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Leaving Berkeley

Berkeley, California, Summer 1998 —

I'd seen some peculiarities in John's demeanor earlier. One time as he was trying to light a pipe and the mild wind kept blowing out his lighter, and he told me to stop. He was serious, and he didn't mean that I was blowing out the lighter physically.

But I never saw anything coming. I'd argued with him once, when I'd brought hamburgers from McDonald's for Jim and George, and not for him. [I didn't feel I had to think about everybody, nor that I should have felt uncomfortable sharing with my friends.] But I could see his point — even though I disagreed.

Then that last night, there in front of the North Berkeley Senior Center, John lost all cool and all sense of conventional thinking. For whatever reason, he stood up above me in front of me — I was sitting between Jim and George — and said that he was going to kill me.

Well, he kind of worked up to it. He said he could see it now — that I was evil, that he could now see what he had to do. He opened his jacket, and untucked his shirt. I didn't see a weapon.

Jim and George were just as shocked as I was, and had no time to speak. I could see my chance to leave, and could see that that was going to be my only possibility. I said "this is bullshit," as I stood.

I walked toward home.

I stopped at a telephone near the market below Indian Rock, and called my brother Jeff. I'd been trying to ring him earlier in the evening. Well, now I talked to him, and in this case naturally I told him about the strange development.

Jeff said I was welcome to come stay with him for a while.

I'm sad to say that I never saw Jim nor George again. I was more afraid to say goodbye than anything else. I hope Jim talked to somebody up at the house where I lived, and found out what happened to me.