First my step-mother died, and then my father started talking about his new friend Lamar. Lamar collected rocks for a schist garden, bottle-raised a bear cub till it was time to let it go wild, put his boot on the dark side of the moon. It’s cute, my wife said, that your dad has an imaginary friend.
Last night, my father called to tell me Lamar is sick. Tubes run under his skin; beneath his tongue sores swell. His fingernails black with rot. I want to visit, but my wife says, let him grieve. Then, suddenly, my father stops telling us about Lamar. We don’t hear from him at all. I call my dad to ask him about the time Lamar wrestled a wildcat who’d moved into his Winnebago and to plan a visit and no one answers.
MATT DUBE’s mother had an imaginary friend named Michael. If the adults in her life ever noticed the fact that he shared a name with her father, they never mentioned it. When I learned my older brother was also named Michael, I didn’t mention it either. Until now.