I met him early in my freshman year of high school. My sophomore year I liked him more, because he was never afraid of my brother. He was rarely serious, but knew even way back then that he was going to someday be in law enforcement, so he never took a single drink, had a cigarette, or did any of the more exciting illicit drugs so widely available. He was going to be able to answer those questions with a resounding and completely honest No.
Dennis was always laughing or working to make others laugh.
He took me to see the Freddy Kruger movies, and made a fake Freddy Kruger glove that after the movie he used to tap on bedroom window. Should have been terrifying, except he couldn't stop laughing. Dennis didn't laugh like Freddy Kruger. He laughed the way kids playing in sprinklers do.
We were always friends, through all the high school drama, and later, he refused to let go of our friendship even when his first wife tried to demand he cut off all ties with his female friends from back then. He'd just shrug it off, saying 'they are my friends'. We talked less, but he always made time for me when I called to catch up - both of us knowing full well the days of anger and bitterness he would endure from his jealous wife.
About the time I moved to NC I found out he was in South Carolina, remarried, and finally working towards becoming a police officer. That first time, we spoke for hours. There was much to catch up on and we made the time to do so. We laughed a lot on that phone call. Dennis wasn't a part of anything bad in my life. He was always just a a true friend. His mission was always the same, to make you laugh, and let you know he cared. We talked about getting together for our high school reunion, and then neither of us went. We talked about him driving to North Carolina to visit, and hadn't gotten around to that yet either.
Yesterday, I got a call, Dennis had been shot and killed while working late the night of August 6th. I hate the imagery of him dying alone in the front yard of some vacant house. I realize we all die alone - but I hate it anyway.
I read this morning that they haven't found the responsible party yet. I sincerely hope whatever they took from that vacant house was worth it, and I sincerely hope they find you and hang your sorry ass from the tallest tree in the state.
Even here at the beach this morning, the world is a little uglier without Dennis.
We had one of those jokes - that aren't really funny - and no one else really gets, about him telling me the indicator brake light in his car was a reading light - and I argued what the hell could you read by that little light? His answer - Brake.
I miss you Dennis.