Richard was one of the best people I’ve ever known, but he had a dark side that anyone that knew him, never really saw. I had no idea, for the most part. He rarely ever showed it, but then he’d disappear for a period of time. I always thought he was just off working somewhere on a job. I never saw him high at all. Not even drunk. Always a cheerful nice guy.
Richard and I worked together on jobs I’d pick up, or his, for over more than a decade. We painted a condominium complex, or remodel a houses, whatever came up. Once I saw him cut down a huge tree, will a little bitty electric chainsaw. I couldn’t believe it. He was one of the best people I’ve ever seen with any tool he could get a hold of….including auto repair. We changed the whole dash board out of a Plymouth for a car dealer once. It took all day, but we were successful, and the dealer was thrilled. So thrilled he gave us the headliner to do too.
Some time after the economy collapsed in ’83…if you remember that time when the interest rates jumped as high as 21%, all the home owners that I’d been working for, stopped spending money, on anything but necessities. All of the construction industry stopped. Even the big companies laid off everybody. I had just invested my reserve cash in major tools and vehicles, so that when the crunch hit, I had nothing left. No reserve, and I ended up homeless. Richard was kind enough to let me stay in his house, but his family living there too, I didn’t want to stay as long as I needed to. One month, and I left….hitch-hiking to the coast. To my dismay, Corpus Christi and the nearby areas were also dead, and I remained homeless. The rest of that story is a long one. Much later, in the late ’80s Richard stayed with me for a bit.
In the early ’90s Richard picked up a new trade, and became a “Lath and Plasterer”. Not too long after he followed the work to Las Vegas, that was the last I saw him. A couple years after that, he was found on the side of the highway with a bullet in his head.
I knew Richard very well and spent a considerable amount of time with him over about 15 years or more. He was one of the nicest guys I’d ever known, but there was always a bit of him that was hidden from the few people he knew well. Once or twice, during the whole time I knew him, I saw a willingness in him to confront people on the street that were disrespectful. “Street cred”, something I certainly knew about from my homeless periods. It was however, something I was more careful about then Richard. The other thing about him that I almost never saw, was that he did on rare occasions, do methamphetamine. So I knew from time to time, he was in bad company. I had to conclude, in Las Vegas, he got into some bad situation buying drugs, got confrontational, and was murdered and dumped on the highway.