What is true?
I no longer know.
So, I arrive back from the funeral, tired, sitting with J whilst she makes me mugs of tea, chatting. Everything is OK but, you know, the funeral and F and all. I’ve left him there and I feel a bit guilty but I know it had to be done.
And then I get a text. It’s about 4.30. It would seem innocuous but ………
“….Can you recommend any hotels around Milan where we can stay when we come over in April?”
And I realise that to write down the horror and shock that I felt is nigh impossible. I don’t know if I can impart to you how I feel (felt), since I know that something is very, very wrong.
The person (not the person who sent the message) implied in the message still, when he contacts me or when I hear things about him, creates some kind of pit in my stomach. This pit whirls and twists and it seems as if my innards are being sucked in and twisted around. I can be nervous. I can be angry. I can be worried (for both myself and him and, sometimes, everyone around). As I read the text I am all of these things. This is continuation of recent events, for sure.
I text back to ask what has happened. Apparently, he’s been “acting strange and desperate for the last couple of months” and today he rang and “something’s not right and I don’t feel comfortable staying there.”
Even with me, he’s been acting strange. But, then, when I saw him last Sunday to do the final “collection”, he seemed fine and happy – although, as usual, there were some strange things. The place had been a tip. I convinced myself that it was because he was “moving” but even then I knew that not to be true. The electricity had been cut off. He explained that it had been done by mistake – but, still, it was weird. And then there were the things that he was trying to sell to me that he could have taken to the new place – they didn’t take up any room. But, I know I don’t know the truth – just what he wants me to know. But I thought it was all done and dusted after Monday. It seems not.
I call her. I want to find out what’s going on, even if there’s a part of me that really doesn’t want to know or get involved. But, of course, I can’t NOT get involved. I imagine terrible things. I imagine him committing suicide; being homeless; being in prison.
There have, it seems, been a number of calls over the last couple of months begging for money. £500 first. Then £2000. Nobody has that kind of money to give him. I explain the selling of stuff and the amount he’s had from me over the last couple of weeks. Now the suddenness makes so much more sense. Plus the offer of things that didn’t make sense, for moving into a smaller place wouldn’t necessitate the selling of small things that were his “pride and joy”.
She knows drugs could be involved. When she was there last time, she found the paraphernalia for drugs and every evening different people would come round and he would lock himself (and them) away in his bedroom and she may not see him again. Sometimes, they would order take-away pizza, sometimes not.
I told her what he had told me. I told her he had shown me pictures of the new flat. She replied that he was a liar. Which I knew. But, still ……
He had phoned her mum, in tears, requesting money and telling her that “they” were going to kill him.
Before, he had phoned his mum, crying and saying that he didn’t “want to die here.”
We speculate a bit on what could have happened. Maybe people were chasing him, threatening him? Maybe, he really WAS in danger. Probably he owed people money. That was certainly normal. I tried to reconcile the phone calls he had made with the person I saw, very briefly, only 4 days before when he came to collect the last of the money. I gave it to him and said that I couldn’t stop as I was having a lesson. This was true. Even the previous Sunday, he seemed happy and normal (for him) and we had chatted for a couple of hours.
But this changes everything. How difficult it must have been to keep up the pretence of everything being OK whilst, in reality, it wasn’t? Unless, of course, this too is a lie. And we both agree that we will never know the truth.
I have several thoughts whilst we’re talking. 1. Damn, I should have taken more stuff. 2. This might mean all sorts of trouble for me. 3. I hope he’s OK. 4. I was at his place a couple of times over the last couple of weeks – what if the people chasing him (if, in fact, there are people chasing him) trace me?
There is a fear in me that I haven’t had for a long time. For about 6 years, to be precise. Although there were some moments after that.
I tell her how much money he’s had from me. It doesn’t make sense. Effectively, I gave him enough. Perhaps, by then, no amount was enough? Still, it’s enough to get back to the UK, for certain. So why the last call begging for money so he can get home?
I feel a bit guilty too. I could have “bought” more. I was very careful to let him think that I was using all the money I had. I’ve been burnt too many times in the past. But I could have given him more. But another part of me is glad that I didn’t and is slightly miffed that I gave him any at all! Effectively, I’ve bought my stuff back and bought him a ticket – if that’s what he’s doing.
After we finish talking, I get a text. He said he was going to miss his flight and now they can’t get hold of him.
I imagine him lying in a pool of blood somewhere down a backstreet in Milan. Would I ever know? Would the police come knocking at my door? Would some drug dealers or a “Mafia” come knocking at my door? Would HE come knocking at my door?
I really don’t know what would be worse! But I don’t want him to come to any harm. I definitely would feel terrible if he were killed or seriously injured. I would always feel I could have done more.
But, then again, I really don’t want to be involved. This world he now inhabits is not my world.
I am so fearful of all the things above and I am starting to panic a bit. Where will this lead?
I decide that if he did come knocking, I’d take him to the airport and put him on a flight back to the UK. He shouldn’t be my problem any more.
I suggest that perhaps they can’t get hold of him because he’s already in the air?
Later, I get a text to say that he caught a flight to Bristol. Later still, that his sister collected him from the airport and they got back to Birmingham about 4 a.m.
I want to text him to ask if there’s anything I can do here. But I don’t want to do that. I can’t do that. I can’t get mixed up in any crap that he has created in the last 6 years. For this, all this, whatever it is, is all down to him. This was not “our” life. This is the life he has made for himself after I said that our life together was finished and done. He is no longer the person I knew. I don’t mix with people like this. I don’t know their world nor understand their life.
At about 4 a.m. (about the time that he had arrived in Birmingham, as I learnt later), I wake up and start worrying about what happened to him here. I start worrying if the “people” will find him there? I think about the fact that I could have done more. I think about him running around the streets of Milan, running from people who have no good intent toward him.
I am also annoyed with him that he wasn’t even a tiny bit truthful with me, even these last two weeks. I am annoyed with him that he has fucked it all up in such a short time. Did he learn nothing from all our time together? It seems, no.
I wish F were here for then I wouldn’t worry, nor be angry, nor negative. F takes away all these things just by being here.
But I know all this will fade and, probably soon but, at this moment, at this time, I am in the middle of some horror film, some thriller where the outcome will be bad for all those involved.
Anyway, as I write this, he is back there. Of course, if any of this is true, he won’t ever be able to come back here. He may even have to look over his shoulder there for a long time, if not, for ever!
I know I haven’t explained this very well. We’re a few days later and the abject horror has subsided as I get on with my (very ordinary) life. The fear lessens as the hours and days move further from that text. I’m kind of glad that F wasn’t here. I probably won’t tell him. Maybe. I don’t know. For sure, that part of my life has an almost closed door now, which is undoubtedly for the best. He’s no longer “just round the corner” and I don’t have to be concerned that I can be dragged into something in the future. Probably, when we next meet (for that time will come), I will get some strange and totally false story. But, you know, I don’t actually care. After all, from 6 years ago, it’s like we’ve been on roads that are going in opposite directions.
He will always have a place in my heart for he is a lovely guy – as long as you don’t scratch at the surface. And that’s almost what I saw the last time I was with him. This nice, friendly, happy guy, making a life for himself. Even if the truth, the underbelly, was not like this at all.
I’m sad that he couldn’t tell me. And relieved that I didn’t know. For what would I have done if I had known anyway?by