I woke up this morning in a pretty good mood. An old friend paid me a visit last night. No, he didn't call to say he was in town, nor did he ring the doorbell. Although even if he could, he wouldn't have called and he wouldn't have rung. He would've knocked. And when I answered the door, he would've been looking around like he hadn't really meant to be caught actually standing on my doorstep; more like he just happened to be near the door, and acting like "Oh hey, 'sup?..." you know? I know Rick just well enough to envision such things. And now I have to envision them, because that's all I have. Rick is dead.
I don't believe in ghosts and I've never seen an image of him hanging out around his grave, but every now and then he stops by and haunts my dreams. It's been a while since Rick paid me a visit. Maybe it happened because another old friend from the days I used to know him recently found me on Facebook, combined with the reading of a Beginning of Line story this week in which someone long dead was brought back among the living. I don't believe dreams have hidden reasons, messages or weird interpretations, but I do like to try and pinpoint the trigger for some of them. Regardless of what it was, I like when Rick visits. He died suddenly and tragically. I can't remember the last time I saw him alive, and I wasn't even able to go to the funeral and say goodbye. But when he comes back, it's always the same. I'm like "Oh hey, is it really you??" and he's like "Yeah". Very nonchalant, not making a fuss. Rick was like that.
Whenever this happens, I go looking. I look for the one photo I have of him and always think I won't find it because I assume I took it out of the scrapbook and put it somewhere safe. But I didn't, because I realize if I move it, I'll lose it. So it's still there, where it's been for the past 20-odd years, along with the news article about the accident and his obituary, yellowed with age and stained with scotch tape. The photo is a color Polaroid. Rick sits on an old couch, relaxed but unsmiling, gazing up at the photographer with that look he often had: thoughtful, reserved, and somewhat perturbed. Even from behind his aviator-frame glasses, you can tell he has vivid blue eyes. I still remember the first time I saw them. I wonder what they'd be looking at right now if he was still around. I wonder if he'd be on my Facebook friend list. I think yeah, he would. And that makes me happy. Knowing Rick made me happy. I wish I could've told him that. Then again, I think he already knew.
Richard "Rick" Fiske
06/18/62 - 01/28/84