Questions of Reliability

“He was good, I believed, at heart. Or mainly. He was kind, or could be kind. He knew things. But I was also certain that I knew things he didn’t and could see how he could be led wrong and be wrong that way all his life. “Niall will come to no good end,” my mother said a day after his letter came. Something had disappointed her. Something transient or displaced in him. Something had been attractive to her about Niall in her fragile state, and been attractive to me, in my own rare state. But you couldn’t bank on what Niall was, which was the word my poor father used. That was what you looked for, he thought, in the people you wanted closest to you. People you could bank on. It sounds easy enough. But if only—and I have thought it a thousand times since those days, when my mother and I were alone together—if only life would turn out to be that simple.”

Displaced” by Richard Ford