Dear San Diego

The world's a strange place. Don't be a stranger. 
Archive is here.

Screwdriver

Dear San Diego, 

Charles put a gun in his mouth. 

When they found him he was sitting in the chair in his home office. Or, more accurately, a table in a nook in the garage. A metal filing cabinet on the floor. An old PC. 

He'd put a towel around the gun. Things went on as usual for a few days until a neighbour noticed the smell. 

He lived alone. He was married when I knew him. Had a daughter too. 

But even after they left he never moved his office into the house. Could have set up in the living room, in the bathtub. But he stayed in the garage. Conditioned, familiar. 

She'd put him out there and that's where he stayed. From that little nook he sold medical equipment to hospitals and clinics all over the country. Made good money, was responsible to a fault. 

We used to talk over the fence when we were neighbours. I'd be out back spraying the deck, he'd be cutting the lawn. 

We'd talk about the weather, the Padres, sometimes he'd talk about camping.

Camping had been something he'd done with his daughter when she was younger. He spoke about it as if they still did it, as if every upcoming weekend was going to be another adventure. 

Truth was, she didn't even notice him anymore. A teenager - him, camping, they were embarrassments. 

His wife was certainly not the camping type. She tanned in the back yard a lot, wore tacky jewelry, drank white wine. 

Her name was Loraine but I called her Reno. She reminded me of it. The falsity, the too-old-to-act-like-you're-young, the never-would-be-Vegas smell of desperation. 

She sounded like she looked. Like a high pitched slot machine. 

How she'd ended up with Charles I never knew. He was the type of guy that was routine to a fault. One of those up and showered, one of four different coloured golf shirts, kakis and boat shoes, eggs on toast guys.

Quiet as a mouse like he was avoiding an executioner.

She was the opposite. Loud, gaudy,  Mrs Robinson without the pedigree, without the elegance. 

I had my own troubles at home so I don't really remember the Reno leaving. One day while I was walking the dog and Charles had the garage door up and we got to talking and he told me.

Both of them just left, Reno and the kid. Moved to Florida. 

Two days before I left I went next door and asked him to forward my mail if he could. I didn't know the address but told him I'd call him and tell him. 

That was the last time I spoke to him, maybe two weeks after I got to Parker's.

So a package arrived a few days ago and, thinking it had to do with Parker, just put it on the kitchen table. The night before I'd laid out Parker's Will perfectly on the floor, every page, and then started photographing it. 

I was drunk and therefore somehow an artist. 

When I eventually got around to opening the package it contained two things - a note and a Phillips head screwdriver. 

The last thing I needed that afternoon was that note. After everything that'd happened over the preceding month it was like realizing you'd been poisoned too late to do anything about it.

"Sorry I didn't get this back to you before you left. Thanks for lending it to me.

Sincerely, 
Charles."

Confused I phoned an old neighbour, Nancy Bianchi, because I knew she'd still be living across the street. No offence to you Italians out there, but when you put that much effort into the statue and stone work in front of your place- you ain't going nowhere. 

She didn't remember me at first but eventually did. Then she filled me in about Charles. 

The Padres beat the Mets that night 6-3.