Billy spent hours DJing up in the back house. He had a pro set-up and would dance and mix with his headphones on with wild abandon and there are hundreds of his mixes. Each one is painstakingly labeled then with artistic impatience, he would scribble designs in glitter pens or hi-liters on the CD and their covers. His Paul Oakenfold mixes have bold writing across them while his Junior Vasquez discs were more subdued. There were at least twenty different CDs dedicated to Madonna, some archival but most straightforward dance mixes. There were Elton John collections, an Eva Cassidy CD he made after we saw a Nightline on her life which he decorated with hastily drawn hearts, a host of Stevie Nicks and there was even a Rush compilation. Each one was a piece of him, his creation and his passion.
When I reached one specific disc, I crumpled. It was a mix I made for him, the contents of which I have no idea. It was in a blue jewel box with a picture of an open stretch of highway. I labeled it “Guyster In The Sky” in yellow font. This forgotten piece fits perfectly into a larger calculus that I have been furiously trying to decipher. I play marbles with a divination, an unwieldy puzzle yet to be completed, that both of us knew, somehow we knew, this was going to happen.
I sat on the floor, rocking back and forth, and cried. Bob didn’t raise his head from his couch-time nap. He’s seen it before. Stop your fucking crying and get up. Finish the job; don’t be a slob!
A half hour later, my head throbbing from the spasms, I went to the computer and wrote the Patti Smith entry. No more packing was done. One box of CDs was finished and I hadn’t even begun the main house.
Today was more productive. I gathered up the things I needed to bring from the guesthouse and left most things in the place they should be kept. The back house will remain relatively stable. It will be locked up tight, with its odd shaped windows covered with sheets to prevent sun damage and the French doors on either side bolted. I flashed on the need to find the start-up discs for the iMac should it crash in DC. I hadn’t seen them since I bought the machine for Billy for our last anniversary present. Where did he put them? Where do you think, genius? He put them in his filing cabinet.
I haven’t gone inside his filing cabinet since he joined the Special Ops. I opened the drawer and I had to smile. Billy had taken a handful, no a huge wad, of FedEx envelops and used them as his organizational system. It was so Billy, practical and free. Every envelope was marked for each of his credit cards, his car repair information, and house repair receipts; and on one, he wrote “Very Important Stuff.”
I looked inside and there were only two items. The first thing I recognized right away even though I only saw it once. It was a proclamation from President Clinton’s office. It says, “The United States Of America honors the memory of Floyd Eugene Ledbetter. This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.” It is signed “William J. Clinton.” I had always wanted to get it framed for Billy as a gift but could never find it.
I remember when he received it in the mail; he was so proud of his Daddy. I’m not certain why he received it but I would imagine it was one of his most treasured belongings, although it lived hidden away in our home.
The other paper in the Very Important Stuff was an email I sent him on December 30, 2000. It was a casual bow I must have sent from work. I began: "Dear Guyster, I thought I’d take a moment and recap our NY Eves together. They have been some of the most memorable nights of my life...”
Then year-by-year, I wrote a paragraph of what we did, where we were, and whom we were with. I don’t have any recollection of writing it, even though it was right in front of me. But each one of those nights I listed was apparently magical, except for 1998. The odd and sad part was as I was looking at the email, I couldn’t remember what we did the next night after I wrote it. And I never did find the start-up discs.