Tag Archives: Baton Rouge

a happier Zach story

I thought I might have details on this in my own journals but a trip down memory lane found only a note that we went out for dinner. A dedicated journal writer I’m not, although in fairness who could have guessed how precious those encounters would become.

I was surprised to find out that I didn’t go to Louisiana to visit Zach for almost three years after I went with him down there in 2011 on his move from Oregon. Of course we saw each other once or twice each year in either Georgia or California.

So it was February 2014 and he was in the midst of trying to find a doctoral program. He had driven by himself to Lawrence, Kansas in January through snowstorms and now he was going to have an interview in Tallahassee at Florida State. I drove with him and we went on to Georgia to visit Jeremy afterwards.

Anyway, the night I arrived in Baton Rouge we went out for dinner to a sports bar he knew. They had an order counter near the front and after we ordered the girl asked Zach his name so they could call us when it was ready. He told her, ‘Roger’, and started walking to the table. I looked at him with a question and he said he just liked to use different names in those places.

A few minutes later they called out ‘Roger’ & we went and got our food. Zach’s quirky humor!


Well I had a couple of doses of reality, as one might say, today. Why would one bit of reality be more significant than another? As one of my science fiction authors said in another context, reality is just a shared hallucination. True enough, but some things are more important than others.

Reality first came to my attention this morning about 6:45 when I woke up but that isn’t what I’m writing about. I had received an email yesterday from the Assistant District Attorney in Baton Rouge telling me that he had finished his investigation of Zach’s death and wanted to discuss his conclusions with me over the phone. I responded telling him that this morning was a good time and he called me about an hour ago.

I spent yesterday evening steeling myself for the news that there would be no criminal prosecution and that in fact is what the gentleman had to say. I do not use the word lightly. This man, who I will not here name, was a gentleman from start to finish. This in addition to being completely professional. He was very familiar in our conversation with all aspects of the evidence and circumstances.

Bottom line: he felt that the driver was ‘negligent’ but not ‘criminally negligent’, thus there would be no charges. I’m not going to go into all of his reasons now but they were all good enough.

The ADA was emphatic in telling me that he would be happy to talk to me at any time; answer any questions, etc. I told him how much of the rather fine points I was raising were on the basis of one reading of the police report months ago, that I haven’t been able to look at it with anything close to the objective eye needed for legalistic thinking. He reminded me that the statute of limitations for criminal action is 4 years so there is time.

Towards the end of our conversation he asked what I did for a living. This was after I commented that I could only admire people like him and the police Traffic Homicide Unit who faced death and other horrible things daily and didn’t go crazy. I told him worked at the Symphony Hall in San Francisco. He said how great it must be to work with such a good orchestra and I had to agree. Then I told him how Sarah has been playing with that orchestra as a sub since last fall and that really started the waterworks. I held most of it in until I got off the phone.

After I calmed down I got in the shower and got my second dose of reality. The shower drain was backing up! I choose to interpret this as Zach telling me that I have to press on.