My first bar in Seattle was Six Arms. Glen was a skinny guy who worked there and drove a silver 280-Z. He was sick with HIV, and they had a jar to collect donations for his treatments, but he died later that year and they named a hamburger after him.
Steve was the bar manager, a big Oregon hippy with a beard and a motorcycle. We became friends over the band, The Fall: I was one of the only people who played it on the jukebox and Steve liked that, it was his CD.
At the end of ’97, I decided to leave Seattle for the east coast. My mom and step-dad had bought a house in France and I was to look after their place, in Pennsylvania.
I organized a party for my departure at Six Arms and Steve let me play The Fall CD in its entirety. He flipped me free beers, and gave me a cigar and a Zippo with the Six Arms logo etched in the side. I took his address and mailed him a bootleg of The Fall I got from a penpal in Liverpool.
A few months later, I got a message on my parent’s answering machine in Pennsylvania, from a girl named Aurora. She said Steve had died from an overdose, and she had found this letter from me, and wanted to know how I knew Steve.
I called her back, but she never returned my message. I lost the Zippo too; it just disappeared one day.
They keep Steve’s picture in a frame behind the bar, still. He’s sitting on a Harley, covered in leather, and smiling through the helmet. I go to Six Arms hoping to reconnect with others who knew him, but I don’t see anyone I recognize there anymore.