Marji and I were talking tonight about close friends who vanish off the face of the earth. So I thought I’d give a shout as loud as I can into the void of the internet.

Keary Bailey, where aaaaaaare you?

Before vanishing mysteriously off to China, Keary entrusted me with his special engraved zippo, which I have no idea how to convey the significance of through words, so just trust me in that it was a big deal. His parting words were that either a) he’s be back for the lighter, or b) if “something happened”, his soul would be magically transported back to the lighter, and I was to be its safekeeper. Sure thing, I keep the lighter in a safe place, I get one email from Keary in China, then nothing. That was several years ago.

When I started going through rough times, I started carrying the lighter around with me, flipping open and closing its lid, at times clutching it in my fist almost constantly. On one of the mysterious tear-filled nights, Brendan pointed it out to me, that I carried the thing around like a talisman. It was unfair to impart Guardian Angel status onto someone like that, a normal human, or someone’s phantom that was still a part of my life. I put people up on pedestals; that is bad. Back to the safe place the lighter went.

But still, since then, it has secretly come out of the safe place. In particularly rough moments, I have found the thing somehow ends up back in my hand, clicking open and closing again. I dunno, maybe it is purely the compulsive act of doing that which comforts me. It does make a rather gratifying “click-clonk” sound.

I’ve heard around that he’s been back in the states. Perhaps the revelations he experienced from his adventuring pushed out any memory of silly attachment to an object, or a person. I don’t mind so much, I change just as often over time as the next person, I can relate. Still, I’ve gotten back into the old talisman habit. Is it still unfair, what I’m doing?

Keary, you were a good friend to me in that growing-up time I was going through. I hope you are happy and doing well, and I’ll continue to keep your lighter safe, even if you’ve forgotten.