In the news, Brendan's death is linked to officer-involved crashes. It's a story a reporter hopes to break.
BY SARA MACNEIL
A Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy ran into a man and killed him in the South Valley on June 4. The 28-year-old was a close friend of Sara MacNeil’s. She wants people to know that Brendan McClure wasn’t just a 28-year-old pedestrian killed by a deputy.
I had just walked into a downtown bar with a friend when I saw him. Brendan McClure was hunched over with a beer wearing a hoodie. His deep blue eyes stood out against drab clothing. It was the first time we’d seen each other since I moved back to Albuquerque from the East Coast.
At first, he didn’t glance in my direction as I casually slid into a seat across the bar from him. His face lit up in mischievousness when he recognized me.
My friend, whom I’d all but forgotten, nudged me — I had plans to watch a dance performance that night, but once I saw Brendan I didn’t feel like sitting in a dark theater. A friend reminded me about the obligation I had for a class that semester. “You have to go. You paid for the ticket, and it’s required,” she nagged. On a whim, I asked Brendan to join me. He was reluctant, but agreed after some persuasion.
Our conversation was lighthearted as we waited for a taxi. We were both buzzed, loud and drawing attention from people walking by. I was certain he was going to kiss me, until our poorly timed taxi arrived. We laughed the whole drive to the show. I was wearing a gray, frilly dress and he had his skateboard.
I remember feeling embarrassed watching the show with him: he danced in his seat while I was trying to analyze the performance like a boring intellectual.
Later, we got pizza and beer. He left me at a table and talked to someone else for too long, and I became jealous and impatient. When I walked out of the bar, he didn’t seem surprised. I could be dramatic. We always had a one-of-a-kind connection then separated awkwardly, not speaking again for months.
Sometimes he confused me with ambiguous messages at late hours. He would ignore me, then ask my friends about me.
“He loves you,” one friend said. I didn’t believe her.
“No, he doesn’t. Why does he act like that? I don’t understand him,” I said. He was my friend, then he wasn’t, then sometimes he was more.
I saw him on the bus on my way home from school a few months after our last encounter and we connected again like there was never any animosity. I scooted to the seat next to him trying to keep my balance as the bus rocked.
When it came time for me to get off the bus, I felt like he wanted me to invite him to spend more time with me. On other occasions, I forgot about responsibilities to be with him for another hour. That day, I knew it never worked with us. His blue eyes gave away his disappointment.
“Bye, Sara. Forever,” he said in a pleading voice as I pulled the wire to make the bus driver stop. Memories of the dead can be ironic.
A week after Brendan died, I watched a surveillance video of a cop driving toward him in the middle of the night on a deserted road in the South Valley.
In the news, Brendan’s death is linked to officer-involved crashes. It’s a story a reporter hopes to break.
His death is an important story and reporting it could lead to systemic changes, but I don’t want to remember Brendan as a dark figure in a blurry video. He’s the goofy character that wore a big, red clown nose in public once. He could make a person laugh like only a few can with just a funny face. He liked sorbet ice cream and he loved his pets. Women adored him. They cried and wrote in their notebooks about him.
I lost touch with Brendan years ago. People say he lost his mental health and became homeless in the end. I don’t remember him like that, this is how I remember him.