A cop told me it was the first murder of the decade in the state of Texas.
It was a pretty traumatic event for me—and worse of course for poor Sparks, and for his family, wherever they are.
I’ve written about it (sort of) fictionally twice—in the story “It May Be a Day, it May Be Forever,” (my first published story, found in the collection The Messes We Make of Our Lives), and in the novel Professed. I’ve never written about it factually, in a historical/personal context, though maybe I will at some point.
- My roommate, TWS, and I went down to San Antonio for a New Years’ party given by one of his fellow Jell-O salesmen. TWS thought ahead and brought a change of clothes—I didn’t….
- After midnight we left the party and went driving around looking for a bar. We came across the New York Pub. TWS said, “A taste of the Big Apple in the Heart of Texas!”
- We went in to play some pool—and things happened.
- The morning after the murder we took our hangovers (and my aching face) down to Mi Tierra for breakfast. I was still wearing my clothes from the night before and was soaked—caked!—in Sparks’s blood, and while we waited for a table fucking flies kept landing on me.
- (The blood: TWS did CPR on Sparks, but somehow I got way more blood on me!)
- After breakfast we went to the cop station to be good citizens and report what we’d seen. We told the cop managing the desk that we wanted to give a statement about a stabbing we’d witnessed. The cop said, “Stabbing? We had a hundred stabbings last night and fifty shootings. You’ll have to be more specific.”
- When TWS said we’d been at some place called the New York Pub, the cop looked at a list and said, ”Oh—upstairs, homicide.”
- Upstairs we met with two cops—one, African American and young and well-dressed, and one middle-aged and rumpled and bleary with a huge rum-dum nose. I thought—it’s like these cops came from TV!
- The old cop asked, “What the fuck were you doing at the New York Pub? We don’t go there, and we have guns!”
- And there was no real answer to that other than the stupid truth—we left the party and went out to play the first pool game of the decade.
- The cops showed us photos of poor Sparks naked on a slab—the wounds in his chest.
- TWS looked away, said, “Jesus! You guys do this every day?”
- “Twenty-four hours a day,” the handsome cop said. He took a drag on his cigarette, then exhaled. “Three hundred sixty-five days a year.”
- Just like TV!
- Police later arrested a guy named Jesse Vasquez for the murder. We were told he’d been turned in by his sister. Apparently he’d stabbed several other people earlier that evening.
Does anyone but me think about Sparks forty years on?