Jason and I never met in person, but he was like a brother to me for years until we finally lost touch. We first crossed paths on the website Literary Kicks, back when it had message boards, and he thought I was a guy. When I asked him why he kept addressing me as "sir" he apologized and explained it by saying something to the effect that my writing was too muscular to be feminine, which was a weird comment that I didn't feel like arguing over, and from that moment on, we were friends. He lived in Perth, Western Australia and I was in Michigan, so hanging out wasn't quite an option, but we said that if we ever met, we would drink until one of us passed out, and then whichever one was still conscious had the right to shave off the other's eyebrows. We talked books and politics, drugs and booze. Told war stories about fights and hangovers and work. Sent each other books and postcards and music and art in the mail, along with several inappropriate gag presents of which this is one. I don't know about him, but for my part, I always had to spend a lot of time plotting to figure out what would be the most embarrassing thing I could send that I could still get through customs. I called him Peanut and he called me Pumpkin (one of my favorite moments ever was when he left a message on the machine at work so that first thing in the morning, this Australian-accented voiced filled the office, yelling "HEY! PUMPKIN!" and I said "Oh! That's me! I'm Pumpkin!")
Anyway, among the treasures were the letters. Nobody writes letters anymore, and it's a damn shame, because these letters are priceless. Jason sure as hell could write, and these epistles, often sent from mining camps where he worked, were funny and clever and almost always contained at least one completely knockout paragraph. Pictured here is the scroll, which I found today while looking for something else -- written on both sides of a two-foot-long sheet of rough brown paper in impossibly neat handwriting, it is, at turns, funny and serious, and it is altogether one hell of a letter. I read it today for the first time since I got it (it's dated October 2002) and I laughed until I cried.
I miss him.