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What to Do With a Man Who Has a Story, and a Gun

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Lisa Romeo | Longreads | January 2018 | 11 minutes (2,767 words)

My boyfriend said it with such confidence, such nonchalance. “Don’t worry. You’re safe in here, and I’ll be back in an hour.”

He shut the bedroom door behind him as he left, and I heard his key in the padlock on the other side — the one he’d installed to keep out his drunk or stoned apartment-mates who kept “borrowing” his cigars, raiding his mini-fridge, and hitting on me.

I was a freshman at an expensive upstate New York college, majoring in journalism, and I’d fallen hard for this guy the first week of September. Though I was young for college — I wouldn’t turn 18 until later that fall — people had always said about me, “She’s so mature, so level-headed,” compliments I shirked away from, instead longing to be a little less sensible, a little more wild. In high school, I had mostly dated self-assured, brainy guys, predictable guys, often Italian and Catholic guys, guys who, if they were girls, would have been me.

I was done with all that, I thought. I wanted something different, someone different.

This guy was short, wiry, pale, certainly older — returning to college at 24 — and also German, Protestant, and had definitely not finished at the top of his high school class. Different, but not a bad guy, not a mean guy, not a guy I couldn’t bring home.

And he wasn’t a guy. He was a man.

A man with a past. A story.

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