It was me who found her. April 1, 1880. The date is engraved on my story same as it is on the headstone, so cold and solid there under the pines.

On my first day in jail, a three hundred pound man named Porterhouse hit me in the back of the head with a metal tray.

I never thought I’d work a job that was dictated by human shit. But things change. When you’re responsible for following men around and cleaning up after them it’s, at best, funny and humbling, and at worst, humiliating.

As always, before the warmind and I shoot each other, I try to make small talk.

My mom was always more of a friend than an authority figure. But not like a laid-back friend who comes over to watch Homeland—more like an annoying friend who comes over with two dudes you don’t know and starts doing body shots off your sleeping roommate at 3 A.M. on a Wednesday.

You’re gonna hate me when I tell you everything
You’re gonna question whether you really know me at all.

A father’s failure shadowed the life of one; a father’s success taunted the other.

Ventura “Benny” Martinez hadn’t slept in days. This frigid December night, like so many others, he sat awake, stiff-backed and tense in a living room chair. His pudgy, sweaty fingers gripped the handle of a .44 Ruger equipped with an infrared laser to illuminate whoever would be coming for him.

Listen up, newly discovered planet suitable for sustaining human life. We got plans for you. Big plans.

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism. It’s like Alcoholic’s Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem.

When I was growing up, my mom was guided by the strong belief that to befriend me was to deny me the one thing a kid really needed to survive childhood: a mother.

I never imagined I would shoot a man. Or be a father. Or live so far from the sea.

As soon as I’m left alone
The devil wanders into my soul

The fire in the tobacco barn was starting to rage, and inside was the most wanted man in America: John Wilkes Booth, the traitor who had shot President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre 12 days earlier.

My closest friend, a homicide lieutenant, refuses to add up how many murders he’s investigated, claiming nostalgia is for losers. My rough guess is three hundred.

I watch you grow away from me in photographs.

Good goddamn, the way Julian told that story. It was the sort of story that imbued the mind with possibility. That lingered like campfire smoke in a sweater.

You say it’s up to me to do the talking. You lean forward, place a box of tissues in front of me, and your leather chair groans like a living thing. Like the cow it used to be before somebody killed it and turned it into a chair in a shrink’s office in a loony bin.

I have a good poker face because I am half dead inside.

You were at the hospital when I was born. There must’ve been something about three generations being in one room that made history seem tangible. So easy to touch. So easy to hold.

How angry am I? You don’t want to know. Nobody wants to know about that.

Her tactical instructor at the police academy had liked taunting them during early morning drills. “Sleep is overrated,” he’d say. “You will learn to do without.”
He’d lied.

One of the skinniest, best-dressed drug dealers in Hidalgo County was throwing himself a birthday party, and I was drinking his beer.

For the modern, middle-class North American, “clean” means that you shower and apply deodorant each and every day without fail. For the aristocratic seventeeth-century Frenchman, it meant that he changed his linen shirt daily and dabbled his hands in water but never touched the rest of his body with water or soap.