I saw that missing girl's faded face all through the night. What Billie had said about whites out West not liking me kept floating around in my head too. I tried to put his words behind me. But I could only forget when I didn't try. When I stared out the window until the flat land went by in a blur. When the wind poured into the van so loud I couldn't hear my thoughts. At least the trees wouldn't turn from me. The mountains wouldn't look down on me. The rivers wouldn't run from me. Nature accepted the hand God gave it. If only I could do that. I never saw a bird unhappy with its feathers. I guess that girl and I had something in common. One way or another, we were both lost.
Ross stared at the revolver. If he reached just a little farther he could graze it with his fingertips. He had never pulled the trigger of a loaded gun, but there was no way around it. The enemy was coming, and this time he’d had enough. The enemy had to be eliminated.
Even if the enemy existed between his own ears.
Ross’s drunken stupors never provided a true escape. His mind was a pendulum that swung between the pain of sobriety, and a different pain unlocked by a bottle of Southern Comfort. But drunken, Ross was emboldened to strike that two-headed monster. A special voice had told him that he could. That he could shoot the monster without harming himself. Ross believed the voice.
It talked to him in between the screams of the girl. She had waited for him in these dark moments. Waited to remind him of her suffering. She would never let him live it down. But tonight the shiny black revolver would silence her for good.
Ross had to reach the gun. His head spinning. His arms so heavy. The cold metal was at his fingertips. Accidentally, he flicked it farther away. He slid closer. Finally he had a firm grip.
Mother would tell him not to play with guns. This wasn’t a game. He was finally going to face this demon. Send it back to hell. The voice had said that he would be a better son. That mother would be so happy. That he would be freer and better at everything. Why hadn’t he done this sooner?
Ross tried to raise the gun to his head. His arm was too heavy. As he lay on the floor, he slid the revolver to his temple. The safety was off. His thumb on the trigger.
“Ross, it’s me,” his mother’s voice trembled. “I’ve been calling you all evening! Where are you? I’m praying that everything is okay.”
It will be very soon.
Ross squeezed the trigger…