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APRIL 11, 1995
light from the bathroom played on her small breasts as
she lay on the coverlet, her belly rising and falling.
She gurgled in the dark room.
felt strangely peaceful considering the circumstances.
Fear and shame, the guiding forces of his life, had been
purged in a few joyful moments. Now he felt tall and strong
and peaceful. Part James Bond, part Buddha.
she said, her voice weak and thick with sleep.
not here.” Outside, a car rolled up the gravel alley.
Mama.” She furrowed her brow like a serious infant.
Baby face, soft skin, shivering in the warm room. The
little cherub who brought him peace.
spoke in lullaby tones. “You called. She wasn’t
home. You got me.”
empty Valium bottle lay on the worn braided rug by her
single bed. He put it on the nightstand. It was time to
the tiny bathroom, he wet a washcloth, then wiped any
surface he might have touched: the faucet, the pill bottle,
the doorknob. He was about to leave when his shoe hit
another pill bottle.
he said. “How many of these did you take?”
head arched back and she choked for air.
a rush his blood pressure shot up and all his fear and
shame came back, all his self-loathing, as it hit him:
She could die! She was full of his DNA. He’d be
charged with rape, maybe murder. Arrest. Court. Prison.
stumbled into the bathroom and ran hot water into the
tiny claw-foot tub, then stepped back to the bed. He had
to lean close to hear her breaths, short and shallow.
He settled his arms under her neck and knees and hoisted.
She hung like dead weight, collapsing in the middle. He
strained to hold her up.
moved sideways through the bathroom doorway and lowered
her into the tub. She gasped from the hot water and again
when her head hit the enamel. He turned on the cold, swished
the water around, raised one of her eyelids. She stirred
but didn’t register him.
God!” he muttered. “Oh God oh God oh God.”
water rose to her chest and he turned it off.
the washcloth. Where’s the washcloth? Wipe the tub.
Wipe the floor where he stepped. Wipe the pill bottles.
heard her throat catch again and he watched from the archway.
She began to tremble. Then she began to quake. She was
having a convulsion, a seizure.
God,” he cried, softly as he could.
he wiped the doorknob with the cloth, stepped out, closed
it, wiped the outside, hit the rickety wooden steps and
ran down, down, down.