I hear the glass ringing on the linoleum floor.
The shotgun is in Pat’s hands, cocked. The wood chair scrapes across the floor with an urgent pulse. He runs downstairs. He is faster than me or Leroy.
Stillness rocks the air after his footsteps.
A single shot explodes the quiet followed by a gasp. There’s some choking and the sickening sound of flesh hitting a hard surface.
I bite my lip. This had already happened twice before this month. They were becoming more frequent.
Leroy and I head into the basement to find Pat standing over the body, the gun draped lazily to his side. His lips are moving as he says the prayer.
God does not save us all.
The boy couldn’t have been more than sixteen. His long, disheveled hair laid matted in a pool of red. His eyes were still open. Blue.
As we pick him up, I notice the thinness of his body. The black clothes swing loose around him. His spine prickles my fingers. It’s still warm.
Behind the house, we drop him by the shed. Pat is cursing as he begins to dig another pit. There are a lot of them now. We’ve begun to mark them with stones. Not to remember – just so we don’t dig any old ones up.
Pat tells me to clean up the room. I shoot Leroy a look of annoyance. I always get the dirtiest job.
I gather up some rags and shuffle back, pausing along the way to get the droplets. In the basement, you can almost see where he was laying a few moments before.
There is blood on the ceiling. I scowl.
I get to work, every so often stealing a glace up at the broken window. The sky beyond is blue, clouds slinking long and wide.
I like to pretend sometimes that it is another summer day. That later I will go home and tell my mother about this crazy dream. We would laugh and order a pizza.
My stomach growls even as the red bleeds through to my fingertips.
Pat calls me a dreamer. He says that at some point I will realize that there’s no use wasting thought on the past or the future. We now have only the present.