A year ago today, Feb 19, 2014, Mike Ruppert took leave from the el rancho here in Colorado for points west, steered by fate, guided by destiny, aligned by stars and, like all of us, hindered by time and place, by age and by all that we cannot leave behind, no matter how far we travel. His decision came quickly, calls were made and some new accommodation was found on the west coast, in NoCal, close to where MIke had departed from eighteen months earlier, with someone he knew but not well. Mike was sure but he wasn’t, only knew he had to make the move and it had to happen immediately. This was Mike, acting on impulse but always with a direction. My heart broke a bit that morning; we got his vehicle packed, Rags climbed in and we said our goodbyes with a long hug. Back in the house I watched him creep his way to the end of the driveway and stop at the green gates, at the edge of the cosmic highway. Mike got out and had some communication with the range then scattered tobacco in the breeze before making the turn headed west then out of sight. It’s possible I knew then we would not see each other again. I remember that feeling and it made me sad. I cried for MIke that morning, wept for the man, my friend, felt how fragile life really is, the weight of it all laid bare in the newly scattered vacancy of the el rancho. Six weeks later Mike would be dead, shot in the head by using the one gun he did not sell. “I thought you were selling all the guns?” “Yeah, well I decided to keep this one…you know…for the trip out west. Gonna sell it when I get out there.” Yeah, sure. Mike had numerous attributes but he was a terrible liar. The evening after the suicide, the spirit of Mike arrived back at the el rancho. Following his sudden departure, I left Mike’s room undisturbed until he had made it safe to NoCal then moved the studio back into that sweet end of the el rancho with the smooth plaster walls and warm vibe. Mike and I covered a lot of ground that evening, it seems, and over a couple of hours much clarity was arrived at relative to our relationship and to the world at large. From its particular vantage, the spirit of MCR painted a very clear picture, in that, as we were there in the room together, I kept hearing the water heater spring on for a short time then cut off. This would only happen if somewhere in the house hot water was turned on. But it wasn’t, I was in the house alone and had been since he left. The north wing of the house and it’s bath and shower facilities had not been engaged in weeks. I checked the studio bathroom and the kitchen but all faucets were shut. To complete the inspection, I checked the spare back bathroom in the north wing and sure enough, the hot water tap had been loosened just enough to flow and toggle the water heater. I chuckled. We chuckled. The message was clear, this was MIke reporting back one final time indicating how we, all of us, this planet and this life are in deep HOT WATER. Make of it what you will. Go about your merry and recall always how life is fragile and the end is always near. Be kind. Be thankful. Be grateful. Pic from the morning of Mike’s departure, with neighbor Roman in the middle. Squishy and Rags.