Chapter 13

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

- Dorothy Parker, Resume

At the hospital, Trixie refused to speak to Dan. Dan believed it was the shock of what had transpired, but as the days went buy, she cut off all contact with him and his family. He spoke to her parents and they asked that Dan respect their daughter's wishes and stay away from her. Trixie's mother told him that she just needed time. Apparently, Trixie's injury would heal in a few weeks and there would be no permanent damage, for which Dan was grateful. He reluctantly agreed and busied himself with his mother's funeral.

The funeral was held several days later with no viewing. Many family members and friends attended, with the notable exception of Trixie and his stepfather and the Buchanon family. Six of Dan's best friends acted as pallbearers. Even though her illness had been terminal, her murder dredged up so many more emotions. Dan had always believed he and his mother would work out their differences before she died. He'd thought they'd have several months to erase regrets and the bad feelings between them. Rick had once again robbed him of another part of his childhood.

His stepfather, in the meantime had gotten out on bail. Rick's family had hired one of the sleaziest lawyers in town. His reputation was one of dirty tricks and intimidation. Today, he'd probably be known as the Johnny Cochran of Reading. One day, about a week after the funeral Rick and a few of his friends paid Dan a visit as he cleaning out his mother's house. They punched him around a few times and Rick told Dan that he would kill him if he testified against him. Dan said nothing, and they left him battered and bruised on the back porch. The police said they couldn't really do anything since it was Dan's word against his stepfather. And his stepfather's buddies told the police he'd been with them all that afternoon at a local bar.

So he finished wrapping his mother's affairs, packed up everything he owned and rented a U-Haul truck. He tried to reach Trixie but she still was refusing to see him or talk to him. He told her mother what had happened and that he had to get out of town and said he'd like to take Trixie with him. She promised she'd deliver the message but he didn't believe she'd ever receive it.

So he was surprised the next day when Trixie called him. They made small talk about how she was doing and then he asked her to come with him to California. It was as far west as he could drive, as far away from this hell as he could get and he wanted her to go with him. She refused, saying to never contact her again. She said she didn't blame him but that she never wanted to be reminded of what happened and that would be impossible if she stayed with Dan. He tried his best to persuade her otherwise but in was in vain. She had made up her mind.

He left the next morning and took two weeks to drive cross-country, taking his time, trying to enjoy being free of everything he'd ever known. He let only a few people know where he was and he tried repeatedly to reach Trixie but was unable to do so. He got an apartment near Golden Gate Park and spent long hours there among the trees. He watched the dogs chase one another and fight, like nature expressing itself at its most primitive. He started having conversations with the trees, who he considered his friends, and in the absence of other people he could talk about his problems with it helped Dan immensely. They were, after all, very good listeners. Then finally, after he had been in San Francisco about a month, Trixie phoned him for would prove to be their last conversation. She said that she was feeling better and was all but healed. And then she dropped the bombshell.

She told Dan she was pregnant and that she wanted him to send her the money for an abortion. Initially he refused but she begged him and in the end, he could not refuse her that last request, no matter the consequences. She thanked him, sobbing into the phone. It was the last time Dan heard her voice. He put down the phone and cried himself to sleep. It was the lowest point in his already unpromising life.

He sent the money the next day and tried his best to forget his old life. He'd hear drips and drabs from home, but even good news became difficult to take because of what he was missing. Trixie testified at Rick's trial and he was found guilty and sentenced to forty years, essentially a life sentence since he was the same age that Dan was now, forty-five. He was briefly happy when he heard the news, but it was short-lived, as it did not replace his mother or his lost love. Shortly after the verdict, Trixie's mother called Dan quite unexpectedly. It turned out she had taken some pills and tried to kill herself. They had found her in time and she was okay, but that was all he knew. Trixie's father walked in and hung up the phone abruptly. He could hear them arguing in the background just before the line went dead. He heard no more news about Trixie after that.

In the intervening years he heard little of home at all. He exchanged Christmas cards with relatives and got the occasional birthday card. He phoned his two grandmothers and his aunt Helen from time to time, but that was about it. Every now and then, someone would send a care package with Good's potato chips or Tastykakes or something like that, often with clippings from local newspaper they thought might be of interest. But little by little the memories faded as he made a new life for himself. It took about five years for him to work up the courage to ask another woman on a date, but it went badly. He built up a good network of close friends and they became his surrogate family, he finished his education, and he started a career. But romance seemed like it would elude him.


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