Robert M. Flaming

Remembrance of a South West Wizard.  Flame was a tall, pale, thick shock of strawberry blond hair, big aviator glasses, a lopsided grin, and blue New Mexico  mountain mists and lightning strikes surrounding the large dome of a Dutch Boy Paint head.  He rolled his own cigarettes, was partial to incense, exotic teas, his own Albuquerque recipe for a fiery chili colorado, poker, Tolkien, and the damned, eccentric warbling of the English psychedelic folk group, The Incredible String Band—A South West Yale hippie, I’m afraid, genial, kind, a bit reticent, he kept his own counsel, shielded his private pain from prying eyes.  He was also smart—“smartest kid in New Mexico,” we’d joked–but it was no joke—pulled an A in physics in two nights studying without ever attending class.  Then he switched his major to philosophy (probably my fault) and wrote on Simone Weil, the Jewish Marxist Christian mystic who starved herself to death out of solidarity with the suffering of pitiful mankind. After school Flame went back home to Albuquerque and married, badly.  Divorced, he escaped to a new mountain hideout in Colorado and was said to be doing “systems” work of some kind for a mysterious agency at which he no doubt was also some kind of wizard. Over the years we lost touch, but not the memories.  His own death was also a bit of a mystery, as if he’d just disappeared.  None of us could find out how or why.  Exactly how he would have wanted it–I’m certain.

Francis X. McCarthy

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