Then the vessel of day cracked open and the night seeped in like black water. Drunk on hard wine. I knew it was going to be my last night on earth. Smoked a whole pack of cigarettes waiting on it. Molly fell asleep in the back room, waiting for me to come to bed. But I wasn’t coming to bed. Not anymore. .
Sometimes when she kisses me, I want to bite her tongue off in my mouth. She can see it in my face, back in my eyes and everywhere.
She does what a lot of people do when they get fucked up. She goes to bed. Pulls the covers up over her head. Cries herself to sleep. I can’t stand that. Can’t stand her doing that. Can’t stand myself even thinking of doing it. Cop out like that.
“Jed, honey, just come to bed and we’ll fuck all this away, or I’ll suck you and you’ll forget all about it.”
I wasn’t forgetting. I was gonna sit here and smoke. I was going to meet this thing head on. Eyes wide open and feet on the ground.
It’s easier for her. She didn’t do anything, didn’t see what I saw. She doesn’t know what I know. I wanted to go in there in the back room and whisper down soft and low, just loud enough not to wake her but to get inside whatever dream she was having,
“She was bleeding, Moll, bleeding dark and rich. Coming out her mouth, all down the insides of her legs. But she wasn’t dead. You just sleep good, honey, and think on that. That girl wasn’t dead when they took her off in the ambulance. She was looking at me, and her eyes were augers. She was sharp as knives back there behind those pinpoint shocked out pupils. I can’t stop seeing that. And now that you know, why don’t you go ahead and wake up screaming?”
But I didn’t say anything. I left her sleeping in the back room and sat here waiting, alone, like a man. Waiting for that first sound of hooves, the cloven feet of the Devil’s horses thumping in the dirt on McKinley Road. Tump-thumping. Is that my heart a-drum whumping thump so loud I can’t hear myself breathe anymore. Then I’m not breathing and my heart isn’t beating either. I’m dead. And it’s him, the thumping, old Patch, coming right up to the front door to make good on the contract I signed with that girl’s blood. Wrote my name on the dotted line, scrawled and mangled in the freeway asphalt. .
Get thee behind me Satan.
Let ’em speak that as my epitaph
Wonder what they’ll say for her. Taken too soon from this life. She went to school. She had a sticker in her back window, from some school. She went there. She drove a car. She died.
She died because they weren’t playing anything but shit on the radio. Every station I turned to. Shit. Turn. Shit. Turn. Turn Goddammit! But it was too late to be looking up and doing anything to stop it. Nobody else around and I ran right into her. That little Honda or whatever she was driving just ricocheted off the divider, plowed into the guardrail like taffy. Tires screaming metal screaming I’m screaming. Slamming on the brakes. OhGodOhGodOhGod. Too late for praying. God’s already gone and forgot about you when you weren’t paying attention. In that dark spot between realization.
She wasn’t wearing a seat belt or anything, and the steering wheel just about went through her. I figured she was dead. Knew I was. Just sat on the guardrail between our cars and waited for it to come. Waited for my body to get good and ready and die.
Then after awhile I just got up and walked off. My body must have already deserted me. I must have been a haunt of some kind by then. I climbed over the guardrail and slid down the bank. Nobody even noticed. How you gonna see what’s not there?
I walked home to kind of say goodbye to Molly before I went wherever it was I was going. Had a pretty good idea. I shit my pants when she actually saw me and told me supper was about ready. Here I didn’t think anybody could see me or know me anymore in this world, and she’s telling me to wash up for porkchops.
I broke down crying over dinner. The gravy congealed back to fat. It wasn’t long after that that the day started cracking and the night came. And I waited. I was sure it would be then.
That was three days ago. The police been by since then. Deadman hid out up in the attic like a real old timey spook. I’d of done anything for a set of chains to rattle around up there or something. Molly told the blue boys she hadn’t seen me, not in a couple of days. Not since I went off for work that morning. That morning. They haven’t been back since.
And I’ve just been sitting here. Waiting on those long black horses, all frothing and foaming, hungry for manflesh to rend and flay with their teeth made out of fire and their eyes dead as martyrs.
But maybe there’s something else. Maybe this is it. Maybe sometimes the devil collects his due by not doing anything at all. And a man lives in the hell of his own creation.