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Letter to an Ex, on the Occasion of His Suicide


It was morning, after another rough night. You’d barely slept on the floor in Bill’s cave of an apartment, where you’d spent the last three nights watching the hour of the wolf stretch to become every hour that was dark or semi-dark. Now, though the apartment remained as stale and murky as it had been at 1 a.m., then 2 a.m., then 3, you knew it was light outside. A long way from the kind of light you loved, when clouds turn pink from the rising sun, water-coloring men who make coffee in tin kettles with long handles over an open fire. That was Africa—Rwanda or the Congo or maybe Madagascar. This was Manhattan. Fucking Manhattan.

You ate plenty, like a man with plans: two lemon drop cookies, a lemon yogurt and half a pint of strawberry ice cream. That’s what Bill had in his kitchen. You watered the mix with coffee. Then you spilled out the bullets to reduce your payload to two. One was all you truly needed, but somehow you thought it right to have a spare. On any op, the best-laid plans turn to mush once it starts, you’d often said. Contingencies were critical.

You set off, walking toward the East River where dumped bodies, grim blossoms, push their way up each spring once the water thaws. It took only five or six minutes to reach Sutton Place Park, even moving slowly as you do now—did then—with the pain in your hips and feet. You passed East Side professionals on their way to work and the ornate, obscenely expensive brownstones built by Effingham Sutton, who raked it in during the 1849 California Gold Rush. I can imagine you making fun of his first name.

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