Monday, April 11, 2011

Friends You Don't Know

I just googled someone I haven't heard from in a few years.  Wow.  I'm glad I haven't.  This is disturbing on so many levels.

First, the background:

Some years ago, I wanted to be an airline pilot, so I moved to Florida and went to flight school.  To gain some experience I became a flight instructor (I know, that sounds backwards, but is completely common.)  At the flight school, I made some friends.  One particular fellow was a bit of a know-it-all, who didn't always know it all that well.  Renee Bradley* wasn't always likable, but eventually we became pals.  Not great pals.  Maybe not even good pals, but we were friends, and as annoying as he could sometimes be, Renee had a quality about him that told you he was a very loyal friend. 

Renee had an interesting, if not entirely enviable, backstory.  He came from money although I don't think he ever earned any.  Someone bought him a Karate school.  Someone else paid for his condo.  He drove a purple Mustang that was probably a gift.  And, he got a nice settlement after a car accident.  Despite all this, he seemed to work pretty hard, flying as much as anyone else and we were all trying to fly as much as possible so we could move on to better things.  All the while, Renee seemed like the kind of guy who wanted people to think he was successful, outgoing and popular.  However, I heard him say on more than one occasion that he was looking forward to going home at night to play with his cats.  I always thought that was who Renee really was, too shy to really let anyone get to know him, but desperate to be liked. 

Really, Renee was a guy with low-self esteem, who's father belittled him in front of me the one time I met him.  Renee was incapable of finding love because he jumped into relationships too fast and too hard.  Still, he was a friend.

We all moved on from the flight school but kept in touch somewhat.  Then I'd heard Renee was in another car accident and couldn't fly anymore.  Others who knew him better said he just kind of quit on life.  He became addicted to pain killers and spent all of his time on the couch, no longer even playing with his cats.  I spoke to Renee for the last time four years ago.  He sounded out of it, calling himself retired and hanging out with his other retired friends.  Renee Bradley was 34 years old.

Now, the disturbing:

Google turned up the following headline:

Renee Bradley Had Two Beautiful Young Women Die in His Apartment.

In retirement Renee became quite the playboy.  He partied hard, abusing prescription drugs, cocaine and who knows what else.  He frequented sex clubs and had the wrong kinds of connections.  The police referred to him as the Candy Man, able to get you anything you wanted.  He apparently used this ability to attract impressionable young girls, just starting out in life.  One such young woman overdosed in his condo.  He tried CPR and called 911.  She died. 

But Renee was already moving on.  He had a new girlfriend, and took her to the funeral.  Four months later, she, too, died under identical circumstances. 

Were this anyone else I wouldn't hesitate to say he killed them, either by giving them some lethal combination of drugs, or something else just as sinister.  The guy in the paper sounds like a sociopathic serial killer.  And yet I now understand how people can so blindly stand by loved ones that are so blatantly guilty and defend their innocence.

I don't know what Renee's culpability is, (the police called him a person of interest, but have declined to charge him in either death) but it sure seems high.  I'm just left wondering how the shy, annoying, know-it-all I once considered a friend became such a monster. 

Makes you wonder who we really know.

*Not his real name, don't bother googling Renee Bradley.


Jeanne said...

Wow! What a story. It does make me want to google Renee Bradley though.

Kate said...

People aren't always what they seem, even when you think you know them really well. When I was a teenager, I regularely babysat for a little girl that lived down the street from me. From the time she was six to the time she was nine I practacly raised her. Then when she was sixteen (and I was in my early twenties), she got in a bit of trouble and the FBI was all over it. You were just casual friends with a maybe sociopath, I practically reared on. People definately aren't always who you think they are.

Dana Elmendorf said...

That's just freaky. Always trust your spidey senses.

Dana Elmendorf said...

By the way, I found the identity of your fellow...

MC Howe said...

Very clever Dana. The headline was real, as I'm guessing you know. I only changed the name.

Dana Elmendorf said...

Call me super sleuth or curious dork...I should be editing right now, not wasting time.

MC Howe said...

Kate - You make it sound like you were responsible for that girls troubles. I don't think that's what you meant. Sometimes people are just bad seeds.

Jeanne - Is Col. Joe coming tomorrow? I can't wait to hear his take on this fellow. He was the Col.'s original instructor.

Dana - We're all allowed a few hours a week to slack off. Some, like me, take a whole lot of extra time.

Cro Magnon said...

Surprising what old friends get up to... I have one who became a drug smuggler, and another who robbed a bank. Both guys were from wealthy backgrounds.