Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Vanishing Point: Fare Thee Well Scott
It was a cold February night that we last saw Scott. Mary and I had raided the East Village and were unlocking our bicycles in front of the Underground when a man approached. "Kinda cold to be on bicycles tonight." We both stopped our work and looked at him. There stood a man in a three piece suit but no coat informing us that it was too cold to ride. He kinda looked like he had that suit on for a reason such as it was his last chance to make an appeal or the scam attempt before running away. I prepared to recite the Riot Act or some smart ass remark or just to reply "you're shittin' me, man, just because it's snowing does mean it's cold" when he uttered that he too rides bicycles. Then he said it was way too cold for him to ride. The date was February 25, 2011. My bike log says it was 23F to 28F from my first to last ride of the day.
I stopped what I was doing and took a look at him. Short like me but a little thin, of course, most men are thinner than me. A beard although not as thick as man really needed for winter. Sorta scraggly like he just got off a U-boat and put on his dress uniform because it was the only thing clean he had after a long terrible voyage. Obvious need for dental work was immediately entered into my mind. But those piercing eyes, they look so familiar. All this time he looked at me. We could almost hear the brain cells click. "Scott? Is that you?" I queried. "Chris?" he replied.
15 years had passed since we last seen each other. 15 long years. So much has happened during those years that it almost felt like a century. Good Lord, 15 years had run by and now we bump into each other across the street from the Locust Tap!
Scott was my boss a long, long time ago. He was probably the best boss I ever had. Scott help me further my career greater than anyone else. If anyone was ever motivated to go far, climb the ladder of success and be the brightest star it was Scott. I never truly got over when our paths at the company separated. We worked at different locations and he soon departed for Minneapolis for a chance to join the training team. That never happened. Someone else got the position so he left for California.
Now he was back! Got himself a place in the East Village to open a store and share it with a dog grooming business. Would we like to see it? Just a block away. I forget whether or not we left our bicycles or took them with us. It was snowing lightly. Did I mention that it was snowing?
His space was one of the lofts that someone could run a business and live upstairs. Things Unusual was the name. He gave us business cards, black with a swirly paisley thing in gold and pink on it. Basically it was a boutique of second goods being marked up. Somehow a partner with dog grooming skills would share the space. Speaking of dogs, there was a large boxer upstairs. Scott's dog.
There was also a silver Specialized MTB. Scott explained how he went over the bars and busted his teeth on it. There was a photo of him next to the bike. Here he looked extremely buff, much larger than I'd ever knew him to be. Steroids.
He opened a bottle of wine, poured us each a glass and told us the tale of his life in California. Somehow I sensed that he did not weather the storm very well. What came back to Iowa was not the same that left. Damaged goods.
Somehow involvement with a large meth operation changed everything. Meth! Why? Cocaine may be the destroyer of talent but meth is the destroyer of lives. Fuck, Scott, what the fuck were you thinking?!?!??
How much of what he told us is true or a falsehood I cannot tell. Cops were involved. They offered to let him go because they wanted someone else. Time to leave Cali.
Of good news, his father was still in his life. It looked like he had a business going. Perhaps he could do well once again without the dangers of drug production and distribution.
After finishing the bottle it was time to go. Mary and I had been out for a long time. According to my bike log I met Craig Lein at AJ's on East Court then Mary joined us. Hit the Saddle and the Tap. We said our goodbyes and walked off into the snow to fetch our bikes. I never saw Scott again.
February turned into March and our household gets busy. Weather improves but still snow and rain. I recall riding through the East Village looking for Things Unusual but could never find it. Perhaps it folded. I never knew the story until this week.
Facebook. Of all the damn places to get the news. The internet's nuthouse. Should not bother me really. I remember reading about the death of a boy from Quin's Scout den in the obituaries. Hello, phone call, email??? But there it was. I missed it the first time around, grazing through FB looking for something that fancied my brain. That was Monday. Then Tuesday during my lunch I saw it again and read slowly and looked at the face in the photo. Oh God, why?
I knew the reasons. That night in February Scott said that he was HIV positive. What he did not tell us was he had been that way for 20 years. He said it was ok, no symptoms, taking his meds. Everything under control. But that was really it?
After getting through with work in record time I found our mutual friend and got his side of the story. Personality skewed by drug use. Brain lesions ultimately brought him to his deathbed. But he was not the same when he returned from the West Coast.
Scott was paranoid. Our friend related two incidents. One was when Scott was at Home Depot with his father. After seeing the same person for the third time he panicked and had to leave. Got out his phone and called for help. The other time was in front of the Locust Tap. A black SUV drove by and Scott pushed our friend into the Tap and ducked below the window. "They might have seen me. they are after me."
Did he burn his meth employers? Did he take their cash and run? Was his mind functioning properly? The answers have gone to his grave.
He told Mary and I that he was arrested in Des Moines for wearing a dress. Strange, not aware of that being a crime. But after talking with our mutual friend (hate to use his name and if he reads this he will prolly flip out) I was told that his sister, expressing pity for him since he had no where to go, invited Scott to a family Christmas Eve gathering despite being warned that Scott was a freak at this time. And this warning became justified when Scott arrived in a tutu with a hat with Barbies wired to it.
Then the business collapse. Seems that Scott may have burned his partner and pulled a rip off. I do recall him saying that rent was not paid yet...
Bridges were burning as fast as he could light them. The move to Iowa failed and it was time to retreat to California again, meth lords be damned. Just as quickly as he appeared he vanished.
Then the virus kicked in. Scott returned to Iowa a few months ago. He was having issues walking soon. Something was wrong and he knew it. I think it was Friday that he made the call to go to the hospital. He was admitted to a hospice immediately. The text or phone call put it bluntly, they gave Scott 40 hours to live better visit him now. So our friend did.
Like your great grandfather, he said. I never saw mine in the condition that was described. But suffice to say that Scott was out of it when he visited. Curled up on the bed, arms pulled toward his chest. His spirit ready to leave the remains of his body soon. Monday it was set free.
No funeral planned. Scott did not want anyone to cry over him. Cremation and the donation of his organs for the study of AIDS on the body.
I will always remember Scott as that young man so eager to be successful. He was going places. His head was on properly, well except for the partying but then again who does not blow off some steam every now and then?? Driving that gray Integra to 7000 rpm through Clive. His short hair reminiscent of Bernard Sumner back in the mid-80s. The ability to talk on the phone when the music was at full volume. The ability to party like there was no tomorrow. Perhaps that is what really killed him. No tomorrow.
"and they gave him away / like in 'Whistle Down the Wind' / by the look on his face / he never gave in."--New Order, Vanishing Point