London: Lord Nelson Public School

london We hatch a plan to sneak out into the night. He leaves a note on his bedroom window. “I’ve left the window unlocked. Don’t tap on the glass. Just come in.” I sleep through the night, fail to show up as planned. The note is found by his father the next day.

I’m at Lord Nelson Public School looking into his backyard. The duplex is dwarfed by the enormous satellite dish. We hide packs of Rothman’s in his basement, sneak out at night to smoke them near Janice Maxner’s house. We lift weights. He steals Drambuie from his father’s cupboard. “How’s it going, Norville?” I gaze up at the doorbell as if I expect to see him sitting there. But he’s not there.

They call him Rabbit because he gets hopping mad. We play endless hours of football, running routes past invisible defenders, even in the dead of winter, even at night under the streetlight. Colleen leaves him. His father dies. He is drinking too much. He calls me one night, clearly drunk. “I need you, man.” Awkwardly I say “I’m always there for you.” But, of course, I’m not.