Saturday, May 3, 2014

Derby Day II

I was hoping TW would pick up the phone when I called yesterday.  Not surprised when he didn't.  There was always the chance that he'd call back after I left a message.  What bothered me was that the phone never rang.  My call went straight to the answering machine recording.  "Not available now, please leave a message..."  I know he's dying.  I know he might not be home or in a position to come to the phone or maybe even in the hospital.

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece called Derby Day.  A slice of memoir that detailed how we used to meet up early on Kentucky Derby morning and play the early races.  He lived in Marin County and I lived in the East Bay.  I'd usually pick him up at a BART station, then we'd coffee up, get bagels, and head over to the Top of the Stretch Room at Golden Gate Fields.
Then went MIA.  He just dropped off the radar and everyone assumed the worse.  There were so many reasons to make that assumption.  This Vietnam vet had kicked a heroin habit, but ran into so much bad luck.  Everything from being hit by a car on a foggy SF morning to battling prostate cancer.  His badly abused body had even more excuses to fail.  No matter he'd been a chain smoker since his teen years.
Ted was an excellent handicapper,  great chef, who worked for a top caterer, and was acutely intelligent.  He was the kind of friend who knew history and could talk about current issues.
Then, last year, while visiting a relative in Sonoma County, I ran into Ted, alive, but not well.  I'd stopped by the OTB there for a couple f hours and there he was.  Well, most of him.  He told me that he didn't expect to be around too much longer, that the VA hospital was treating him well and that he had good and bad days.  We spoke over the phone about a month later, and then yesterday I tried to call again.
It is Derby day...he might just be busy.

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