Friday, January 29, 2016


                                                               Sound of the Wind

            Mother tries to explain that it’s impossible to drown in shallow water unless you’re really trying. 
We don’t have a shower, just a tub and she tells me to stop running the Hot and to get out.  “I should start making you pay the water bill.”
I get up and tuck my breasts inside a blue towel that I’ve dried my hair with.  I check the mirror.  I’m not fat, not thin, not normal either.  I’m pale.  I’m nobody’s sister friend classmate or confidant.
In the main part of our trailer where we eat and watch TV and where the sink and fridge are, Mother’s boyfriend is hunched over the counter, smoking beside a tattered cloud that is coned under a low-hanging lampshade.  He arches his back when he sees me, windmilling his neck but not getting a crack.  He smells like fertilizer chemicals and manure.  The best thing about him is his hair because it’s almost all fallen out.
“Look at Lucy,” he says and chuffs, even though my name’s not Lucy. 
He grabs me by the waist and I wait to see what she’ll say but it’s okay with her, even when he props me on his lap.
Lester was Mother’s last one.  He was one hundred percent Cherokee with an Indian name that meant Sound of the wind.  He whittled me a miniature totem pole the size of a bat.  Lester knew some things about me, I guess, and so the totem ended up being a wooden diary of my life, or a charm bracelet that wasn’t meant to be worn.  Lester had black hair like a woman that ended just above his waist.  He could whistle with his fingers and send birds shooting out of the trees.  When he’d whistle with his tongue curled, the sparrows sang back.  Sound of the wind.  I wanted him to teach me and he said he would.
Lester used to call me Katydid instead of just Katy and I liked that nickname and I even liked Lester a lot but he’s gone now.
Boyfriend number twelve, or somewhere about that, is fingering the edge of my towel while he’s telling Mom about Rainey Walker who goes out to his backyard and shoots a cow every other day.  “You’d think those idiot animals would have it figured out by now and skedaddle.” 
But I know what those cows are thinking: There’s a fence.  Where’m I gonna run?  Might as well get this life done with and pray there’s another waiting over the mountain top.
“Say, Cheryl, would you mind running and getting me a pack of cigarettes, maybe another six pack?”
Mom’s eyes twitch for a half second.  “Sure thing,” she says. 
I know she’s thinking the opposite way of those cows: If I don’t fetch and jump and let the world turn on its own filthy self, this one’s leaving like all the others and I don’t want to be alone.  That’s exactly what she’s thinking, forgetting that she’d still have me.
When I step off, Mother’s boyfriend pinches the towel so it flaps open for a moment, revealing my lower half and the fact that I never shave.
I go down the narrow hall to the far room where I sleep.  My chest has a bird trapped in it, fluttering and banging. 
I hear Mom get in the car.  After the station wagon starts and drives away, the door knob turns.  I can tell he’s surprised that I haven’t locked it because there’s a little hesitation in the motion, and then it swings open, slick-like.
He tip-toes over, hunched atop the bed like a sick tree all sun-twisted from rot. 
When he starts to pull the cover back, I roundhouse him from behind.  I know the first blow has to count, and it does.  My totem pole cracks against his skull and breaks in two and he’s stunned but topples, landing belly up.  
I can’t take chances.  I’ve seen vampire movies before and I’ve lived one.
So, I take the broken half of the stick--jagged tip raised over my head--and then bring it down where this man’s heart would be if he had one.  I repeat the motion several times, ignoring he grotesque sounds and scene.
When I’m done, I’m out of breath and that bird’s back in my chest banging around.
I take a bath.  Run scalding hot water.
I sink below the surface, happy to be invisible, uncertain about where my life is headed now, but pleased that, for once, I was the one to make things happen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016



            I am wearing the same Fry boots I bought at age twenty-three, used boots then, used now.   Gary threw one at me when we were watching “American Idol” and he didn’t think I was paying attention.  The heel hit me square in the eye and now I have only one that works.  Sometimes I like it better that way.  The world’s not always a pretty picture.
            Even after that episode I stayed, lingered like an alley cat scared by vagrants and night sounds but still starving.  What I was famished for was love, even a facsimile of it, even a cruel torch masquerading as love, and so I stayed with Gary too many months and years until my family disowned me for my weakness, my lack of spine, as Dad said.
            A knife to the throat one evening in bed tipped things for me.  Gary liked it weird in bed—holding an unloaded Luger to my head as he took me doggy, a pair of used panties stretched across my face as he took me doggy, searing hot candle wax dripped down the back of my neck and across my shoulder blades as he took me doggy.
            The guy in the apartment above has been coming around when I go out to the patio to smoke.  He says I look too wounded to be alone.  He’s asked me out but I keep saying no.  He seems like good people and it’s a mistake for someone like me to pass up such an offer, but when you only have one seeing-eye your focus is always off.  You get clumsy.  You miss things.  The world is tilted.
            Today was the first day of school, and as usual I was nervous how the kids would react when they saw me because it always happens in one form or another.
            As we broke for recess, sweet little Fiona with her afro and Sues-striped socks up to her thighs pointed and asked if I was an ogre.  Kids are smarter than you think.  At any age, they are.  She was just being a child, curious, a seven year old with no will ill yet.
            When I laughed and raised my arms, making my hands into claws she started to whimper.  I felt like shit about that, and said, “No.  No.  I’m a human being.  I’m real.”
            I went to Group for a few years after leaving Gary.  People shared their stories.  Some of it was very hard to hear, some of it heart-crushing, some of it self-pity.  It took almost as much strength to stop going as it did to leave Gary because Group was the only place I felt safe, even though I knew feeling that way just made me weaker, less.
            One woman there had been burned with lit cigarettes on her face so many times that her skin was a rope of wedges melded into each other, like moon craters if moon craters were skin and not quite as deep.  People called her “The Thing” because she resembled a deformed comic book hero.
            When I phoned last night, for no reason other than I was thinking of her out of the blue, her sister answered and I found out about the suicide.  The pull of darkness and despair can get to a point where a quick end seems inevitable and there’s no alternative.  People who call suicide victims selfish don’t get it.  They’ve never been there.  Life is that much brighter for them.
            I look at my boots now, noticing a nail is coming through the left heel like a snaggletooth.  I hadn’t felt it when walking, hadn’t detected it at all until now, and I feel even more blind than I am, more stupid, sort of how a relationship can be lethal even when you’re in it and all the signs are right there, red flares screaming at you to run.
            When the kids clamber back into class, I stand up and write on the chalk board Something I want to teach you, then erase it and write Something I need to teach you is how to love the right way.
            Turning around, I see Fiona’s upraised hand.
            “Yes, Fiona?”
            “I already know that one.”
“You do?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yep.  My Daddy loves my Mom.  He calls her Baby and they hold hands when they watch TV.”
            I let myself smile.  “That’s good,” I say.  “Let’s start there.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


…You’ve got to love Betty Davis, who said the following and sure didn’t like Joan Crawford, or anybody else for that matter:

“Why am I so good at playing bitches?  I think it’s because I’m not a bitch. Maybe that’s why [Joan Crawford] always plays ladies.”

“There was more good acting at Hollywood parties than ever appeared on the screen.”

“I will never be below the title.”

“The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

“I never did pal around with actresses. Their talk usually bored me to tears.”

“[referring to fourth husband, Gary Merrill] Gary was a macho man, but none of my husbands was ever man enough to become Mr. Bette Davis.”

“[on her greatest rival Joan Crawford] She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie.”

“[on Crawford] I wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire.”

“[commenting on the death of long-time nemesis Joan Crawford] You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good… Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

“[on Errol Flynn] He was just beautiful… Errol. He himself openly said, ‘I don’t know really anything about acting,’ and I admire his honesty because he’s absolutely right.”

“The male ego, with few exceptions, is elephantine to start with.”

“I am a woman meant for a man, but I never found a man who could compete.”

“I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.”

“I survived because I was tougher than anybody else.”

“[when Ed Sullivan offered Davis $10,000 to do an imitation of Tallulah Bankhead on television] Miss Bankhead isn’t well enough known nationally to warrant my imitating her.”

“The weak are the most treacherous of us all. They come to the strong and drain them. They are bottomless. They are insatiable. They are always parched and always bitter. They are everyone’s concern and like vampires they suck our life’s blood.”

“Old age is no place for sissies.”

“If everybody likes you, you’re pretty dull.”

“[during tension on the set of The Whales of August (1987) about her esteemed costar Lillian Gish] She ought to know about close-ups! Jesus, she was around when they invented them!”

Sunday, January 24, 2016


…I was good at math.  For a quarter of a year I was.  In fifth grade.  The teacher thought one other girl and I were gifted in math and set us up on a regiment whereby we taught ourselves from a different curriculum.  With a few weeks, I was failing miserably and eventually returned to the same studies the rest of the class followed.  Since then, all these years later, I’ve thought of myself as bad at math, intimidated by equations and numbers.
But now I need numbers, or rather goals, thresholds, something to aim for and conquer.  It’s what keeps me focused, motivated and, well, going.
When I was running quite a bit it was only because I had planned a marathon.  Without a marathon in my future, I’d talk myself out of those early morning runs in the daylight-savings-time darkness, in the bitter cold.  But if I had a marathon slated, I had no choice.  I’d committed.  So it was drag my skinny ass out of bed and get to it.
Same goes now for writing.  Word count matters to me.  I know quantity is not a replacement for quality, but quantity does matter, and it keeps you honest, keeps your butt in the chair.
Same with getting published.  Someone once told me that I keep score too much, that it’s all about the numbers for me.  They said that cheekily, then retracted it once I probed for an explanation.  It was a slight, but it was also true.
I’m on the cusp of having 900 stories/poems published since I’ve been doing this writing thing full-time.  Does 900 matter to me?  Of course.  Am I shooting for 1000?  Absolutely.  By the end of this year, in fact.  It’s what keeps me popping out pieces, submitting even after multiple rejections.
For me, numbers are the whip, the lashes on my back, and I need that.

…I had a few things published last week:

and here on pages 79 and 81:
…and these were some things I thought were pretty funny on Facebook last week:

-I lost my company four million dollars today how is your day going?
-The guy next to me in line at CVS is buying Muscle Milk and condoms. I'm buying mini chocolate doughnuts. Seems right.
 -I hate it when I gain ten pounds for a role and then realize I’m not an actress.
 -A tampon so absorbent it prevents crying.
 -A wise woman once said, “Fuck this shit,” and lived happily ever after.
 -I was going to write a story about apathy but I couldn't be bothered.
 -One thing I love about my new job is how nonchalantly we discuss blowjobs, hemorrhoids and ghosts in meetings.
 -I've been clean now for coming up on 17 years. Know what I've learned? Clean and sober people are more full of shit than junkies. It's true, on average. Think about that.
 -Here I am chilling with Domino, a dog that goes to an Ivy League school.
 -D got all excited thinking I was playing with myself under my shirt, but I didn't want to disappoint him and tell him I was looking for the M & M I lost. I think I'll just torture him a little longer.

Friday, January 22, 2016


I’m So Glad You Came

Today I am blind
looking into white infinity.
Just six days ago
a dutiful doctor with
square, squat teeth told me
it was nary time.
When I laughed at that
he said, “It’s okay to be afraid.
We all are.”
For many years I had insomnia,
waking up in pitch dark,
the house a foreign land with
no hint of where to grab or hold onto,
and now the sheer nearness
of the end
is very much like that.
I hear the door open--
click and sweep and close--
but nothing more because
they’re afraid I’m already dead.
Even blind,
even teetering on the ledge
with burning toenails,
I tap on my hospital mattress,
“Please sit.  There’s room right here next to me. 
I’m so glad you came.” 

Too Many Men

There are too many men
inside me
trying to escape,
each one too slow or clumsy,
cowardly perhaps.
They like it here,
hiding in the chaos and bramble,
playing Hide N Seek,
Tug of War,
Russian Roulette.
Now that I’ve grown a beard people
tell me I look like Jesus or Lincoln.
Who I am is never who I am.
I don’t know the difference authenticity
and an orange that’s been bit into.
Am I saying too much?
Does this scare you like I thought it would?
Now let me tell you the worst thing:
I never loved you, not like that.
Instead I was too weak to walk away,
too many different people inside my head
saying, Marry her.  Marry her.  She’s as good
as you’ll ever get.

Jetsam and Flotsam

I sit on a sidewalk
listening to the rain,
how it sounds like
chicks pecking on the pavement
as a thousand cabs slog by,
sloshing a filthy rainbow
of water over me.
We’ve taken cabs
up and down this same street,
over the Brooklyn Bridge
to Bryant Park.
You said, “The rain is nothing to fear,”
even as the floods came,
boats no longer moored,
boards like broken bones,
the essence of what was once us
nothing more now than
jetsam and flotsam
wafting away with the rising tide.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


…Hello, Wednesday.  You’re looking kind of blurry, but I like you anyway.

...Here are some random bits I learned so far this week…

-Natalie Imbruglia’s song, “Torn” is played over 75 times a day in her native Australia.
The most played song in the world is “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers (8 million times), followed by “Yesterday” from The Beatles.
-48 percent of Americans read something in the news each day that makes them angry.

-41 percent of Americans think the US is the most powerful nation in the world.  54% said it once was but not anymore.

-54% say they are worse off financially than they thought they would be when they were younger

-56% say the American Dream no longer exists.

-48% say race relations in the US have worsened since Obama became president.

-Three out of five white Americans think that police killings of American Americans are isolated incidents while three out of four black Americans believe they’re part of a pattern.

-2014 was the hottest year on earth ever recorded, until that record was broken in 2015.

…And here’s a story I wrote yesterday…


                                                              Last Words
Another one’s set to die today and as usual my stomach’s a swamp of nausea.  I forget I’ve poured a bowl of cereal, staring out the window at a wall of gray rain, hypnotized by nothing and everything, the way it feels when you’re in a broken marriage, and now my spoonful of Wheaties tastes like a maw of wet newsprint.

“You could get another job,” my husband says, reading my mind again which I hate him doing because there are plenty of things I think about that I’d rather not have him knowing.  “It doesn’t pay squat anyway.”

So he says.  He always says.

We’ve got bills, a car loan, his big ass truck loan, can barely pay the minimum on our credit cards, with interest piling up every month, constantly gnawing at me like some hideous flesh-eating disease. 

Well, if Texas wants to kill again, someone’s got to be there to record it, and I’m their gal.

Far as I know we’re the only state that chronicles an executed criminal’s last words.  It feels wrong, perverted, like watching your sibling undress, yet it’s legal and actually required.  I write down their final statement word for word and enter it a computer and there it sits in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice data base, free for anyone to see, though why on earth would they want to?

A lot of times the inmate thanks the Warden, which I don’t get.  He’s the one organizing your execution, and he’s looking the other way as he does it, which again is like being in a bad marriage where you know your spouse is cheating but you’re just too tired to fight, or too frail to run.

The other thing most of them do is say goodbye to friends and family, which is what you’d expect.  Sometimes they confess a secret sin they’ve been harboring and the relief on their face as they confess is the opposite of the death they’re facing; it’s a chick pecking through an egg shell, a butterfly testing new wings, freedom and rebirth, an escape of sorts.

We’ve been married going on twelve years.  I suspect Darold’s philandering started about year seven which I know they say is when couples get the itch.  I never got that, though Darold did once give me the crabs.  Said it was from a toilet seat.  I looked it up on the internet and it’s a possibility, though slim as winning Powerball.

My sister, Arlene, doesn’t understand why I stay with him but she’s got a good man who still buys her yellow roses and gave her the one-of-kind nickname Renny, which I think is downright adorable, especially when he says it while fluffing up her mop of orange hair.  Darold’s called me Bitch more times than my own name, Tammy.  He’s come close, but he’s never hit me, so there’s that.

The thing Arlene doesn’t understand is how different we are, even though she and I are twins.  It’s like that line in the movie, “The Way We Were” where the teacher reads a winning story that Barbra Streisand is sure will be hers only it’s not, it’s Bob Redford’s with the opening line: “In a way he was like the country he lived in; everything came too easily to him.”  That’s Arlene to a t, though she don’t know it.  I’m not spiteful, but I’m not deaf, dumb and blind either.  Nearly every day, fruit falls into my sister’s lap, most of it golden apples.

It’s a bold risk, Darold telling me to quit my job since I know he lost his last week.  I didn’t even need to probe, since word flies around these parts like the wind.  Still Darold’s got his overalls on and I’ve packed his lunch pail and he’s out the door, saying “See ya tonight,” without mentioning what I’ve got to go through today or how hard it’s going to be.

Jackass.  I married a jackass.  I guess that makes me one, too.

I sit at the table, knowing I’ve got to get going while some of the inmates’ most recent entries flutter through my head like shutters banging in a storm.

“I’m ready to go home.”

“Much has been written about this case, not all of it has been the truth.  But the time is over and now it is time to move on.”

“To the victim’s family, I want you to know that I hope you let go of all the hate because of all my actions.  I came in as a lion and I come as a peaceful lamb.  I’m at peace.”

“Tell them I finished strong.  I love y’all.  I’m done.  I love you, Richie.  Thank you, Brad and John, all of y’all.  God is good.  I love you Auntie.  I’m done.”

Most of them find God before they die.  Grace is such a meal ticket, a life raft tossed overboard when you’re about to choke to death on saltwater.  It makes sense.  But I wonder if they mean it, if they really love God all the way down to their toes, the way a woman should love her man, and vice-versa.  If they don’t, God’ll be able to tell.  If he knows the number of hairs on your head, well, shit, he’s knows everything then.

“There are no endings, only beginning.  Love y’all.  See you soon.”

“I didn’t get my SphagettiOs.  I want the press to know that.”

“Let’s ride!”

On the drive Arlene calls and I put her on speaker.  She bubbling over excited.  Mason bought her twin lab pups.  It’s their anniversary, seven years.  I’ve forgotten, thought I fake it, feeling plastic for lying to my sis who, as far as I know, has never been anything but truthful with me through these many years.

When she tells me, “I want to name one of the puppies after you,” I get flustered and emotional, tears splashing right away without warning like those menopause commercials they show on TV, but my way of responding to her sweet gesture is to say, “He bought you bitches?” 

I don’t know where it came from.  I guess I just liked being the one to say bitch instead of Darold.  I guess, not so far deep down, I am jealous of Arlene after all.

She’s shocked, naturally, but gives me a way out by dancing around what I’ve said and we work through the conversation and say goodbye with things feeling a little ripe, yet healable. 

At the prison everything is as quiet as a library, a cemetery, a moment at the front door of a trailer when a husband comes home from a bar smelling like the sharp tang of vagina.

I go through screening and down the hall looking straight ahead, the way they tell you to do if you’re up high somewhere when you’re afraid of heights.

A couple of times somebody says, “Hey, Tammy,” and I try to nod but my neck has become a tree stump, as if severed from my head, and I’m unable to do anything other than stride ahead.

The halls are narrow, and seem more tapered every time I walk them.  I know I’m getting bigger, fatter, but it’s a claustrophobic feeling, like the time Arlene and I snuck through Old Man Miller’s drainage pipe and I got stuck after she’d made it to the other side.  I was there for hours, until she summoned Dad and then later I was given the belt on my backside--thirteen lashes, one for every year I was old at the time.

The interesting thing, the thing nobody mentions, is that most people Texas executes are Hispanics.  Look it up, you’ll see.  I’ve only known Mexicans to be friendly, family-first type of folk.  I can’t even imagine one getting stirred up enough to kill somebody, not to mention his wife and daughter as Enrique Vasquez is reported to have done.

I always expect the inmates to be thin rails, but they never are.  The food must be better than I imagine it, and the servings ample or plentiful, because every inmate with less than one hour to live has a body like Rocky Balboa.

Same with Enrique Vasquez.  Even with his prison uni on it’s easy to see he’s got a body builder’s physique.  Ordinarily that would give a person plenty of confidence, but Enrique looks sheepish, like a dog that’s been beat for peeing on the rug.

His big brown eyes are bumble bees trapped in a jar, bumping up against glass time and time again, hitting one side of the jar then the other, then the lid, trying to pop it open.

He has two visible tattoos.  On his right forearm it says Maria with the last “a” trailing off into a stem that then forms a rose.  On his other forearms it says Choco, with a wispy loop off the “o” turned into a stem that forms an identical rose matching Maria’s.  Choco was his daughter, a nickname he gave her because she so loved chocolate.

Before I even do preliminaries Enrique jumps in.  “I didn’t do what they say.  I told the lawyer, the judge, the jury, I told everyone, but they wouldn’t believe.”

His eyes have turned black now, not menacing, but rather charcoal smudges, like the kind Darold would have on his hands after working at the shop back when he still had a job.

Usually inmates look around the room, at the guards, trying to seem tough and resigned, but Enrique has only looked at me and he won’t stop staring.

“I need you to help me.  Please.  I’m begging you.”

His hands and ankles are cuffed, but he kneels down in front of me and just as he does one of the guards grabs the back of his uni and the fabric rips, so the guard then yanks Enrique by his hair and heaves him back into the chair.

Enrique doesn’t seem to be bothered by this in the slightest.  His eyes have never left mine, and while it’s a cheater’s way out, I wish I was blind right now.  The strained agony in Enrique’s face is a portrait of death itself.

“I didn’t do it,” he says, his voice a hoarse whisper now.  “I didn’t!”

“Please, sir,” I say, my drawl thicker than ever, as it always is when I’m nervous.  “I just need your last words.”

“I said I didn’t do it.”

“Anything else?”

“You have to help me.”

Help has got to be the biggest word in the English language, even if it’s just four simple letters.  I never liked that Beatles song, but I never change the station when it comes on.  Help.  I need somebody.  Yeah, we all do.  I do.  Enrique does right now.  But it’s too late.  Too late for him and me and every other sonofabitch that’s been screwed over.

“Sir,” I say, “do you want those to be your last words?”


I look down at my notepad which is bouncing between my quivering thighs.  “Your last words: are they You have to help me?”

“Yes!  Please.  I am not the one who did this.  I loved my wife and child.  What man does not?”

“Sir, one last time.  What will you say as your last words?”

Enrique, for the first time, looks away from me, his head flapping backward, eyes raised upward at the bald white ceiling, his neck craned so far back that it seems his head might snap off.

“Sir,” I say, a trickle of piss escaping, wetting my groin area.

Enrique’s head comes swinging down.  He leans forward, too close, and so, Buck, the largest of the guards, hits Enrique on the knee with his club and Enrique’s leg responds reflexively, leaping out and kicking me on the knee.

“Hey, asshole, knock that shit off,” Buck says, bringing his stubby club across Enrique’s throat and squeezing while Enrique flails like a doe attacked by wolves.

“Buck.  Buck!  It’s okay.  Let him be.”

Buck keeps his choke hold a beat longer, but finally eases up, removing his club.

“It’s okay,” I say to Enrique, though it’s not, though nothing is.  “I just need your last words.”

And then we’re done.  You’re done.  It’s finished.

Enrique looks at me square in the eye, jaw flexed, lips thin and pursed and I feel guilty for some reason, as if I convicted him myself.

I look down at the floor where there’s a red smear in the shape of an oversized comma.  “Sir, I’ll only ask this one last time.  What are your last words?”

He takes a sharp breath through his nose, nostrils flaring like a stallion, stands and nods to the guards.  When Buck takes his elbow and leads Enrique away while I write in my notepad: Last Statement:  I didn’t do it.

On the drive home I think about death, about murder and what kind of person would be capable of killing a woman and child.  A jury convicted Enrique, so he must be guilty and I should hate him the way everyone else does.  Still I feel judgmental and hypocritical, remembering the three abortions I’ve had since being married to Darold, all without him knowing.  Abortion is a woman’s choice and not murder, I know that, but still it’s a weight I carry around like a vest bomb that can be detonated at any moment.

At home I take a bubble bath for the first time in years.  I light candles that I’ve placed around the tub, get in and read Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel,” not understanding much of the poems, but liking the music in her words.  She was thirty years old, same as I am now, when she stuck her head in an oven while her kids were in the next room.  She stuffed rags in the bottom seams of the doors so that none of the poisonous fumes would get out.  That woman must have really been suffering.

If Darold follows through with his charade of pretending to still be employed he’ll be home in an hour, so I get out, dry myself, dress, and fill two suitcases full of clothes and shoes.

When Darold’s not home by eight o’clock, I rip a page from my notebook meaning to write him a note, but nothing comes to mind and so I leave the blank paper on the kitchen table, grab my bags and walk out without looking back, without a solitary regret.

In the car, I drive in silence, hearing myself breathing.  It reminds me of the last breath I saw Enrique take. 

He said he didn’t kill his wife and child, and jury or not, I decide I’m going to take his word for it that he’s innocent.  He’s dead now, so it might not matter to anyone else, but it does to me. 

Outside the night is as black as it’s ever been, and just as soothing.