Snippets from Birmingham


I grew up loved, in Birmingham. I got adopted by the most violent men there. My discovery, once I was part of the family, was that though they were the most violent men, they were also the most elegant. The most generous, the most gentle….but always they were covered someone else’s blood.

“We’re in here, Abigail!” Knox shouted when he heard me shut the front door. I liked the way his accent played with my name. Abby-gail.

He would, I knew, be laboring over the desk; staring at all the the paperwork. It would all make sense to him, every figure, every long sum.

I threw my coat onto the chair with force as I walked past his desk and then threw myself face down onto the fainting sofa.

I could practically hear the realization in the room grow. First he would glance at me, and then look back down at his papers.

Except, for Knox, human emotions were a palpable thing. Soon he would feel it and look at me again, noticing the oddness of my behavior.  He would put his pen down, audibly.

He would ask if i was okay.

When I didn’t answer, he would think about where I had been.


I didn’t answer.

“Abigail, is everything all right?”

I didn’t answer; moved my head to fit more comfortably on the couch.

I heard his sigh, familiar, and then his chair was pushed back. His footsteps drew closer to the couch, until they were right next to me.

I didn’t have to be looking at him to know exactly what he was doing.

His hands, strong hands, were both in his pockets. His lips loosely held the tenth cigarette that day. His shoes were pointed directly at me.

Another sigh when I didn’t answer; he elegantly drew another breath through his cigarette, removed his hands from his pockets and said, “Well, move over then.”

I rolled onto my side and pressed myself against the back of the couch.

He laid down, sliding an arm around me.

I nestled my cheek on his chest and looked at his suit buttons. They had anchors on them, with  metallic rope wound around the rim.

He used the arm I was laying on to draw the cigarette from his mouth; i watched him blow smoke over our heads. He held it to my lips as he said, “What happened?”

I sucked in and blew out as he placed the cigarette between his lips again.

“Do you promise to react aggressively?”

His whole body stilled, and he tried to relax it. I watched his jaw clench and un-clench before he turned his head, slowly, to look at me. “I thought you didn’t’ approve of our violence?”

I thought that, too, Knox. I didn’t say it out loud.

His eyes were steel, hard, waiting for me to tell him what happened.

“James Garrison.”

He waited, but i didn’t say anything else.

When I didn’t, he passed the cigarette back to me and turned his head to the ceiling. “James Garrison.” His accent twisted it to Jay-mes Garry-son.

I took the cigarette and placed it between his lips. “Don’t kill him.” I said.

He closed his eyes. “I won’t kill him.” He said without inflection.

“I won’t kill him.”


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