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Robert "Bobby" Hastings was the son of Iris and George Hastings, and a neighbor of Judy Diment in Rosewood, Massachusetts. He was a disturbed, drug-addicted artist who composed more than 80 paintings and sketchbooks. When he was 23, he burned all of his work but one painting – the Road Virus Heads North – before hanging himself in his parents' basement with a note pinned to his chest reading: "I can't stand what's happening to me."

His last surviving painting was purchased at a yardsale by author Richard Kinnell.

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