I overheard Jamie in the hallway, she was freaking out and I wasn’t supposed to be there but I was, so anyway [[Jamie->Jamie 1]] was talking and talking and crying a little bit and she was with Josh for the most part but he had this faraway look in his eyes; that dreamer boy kind of look in his eyes and he wasn’t really looking at her until she slapped him, she slapped him so damn hard that I swear he had a handprint, her handprint branded on his face for a whole week (and in high school: a week is almost as long as a month, which just as well may be a quarter, semester, or a whole year, everybody talked about it for a year.) Anyway, [[Josh->Josh 1]] wasn’t looking at her because he didn’t want to hear her. Because Jamie was sobbing and telling Josh that she was pregnant with his baby and that she wanted to keep it. [[And,->The end of the beginning of the beginning]]She said that it was my fault this was happening to us; that if I hadn’t gotten with Jessica—and I did get all the way with Jessica—when we first started making out under the bleachers then karma never would’ve come around and bit us in the ass. I didn’t consider a baby to be a strike against us. I didn’t want one, but that was only because I had too much going for me to be held back by a small heart beat and cute toes—or whatever my mom used to rave about when my sister was still [[a baby.->Josh 2]] It was so bad
—so, so bad—
the way everyone treated her after everything happened, it was so bad because if anybody actually watched her, like I did; really watched her, the look on her face, the growth in her pupils dilating when she smiled, the way her body opened up and accepted the baby into her womb; if anyone had watched her the way I did, they would’ve seen how happy she was. She was so damn happy with him; Jamie and Josh had never been so crazy about each other; I’d never seen anyone more in love than the two of [[them->leading up to our first interaction]]
I’m not really sure where the idea began the idea that I had when I was looking at them looking at each other, but it came, it hit me in my forehead like a gunshot between my eyes (and you might not know this but my imagination is real active, so when I finally got to the bathroom I saw myself, smiling in the mirror my lips like snake scales cause it was getting chilly out, and I was smiling in the mirror and there was this blood dripping down from right above my nose, and it was falling and dripping into the sink until I blinked it away.) But I think that’s how the idea got into my head, I think God shot it in between my eyes and told me what I had to do. And I did it, I sort of fell off the face of the earth, buried myself in her core to get closer to my God, but really I just hopped on a few trains until I made it as far south as I could in the states, and I kept going on foot and by boat cause that was easier, I kept going until I found a faraway coast somewhere in Brazil and I didn’t speak—you know I played mute—until I was able to learn what I needed to learn of their Portuguese and I got a job and I had a good life; and that’s all I thought about; and looking at myself in the mirror with imagined blood dripping down my face I was not even a little scared of that future.
I still believed in that future when I fell in love with [[her->Son 1]].And I was supposed to be in class, everybody was supposed to be in class, but I had to use the bathroom and I heard everything and for the rest of my four years at that school I never told a soul what I heard or saw in that hallway because it wasn’t none of my business. And nine months later Jamie had a baby and [[Josh shot himself in the head->Leading up to our first interaction]] because the baby wasn’t his, and everyone told everyone that was why, and so everybody believed that and that was all anybody could talk about and they didn't even know if it was true or not. Everybody said he’d wasted his life on this baby. At least that’s what everyone said, because he gave up a full-ride, D1 college offer to play football at Alabama for that [[baby.->The beginning of the beginning]] (if we’re being honest I never really had the opportunity to see anyone really happy so maybe they weren’t all they were cracked up to me in my head but I want to believe I’m right so I do.)
But when everything got bad and Josh fell in on himself and Jamie was alone, and everyone had nothing better to do than attack her that’s what they all did; because I guess there really isn’t anything better to do in a Podunk down in a nowhere place and that’s just where we live. They wanted her to feel awful because they were so confused and didn’t have access to any of the answers and so they had to make their own no matter who they hurt in the process I [[guess->more thinking about how I can't stop thinking about her]] (but my Aunty Mae did raise me like that, she told me I was gonna be better than all of that shit.)
I think the thing that changed the most was her skin, when she was nearing the end of her pregnancy she had this radiance about her, and Josh did too, and they had this skin that glowed together, they were so much more beautiful together, and then all that shit happened and everything changed and Jamie looked like a ghost when I’d see her around town even in the heat of the summer; she looked see through and shrunken; like a raisin.
And everyone called her all these names, so many people harassed her and made a fool of her and she had no one to protect her any more and more than anything I wanted to be the person that could protect her but I wasn’t big enough for all that, I was too small to shield her from the wrath God had brought down upon her. And one day I walked real close to her on the sidewalk,
(at the time I was still in high school, I was slowly working through my senior year by the time I had the courage to reach out to her)
I didn’t know it was gonna happen, all of a sudden we were just upon each other and I whispered to [[her;->Our first conversation]] <font color=cadetblue><em>hi Jamie</em></font>
and I smiled at her. She flinched away from me and looked at me with bloodshot empty eyes and she said;
<em><font color=mistyrose>Who’s Jamie anymore?</font>
<font color=cadetblue>Well; ain’t she you?</font>
<font color=mistyrose>I don’t know her anymore.</font>
<font color=cadetblue>I always wanted to know her.</font>
<font color=mistyrose>Well, I’m real sorry she went away then.</font>
<font color=cadetblue>Well, I’d like to get to know you too.</font>
<font color=mistyrose>I don’t believe you.</font>
<font color=cadetblue>Why don’t we go out for coffee right quick? I’ve got an hour to kill if you’re free.</font>
<font color=mistyrose>I can’t do much else, so sure.</font>
<font color=cadetblue>[[Good.-> Jamie 2]]</font></em>
I was loyal to Jamie for four years after that. From the eighth grade to our senior year I stood by her and never fucked around on her again—well one time I was at a party with my older brother when I went to visit him at Alabama [roll tide baby] and I hooked up with that girl after the tailgate—but I really never cheated on her again. That didn’t stop Jamie from being an uptight, stick in [[the mud.->Josh 3]]She told me I couldn’t leave her. She said, if I left her I’d be a dead-beat dad just like my old man. She said that ‘cause she knew how much I hated my old man, hated the fact that he wasn’t here. I’d promised her if anything ever happened and we were going to have a baby I wouldn’t do her like that. I guess she didn’t have leverage like that over anyone else and that’s why she targeted me, but I lost everything in that hospital room at 3 am. Her hand was so clammy in mine. I lost my future, my career in football—and I was on track to go pro—I lost my baby and I lost my [[girlfriend.->Josh 4]]I don’t know what Jamie expected me to do. I feel so bad about the way I acted, about the way it all happened, my stomach couldn’t stop turning. It was as if there was a rock in my stomach that the acid won’t dissolve. I wish I hadn’t behaved that way, the way I did, like a hurt child lashing out. I can’t believe I acted the way I did in that hospital room with Jamie at 3 am I can’t believe that I said all that and did all that shit that I did in that room. She made [[me.->Josh 5]]I don’t know her name, but she’s been with me for so long. And She always had that kind of control over me. I never did anything without being able to tie it somehow back to Her. She has each decision I make by the scruff of its neck. Except for Jamie that is. I picked her all on my [[own.->Josh 6]]She never went to Brazil in a boat—nor did she play mute until she was able to learn Portuguese—she never went missing. She just watched her senior year of high school unfold until she went to community college and then finished out at a bigger state school and worked as a receptionist until the company fell apart. She fell in love with a man at a bar in Sunbury, PA and became an alcoholic. At least that’s how I remember my childhood happening, though I’m sure she’d tell you something different.Jackson High School Student Newspaper May 1988
//Interview with Killer, Jamie Mesbith//
—I don’t want to talk about him. I don’t know what you want me to say about it all; it happened and now it’s over and I have a life that I need to live that is bigger than what happened in his head.
—No, I didn’t, don’t you say that about me. I did not. I did not. I did not. Don’t you dare say that. Stop putting words into my mouth.
—I told you I don’t want to talk about him, how hard is that to understand. Stop asking me questions about him. Stop. Stop following me with your tape recorder stop.
—I don’t want this to be a part of my life anymore; [[I want to forget everything.-> Jamie 3]]
//Jackson High School [[Yearbook;-> Jamie 4]] Senior Superlatives Class of 1988//
Most likely to Become an Alcoholic before the age of 30
-Principal Maverick there has to be a way for you to retract this statement in the yearbook; do you even know how embarrassing this is and you’re saying that you can’t help me?
-Well I know you expelled the people involved but this yearbook is going to exist forever. There’s a copy of it in the time capsule that people are really going to open in fifty years. I reached out to you before it was even put in there and now it’s all buried and as good as gone until it’s all the way rediscovered.
–Don’t tell me that you want to help me; [[if you wanted to help me these past two weeks you would’ve-> Jamie 5]], and you didn’t, you didn’t and that’s that isn’t it? //<font color=mistyrose> He never even asked me if the baby was his, but he implied all of it in his note or nearly lack thereof. I never did him wrong, he was the one who cheated, he cheated on me up until the day I told [[him.->The beginning of the beginning]]//When I was five I ran my big wheel into the street and got hit by a car because She was there; across the street, calling out to me and telling me I didn’t need to look both ways, that I was safe. She was there in the hospital room after. Everything that happened there relates to Her; it was all Her. It was, it was, it [[was.->Josh 7]]She was there in that room with Jamie. She stood opposite me and looked at Jamie with our baby in her arms. She was there looking at the baby with me, her head pressed against mine and I heard Her say that’s not your baby. And then She started to scream, and I knew She wouldn’t stop until I did something about the fact that that baby in Jamie’s arm wasn’t mine too. Until I believed that baby in Jamie’ arms wasn’t [[mine too.->Josh 8]]I hit her; Jamie. I hit Jamie in that room with our baby weeping in her arms, I hit her and I called her a whore. I told her she ruined my life and that her bastard child would never have a father because no one would be able to stand the sight of her. I told Jamie she would never get her body back, told her she would be fat and ugly forever. That was wrong of me. But She wouldn’t stop following me, She walked beside the security guards as they dragged me out, She laughed [[the whole way.->Josh 9]]She sat in the passenger seat and got so close to me, whispering in my ear saying shit like you should’ve killed her, she ruined your life, why does she deserve to live? and on and on and I asked Her to go away, but She just dug her nails into my thigh and told me She would never let me go; that She would be right next to me until the day I died, that if I wanted to get rid of Her I would have to off [[myself.->Josh 10]]I thought about it all night. I called Jamie over and over again, pleading with her to just pick up the phone. I knew she wouldn’t. I knew she wouldn’t want to talk to me. I waited it out, or I tried to. After one day had passed I had left twenty messages with her father, still I was begging her to pick up. She wouldn’t; I knew that, but I had to keep trying.
She Showed up by my bed that night with her cold hands pressed to my chest.
//<font color=maroon>I told you that you should’ve killed her.</font>
<font color=gray>I love her. I can’t do that.</font>
<font color=maroon>You need to Joshua, that’s your only option.</font>
<font color=gray>No, I’m going to bed, leave me alone.</font>
<font color=maroon>You know I’ll see you tonight.</font>//
I cringed but I knew she was right, and I knew what I needed [[to do.->Josh 11]]
When I was younger; my parents thought that I was border line schizophrenic. They knew I talked to someone, and that scared them. My dad left after my accident. He blamed most of it on my mom; the way she was raising me or trying to. But he also blamed me. He thought of me as one of the worst things that had ever happened to him. But my mom stayed through it all, she loved me no matter the time or place, she loved me when the doctor told her that nothing was clinically wrong with me and there was nothing they [[could do.->Josh 12]]//<font color=maroon>Why do you keep going back to her?</font>
<font color=gray>I love her, and you can’t stop that.</font>
<font color=maroon>No, you don’t, you know the only woman you’ll ever really love is me.</font>//
//[[Yeah, I know.->Josh 13]]//
A week passed, and Jamie still hadn’t spoken to me. I hadn’t seen her, I’d been to her house and her mother answered the door. I heard Jamie singing in the kitchen, but her mom swore she wasn’t home. I just stared past her into the hallway where She beckoned to me. She whispered but I heard her like a foghorn vibrating from my ears down to my heart.
//<font color=maroon>She can’t hold you back Joshua. You can hear Jamie and I can see her. </font>
<font color=maroon>You can smell her.</font>//
“Joshua, who are you talking to?”
//<font color=gray>She’s here, I know it.</font>//
“Joshua you need to leave.”
Jamie’s mom began to close the door, slowly at first with a look of concern because over the course of our conversation at the door I hadn’t looked her in the eyes once. Halfway through she began to push harder, and then the door slammed on the middle knuckles of my right hand. I screamed out, more concerned about the fact that I hadn’t felt myself move than with the pain shooting up my arm. I ripped my hand out of the door and heard Her. I felt her breath against my neck.
//<font color=maroon>You’re an idiot. That was your in. Didn’t you feel me pushing you in. </font>
<font color=gray>I don’t have the right.</font>
<font color=maroon>You didn’t need the right, you had the advantage.</font>
<font color=gray>I don’t want to force myself into her life again. I messed this up for us and I have to deal with the [[consequences.”->Josh 14]]</font>//
When I got home I took the revolver that used to belong to my dad out of the place where it sat patiently waiting for me in the cupboard. In the space right next to the boxes of raisins and the minute rice.
//<font color=maroon>You can’t be serious, you won’t do it.</font>//
She was clam, her voice strong. She was walking next to me; taking the stairs two at a time to keep up with me.
//<font color=maroon>You don’t deserve this, she deserves this.</font>//
I sat down on the corner of my bed and I scribbled a line into my journal, addressed it too my mother, put the gun between my lips and I pulled the [[trigger.->Josh 15]]
Jamie and I went out for coffee. And we kept going out for coffee until I was twenty-one, and then we started going out to drink, and I had a steady job by that time and Jamie didn’t, but she did some odds and ends here and there, and her baby girl was nowhere to be seen. She told me about everything except what happened to the baby, for all I knew she still had her, but also for all I knew she was long [[gone.->friendship 1]]Jamie stayed at my place a lot, and that’s when things started happening that I couldn’t stop, there was a rock that we pushed down a mountain and after it started falling there was nothing we could do to stop it. I fell for her, I loved her so hard and deep, but there was nothing that I could do. She only ever wanted me when she needed something, and even at that she didn’t want me in the way I did [[her.->friendship 2]]I used to believe in forever; like when Jamie was curled up in my bed with me; our breath interlacing like fingers in love, believe me I tried not to love her the way that I did but I couldn’t stop. I knew that she would never feel that way about me; I wasn’t stupid enough to not feel her identity, but one night she let me have my fun; I think the whole time she knew, she knew who I was and how I felt about her; and when I was drunk and she thought I wouldn’t remember we kissed. Little did she know that I would fall in love with her that night, the night that she let me curl around her like a roly-poly bug that’s been touched. I felt her love me back; only for a night, but that night I felt her care that much about me too. But by God when I saw her looking at him not one week later, knowing full and well that he wouldn’t love her the way that I could, like I wished to always; I felt my heart break in that pub, I felt it snap and I felt her, just for a second, forget [[about me.->Friendship 3]]Also in that moment—I felt the single sidedness of my forever, for her I was a good time, a place to sleep that wasn’t her parents’ house, I was money when she couldn’t find a job. She would never be what I wanted her to be because at the end of the day, my world was a good time to her and her world spun around men, the way they fawned over her, touched her, talked about her. Jamie didn’t want anyone to love her and she never would. I would always be the person that covered up and forgave her [[high school sins.->Friendship 4]]I left that, left my job; I was just a secretary at one of the businesses in town, it paid well but it wasn’t my dream; I left Jamie that night, without her knowing without her needing to know, she was busy anyway with the men buying her drinks and the bartenders loved her so they kept her real safe. So I just left, with some man that was standing by the door, he was drunk, so drunk, with last week’s five o’clock shadow still clinging to his chin. Somehow, I was pretty drunk too as it was, I woke up next to him for almost two years until one day my belly grew the size of a watermelon and he realized we, together, weren’t ready to possess anything in this world so he split, and I helped him, I wasn’t mad about it, I couldn’t be. I didn’t love him at all. By that time I was 16 states away from Jamie and had no way of finding out her number as I hadn’t kept her number in any form; I left all of who I used to be in that bar with [[Jamie.->Where she went]]I got a job as a secretary again, but soon got promoted from a lower tier boss to an upper tier boss or something like that because I was real good at keeping a schedule and being seen and not heard, my Aunty Mae raised me like that because she wanted me to be the best girl in the world if my momma ever came home; so good that she would never leave us again. She never came home, but I was still the best little girl in the world.
I rarely ever thought about Jamie anymore.
My man, he was a good man I swear, but he left 11 day before my due date, we’d had a big fight and we weren’t married or really committed to each other in any sort of way. I wasn’t really into him, I never had been, it wasn’t personal; I loved Jamie and I never really thought I’d meet someone like her again. And after the birth of my baby boy, I didn’t need anybody but him ever again. He was my forever boy, I would never be alone again because he was here, and he would love me back always. And I loved him always, I loved him strong, I loved him. I named him Joshua, [[Josh for short.->Where she went 2]]
And when he became a fourteen-year-old man in high school Jamie and Josh came back to me for the first time since I’d left. And they haunted me, and they haunted me, and they haunted me. And I started talking to them. At first it was nothing special just a sensation that felt like a dream, a dream come true, maybe. The nights were few and far between, but every now and then I would feel Jamie crawl under the covers and Josh, the one who died, would sit in the chair in the corner of my room. I would say goodnight to them both before [[I fell asleep.->Where she went 3]]Joshua didn’t know about his dad, or Jamie or Josh, but I always thought about telling him; he was real smart so I’m sure any questions he had he answered himself. By the time he was a senior in high school he was nearly living on his own, we didn’t talk much but the summer before he went to college I asked him what he wanted to do for his graduation present.
//<font color=darkgoldenrod>I just want to know about you, I feel like you’ve been hiding from me all my life and I don’t know why. I mean, I want to thank you for all of the things that you’ve given to me, but you never gave me any part of you.</font>
<font color=cadetblue>You had an uncle, well, a half uncle, but you never really could’ve met him. He passed before you were born.</font>
<font color=cadetblue>And your daddy left because we didn’t love each other but I loved you and I know he would too if he ever met you.</font>
<font color=darkgoldenrod>Oh.</font> //
He sighed, so I told him about Jamie. Everything I knew about her spilled out of me, I showed him the newspaper article in the newspaper, I showed him the yearbook with her superlative in it, I told him about the way people treated her, even the principal. He didn't say anything at first, and then he started to ask me about my relationship with her. I told him how much I loved her, and watched as my son felt himself start to hold a piece of me, he knew everything about me, and he knew everything about Jamie because I knew so much about her from the years that we had [[been together.->Where she want 4]]
When Joshua left for college, I was alone but for the friends that came into my room at night. Josh spoke first, I think because he wanted to get to know me better, Jamie already knew mw better than she knew the back of her hand so she had nothing, probably, to ask me; but I wished to hear her voice.
//<font color=gray>Did you name your son after me?</font>
<font color=cadetblue>You’re my half-brother, I found out after you died, my Aunty Mae told me we had the same daddy. I went to your grave to tell you, but I guess you weren’t there.</font>//
Jamie didn’t say anything but after I said goodnight she curled her body up and pushed herself into me, I wrapped my arms around her like I had so [[long ago.->Where she went 5]]
We all watched Joshua as he grew up, graduated college early, and got a big boy job three hours away. He came home some weekends to see me; to introduce me to some of the girls he thought he was serious about, somehow none of them worked out, [[but I have no idea why.->Where she went 6]]Jamie finally spoke after my 53rd birthday.
//<font color=mistyrose>Why’d you leave me in that bar, love? Why’d you never call? </font>//
And I couldn’t say anything to her, so I just kissed her on the lips and said goodnight, and she accepted that as an apology and [[an answer.->The beginning of the beginning]]
//Note at the scene of the crime//
She told me I had to, [[Mom.->The beginning of the beginning]]