I MET SAM about 15 years ago in the aisles of Walmart in the nearby capital city.
He was a decades-long friend of my wife’s, and he became an acquaintance of mine. He was a greater friend of my wife’s sister, the one who lives in the capital city.
Over the years he would unexpectedly show up here at my other sister-in-law’s coffee shop on the plaza for a visit. The capital city is only 40 minutes down the mountainside.
Sam was a union official, which means he did pretty well for himself. He always drove a nice, late-model car, and he owned a lovely home in the capital. He retired about five years ago, but we did not see him more often then. Actually, we saw him less.
Once we had lunch at his home. That was about 10 years ago, I think. Sam’s hobby was raising exotic birds which he kept caged in a glassed-in patio. They provided musical backdrop for lunch that day.
Once, maybe twice, he spent the night at our Hacienda.
When Sam would visit the coffee shop, he often would bring a young man with him. It never was the same young man. Yes, Sam was single for a reason.
Aside from birds, Sam’s other hobby was psychology. He was fond of taking university courses in that foggy discipline. Maybe he was trying to understand himself.
We got a phone call yesterday from a nephew of Sam’s. Sam had been found naked and murdered on the floor of his home. He had been on the floor three days. The police have announced no details, but we know what happened.
He was killed by someone he brought home from a gay bar.
About two years ago, Sam was beaten in his home, and his car was stolen in similar circumstances. Sam invented a story for that attack, but we knew the truth.
I have never personally known a murder victim before now. I have known suicides — three of them — and victims of accidents — about the same number — but Sam is the first murder victim. Sadly, my wife cannot say the same because two of her brothers were murdered decades ago in totally unrelated events. Murder is not rare here.
Sam was 60 years old.