kristina McMorris

Sold on a Monday


Outside the guarded entrance, reporters circled like a pack of wolves. They wanted names and locations, any links to the Mob, every newsworthy detail for tomorrow's front page.

The irony wasn't lost on me.

In the hospital waiting area, on the same chair for hours, I raised my head when a doctor appeared. He spoke to a nurse in a hushed tone. His full mustache, peppered like his temples, vibrated with his words. My shoulders coiled into springs as I searched for a look, a suggestion of the worst. Tension heightened around me from others fearing the same. The sudden quiet was deafening. But then the doctor resumed his strides, his footfalls fading around the corner. Once more I sank into my seat.

The air reeked of disinfectant, bleach and the cigarettes of nervous smokers. From the tiled floor came a shrill scrape, a chair being dragged in my direction. Tiny hairs rose on the back of my neck from more than the sound. Upon learning of my involvement, an officer had warned me a detective would soon be here to talk.

That man now sat down to face me.

"Good afternoon." He removed his brimmed hat, an act of casualness, and rested it on his lap. From his pin-striped suit and tidy haircut to his perfect white teeth, he was a recruitment poster for J. Edgar Hoover.

I didn't catch his name or the formalities of his introduction—my mind was muddled from waves of worry and lack of sleep. But I could guess what information he wanted. No different from the journalists amassing on the street, ever eager to pry. Hungry for answers I hadn't fully grasped.

If only I could escape—from this place and moment in time. How nice it would be to leap forward by a week, a month. The unseemly rumors would have long been buried, the puddles of blood mopped clean, the outcome of this day endured. I envisioned myself then in a dim corner of a café, being interviewed by a young reporter over coffee. His fresh-faced zeal would remind me of the person I once was, back when I first moved to the city, convinced that enough aspirations and success would crowd out the darkness of my past. The sense of not being worthy.

"What a relief," he would say, "that everything turned out fine."

For some, of course. Not all.

Then I heard "Can you tell me how it all started?" The reporter in my head blended with the detective before me. I wasn't entirely sure which of them had asked. And yet, as if through a lens, I suddenly viewed the past year with astounding clarity, saw the interwoven paths that had delivered each of us here. Every step a domino essential to knocking over the next.

With no small amount of regret, I nodded at him slowly, remembering as I replied.

"It started with a picture."