Of course we remained friends after the frying pan incident. He became roommates with Rob, who was like Rik in many ways, minus the self-destruction, emotional issues, and violent tendencies. The three of us attended — or if I'm not mistaken, organized — the first ever Amnesty International Vegas chapter meeting.
Eventually I visited a friend in San Francisco, and felt like Dorothy discovering the Emerald City. It was a city for people like me (and Rik), where progressive thinking and diversity — ethnic, religious, culinary, and political — ruled. I couldn't move here fast enough.
Oddly, I could never convince Rik to visit me here, let alone make the move he said was inevitable. He was stuck in Vegas, a place that so outraged him, with it’s crudeness and vapidness. But he stayed. Maybe he needed the fight, to always be at battle with something (in this case, a town). Or maybe, more likely, Rik was simply too inert at that point to do something about the things that aggravated him in life. It was easier to rant than to change his situation.
Over the years, he grew bloated from the beer; gone were the chiseled features, replaced by a weathered face. His hair grew wild and gray, and he had a beard. He looked like Jerry Garcia, after being out at sea for a year. The only place for which he would leave his tiny cluttered apartment was a local "British Pub" within walking distance, resplendent with video poker games at the bar and waitresses best described as Hooters girls in leiderhosen (remember, we're in Vegas). We stayed in touch via email, until it became difficult to stay in touch with Rik. Correction: it became annoying.
With the internet, Rik had at his fingertips access to way too much information. Lots of information he thought you must read and act upon. He also had way too much free time to find all this information. After a while, I'd just hit delete. I know I wasn't the only one.
He moved to Ruth, Nevada, a town as small as a town gets. He got as far from society as he could afford to go. He sounded happy (very relatively speaking) the last few times I spoke to him. I sent him an email in November 2012, a simple "Still out there?" No reply.
Back to that text my brother sent. It said Rik died on December 16, 2010. Rik's been dead over two years and none of us knew. Sadly, none of us were surprised. He had a drinking related brush with death five or eight years ago, and I honestly have no sense of time right now when it comes to Rik. I found the online announcement, which supplied only date and place of death (and they called him "Richard" -- no one called him "Richard"). I was disgusted — yes, disgusted — to learn that there was no obituary for him. His parents died years ago. He'd long been estranged from his siblings. They weren't even mentioned, nor was the son he learned he had fathered six years after the child was born. He died alone.
So now, I will write his obituary. Here's my tribute to Rik; July 1959 - December 2010; Ruth, Nevada:
Rik was the smartest guy in the room. He was also the most passionate, and outspoken, and annoying guy in the room. He could really be a pain in the ass. But it always came from a good place, and that was just Rik. He was a great, loyal friend.
Rik stood for fairness and freedom, compassion and kindness — yes kindness. Despite the bitter rage with which he spoke about (or to) those he believed were in the wrong, or mocking those who stood for things he abhorred, Rik was the kindest soul. He was not the most tolerant soul. He had no use for ignorance or hypocrisy, betrayal, or greed. He had high moral standards when it came to how the world should be and how people should treat all living beings and the planet. Perhaps too high, for he was constantly infuriated that governments, employers, leaders and lovers could behave so badly. Eventually he got away from it all and moved to to the fringe of society. And now, he’s free of all the pain and suffering he found so unacceptable in the world; as well as his own.