My old boyfriend, Geoff, they told him his father was dead, but he wasn’t. When Geoff was little, his mother told different people different things, like Geoff’s father was killed in the war, or he died of cancer. But one night when Geoff was seventeen, his stepfather, drunk, told him that his father was alive—that he’d left Geoff’s mother when Geoff was a baby, his sister, three.
I met Geoff right around that time, and I remember him telling me that story as we waited for the car, furnished by the waterside-apartment complex we lived in with our mothers, to take us to school. I didn’t think, at the time, “I wonder if my father is alive.” I knew he wasn’t. Instead I thought about Geoff—what beautiful blue eyes he had, and how sweet he was.
He had another story that he told me in this period, which was in the weeks before we started going out. He had been working as a box boy at one of the local grocery stores, and he’d been befriended by the store manager, who was an old guy—like a dad’s age. One night Geoff was walking with him across the parking lot to wherever it was he normally deposited the store’s daily earnings, when two or three boys jumped out with guns. They took the money, and shot the store manager. They killed him.
Geoff, being about those boys’ age, was a suspect, at the same time that he was traumatized by the event, and the death of this dad-guy. If you knew Geoff, you’d know the truth of all that: that he wouldn’t have been involved in any crime, let alone this one; that he suffered, and didn’t know how to suffer, suffering being hard, for one thing, but also something that was magically wiped away in his family, by lies and alcohol etc., etc., etc.
This is the beginning of a long story.