. But what bank? And why Singapore? Nobody every questioned his claim, and when he returned to America in 2000, wealthy and well-tanned, he told everyone that the bank he’d been working for “went out of business,” refusing to give any further details.
A bank..."out of business?" What are the chances? Still, like suckers, we believed him.
The pieces of the puzzle were all falling into place.
I begged Hiro to send me a tangible memento of Cliff’s days as Gaijin King of Japan Special Seafood Fetish Movie. She wept openly into the phone.
“Cannot! After scandal, government order all copies of Saba Ookii-san film destroyed. Mere existence of Gaijin King of Japan Special Seafood Fetish Movie considered messy splotch on face of Japanese honor. But for Saba Ookii-san, and for you, Mr. Brown-san, I will try my best. We talk later. Am now doing the eddy eddy, sending happy life!”A few days later, I was overjoyed to have this come across my desk. One of the last surviving still pictures of my friend Cliff Heller from his days as Gaijin King of Japan Special Seafood Fetish Movie:
According to Hiro, it is the DVD cover to a film called “Bukkake Lifestyle ~ Happy Octopus Orifice Party”
Hiro says it was Saba Ookii-san’s highest grossing film. A real Japanese Seafood Fetish Extravaganza.
And so, on this, the third anniversary of Cliff Heller’s passing, I hereby grant my dear friend the following posthumous titles
Gaijin King of Japan Special Seafood Fetish Movie.
Long may your immortal reign continue. Hail Eris!Clifford Alan Heller, Esquire
1966 - 2006
*...Big ups to Russ Heller for his mad photoshoppin' skillz