I grew up in the suburbs, in a small bungalow house identical to every other bungalow house on my block. Row after row of these houses, all in straight lines, filled the streets as far as my bicycle would take me. That was why the house across from my own never struck me as strange or out-of-the-ordinary, not in all the years I shared the street with it.
The sin-eater arrived in Zonia Province two days before the death of the great gun fighter, Arryo Salazar. He was a small man, the sin-eater, thin and wiry, a rusting coil. At sixty-four, he had left the tautness of youth behind, and his skin, wrinkled, but importantly still unmarked, sagged and folded when he spoke.
The angel’s heart was torn from its chest. The stained-glass box that once held it was smashed; ruby tears scattered around the fountain. The ruins of the valentine lay amidst splinters of red glass and oak leaves mottled with rot
It’s me again. Remember me? In the beginning I left a note stuck to your windshield. You are parked outside my bedroom window, it said. Please stop revving your truck at 3 a.m., or find somewhere else to park.
Fate arrives disguised as choice. As if you could actually say, Screw this, I’m out of here, or just get down on your knees like everybody else. But John’s got to shrug and go, “Hmmm.”
That evening, she kills him again. This time, she works slowly, exquisitely slowly, taking frequent stops for food, for wine, for blood. Once or twice she even excuses herself to go to the bathroom, apologizing for leaving him alone.
In the damp bedroom Victor Ripon sat hunched over his desk, making last-minute corrections on the ninth or tenth draft, he couldn’t remember which, of a letter to the one person in the world who might be able to help. Outside, puppies with the voices of children struggled against their leashes for a chance to be let in from the cold. He ignored them and bore down.
The house looked like a sand castle after the tide had come in. Except sand suggested a crumbling grayness, and the tall, narrow house was a fresh white. A front porch was large enough for a swinging bench if I could bear that level of domesticity.
When I see the scorpion curled under a caliche rock I picked up, my first want is to smash it like Daddy would. Daddy’s always killing things—hairy tarantulas in the hall, fat diamondbacks in the field, and my hound pups when they get parvo. Our few patches of grass have the sick, but Daddy won’t treat it. He says it costs too much.
Things always seem closer together on a bad morning. I slept poorly last night, and now the relentless brilliance of the day makes my eyes smart and my face ache with squinting. Just within the station doors I stop to adjust my bag where it is cutting into my shoulder, and I notice at my feet a small piece of black plastic shaped like a capital L, and one end is frayed into a tuft of fibers.