I still get pictures from him sometimes.
Everything was a lie. His taxi medallion. His stint in the army. The police, where he was terminated for unauthorized use of force, unable to stop pounding his fists into the sickly pliant flesh of the man whose daughter lay bloody at his feet. His birthday.
None of that was why I loved him. Because of his liquid eyes just as he woke, placid and sincere. The way he watched everybody watching me. His generosity with his friends, when he could afford it, and how ashamed he was to collect on those debts. I wanted to know him the way you can know a teddy bear only after you unzip it and run your hands through the stuffing.
The wedding was as informal as it was brief. He and I, Mark and Cindy to witness. Ten minutes at the courthouse on a gray Friday morning, both of us in stained blue jeans and white silk shirts. That night we showed up at Alan’s birthday party, and everybody toasted us with plastic flutes half-full of champagne.
After he walked out, I wandered among our friends, numb, seeking an explanation. Even Mark, who knew him best, was just discovering that none of it matched up. None of us knew where he was born—he’d told each of us something different—or even his real name.
Every so often, an envelope in the mail: blurry photo-booth shots. Always alone. No letter, no explanation. Nothing written on the back of the pictures. No return address on the envelope.
Even the postmark smudged beyond legibility.