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Sunday, July 27, 2008

When a friend isn't a friend...

I don't know if I mentioned it here but I'm going to West Virginia this fall to do some articles on the area for some magazines. In previous posts here, I've mentioned a friend who left here a few months ago and it was because of my friendship him I even pitched the idea of West Virginia at all. He lives in the area I'm going to be visiting and there's a good chance I'll run into him while there, though I'm going to work on avoiding him like the herpes.

I'm sure you're scratching your head thinking, "Wait, a couple months ago she was missing him?" You are right, I did miss him since he left but some things happened to change ALL of that.

In researching my trip and arranging things with the state, I spoke to a woman who has friends in the middle part of West Virginia, more specifically, she knows a game warden there. When I dropped my friend's name, it wasn't remotely familiar and he wasn't on any listing of employees in the area. She got curious and started talking to friends of friends of friends and found out the following:

1. My friend told me he was a DNR (Department of Natural Resources) game warden there...

Not only is my "friend" NOT a game warden, his association with the DNR is shaky, at best. He is a certified game verification location, meaning he is licensed by the state to verify the kills of hunters and fishermen to make sure they are within state guidelines, but he is NOT a game warden. He owns a "metal recovery and fabrication" business in central West Virginia, which I "think" is a glorious way of saying "junk yard owner". I think it's a place where they take cars that have been in accidents and are being junked. I could be wrong on the specifics of what the place does, given I'm not privy to the inner workings of the "metal recovery and fabrication" world but it ain't DNR, that's for damn sure. He also let it "slip" once that he only made $30,000 a year as a Game Warden but the man drove a nearly new Ford F250 and lived on post in a 5th Wheel and those aren't cheap. He is an officer in the Army Reserve but he's a lower ranking officer, having come to it late, following nearly two decades as an enlisted person, and there is just NO WAY he could afford those two things on his salary. No way...

2. My friend told me he was Special Forces...

There IS a Special Forces Reserve/National Guard unit in the area of West Virginia he's from and he IS part of it, but apparently he's just a desk jockey and not the Rambo he'd have us all believe. I had made a joke once to a mutual friend that this guy seemed to have a Walter Mitty air about him. I thought I was just kidding-apparently I wasn't.

3. He told all and sundry he was half American Indian

He was very clear on that point, that he was Native American/American Indian, but when I asked, he never told me what tribe, just that his mother was from Oklahoma. Turns out he's half Asian of some kind. No one was really clear on that since it seems my "friend' lies to everyone, not just the good people of Fort Huachuca. I always wondered on this point since he said he used the military to go to college. As a Native American, he would have had all kinds of scholarships available to him. Once, I DID ask him about this, that he was certainly on a tribal roll somewhere, why didn't he go to college that way? He looked at his watch and said something about having to get out of there to "work".

4. On his last day here, he announced to us that his wife was leaving him, getting a divorce.

The reason he told us she gave was that he was deploying again rather than coming home. I don't know if this is true or not, I suspect it's not since the man couldn't find the truth in the bible. He did mention once that he had an ex-wife but not much else. He also told me he was giving his wife everything she wanted, excepting he wanted full access to his young daughter. Come to find out he has walked away from his offspring before. That first wife? Oh, yeah, they had a son together whom was never mentioned to us in the nearly six months he was sharing his life with us. Apparently he walked away from that family as well. People in West Virginia did some checking at the courthouse in the county this guy "lives" in and there is no record of anyone filing for divorce in the last year with his last name; nor is it anywhere in the state since it's a state record and part of the public record. Oh, and the deployment? Turns out his unit was deactivated and he's in West Virginia as I write this.

My "friend" and I had a huge blowup regarding my dropping his name to the good folks in the government of West Virginia. As a writer, sometimes you have to kind of do that to show solidarity of some sort, especially to people who are as notoriously suspicious as Appalachian folks can be. He was pretty nasty to me, accusing me of things I didn't say or do. I was upset for quite some time and carrying the blame to the nth degree. After finding out all I found out, I figure my "friend" did this, created this huge problem, in the hopes I wouldn't find out what exactly was going on. He didn't want me to learn the truth about him, that he's a liar, a loser and a variety of other superlatives to describe someone as dishonest as he has been. He is all of these things not because of who or what he is but because he lied about it from the beginning.

The saddest part of all of this is: I, and the rest of those who knew him here at Fort Huachuca, would have liked him no matter what he did for a living, no matter what his past was. He was a funny and intelligent person who was a genuine joy to be around. But, my "friend" didn't trust anyone enough to be honest about who and what he was, creating a web of lies so intense and complete it's hard to know if any of it was true at all.

Oh, well, there's no way of knowing why he did what he did. It was selfish and childish of him to treat me the way he did rather than just come clean... At one point, before I contacted the state about my visit, I DID tell him that if there was anything he needed to tell me before I started making contact, now was the time to do it. He assured me there was nothing and I went on with my work. Had he come clean, I would have forgiven him and moved forward from there. I can forgive a lot of things. Lying, for me, is a tough one, but I CAN and HAVE forgiven it. People do things for a reason, which I might never understand, and until I walk a mile in their shoes, I can't judge them.

I guess there's not much more to say about this other than I'm glad I found out the truth. I wish it had been my "friend" who had told me but it wasn't. Too bad for him; he's missing out on a great friendship.