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this should really be in “i hate dc” column. if you would like to keep your BYT lite today-skip it-ed

I’m not sure how I became the official obituary writer for BYT, but it appears I am. The guy I am writing about isn’t famous. Perhaps 10 people in DC will ever have met him. I only met him once, briefly, Friday night at the Black Cat, where he was working his very first shift.

After work that night he walked home to a friend’s house where he was staying.

He was from Bakersfield, CA..

On his fifth or sixth night (forgive me, I don’t know the specifics), after he worked his first and only shift at the Black Cat and he was walking home to a friend’s house where he was staying he was confronted by a man with a pistol who proceeded to rob him of a miniscule amount of money (and it was truly miniscule) and then pistol whipped him.

Now what I heard, was that after he was pistol whipped a gang of local hooligans took advantage of the situation and further beat him. I don’t know if this is true. The Washington Post reports that “[i]n a telephone interview last night, Joseph Savage said his son called him early yesterday morning and told him the assailants had “pistol-whipped him a little bit, handcuffed him and put him in a dumpster.” They took his wallet, cell phone and passport, Savage said. Savage said his son was in Washington for a job interview with a nightclub.”

Sometime after that phone call to his father, Christopher J. Savage died in his sleep. His roommates (whom I also won’t name but if you know them then you know the story) found him dead the next morning.

Chris had been in D.C. for five days.

Now Chris is dead because someone wanted to steal whatever money he had (and when I said miniscule, I mean it).

Most of you reading this don’t know Chris. Now you never will. I met him briefly, and exchanged a few sentences with him. He seemed like a good guy. The friends he was staying with I know are good people and were helping him out get started in D.C. I trust their judgment that he was a good guy. But I will never know for certain. Neither will you.

For less than the price of a lunchtime meal Chris Savage was beaten and died on his fifth or sixth night in D.C.

Now it may seem strange to be writing about someone whom I didn’t know, and had only exchanged a few sentences with. I mean tens of thousands of people die every day and no one writes about them, but what struck me was that I had just spoken to him and a few hours later he was dead. What struck me was that he had done nothing wrong. What struck me was that I’d been in D.C. and have only been assaulted twice (once stabbed in the shoulder, whereupon I proceeded to fight the guy until other people showed up and he and his friends took off, and once some kids threw a brick while I was walking my dog.) I’ve never been robbed while walking about D.C. and I’ve been here a decade. Chris had been here five days. I guess I was lucky? I guess he wasn’t?

So then on Sunday I was reading “Falconer” by John Cheever and came across a passage that struck me about the randomness and absurdity of it all. In it the protagonist is heading to Falconer Prison on a bus when someone starts talking:

“I hear they have a ball team and if I can play ball I’ll be all right. Just so long as I can pitch a game I’ll stay alive,” he said. “If I can play ball that’ll be enough for me. I never know the score, though. That’s the way I pitch. The year before last I pitched a no-hitter for North Edmonston and I didn’t know about it until I come off the mound and heard everybody yelling. And I never got laid free, never once. I paid anywhere from fifty cents to fifty dollars, but I never once shot a lump for free. I guess that’s like not knowing the score. Nobody every give it to me willingly. I know hundreds of men, not so good-looking as me, who get it for nothing all the time, but I never got it once, not once, for nothing. I just wish I had it free, once.”

And it made me wonder what Chris had wished for, just once, that he never will get the chance to have.

RIP Christopher J. Savage.