Dear Ezra and Lian:
“I have information regarding a murder.” A couple hours ago, I walked into a police station and told that to a police officer. He blinked his eyes. Then he asked me for evidence. I handed him a written statement. He read it and then asked for my driver’s license. He told me he would make a report and pass the information along. If there were any further questions, I would be contacted. Then I went and bought a laptop for Ezra’s grade 5 graduation present like I promised. I know you’re going to play MineCraft on it. I hope you don’t mind if I also write a few more letters and stories using it.
During the summer of 1987, when I was 14 years old, my family befriended a homeless man. He wasn’t from our area. He was just wandering from place to place in Canada. (For now, I won’t say what his name was. It might interfere with a police investigation.) He was a Native Canadian in his 30’s or 40’s. He was surviving by begging. An elderly, family friend, let him stay in one of her small cottages near the Nottawasaga River in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. He also fished in the river. He ate everything he caught.
We lived on a farm, now within the municipal boundaries of Wasaga Beach. My father was upset that no one seemed to be helping this man. My dad gave him some money, food from our garden and a few odd jobs. We were also poor and couldn’t help that much. I started fishing with him.
This man really taught me to fish. In fact, one time I actually took Ezra and your Mom to the exact same spot to go fishing. He used to tell me a lot of stories while we waited for something to bite. Two of those stories are of the people he killed. The first story got him dishonourably discharged from the Canadian military during the Cyprus peace-keeping mission. He shot and killed an American carrying a machine gun. He gave no warning. In his mind, the American was in the Green Zone and not following the rules, so he shot them.
The second story he told me, I believe he told to no one else. He told me how one time he got so mad at someone, he threw them off a high bridge on to the rocks below. He looked over the bridge and saw they weren’t moving. He believed they never moved again. He didn’t go down for a closer look, he ran away and skipped town completely. He never gave me a name, a place or a date. He just let me know that sometimes he lost control and killed people.
I never told anyone about this because He was crazy. He easily could have been exaggerating or lying. If he was telling the truth, I didn’t want him killing my mom, dad or little sister. If he could convince me that this story was true, I worried that he could convince a police officer that it was just a good yarn you tell an impressionable kid. I was worried that my parents or the police would think I was crazy or just very gullible.
After the man left our area, we heard that he had got severely beat up in Montreal. It had something to do with a drug deal. Given his character, it is quite likely this man is now in jail, on probation or even dead. If there are any unsolved deaths of bodies found under bridges in Canada, he could be the murderer. If it is ever needed, I’m willing to testify in court to these facts. Anyways, that’s what I know. The police can use it or ignore it. If anyone else recognizes this man, you should tell the police what you know.
Another reason I never told anyone, was because I was genuinely sorry for my friend. He had so many bad things happen to him. He was a broken man who was reduced to fishing in order to stay alive. I didn’t want him in trouble with the police if this was just a tall tale to impress a kid. I was trying to protect him.
I didn’t know at 14, what I now know at 42; you can’t outrun your crimes. The victim’s blood cries out for justice. I did my friend a disservice. For his own sake, he should confess and pay for his crime in jail. Crime and injustice are toxic. Eventually they destroy the people involved and those they love.
This story contains maybe my two greatest weaknesses. The fear of losing my family and the fear of people thinking I’m crazy. I think all my greatest mistakes in life involve one or both. Those fears kept me silent for 28 years. That is ridiculous. It taught me how to keep others’ deep, dark secrets. Please, never learn how to do that. Don’t be afraid. Just tell the truth.
Starting from now, I am not going to let my fears hold me back from speaking the truth.