His first mistake, one that couldn’t be considered anything but a major mistake no matter how far away from it your mind was, ended up being precisely what he thought he was doing right at the outset when he enlisted the aid of a couple of sociopaths. They were eager to do, and relished doing, the thing he asked, though they were a bit sloppy about it—like cats, they liked to play with their prey. He winced when he thought of how often she must have thought she could get away, and how often they let her think that.

He just hadn’t thought much past getting them to do it. Didn’t think ahead, like, to the part where they would still be around and he might have to try to reason with them about various things, like would they leave and go back to wherever they had come from. They were in the kitchen now, fucking things up, which was what they generally did when they weren’t aimed in the direction of the miscellaneous criminal activity they enjoyed. There was just not going to be any clean transaction here.

They were wearing Melanie’s clothes, well, not exactly wearing, more like decorating themselves with Melanie’s clothes and jewelry. It bothered him a lot that they seemed to think of Melanie’s accoutrements–and his house–as part of their take for what they did to her, as if the money hadn’t been enough. The fact of it was that they didn’t really care about money, they didn’t understand money, and to his way of thinking people who didn’t understand money were people to be afraid of.

John-John—the other one was Jerry-Jo, Jesus, did they all have names like that—sauntered through with a pair of Melanie’s panties on his head, sauntered past him as if he wasn’t there, but he didn’t think about that right then. Oddly—since he didn’t think he noticed such things—he remembered Melanie wearing those panties when she undressed in a hotel room in Chania just last summer. How cool and dark and still it was in the room, the sun outside so bright and relentless it was like some kind of shout whenever you stepped out into it. But inside, her cool skin, the way she always smelled like warm rain, how he had loved her then.

When John-John and Jerry-Jo had moved in, he’d started going to church—any service, any day, any time, even the AA meetings Wednesday nights and the NA meetings Saturday mornings and those coffeecake meetings or doughnut meetings or whatever the hell they were. It wasn’t that he expected to come to Jesus and call down some kind of divine intervention to take care of his John-John-Jerry-Jo problem. He just thought that church was probably the only place he could be where they wouldn’t expect him to be.

But more than that, he figured church would be a good place to find a certain kind of psycho—an upright uptight finicky sort of psycho who wouldn’t move into your house and wear your wife’s panties on his head—a psycho who might be happy to take care of the other two and take a handsome sum of money and be done with it. Otherwise—and he couldn’t shake this feeling—he was next.

The Guy Doesn’t Remember

the guy doesn’t remember
committing the crime
beaning the old man
taking the car
seeing the device
idly turning it on
being on another planet
wanting to go home

the police don’t remember
catching the guy
one minute cruising
sketchy part of town
the next at the station
in a scuffle with aw-shit-
grab its head!

the old man doesn’t remember
many things
but he remembers
the guy as a boy
mowing yards in the neighborhood
freckles on his face
always looking up and grinning
when anyone passed by

captain centipede can’t remember
what he is–could be the guy
or the old man
a lawnmower a car a house
all he knows is every part of him
is beautiful and there’s
no one else like him
in the universe

Dragging the Packet

another crime poem . . .

dragging the packet
he’s made of her heavier dead
he’s thinking than alive
just like her still to be
encumbering his desires

wrapped and wrapped
with old frayed twine
that now catches on
every damn stone and stick
shoulda gone to walmart
duct tape beer shoulda used
the rug shoulda many things

neon mind flash: the shovel
still in the still open trunk
car far away way up the hill
need to think roll a joint
what a turn-on she’s so dead

you don’t have to bury me here

must be the pot
nonetheless the bag says
farther down past these trees
a ledge with nothing below it but
long air and dark sea

shuthefuckup he says to the bag
hating her she’s usually right

she says water’s good as dirt for disappearing

He says Isaidshutit and kicks and kicks the bag
says who’s big boss now
Miz Smarty

down and down dragging down
to the ledge
not much of a ledge
he says
a verge more like
says it loud like he’s cuing
some offstage somebody
for the second or third time

but the bag is silent there’s
just this deep wind he’s so on top of
feeling so elevated
he’s quaking with it
even thinks he hears
the pebbles humming underfoot
he shouts
best damn night of my life

leans down to the bag says
who’s got the last word now

but he knows
that silence is sometimes the last word and
knows what her silence usually means
she’s holding something back
she’s not telling him
something he doesn’t want to hear
but really ought to know like
something about the slippy-slide he’s in
just about right now