Tuesday, April 7, 2015

RIP, Steve


If you read my story “My Week at the Blue Angel,” you may recall Steve and his dog Dot. Steve, who was staying in room 133, was a Vietnam vet with a litany of health problems and a predilection for crack. He was also one of the nicest and funniest people I’ve met.

I got a call Sunday morning from a Colorado number. It was Steve’s brother Ken, whom I’ve never met, informing me that Steve died a few weeks ago in a Las Vegas hospital. Though this was not a surprise—Steve had been in and out of as many hospitals as weekly motels—it was saddening. He and I had managed to stay in touch over the years and I’ll always remember him as a kind and welcoming presence in a place (the Blue Angel) that could be cold and intimidating.

Here’s an excerpt from a conversation Steve and I had at the motel:

“What does she (the Blue Angel sculpture) mean to you?”

“She’s sort of like a helping hand. I look up and know that God’s put her there for a reason: to watch over the people here, who are wayward, who are like ships in a storm. They dock in the harbor to get out of the weather and then they’re off again. This place is like a port in a storm. Sometimes you stay overnight. Sometimes you stay a long, long time.”

“How long are you going to stay?”

“Long enough to get healthy and then I’m moving on. I want to get out of this town. I don’t really like it here.”

“When you leave, what will you remember about the Blue Angel?”

“It was a stepping stone in the direction I wanted to go in, but I won’t miss it. The only thing I’ll miss is the angel.

“But God will have one watching over me wherever I go.”

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