Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Trails, Trigger

Trigger is gone.

I cannot express how much this sucks. As near as I can tell, William Rogers was rehabbing from back, and complications set in. He passed away March 16 at the age of 47.

March has been a very difficult month for me, with too much death and dismay. It's been hard to process. Hard to function, really. Trigger's death was the coup de grace, so to speak, which is why it's taken me so long to write this remembrance. He's one of the few college friends I've stayed in touch with. We last spoke in October, trading insults as always. He was from La Grange, I was from Columbus, two small Texas towns just 20 miles apart, so we had a built-in rivalry we never failed to capitalize on. He was a few years older than me, so we never actually competed against each other in high school, but really, that was just a technicality.

I took my family to his wedding at the Texas Renaissance Festival. My daughters played peek-a-book with fairies in the chapel. That was a fun wedding. And to tell the truth, The Wife and I were jealous--we'd briefly considered getting married at a renfaire, but gave up on the idea because we knew our respective parents (not to mention our priest) would throw a fit (we were somewhat less assertive back then).

Facebook, in it's infinite wisdom, decided I didn't need to see his update feed sometime in November, so I was completely unaware of his growing medical issues. Word of his death blindsided me. Thanks a lot, Zuckerberg.

I remember the day he found out I was writing a book on the Chicken Ranch. He called me up and bellowed into the phone, "What makes you think a Columbus PUNK has any right to write about the La Grange Chicken Ranch?"

"You La Grange slugs had 40 years to get it done, and didn't," I answered. "I figured it was time the professionals took over."

He paused a moment, then answered, "Good point."

Few people supported my book projects as enthusiastically as he did. He shared stories, pointed me toward potential local sources and loaned me some of his family's photos of the place. It breaks my heart that he joins the growing list of people who never got to see the book in print.

Lest I get too maudlin, I shall now share the True Story of How Trigger Got His Name.

It happened this way: In 1989, William Rogers arrived at a Cepheid Variable meeting at Texas A&M eager to meet like-minded genre-oriented folks and make friends within the tribe. All members of the tribe sported Delta Names, which are generally nicknames of a vaguely demeaning, silly or embarrassing nature. When it came to Will's turn for Delta Name discussion, one of the committee officers suggested "Buck," for as all good science fiction fans know, the biggest pulp hero of the 25th century is Captain William "Buck" Rogers. Which would've been fine and dandy, if someone in the crowd hadn't half-remembered that there was once a cowboy singer who had the last name of Rogers, nevermind that his first name was Roy. "Trigger!" someone shouted. I wish I could say that I was the shouter, but alas, I wasn't so clever. "Trigger!" others picked up the cry (I was amongst these folks--never look a gift bandwagon in the mouth, that's my motto). And thus, by the end of the meeting, Trigger was firmly ensconced as his Delta Name.

We harassed each other consistently from that point on. Trigger ran dealers room for the Aggiecon I ran in 1991, and did a mighty fine job of it. He co-directed Aggiecons in 1992 and 1993, simultaneously running the dealers rooms for those cons as well (the dealers rooms were great, but the overall conventions weren't as good as mine--he did pretty good for a La Grange guy, tho).

What bothers me most is the blatant unfairness of his untimely death. I know life isn't fair, but damn. Trigger was probably the most earnest person I've ever known. He was goofy as hell and could go out of his way to be annoying as all get-out, but he was earnest. He was profoundly rude to go see Billy Joel in Houston on the Stormfront tour without me. He was a big fan of Jim Henson's Dinosaurs and could readily be counted on to provide a quote from that show at a moment's notice--"Not the momma!" more often than not. He was an organ donor, so even in death, he's still helping people. He was a fun guy, and we are all diminished by his passing.

His extended hospitalization left his wife and son facing a mountain of medical debt. If anyone is so inclined to help out, donations to the family may be made at

Now Playing: Donal Hinely We Built a Fire
Chicken Ranch Central

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