My conscience was beginning to hold me hostage and the ransom was my future.
Despite what we were taught by Father Flynn, some people were expendable. They just didn't matter. I was a crook born and raised in a cold, Catholic orphanage and quickly learned that even I didn't matter. She was no different. I could tell she didn't exactly have a high opinion of her own footing in life.
It was easy for people like us to fall off the map. Bus depots, train stations, truck stops, ports of call - they were all breeding grounds for skirts with lonely hearts and creeps with one eye on their drink and the other on the door.
I met her at one of these destinations and, to be honest, it really didn't matter which one. I sold her a bill of goods and she bought them willingly. All I had to do was wink my wink and promise a little cabbage when our grift was done.
A suitcase of diamonds. That's what the road to kismet thought she was worth. And it worked. Greed tapped me on the shoulder that day and I figured one less future whatever-she-was-gonna-be didn't matter in the grand scheme of the universe. She already had one strike against her looking down the barrel of my gun.
But I remember that even in death, she looked like an angel - even with the Lucky Strike hanging from those puffy rosebud lips. Three hours later, she slept in the Earth.
Some people are expendable. At least that's what I told myself as I patted the dirt with my shovel.
The problem with that logic is that eventually, if we live long enough, guys like me develop a stab of sympathy. Our damned wisdom gives us a frame of reference. And then it all becomes clear.
I have to chuckle because the man upstairs cursed me. No, he didn't get me pinched. I have all my limbs and I can see through both my eyes. I felt snakebitten by Ol' Totem because I met the woman who would be my wife not one day after I put that sweet young thing down.
I've lived a lie my whole life and now when I look at the face of my teenage daughter I hope that my earth angel doesn't take it out on her.