John was three years older than I. He always had a great smile and enjoyed the role of the class clown. Whenever he was, he was the center of attention. Unlike other boys of a dominating nature at my school, John was no bully. It seemed he preferred the company of older kids, but I don’t recall him ever being mean to me or other little kids.
John didn’t do well academically. School was mostly for his theatrical antics. Coming from a rural household without much discipline, John had access to a farm pickup when he was 13. He was careful not to drive into town lest the police were cruising through. He liked his beer and whisky and enjoyed getting “shitfaced” with the older kids. But he liked his 12-year old girlfriend a lot more. They had lots of sex. Their relationship was not monogamous; John was able convince other girls to sleep with him when the girlfriend wasn’t at the party.
We seldom saw John’s mother. My memory is a sullen lady with no life to her. John’s father was a little more involved in the community, but mostly as an occasional patron at the local tavern. Overweight and unfriendly. Those few people who visited John’s family saw an unkempt house with lots of empty bottles.
When John turned 16, he quit school. Having acquired some mature attributes, he easily convinced a oil drilling rig he was 18 — and John was not scared of hard work. So he was making lots of money for a 16-year old. My last memory of John was him bringing his new motorbike to the school he had quit two years previously. He was showing off, but that big smile of his and his verbosity made the event very memorable. It seemed John had the world by the tail. We were envious: money, girls, and parties galore!
A few years back, I googled John’s name. And I got a short obituary. It did mention some of his early life to confirm I had the right John Still. But no wife, no ex-wife, no partner, no kids, no other relatives, and no friends. Nothing about his later life in his 30s, 40s and 50s. There was a service, but the nature of the obituary suggested it was not well attended.
What happened to that young man with a big motorbike and big smile?