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I did not want to see the attendants take his body away, though I knew it was coming. If I had waited just five minutes more, or checked five minutes before, I would not have witnessed the transition. But maybe I should have seen, maybe it was for the best that I saw the pattern of his blankets.

He was a character. That’s probably the best way to describe him, one all us residents would agree on. He said silly things, used conspiracy words, he played little games with conversation. He made us feel uncomfortable and cringey and weird, befuddled, and some of us downright pissed.

One summer weekend some kids were visiting from out of town, riding their bikes, playing hide and seek everywhere, including our balconies which he did not take kindly to. After he got no satisfaction from their parents he called the cops on the kids. The next day we came out to our respective balconies, he on his, me on mine, (we rarely stood next to each other except for that one time), and I called him out on it: I told him that was a shitty thing to do, calling the cops on the kids. He was angry and went back inside and … after a few weeks he went back to waving hi to me.

They told me not to loan him money anymore because he uses it to buy pot. I often wondered if his lack of filter was due to a head injury. He told me stories of his youth, that once he was in military school. His hair was long and gray and white and braided, then one day it was cut back short like a regular dude hidden beneath a ballcap. I liked it better the other way. He used to take short walks down the balcony, and I think half the reason he went out was to look for someone to tease or be a wiseguy with, not hurting anyone, just looking for someone he could interact with in his weird little way. He had no one else to talk to.

He left the world, he left us, he left everyone, by himself and that’s what bothers me most. I hope his transition, his dying was peaceful. I wish I could ask someone if it was so. I want to believe that it was.

Well, J, it’s someone else’s turn to look after you. I hope you don’t tease and annoy them too much. Take your ease, bro. I think you’ve needed it for a long time.