This is a true story about a journalist and I don’t care. A long time ago I was assisting a famous humanitarian-type professor in a course about literary and documentary ethics, and this guy Adam was enrolled. He wasn’t in my discussion group—there were like eight groups and like two hundred people there to listen to the lectures—but somehow Adam decided he liked me of all people and started approaching me outside the beautifully repurposed soda factory where the class met. He was handsome, I knew, but for some reason it didn’t matter to me, even though he was my age and had completed a degree at a fancy university I had once wanted to go to. I’d wanted to go to that university the same way you imagine you want to be a famous actress when what you mean is that you want to feel important.
So we chatted a few times I found him pretty boring and then he asked if I would like to, I don’t remember, something, so I told him no but I was walking home and if he wanted he could walk with me and hang out in the yard while I was gardening. It’s worth mentioning here that I was one of the only white people living in a neighborhood with a lot of black and Mexican people, and I was one of the only people in the neighborhood who had anything to do with the university. I have been told, by people in my neighborhood, that I am very, very white. Adam, too, was white, white, white. So Adam took me up on my idea, walked along home with me, and he was cool with my dog, and it turned out he knew a lot more than I did about plants. He’d watch me and say this or that while I was poking around, and a pattern emerged. After class, he’d come up to me, I’d say, Well, I’m doing this or that, usually moving things around in my garden or taking the dog to the woods, come along if you want, and he started teaching me about plants, we passed in the woods, wild white ginger, rattlesnake orchids. He brought me clippings from his place which he was having to sell because of the divorce he was going through, and he was saddest of all to lose all his plants. One afternoon he kissed me in the hallway near the bathroom. I was really angry about that, but then I started wondering what my problem was. He showed me a picture of his parents in a Life magazine spread from the ’60s. He said they were friends with the Kennedys. He was always asking me if I thought he could be a good writer and I said I thought he could be a good journalist. He kept asking me and I kept saying the same thing in different ways. So after he kissed me and I was so mad about it, part of me started wanting him to kiss me again, maybe because of the handsome part, maybe because of the university part, maybe because of the Kennedys, or maybe the knowledge of plants, and at that point the whole dynamic shifted because he was so fucked up about his divorce and I was just so fucked up in general.
Let’s see where this is going.
Shots rang out in the neighborhood one day while I was gardening in my yard with my dog watching, and my dog was killed. It was really crazy, caught on video, a total media event, and after I made a call across the country to this one person I used to be in love with, I called Adam. He ’s the one who lifted my dog into my truck and drove us to the woods, and he’s the one who directed the bush-hog in the night to dig a hole and shine its headlamps while we moved the body, and he helped me cover the plot with rocks. The rocks were to keep it from getting dug up. Then I didn’t hear from him, and then he told me, in our last telephone conversation, that he just couldn’t take my level of pain, a phrase that stood out to me. But now he’s a journalist. He has a nice place in the city and he flies all over the world and does stories about things like little brown girls being sold into prostitution. He’s one of those journalists who presents every story without any ambiguity at all, who finds stories to tell in which there is no way to locate more than one way to feel about anything.