by Jesse Orr
I’m Terrance, and I’m an addict.
Sounds easy to say, right? Believe me, it’s easy to write, and to say it in group, after a long time getting used to it. But saying it to the people who need to know, who deserve to know, whom I wish could know…
My wife thought I was just having an affair. Not that it matters at this point. I was pretty sure she’d made peace with it, by way of the old adage “nothing gets you over the last one like the next one.” I was OK with that, considering my own secret. I mean, anything to keep her out of my hair while I satisfy my own needs.
The kids just think I’m emotionally distant, and I can’t blame them. It’s true. I mean, I try to be there as much as they want. It’s a full-time job, failing as a father and husband, maintaining a job and an addiction as well as meeting with you fine people every week I can. I don’t have to tell you about all the logistical trials and time management and covering involved in this addiction. Fortunately, they’re about at the age where they stop wanting their parents around. Still, it hurts. Which feeds my addiction, which makes me more emotionally withdrawn and less available, which makes them not want me around as much, and you’re familiar with the concept of a circle, right?
I want help, that’s what the meetings are all about, and you guys know I usually make them. Lately though as the holidays have drawn closer, stress has mounted and as you’ve noticed, meetings have become harder and harder for me to make. For that I am truly sorry. I cherish the time we spend together, even though ultimately for me abstaining is simply and repeatedly not possible. But being with people who understand what I’m going through is helpful enough to be its own form of abstinence. Or something. I’m not even sure what I’m saying anymore. Whatever. By the time you read this letter, two things are pretty certain. One is that you won’t be surprised by anything you’re reading. The other is that I’ll be dead.
That’s been only a matter of time for a while now. Ever since I was born, I guess.
There were close calls, plenty of them. Nights where Jenna would come home drunk from one of her increasingly frequent “girls nights out” with her hair messed up and makeup smeared. Both of us drowning in our lies as we attempt to hide our other loves and I pray for her to not go in the bathroom and meet my latest squeeze, limp and draining on the merciful linoleum.
Then there was that memorable autumn when I sprinted across the lawn and intercepted my youngest boy, catching him in the air as he attempted to dive into a pile of dead leaves I had raked. I spun him around in circles as he shrieked his delight and in the joy of being a father, I momentarily forgot the dead body I had concealed in the leaves the night before in lieu of a grave while praying against a windstorm.
But I digress. The real reason I’m writing this letter, the only place I can leave this confession. So at least one person knows the truth.
I never wanted to kill her.
You have to believe me.
Just because you can’t imagine murdering your wife without some serious premeditation doesn’t mean everyone is so fucking together. We can’t all be perfect.
I didn’t mind her coming home at all hours, reeking of booze and cigarettes and god knows what else. I didn’t mind nothing from her but the occasional absent peck on the cheek as she saved her good kisses for another. That was OK. Because I didn’t see her dispensing those kisses. My imagination may be vivid but it operates independently from reality, and what it shows me always has a dreamlike quality.
What I minded are the last things I remember before waking up in this dumpster and beginning to write this confession on the back of an old invoice with some found lipstick. What I minded was coming home and seeing some guy balls deep in my wife bent over the thousand dollar easy chair I’d bought for myself.
I dropped my briefcase. They flew apart. He grabbed his pants. She grabbed a shirt. They were both yelling.
Yelling, “What are you doing home?”
Yelling, “It’s not what it looks like!”
Yelling, “We can talk about this!”
I was shouting too, but only on the inside, where those feelings belong. Only where I could hear. On the outside, I just stood there. At first. Staring.
At the red flush on my wife’s cheeks and creeping down her chest.
At the crystalline strand hanging from his penis as he struggled to don his pants.
At the look on their faces, showing complete lack of remorse for anything they had done besides get caught.
At the stain one of them had left on the back of the chair. My chair.
Without a second thought, I drew my gun from the holster in which it had ridden since getting my concealed carry permit some weeks ago. Pointed. Shot them both. In the knees, so they couldn’t run. Dimly I heard them pleading for mercy as I reflected upon how useful my pistol’s permit had turned out to be. Fortunately we live far enough away from our neighbors that all the noise wasn’t a problem, which was good; I wanted him to watch me take her apart slowly, piece by piece. Then I would do the same to him, while she watched, until they both shrieked for me to finish them. Which is just what happened.
So now you know. Burn this letter.
Love to all and happy holidays,
Jesse Orr was born and raised in Alaska and has no idea, nor do his parents, when or how he began reading and writing; as is the case with so many things, they just are. Moving to Seattle in 2007, he settled down to a life of recording and performing music as well as writing whatever caught his fancy. He has a dog named Mr Dog and lives in West Seattle.