Killing Daniel Carver

Calypso gives me the papers with a wordless grin, in exchange for my solemn envelope stuffed with bills. He leaves and I hope to never see him again. He knows my name. He knows all my names. I have five. On the way home, I hang my arm over onto the now-cool aluminum and feel the wind on my arm. To feel the motion.

My living room is arranged with careless precision. Dishes unwashed, fridge stocked, half-drunk whiskey under the sink with other solvents. I’ve just finished a letter to Donna, but there aren’t any stamps. Used them up on the last one.

Ring. Thursday, it’s probably mom. The answering machine gets the call; yeah, it’s mom. Reminding me that Donna’ll be back in mere weeks, telling me she loves me. My indifference reminds me how you grow out of things. Love, mostly. Sometimes you desert them, sometime they you. Dramatic or muted, it happens, if you don’t try.

It’s the inevitable sameness that does it, from romances to cities. For instance, Donna will arrive on a plane from China, layover at Dulles and see my parents. They’re more than white markers in the ground somewhere: she loves them. Then she’ll come here, dressed conservatively with some Chinese flair, as if to tell people she’s been there. She’ll kiss me on the cheek, she’ll flash a crooked grin, she’ll tut tut at my fast-food arteries. Later, with the house clean, the mortgage almost payed off, the car parked parallel to well-trimmed bushes, the garage radio tuned to some country station, she’ll be in the garden grooming her flower garden; I’ll be in the backyard hammock absent-mindedly wondering how many storeys I’ll have to add to the house before throwing myself out a window will actually kill me.

I chose this life, and have I un-chosen it: tonight I’m going to kill Daniel Carver once and for all.

But I’m stopping by the coffee shop first. Love the place. But not to say goodbye. Just to keep up appearances. I don’t order the usual, and Jolene raises an eyebrow at that, a patented look. I explain how Donna’s coming back soon; I’m obviously excited. She’s obviously happy a marriage can survive six months of separation and tells me so; maybe I should ask her how a marriage can survive six months of living under the same roof. But appearances are more important tonight than being snide. I’m at my understated charming best.

I nod to Donna’s uncle as I leave the shop. He nods back, smiles as if he knows I’m going to die tonight. But he’s probably just thinking about Donna and Daniel and re-union and celebration and good crops and caffeine and subsidies and whatever else he can be happy about in this town.

Then it’s time. Everything is in place. Lights on at home in the right places. Night is falling as drive down the road beside the river, daring myself to do it. I drive up and down three times, thinking about things that might seem out of place. Nothing.

In a breast pocket Donna sewed for me last year is a waterproof pouch. In it, five names, and sixty-five thousand dollars. It’s there. I can almost feel my heart through the thickness buttoned inside my coat.

In a moment, I am as ready as I’ve been since the first time I contemplated driving that damned Ford through the garage door to relieve the monotony. The river runs beside me like a black ribbon as I hit the gas.

I open my door and wrench the wheel. With a metallic groan, kick of dust, and magnificent spray of water, Daniel Carver is dead.