It’s 2:00am in Texas. Oliver is outside walking Cheryl’s schnauzers on a chilly spring night. He sits down and lights up his cigarette, his phone is playing Lana Del Rey’s this is what makes us girls. “This is what makes us girls. We all look for heaven and we put love first. Something that we’d die for, it’s our curse. Don’t cry about it, don’t cry about it.”
As he exhales the smoke, he wonders how did he get to this point? How did lose everything? How could one soul be so unfortunate? A bad destiny for a dreamer.
I met Oliver in chemistry class. At the time I was going through my very first break up. He took my planner and wrote down “Someone like you by Adele” he told me that song would help me through this hard time. He was my lab partner. I was always impressed by his confidence to walk in front of the classroom and blow his nose as hard as he could. I always had a runny nose so when he had the attention of the class, I would blow my nose too from my seat.
Oliver always had an army of girls around him. Everybody knew when it has his birthday, balloons and glitter everywhere. He was crowned prom king, and everyone loved him. One of the favored girls at school got him a gig at a fashion show. He asked me to be in his fashion show, and I was flattered. I asked my mom to let him borrow her sewing machine. He created vibrant spring dresses. The day of the fashion came, I didn’t have a dress or walked the runway. I saw a picture of the event online, but I was still happy for him and his army of red lipstick girls.
I remember he would draw on his tests if only that could’ve helped him pass physics class. He repeated physics three times, but thankfully he graduated. Finally, we were set free.
After high school, everyone moved on and the world was ours. Oliver and his sister moved out of his mom’s house when their step-dad tried to sexually abuse them. His mom defended their step-father and they removed themselves from that situation.
I was happy for them, they made a good team and they lived in a nice apartment with no furniture, but the place was always clean. Oliver would sit on the porch and smoke his cigarette “you know Karla, life is a precious gift” he would say.
I didn’t hear much from Oliver for a while. We were both working a lot. One night I saw a picture of him. He was half his weight and in a wheelchair. The caption read “just got out of my 3-month coma.” I immediately called his sister and went over to visit him.
When I saw him, he recognized my name, but all his memories were blurry. He didn’t know where or how we met. He couldn’t remember people from school or his glory days. He could barely stand up, and his vision was blurry. The house he was living in was loud and smelled like old food. I stayed in touch with him, and eventually, most of his memories came back.
Oliver’s sister was able to get US citizenship due to the horrific acts of her stepdad, but Oliver did not. He didn’t pass his health exam due to his permanent brain damage due to his car accident. Oliver’s sister was able to join the Navy, and Oliver had to move back to his mom’s $450 dollar rent apartment.
In his room, there were hand me down designer clothes. Versace underwear and Prada shoes. His acrylic paints and sketches of thin ladies wearing expensive dresses.
“I was in the winter of my life
And the men I met along the road were my only summer
At night I fell asleep with visions of myself dancing and laughing and crying with them
Three years down the line of being on an endless world tour
And my memories of them were the only things that sustained me
And my only real happy times” Oliver would recite this for me every time we hung out because that was our monologue. Lana Del Rey’s Ride was not only a song about having nothing to lose anymore, but about how there is happiness in “the open road.”
It was not Me and Oliver every night for that winter. I would watch him talk and smoke while I drank some peach green tea. Most of the times I wasn’t sure what he was saying, but it sounded poetic.
One night he texted me and said he had been back in the hospital. He had been raped by a homeless man and was found unconscious by UNLV. He said he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
I was afraid of visiting his neighborhood, it was so dark, and cats ruled the streets. I could hear the weak floor underneath me as I would walk to his mom’s apartment on the second floor. His bathroom didn’t have a toilet seat and the water that came out of the sink was brown. He has a prescription in his black scratched dinner table, but he couldn’t fill it because he didn’t have insurance. He also couldn’t get any help because he was undocumented, and he only counted with a DACA status. I didn’t know how to help him; I could only drive him to the local dispensary so he could buy something to ease his pain.
A few weeks later he called me and asked me to meet his fiancé. I was intrigued and amazed, but it was true. Now, Oliver lived in a 3,000 penthouse on the strip. The penthouse was filled with dried up animals and luxurious fur. We spent many nights painting while he took care of his disabled fiancé. His fiancé was an old soul, who practiced Satanity. I couldn’t get any words from him. He would drink vodka like water. His eyes stared at an imaginary distance. A few months after they moved into the biggest house I’ve ever seen. Oliver would cook for me and my boyfriend while his fiancé drank wine.
A few months later he and his soon to be husband went to Arizona for a wedding. A couple of days later Oliver was homeless. “Can someone pick me up? I’m in Arizona” he wrote on his twitter. “HELLO? I would appreciate if someone could drive here and pick me up, I’m homeless and I have NOWHERE to go” he tweeted.
After a couple of days, He stopped tweeting hearing from him. I was concerned about him. Where did he go? Was he dead? I should’ve been a better friend.
One day I got an email that read:
“I am currently in Show Low, Arizona. I was released from jail yesterday morning about 11:30. I was arrested on June 27/28. I am currently on probation and am not able to leave the state. I’m on probation for the next 60 days. I was raped and drugged about 5 weeks ago by a man named Morris Thatcher. After I was raped, I ran out of his apartment and didn’t care to think twice about my belongings.
My phone was run over by an 18-wheeler a day or two after I was discharged from the hospital in Winslow, AZ.
Oh my goodness dear Karla, I cannot begin to tell you how horrible things have been for me. Despite everything that I’ve been through, I still manage to keep a positive attitude and I am still very hopeful about the future.
lol read my fayyebuuk post”
In that Facebook post, he attached his family and his former fiancé. He finally confessed the secret that had been haunting him all these years. His cousin raped him since he was 4 years old, and he abused him again when he was living in his house recovering from the coma.
His mom called me and asked me to beg him to take the post off Facebook, but he refused.
After that, I didn’t hear from him for 3 months. One day I got a call from a 60-year-old lady named Carol. She said he had been living at his house and he was safe. Oliver had to stay in Texas to serve his two-year probation.
Now things are looking better for Oliver. “I’m proud to say I’ve been sober for 7 months now,” said Oliver on the phone. “Life is an adventure, and I’m grateful for it.”
Oliver is now happily married, when he finishes his probation he will not have the chance to work or be in this country, but when I ask Oliver if he is afraid he refers me back to the famous words we used to recite together from Lana Del Rey that said “it takes getting everything you ever wanted and then losing it to know what true freedom is… And if I said I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying”