Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Get In The Plane, Billy

I cried a lot today. Its odd to not cry on the phone or at a gathering. How grim is fate that not twelve hours after I talk Yvonne up to the crowd that she emails me terrible news. Harry Fassl died on Sunday morning, and when I talked to his gal Diana I didn't cry, I got the news with more detail, then I emailed Sean. And cried. And emailed Yvonne back. And cried. So its a new experience to have tears dripping onto the R and the I keys and me filling the garbage with tissues. I effing hate tissues, they are no good. Christ, the stories involving Harry, me, Brian Jeff, Cathy, Diana, Von,Kathleen, Rodger, Andrew and from there Sean, Jessica, Erik, and the gang from MINN-CON up north. Hemlockman himself, a commenter on this blog, did work with Harry. He illustrated many of my stories. The best memories of my life are either at Yvonne's house in Hanover Park or Harry and Diana's in Oak Park and you can pick virtually any weekend during the summers of 1993 through 1996. I can add Beth Massie's get-togethers in Virginia a close third, but I'm chained to Chicago, and the collar counties are as far as I'm allowed to venture. And Harry was by Beth's, so he met Dave, he already knew Mark, Barb and Charlie, Lee, and so on. Mind you, every single name mentioned here means something in the publishing world. (Well, Barb's husband Charlie, he just has the biggest collection of Volkswagens in the galaxy).

Harry and I had fun with words. He always used the line from OUTBREAK when Morgan Freeman says to Dustin Hoffman "Get in the plane, Billy." He used it if I was jabbering too much and dinner was ready. I cut out a panel from a comic that simply said "Ed is by the turbines." That became a catch-phrase for years. For every time I signed my name Weird Alien Sausage, he would sign his HEFaLump or the oddly exotic Ted DeVeaux. And he did great photography. Don't go by the shot above, go to the link to his site. (I really just thought of this now, its still there, its not going away).

The year we went to Beth's, it was me, Harry, Andrew, Jeff, and Von. USAir to Pittsburgh then some propeller plane to the Shenandoah Valley airport. Somehow we miss the boarding call. They hold up the plane for us, even though we are like fifty feet away from it on the other side of the window, and we board and then wait for clearance. Meanwhile, back at the other airport, Beth and pretty much everybody in Staunton and the surrounding towns are told over the intercom that the propeller plane will be late by an hour because five hippies from Chicago hopped up on the joy juice made them late.

Christ, so many stories. Such a legacy of hard work and friendship. Watching crappy horror movies like THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON and then staying up even later watching FOREVER KNIGHT, God help us all. Or SPACE PRECINCT. And then there was sumo wrestling for a time. Watching it, I mean.

From what I understand, Harry's ashes will be strewn (?) across Lake Michigan on the Winter Solstice. He died during a full moon in October, something I would like for myself also. I used to joke, talk about seeing the Grim Reaper in the doorway and telling everyone "Hey, there's my ride!" But writing this down and reminiscing with Andrew just reminds me that I'm on the tail end now, coasting as far as it will take me. For the good times, and absent friends. Get in the plane, Billy.

Bye, Harry. Your pal, Wayne