Raise a glass of the blue stuff


Sadness comes, of course, but whenever I lose a friend to cancer my automatic reaction seems to be fury. I've been pissed off since Rachael died, and each time since it gets worse. This year has been particularly bad: at last count, we've had seven friends and family members diagnosed with cancer, and had already lost one only weeks after her diagnosis. And now another friend is lost to us.

Shorty. His real name was Stuart Bergman, but I never once heard anyone call him Stuart. Nearly seven feet tall, of course his name was Shorty. He was known to everyone who traveled the con circuit in the mid-south - after all, he was hard to miss.

Shorty. A gentle giant with a bellowing voice and an omnipresent bottle of the mysterious "blue stuff," an alcoholic mixture of his own devising that left your mouth numb if you were foolish enough to bolt the shot.

Shorty. Master of the dealer's room, the man who corralled all of us in and out of the hall year after year, always there to lend a hand and haul a box, and no one dared lift an item from your booth when Shorty was watching.

Shorty. Smoked like a chimney since long before I knew him, often sharing a pack with Jimmy on the docks outside the dealers' room before he quit, but sadly, it caught up to him. The cancer struck him hard, robbing him of his hair and trademark beard before it robbed him of his life.

I am angry, because Shorty should have had many more years melting plastic cups with that witch's brew he called "the blue stuff." He should have enjoyed many more conventions strolling through the halls and hugging the confolk.

Goddamn cancer. Stop taking the people from my life.

Sadly, I don't seem to have a picture of myself or Jimmy with Shorty. I know they exist, so if anyone has one, please forward it to me. Instead, I give you this one: Shorty in his prime, enjoying a not-so-quiet drink at the Literary Underworld Traveling Bar with one of the LitUnd authors, Steven Shrewsbury.

Shrews is one of the few giants who could come near Shorty in height.

Blessings and peace to Shorty's family, especially to his fiancee, Becky. Already the mourning has begun on the internet, as word spreads throughout the con circuit that one of our mainstays has left us. If our lives are measured by the people who miss us when we are gone, then Shorty was indeed the biggest of us all.

Raising a glass of the blue stuff - my own, less-toxic concoction - and remembering Shorty. One of too many lost. We will miss your bellowing voice, my friend.


  1. Beautifully written; a real tribute to Shorty. Thanks for writing and for sharing this.

  2. I'm not admin of the MSC FB page any more, but here's one with Jimmy and Steven Zimmer - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1949178012353&set=a.1949172012203.2113409.1329676381&type=3&permPage=1


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