I don’t know if we were friends anymore, although I’m pretty sure we were. I know we weren’t enemies, which is natural since we were teenagers, and at least for me, there were just buddies and other people. When I look back now, I think we had been pretty good friends because we went to the same school, but I also know that we only went to the same school for about a year and a half, two years maybe, and I had lost track of him a little bit.
Maybe I liked him because he seemed to be always smiling, or because he was nice to me, a new kid in town, or maybe because he shared a name with my father, which made his name unusual for somebody his age.
Also, around that time, or possibly a little later, a friend of mine was dating his sister, who was a little older than we. I knew of her because she, too, had gone to the same school, but I didn’t really know her. I just remember her being really skinny.
We were 16, 17 years old and just getting into the party thing, except not me, because I was always a good boy, and did what my parents wanted so I didn’t hang out in weird places, or even walk around the two blocks in downtown Joensuu like all the other kids did, on Friday nights. If I didn’t have hockey practice, I probably just stayed at home and watched TV, listened to music, or maybe played a few rounds of Wall, or Hungry Horace – a Pac-Man clone – on my Spectrum in my room.
But one Friday, there was a party at my friend’s house. I don’t think any invitations got sent, but instead, whoever was around and wanted to go, went there, and by the end of the night, a lot of people had been around and gone. It was a good party, until at some point, the host, my former schoolmate, had had an argument with somebody or maybe he had broken up with his girlfriend, so he ran back inside, found a shotgun and shot himself.
Even if I don’t even know the events that led to that event, I have a very vivid memory of that night. About the fight, and the commotion, how he ran inside and upstairs only to emerge back on the front lawn less than a minute later. And then of the ambulance arriving, people freaking out. I don’t have a memory of the shot, or his action, I just see the red-brick house, and how dark its walls were.
I can see the empty driveway, and the color of the asphalt. It’s black, even though it’s not new so it’s been raining that night. It’s a late summer night and I see people lying on the grass, even if a late summer night in Finland isn’t that warm. I see people in pairs, talking, and then scattering. I see the mailbox by the side of the road, because I’m standing across the street.
Which is interesting because I didn’t even know where he lived. I was never at the party that night.
I was at home, probably watching “Dallas”.
I’ve never talked about that night with anybody, and since we didn’t have many mutual friends I have never talked about him, either, since then, but I have all these details in my mind, and have had them for almost 30 years now.
All fake, all figments of my imagination. But after all these years, to me, all true.