I’ve heard stories about a doctor in town, but I don’t know what is true. I do know that I grew up with his nephews, two boys separated by two years from each other. I do know that their mother was my favorite substitute teacher in elementary school. I do know that on snow days, we would sled down the hill in their backyard and onto an empty cornfield. Their father would haul us up to the top of the hill with the ATV over and over and over again, for hours, until my brother and I would fall asleep in the back of our family van on the slow drive to our house. What I don’t know, is whether the doctor really did sell opiates to his nephews. I don’t know if it’s true that the doctor has a farm outside of town, where young opiate addicts live with him. I don’t know if it’s true that some of those young addicts exchange drugs for sex with the man. I don’t know if it’s true that a fireman had to stab one of the nephews with Narcan after he’d been found unresponsive on an abandoned houseboat drifting in the Ohio River. I don’t know if it’s true that the nephews stole their mother‘s wedding dress to pay for the heroin habit they got from the brother of the man who pulled us on that ATV to the top of the hill. I don’t know if it’s true that she’s also sick now, that she picked up smoking, and lives in an apartment by the all-year flea market, only 300 yards from the corner booth where her son sells old baseball cards.
I don’t know if any of it’s true. I’m an outsider now, and these are just rumors from a small town where I once lived.