Hail Mary


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                                               HAIL MARY

  By Dana King

           “I didn’t kill my wife. Not like I never thought about it. Maybe I would have sooner or later. But not that night.

“She told me she was going upstairs, take a bath. That’s an hour shot in the ass right there. She knew Monday nights I like to go to Mogie’s and watch the first half of the game. I don’t feel like waiting for her, so I made supper myself.

“I holler up when it’s done, she don’t answer. That’s nothing new there, I didn’t think twice. Showing her ass because I wouldn’t wait. Okay by me, I won’t have to listen to her bitch about having spaghetti again. I ate and cleaned up my dishes.

“Now it’s pushing eight-thirty and she’s still up there. I holler again her food’s getting cold, she don’t get down here I’m gonna pitch it. Not a word.

“That was unusual. She always had something cute to say when I give her hell like that. Not this time. That got me got curious, so I go up the stairs to see what’s going on.

“She was in the tub, water’s up over her nose. I couldn’t tell if she hit her head or drowned or what happened to her. I didn’t feel like finding out. You know, it was the funniest thing, looking at her like that. I’d thought about if she was dead a hundred times. Now there she was, dead as Elvis, I didn’t feel a thing. I read in here some guy wrote the opposite of love is apathy. I guess that’s true.

“It takes about ten seconds for me to think no one’s going to believe this is an accident. We had lots of fights, even in public, some of them real screamers. Big one at Quigleys’ on Saturday. She got drunk again and didn’t like I how I was paying attention to Bonnie Mackowski, so she made a scene. I’d’ve killed her then, if I thought I’d get away with it.

“But not on Monday, and there she was, dead and cold and me with no alibi. I started thinking what I could do to be out of the house when it happened.

“Like I said, I always go to Mogie’s on Monday nights. If I could make it look like she died while I was there, no one would think it was anything but an accident. I knew cops check body temperature to see when someone dies, so I decided to heat her up, make it look like she died later than she did, you know, after I left.

“I let all the water out of the tub, then I let it run until it was as hot as it would get before I put the stopper back in. I filled it up as far as she had and left. Bathroom had so much steam I could hardly see her in the tub. I shoved her dinner down the disposal and threw her clean dishes in the dishwasher with mine.

“I got to Mogie’s right at nine like nothing happened. I did everything I could to act natural. I didn’t drink any more or less and didn’t talk about Mary except when someone asked, which is all I ever do. I left at halftime like I always do and go straight home. Only unusual thing I did was pretend my watch was losing time. That’s so I can ask Kelly Shanahan what time it was on my way out.

“When I got home I pulled her out of the tub and laid her on the floor like I tried to revive her. Then I called 911. They were there in like five minutes, she was just as dead as when I found her.

“I was ready for the cops. I told them I made supper, which was true. I told them I went to Mogie’s to watch the first half of the game, which was also true. And I told them I had supper with Mary, and she said she was going up for a bath after I left. No one said anything about it and I felt pretty good. I didn’t get cute, didn’t add anything that might trip me up. I figured I was in the clear.

“The cops come back on Thursday. It turns out they only go by body temperature for a rough estimate on time of death. Doctors check the stomach during the autopsy. I never knew that. Now they know she ain’t eaten since lunch and there’s was no trace of what I said she had for supper in her. They double checked when she had lunch and came looking for me.

“I thought judges were supposed to be impartial. This one didn’t even pretend to believe me. The jury didn’t spend an hour convicting me. I don’t think my own lawyer thought I was leveling with him, and I was paying the jerk two-fifty an hour. After he tells me I should’ve left out the part about eating with her, I should’ve left the food on the table. Said the time of death was rough enough I might have reasonable doubt. Didn’t matter. When they caught me lying and my alleged friends started coming out of the woodwork to talk about the fights and other stuff, I was screwed.

“I didn’t kill her, I swear to God I didn’t. No one believes me. I thought you might but I can tell by the look on your face you don’t either, do you?”

The priest’s smile was conditioned by years of experience. “It doesn’t matter what I believe, my son. All that matters is the Lord will forgive you.”

“Okay, Melvin, let’s go,” said the guard, the one with the bad eye.

Melvin Gladowski stood and shuffled off between two guards, another in front, a fourth behind him. Hands chained to his waist, more chains on his ankles dragging on the hard floor. The priest followed a step behind all the way up the long corridor. He spoke just loud enough for Melvin to hear.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women...”