Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#593: An obituary

This is an obituary 4 an old friend of mine, my best friend, Don Vincent. Punch his name in2 that "search this site" search-engine up there on the left & you'll find I've written a lot about him here, back when I was doing lotsa nostalgia pieces. There's at least 10 posts he's mentioned in, not even including the 1/2-dozen installments of that abandoned rock&roll novel I tried serializing here -- in which he was disguised as "Don."
My old buddy, 1 of the 2 or 3 closest friends I've ever had, died on Sept. 5. Apparently he had a heart attack early that morning & his body was discovered by his son later in the day. Don was just a month short of his 54th birthday.
I just learned about his death tonight, thanx 2 the Internet. Don & I used 2 joke that we both drank WAY too much coffee, but I sure never saw this coming.
I've gone on at great length here before about how Don & I became friends partly thanx 2 Strange Music -- about how back in the days of cheap bargain-bin vinyl he would take the wildest chances on the weirdest stuff & always get something listenable out of it. He was the only other "serious" writer I knew back in the day, & he always pushed me 2 write more, work harder, not get lazy, keep pushing my imagination.
He wrote some great visionary short stories that I thot were far better than anything I'd ever do -- & some of them got published, tho I'm not sure how many. Seems like they always got printed in tiny magazines where basically nobody ever saw them. I knew, & told him many times, that he was a way better writer than me, that he had a way wilder, more visionary imagination.
He wanted 2 write fantasy novels. Back in the dead days of the late '70s & early '80s, long before the LORD OF THE RINGS movies or TV series like GAME OF THRONES, Don had plans 2 write a 7-volume fantasy epic called RAINBOW -- each book cover in the series would be a diffrent color. He drew up his own map 4 it -- always the 1st thing you do when you're dealing with imaginary lands. I know he got the books started, tho I don't know how far he went. I DO know that the images from some of his short stories would have made 4 some great, vivid fantasy illustrations.
He also wrote at least a 1st draft of a novel about a hit-man who gets hired 2 assassinate God -- a story idea actually used somewhat later in a novel: Victor Koman's THE JEHOVAH CONTRACT. Don always had great ideas....
We didn't always see eye to eye, Ghod knows. I thot most fantasy was pointless & badly written. Don could be sarcastic & had no problem saying when he thot I was full of shit -- as he did then.
But we went our own ways & stayed friends. I went off 2 the Air Force & newspapers, Don stayed in Idaho & wrote his fantasy epics at home when he wasn't too tired from his "real job."
At least through 1998, we still talked on the phone at least 1nce a month. After that, I don't know what happened. I moved 2 Washington & got sucked in2 the Worst Newspaper Job Ever, then retired. I remember getting an e-mail when Don joined Facebook, & responded that he didn't strike me as the type who'd wanna B ON Facebook -- Don could B very reclusive. He was even worse than me. But he sent me a follow-up message assuring me that, yes, it really was him....
When I went back home in 2008 when my mother died, I rang Don's phone off the hook trying 2 get him 2 come 2 the funeral, or at least see me. He never answered. I left messages and he never called back. Our good old friend Jeff Mann -- who shared an apartment with us back in the day & who's also been mentioned here a few dozen times -- said that Don had been getting even more reclusive over the past few years.
I sent him letters, I sent him e-mails, I called him -- no response. I sat in front of a computer at 2 am in a freezing bedroom, crying while I wrote an e-mail pleading with him 2 get in touch with me. & then I laffed when I thot of what Don might've said if he'd been there 2 see me. He would not have let me off the hook 4 getting so mushy.
I just wanted my old friend back.
When I was back home in 2010, I tried again 2 reach Don. His phone had been disconnected. On the last nite of my visit, some friends of mine tried 2 reach Don thru Facebook. But he'd taken his page down. It was like he didn't WANT 2 B reached. Like he WANTED to disappear.
I should have gone out 2 his house in Nampa right then & dragged his lazy ass out in2 the daylight. I don't know why I didn't. I don't know what I was thinking. It was my last day there. I didn't want to scare him or barge in unexpected. I didn't wanna cause more damage. & maybe I was sorta scared of what I might find.
& now this.
I was just thinking about him last week, wondering what happened, how he slipped away, thinking we'd always have time 2 figure it out. & when I tried 2 track him down 2nite, I learned that he'd died.
I'm not mad at you for disappearing anymore, Don. I just want my old friend back.

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