Fragment 8: Dinosaur
When Sam was twenty-two, finishing college, he got into the drugs. My little boy, my little man, into drugs.
As happens with folks like Sam, obsessive personalities, when they fall, they fall hard.
And he fell hard.
I suppose it started light. A few joints here-or-there. Then like a Reefer Madness outtake on to hot knives, cocaine...worse.
His descent could have been a fucking Public Service Announcement.
The late night phone calls started after he dropped out.
He needed money.
He needed to stay tonight.
He needed...well he always needed something.
In the end, though, he's your kid. What are you going to do? Turn him away? Cut him off?
That tough love shit may cut it in some backwoods Tennessee county, but it doesn't carry much weight with me.
This was my guy.
The saddest part of life is loss.
When the final moment comes it is always those left behind who must bear the weight, carry the load. Find some reason, despite it all, to get up again and keep going.
I think it was five days after Sam died.
I got on my mountain bike and I just rode and I rode.
All the way into the city.
I truly didn't want to think.
Honestly, I wasn't going to jump or anything.
I just remembered that when we had lived in town Sam had really loved the viaduct. The view.
I suppose standing there for an hour drew someone's attention. When the officers arrived it was Ron who got out and approached me. Less intimidating.
"Brother, did you want to talk?"
No, not really. But my son, my only son, is gone.
"Can we maybe drive you home?"
I live a long way away...
They took the front wheel off, put her in the back.
We were about half way when I realized Ron had never stopped talking. Checking on my mental state and all. Keeping me engaged.
By the time we got to the house I was exhausted.
They wanted to talk to Liz without me anyway, so I climbed up those stairs I had climbed so many countless times, went to what had been his room.
We had long ago gotten rid of all his stuff. Boxed some up. Thrown some out. Some he had taken to school and then sold for habit money.
Yet standing there in what had for three years been a guest bedroom it all just overwhelmed me.
It was like it was fifteen years ago and Sam was in his pajamas. Seven years old and it is all ahead.
What do you want me to read about tonight Sam?
And then it was always the same. Dinosaurs. I want to read about dinosaurs.
Raptor or Triceratops.
The odd part is when you know, finally, that that child is no more real now than they.
Lost forever with no museum.
Five days or sixty-five million years.
It really is all the fucking same.
Fragments 9: Epsilon Eridani
You never know who you are going to meet at Robinson's. It is an odd place. Lost in time.
Strange jukebox with tunes from the fifties. Walls lined with old books falling apart from years of misuse.
Truth is I only went for the bartender. God, she was beautiful.
Head to toe.
Many nights I ran up obscene tabs in the vain hope that she would, against her better judgement, come home with me.
It was very late one Monday, no one there save her and I, when he came in. Sporting a suit, a very good suit at that, he struck an immediately disharmonious note.
Now the bar at Robinson's is huge and yet he sat down right next to me.
"Do you know what I do friend?"
Well, of course not, how the fuck would I know what you do? Maybe you sell junk bonds to little boys in school yards or traffic in shrunken human heads.
"I am an astronomer."
As it turns out Grant (I know, hard to believe) was involved in some comprehensive effort to locate Earth like planets.
It was actually sort of interesting, but it did beg the question, why are you here of all places, tonight of all nights?
Leaning in, conspiratorially, Grant asked "Did you realize that only ten light years from here there is a star whose system could harbour life?"
Well, what can I say Grant, no I did not.
"I will bet you my next year's salary you can't name that star..."
Safe bet. I would be more likely to wake up Natalie Portman's husband.
"Doesn't matter...I'll never find out if it is true..."
Grant stumbles, one Scotch too many to the stairs to the basement washrooms. Pausing he gave me this long, silly grin.
I remember he had been gone a couple of minutes when I knew, suddenly, something was wrong.
By the time I got to him he was seconds from death.
A horrible foam ringed his mouth.
And he was crying.