Did He Really Kill Her?

So, this is a true story. Saw my family this weekend. They all still live in the area where we grew up. They see kids we went to high school with all the time. I live an hour north and never see anybody except my best friend from 5th grade, Lisa.

The crowd I hung around with in high school was, well, this is going to sound so weird, but we called ourselves freaks. You had to be there. It was 1973, it was a hippie thing, but the media had co-opted the term hippie, so we called ourselves freaks because that’s what uptight middle america called us.

We dropped acid before first hour when we bothered to come to school at all. We met for lunch outside on a set of steps used only by the custodians. On the menu? Beer, pot, cigarettes. Many of us didn’t have stable homes. Our parents were alcoholics or abusers or tough-love advocates. Lots of us didn’t have a place to sleep. We didn’t have cars or jobs or clean clothes. We panhandled for beer money and hitchhiked to whatever party was going on that day.

Lots of times we ended up at one boy’s house, listening to music. We loved Savoy Brown, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Janis Joplin. This boy had a basement bedroom. It was huge, big bed, another twin bed, a sofa, lots of posters on the wall, pillows, excellent stereo. We could smoke pot down there and nobody would know. While most of us had horrible relationships with our folks, this guy had the best mom in the world. She did yoga and kept a garden. She let us stay, fed us fresh veggies, worried about us.

We were lost kids but we felt brave and fearless because we had each other. I don’t know how we made it through school at all, but some of us did. Some of us cleaned up our lives, made something of ourselves. I did. Lisa did. But back then, when we were kids, I never thought I’d live this long. I thought I’d be dead of an overdose or murdered on some random highway. 

Then I got myself straight. Married, had kids, went to college. These days I sort of forget about how it was when I was young most of the time. I’d fallen out with my family but we mended that, too, long time ago. So when I got together with the family over the weekend, and my brother said he’d just seen everyone from the old days at a funeral, I asked about that boy with the nice mom. 

We’d been madly in love once, but he was in a band and couldn’t resist groupies. I didn’t like that. When I told him I was getting married, he said “marry me instead.” I didn’t. But I still thought about him, wondered how he was, wished him well.   

My brother told me that boy with the nice mom is in prison for killing his wife. I still can’t believe it.

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  1. Wow, Cindy, that’s quite a story! Gives me chills to think of it. Those were crazy times, and I think a lot of kids were pretty wild back then. (Wilder than kids now, I think, in some ways.) You need to read Brett Paesel’s “Mommies Who Drink” sometime. She shares a similar history to yours, and today is the nicest mom and a very, very talented writer like you. You’d get a kick out of her stories.


  2. Thanks for the book rec,Cindy. I always love your picks. As for my post, I am still sort of in shock and denial. I don’t want it to be true. I want it to be a rumor that my brother got wrong somehow.


  3. Heavens to Betsy! This sounds like the plot of a best seller. I would have trouble believing that if I heard it about someone I knew that well years ago. Two years ago we got a call from an old friend with information about a good friend from my husband’s past. We couldn’t believe the news and googled it. Sure enough, he had killed a complete stranger with a knife in a parking lot. You just never know….


  4. Sharon, I tried Googling but nothing came up. I can check prison records, but that seems a bit obsessive. And lol John, I thought the same thing, although by then I wasn’t even tempted to choose him.


  5. Hi – I’m one of those people that visits, reads, and doesn’t comment… but this struck a chord. In my other mundane life I work with juvenile offenders. Hands down, the most violent ones come from homes with overly permissive, not overly abusive, parents. Of course, that’s a generalization, but working with these kids day after day you start to see patterns and wonder what the hell sociologists are studying when they print their research papers.

    Nothing works weirder than the world.

    Murder, especially when experienced personally in some manner, is incredibly chilling. Even I don’t usually run into real killers, but I have met a few (talking about criminal killers, not battlefield killers). And only once out of all of them have I had it affect me personally, had it happen to someone I knew even briefly. I was left with the feeling that all murders were controlled by some great, oppressive force that, if I spoke about it to anyone, could cast its eye on me and reach into my life to do it again.

    Maybe that’s why such things are usually spoken about in low tones away from the ears of others.

    I really enjoyed your post.


  6. Nasty Romance, Glad you enjoyed this post. I always hesitate to write the truth about my teen years because so much crazy bad stuff happened and it changed me and my friends. Then then I think, well, that’s why I should write about it.


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