Minutes after the photo was taken, Gary squeezed the life out of the bird and threw its body in the trash.
He was bored with animals. Cats, gophers, and whatever wildlife he could get his hands on no longer satisfied him. He stared out of the window, thinking of the children in his neighborhood; wondering at the logistics of pulling off such a crime.
The Lovely Bones, Gary recalled, depicted an exciting underground possibility. With sly purpose, he withdrew a piece of paper from the nearby printer, thumbed the lead of a pencil, and proceeded to draw up plans.
Holly stood on the bow. Was it the bow? Or the stern? Did ferries have those things, she wondered. She had purposely taken the last trip to Tangier Island to escape Roger, feeling simultaneously anxious and guilty. Their boys slept in the empty cabin, aware of the urgency and the reasons but after a long road trip, they could ask no more questions. Holly touched her black eye and imagined a life without fear or rebuke for her little family.
The dock approached but Holly froze; her father lay motionless on the ground. Beside him, Roger waited, gun in hand.
April stared forlornly at the arrangements. The tall one was a bit sparse and the little one looked like something her Grandmother might have on the dining room table. Still, she longed for someone to think enough of her to send flowers to work.
Imagine her coworkers’ reactions! “She’s just the receptionist.” They’d say, incredulous. “She lives alone with her cats, and wears dowdy clothes!”
Maybe, April thought, she’d fix it so that “someone” did think of her that way.
She continued staring at the flowers, knowing full well that the deception would only serve to make her more miserable.
Jeremy stared glumly down at the city; he could smell the destitution from up here. Another night had passed by on Knob Hill with a stolen six pack, and cigarettes. However at some point, he’d discovered a mannequin head. Her appearance was a mystery but Jeremy had named her Lucy. As his buzz grew, he discovered how easy it was to talk to her.
Sometimes, he’d clutched her tightly and screamed; he’d cradled her in his chest while deep, wretched sobs roiled from him. Sometimes, he’d simply looked at her.
This morning, Jeremy knew he had always had a choice.
She was a shivery thing huddled in the corner, trying to appear smaller to the junkies who taunted and threw stones. Even in my addled state, my heart broke. I scooped her up, tucked her inside my jacket and fled the building with their jeers following.
Fourteen years ago, that kitten saved me; I took on a responsibility and I loved her. We’ve been through a lot but no matter how far down the mental well I tumbled, she was right there to haul me up.
She died yesterday.
Helpless; hopeless, I’ve returned to chase the dragon one last time.
Mr. Briggs loved the old girl but now it was time to let her go. He’d polished her fenders with care, attached the poppy just so and spit-licked the spotlight shiny.
Later, he watched from the other side of the barrier as she passed by, tears brimming, and saluted with one briny hand. Mr. Briggs lingered long after the crowds had dispersed, staring down the road with droopy, rheumy eyes.
He tugged a handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose loudly before turning away. Perhaps he’d stop at the newsagent and pick up some chicken noodle soup for dinner.