My friend Perry

at 8 am every morning, I have a little doohickey on my phone that chirps to tell me if there is a birthday today or tomorrow. That’s my alert to get my ass to writing if I got up at the usual time, but today I slept in a little. First Monday back to normal in a bit, as Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) is well enough to go back to her house and kidnap a happy kitty.

It just chirped. Looked down to see who’s day it was, because the coffee has not kicked in yet.

Perry Clark. 4/13

Very few of you will have known the man, but he was one of my best friends in the world 15 years ago. Even after he had moved to Atlanta pursuing a job and a woman. At one point, I bought him an airplane ticket to fly back to Seattle for a week and handed him the keys to my truck. Saw him twice, but he and I talked regularly and he was catching up with all the friends he hadn’t seen or emailed in a couple of years.  But that’s another story.

I don’t talk much about 2008. In roughly March, Sean disappeared off the face of the earth. Just gone. Emails returned “box full.” Phone calls went unanswered. As far as I know, he either died, cut everyone off, or went into witness relocation. Gone.

That hurt, but it wasn’t as bad as what was coming. In July, my first wife Donna died of breast cancer. That’s also a story for another day.

Late February of 2009, just under a year after my horrible year started, I got a phone call.

Had left Perry a couple of voice mails, but he’d not returned them. With him, it could have been anything, because he had a weird life from time to time.

But the phone rang. Had it programmed on my phone, so saw his name pop up.

“Where the hell have you been this time?” I asked.

Long pause.

“Is this Blaze?”

Oh, shit. (sorry, long break for a good cry)

It was his sister on the phone, but I already knew, just from the tone of her voice.

He had been at Church on a Wednesday afternoon, cooking for the congregation down in Atlanta. The man had had many jobs, just cooking was the thing he loved more than all of them.

So he’d been there in the kitchen, generating love for everyone and talking to the pastor when he’d told her that he wasn’t feeling well, so she had him sit down.

His lips turned blue all of a sudden and he died right there in her arms before anyone could do anything.

Phones didn’t have lockscreens in those days, but they hadn’t been able to find his charger by the time they got over the emergency. It was dead and it took his sister going through his apartment to find the cord so she could power it up and call me (among several others.)

To this day, I keep his last picture on the refrigerator, where I can look up as I type this and smile at him smiling back at me.

It’s been eleven years, and I miss him, because today would have been his 58th birthday.