catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 14 :: 2013.07.05 — 2013.07.18


Make it happen

Ben lost his house on May 16.  It burned.  His dog, lost in the fire, a beloved friend who called out responsibility from his reckless youth, is now tattooed on his calf.  On a bicycle ride of grief, he lost his wallet.  Someone stole his motorcycle from the garage as the trash haulers took away the rest of his sooty belongings. 

A dear friend helped him carry out his dead dog while the fire smoldered.  Others walk beside him now, as they always have, including Vinny the tattoo guy, and also with a friend he’s somehow known since preschool.  After a near brush with homelessness, Ben found somewhere to live, and then a house he could buy.  He has some financial resources, but you wouldn’t know it to look upon him, or talk with him, or gaze toward his soul.  Ben doesn’t deny some bad karma, but he focuses on the good stuff.

Ben, whom I’d never met before this moment, said the best thing he could imagine doing next after the fire was to host a benefit.  He’d gather school supplies for kids — backpacks, and the like — this weekend, across town, at a park.  There will be an art fair, too.  He made a flyer with a striking drawing of a backpack on it, probably designed by the tattoo artist who memorialized the beautiful dog.  I thought about asking for the dog, or the backpack, on my own calf.

Donated beer — not the fancy kind — will be served.  Someone donated a case of bourbon, which Ben does not drink.  He’ll give it away, of course.

Ben is trying to get attention for his charity event, which is hard, given all of the others clamoring.  The moment he disturbed my working peace, with me sitting, pensive, and joined by my fancy beer, he excused his encroaching anger, enflamed because some other house fire made the news.  Not his.  Not his inspiration for kids.

He made up a business card for himself this week.  The black-and-white card, adorned with two locally prominent fleur de lis, has his name set on it — no phone, no email, or any other manner of contact.  It only says, “Make It Happen.”  You’ll have to find “It,” and “Ben,” on your own.

Ben acknowledges what sounds like an unrealistic reserve of self-confidence and can-do spirit.  He acknowledges it as a stance, a choice in the face of adversity, a better way to go forward. 

He asks me what I do, and I tell him.  He says he does that, too.  In his own way.  Maybe better, and maybe where it matters more — that’s me talking, not Ben.

I ask for and write Ben’s phone number on his card, and push it into my pocket.  Ben has no idea what he will make happen next.  But he sounds quite open to suggestions. 

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