I forgot that yesterday was the 24th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. For other reasons I remember that night like it just happened.
My boyfriend The Bum didn’t come home that night or call every seven minutes. No bartender called me to ask me to pick him up as I laughed to the phone.
The Bum was homophobic. I had known very few homophobic men, and chose to overlook it at first because it was so odd, I couldn’t believe it. He was a singer/songwriter who had written some really good alt folk songs, though it wasn’t called that in the ’70’s and ’80’s. People who wrote about oppression tended to be more tolerant.
Our problems had become big and unsolvable. I had gotten rid of all the knives because I was afraid that I would use one and they didn’t have “battered woman syndrome,” then. Anyway, it hadn’t become physical. I was to to kick him out for good later when he broke some of my things.
But the night John Lennon died I was scared. Five gay men were killed in a bar, The Ramrod, in The Meat Market. It was way different then without the trendy stores and restaurants. The Meat Market consisted of markets and gay bars and discos that went from bad to nobody wants to know about them.
I could picture The Bum walking in and randomly shooting. For some reason I was sure that he was the killer. I was actually glad to get one of his eight hourly calls the next morning when I was at work. I was the group supervisor, but I couldn’t answer the groups phone as he called so often.
I had gotten him a job. He deemed to come to work about twice a week and was allowed to get away with every rule as I was one of five out of 80 supervisors who knew the job inside/out. I was young, ditsy but smart. and working at Summit Inc. was like being in college all over again. I think of all the really nice but boring men I wouldn’t date and sometimes regret it. They probably make great husbands.
I met The Bum at the club-where-everyone-did-know-my-name. It was a good club with great live music and I hold nobody there personally responsible, even if one of the owners played a part in The Bum and I meeting.
We fell in lust in a major way and couldn’t stay away from each other. By the time John Lennon and the men in The Meat Market were killed, I hated him and he was obsessed with me. Still I was happy that he wasn’t a murderer.
I’m sure that I talked about it at work. I’ve never been one for long silences. My former assistant Bianca came from a distinguished Black family. Her father was a well known minister. I had made her my assistant over the objections of some people who argued that she was a single mother who was going for a Masters at Columbia.
That’s why I wanted her: she was smart, and needed the money. She could be counted on to consistently do a good job. Bianca and I were a good team and friendly at work. We went out very occasionally as she had her daughter and school. She quit when she began her social work internship; fortunately she was given many grants.
Several months later my friend Shelby was at a church function with Bianca, and her cousin. Shelby teased Bianca about having the same last name as the Ramrod killer who had been caught shortly after the murder. Bianca ran out of the bathroom onto the street and her cousin said that Bianca’s brother, a cop, was the murderer.
I had never put it together. I never even realized that they had the same last name, when usually I would have noticed that immediately. It was beyond my understanding that somebody I knew fairly well had a brother who was a murderer. I could picture The Bum as one, but nobody else.