MILLIE CALLED ME yesterday morning. Tag is gone. He’s gone, and Millie doesn’t know where to look for him, even if that were possible. He knows she can’t follow him, and that doesn’t sound like Tag. He’s not cruel. Never has been.
The first time I met Millie, I knew Tag had found someone who might keep him still, keep him unraveled. She would happily untangle his knots and force him to slow down, and in return he would love her the way only Tag loves. It seemed like destiny, even though I don’t believe in that shit. You’d think that I would, seeing what I see, knowing what I know, but knowing that there’s a whole lot we don’t understand has made me reluctant to indulge in foreordination, destiny, or things that people say are “meant to be.” Saying something is “meant to be” is a cop out. It’s a way for people to deal when they screw up or when life hands them a bowl of shit stew. The things that are meant to be are the things we can’t control, the things we don’t cause, the things that happen regardless of who or what we are. Like sunsets and snow-fall and natural disasters. I’ve never believed hardship or suffering was meant to be. I’ve never believed relationships were meant to be. We choose. In large part, we choose. We create, we make mistakes, we burn bridges, we build new ones.
But Tag is different. Tag is meant to be. He just is. He’s a whirlwind, a tornado you can’t control. He just sucks you up and in, but unlike a natural disaster, he never lets up. He never lets you go. Yet suddenly, without warning, he has. He’s let go.
Three years ago, Tag and I came back to Salt Lake City and we stayed. In the beginning I worried that Tag wouldn’t be able to settle down, and that I would have to let him go. He’s always been restless, driven, and easily bored. When you spend almost six years traveling all over the world, it gets in your blood. The movement, the speed, the freedom. It becomes hard to stay in one place for very long. But he had. We both had. We’d run away together as lost boys looking for Neverland and somehow managed to come full circle as men.
Tag had dug in and developed an entire city block, a world that provided a home for all the people he attracted and adopted along the way. I’d built my reputation, grown my clientele, almost gotten myself killed, eventually reconnected with Georgia, and managed to convince her to marry me. Our daughter, Kathleen, was born six months ago. Tag cried when he held her the first time, completely unconcerned with the fact that he was supposed to be a badass. He had seemed so happy. So whole.
And now, inexplicably, he has let go.
He’s let Millie go. He’s let Tag Team, his businesses, his plans for a title fight, all go. He’s let me go. And none of it makes any sense. If there were signs I hadn’t seen them. And I am the guy that is supposed to see what others can’t. I’m Moses Wright—medium, artist, best friend—and I hadn’t seen the signs.
TAG DIDN’T LEAVE a note and his place was clean. More than clean. Boxed up, cleared out, a realtor’s sign in the window. Tag isn’t an especially tidy person, something he would have had to change if Millie moved in. Obviously his housekeeper had been and gone, but when I called her, she didn’t know anything. Nobody knows anything. Tag didn’t tell anyone he was going. His place is for sale, his truck is gone. He is gone. And he hasn’t left a forwarding address.
He’d left an envelope at the gym with Millie’s name on it. Inside were a set of keys—one to her front door, one to the training facility, one to the bar, one to a filing cabinet in his office at the gym. It took us a while to match the keys to their locks, but we had. It didn’t feel like Tag was taking us on a wild goose chase. That wasn’t his style either. He just didn’t want us to find him. And that scared the shit out of me.
In the very top drawer of the gray filing cabinet, was a shoebox filled with cassette tapes. They were labeled with Tag’s name, a number, and a bumpy sticker. A little tape recorder, the kind with the buttons on the end and the speaker along the long top, the kind that looks a little like a grand piano, was in the box too.
When I asked Millie if she knew anything about them, she’d run her fingers over them in surprise and then nodded.
“My brother, Henry, must have given them to him. He’s had this cassette player in his room forever. Henry used to pretend he was a sportscaster and create his own play-by-plays. He’d watch my dad’s games and speak into the recorder like he was Bob Costas or something. Before my mom died, she bought him a digital recorder. But Henry keeps everything. He must have given them to Tag.”
Tag likes the things he can touch. He and Millie have that in common. She needs to touch to see. He needs to touch to feel connected. I could picture him sticking the tapes in and talking away, taking forever to get to the point. Telling stories and laughing like this was all just a big joke. I tried to feel angry, but I knew the real reason he’d left them was because it was the only way he could leave a message for Millie. The only way to allow her the privacy of hearing whatever he had to say without an audience.
“You know how to use this, right?” I asked.
“I think these are for you, Millie,” I said.
“He’s labeled the tapes,” she whispered. “He’s labeled them so I would know which one to listen to first.”
She nodded again. “Yes. I have them on all my clothes and I keep a little box full of them in my bedroom. Numbers, letters, words. I guess he was paying attention when I showed him.”