Wondering Aloud

If we’re honest with ourselves it’s completely natural to wonder what happened to the people who used to populate our lives. Some we want to see that they’re happy and doing well and others you want to make sure that life is reminding them they’re jerks. 

It’s completely normal, but not always healthy to look. 

Curiosity, while normal, is dangerous. 

Sometimes it’s better to let the past be the past and to keep on chugging along your own path and focus on your current world, and not the past one. 

While we all wonder about people from time to time there is someone that always seems to come back to my wondering of – what happened to them – a friend I had as a teenager and who helped mold who I am today. 

He and I met in the eighth grade. We had to write about our summer vacations and I wrote about getting in a car accident and ended with something along the lines of – it was a great summer. He thought that was weird. We became friends pretty quickly after that. 

He was into horror. 

I was into horror. 

We bonded over this mutual love. 

We were both art, we were both weird, and we loved horror. 

He would share his Fangoria magazines with me and let me look through them and eventually we began to hang out together. 

We became the best of friends and I became friends with another of his friends, a guy who wasn’t as weird as us, but who still dug scary stuff. 

The friend moved away in high school and it was hard on me. He was only a few cities away but it was different. I went out to visit and we still were close but it’s strange to go through high school without your closest friend. 

He influenced my taste in movies.

My taste in music.

My humor.

My personality.

We went to Florida on spring break together.

He made me mix tapes of cool music with weird samples of movies or other music on them.

He was brilliant and a great artist and I think I envied that and wished I had those gifts.

I floundered in high school. 

I was in bad shape. 

Real bad shape. 

I had been floundering for a while but I wonder now if the loss of such a close friend sort of put me over the edge. 

He ended up moving back later in high school and I was in a better place having gotten help from the school (big credit to them and the Guidance Counselor for seeing I was drowning and throwing me a line). When he’d been away we had created a horror fanzine called CineGore and we continued with that and we started to make movies on his PXL 2000, which was an innovative camera that filmed on special cassette tapes. 

Over the years we made three films with the PXL and then my folks got the family, er, me, a video camera and we used that. We made improv comedies that were high on passion but low on taste. We loved making these though and made several of these films, which, strangely, always ended up being comedy. All of this culminated in our making a short horror film for a college horror film class I was taking in my senior year. It was the final project and it was going to be great. My friend wrote the script and I was the lead and I was absolutely the anchor on the project and you can tell. I was terrible. I got better, but I wasn’t any good. 

I was better at improv. 

We didn’t get the film done in time, not able to edit it, and I failed the class. 

We ended up finishing the movie though and I retook the class and submitted it for that final and passed. 

The film is still fun, though it needs to be tightened, but it’s still a heck of an interesting oddity with some amazing production values. 

After high school we sorta drifted. 

We spent the summer after high school cruising with the other teens. Driving around and around and around hoping to meet girls. We did meet two and we dated them for a minute, though his dalliance went further than mine. It was a strange but exhilarating time. I remember being blocked in by the girl he was seeing’s supposed ex one night after leaving her place and just being able to escape he and his friend when they didn’t put the truck they were in in park. 

The flings ended and we moved on with life. 

He began to sleep in until late into the day and I was going to college. He started college but stopped going. 

I remember being in a bad car accident that was my fault and trying to track him down, to talk to him, but unable to reach him. 

He had run away from home with a sixteen year old girl he was seeing. He ended up moving in with her and her parents and I didn’t talk to him for a while afterwards. 

When he turned back up we started to go into Downtown Flint and he started to experiment with drugs. I didn’t and so there was a divide between us. He never tried to get me to try and I never had an interest. He got an apartment and started working at a gas station, stealing from them when he could – it was a clever ruse but one you couldn’t pull off today. I would go and hang out with him for hours and made new friends through him and that job that led to me meeting a girl later in life. I remember how with the help of a friend we were able to convince a comics publisher to pick up our fanzine Ghoulash for national distribution. It was amazing. He disappeared around the time that first issue came out. Was just gone. It’s funny because he disappeared during the era I dated my first real girlfriend, and wasn’t there for the second. As we got older he was more of a ghost than a friend. He met a girl and dated her for a bit but bullied her, and I did too, taking a cue from him (making fun of her name was what I did, classless, but not nasty). 

We made one more movie at his new place and then he disappeared again. 

He fell deeper into drugs and started fooling around with some of the girls we’d met in Flint and stopped answering calls from anyone. 

His mom couldn’t even reach him. 

At one point he broke into his parent’s house to steal from them. 

And then he was just…gone. 

Gone for good. 

POOF!

I learned about some of the things he’d done. 

That he’d met another girl, another younger girl, and was with her for a while. That he’d slept with at least one younger girl from downtown. About his breaking into his folks’ place. 

He was gone though.
There was no break up of the friendship we just…went in different directions. I was in college, was hanging with the new friends I had started to make, and was working. 

Around that time I lost another friend that I had been very close with but they came back into my life years later and are still there, though more a ghost themselves, but still there. 

I find myself always thinking of him though. 

We shared so much.
We used to rent movies and watch them until late. 

We’d talk about making movies, or watching them. 

We’d go to the comic book store together. 

We went to our first two conventions together. 

We were so close and then…gone. 

It broke my heart and I still wonder what became of him. I saw his parents once, at an old job in 2005, and they had said he worked at an adult care facility. Something I’d have never guessed. 

It’s funny, the turns we take. 

I miss him, and wish he’d seen the cool stuff I had gotten up to with the books, and movies, and conventions, but life is life. 

Life is life. 

And some folks just leave. 

They have their reasons and we won’t always know them. 

Most times we won’t. 

And then they’re gone. 

All you can do is hope that they turn out OK and live well. 

All you can do is hope they find whatever they were looking for. 

I have friends that didn’t leave, that have been through it with me and have been with me longer. 

Those are the friends that matter, not the ghosts, but it doesn’t mean I am still not haunted. 

And that I still won’t hear their footsteps in the dark hours. 

…c…

Hey, I write books, do podcasts, and other cool stuff, check the links for deets!

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