Planets, stars and darkness

Last Thursday, June 22, during the warm early evening, I was in the beautiful canyon of Snake Creek in Great Basin National Park. I had just found a deluxe place to park the truck and trailer—one of those utterly perfect Nevada-style streamside pull-throughs, complete with picnic table, fire ring and a thoughtful little pile of dried aspen logs stacked nearby. All that was left to do was get tonight’s margarita together, get out the chair, set up shop alongside the creek and commence with some good old-fashioned relaxin’.

From my chosen spot, I spied a nest up high in a cottonwood. The nest’s builder was home, sitting motionless upon its eggs. It looked like an uncommon bird to me. Perhaps a lifer. But it was a bit too dark to get a good, crisp look at its features. The fiddling with the guide book would have to wait until morning light. He or she would still be there. Things were getting off to a very nice start here at this idyllic little place. I settled back, sipped my sweet treat and awaited the impending arrival of planets, stars and darkness.

Meanwhile, at about the same time, one of my dearest pals ever, Harry Reynolds, was getting his own little scene together. He entered his very nice house in Sparks with a bag containing two bottles of Seagram’s Canadian whisky. He settled in at the kitchen table, poured himself a shot and drained it. This was new behavior for Harry, since he had been a staunch and unbudgeable teetotaler ever since early January. After having knocked off shot number one, he quickly reloaded and downed number two. And number three. And number four.

Then he went to the medicine chest, retrieved a full vial of pills, pulled out about four, and washed them down with yet another blast of booze. Then, he did it again. It was in this way that he doggedly and determinedly pursued his goal—the complete shutdown of his physical body. Numerous pills and shots later, he lay down on the carpet and awaited the impending arrival of his own planets, stars and darkness.

A lot of us have been on the phone for the last few days, trying to figure out what will likely remain unfigurable. In the end, it doesn’t matter a whole lot. It’s been said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. That appears to be the story here. Then again, maybe not. All we can conclude for sure is that there was some serious pain in there, far more serious than our cheery encouragements and sunnyside pep talks could ever bolster for much more than a minute or two. Pain that had been in there for a lot longer than any of us ever really wanted to consider. Goddammit.

I miss him already.