Five o’clock in the Texas morning,
I got a long, long ride.
— the prophet michael murphey
Hi, Rick. You don’t remember me, but I’m your brother Gary. We collaborated on comic books a long time ago. I was the better artist. But that’s not why I’m here.
I miss you.
I miss all those times I didn’t call you. I miss never going to visit you. I miss knowing you would always be there, just in case I needed you. OK, I was a crappy brother. Sorry. But I think I caught a couple of typos in your column once, so maybe it all balances out.
We’re having a bit of a bad stretch here. Mo’s Uncle Joe, coolest guy on the planet, just died. BK is slowly climbing farther up on the roof. And now the word on the street is that you’re not doing so great. I’m a journalist, remember. I find these things out.
I spend so much time these days not knowing what to do when I think of you. Laugh? Cry? Scream? Pretend I’m OK with the cycle of life? I can’t. I don’t want you to go.
But I think you should.
I’ve been listening to “Texas Morning” on repeat lately. That was always the perfect song for you. How many five o’clocks did you see on Texas mornings? I was lucky to ride shotgun on a bunch of them. Terlingua and Marfa and Big Bend and Luckenbach and the Guadalupes and that first time we drove into Austin. Bluebonnets and prickly pears. Peeing on a fence that turned out to be electrified (explaining those years where your voice was such a high pitch), cutting down another after we were trapped in a pasture (you wired it back together after we left). Texas morning. The perfect name for a newspaper columnist who loved endless roads more than anything in the world.
I love you in the way you can only tell a brother after it’s too late. And it’s going to be impossibly hard without you.
But it seems like time for you to head out for the next adventure.
You can keep writing and rewriting and editing, but there comes a point when you need to pull the story out of the trusty Royal typewriter and send it to press.
I have no idea what’s on the other side. Maybe nothing. Maybe bluebonnets. Maybe you come back as a puppy on a farm in Ballinger. What the heck. It’s worth a try.
Or maybe there’s an old dirt road there and it’s always five o’clock on a Texas morning. Isn’t that as close to heaven as you’d want to get? You can get the land cruiser adjusted while you wait for Mike and me. Maybe pick us up somewhere around Vancourt. Bring Granddad. He’ll have some stories. Surely heaven has a Sonic.
I know you can’t read this, but maybe you can feel it. We always had pretty great brother telepathy.
If so, get the heck out of this joint. Start driving and don’t look back. You’ve got a long, long ride.
your dear and worthless brother,