He’s battered and frayed, he’s lost an eye and some of his
stuffing is beginning to leak out.

I’ve put him on the shelf by the TV, where I can always see
him when I sit here. His one button eye, squinting at me.

John said he was the first toy he ever had when he was a
baby, but I can’t believe that. I mean, who would give a teddy bear with button
eyes that are wired in, to a baby? It’s not safe.

It doesn’t matter. John gave him to me, that first Christmas when
we moved in here, five years ago. “A bear for a bear,” he said. His most
treasured possession, and he gave him to me. John said his sister had called
him Archibald Bear, so that’s always been his name.

Marion, John’s sister, is the only one from his family who’s
ever kept in touch. She came to visit us soon after we moved to LA. John’s mum
and dad never did. They didn’t want to meet me. He used to go visit them once a
year, alone, usually just before Thanksgiving. They live up in Oregon.

Marion was here, the night John was shot. There was a knock
at the door. I was in the bathroom and John was out, so Marion answered it.

I heard men’s voices. Then I heard her kind of moan, like an
almost animal cry. When I came into the living room, there were two cops there.
They’d just told her about the shooting. Marion was all hunched up on the
couch, just hugging herself and rocking.

When we got to the hospital, the medics said they were doing
everything they could. But he died. John died at 8:23pm on Thursday the 10th
June.

The hospital said it wasn’t possible for me to see his body,
as I wasn’t related. I said I’d been his boyfriend for nearly six years. But
they said that didn’t count. They needed the permission of his parents.

His mom and dad arrived the next day. Marion went to meet
them at LA X, and they took a cab straight to the hospital. They didn’t let me
see his body.

Marion rang me to say his mom was coming to the apartment to
collect all John’s things and take them back home. I said we shared everything;
we were practically married for chrissake.

John’s mom didn’t fight about it. She said she just wanted
some pictures, a few of his clothes and John’s old baseball stuff, from college
days. I hid Archibald, so I got to keep him.

They wouldn’t let me go to the funeral. Jeez, they wouldn’t
even tell me when it was. Marion called to say it was happening, but she said
it was probably best I didn’t go. John’s dad was looking to cut up real rough
and was talking about getting a court order to exclude me. John used to tell me
his dad is devout Presbyterian and uses words like abomination and crap like
that.

Marion had a big row with them about the funeral. She’s moved
out to Seattle now and won’t talk to any of her family. When you think about
it, she’s not only lost her kid brother, but the whole lot of them. She’s
coming down to stay in a few weeks. I think I’ll give her Archibald.