Keeping score

   Carla wasn’t sure how long she’d known, but sitting across from Dale she was aware that she did.  Something about being in the room alone with him, or maybe it was the intensity in his eyes.   The news was playing in the background, and Jerry had taken the plates into the kitchen to wash.  She was alone.  With him, and she knew what he had done.

“13,” he said.

“what?”

“13.”

“I don’t understand.”  

“That’s how many.  People we’ve killed…I mean.”  He said the last part lamely, almost as if he was ashamed.

Her mind raced back over the stories she’d seen in the paper, and heard about on TV.   the bodies found all over the state.  The cold recitations of the condition of the victims, spoken or written about by people who didn’t know them, and were to jaded to even realize the damage their words must have done to the loved ones of the victims.  the cheerleader outside of Charlotte, hanging upside down between two trees under a banner that said “Rah-Rah.”

There was the preacher in Bern, hanging from the pulpit by a brass cross that had been hammered through his throat, and the farmer near Jacksonville found face up in the feeding trough, his mouth gagged, and hands bound to the fence rail decrying the fact that he’d been alive when he was put there.

    The horror etched across her face becoming more apparent as the list ran through her mind, and then her face crumbling in the horror of that one word.

“we’ve.”  He had said we’ve.

“Jerry.” she mumbled, already knowing the answer.

“of course Jerry.”

“But why,” she said.  She didn’t really want to know, but couldn’t think of a way not to ask.  How do you not ask?

“Everybody needs a hobby. ”  His voice was devoid of emotion, and she looked up to see him staring intently at her.

Pointing toward the kitchen, Dale smiled and said almost cheerfully “14. ”  Then, With the slightest hint of regret he pointed at her, and said

“15”

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