My brother, Rick, would have been sixty-two years old today. My God, it seems impossible.

Rick started out like a dynamo. He could do things I could never do, like fix bikes and do stunts on them. He hit a baseball and it seemed to fly a mile. He lifted weights. I turned pages.

I seemed like the weak one. I didn't go in for the conventional things so many others did. I wasn't in the least bit interested in sports or cars. I can't fix anything. Can't really build anything.

Rick was an incredibly gifted guitarist. It was his blessing and it was his curse. He played in a couple of decent groups and with some very good musicians, but he never really put his talent to proper use. In the end I think it was part of his downfall.

Me, I had to struggle for everything I've ever had. And I always, always read. Always have and, as long as it is possible, I always will. Reading taught me everything that was neglected by my parents and the educators I had. I learned a million valuable lessons from a thousand great writers. I witnessed the best and the worst of human behavior from horror and suspense books.

I learned to survive and that no one was going to give me anything.

Rick gave up on life when music didn't work out as he'd hoped it would, but if had put a fraction of the effort he invested in perfecting the instrument into selling himself, he could have made a damned good living at it.

Rick was a good person, but he was difficult. I can be difficult. We both had coping problems. I surmounted mine. Rick was never able to.

I'm thinking back to July 21, 1991. It was Rick's birthday and I went out and bought him some baseball cards. I also bought a bucket of KFC and a case of beer. I rented a movie, Raging Bull. Rick loved sports the way I love horror, and I knew he'd like the movie. I appreciated it more for Scorsese's filmmaking techniques and the astonishing performance by Robert DeNiro.

Rick didn't get any cards he needed from my gift, but we had a good day. We ate chicken, watched the movie, and slowly got drunk. A good day, before things went bad.

Happy sixty-second birthday, Rick.

Written by Mark Sieber

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