Troy had a seaweed colored cross on his middle finger. I never saw him eat. He told me about being in prison and talked for hours about the hidden energy fields around us, and how he was guided by his intuition and felt it like a buzzing in his chest. Shunning psychiatric advice, he self-medicated, carried a hash pipe everywhere, preferring the thick smoke to settle him rather than the prescribed lithium. His French wife was heavily pregnant, and I remember her lying on their bed languidly reading Camus while Troy hopped around batting the flies with a rolled up newspaper that came in through their flat’s window, listening to limb bending dub, my ribcage ricocheting with the rumbling bass. It is kinder this way, he explained, you can stun them before returning them to the sky.
We studied forestry and were often driven many miles away from the City in a transit van, heavy with horticultural tools, while Troy talked to us incessantly about spirit, reggae, nature, and occasionally smoking his pipe. As soon as the weak spring sun emerged, he took his top off, baring his lean, taut frame, telling me that it was vital to acclimatize your skin early before the sun got too hot. He often took a metal detector with him, running it over ploughed fields while the rest of us dug deep trenches for rabbit proof fences. He would emerge later clutching clay pipes or indiscriminate pieces of metal.
Troy was candid about being abused as a child, and how no-one wanted to look after him. Troy asked me to imagine what it was like to not feel wanted.
He was a master storyteller, and his stories were so wonderful that I didn’t care that the barriers between reality and fiction occasionally seemed to blur.
As summer faded and leaves began to fall, we visited the local park with Troy’s tiny son in a pushchair, and sat on the grass. We returned to his flat, and I watched as Troy smoked heroin from foil. Perhaps fatherhood did not suit him, or his medication regime was no longer maintaining his equilibrium.
He disappeared at about the same time as I met my wife. He vanished like smoke on foil, his flat suddenly empty. I missed his stories and his burning energy.
I dreamt of him for years, hearing his stories whilst not ever being sure where he was.