He took a seat beside his wife and she said, “You’re my good man.”

“No,” he said. “I’m not.”

“You are.” She took his hand. “You love me. I know that. I know you’re not perfect.”

What had they thought—Daniel and Rachel when they woke to their mother tying rope around their wrists? As they looked into her eyes?

“Oh, Christ.”

“I do. But you’re mine. And you try.”

“Oh, baby,” he said, “please don’t say any more.”

And Edward. Edward would have run. She would have had to chase him through the house.

She was bright now, happy. She said, “Let’s put them in the kitchen.”


She climbed atop him, straddled him, and hugged him to her damp body. “Let’s sit them at the table, Andrew.” She kissed his eyelids.  He held her to him, crushing her body against his, and he wept into her shoulder.

She said, “They’ll be our living dolls. We’ll dry them off.” “What?” His voice muffled in his shoulder.

“We’ll change their clothes.” She whispered it in his ear.  He couldn’t see her in a box, a white rubber box with a small viewing window in the door.

“We’ll let them sleep in our bed tonight.”

“Please stop talking.”

“Just the one night.”


“And then tomorrow we can take them on a picnic.”

“If you ever loved me...” Teddy could see them lying on the shore.

“I always loved you, baby.”

“If you ever loved me, please stop talking,” Teddy said.  He wanted to go to his children, to bring them alive, to take them away from here, away from her.

Dolores placed her hand on his gun.

He clamped his hand over hers.

“I need you to love me,” she said. “I need you to free me.” She pulled at his gun, but he removed her hand. He looked in her eyes. They were so bright they hurt. They were not the eyes of a human. A dog maybe. A wolf, possibly.

After the war, after Dachau, he’d swore he would never kill again unless he had no choice. Unless the other man’s gun was already pointed at him. Only then.

He couldn’t take one more death. He couldn’t.

She tugged at his gun, her eyes growing even brighter, and he removed her hand again.

He looked out at the shore and saw them neatly lined up, shoulder to shoulder.

He pulled his gun free of its holster. He showed it to her.  She bit her lip, weeping, and nodded. She looked up at the roof of the gazebo. She said, “We’ll pretend they’re with us. We’ll give them baths, Andrew.”

And he placed the gun to her belly and his hand trembled and his lips trembled and he said, “I love you, Dolores.”

And even then, with his gun to her body, he was sure he couldn’t do it.

She looked down as if surprised that she was still there, that he was still below her. “I love you, too. I love you so much. I love you like—“ And he pulled the trigger. The sound of it came out of her eyes and air popped from her mouth, and she placed her hand over the hole and looked at him, her other hand gripping his hair.

And as it spilled out of her, he pulled her to him and she went soft against his body and he held her and held her and wept his terrible love into her faded dress.

HE SAT UP in the dark and smelled the cigarette smoke before he saw the coal and the coal flared as Sheehan took a drag on the cigarette and watched him.

He sat on the bed and wept. He couldn’t stop weeping. He said her name. He said:

“Rachel, Rachel, Rachel.”

And he saw her eyes watching the clouds and her hair floating out around her.

When the convulsions stopped, when the tears dried, Sheehan said, “Rachel who ?”

“Rachel Laeddis,” he said.

“And you are?”

“Andrew,” he said. “My name is Andrew Laeddis.”

Sheehan turned on a small light and revealed Cawley and a guard on the other side of the bars. The guard had his back to them, but Cawley stared in, his hands on the bars.

“Why are you here?” a2o He took the handkerchief Sheehan offered and wiped his face.  “Why are you here?” Cawley repeated.

“Because I murdered my wife.”

“And why did you do that?”

“Because she murdered our children and she needed peace.”

“Are you a U.S. marshal?” Sheehan said.

“No. I was once. Not anymore.”

“How long have you been here?”

“Since May third, 1952.”

“Who was Rachel Laeddis?”

“My daughter. She was four.”

“Who is Rachel Solando?”

“She doesn’t exist. I made her up.”

“Why?” Cawley said.

Teddy shook his head.

“Why?” Cawley repeated.

“I don’t know, I don’t know...”

“Yes, you do, Andrew. Tell me why.”

“I can’t.”

“You can.”

Teddy grabbed his head and rocked in place. “Don’t make me say it. Please? Please, Doctor?”

Cawley gripped the bars. “I need to hear it, Andrew.”

He looked through the bars at him, and he wanted to lunge forward and bite his nose.

“Because,” he said and stopped. He cleared his throat, spit on the floor. “Because I can’t take knowing that I let my wife kill my babies. I ignored all the signs. I tried to wish it away. I killed them because I didn’t get her some help.”


“And knowing that is too much. I can’t live with it.”

“But you have to. You realize that.”

He nodded. He pulled his knees to his chest.

Sheehan looked back over his shoulder at Cawley. Cawley stared in through the bars. He lit a cigarette. He watched Teddy steadily.  “Here’s my fear, Andrew. We’ve been here before. We had this exact same break nine months ago. And then you regressed. Rapidly.” “I’m sorry.”

“I appreciate that,” Cawley said, “but I can’t use an apology right now. I need to know that you’ve accepted reality. None of us can afford another regression.”

Teddy looked at Cawley, this too-thin man with great pools of shadow under his eyes. This man who’d come to save him. This man who might be the only true friend he’d ever had.

He saw the sound of his gun in her eyes and he felt his sons’ wet wrists as he’d placed them on their chests and he saw his daughter’s hair as he stroked it off her fac with his index finger.

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