Agnes & BB is a bi-weekly fiction series that I’m writing in conjunction with Amanda. We’ll be telling the same story from the perspective of two different characters. You can read BB’s story here and Agnes’ story via Amanda’s blog.
“If I told you once—“ I say, but then I stop, because I don’t like the way this cop is looking at me and I’m not afraid to tell him and I’m about to tell him when something Agnes said once comes back to me and my anger at this cop is replaced with anger for Agnes—the reason I’m in this mess in the first place—and so I shut up and I shut my mouth and I set my lips into a line and I resolve myself to silence. Nobody ever got themselves into trouble by keeping silent. That’s what I remember, that’s what Agnes said that one time. I don’t remember why she said it but I remember that she said it and I remember what her face looked like and I remember how her eyes got all squinty like when she was trying to concentrate on something.
Nobody ever got themselves into trouble by keeping silent. That’s what she said and it made sense because I was always the talker and Agnes was always the one quiet and waiting and watching and just sneaky. Just sneaky, that Agnes.
It was a full year before she said a word to me and then she said—I still remember this, I still remember what she said—she said: I’d like a coca-cola. No ice, please. And I thought that was just about the strangest thing to ask for because it was hot, like. It was hot outside and it was hot in the bar and when I told her the icebox was out and all the bottles were warm she stuck to her guns and she insisted—No ice. I don’t want no ice. So I put the damn coca-cola into a glass for her and she sat at one end of the bar drinking it and she sat there for nearly three hours drinking this one glass, don’t ask me how she managed to make it last as long as she did, but she did. Three hours with the same glass of coca-cola and it seemed strange at the time but now I know she was just waiting for everybody to leave. And that’s where all my trouble started. When the quiet Agnes decided to talk, that was where it all went wrong for me.
“You about ready?” the cop says. The cop is fat, short, greasy, unpleasant. He’s about the last person I’d like to be locked in a small room with but that’s the way the cards have fallen. I’ve gotten the short, fat cop and Agnes, well I’m sure Agnes has weaseled someone a bit better. That’s just her way.
“If I told you once,” I say again. The cops sighs and rolls his eyes and actually chuckles. Then he looks at me like he doesn’t think I’m half-bad but that’s just how things have worked out, him on one side of the table and me on the other side of the table and a job’s a job, like. “If I told you once—I got nothing to do with this last one,” I say.
The cop nods slowly and looks at me through smallish, squinty eyes.
“But the others?”
I take a breath.
I knew it was coming to this.
Of course it was coming to this.
“My husband was an old, old man,” I say.
And then I see his face—my husband—and for just a second it’s like he’s standing in the corner of the room, just watching me. And don’t ask me how I know, don’t ask me, but I know he’s forgiven me. He understands why I had to do it and he’s even sort of grateful. He was in so much pain, and that’s no way to live. Didn’t he always tell me that’s no way to live.
“Old men eventually die on their own,” the cop says, quiet. “You don’t have to help them along.”
Ah—but I did. And that’s when this whole thing started.