To A Friend I Never Met


We never met, but I feel like I know you.

I know of your great courage in taking it upon yourself to try to get yourself and your friend Monica out of that hellhole.

I know the difficulty in the decision you undertook, knowing that you would be leaving your son behind, to what fate you could have had no idea.

You started a ball rolling that took down that monster’s evil empire… but at what a terrible cost.

You warned Congressman Ryan repeatedly. You told him of the danger you all were in. I know, we should speak well of the dead, but Ryan may be admired far more for his bravado than for his brains.

You warned him about Larry Layton. Had Layton been frisked before boarding the truck, events might have taken quite a different turn.

My heart grieves for the injuries you suffered at Layton’s hands. It grieves for the deaths of Ryan, Harris, Brown, Robinson and Ms. Parks, and the injuries suffered by those other victims of the Temple assassins.

It grieves for all those innocent children – for everyone – whose lives had to be sacrificed to satisfy the monster’s madness.

It grieves for how you suffered, both physically and mentally, on your return to the United States.

It grieves for your personal losses, that of your son and your friends.

But I am also filled with admiration for you, as you rose above it all (not without difficulty) and carved out a decent life filled with love, peace and hope.

I could not have done what you did, going before a parole board and telling them that Larry Layton, the man who so nearly killed you, had served enough time and should be released. That, sir, is what we call in Yiddish a mensch.

I wrote you a short note on social media last year – I don’t know if you ever saw it – expressing some of the same sentiments as I did above, but with one overarching sentiment: you did not allow yourself to be defined by November 18th.

For all you have done, sir, and for all you have been through, you deserve the most peaceful and quiet rest imaginable.

Godspeed, Mr. Vernon Dean Gosney. An angel among the angels.

Now Mark has his playmate back.

(Mike Selk was a high school English teacher for 30 years, and describes himself as “somewhat of a true-crime aficionado.” He was 18 when Jonestown happened. He can be reached at