Sissy Spacek

by Timothy Gager

I woke up and she was lying dead next to me. Later they said it was from natural causes. It was bullshit because she was only thirty-three. How natural is that? The whole thing was new. I understood I had to call the police. I had a stretchy past so I didn't know what to say. I said she just stopped breathing. They drove me to the station and questioned me for three hours. When I got home, she was gone, as if she was never even there. They took my sheets.

I called members of her family. They'd never liked me too much. Their daughter was too good for me. Her last boyfriend was someone they liked. They knew nothing of him. I knew he smoked a lot of crack. I was the clean one. They knew nothing of me. It should have been better that way.

Her mother answered the phone weak and quiet. She'd already cried. Has anyone else been contacted? She said she had no idea. She said it would not be a good idea to show up at the funeral.

I bought a black suit. I already owned a blue one and a grey one. I wanted to not stand out and black needed to be purchased. Her sister, who I recognized through pictures thought I worked at the funeral home. I introduced myself and her hand fell out of mine as if she was slipping away. I waited a few minutes and it was as if I was waiting for a bomb to go off.

There was a murmur which caused the hair to stand up on my arms, my back and then my head started to buzz. The crazy father was coming into the room. He had to be held back. He yelled something about how it would have never happened if not for me. In the background the crowd of voices chanted, no, no, no. This wasn't a time to fight. The whole thing seemed scripted. There was no time to mourn. I left.

The night she died we'd watched a movie made in 1974. Radicals were bringing a bomb to a newspaper office. Sissy Spacek looked like Patty Hearst. The word "Dynamite" was written on each stick. It was good times. It never seemed dangerous at all. Still–she blew up.

Timothy Gager is the author of eight books of short fiction and poetry. He has hosted the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts every month for the past ten years and is the co-founder of Somerville News Writers Festival. His work has appeared in over 250 journals since 2007 and of which nine have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize.