Saturday, February 18, 2006

Item: San Francisco – Excerpt from the journal of Brandon Pizer, dated August 9, 1988

I killed Margo today, as easily as I write these words. Just wrapped my fingers around her throat and squeezed. It was not premeditated, this brutal act. It was nothing I had planned. Yet it seemed to me that when I looked into her brown eyes, desperate and straining under my crushing grip, and saw my own calm face reflected there, that it was a deed I had been meaning to do since the first day of our acquaintance.

She fought, of course, and caught me a nasty scratch across the cheek before it was done. But it was done, notwithstanding the blood trickling down my stinging face, quicker than I could have imagined. Afterward, I rose from the bed, naked and guilty, and gazed at her still form until I lost all sense of time. Her eyes remained open, staring a black hole in the air beyond the ceiling. I realized dimly that my face had been occupying that stare. Her right arm hung limp as a towel over the side of the bed, the nails that had lacerated my cheek broken and peeled back, it appeared, to the quick. Her feet, twisted in the sheets, seemed to point in impossible directions. Upon her motionless chest her breasts lay strangely flat, and the stain of my deed ringed her throat in bruises that blackened as I watched.

There was no motion in that room, no movement, only the shifting of light as afternoon moved into evening. It was only when the fall of night had reduced her body to a dim outline that I was roused from whatever strange reverie had gripped me. Leaving her to the darkness of the bedroom, I moved to the living room and lay myself out on the sofa, where I fell into a sleep from which I’m not even sure I have awoken. Have I dreamed this whole grisly turn of events? Am I dreaming even now? I only wish this was so. The white glare of the bulb in this desk lamp, however, and the plain black fact of the words on this page convince me otherwise. My face, smarting from the wound Margo inflicted upon me, is another indication that this is all too real. The blood has dried; that is evident from the scabby, withered feeling of my cheek. I have yet to look into a mirror to see the extent of the injury.

But I can see myself even now. On the desk before me sits a photograph in a dime store frame. The first thing I become aware of is not the photograph itself but, due to the angle of the light, my own face reflected in the glass. I am surprised at how serene I appear. That is the first thing I notice. Then the dark and jagged line bisecting the left side of my face. Even the realization that this might require stitches, and all of the implications and explanations a trip to the hospital might entail, does not disturb the smoothness of my expression. With the exception of the injury, in fact, my reflected image is so totally smooth that it seems for a moment almost feminine. I squint into the glass but begin to lose myself in the picture beneath.

It is a photo of Margo and me.

Transcribed by Richard Cody, 2005