The phone conversation was unexpected. It was like getting slapped in the face with a fish- it stung my eyes and left a bad taste in my mouth.
'He did what?', I ask, befuddled.
Rupert repeats the story, slowly so that I can digest the information.
The phone call started innocently enough. I'd got hold of Rupert to inform him of when the Deadliest Catch
was on. Also, I hadn't spoken to him since the birth of his child a few months back. We ranted on for a while, pleasantly banal tales exchanged like football cards, when he mentioned Shaun Kratzer, from school.
A blink. A pause. A blurry face in the recesses of my brain coming slowly into focus.
'Sure. Kratz. What's happening with him these days?'
'He...died earlier this year. In February.'
The last I'd seen of Kratz was at school and, since I was in the year grade above him, I had taken it upon myself to shove him into walls and trip him over when we passed each other in the corridor.
'Wow,' I said again, for emphasis.
'I know,' agreed Rupert.
'How did he die?'
Rupert then sums up the last decade of Shaun Kratzer's life. He changed a lot, informs Rupert. He had a lot more facial hair for starters. This was because he was too busy doing real things that mattered. He was a photographer, he skied, was an avid climber and was loved by all who met him. Shaving didn't fit into his busy schedule.
On the 7th of February fate - in the form of an avalanche on Gulmarg mountain in the Himalayas - killed him.
My mind wanders.
Morbidly obese people feel that they are trapped in their own lives. For some this is a literal thing since their ample frames will physically not fit through the door frames of their own apartments and these sacks of organs will not leave their filthy rooms littered with chip packets and empty drums of root beer until several weeks after their death, when Emergency Services will have to knock down a wall in order to remove the bloated carcass from the premises. Others blame bad luck, unloving parents, misleading burger commercials, a tragic reincarnation that landed their souls in the body of a slob and not into Matthew Mcconaughey's.
I can only imagine at how scared Kratz would have been in his final moments on this planet of ours. How helpless and lost and utterly fucked he would have felt before being engulfed by a white fist belonging to some mountain god, terrible and without an ounce of passion. Still. No matter how sad it was that he left the stage so early he is truly one of the lucky ones since he probably lived more in a single day than many of us do in our lifetimes.