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Frank

I met Frank years ago while playing League of Legends. We had a whole group of friends that raised hell and did crazy 'trolly' (not hurtful, just in game tactics that were not the way the game was intended to be played) things. He was younger than all of us but fit in fine with our 'out there' personalities. Frank was brought up in a household that was very close minded. He didn't trust any of us for a very long time to even tell us his first name. Though, in part, he didn't like his first name. Even after we knew his name we all called him Shang. He changed his alias multiple times, but I always called him Shang. We had ups and downs and even a time where he completely disappeared for months. I don't know if he needed space, needed a break from gaming, or what. But it was a dramatic falling out and sucked. 

Once Eric and Brandon moved here we spent less time online and more time together. We played Magic: The Gathering and designer board games often which prevented us from playing League or other games we ended up playing over the years. This made it so we talked to Shang less. Then towards the end of the 2015 school year (maybe April?) Shang talked to me at great length about issues he was having at home. From his side of the story he had to go to the hospital to have his head stapled because his brother threw him through a glass door. Prior to this event we had brought up that he could move here and get a job if he worked well with kids, after he graduated high school. This event was the last straw for him. He did whatever he could to make it possible. Including telling his family that he was going to school in Maryland. Which made it so that his family helped him financially and with his truck. He drove from Tennesee to Maryland the weekend before Memorial Day in 2015.

His first week here was a huge transition for him. It was strange for him to be loved and accepted for who he was. It was strange for him to be able to be whoever he wanted to be and be a successful member of society. He quickly showed that he was willing to do anything and everything to get hours at my family's gym. He proved that he took initiative (which is hard to find in young people we hire these days). He proved that he was kind, compassionate, and an awesome person who was learning how to have internal personal relationships that weren't online. We of course had some crazy ups and downs, but communicated through all of it. 

A month or two after he moved here, he turned left on a green light. I don't know how it is other places, but here you have to wait for oncoming traffic to stop. If you have a green arrow, you have right-of-way. I don't know if he didn't know that or wasn't paying attention. He hit another car and the cop wouldn't allow him to drive his car home because he didn't have valid insurance. I guess his dad sent him here on expired insurance... or gave him bad cards? I don't know. They towed his truck to the impound and he never bothered with it. I 'parented' him and asked him what he was planning to do with it and stuff like that. He just went to nap or something and I told him that's not how the real world works when problems arise. He of course was pissed at me for some duration of time. He then started biking to and from work (2-3miles). At first he was borrowing my bike. My bike is old, I probably got it when I was 13. The frame and tires are excellent, but I dunno about everything else. Something happen and the bike got messed up. I don't think it's his fault though. Just a maintenance issue. 

He then bought a bike from Gio for $50. It worked fine and all but I guess he was a klutz? And sometimes the bike had issues with the chain. On multiple occasions he fell off the bike and got scraped up. My dad was concerned about him getting hurt and wanted to fix the bike. He did what he could. 

My family has a secret santa every year which includes Brandon and Eric, and we included Frank as well. My dad picked Frank and decided to get him a bike. It was a really nice Trek that he found on craigslist.  

3 days after Christmas he was riding his bike home from work. The rest of us were still working. Around 7:30 my dad heard on his first responder radio that a cyclist was hit at an intersection on the way to our house. He contacted the rest of us at work to see if he was still there. He wanted to make sure it wasn't him. Over the course of the next few hours we connected the dots and found it was him. Here is an excerpt from the book I have started:

I texted dad as we were pulling up asking where we should go, “Come in the emergency entrance.” I remember carrying all my stuff and mentally preparing myself for us being there until 3 or 4 in the morning. As we walked through both sets of sliding glass doors I distinctly remember seeing dad leaning against the corner of two walls, looking at his phone. As soon as we walked up to him he motioned for us to follow him. Tsuru, Rennalin, and I followed and it didn’t take long before we were in front of a door.
The thing is, as we were walking back you can see a bit further into the E.R., lots of white and blue, lots of people, lots of curtains. I honestly thought they would take us to his bedside. I don’t know if this is just my brain or if this happens for other people to, but I felt like I was seeing the future when my future was actually my dad knocking on a door and my mom opening it from the other side.

We walked into a very small room with only 3 chairs in it. There were two chairs along the wall to the right as you walked in, then a small table with a lamp, some ONE-PLY tissues, and maybe some literature about the hospital then another chair next to this table. My parents sat in the two chairs, I sat in the one, Rennalin and Tsuru stood behind my chair.
There is legitimately no way to calculate how long you feel like spend in a cookie cutter room like this ; decorated with comfort in mind as if the way the room is decorated matters in this kind of situation where some poor schmuck has to give you shitty news. I’ll tell you it felt like a really long time. I can look at texts and phone calls and figure out exactly how long I was in there but those details probably don’t matter, so I’ll say we we’re in there for 30 minutes, maybe 45.
It was very quiet between all of us. The shock was trying to set in while denial was like, “Nahhhh.” I said to dad, “So do you think they’re just doing surgeries before they talk you us or what?” He said in a very defeated voice, “maybe, Alyx, I don’t know.”

My brain was trying to protect me, trying to tell me that my dad was just being dramatic. Sometimes he has a flare for the dramatic and can exaggerate things. You know when your body goes into shock to try to protect you? Me thinking he was fine and my dad was dramatic was all I could do to remain functional. I do this further and try to escape into my bag where my yarn and knitting needles wait for me. As I’m finishing up a purl stitch the door opens.
I’m expecting a doctor or nurse, just like you see in the movies and all those shows on TLC. You know the one where they show the doctor sitting with the family and telling them things while keeping their expectations under control? That’s what I was expecting. Not what I got though. In walks a handsome police officer wearing all black. I can still see his dull-right-now-but-probably-beautiful-bright blue eyes and his dirty blonde buzz cut. He didn’t need this shit right now, and didn’t expect to be the one to tell us.
The hospital fucked up, okay? They didn’t send in a doctor or nurse before Officer West came in. I guess protocol normally calls for a doctor or nurse who worked on the patient to let us down easy and explain the situation and injuries. Instead, I got something like this:

Officer West: Hi, I’m Officer West with the Collision Reconstructive Unit. Our job is to investigate accidents with serious injury or fatality.

He’s holding a clipboard and has Shang’s ID and is writing down a bunch of stuff and is about to ask us a bunch of questions. This conversation is pieced together by memory supported by assumption and creativity. I’m sure he tried to figure out which one of us was the main party to talk to. Dad may have directed him to me, or I may have volunteered myself to give the information. Either way I answered a barrage of questions (where did he live, how old was he, what was his birth date, where did he work, are you his family?) I handed him my ID and stared at his hands and clipboard, waiting for him to tell us something. As he’s writing down the stuff from my ID he starts saying, “This will just be a few minutes longer. I’m sorry I won’t take much more of your time during your loss.”
The feeling that happens when someone says something like this is hard to describe. It’s like your stuck in disbelief, reliving that moment until you can really wrap your head around it. It’s more than the physical symptoms of anxiety. It’s not just your heart dropping or your stomach feeling butterflies. It’s actually the physical manifestation of your entire world changing forever. It’s kind of like all of your senses preparing for shut down. It’s your body not quite catching up with your brain, and vice versa.
As he says the word “loss” he starts handing my ID back. I can see this transaction over and over in my head. I stare him down super uncomfortably and say, “My loss. What do you mean, my loss?” He hesitates and says, “I’m sorry, Ms. Walker. I thought they told you. He succumbed to his injuries.” I sat there and stared at the floor. These words reverberated in my head, cycling through my processing systems for the longest 10 seconds of my life… then, full blown Lifetime movie.
I start screaming. Maybe wailing is the better word for it. I can’t see through the tears but start trying to pretend this is not real. I keep saying over again, “No, no. This is not real. This is not real. This cannot be happening. This is not real.” I try calling him over and over. I say, “SHANG, PICK UP THE GOD DAMN PHONE!” Tsuru, who is behind me wraps his arms around me and tries to get me to stop. I am just screaming incoherently. I believe Officer West is talking to my parents while this is happening. I think they are trying to show Officer West a picture of Shang, he doesn’t want us to have to ID the body. Or maybe we’re not legally allowed to have us do it because we’re not “really” family.
At this point I have slid out of my chair and I am on the floor. I am blubbering and in complete shock. I am repeating over and over again, “his nails were blue and green” and “Is this real life?” Anytime I direct the latter to my dad he says in a defeated tone, “Yes, Alyx.” I’m not sure if this is so hard on him because he’s watching his little girl go through the hardest part of life or because he just lost a son whom he bought a bike for Christmas three days prior.
— To Be Titled Novel - By Alyx Walker

Here is a photo and facebook post from December 31st, 3 days after he died.

That night in my grief I deleted this picture. It was so selfish because this bike meant so much to him. He didn’t care about material stuff but it was sort of like “....people are spending money on me?”

Last names don’t mean shit. This is a picture of a loving father doting on his youngest son. What this picture doesn’t show is that son being too shocked and overjoyed by his “new car” to put shoes on... he just rode it up and down the street with his Santa hat blowing in the wind. I turned around to take a video and he was just gone lol.

He is constantly giving. I wanted to post this picture, but I had deleted it that night thinking I’d never want to see that bike again. That bike had nothing you do with it. He loved that bike. I found the picture in my Facebook chat with him.
— Alyx Walker, Facebook 2015