Ben handed me
“…to know, why”



Invited to a high school reunion
four or five nights ago.
I got a telephone call from a classmate
from forty years back.
Class of ’70, Laramie High.

Quite by mistake.
Very much by mistake.

I did graduate from Laramie High in 1970.
And there is to be a forty-year reunion.
And I remembered Kitty very well.
And the invitation was…
Bona fide.
But also a REAL REAL BIG mistake…mistake.

I remember many of those classmates very well:
Jeff Johnson, Tom Hays, Freddie Costello,
Roger Barnes, Davey Espinoza, Pete Garza,
Hilda Reyes, Rita Reyes,Sammy Collins,
Mercedes “Mitch” Collins, Kathy Peterson,
Jane Mitchell, Elvira Mason, Dorie Wong,
Kevin Iida, Bryce Finch, Bob Marsh,
Bob Williams, Joe Turner,Rob Freeman,
Tim Tiernie, Terry Glass, Sherry Glass.

Tim Tiernie, Terry Glass, Sherry Glass:
yeah, I remember a lot about Laramie.
Oh Boy. Don’t I just remember
one hell of a Motherfucking lot about Laramie
…and something that feels like a stone
comes where my heart is supposed to be.

In the extreme particular
I remember Brad.
That’s Chad Wells,
my best friend.
His little sister’s name is Mickie.
I once ate her goldfish
on a five dollar bet with Terry Glass.
Me and him and Brad had to drive
over to the May Company
to get a replacement goldfish so she wouldn’t know.

It was Mickie who first found him.
With 22 calibers in his heart
and his left thumb on the trigger.
The police were as kind as they knew how to be.
They only asked one question:
“Was he left-handed?”
The family was devastated.
We were all devastated.
In December 1976.

Brad really admired and looked up
to my older brother Sid.
Sid put 30 calibers through his brain
in November of 1968.

As much as I would like to think that Brad’s suicide
did not have a single thing to do with Sid’s suicide,
or anything to do with our family.
I could tell myself that every single day until
the day I die…
and if I did that I bet any kind of money
that I would find out
how much better it makes me feel
which is not at all.

Then Dave got gunned down in August of 1969
by a Gardena, California cop by the name of
Ronald K. Bruce.

Continue next column

Continued from the 1st column

It was over forty years ago and it still hurts.
The wound has healed,
but it was reopened when I learned of your loss.
Please know that when I weep for Dave,
I weep for Aaron too.
And if there is anything I can do,
my time is yours.

My only consolation is knowing
there is not a single thing in the world
that anybody can do to me
that is going to make me feel any worse.

And that is why I think of Kitty now.
Because I can imagine
some of what she must be feeling now.
Some things never stop hurting.
Or they only don’t hurt anymore
because you don’t think about them anymore.
I mean, after thirty-six years
you let go.

But you see…
this would have been
Brad’s forty-year high-school reunion too.
Too bad he’s been dead for thirty-six of those years.

It can’t not have crossed her mind.
And the very best I can tell you
is that I miss him too.
And that I would have been a better friend
if I had only known how.
But I want you to know
that I’ve always thought of you
as being very close to the very center of me.
It was only time and circumstances
that has kept us distant.

But I don’t mean that as a sad thing.
Mostly I smile and feel happy
when I look at your picture or you cross my mind.
And sometimes I’ve a good guess and the vibe says,
you and Richard and Brianna (and who else?)
are and have been very happy for over 30 years.

I love you darling
with all of my broken heart,
but that isn’t really saying much.
Who wouldn’t?
I have to give you a reason to smile now.
It won’t be difficult.

Even with beer’s diminishing capacity
he was still completely intact
and he kept going on and on
about how matter is mostly empty space
and Brian, like he does, politely waited
and then looked at me and said,
“and then there’s the empty space between your ears”
and I looked at him sadly shaking my head
cause I can’t drink warm beer,
“I don’t know how you ever managed
to get used to warm beer.”

“I had to. If I put them in the refrigerator
Mom would drink them.”

…and the very best I can tell you, Honey,
is that I miss him too.


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