Stalker said that after the abortion, things were never the same with Deborah and him. After he told me about it, things were not quite the same between Stalker and me.
My heart beat in rhythm with his pain. This self-proclaimed alpha male, the “Barbarian,” the don’t-mess-with-me: I still know my karate and there is nothing you can do to me to hurt me. I will beat my own head against the wall and be out for three days and still rise up. My skull is so thick you can’t hurt me.” This was a tough Irish-Catholic drinking man; he was a -rules-don’t-apply-to-me, a Woodstock free-love hippie, a monster who would do anything — so don’t dare him to do it! But, deep inside, his heart was bleeding for 35 years. “I should have done something,” he said. He killed his son. His first son. He sobbed into the phone.
Insidious Catholic-inspired guilt, I thought. If you drilled deep enough through the layers, that’s what you found in his bedrock. Unmovable, unshakeable, unforgivable guilt. I knew about Jewish guilt, knew about that well first hand. But this was a different strain. Jewish and Catholic guilt are siblings, yes, with the same parents. But the siblings went their separate ways. One guilt could be lifted each Yom Kippur with proper repentance. For Stalker, his guilt would be eternal. He would not take the sacrament because of it. And no confession could absolve him, he said. No, no priest could fix this.
You were young. She was eight years older than you. She was a doctor. She knew the risks. Maybe she even was trying to get you to marry her. Maybe it wasn’t conscious. Maybe maybe maybe.
“It doesn’t matter. I am the man. I should have taken care of her. Roe vs. Wade. Murderers. That’s what they are. Murderers.”
Perhaps if he tells me, that will lift some of the pain for him. So he can stop punishing himself so harshly. Perhaps I can help just by listening. It won’t hurt me much to do that, I innocently believed.
Your first killing, you say? What was the next? How many?
. . . to be continued