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 sleep through the night and the note is found by his father the next day.

I’m looking into his backyard. The duplex is dwarfed by the enormous satellite dish. We hide packs of Rothman’s in his basement. 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.

Tom is waiting for the fight to begin. Steve charges through the crowd, leaps in the air, and brings his elbow down on Tom’s head. Tom drops to his knees in tears.

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.