Jack and Chris are standing nearby awkwardly, hands in their pockets, while Lamar and Tina talk in low whispers. I’m already a dozen feet away. Distant. Distanced. I’m thinking of Tupac, blissfully ignorant of his impending death. He was sitting in a car in Las Vegas when someone pulled up and fired a dozen bullets through the window. The cops never caught his killer. You could say that Tina at least has the comfort of knowing her killer, if that’s really a comfort. Whoever pulls the trigger, the real villain is her own body gone haywire. Mutating beyond control because of a virus, or a some secret weapon from space aliens, or Mother Nature finally giving up on the human race.
Lamar and Tina kiss. Then he asks Chris to do the dirty deed.
Chris’s gun hand doesn’t waver.
It starts to rain. Lamar has a portable shovel he’s been carrying since New Jersey and we dig Tina a shallow grave. Her short dark hair is a mess as she goes into the muddy ground. I comb it out before the dirt gets filled back in. Afterward, in true apocalyptic fashion, we divvy up the contents of her backpack. At the bottom, wrapped in a blue dishtowel, is a wedding photo. Tina and her husband. He looks a little like my brother-in-law, Mike. I peel the picture out of the frame and add it to my souvenir collection.
“How do you feel?” Jack asks me later, and that’s a crazy question. Who feels anything these days?
Besides, he knows I probably won’t answer. Since Brooklyn, I haven’t had the urge to speak much. My nickname is Silent Susan.