Shortly after the New Year, Jenny dumped K. He gave me no explanation, I didn’t ask for one. She disappeared off campus for a while, but when she returned she was as friendly to me as ever. I was obviously not implicated in their split.
Me and K? Well, he became a fairly regular visitor to my place, but always on a pretext – he didn’t want my housemates to know we were sleeping together, but they were no fools. He would tell them we were working on a university assignment together, that he was borrowing a CD, that he wanted to show me a new video he had bought.
And all of this – the ‘schoolwork’, the ‘CD playing’ and ‘video watching’ – we did behind closed doors, with minimal noise…we wouldn’t want anyone to hear anything that could incriminate him, would we?
University ended in the early summer. We both graduated (me with a first, him with a lucky 2:2) and I headed off to the Midlands to start a new job.
K got on a plane to Australia and there he stayed until the end of the austral summer. He wrote to me often and sent me photo’s of him looking tan, fit and healthy. He was working as a dive instructor in Queensland, and loving it.
We would see each other on and off for the next few years. We were great friends – friends with privileges, if you like.
One year, in January, he turned up on my doorstep. He was just back from another stint working in Australia.
He stayed at my house for 5 months, during which time we lived like any other couple – well, when we were inside the house, at least. He came to family dinners and parties, but always as my ‘friend’, my ‘lodger’. He met my friends, my colleagues, my neighbours. He always introduced himself as my friend from university, despite the fact that we shared a bed every night of the week.
During these months he didn’t work. I fed him and watered him and paid the bills. I bought him new clothes and took us out to the pub. I was a bloody fool.
Then, as the summer started, he moved to Cornwall. He’d got a diving job down there for the summer and would be back in the autumn. He told me he loved me, that he’d miss me, but that this was a great job. I was pleased that he had got a job – that would be a relief to my bank account. But I was sad that he had gone. I missed him.
In September, I got a call from the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. He was being held in Plymouth and had given my name as his next of kin. Could I find him a lawyer?
The Police told me that he’d been arrested after he’d had an argument with his girlfriend (girlfriend? This was the first I knew about a girlfriend). They’d argued and she claimed that he’d opened the car door and pushed her out. He maintained that she had jumped.
At the time, they were travelling at forty miles an hour.
I rang round and got a lawyer to go and see him. I prepared myself to walk away from this awful situation.
Three days later he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
How could I walk away now?