The most haunted look I've seen in a man's eyes-

He was a friend of my father, who had just gotten out of prison. His family was noveau riche for Arkansas- he had been a wild partier in his youth, addicted to every drug a young man in the seventies could get his hands on. As I understand, he got into a fatal accident while drunk, and served fifteen years.

When he got out, I think, he was much the same. He was very animated, speaking in a rushed way, and you could look at his face and see all the years carved in there. He was tired. He was like a twenty year old stuck in a fifty year old's body.

When my dad went off to the other room, we spoke some more, and he talked about his time in prison.

He had had lung cancer, and went through chemotherapy. After his chemotherapy sessions, he said the prison guards beat him. He said if his cancer ever came back, he'd rather just kill himself; he swore he'd never go through that again, and called it a living hell.

Out of prison, he stayed with his elderly parents, since he had nowhere else to go. He was a consummate alcoholic, and popped pills like candy. He bought a motorcycle, and rode around town frequently. The state of his health kept him from working- his substance abuse problems, I believe, were his only real forms of pain management.

A few months later- I believe half a year- he died. He crashed his motorcycle while drunk. My dad was very conflicted about it; he said that it was the stupidest thing he could've done, that at least he hadn't killed anybody else, that I should never do something like that.

I think about him sometimes. He broke down into tears and sobbed, in a haze, like he was still there in prison, talking about how he was beaten and denied food and how his body was ruined by the chemo.

I think that he was someone who was beautiful once, who couldn't quite fit into the world as it moved past him. In many ways, a relic of a bygone age.

All of my father's friends are sad like that; people who still seem to see the world like the late Seventies, who never quite adjusted to modern living. Society left them behind. In many ways, my father himself is like that.

People die, life moves on, money flows into some pockets and out of others. The law keeps people penned up, and time wears them down.