A compassionate reader asked about the fate of Big Bob, my old friend. To get drug money, Bob had apparently threatened his father with a pistol, attracting a SWAT team and landing in jail for his efforts.

I got this story from Theo, Bob’s father. The good news is that Bob didn’t pull a gun on his father after all, and a gun was mentioned only because the cops said they thought he had one. Have you noticed that cops tend to be paranoid? They may watch too much television. That’d make anybody scared.

So there was a SWAT team and they did close off the area and make poor old Mrs. Joiner walk three blocks out of her way just to get home, and with her getting up in age, too. And there seems to have been a helicopter. Still, Bob got out of jail.

The bad news is that two weeks later he tried to kick in some neighborhood woman’s door, and now he’s back in jail. She and Bob were involved, I take it. That sounds about right. At 60, he has enough sense to stick to inanimate opponents, and he went back to jail mostly because of the restraining order. Ever hopeful, his father thinks Bob’ll be out soon.

So the version I got was bogus. It sounded like Bob had held his father hostage in a stand-off with police until he finally surrendered and was taken to jail, like in the movies. There must’ve been witnesses and evidence and whatnot, right? Everybody in the neighborhood knew about it.

No. The only meaningful witnesses were cops, who reacted to the possibility that Bob had a gun by preparing to murder him. I didn’t accept that story as true because it contradicted what I had experienced and so believed in, namely that Bob is a decent human being, albeit goofier than one might wish.

Although I had heard the story from a mutual friend, after over half a century of friendship I still couldn’t imagine Bob threatening to shoot Theo. I had more faith in my judgment and experience of Bob than in the presumably true story I’d just heard. I try not to believe everything I think, yet I suppose I’m as attached to my beliefs as anybody, and I could’ve been dead wrong.

Not this time. The story was bushwa, passed on to me by a concerned, and thoroughly unreliable, non-witness I thought had been on the scene. Actually, he’d pieced his version of things together based on what he heard from other unreliable non-witnesses in the neighborhood. The story could just as easily been about weapons of mass destruction or the red menace or patriotic duty in any guise.

I never doubted that Bob might’ve had a pistol and was capable of using its possession as leverage to get what he wanted, or that he’d resist a SWAT team. Bob would do all that and more. In the right context, with the right story, he’d be a hero.