Autopsy of a Person Unknown

Autopsy, in ancient Greek, means “to look at your self,” to examine you life. To the Greeks, especially Socrates, and unexamined life was not worth living.

In America, we don’t bother with an autopsy until someone has died. We pride ourselves on living unexamined lives, as thought to live without a philosophy is to get away with something.

Bryan passed through our community almost as an unknown person. He lived pretty much without a philosophy. And he died, at the zenith of the last full moon, while his roommates looked on….

Bryan’s girlfriend told me she still had a deep crush on Bryan. They made it together only on their first date. The rest of the time he would claim he was “spent”–“you know, his job took it out of him.”

His roommate Robbie told me: “Bryan was not a homosexual–we used to say he was bi–but I don’t even know about that. He did not like people touching him. At night he would come to bed, and I would let him have his side all to himself. I didn’t care. I thought he would come across someday.

“The day Bryan died, it was just like any other day for him. We got up around 2. We were at the bar by 3, and we stayed there till 9 or 10. I bought him $25 worth of drinks that day. Some man bought him more. We went out and smoked, and he got stoned. Then I left Bryan and went up north.

“Something was in the air that night. Heavy with the full moon. I didn’t feel comfortable, so I went back home around midnight. Bryan was there. He had just shot up something. I knew he did heroin sometimes, but I did not know what he had done that night. He was on the bed staring at us. Jim, my other roommate, and a couple of friends were there. And Bryan just stared at us without saying anything. He started gasping for air. He looked like he wanted to tell us something. No words came out. I will never forget his blue eyes. They were turning black. They were like laser beams coming right at us. I went over and touched him on the shoulder. He fell over. The medics came. Bryan was dead.”

GayLife (1983)