There was a suicide in my daughter’s class. That sounds the opposite of what it is, passive, a thing that happened to someone. But it’s preferable to plainer language. The news arrived via social media, of course, and rumors bloomed, as they will. She knew him, slightly; apparently he was a popular lad. One of her friends dated him for a while. He was in our living room once on Halloween last year - an energetic, witty, kid who didn’t seem to clamor to be the center of attention, but got the job by dint of talent and bright spirit. And then this.

A friend of mine killed himself in high school. I googled the name to see if the Internet had record of him; it did, along with the rest of the Reaper’s toll - parents and a younger brother, killed by a drunk driver while coming back from Sturgis. The obit had a picture, and it was odd to see that the brother looked nothing like my friend, except for his grin. Which was my friend’s most defining feature, at least how I remember him - wide and a bit daft, but endearingly so, and in my friend’s case, somehow pleading. You think this is funny too, right? You do? You do!

We weren’t close friends, and it wasn’t a long friendship. Probably met in early Speech and Debate; he dropped out, and I kept on, and the common experiences frayed and crumbled. But we talked about comics and Star Trek and goofed around. Looking at the dates on his memorial page, I know we had stopped hanging out at least a year, probably two, before he killed himself. At some point he drifted into that grey area where you nod to each other in the hall or cafeteria, and then that stops because you were different people, two years ago, and you have your tribe and he has his.

Did he?

But, now that I think about it, I write the obit for the yearbook. I got a call from his mother, a tearful call after it was published, and it was the worst call in the world.

There was another suicide the next year, and I remember her name. And the yearbook picture. With the poem. And the clip-art birds.

It’s nothing you ever forget, even if it happens at the margins of your own life. It’s the suddenness, as though someone had arranged their own abduction and left no clues. It’s the silence, the rumors, the details unconfirmed, the speculation without resolution. It’s the way everyone is, for a day or two, muffled but buzzing, like an alarm clock under a thick quilt. It’s the cold fact that makes you feel somehow implicated if you knew them, because there was something that could have been done.

So we’re having Conversations, and Daughter is reacting as I expected. As I have observed through the years, there is a cellar floor for her sadness, but no roof to contain her joy.


No progress today on the last moments of the Strib. This will probably go down on Wednesday.

While walking around I found another construction project. There's not enough now to show anything interesting, providing you find these things interesting at all. The building will be nine stories and it's nothing special. A hotel. Better than the parking lot on the space now, but not as interesting as the long, long gone Loeb Arcade that once stood on the spot.

While I was talking pictures a well-dressed man walked up and asked me for a dollar. This was the second time in ten blocks. The first one just said "can you spare a dollar" as he walked slowly past; he wore a nametag from a local restaurant. This fellow said he wanted a dollar to buy a cigarette, and he was quite specific about the brand. I said I had gone cashless, sorry.

"What kind of phone is that?" he asked. I said it was an iPhone, but not the newest one.

"I'm planning on getting one of those for my birthday," he said.

"It's a fine phone." He said okay and walked over to three guys, one of whom gave him a cigarette. I still wonder about the last part of the conversation. Either it was intended to soften me up so I'd pull out a dollar, or it was some sort of dignity-salving theater.

Anyway, here's something that's about to be covered up forever. The strangest ghost sign downtown.

Whatever was in that cloud, or word balloon, it didn't soak into the bricks. I've scoured pictures here and yon, and I've never seen any clue to what the sign looked like. But it deserves a memorialization before it's hidden forever. So, valiant, cryptic ghost: we salute you.

I'll probably run this on the work blog tomorrow, so don't complain I'm recycling material. I know I am.





You can tell Steve’s just pleased as all get-out to have that dumb GIRL tagging along. Bad enough he’s trying to fight a stupid GIRL, he has to have a GIRL on his side.

You might recall he’s passed out after Blow On the Head #14 in the last few days, and Joyce was also hit on the head and fell down a concrete pit. There were flames, and the warehouse blew up. You might suspect they survived.

Hey, you’re not looking ahead, are you?

Sondra thinks he’s dead, but thanks to her network of informers she learns that Steve Colt survived. By “network of informers” I mean the newspaper delivery men.

This is actually great news! Because now it means they can make another run at Colt, hoping to see where he hid Dr. Weston, so they can get the fuel, so they can use the fuel in the rockets, so they can take over the world. Really. They’re just millimeters away from taking over the earth All they need is fuel and munitions.

For once, though, Steve’s in the hospital with a concussion and possibly internal injuries. Sonda sends off Ward and the other henchman to kidnap Steve, but Ward balks: he wants to meet the old man. He wants to meet FATHER.

That means it’s time for the smoke pots to go off, and bring back the imp in a fez who wants to rule the world.

He is not impressed with the quality of the help.

Sondra starts explaining why everything's gone wrong, and you realize with dismay that it's a clip show. t brings everyone up to speed, but it takes up most of the show. Father Imp says it’s time to kill Steve Colt, because he’s too dangerous. So it’s off to a place that is a different place because it has a plaque . . .

. . . We see Steve in his helpless condition, and the comes a shot that must have thrilled all the nurse-fetish pervs in the audience. For once, a cliffhanger gets its punch from an unexpectedly effective sound:

I have a feeling it wasn't poison, but suspended animation fluid. Because it would be too easy just to kill him there. Best take him somewhere else and put him in a room with a deadly snake and then leave the building and drive up to San Bernadino for lunch.


Part two of Beatrice Meals - with a guest appearance by . . . well, you'll see.

And this concludes today. On to October - and the start of our annual Pumpkinification series! I know, I know. You can't wait.



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