The two of us sit on the porch. Alone. Leaving the party inside, Mark needed to step outside for a smoke. I decided to join him for some one-on-one conversation. We’d just met a few minutes earlier, and I find his energy inspiring.
“So, Dallas,” I say, reading the name embroidered on his hat. “Cowboy fan?”
“It’s where I’m from,” he says. “Been in L.A. a few years.”
The first thing I ever think about when I think of Dallas and Texas is the band Pantera, and the murder of Dimebag Darrell. It’s a loss that only gets more evident with time. That never-to-be-satisfied craving for a new Pantera record grows stronger every year.
“So do you miss Dime as much as I do?” I ask, somehow already knowing the answer.
Mark hangs his head, closing his eyes. He takes a long drag on his cigarette.
“I knew him,” he says. “Both him and his brother. We partied all the time when they were in town.”
Mark’s a musician. A DJ and lyricist. Goes by the moniker of “Half Price”, with the name tattooed on his forearm. He continues.
“I had all the ins with the clubs around town,” he explains, exhaling a cloud of smoke. “Lived in those joints, gigged everywhere. I’d run into Dime all the time. He used to call me ‘Little Dude’.”
Mark imitates Dime’s thunderous southern growl, repeating from memory, “Little Dude, let’s do a Black Tooth Grin! C’mon, Little Dude, let’s go!”
“Little Dude!” I laugh, doing my best Dime impersonation. “That is so Dime. Little Dude.”
“Little Dude,” Mark smiles, nodding. “Dime. He had the biggest heart.”
We pause for a few moments, sharing the same silent thought. Mark takes a drag, looks to the sky, and exhales.
“So, yeah,” he says. “I miss him. But that’s just how life is, man. Can’t plan for that type of thing. One day at a time. One step at a time. Just keep going, you know? Keep going.”
I nod. I can’t say it better myself.
Mark pushes his cigarette into the concrete porch floor, snuffing it out with his fingers. “You ready to head back in?”
“Yeah,” I say, standing to my feet. I open the door to the house, looking down at Mark. “Good hanging with you, Little Dude.” I reach down, extending a closed fist.
Mark looks up, grinning beneath his Dallas Cowboys cap. He reaches up with a closed fist. We knock knuckles. “You too, brother.”
I hold the door open for my new friend as he walks into the house. On his hands.
Mark was born without legs.