The plan had been for Mike Stang to come to Oceanside when Gary rode into those dusty streets, hitched up his pony to the Towers, and we were all going to swagger over to The Flying Pig to drink women and ogle other people’s beer, after inviting everyone who ever visited the site to come by in the hopes they’d pick up the tab, which we figured would be as large His Moiness’s ego, Stang’s heart, and Gary’s bull (Bob).
But then, cancer.
Anybody remember the Superman movie with Marlon Brando as Jarrell, Supe’s daddy? He loads the kid in the capsule to escape the destruction of the planet, packing holograms in his sandwich bag for the flight, and one of them says “You will re-evaluate your concepts of mortality.” The God-father later returns in holographic form from time to time to guide the young lad through puberty and to help him save the world.
We live in that age of which he spoke, and A Word with You Press is a coffee shop by the side of the road, or maybe, even Cheater’s Bar, Gary’s creation where all his supposedly fictional characters left their guns at the door. We meet Gary, we meet one another, here, on this site, and it is every bit as real as if we were sitting across the table. AMAZING that love can be created, nurtured, and thriving without the necessity of face-to-face, in-the-room presence.
I hope I get to meet all of you, face to face. Mike Stang does a much better job explaining what I mean, and how all of us who knew him feel. He dropped this off at the Towers last night while I was asleep. Please send me your Gary stories to email@example.com
Never Met the Man
I never met Gary Clark in person, face to face, in the flesh. I can only imagine how that would have been. We all threatened to circle the wagons at Ocean Side during the summer (guess that was this summer) and sit around the towers in a general state of trash, reading shit aloud, taking notes, lots of talk passing the jack. Gary was the kind of guy you looked forward to. My stories were never complete, and I waited until he replied with his side-kick humor, or his astounding sincerity. I listened real good to him. I have known Gary, through the site, since the day he submitted his first story, and I had the honor of judging him a winner. “Lord take me now”, through Gary’s pen, was the most hilarious thing I had ever read. Since that time, Mr. Clark held the genius again and again. He knew what to say because it always came from his heart and I have never known a person who understood human nature and responded to it with compassion like him. It is no wonder he and Peggy became such fast friends.
Dug in after his war years with his family down there in L’l Abner-like corner of Texas, I imagine the Nam Vet made peace with the world as best he could. I never heard him bitch about anything except, Thorn. I did however hear the experience in his stories.
Figured to get there from the airport I’d rent a truck and drive to the river. From there, an old man would ferry me across to the stable where I’d rent a horse and ride through the high chaparral to the dead end canyon; a mule to reach the outskirts of the post office, and hoof the rest with saddlebags full of the twentieth century over my shoulder. I’d meet him at Cheater’s, and the mythology would begin. That’s just me imagining.
I’m going to have to rely on my imagination from now on, memories such as they are. With his death, all bets are off. My strong man, the pat on the back, the kick in the ass, a heart like a lotus flower is gone. Gone. Oh I hear him up there laughing. The two of them. Peg at his side. It is the only thing that keeps me going, knowing they have each other. Think for a second when we all get up there—Jesus!
But for us earth-bound’s: we lost a good man, a damn good soldier, and one hell of a writer. Knowing him at all has enriched my life in ways I never saw coming.
God bless you Gary Clark, and may you rest forever in the everlasting arms of God.