fundamentals of personal salvation. A few verses from the book of Ro-
mans, and then “What do you think about a chef’s knife set for Peter’s
“She’s after a three-way,” Matthew said when I called him. “Desperate
housewife over there.”
“You don’t know her at all.”
“She sounds hot. Prudish hot. Like a Lands’ End catalogue.”
What Rosalind wanted was a way into Pete’s childhood. She loved to
ask me about growing up in this town, and she was most curious when
my stories intersected with Pete’s.
“He doesn’t talk about them much, his parents,” she said. “But I think
the tragedy broke his family. I wish I’d known him then. He keeps so
much packed away.”
The last time I’d seen Pete’s mom, she’d burst into our group coun-
seling session in her bathrobe, a bottle of whiskey poking out from one
terry-cloth pocket. The company was too cheap to offer individual ses-
sions, so once every week for three months, all the bereaved children
had to come in, divulge trauma, sign waivers. They offered dinner as
well. Usually pizza.
“I don’t want it to hold him back, you know,” Roz said. “From what
he might become.”
“You mean, if you had children?” I felt like I was pushing on a bruise.
I tried to be careful about it.
But her smile was genuine as she grabbed my hand. “Pray for us,
please. Even if you don’t believe.”
“Of course,” I said. “I’ll keep you in my thoughts.”
For what felt like the first time, I relished the memories Pete and
I shared. When the first big snow brought Pete to our door, shovel in
hand, I stepped out to offer a thermos of coffee.
“Rosalind wanted me to stop by,” he said. “Make sure your mom was
taken care of.”
“Thank you. I could shovel myself, but I appreciate it. My mom wants
to know if you want some breakfast.”
“How’s she doing?”
“She’d enjoy seeing you.”
The case manager from hospice care had stopped by a few days before
to chat with my mother and take inventory of medication. There was no
confrontation about the Oxy. She handed me package of morphine, no
questions asked. It was an injectable kind. She had me practice using