Tag Archive: cole

Maybe it was because he walked like a robotic penguin, slopped up tangerine Jell-O daily, and coughed up a green glob of his lung every evening. Nobody like that could be dangerous, right?

But Robby and I knew. We’d been following Gramp’s keen path of littered bodies and unexplained disappearances for months. Evidence was stacking up: shiny shed tools, sketchy alibis, bulk orders of Clorox, and his new coffee table book, 50 Shades of Postmortem, wasn’t his own preparation for the inevitable.

Really, who knew? That George H. Buckland was a real murderer, a charming and calculating one at that.

We suspected his first victim was Mildred Denton. Those cotton-candy pink, puckered lips would never again try to tempt Mr. Buckland into the sack, then Lillian Galveston—bitchy little broad almost deserved it—Fran Pollock, William Moore, Betty Hanks, John Potter … the list was probably as long as his sentences.

Now it wasn’t to say that we wanted to see Old Pops fry in the chair, though we couldn’t help enact the scene with jawbreaker eyes and a limp, taffy tongue. If asked, we both would have said that we loved G. George more than anything. He taught us all that we knew, how to fish and gut it, hunt and skin it, even let us watch Sniper Diaries when we were just sticky obnoxious little shits.

It all made sense when you thought about it. So what were we supposed to do? Robby came over to my house one night, had Gramp’s old hunting rifle and a carving blade tucked into his belt. I knew what decision he had come to, always having looked up to the old man. So I thought to myself, as I’d done many times before, “What would Judge George H. Buckland do?”


He knew the end was near, had started preparing for it: changed all the tires and light bulbs; procured a few bonds; concluded repairs to the house; and revised his will.  All of that hurt more than the diagnosis, the sickness that followed it, and the sacrifices that choked the joy from our souls.  It hurt more than the discussions with friends, the weekly trips to physicians and stage-3 specialists, and stumbling upon clumps of hair in the bathroom, dropped like hushed wishes.

It hurt most because he was accepting the end, with welcome… and because it was never up to me.  My life was about to change forever.  That scared me.  In the last thirty-six years, I’d grown dependent on Henry.  What was I going to do without him?

I sat next to his hospital bed watching the snowflakes fall like broken butterflies.  They twirled to the ground as silent as the vacuum of space he would soon reside in.  I knew they were going to take Henry away from me tonight.  Down into the cold ground where darkness swallowed everything. He would go with them, by hand.

Henry studied me, his eyes unusually steady.  “You did all that you could.”

“It wasn’t enough.”

He blinked my comment away. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, Joyce.  One life is never enough time.”

“Skip misses you.  He sleeps on your side of the bed now and waits for you by your chair.  What should I tell him?”

“That’ll I’ll see him soon.”

At that, I wept.  An hour later, Henry’s eyes closed for the last time.  I went outside, into the majestic cruelty of the snow’s storm, and tried to catch as many snowflakes as I could.

He understands her body language, so different from his own but that’s the attraction. Like a poorly executed piano chord stuck to a sustain pedal.

She’s an angry blinker; picks her teeth deep in thought; slouches when she’s nervous; plays with her ears as she laughs; taps her feet if she’s bored; cracks her neck when life’s too much.

At the kitchen table, slouching, tapping her feet, blinking so much he wonders if eyelids can wear out, he offers a wink as she looks away to pick her teeth.

“Whatcha thinking about?”

She cracks her neck and stands, making a sputtering noise with her lips. She opens and closes the dishwasher, the refrigerator, the stove, the microwave, and almost every upper cabinet. Finally, she sits and sighs.

He understands that sputtering lips means soon she’ll be out the door. But the sigh is new.

“I’ve never heard you do that before?”

“Do what?”

“Sigh like that.”

“It’s a sigh. People sigh. I mean, God.” Her tone working up the registers.

“It just caught me by surprise.”

She crosses her arms. “Stop deconstructing me.”

“Fair enough.”

She weaves in and out of the living, dining, and laundry rooms as if searching for something hidden.

“That bad.” He knows crossed arms mean she’s ready to pop.

“I got an apartment in the lower east side. I’ll be out two weeks from Sunday. I’m not changing my mind so don’t even try and stop me.” She sighs again, louder this time, crossing her arms even tighter. “His name’s Jim by the way, not that I owe you an explanation or that you even care.”

That’s right; she stomps up the stairs after admitting an affair.