He wants to take a shower so I make it ready for him, turning the stiff chrome handle until the water is perfect.
Everything, everything has to be perfect for him. If he doesn’t like the temperature of the water. If I add too much cream to his coffee. If I don’t weigh exactly 116 pounds.
The consequences are never the same. I would love to know that when I fuck up I will just get the shit kicked out of me, but every time is different. Sometimes it’s just a beating. Sometimes I have to face the wall while he whips me with a rubber hose. Other times, my head in the toilet until I can’t breathe. Or this: brushing my teeth with Mechanics hand cleaner while he grabs my throat so I can’t swallow.
This time I am careful not to fuck up. I only need a few minutes. Just enough time to go downstairs for the gun. Most of the weapons have been hidden away except for the revolver he keeps in
the shop for protection. He never sells from the house, but sometimes he’ll negotiate there.
He has a name, but I can’t speak or even spell it. I’ll call him my dealer.
While he’s in the shower, my job is to get his clothes ready, make his coffee, load a bowl with dope, bring everything into the bathroom, and stay there until he is ready to get out.
But not today. Not today.
My plan is to kill him, then kill myself. I’ll get him coming out of the shower.
I walk down the stairs and go into the shop. I don’t know if it’s morning or night and I don’t even care. I’m on tweaker time. I’ve been up for days.
The revolver is exactly where I know it is, in the back of a drawer in his worktable, in a FedEx envelope addressed to his friend Joe. A Ruger .38 with a black handle and wood inlay, disassembled.
Putting together a revolver isn’t difficult, but only if I remain calm. I move into work mode. In recruit school we had this saying: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. If you’re trying to rush putting a mag in your firearm you’ll fumble it up. If you take your time it goes faster in the end.
I insert the cylinder, then the trigger guard, steady, thinking clearly. I’m not shaking. Except for my hands, I’m completely still, focusing so hard on listening. I can still hear the shower going, the water running through the pipes down to the basement.
I’ve thought about leaving a note for my family, for Keawe, but I have been too scared the dealer would find it or see me writing it. For me there are no hiding places in this house, no secrets from him. I figure I can write to the people I love after I kill him, before I kill myself. I have thought a lot about what I want to write, but all I can really say is that I love them, and that I’m sorry. I’m not
going to try to explain anything. There is no explanation for what I have done and what has been done to me. Just Sorry and I love you, that’s all.
Will they ever see the note? Who will even find us—the dealer’s friend Joe or one of his drug groupies? Will they bother to call the cops?
How will they even know who I am?
I push these thoughts away. I need to stay focused. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. I insert the hammer and the hammer pin, then the spring. I have a little trouble with the spring, but it doesn’t faze me. The handle, the wood inlays, then the pin that you push in to hold it all together. Once I put the inlays in I grab the last piece, a screw that holds the inlays and the handle together.
The shower stops. I should be there with his clothes, his coffee, the bowl of dope. In a minute he’ll come looking for me, but it’s okay. I’ll get him coming down the stairs.
I cannot change my mind now, and I don’t want to. In my heart I know I will die in this house. I want to die. I want to take him with me, but if there’s only one bullet, I’ll use it on myself.
I have to finish turning the screw—I have no tools, so it’s going slow. I want to load the gun first. I look up from what I’m doing, shaking the envelope.
I can’t find the bullets.
There are no bullets.
He’s the master of hidden compartments—meth in the hollowed-out leg of his kitchen table, coke in the recessed lighting. If there are bullets, they could be anywhere, and I don’t have enough time.
My body collapses. I tell myself, You have to move, because when he gets out of the shower he’s going to come looking for you.
I look wildly around the shop for tools I can kill him with, but he’s taken everything dangerous from the house, even the kitchen
knives. He knows I want to die. I have told him so over and over again.
Even if I do manage to kill him now, how will I find a way to die?
My hands no longer steady, I start to disassemble the gun, to put the parts back in the envelope and into the drawer before he gets to the shop. But he’ll know anyway. There are cameras hidden all over the house, in every corner of every room, in the recessed lighting, the air vents, the electrical sockets. If he watches the footage he’ll know what I was trying to do.
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. I’m rushing now, I’m fucking it up. I need a hit.
His footsteps on the stairs—I hear them.
He’s coming down now, to find me.
I’m living in hell and I can’t even die.