Winter of 209 was the first year I’ve been away from New York for December. Away from New York meant away from Christmas ghosts, or so I thought. I was on a contract in the Middle East. On December 17th I got this email from a friend.
“shit bro, oleg just called me and told me that Makarov jumped off the roof in coop city today around noon”
he just came out of the hospital a week ago, and i don’t have my cellphone so i haven’t spoken to him since and he called oleg a few times but he also dint pick up so noone knows why for sure yet”
I couldn’t believe it, and yet for a long time I expected my friend’s life would not end well. It’s been about six years since I’ve seen him.. Though I would ask about him from time to time,and see how he was. It sent me reeling into the past and our childhood, the lives that ran parallel for long time, until they diverged. I began to think about those critical moments and reading that email wondering what difference would it make if Oleg answered, or if we were in touch and he called me. Could someone have saved him? This can’t be answered but the road that ended on December 17th, 2009 started long before that. And I was there during every bad turn in his teenage years. Sometimes I feel some responsibility. Though I hold noone responsible for my life, even though there are tons of circumstances and influences. So I don’t think he would. This is probably just survivor’s guilt.
Attached is the only picture I have of him. I wasn’t into photography much in those day. He sent to me shortly after he started serving his four year term upstate for armed robbery. Got to love the “Life is a beach” part. He had a great sense of humor. Always remember him with big smile on his face and making people laugh.
Growing up in the Bronx there was no one I considered a better friend the Makarov.
He was by my side whenever I needed him, and I always tried to be there for him.I’ll re tell a critical incident that probably did more to set him on the path that 12 years later led to him taking his life then any other. This isn’t typical thing for us, our typical times, were just more like, playing pool, smoking, drinking, mind alternating experimentation, racing cars , camping, fights, parties, playing cards, typical stuff for kids in my neighborhood. This happened after about a year of his life spiraling out of control, where his daily life was ruled by addiction to Heroin, and feeding the cost of that addiction
He called me one day and told me his friend knew a place that he was planning to rob. And he asked if I could drive as he didn’t have a car. I contemplated helping him even though this wasn’t something I wanted to take part in, but we simply rarely would turn down a friends request for help. But I did, I had a job, and the story seemed a little incomplete. I think I told him it’s probably not worth it, then he asked to borrow my realistic looking air rifle. I gave it to him. Few days later the story unfolds. Some new “friend” of his suggested they go rob the place of someone he knew, he orchestrated the plan but had Makarov do the work while he sat in the car. The story would be funny if it didn’t end so bad. They went to the house that was supposed to be empty, Makarov goes there with the air rifle, and as he’s inside, the grown up daughter was in the house. In panic he tells her to sit down, then starts scrambling for a way to subdue her so he can get away. They both knew at this point that his gun wasn’t real but he’s still a big guy so she does as she’s told.He finds some tape and asks her to tape herself up. She does, as he wasn’t a pro he did a shitty job at checking that she was properly tied up, all the while she’s cursing and threatening him. Now he wants to forget all about this stupid plan and runs down to the car, as he does she’s already untied herself and is chasing him down the flights of stairs. Then as they are about to get away she’s standing next to the car and starts cursing at the driver. The story later reveals itself that this idiot, and scumbag actually lived with this family for a year when they sheltered him after he was thrown out of his house. She recognized him.In the end they got away with their skin only. We all had a laugh about it till six months later when he was arrested. Apparently his friend was taken in a week later cause the daughter knew who he was, and even though he came up with the plan and orchestrated it, he quickly flipped on Makarov. In court preparation she claimed that he took her hostage with a “deadly” weapon (the toy. By that point Makarov was already on the straight, driving a shuttle bus, when a cop that got in recognized him and arrested him. In the next couple of months he was on bail. I tried to do my part to help him one last time, I found a lawyer and offered him everything I saved for over two years, about $20,000 to work on his case. But as is the case in most cases in US. They offered him a plea agreement of four years upstate or fifteen if he went to trial. He took the plea. We had a going away party and that was it.
Over the following years I’ve visited him number of times in medium security prison upstate. As with many such institutions, it was far from rehabilitating place. He came back more cynical,had a hard time getting a job, was depressed and started drinking a lot. Something also broke in him. He felt he was living on borrowed time from that point on. I had moved to a different part of the city and lives had diverged so greatly that there was simply little between us except the past. I still loved him and wished his life would change. I never stopped thinking about him, and wondering how different his life could be if this kid that was so full of life had just gone a different path.
His story and my story is both a case for self determination, and predetermination. Our circumstances, our circles of friends, crime, drugs, addictions, money all played roles in how where our life initially took us. We were moving down the same way for years. Though I always felt another life beyond this one. And even though I’ve been through a lot of dark times myself I knew that there must be a way to the other life. Makarov tragically never did find his way back after that incident. That incident was followed by string of bad jobs, bad relationships, depression, alcoholism, drugs again and rehabs.
But that doesn’t matter at this point. I’m simply very sorry you had to suffer so long before you found peace. I will remember you as a fearless, funny, kind and loyal friend. You are missed and will never be forgotten.