Part of me feels re­ally sorry, an­other part of me feels guilty for not feel­ing more sorry, and then there is this tiny bul­let in me that holds no re­gret. I never un­der­stood ma­chine guns, until now. Now I think I might love to shoot one. I’d love to pick up a big ol’ heavy one with a long, oily snout and if I had the courage to pull the trig­ger once I could shoot and shoot and shoot for­ever.

I don’t know what hap­pens next. 99% of the nights you’ve been gone, and I’ve added it all up, I’ve been real good. When you first left, night after night, I fed the dog alone, scrubbed my teeth alone, and curled into our bed all by my­self. But things got harder.

I gave up on cook­ing. I just eat peanut but­ter and jelly sand­wiches for din­ner. Lately I’ve just been scoop­ing the peanut but­ter straight out of the jar into my mouth, and then shov­ing some bread in after, wash­ing it down with boxed red wine.

I didn’t know it’d be this painful. In fact, I thought it’d be ro­man­tic. I told my grand­mother about you leav­ing for ‘work’, and she pulled out a worn paper box full of the love let­ters she and my grand­fa­ther sent to each other while he was at war. The let­ters had turned yel­low and frail, and I could barely read the faded ink. Many of the let­ters had split along their creases from so many reads.

Of course, I didn’t tell her you were dri­ving down to Mex­ico to do God knows what. All I even knew was that you said when you come back money would be bet­ter, and we could maybe even have a baby. You said you’d be gone six months at most, and I didn’t want to know more. I just wanted that to be true. So I turned my head, sighed, and blinked. I said okay, but come home fast, and shot you a look to know I meant it.

The day you walked out of our house we had your bags all packed, we packed them to­gether. I had slipped a let­ter in the side pouch of your leather suit­case. I walked you out to your truck. Our neigh­bors were on their porch watch­ing us with craned necks, and I was so mad at them for ru­in­ing the mo­ment. I pounded my fist into my hand, like ball to glove. You cried, but I couldn’t with the au­di­ence. I fo­cused on my anger be­cause I couldn’t focus on you leav­ing. I wanted to shoot them, but you told me to let it rest and then good­bye.

You hopped in your truck and drove into the sun. Just like in the movies, I stood in the mid­dle of the road and squinted to watch you ride away. Dirt and rocks spat up as you peeled right. I hoped you’d turn back and wave, but you didn’t.

Once you were gone, I re­al­ized I was bare­foot, and my feet hurt on the hot, flaky as­phalt. I tip­toed in­side. I turned on Patsy Cline and felt sorry for my­self. I poured a glass of wine, and then an­other. I didn’t walk your dog, even though I was sup­posed to. I had an­other glass of wine and turned the music up a lit­tle louder. I smiled, re­al­iz­ing you prob­a­bly left me some­thing some­where. I danced from room to room, look­ing in my fa­vorite al­bums and jean pock­ets for a good­bye token. I pulled the shower cur­tain back, ex­pect­ing you to be there.

And then I did all I could do. I sat on the couch, blasted the music a lit­tle louder, and waited.

Life was the same on the out­side. I drove the old Pon­tiac to Hank’s Bar and Grill, where I kept wait­ing ta­bles five nights a week. I took care of your dog the best I could. I kept my nails painted red like you like them.

I eyed the mail like a wolf. I wrote you daily, but I never sent the let­ters. I didn’t have your ad­dress, but even so, I wanted to get one from you first. If I had to wait and won­der, you did, too.

One night after a par­tic­u­larly grimy night at Hank’s, I got home and lit a cig­a­rette. It tasted so sweet—my first puff since I quit a year ago. I hadn’t heard from you, and it’d been two months. So, what the hell? I made a pact, the mo­ment I heard from you, I’d throw my Camels out. But until then, I drank wine and molded my lips into an O while blow­ing out smoke. I lis­tened to Patsy over and over.

I got lonely, so I called my cousin, Sally, and she was up the street at this dimly lit blues club. I de­cided to meet her. I slicked my hair into a tight pony­tail and marked my eyes black with sparkly eye­liner. I slid my feet into leather boots, grabbed my jean jacket, and went out walk­ing after mid­night.

I walked into The Flamingo. I couldn’t be­lieve I’d never been there, but then again, you hated any place where you were sup­posed to sit still. And you re­ally would have hated it. There was a jazz group all done up in ratty tuxe­dos, and the walls were a syrupy red vel­vet. The place was dark be­sides a few dingy lamps and of course all the starry cig­a­rette ends.

I couldn’t find Sally. I went up to the bar to get a drink. I or­dered gin and lime, and lit a cig­a­rette. The smoke I blew stayed around me like a cloud. I couldn’t see any­thing but the puffy grey air. The gin felt good, so I stayed in my bub­ble and or­dered an­other.

I screamed when Sally tapped me on the back. I started cry­ing like some­one with one of those shell­shock dis­eases, like when peo­ple come back from war and can’t be touched.  Once I got it to­gether, she asked how I was doing.

Oh, fine.

How’s Jose?

I don’t know.


I don’t know.

Aren’t y’all talk­ing filthy on the phone and writ­ing dirty let­ters and all that?

No, haven’t heard from him.




The next day she brought me a pink, shiny vi­bra­tor, it was the biggest thing I’d ever seen. She said all I needed to do was get bat­ter­ies, and then I’d barely know you were gone. I must have looked like some­one who needed a good fuck.

Com­pared to the old, sick bas­tards that fre­quent Hank’s, I loved going to The Flamingo. I started walk­ing there al­most every evening since they stayed open so late. Some­times the moon would light up my walk, and I’d won­der where you were. I’d ask the moon, but it was smug and never told me. I’d ask the stars, but you know we can’t see them here with all the city lights. A few times guys at The Flamingo would tell me I was a looker and try to buy my drink. I’d usu­ally let them buy a round but then I’d blow smoke in their faces. I was wait­ing for my man, I’d tell them.

But you never came, and you never wrote. And I still had months to wait. You warned me you might not be able to write, and def­i­nitely not call. But I thought you’d find a way. I thought you wouldn’t be able to live with­out find­ing a way. If you had to fold your let­ters in some sort of fancy air­plane shape with tiny mo­tors at­tached and fly them all the way up to me, I thought you’d do it. You were al­ways a crazy son of a bitch. But I loved you any­ways be­cause I thought you were so crazy for me.

I started to re­ally hate the dog. I wouldn’t let him on the bed with me at night. I needed it all to my­self, to roll in the too clean sheets and empty feel­ing. The dog would howl and I’d howl back, but meaner, grit­ting my teeth.

I stopped writ­ing you al­to­gether, and I cried. I looked through our wed­ding album, sipped whiskey and howled some more. The dog and I kept howl­ing every night, but not to­gether. I’d hiss at him, and he’d show me his teeth. I only fed him for you, and I’d lock him in the closet for hours at a time.

One night I went to The Flamingo and de­cided not to sit at the bar. There was some guy singing with a bluesy voice that drew me in like water. I sat at one of the empty ta­bles near the front. I didn’t even smoke. I wanted to see. I’d never heard the songs he was singing, and I tried to re­ally pay at­ten­tion. I fo­cused on the way the man strummed his gui­tar and the pretty blonde sax­o­phone player be­hind him. He had bright blue eyes, like rhine­stones. I imag­ined them as mar­ried, and I imag­ined that every night they’d go home after a show and make love. He’d lift up her puffy red dress, and she’d be his peach.

You said you left for us, but it didn’t feel that way. You’d al­ways wanted things crazy, even though I was just fine with how things were. But that’s you. I’d be so happy, couldn’t be­lieve my life, my luck. And you’d be bored. I wasn’t sur­prised when your mama told me how you broke your arm five times as a child falling from trees. You had to out climb every­one, even if it meant you fell the hard­est.  You’ve al­ways been a dumb lit­tle shit like that. Then again, what am I if I fall to pieces with­out you?

Time moved so slow. Every sec­ond lasted longer than watch­ing milk freeze.

The weather was get­ting hot so I started wear­ing less to The Flamingo. And fi­nally, when one young kid put his hand on my knee, I didn’t move it right away. I let it sit for three sec­onds be­fore I ashed on his hand and got up to pee.

Mr. Blue Eyes was play­ing again that night, so I moved from the bar to the stage. I tapped my fin­ger­nails on the table in beat with the base. I looked into his eyes, and oc­ca­sion­ally he looked into mine, and drew out a smile. He had a strong jaw and wore tight slacks. I bet my­self he would have turned me to liq­uid, if he touched me.

When I got home that night, I pulled out the pink vi­bra­tor Sally gave me. Just look­ing at it I got all mashed up in­side. All I ever wanted was you. But it’d been three and half months, and all I’d heard was noth­ing. I took the bat­ter­ies out of our fire alarm and stuck them in. I then stood up and put one hand on our chest­nut dresser for bal­ance. I tapped my fin­gers on the wood as I turned it on. I didn’t think of you. I hated you, so I pulled the trig­ger and got off to Mr. Blue Eyes from the Flamingo.

With you gone, grad­u­ally my days fell into a new kind of rhythm. I slept all day, went to work, then came home to feed the damn dog, walked to the Flamingo, and came home and fucked my­self. But I al­ways slept alone.

I started to won­der if you’d died. I even called a cou­ple of your friends, but they knew noth­ing. You’d given me enough money to pay bills for six months. If you didn’t come back, I didn’t know what I’d do. I guess pawn all your shit. I started walk­ing around the house, look­ing for things I could sell. I found two stacks of hun­dred dol­lar bills in the back of the freezer be­hind some frozen fish. I left them back there. I found a card­board box full of hun­dreds of tiny plas­tic bag­gies and a heavy scale. I found a sil­ver pis­tol at the bot­tom of your dresser drawer. I ran my hands all over its smooth, shiny sur­face. The gun felt like teeth. I sucked on the bar­rel, and it had a min­eral fla­vor, like blood. I stuck the bar­rel up my pussy, and this time I thought of you.

I knew you hadn’t died. As much of a piece of shit as you could be, you were mine and I was yours. I could still feel you, which is why I was so damn mad you hadn’t writ­ten me. I’d know if you died. I’d of felt it. A part of me would have fallen out, one of my kid­neys would be gone or some­thing. I prob­a­bly would stop breath­ing. I’d just know.

I kept the gun in my purse and walked around in high heels. I dyed my hair blonde and painted my nails black. I imag­ined going down to Mex­ico and blow­ing your brains out, but then hold­ing you close. Af­ter­ward, I’d se­lect what parts of your brain to put back in your head. I’d then sew your skull back to­gether, and you’d come on home.

Every morn­ing, I awoke to my own sob­bing. But then I’d kiss your gun and feel calmed.

Mr. Blue Eyes started play­ing every night, and his turnout grew. His lit­tle blonde sax­o­phone player was usu­ally there, too. Dur­ing his set breaks, he went out­side and leaned against the brick wall, smok­ing his stick of fire. I made sure I was al­ways out there smok­ing as well.


I began to love Mr. Blue Eyes from a dis­tance. While he sang he’d press his pelvis just slightly for­ward in beat to the music. I was start­ing to for­get what you looked like. Mr. Blue Eyes was so real and pal­pa­ble, an arm’s length away. You were just this thing in my mind, I wasn’t even sure if you were real any­more. One day while we were both out­side smok­ing and get­ting fresh air, he talked to me. I felt a flut­ter in my chest, but I played it cool.

Hey, I see you here al­most every night.

Yeah, they’ve got good gin.

I’m Bobby, who are you?


Nice to meet you.

So the sax­o­phone player, she your girl?


I don’t know her name.

Yeah, yeah she is I guess.

She’s a real peach.

I had known Mr. Blue Eyes and the sax­o­phone slut were a pair, but some­how hear­ing it burned. My guts were start­ing to spill out with­out you there hold­ing them to­gether. I hated you for doing this to me, for rip­ping your­self out of my life. When I walked home, I took off my boots and ran bare­foot just to hurt. I walked on glass and stick­ers and sharp rocks. When I got home, I went out back and started punch­ing trees, imag­in­ing they were your face. My hands grew bloody and bark mixed in the open wounds. I wanted to scream but I didn’t want to give my neigh­bors the sat­is­fac­tion. I let the dog out and pulled out the pis­tol. I prac­ticed aim­ing at the dog, gid­dy­ing around like a turkey. I wanted to shoot, but in­stead I just bled.

I fell asleep out­side and woke up in the dirt. You’d been gone for five months. One month to go. I had a new sense of re­lief. I’d done it for five months, and though I was mur­der­ously mad at you, I could do any­thing for one month.

I stopped going to The Flamingo. I gave the dog a bone. I washed my hands and feet and ban­daged them up. I started sweep­ing the house and buy­ing fresh flow­ers. I framed a wed­ding pic­ture and placed it in the liv­ing room. I waited with a new sense of pur­pose. I went to the hard­ware store on my way to work to look at paint col­ors. I imag­ined you knock­ing me up on your first night back, and I wanted to be able to move quickly with dec­o­rat­ing the baby’s room.

On the last night be­fore it’d been ex­actly six months, I put the gun back in your dresser. I took a long bath and shaved my legs. I rubbed lo­tions into my body and sprayed my­self with per­fume.

But you didn’t come home. You didn’t come home the next week ei­ther. And after an­other week, I took the pis­tol out again, I threw the dog in my car, and I drove. I drove three hours out­side of town to where the flat ranches go on like days. I turned down a dirt road, and told your dog to get out and play. While your dog ran around and sniffed weeds, I put a bul­let in his stom­ach, and left him there to die, whim­per­ing.

I stopped at a liquor store and bought some whiskey. I drank and drove and swerved all the way to the Flamingo. I skipped work. I went up to Mr. Blue Eyes, who was light­ing a cig­a­rette.

Do you want me or not?

Whoa, there. What?

It seems you like me. Do you want to do some­thing about it?

Damn! Give me thirty min­utes, and then we can go to your place.

What about Mae?

Mae won’t know. Don’t worry about that. Just be ready.

I waited, even though I was so sick of wait­ing. After a while, I walked out back to see Mr. Blue Eyes lean­ing against the wall.

Damn, you look good in that dress.

Get in the car.

Yes ma’am.

We drove in si­lence, but he stroked my right thigh until we reached our home. As we walked in, I turned down the wed­ding pic­ture of us be­fore he could see it. I poured drinks and took him to the bed­room. I could barely walk.

I just can’t get over that dress.

More gen­tly than I ex­pected, he pressed his lips to mine. I felt sick and tears began to fall down my face. He was older and harder-look­ing than up on stage. His lips were crusty and dry. I wanted you so badly to walk in and stop us.

What’s wrong?

Don’t you love Mae?

Yeah, but Mae don’t have to know about you and me.

While he fucked me against our bed­room wall, I never felt so lonely in all my life.

Part of me feels re­ally sorry, an­other part of me feels guilty for not feel­ing more sorry, but then, what does it even mat­ter? You aren’t com­ing home. I imag­ine if you did, I’d shoot you. I like to think of shoot­ing you over and over and watch­ing your body flap around as I’d put hole after hole in your body, like you did to me. I guess I’m the crazy one. Crazy for lov­ing you.