I don't really care who's lying. The stories are superimposed like Schroedinger's cat, except that whatever happens, the cat dies. It's Mark's face I'm watching as he struggles for air, as his struggles become more and more feeble. I see his cheek and nose squashed against the earth, his body rolled into a shallow grave, leaf litter shoveled on his face.
In February the police caught up with Leslie and Stephen in a nothing little rural town hundreds of miles to the south. Turns out the two were jail escapees. Fine judge of character that she was, Danielle was still with them. Stephen boasted to a friend that he'd killed Mark, and the friend snitched. I get the impression no one believed it at first, not even the police. Lance Chaffey and his team went searching in the Glenreagh bushland anyway. They found Mark's grave.
Hot summer, wet soil. His parents denied it was him. He had to be identified by his dental records. Positive ID in hand, the scoops at the local newspaper dug up that high school photo to run on the front page. Mum read it over breakfast. "Did you know a Mark White?" she asked. I choked on my cornflakes. "Why do you ask?" I said cagily, and she handed me the paper.
Before the school gave up even trying to make me like sports, I had to go ice skating on Tuesday afternoons. I scraped mirthlessly around the rink to endlessly recycled eighties pop. Mark came along just the once. While his friends laughed behind their hands, he checked me out. The PA played "Just a Gigolo" and he said: "This is my song. Do you know what a gigolo is?" I pretended that I did. He sang along: "When the end comes they'll know, I was just a gigolo life goes on, without me."