He'd told us he was tired of living, said he wasn't gonna do anything stupid. We know he spent a few nights with some backpackers on the John Muir just outside the park, on the north end, said he didn't say much, didn't eat much, shaved his mustache every few days, leaving his chin strap beard intact. He disappeared one night after dinner. Evidently he'd had his pack ready and no one noticed. A crew working the trails said they saw him on the other side of the valley sitting on some boulders. Said they saw a man with an orange backpack, couldn't make out any features. They called out to him. He waved back. His skin was dark.
It's been a few months now. Alice is set to sell the house. He'd left her the house in an unofficial will written on a yellow legal pad. His Cuban neighbor notarized it, I've had him notarize a few things for me, only charged me $10 each time.
So he left her the house?
Yeah man, left it Alice and the kids. Said they're welcome to keep it or sell it. She's to humble and good a person to take advantage. She put it on the market yesterday, asking only what's fair. Her family took his German Sheppard, kiids kept all his books, paintings, art supplies, and costumes.
Did you know motherfucker'd been a fireman, something like 8 years.
Yeah, I knew he'd had some mental issues, probably job related, his bi-polar shit, or sometin' else. Spent a week in some hospital with drunks and meth addicts. I knew he was gettin' sobered up, got in some deep trouble at work, threatening to kick some guy's ass, captain or lieutenant I believe. He didn't elaborate much. Had to quit or get fired. Had a chick for a while, seemed like a lovely gal, thick accent, gorgeous. Told me he’d only said them three words to one other woman, I'm assuming he meant his ex-wife. They're fucking friends now, him and his ex-wife, how bout that shit? I can't stand my ex, both of them.
When you seem him last?
First Friday art fair down town, picked up dippin' again, big ass plug in his lower lip. Dude goes out and gets a new tooth to cover up that gap, then goes back to dippin'.
Tough shit to quit I guess.
Yeah, I rarely saw him over the summer last year, always at a meeting, or mowing, or whatever he did for cash. He was still datin' that chick at the time, told me how guilty he felt for not having or making time for that gal, always tired and short on cash, he said. One of the paintings was hers. Alice took it over last week with a few other belongings.
You think he's dead?
Nah, he knew the park, been there numerous times. Some of his fondest memories lived there. He'd go on about the stars, the trails where he'd hardly see people for days, the bald mountain tops, and the boulders piercing above the treeline. Loved tellin' the story of Dan and his avocados, leeche fruit, and condensed milk cans. Evidently Dan never disclosed the contents of his bear canister.
Bear canister, you know, those little plastic barrels they make you carry to keep your food away from the bears. Fuckers are heavy. Any case, Dan was struggling to make his way up a set of switchbacks, so they split his load among himself, Nick, and Greg, leaving Daniel with only his extra clothes and water.
Said they stopped an hour later to rest. Fucker opens his pack, pulls out Dan's heavy-ass bear canister, says "what the fuck is in here?". Apparently they all gathered around, witnessed him pull out a can of condensed milk, a multi-spice canister, three avocados, and two cans of leeche fruit!
That shit set hem off, everyone else was only carrying dry food, nuts, and water! Said he made his way to the cliff and threw each one as far as he could.
So he's in Yosemite?
Around there, got a letter from him a few weeks after he left, postmarked from Tuolumne Meadows, that's how I knew where he'd gone. Alice said the park service put a boot on his car then had it towed. Said he'd left me the car but I'd have to go out to California. I called the impound yard in Bishop, said I could pick it up after paying the fees and provide the title or a notarized document saying it was mine. Two thousand aint' a lot for that little car, besides, it would be fun driving back from California. Alice said she found the title earlier this week. I'm flying out next week.
Can I come?
I don't see why not, but you might have to take another flight unless there's still room on mine.
You flying to Oakland?
So we gonna go lookin' for him too?
Negative, he's a grown man, he'll come down if he want's. He can have his pity party up there, but I've known him for a while, this is no pity thing, told me he'd do this someday, just want's to be alone, sleep under the stars or some shit. He's a grown man.
Think we can stop at the Grand Canyon on the way back? Never been there, it's on the way, right?