Nickel bag remix.
We hadn't talked in fifteen years.
Bobby had been my closest friend from early on in grade school until the ninth grade when he began hanging with a crowd that was juxtapositioned to my crowd. We were like combatants on a battlefield who looked across the neutral zone at each other and never engaged. We were both followers in those days but we both knew it was not the role we were meant to play.
His sister, three years younger than he was, had the kind of beauty that tends to launch fleets of ships. She was impossibly beautiful and drove boys to madness. It was made even more painful by the fact that she was very open about sharing her body with neighborhood boys. She seduced both my brother and myself, but in different ways. On a family vacation to Disney World my brother was reported lost after spending hours searching for a present to buy her. I wrote her bad poetry.
Neither of us understood that Bobby's depression and his sister's sexual openness were products of being fathered by the face of evil, a man who ritualistically abused and raped them throughout their childhood.
Fifteen years after we stopped talking, Bobby came up to me at a party that was being held for reasons I cannot remember. He spoke very plainly to me and without emotion, simply saying, "You have to help me save my sister." I had no idea what he was talking about and assumed he was drunk. He then rambled on about a project we did together for school when we were in the sixth grade for a science fair, which happened to be the project we were working on when I was first drawn into his sister's room to play "lets explore."
It was later that year, the year of the party for no reason I can remember, that Bobby would commit suicide. His departure from his fiance and the home they had built together was inexplicable to everyone I knew who knew Bobby. I had my suspicions but I held my tongue. I knew before he killed himself that he was planning something, although I found myself wondering if he was going to kill himself or his father. Moving in with his father in the house of his grandfather was simply too obviously symbolic. This sort of abuse is passed down through the generations and I knew Bobby well enough to know how he thought. To cut the head off a snake one has to go into its lair, and in this case it was the lair of generations of snakes.
He shot himself in the garden outside the house, which I later learned was where his grandfather had molested his grandchildren, before the father had ever crossed the line. It was symbolic in the way I remembered Bobby's thoughts always working in the old days. And that act was the first time that anyone in the family ever started talking about what had been going on for so many years, for so many generations.
Fifteen years passed between conversations between myself and Bobby. Fifteen years have now passed since his suicide.
At the time of Bobby's suicide his sister was living with a drug dealer who treated her like his personal whore. Six months after Bobby's suicide, his sister's dealer boyfriend was shot dead outside a bar. They had a son together, and perhaps in part due to that fact she entered into therapy and began to deal with the past. She has since gone on to marry a very good man who adopted her son and treats him as his own. She has become a nurse working with abused children.
Last year the surviving children went to Florida where their father was living and soon to die of a very painful form of terminal cancer. My mother, who has always held a great hatred for this man who beat on her best friend and abused his children, could not understand why they went.
"They went to see if perhaps, in the end, there would be some sign of humanity in him before the lights went out. They went to see if maybe he would, in the end, actually be their father."
I doubted a man who laughed and told jokes at his son's funeral could ever show humanity, but to me it did not really matter.
Bobby had saved his sister. He never needed my help.