Dallas Mayr and I weren’t best friends. It must be ten years since I’ve seen him, and we’d sometimes go a year or more without an email exchange. Such exchanges were usually a quick catch up — what have you been writing? How’s the new book coming along? That sort of thing. But Dallas was once met, never forgotten, and he was the sort of guy it was easy to become friends with. When we did meet up after a few years not seeing each other, conversation was easy, and it was as if only a few days had passed. Such conviviality was one of his many great qualities.
I have a few fond memories of Dallas, and hopefully sharing a couple here will show how much I thought of him, and what a nice guy he was.
First time I met him — at some convention or other, I honestly don’t recall where — must have been 16 or 18 years ago. I realised straight away that he was an excellent listener, and that’s a rare quality. You always had the impression he was genuinely interested in what you had to say. I was younger and more naive then, and yeah, I asked him if he’d be interested in blurbing my new collection. What an ass I was. But true to form, Dallas accepted with good grace. He was always keen to help younger writers — I’ll bet there are plenty reading this who can vouch for that — and he was just too damn polite to say no.
Next thing I knew, I had a fan letter (or email) from him. In it he admitted to being relieved when he started reading the novella collection I’d sent … relieved that it wasn’t awful, and that he’d not only be happy to blurb it, but wanted to write me an introduction. That first long email he sent became part of that intro, and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. An intro from Jack Ketchum! For quite some time after this, I’d hear from other friends that Dallas regularly mentioned my books at readings and other events he attended.
That’s a story about what a good guy he was, and how eager he was to help a young unknown, and how he loved discovering new writers and spreading the word about them.
But Dallas could also get you into trouble…
Necon, 2007. I was one of the guests, and it was late on the first evening that Dallas pushed through a crowd towards me, brandishing a bottle and that familiar grin. He said, “Tim, quick, I have to drink this bottle of whiskey in twenty minutes, and you have to help me!”
Even now I can remember thinking, But why does he have to drink it in twenty minutes?
Like a dutiful friend, I took the bottle from him and started glugging. I really shouldn’t have. And he really shouldn’t have got me that drunk. I have vague memories of a fire alarm in the middle of the night, milling around at 5 or 6 in the morning feeling like crap, then crawling back into bed to nurse my hangover away. I’m sure Dallas was still grinning.
Like I said at the beginning, we weren’t what I’d call best friends. I didn’t know much about Dallas’s private life, or his past. But a couple of times I was in NY I looked him up and we went for a drink, and he was always there for a word of advice if I needed it. I’m going to miss him. I wish I’d known him better. I’m going to re-read some of his books, and soon I’ll raise a glass of the good stuff to him. But only a glass … not a whole bottle.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to read more of Tim’s writing, you can pick up his books from Amazon.