My once and future fan

(Warning: longish)

I recently received some copies of Metaphorosis magazine’s annual anthology (which features one of my trunk stories). As usual, I’ll put one copy on the brag shelf and mail another to my old partner-in-crime, John, a retired professor of American History.

We met in grad school. We worked in the same campus office, both of us sweating through our classes and research, trying to make it to the finish line before our tuition credits evaporated. Our boss, the University Librarian, was a former Ambassador to England, former history professor, and all-around blowhard.

Hard work but good times. John introduced me to photography, beat poetry, and decaf espresso. I shared my love of science fiction and British humor.

After graduation, John took a job at a low-budget publishing house, and I joined him for a bit. When the parent company was bought by another, bigger publisher, we all got fired and sought our fortunes elsewhere. John went on to teach in Bakersfield and I disappeared into IT.

A few years later, John re-married, and invited me to photograph the ceremony (a task he performed at my own wedding). Years passed, and we fell out of touch, even with that new-fangled interweb.

When I began selling my stories on a more regular basis, I tried to reconnect with John. But he stopped responding to his old university email account. I mailed the occasional letter or story to his house, but heard nothing for years.

Finally, John’s wife Lori sent me an email. She told me that my old friend—a great bear of a man, a keen researcher, a talented writer, and generous soul—was now living in a full-time care facility due to the effects of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. He could no longer read or write without great difficulty.

Now, John is not an old man; he’s perhaps 15 years my senior. I can only imagine how hard it must be for him.

His short-term memory is pretty bad, but he can cast back 30 years without straining himself. And that’s about the time we were working side by side.

So when Lori gets one of my packages, she brings it to John and reads it to him. He closes his eyes and hears that brash young man in the words, and smiles, and talks about how much he appreciates my work.

We all need such fans.

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