Monday, December 22, 2014

Brad, R.I.P.

Me and Brad in happier times - 1980

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Cincinnati. I did not know the person who sent this e-mail but we both knew Brad Corrill.  He informed me that Brad died September 17th.  Brad was 60 years old.

I met Brad in April of 1980.  We locked eyes at the Drury Lane Bar in center city Philadelphia.  Ironically that was the first and last time I was ever in that particular gay bar. I don't remember why I went in that night but I do know that my life changed forever when I met Brad.

Drury Lane Bar, Philadelphia, PA

I don't remember who started the conversation first but I do know that we both knew immediately we were attracted to one another, a lot.  We spent the night together at a place where he was staying temporarily.
Brad was homeless.

A few months earlier he had moved to Philadelphia from Cincinnati after meeting "Gene", a Philadelphia gay bartender who was visiting Cincinnati.  When I met Brad Gene had thrown him out and Brad was living with a straight couple (friends of Gene) until he found his own place.  

Brad had a problem because he didn't have a job or money.  I had an apartment that I had a lease on until January of 1981.  I had gotten the lease because Bill and I had sold our town house in center city Philly and our new home was under construction in Chester County.  Bill was staying at our house under construction.  I was still working in center city (I had asked Bill to take early retirement) and needed a place to stay until the construction of our house was completed.  I told Brad he could stay at my apartment on Spruce Street until he found his own place. Thus began the summer that I experienced the most extreme highs and lows of my life.  The summer that I was almost destroyed.  

Brad at "The Ranch"

My journal entry recording the drama that was our life back then so many years ago

I'll attempt to make this a concise story as possible while covering all the pertinent facts but I could easily write a novel of that summer. The most dramatic summer of my life.

I fell in love with Brad.  I thought he fell in love with me.  To me he was like a lost puppy.  A sweet, sensitive, funny and (of course) very attractive guy.  And he needed me.  I grew to need him needing me.  I was going to take care of him.  Big mistake. For you see the problem was that Brad was an alcoholic and a drug addict. We was weak. I thought I could save him.  Big mistake.

Brad at "The Ranch" - 1980

The first month or so we were both ecstatically happy. We were in our own world of bliss.  I seriously considered leaving Bill and starting a new life with Brad.  Big mistake.  

The first sign of a problem was when I arranged an interview for Brad with my real estate agent who was looking for a handyman.  I left work that morning to be at the real estate agent's office for Brad's appointment at 10:30 am.  10:30 came and went.  11:00 came and went.  I frantically called Brad.  When I got him on the phone he was slurring his words.  He was drunk.  He told me he couldn't make the meeting because he "wasn't feeling well."  He was drunk.  I was mortified.  So embarrassed.  

I forgave him.  I tried several more times to get him a job, all to no avail.  But still I said he could stay at my apartment until he found a job and his own place. Then one weekend I returned from our (me and Bill's) home in the country early.  I returned on a Saturday night instead of my usual Sunday night.  When I climbed the stairs to my fourth floor apartment on Spruce Street and opened the door I see a leather clad, bearded man who I did not know.  I asked him "Who are you?"  With a sneer on his face he looked at me and said "Who the fuck are you!"  I told him "I'm the person who is paying rent on this apartment and you can get out of here right now."  Mr. Butch Leatherman snarled "Who's going to make me?" Barely controlling my seething anger I said to him "If you don't walk down those stairs right now I'm going to throw you down those stairs." He took a measured look at me after hearing my "suggestion" and turned around and left.

2122 Spruce Street - my apartment top floor (fourth) with dormers

Interior of my "penthouse apartment" at 2122 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA

After he left Brad and I got into a furious argument.  Brad rarely argued but this time we were screaming at each other.  I highly resented him bringing strangers into my apartment and I also felt betrayed because I thought Brad cared for me.  I found out that night he didn't, but more about that later.  

Our argument continued until Brad jumped me and threw me to the floor with his forearm against my neck choking me, while he screamed "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"

I couldn't breath.  He was choking me to death.  While I was flailing around on the floor trying to breath, my right ankle hit the turn on/off knob of the radiator heater by the wall. The force of the impact broke the skin and my blood began flowing from my ankle where I hit it on the radiator.  The sight of my blood brought Brad to his senses and he released his choke hold on my neck.  

While I was gasping for breath, he was now saying over and over "I'm so sorry Ron!  I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"  That was the night that I knew that I had to end our relationship.

That past summer I had taken Brad to Provincetown with me only to witness him taking off with a straight couple for a threesome.  He was bored with me.  I asked him what happened.  He said "I don't know Ron, I just fell out of love with you.  It just went away."  

Brad and I in Provincetown (whale watching excursion) - July 1980 - we did have good times

I thought I could make Brad love me again the way he did when we first met.  I took him with me when I visited my friend Bob McC. at his weekend place ("The Ranch") outside Georgetown Delaware.  All to no avail. All Brad was interested in was what Gene was doing.  Where Gene was.  It took me a long time to realize that I was just someone to use.

Brad and I at Bob McC's "The Ranch" near Georgetown, Delaware - when I still made him happy - 1980

That night I told Brad he had to move . . . back to his home in Cincinnati or else we would both be destroyed.  Brad had left my apartment once before.  He moved in with someone else only to be told to leave because of his drug habits and I suppose his propensity to bring strangers back home.  That's alright if you have your own place but quite another different story when you're a guest at someone's home (or apartment where I have the liability).  

The first time Brad left my apartment, I saw him sitting on a bench in Rittenhouse Square where I used to criss cross through when I went home after work.  I walked by him only to hear him say "Ron? Can I talk to you?"  He told me he needed a place to stay.  I loved him and didn't want to see him homeless, sleeping on a park bench in Rittenhouse Square so I told him he could stay at my apartment until he found someplace else to live.  

Brad meeting me for lunch at 8th and Chestnut Streets, Philadelhia, PA 1980

I was in love with Brad and wanted to "save" him.  But what I didn't realize, what I was so foolish to believe; was that I could win out over the drugs and alcohol.  I believed in a Hollywood ending to our story.  I kept thinking back to the first time I met Brad and how special that time was.  I wanted to believe those times would come again. I was fool.

My apologies for making this a very long blog posting but I'm doing a bit of catharsis here folks.  For you see folks, I never completely fell out of love with Brad.

The day after that evening when he almost choked me to death, I purchased a one way ticket for him to his home in Cincinnati and give him a hundred dollars.
Cincinnati, Ohio

I watched him walk up 23rd Street to the Greyhound bus station from the fourth floor window of my Spruce Street apartment with a heavy heart.  I was devastated because I knew I was sending away someone I loved deeply.  I truly believed I could turn his life around and we could live happily ever after.  What a fool I was but at that time that is what I truly believed.

Greyhound Bus Terminal - Philadelphia, PA

The days and weeks after he left I wrote him letter after letter, pleading for him to come back.  Who was the weak one now?  I have to give Brad credit because he knew our relationship would never work and he didn't come back.  He didn't answer my letters, he didn't call.  He ignored me. That was in the fall of 1980.

Thirty one years later I found his address and sent him a Christmas card.  I had since moved on with my life but was curious if Brad was still alive.  He was.  He sent me a Christmas card back.  That spring he sent me a litter hinting that he would like to visit but that I would have to pay for his transportation and also get him a hotel room.  That I wasn't going to do but it was nice to hear from him.  He was still living at the same place and the same person who he returned to in 1980.  I was happy for him.  The following November he sent me a birthday card.  Again, very nice of him. Brad was always the sweet and gentle soul.  Only thing was he wasn't in love with me like I was in love with him.  And that's alright, you can't make people love you.  It's either there or it isn't. I don't mean to make this all about me and whine but the fact was that I fell in love with Brad and he fell out of love with me.  These things happen.

Brad's birthday card

After Brad I vowed that I would never let something like this happen to me again.  It almost cost me my life and my life long relationship with Bill, someone who has always stood by me through the bad times and good times.  Bill, a man I grew to love.  I make no apologies for falling in love with someone else, the mind goes (at least mine does) where the heart goes.  Maybe there was some greater Power saving me.  I think Brad knew that we could never have a relationship.  He went home to someone he did love and his friends.  His sojourn in the City of Brotherly Love in that summer of 1980

Philadelphia, PA

didn't turn out the way he wanted it to.  He was always in love with "Gene."  I may have been a momentary diversion for him but his true love was always Gene and I should have known that but I choose to ignore that obvious fact.  

I had not seen a photo of Brad since that fateful summer.  Last night when I received that e-mail from his Cincinnati friend informing me of his passing, he also sent a link to Flicker. There were three photos of Brad.  I was warned by his friend that Brad hadn't aged well. I could see by the photos that he hadn't.  Looking at those photos made me sad but at the same time made me happy because I saw Brad smiling.  He was happy, he was among his friend, he was in his element.  

Brad and friend in Cincinnati - recent
I hope his passing was easy and he is in a wonderful place now.  Who knows Brad?  Maybe we'll see each other again under better circumstances.  But this I know, for a few brief shining moments in the summer of 1980 I knew pure joy.  Thank you Brad.

Brad at home
Below, a video of our July 1980 week long vacation in Provincetown.  We met our friends Bob Mc, Gino and Joe and his partner Bob.  All gone now.  Only memories.  I'm the last one standing . . . . again.


WARPed said...

Wow...that's quite a story, Ron! (as well as an object lesson.)

Merry Christmas to you and Bill, and the whole darned Blog-o-sphere!



Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a deeply personal story. You have had some really strong experiences in your life. Things did work out for the best for you but this must have been a stressful period in your life. I guess it’s good that you found out about his passing, it puts some closure to the pull he still had on your heart. Count your blessings, I’m sure your life since him has been much better than his was. I wonder if he ever was able to conquer his destructive bad habits?

Jon said...

This is a completely fascinating post, Ron, and one that I can very strongly identify with. Thanks for sharing your story.

Jack said...

Wow!! What a story, a true love story in it's purest form. How nice that the unknown email writer thought enough of Brad and you to send you the message.
I think we all have that one person in our life that will always have a place in our heart. I know I do and for some reason it was a bad boy, alcoholic but no drugs that I was aware of. I have gone so far as to track him down and know his address and phone number but have not as of yet actually contacted him. After reading your post maybe I should. Time is getting shorter and he is 4 years older than I. I wasn't surprised that Brad didn't age well. Abuse with drugs and alcohol will always take it's toll. Hopefully as you say he is in a better place.
Just an observation but isn't the Greythound Terminal just about the most depressing looking place in the city? I always thought that people coming in for the first time got a God awful first impression of the city. I wonder if there are still homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks?
You did the right thing and stayed with Bill.

Ron said...

Thank you Jon. There is so much more to this story than I had posted. I tried to bing out the main part which is that I had fallen totally and completely in love with someone who fell out of love with me. In retrospect this was probably the only course both of our lives could have taken. As much as I was in the thrall of love I knew it just couldn't work out because of Brad's addictions. I was a fool to think I had any chance of "saving" him. I tried and I learned my lesson. The drugs always win. I was very surprised when I heard from him a few hears ago, I was sure he had died. I hope he had a happy life. I talked to him on the phone a few times but I couldn't understand him. It's a shame. He's at peace now.

Ron said...

At this time of my life, my age (73) and medical issues (prostate cancer, heart issues and just old age ailments) I figure why hold back. I remember my Mother towards the end of her life let a lot of cats out of the bad. I learned things about my father that I had no idea of. Setting the record straight. Even so, I barely touched on the whole story of all the events of that summer of 1980. As much as I loved Brad and wanted to "save" him (me, the hero of course), I was no match for true drugs or alcohol. I felt I had to write this blog posting to put closure. I will always remember those few golden moments we had though. A very special time of my life.

Ron said...

These days I'm not so circumspect. Why should I be? As those I've known for years fall down around me, is my time not to long off? I think so.
Merry Christmas to you too Andy.

Roger said...

wow ! Entry has left me speechless. As always well written and thanks for sharing.

Ron said...

Thank you. Sometimes I just have to lay it all out there. Put closure to that chapter of my life.

Ron said...

I never stopped caring for Brad even though I knew we would never be together as a traditional couple. I always had a place in my heart for him. Brad was a good soul but he was bedeviled by other forces which he had no control over. I thought I could help but real life isn't like the movies. I was powerless. What really did it was when he told me he no longer loved me. He said "It just went away." I literally couldn't believe my ears. Ever since then I've always been suspicious and have had a hard time trusting anyone again, except Bill. Bill has always been my rock. He has never wavered. Never.
Yes, you're right about the Greyhound Bus terminal. What a depressing place. Philly has more than a few "entry points" that are depressing. At least the Suburban Station is cleaned up now. Wasn't bad the last time I was there.

Ron said...

To answer your question was he ever able to conquer his destructive bad habits? Not that I know of. I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did.

Postcard Cindy said...

Ron, I am sorry for the loss. I am so glad you had the wisdom to stay with Bill, obviously your true love. I to have made sad mistakes in my love life, which why I choose to live with cats for ever more! I kicked my ex-husband out after he beat me up twice, why I let him do it twice is beyond me. The next two men were not much better and I would be a lot richer if I had just stuck to cats! As sad as this post was I didn't want it to end, that is how I feel about all your posts.

Cindy from Sonoma

Jon said...

You're absolutely right, Ron. The drugs always win. Several of my long-ago relationships ended solely because of drugs or alcohol. By the way, your posts are never too long. You and I share a delight in writing deliciously long blog posts.

pat888 said...

Hey Ron - it's a sad part of life when we get to know someone who we see is in trouble and we can't do anything about the inevitable. I know a couple of people in situations where it seems they can't seem to find or want to find a way out of their dilemmas. And while it's been a long long while for you since you were with Brad I'm sorry for your loss. Certain people make lasting impacts on our lives. Thanks for this post.


Ron said...

I "lost" Brad thirty-four years ago. There was a time when I believed he really cared of me and I was prepared to take care of him (I don't think he ever had a real job to sustain himself) for the rest of his life. He did have a good soul. There was something "heavenly" about him and I was certainly attracted to him physically. But I think it was the chance to save him which was his greatest appeal for me. But he didn't want me to "save" him, he just needed a place to live. I left so much out of this blog post like the time the Philadelphia Infectious Disease center called me down to their center for a mandatory test because he had an STD. I was so embarrassed, leaving from my banking job to sit and wait at this clinic in South Philly in my banking suit along with all the druggies and others on the bottom spectrum of society. I thought to myself "What am I letting Brad to do me?" But when he almost choked me to death in a fit of rage (I caused it by yelling at him), I thought "This has to end." Telling him to leave was perhaps the greatest emotional pain I've ever experienced in my life and I pray to God I never have to go through that anguish again. I was suicidal. But I couldn't do anything because I wouldn't cause that pain for Bill or my Mother. I didn't care about anyone else. That's how great the pain was. I knew I needed to get some time in between us and knew he couldn't continue to live in Philadelphia. Even so, after all these years I still had a place in my heart for him.
I am so sorry that you had to go through your own Hell. I too have made my decision that if I survive Bill, I will have my pets to keep me company. Preferably a Pomeranian dog and maybe a cat. But I've been really lucky because I have met Pat and we are soul mates. We're both individual and he is no threat to me and Bill. I will stay with Bill as long as I'm alive or he is alive. Never would I leave Bill. He has been my rock for over fifty years now. By the way, I would never stay one minute with anyone who physically abused me. Bill and I have had some terrific arguments but never anything physical. Thank goodness I've never had any of that in my family.
Thank you for your thoughtful and singer comments Cindy.

Ron said...

I saw so clearly that Brad could not control his addictions. I really thought I could help him. But when he told me he didn't care for me anymore, that "it just went", I was devastated. I still wanted to help him, I loved him that much. I knew I was wrong but I went ahead anyway. It wasn't until the tragedy if almost dying that I came to my sense. Brad was not a violent person and he was so remorseful after the incident but I knew then my cause was hopeless and we had to part ways or else he would take me down with him. I thought time would heal my wounds and it almost did but there was always a small part of me that held a special place for him. I hope he had a happy and comfortable life when he went back to his home in Cincinnati.

Ron said...

Thank you for saying my posts are never too long. This one I knew would be long. I tried to keep it as short as possible but still get most of the story in. I left out a lot because of the length and much of it would come across as feeling sorry for myself. I learned a valuable lesson from Brad, drugs and/or alcohol always win, regardless of what happens in the movies. I was foolish enough to believe that I could save Brad. That he would want my help but all he wanted was a place to live while he tried to repair his relationship with Gene, who he truly loved. But I believe Brad was a good person at his core, he just had these weaknesses he couldn't control. He was a free spirit too and perhaps I was too controlling. LIfe is complicated isn't it Jon. I'm so glad you got out of Texas and are ready to begin your new life. So happy for you Jon!

Unknown said...

A poignant post, Ron. I can completely get this, but perhaps on a different scale.

We all live and love and lose. And sometimes we win. I think you won on several fronts.

Peace <3

Ron said...

Yes, I feel that I won. There was some pain, in fact a lot of pain along the way and I learned some hard life lessons but in the end, it was well worth it. I'll quote a well known quote (paraphrasing here) "Tis better to have loved and lost than not to never have loved at all." I have, several times. At one time, early in my life (21 years old, imagine that) I thought I would spend my life alone but then "things" happened. It's been quite a journey Jay and continues to be, much to my surprise at my age now but I'll take it. Life has been good to me and I do want to shout it from the rooftops. Have a wonderful Christmas Jay.

Raybeard said...

They're all dropping from off the branch, Ron. That's the increasing story of us survivors who'll inevitably follow.
'Your' Brad sounds like one of life's more colourful characters who left his indelible mark, not just on your life but on every other person with whom he came in contact, I'd imagine. I'm certain that you left an equivalent impression on his too.

Ur-spo said...

What a sad yet marvelous tale; thank you for sharing it with all of us.