From the story Angelfish

As in:

There were other fish in the tank, besides the Angelfish on the floor, but they were also dying because Carl, on his knees, had smashed his right hand through the glass and bled heavily into what remained of the water. We later learned from the police report that he had used his hunting knife to slash his left wrist first, before delivering his punch to the aquarium.

Years later I worked as a beat reporter in Portland and there is nothing like a police report to make you appreciate the sad emptiness of human tragedies. There is a grim attentiveness to the physical evidence, and so little about the psychological and emotional distress behind the violence and the unfathomable cruelties at hand. You can be haunted by a police report.

Before killing himself, Carl had folded Marjorie’s jeans, her coffee-colored shirt, and her denim jacket and piled them neatly on a wooden chair. Marjorie was blank with shock when we entered but began to cry when Leslie and I wrapped a blanket around her. She didn’t speak for a week. She was 12.

Carl was 48. I ran the quarter mile down the road to Beth’s house where she was visiting with a neighbor. I well remember how strange it felt to be running so vigorously and purposefully with nothing but unspeakable news to deliver.

Beth allowed herself a single gasp. She pulled me into her Buick and we drove off down the road. When we arrived back at our house her directions were crisp and without emotion. Her only tears were when she noticed that Leslie had pulled every strand of orange yarn from the head of a freckled doll that she had gathered from the basement before ushering Marjorie up the stairs.

I finally asked her what we would tell mother. Beth couldn’t answer. Carl was dead. Marjorie was about to be taken to the hospital, and the hardest part of the day was still ahead of us.

Next story segment, Gloaming

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