Six years ago, on Memorial Day, my friend Dave hung himself with his dog's chain from a rafter in his garage. Dave Berti was the most tender-hearted, charismatic soul I've ever known, yet he was also the most insecure. I'll love him and miss him forever.

His house was famous in the Cal. City Area. People tended to know his address from all the every-night partying that went on there. There was almost always a band practicing in the basement, always a couple of cases of beer chilling in the fridge, always some kind of running joke of the inside variety–and hovering nearby was his soft-spoken, smokin' hot, and cool-enough-to-hang-out-with Mom, chilling with what was known in the beginning as the "Berti Bunch", and to the late-comers as the "420 Webb Crew".

Dave used to bleach his hair blond. He always looked the best when the dark roots just began to grow out. He played the drums–usually drunk–and had the strubbed and bleeding knuckles to prove it. We shared a love of The Cure and Jack Kerouac's poems.

Two Memorial Days before he died, while I was driving him home from a barbecue, he asked me to sleep with him, but I turned him down, because I had just recently been dumped by his best friend (who happened to be the one to pull him down from the rafter 2 years later) and I was still (stupidly) hung up on him and on the rebound with someone else. Dave got really mad and hardly talked to me afterward.

I always wonder if I could have kept him with us a little longer, if I'd just gone inside the house with him, gave him the closeness and the pleasure he had needed to keep his head above water. I never believed for a second that it was me he wanted at all. He was just drunk and I was just there. I was already too used to being the chopped liver of our group. I turned him down to prove to myself that I was different from the others. A week later, I tried to make amends and found him already paired up with the girl who would have him alienated from his old friends and hooked on every nasty substance you can think of.

I hope you've found peace, wherever you are, Dave. I love you and I'm sorry we didn't show you enough to keep you from leaving us–but even if I had, my love has never been enough for anyone. I'm only me, and that's just never been enough.


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