I Think His Name Was Johnny

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It is strange how the human mind works.

This is a picture of a neighbor of mine, from years ago. I had a picture of us once. I took it in a moment in which he was feeling spontaneous. Jokingly, he asked to see it one afternoon and so I went inside and found it, handing it to him with a smile, so that he could look at it and make a wisecrack.

“Thanks,” he said, and put it in his pocket. I never saw that picture again.

This picture is one I took when I came out of my place and saw him sitting on the stoop, watching life pass him on the nearby street.

 

He lived near me and I spoke to him at least 100 times. While I have the ability to newly discover his name, I don’t recall what it is without using the power of the internet. He spoke with his hands, always, as his fingers moved through the air to document how much he had seen in his life.

I think his name was “Johnny,” and even as I tell myself that this is the case, I doubt my memory. I remember how animated he was when another neighbor left their car in the wrong gear. It rolled down the slight hill and smashed his older and meticulously-maintained older car. I also remember asking him for a lit cigarette (I didn’t smoke) and sticking it up one of my nostrils. He laughed so hard I thought he was going to need CPR.

He killed himself with a pistol as he sat mired in his loneliness, near the narrow road in that insufferably small town, where the community pool once existed. The road is no longer so narrow, but my memory remains constricted.

I felt stupid and selfish, watching the thunderstorm of police and bystanders near the road. His wife was there, waiting for the rush to subside. I drank at least 6 cups of coffee, one after another as word spread that he had killed himself. He had lived a fascinating life, one filled with great moments and great turmoil.

I feel like my own unseen and upcoming suffering erased him from my mind.

I see his picture in my photo archives. It picks at me for reasons that I can’t quite place.

I added the hyperrealistic effect to the colors because my memory of who he truly was has made its escape from my grasp.

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