A few years after high school, I got a call: “Hey, Luke- it's Mike. I shot a guy. Can you help me move?”

Mike was my best- pretty much only- friend in elementary school. We hung out every day, and often spent weekends at each other's houses. Like me, Mike was gifted and socially inept. Unlike me, his family life was terrible. In sixth grade he was diagnosed with dyslexia; he was pulled from the highly gifted class and sent to a private school to deal with his “special needs.”

As we got older, we hung out less and less. He became more focused on fantasy than reality. He wanted to be a cop- not because he wanted to serve and protect, but because he loved Dirty Harry. By the end of high school we were not talking at all. Then I got the call about the move. He didn't actually call me- he called my parents' house. They haven't moved since I was born, so the number never changed. Here's what happened (according to Mike):

Mike was in his apartment playing with his .44 Magnum, which he thought was empty. He pointed it at a wall and pulled the trigger. The gun went off. The bullet exited his apartment, entered the one next door, exited that one as well, and entered a third apartment. It did not exit that apartment; instead, it hit the apartment manager's adult son in the back and killed him.

Even though I hadn't talked to him in years, even though I thought what happened was incredibly stupid and pointless, I helped him move.

I ran into him a couple of years after that. He seemed well. He said he'd gotten off for the shooting- I suppose because there was no way it could have been intentional- and was now trying to become a security guard. I didn't think that many security companies would hire a guy who shot someone while playing with a loaded weapon, but I didn't say anything. Instead, I wished him well.

My last contact with Mike came from the police. I don't really know the details, but apparently he had been arrested and had weapons hidden somewhere. The police got my name from a scrap of paper the found in his apartment. Mike didn't have my number- once again, he apparently planned to contact me through my parents.

I don't know where Mike is now.