I returned home from work tonight and was dressing to go out for a run when I noticed that my answering machine light was blinking. As I've mentioned in a previous post this is usually an indication that I have a solicitation from a credit card company. But tonight it was a terse message from a friend and former coworker who in a somber voice asked that I call her. I did so at once and learned that the woman who replaced me at the local prior to the one I am at now had just died. Apparently she was at a party with her boyfriend over the weekend when she started to feel ill. She went to the bathroom and locked the door. They found her 45-minutes later unconscious; she had inhaled her own vomit. Comatose, on life support at the hospital since then, they pulled the plug yesterday.
This woman had the reputation for being a party girl. I met her once. Her father, who is a retired union member, I knew well; he spent quite a bit of time at the local. He grew up in a small town in Southern California at a time when old-fashioned derricks still pumped oil next to residential homes. He told me a story one time about a raven that he befriended and how the raven followed him home and became his pet; when he would go out to play around the oil derricks with his buddies the raven would follow.
This guy had a lot of stories. I listened. They were good stories. They usually had a climax where he would beat the shit out of somebody. And it wasn't as if he was posturing and spouting bullshit machismo, though there was some of that; it was more as if he was revealing -- unburdening himself of -- a deep rage, an obsessive hostility, a misanthropy that in his stories would flare up and burn down some unsuspecting fool who had crossed him.
I spoke with the daughter a few times on the phone. Before she took my job she worked for the same union but a different local. I figured out right away that it was best to be polite and steer well clear.
Shall we end the day where we began it, with a quote from Heracleitus? Let's.
Why not one of my favorites, Fragment 60: "The way up and down is one and the same."