Here we are listening to slow and mournful country. Here we are putting out a cone joint. Here we are sitting in your white pickup truck with the windows rolled way down so we can smell the honeysuckle.
Some kid with a messenger bag walks right by us and pretends like he doesn’t see us. We are completely inert, something biological and full of loss. Today we ran over her cat.
It happened on accident. You were driving, but it happened on accident. I’d testify so much under oath. But what does that matter? Her cat is dead, and your wife is going to cleaver you for it.
Catherine will never believe it was an accident. You can bury me under a pile of bibles, and Catherine will cut my right hand off with her cleaver and spit on the ground as she wipes things clean on her apron.
I’m scared of that cleaver. Every time she takes it out of her knife block I feel like she’s going to do something that hurts. But she’d never harm her cat. Her cat is the little baby girl she never had.
It was an accident, but that doesn’t mean anything really. When it comes straight down to it, people have a choice to decide whether or not something is accidental or intentional, and when you throw love into the mix the scale always seems to point toward intentional. That’s just the way the universe crumbles.
I could throw my arms up and stand in between the two of you, but she’d just slice them clean off with that cleaver, and then she’d stare at your soul and suss it out of you, your guilt, because really you’re guilty as guilt can be.
It was an accident, but it wasn’t anything at all like an accident. It was pure evil on your account. You acted out of aggression, or something. Her cat was there. Had it been the little baby girl your sperm can’t seem to give her, you’d have done the same accidental thing. I’m sure of it. You’re more than a cat killer at heart.
Here we are listening to some bitch croon country, and I decide to get the joint lit again. I need weed to wipe out the truth. You ran over her cat, clear as day, and still you say you didn’t. You looked me in the eye and you trembled me and you said I didn’t see a damn thing. You said we didn’t see her cat under your truck’s tire. But I saw her cat, and you saw her cat, and that didn’t stop you from running her over.
You take the joint from me when I pass it. You seem to be the type who obeys a set of customs, and maybe you do, maybe you’re all right, maybe. But I don’t think so.
“Why’d you do it?”
“Tension in my jaw.”
“You always blame the tension in your jaw. Why don’t you man-up and tell me the truth? Tension in your jaw, Catherine won’t buy that.”
“Look, it was an accident. I forgot she was there.”
“Oh, now it’s an accident again. What happened to the tension in your jaw? You got to get your story straight, man. I’m your brother. I’m not going to cut your throat with a cleaver. I’m your brother, man. Why’d you do it?”
You don’t answer my question right away. You take your sweet time. You pull on the joint and let yourself drown some. I can tell you aren’t even thinking of something to say.
“Don’t turn off my goddamn music!”
“Oh yeah, and what you gonna do? You gonna hit me, you gonna hit your brother?”
That’s when I get a strange idea: Don’t know where it came from. Where does any idea come from? My brain isn’t really under my control. Something else controls it, something dark and nameless. All I’m there for is to veto some ideas and act out on others.
I get out of the truck and slam the door real hard. You don’t look at me at first. You turn the music back on, the same bitch whining country. She sounds stupid. I duck behind the truck and try to get your attention before I slip under the bed, snug against the back tire. I scrape a bit of cat guts out of the tread. I see some hair and a little curled piece of retractable claw jammed into the rubber.
When you start the engine, I get slightly nervous but I don’t move. I need to see if you really are capable of driving over me on accident. If you drive over me, I reason, I know you’re telling the truth. If you don’t, I’ll call you a liar to your face. I’ll run you down and call you a liar so everyone can hear.
“Man, forget you!”
That’s when you drive off, leaving me looking straight up at the leaves, and the bits of sky poking through.