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January 24, 2010

Remembering Robert B. Parker by Will Graham

 

   I had just gotten that vital first cup of coffee poured when my office door opened and Hawk walked in.  He was wearing black leather pants, a black pullover, and a black leather jacket.  I could forgive his fashion sense as he was carrying a box from Dunkin’ Donuts.

 

   “Sustenance,” he said as he shut the door and walked into the room.  He grabbed a coffee cup and poured as I sat behind my desk like it belonged to me.  Which it did.

 

   I had just taken that first sip of the day when Hawk asked, “You hear the news?”

 

   “What news?” I said.

 

   “Bob passed this morning,” Hawk said as he sat in one of my client chairs and helped himself to a donut.  I wasn’t that crass; one needs at least one cup of coffee before donuts.

 

   His remark caught me by surprise.  “Bob what?”

 

   “He died,” Hawk said.  “Done died, in fact.”

 

   “What happened?” I asked.

 

   Hawk ate a bite of donut.  “All I know right now is, he was at his desk.  Man was seventy-seven years old,” he said.

 

   “Holy Christ,” I said as I sat back in my chair, coffee and donuts forgotten.

 

   “Yeah,” Hawk said.

 

   My head was spinning.  “You realize what has happened?”

 

   “Yeah,” Hawk said.  “I do.”

 

   I turned my head to gaze out the window of my office. “This means a lot,” I said.

 

   “I know,” Hawk said.

 

   “The man single-handedly revived a genre that everyone thought was long gone,” I said.  ‘The lone private investigator, defying authority, listening to his own sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice.”

 

   “Uh-huh,” Hawk said.

 

   “Wasn’t there a television series based on some of his books?” I asked.

 

   “Uh-huh,” Hawk said as he reached for another donut.  “TV series, seven made for TV movies from that.”

 

   “Plus a new series of movies with what’s his name, the guy who used to run around Hawaii in a Ferrari,” I said.  “Never seen ‘em, but Susan likes them.  From what she’s said, they sound a cut above what’s on television these days.”

 

   “Might have to check that out myself,” Hawk said.

 

   “You know,” I said thoughtfully, “in a lot of ways, he was a pioneer.  Long before it was fashionable, Bob took on things like women’s roles in society, how the stereotypes were gone and things had changed between men and women.  Not to mention race.  Or gays.  Or illegal aliens.  Or crime rings from overseas.”

 

   Hawk was nodding to himself.  I went on.

 

   “He had his detractors; some called his writing simplistic,” I said.  “Yet his books sold in the millions.”

 

   “Man had to be doing something right,” Hawk said.

 

   “Saw him interviewed, a long time ago,” I said.  “And he said something that made perfect sense when he was asked why people like his books.  He said, ‘I think people like the way the words sound.’”

 

   Hawk stared at me.  “That’s it?” Hawk asked.  “’The way the words sound’?”

 

   “When you think about it,” I said, “that says it all.”

 

   “He introduced you to Susan, didn’t he?” Hawk asked, changing the subject.

 

   “Yes, he did.  All those glorious years ago.”

 

   “Some of ‘em ain’t been so glorious,” Hawk said.

 

   I sighed.  “Maybe if you’d ever had a relationship that lasted longer than a weekend, you might have learned that anything long term has its ups and downs.  I know Susan and I shared a lot with Bob and his wife, Joan.”

 

   “And they shared with y’all,” Hawk said.

 

   “Yes,” I said.  “Nature of the beast.”

 

   “He a lot like you,” Hawk said.  “Big and strong and tough and can cook and not afraid to be emotional and share his feelings and all that.”

 

   I nodded to myself as I thought about that.  “He made me what I am today,” I said.

 

   “Always knew something was responsible,” Hawk said.  “You weren’t just born this way.”

 

   “No one is ‘just born’ the way they are,” I said.  “What happens to you throughout your whole life shapes you and makes you into what you are.  One of the things I learned from Bob is that things happen daily, and that changes you daily.”

 

  “Hell, if we goin’ there, Marse Spensah,” Hawk said in a Brer Bear drawl.  “Dat happens every damn minute of every damn day.”

 

   “Yeah, it does,” I said.  “But this feels weird.  Odd.  The world has shifted somehow, it won’t be the same without him.”

 

   “No, that’s true,” Hawk said.  “But it happens and there’s not much we can do about it.”

 

   “Agreed,” I said.  I sat back in my chair and looked out onto the gloomy street.  Hawk leaned back in his chair, stretching his legs out and closing his eyes.

 

   “’Then what could death do, if thou shouldst depart, leaving thee living in posterity?’” I said aloud.

 

   Hawk raised his head, opened one eye, and blew breath out, puffing his cheeks.  “Sheeeeeit,” he said, stretching the word into four syllables.  “I bet you could even tell me who said that.”

 

   “That would be showing off,” I said.  “But, since you asked, Shakespeare, Sonnet 6.”

 

   Hawk shook his head and leaned back again.

 

   The world was different now, off-kilter, and I wasn’t sure how to feel.  As Hawk said, there was nothing to be done about it, but it was there, and I’d do what I always did, which was figure out a way to handle it.  At that moment, I missed Susan fiercely.  So fiercely, I’d let her take advantage of me sexually if she wanted.

 

   We sat there, me at my desk and Hawk on the other side, looking into the gloom, until the sun sank below the horizon and it got dark and the rain turned to snow….

 

 

Comments

William if "things happen daily and that changes you daily" then our lives are changed for the better because of this beautiful tribute. Thanks very much and I am very sorry for your loss and everyone who will surely miss great author Robert B Parker.

Wow, genius, William.

Marie, profoundly put. Thank you.

RIP, RBP. You will be sadly missed, but we are grateful for your gifts to us.

Perfect.

Our hearts are broken, and you have said exectly that, and so eloquently.

You're quite special. And he was, too.

Thanks, William. Nuff said.

Thank you.

Worth getting out of bed for. Thanks, William.

Bravo. We've been selling Parker books like crazy since the news of his death...as if everyone wants to grab a piece of the man without whom the writing world will never be quite the same. Spencer, Jesse Stone and company are only part of his legacy. Thanks, William.

Thanks, William. You rock.

Well done, Sir William.

I'm sorry that RBP's passing is what has finally made me get off my duff and look for his books . . . I've been lazy and taken for granted that his stories will keep coming and I'd get around to reading the print editions eventually. Thanks, William, for sharing this tribute, and for your comment 'like visiting old valued friends'. RIP Mr. Parker, and condolences to Boston.

Thanks William for this tribute. I will miss Robert Parker, I have been reading his books since the 70's. The book world just won't be the same.

Brilliant!

What a wonderful tribute to Parker. Beats the hell out of the one I did on my blog. LOL

Parker was one of the best and so many of us owe what little success we have to his influence. One of the many things I learned from reading his books was how to write dialog.

Very lovely, and apt, thank you. Always could rely on RBP to give us pleasure, and you (William) did a good job for us.

Thank you for this. It's perfect.

Absolutely beautiful, William.

I feel honored to just have read it.

Thanks, William -- no one is really gone if he's remembered . . .

Great. Perfect. Sounded just like him.

Bravo, William. You nailed the essence of his writing. What a perfect tribute. Thank you.

Ahhh, William.

Beautiful.

Oh wonderful tribute. Thank you.

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