Jun. 4th, 2014

That was the night Billy got shot just south of Union Square. He'd gone to cop and found himself in the middle of bust. Reaching for his wallet to get his money ready, a patrolman mistook it for a gun. Sarah called at three in the morning, her voice heavy and thick with tears. After she told me, I put down the phone and stared out my window, down twenty stories to an empty intersection. I watched the sign change from walk to don't walk, until the street turned to pale blue of morning.

It's years gone past, but that memory comes back so completely that I lose my place in the world until it's washed away. Billy used to talk about how everything we did was just currents of water — some lives are only an autumn leaf fallen ripple in a pond; others, a hundred year flood. People leave you and droughts begin, or someone new is cool rain of spring evenings, bringing life back to the land.

I never saw it that way. Billy became a vacuum. A place where everything possible never happened. It became a metaphor I lived by for years; one that made getting high and not caring a philosophy. A dead world, because all the people who were supposed to fix it were taken away. Being strung out, with a good enough reason to hate it all, had the danger and self-destruction I needed to keep the bad memories away.

Except at night, when the moon would pull me into in colorless dreams. We'd be ten years old and he'd take out his spiderman wallet to buy candy at the bodega; the owner would shoot him. We'd be at his family's Thanksgiving, the patrolman would be there, a guest. Sometimes Billy was a little kid like when I first knew him, and other times he was the age when he died. He'd reach for the knife to cut the turkey, and the patrolman would draw on him. Nobody at the table would react but me, and I'd wake up shouting No! in the dark.

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