You didn't say anything

You didn't even say, hello.

You're not your sad little wallet.

I said, nice night, cold but clear.

You didn't even say, hello.

I said, don't run, or I'll have to shoot you in the back. I had the gun out, and I was wearing a latex glove so if the gun ever became a people's exhibit A, there'd be nothing on it except the dried tears of Raymond Hessel, Caucasian, aged twenty-three with no distinguishing marks.

Then I had your attention. Your eyes were big enough that even in the streetlight I could see they were antifreeze green.

You were jerking backward and backward a little more every time the gun touched your face, as if the barrel was too hot or too cold. Until I said, don't step back, and then you let the gun touch you, but even then you rolled your head up and away from the barrel.

You gave me your wallet like I asked.

Your name was Raymond K. Hessel on your driver's license. You live at 1320 SE Benning, apartment A. That had to be a basement apartment. They usually give basement apartments letters instead of numbers.

Raymond K.K. K. K. K. K. Hessel, I was talking to you.

Your head rolled up and away from the gun, and you said, yeah. You said, yes, you lived in a basement.

You had some pictures in the wallet, too. There was your mother.

This was a tough one for you, you'd have to open your eyes and see the picture of Mom and Dad smiling and see the gun at the same time, but you did, and then your eyes closed and you started to cry.

You were going to cool, the amazing miracle of death. One minute, you're a person, the next minute, you're an object, and Mom and Dad would have to call old doctor whoever and get your dental records because there wouldn't be much left of your face, and Mom and Dad, they'd always expected so much more from you and no, life wasn't fair, and now it was come to this.

Fourteen dollars.

This, I said, is this your mom?

Yeah. You were crying, sniffing, crying. You swallowed. Yeah.

You had a library card. You had a video movie rental card. A social security card. Fourteen dollars cash. I wanted to take the bus pass, but the mechanic said to only take the driver's license. An expired community college student card.

You used to study something.

You'd worked up a pretty intense cry at this point so I pressed the gun a little harder against your cheek, and you started to step back until I said, don't move or you're dead right here. Now, what did you study?


In college, I said. You have a student card.

Oh, you didn't know, sob, swallow, sniff, stuff, biology.

Listen, now, you're going to die, Ray-mond K. K. K. Hessel, tonight. You might die in one second or in one hour, you decide. So lie to me. Tell me the first thing off the top of your head. Make something up. I don't give a shit. I have the gun.

Finally, you were listening and coming out of the little tragedy in your head.

Fill in the blank. What does Raymond Hessel want to be when he grows up?

Go home, you said you just wanted to go home, please.

No shit, I said. But after that, how did you want to spend your life? If you could do anything in the world.

Make something up.

You didn't know.

Then you're dead right now, I said. I said, now turn your head.

Death to commence in ten, in nine, in eight.

A vet, you said. You want to be a vet, a veterinarian.

That means animals. You have to go to school for that.

It means too much school, you said.