All He Knows Is That She Left Him

Gabrielle parked the big blue Oldsmobile in the train station parking lot and cut the engine. She'd allowed the tears to run freely down her cheeks while she drove, but now she pulled a handkerchief out of her purse and began hastily wiping and dabbing, trying to salvage her makeup. Robert would be waiting for her inside, watching for her anxiously, watching for her husband even more anxiously. She glanced at her watch and sucked air through her teeth, she would have to hurry now.

She gathered up her purse and sweater and got out, walking around the car to the trunk. She hadn't packed much, just one small suitcase with the essentials. Her mind went blank as she opened the trunk and looked down at the suitcase. It didn't look like anything important to her. The thought of carrying it just made her feel tired and she had the urge to just walk away from it. Leave it, run away from it, get on the train now, before you lose your nerve...

But she didn't have any nerve left to lose. She realized that she felt nothing all of a sudden, that her whole body was numb and empty. She had already done the worst possible thing. The only one that mattered to her, the only good thing she had ever done was gone.

She could still picture him sitting beside her in the car, so proud of the suit she'd bought for him just that morning. Navy blue short pants, a crisp white shirt under a matching jacket with a fine white linen handkerchief in the breast pocket, folded just so. She'd clapped her hands and laughed and said how smart he looked when he came out of the dressing room, beaming. The salesman had agreed and said it was just the thing for a boy of five to wear to an important party.

She’d made him practice his manners and he kept repeating, “Good afternoon. My name is Salvatorre Allamonte, I am pleased to meet you,” in a plummy little imitation of radio englishmen as they drove.

The vision of him standing at that huge wrought iron gate, her tiny little man, her funny little boy, all ears and nose and bright hazel eyes, staring at her with that pale, stricken expression as she waited in the car across the street for someone to answer the bell, made her heart turn over in her chest and her stomach heave. He'd known. He was so smart. He'd known she wasn't coming back.

“You should have taken a taxi,” Vincent said flatly from behind her. "The flashy ride was pretty easy to keep track of.”

She closed her eyes and almost smiled. This is right, she thought, this is how I knew it would go. At least my boy won’t have to watch me die slowly.

“You did manage to give me the slip for a little while. What’d you do with the kid? Leave him in a basket at the orphanage?”

She dropped her purse in the trunk and let the sweater slither off her arm like a small, quick animal. Her hands fell to her sides. “I took him to the Boss’ house for Oma’s birthday party,” she said softly. She heard Vincent’s sharp intake of breath behind her and she did smile then. Surprise, you didn’t know everything after all, she thought.

“He’ll be fine, he’ll make new friends and have a good time. I watched him go in, they wouldn’t turn him away, it wouldn’t be polite.”

“Yeah? And then what? He gonna mix with a better class of kid and step up in the world?”

“Be good to him, Vince, if you’ve got any kindness in you at all, use it on him. He’s better than either one of us deserves. Please don’t make him pay for what I did.”

He was standing very close behind her, she could feel his whole body shaking against her back.

“I told you I’d have to kill you if you ever cheated on me, I told you... why’d you have to do it?” His voice was a strangled whisper next to her ear.

"Turn the radio on for him at bedtime, he can’t get to sleep without soft music on. The apartment is so loud. And make sure he practices his penmanship, it’s difficult for him, he needs to practice.”

She turned around and looked up into his hard, angry face, “Oh, Vince, please don’t hurt him...”

He gritted his teeth, pressed the gun up under her breast and shot twice.