Hal was 35, and the only job he'd ever had was dealing drugs.
It's not something they talk about at career day at school. I never found out what Hal had wanted to be - a teacher? A vet? A fireman? What ambitions did ten-year-old Hal profess in front of his class?
I only knew what Hal was when I met him.
For those who read Places You Haunt - Axis is based on Hal. We called him "the Axis Baby" not infrequently. Because, yes, he was half-German, half-Japanese. His real name was Helmut, actually. (You'd go by "Hal" too, wouldn't you?) He looked Hawaiian more than anything else.
Broad, tan, oft-smiling face. Shaggy, silky black hair. Rough hands. Warm brown eyes.
I did not know ten-year-old Hal; all I knew of twenty-year-old Hal, twenty-five-year-old Hal, was the scattershot bits of memory he placed in my keeping. Which is what he did, quite actively. There were things that it hurt him to hold onto. He gave them to me.
When I knew Hal, he'd calmly resigned himself to being what he was for the rest of his life. Not just a junkie and a dealer, but never being anything but a junkie and a dealer.
He would sit with me by the UNLV meditation pool, or anywhere else we could find, and tell me why. Give me the little pieces of him. Because he had to tell someone. And he knew I'd remember.
I didn't have sex with Hal. He didn't understand why, at first - I had sex with a bunch of people, it's true. But not Hal. I puzzled over this. I made lists of reasons.
I think I loved him too much.
I think he was my brother, and I was his secret-keeper, and it wasn't the kind of love that allowed that.
I don't know if he's alive. If he is - I wish I could hope that he's gotten out. But I know better.
He was not a saint. None of these people were. Some of them were not good people at all, but they were good to me. Hal was good to me.
I miss you, big brother, and you are not forgotten.