My name is Jackson Tye. I am twenty six years old, and I live in the town of Twilight, Texas. I always have. In fact, as I write this, I am sitting in my house, which is only six blocks away from where I was born. I’m not sure if that’s ironic or not, and I don’t think it really matters.
I like it here—here meaning Twilight, not my house…although I do like my house, too—and I have tried to give as much back to the town as it has given me. I’ve never been sure if I’ve managed to do it. There isn’t a scale, like, “Okay, now I’ve done as much for this place as I need to in order to break even.” Even if there was, I doubt I would look at it.
I do what I can when I can.
Twilight’s a small town, but it has great gifts, if you slow down enough to look for them. A lot of the people I went to school with, they just wanted out. As soon as they graduated, they were gone, returning only for the occasional I-Need-Clean-Laundry trips, summer vacation, and eventually only for holidays. I don’t blame them, but I don’t envy them, either. Small town living isn’t for everyone.
I like it, though. Always a helping hand, if you need it. You can let your kids play in the school playground ‘till after dark without having to worry if someone’s going to snatch them up. It’s a comfortable place, it’s a nice place, and it’s a safe place.
That said, I need to address an issue that is not comfortable or nice or safe.
There has been a murder in the small town of Twilight.
Technically, there have been murders here before. As the Sheriff mentioned the other day, there are times when drunken brawls go too far, or an abusive husband gets carried away. There are suicides, as well, although I’m not sure if those count as murders.
Although terrible in their own right, and although they are in no way condoned, these occasional horrors are at least easily understood. On Halloween night, a woman was murdered in her home. No one knew why.
My best friend was the first suspect. I discovered this the other day, when my mom came banging on my front door, and then dragged my ass down to the county jail, where they were holding Sammy—my best friend. She wouldn’t answer any of their questions.
I went in, talked to the Sheriff, talked to Sam, and then Sam went in and talked to the Sheriff. She answered his questions satisfactorily, I guess, because then he let us all go.
If you know Samantha Murphy, you know that she would never kill anyone. Of course, Kristy Brown wasn’t just anyone, not where Sam was concerned.
And I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m writing this down in the first place: to explain what went down with Sammy and Kristy Brown.
There is no short version, really.
I guess it would have been, what, six years ago? Six or seven. Six—I remember because I was able to buy booze legally by my next birthday. Which was pretty convenient, seeing as how Sammy was really hitting the clubs hard that year, and she needed someone to watch her ass.
Twilight has a couple of bars, but it isn’t anywhere near big enough for things like dance clubs. You want to go to a club, you have to drive about an hour and half to Ft. Worth. Most of the places Sam went to, they wouldn’t let you in if you weren’t of legal drinking age, so it was a real relief when my birthday rolled around and I was able to escort her on her numerous trips.
She’s four months older than I am, which never seemed like an issue until I found myself waiting in the parking lot, wondering if she was going to make it out of the club all right.
I’m getting ahead of myself. And I’m getting sidetracked. Not good, considering I am definitely on a schedule here.
We grew up together. Our mothers didn’t travel in the same social circles—Sammy’s family is pretty tight-knit, and my mother had the three friends that she had known for years, and was content with that—but they ended up spending a lot of time in the hospital together. Sammy’s mom was having a lot of false starts on the whole labor thing, and my mom was having a lot of pregnancy complications.
They’re both worriers by nature, so they hit it off, discussing all the terrible things that could go wrong while they waited for the doctor. It’s a morbid way to become friends, in my opinion, but it worked out well for them, and it worked out well for Sammy and I.
We weren’t quite like brother and sister growing up—we were probably closer than any brother and sister, actually. We were never forced to spend time together, but we enjoyed it so much that we were basically inseparable. Our friendship grew up with us. She was the first girl I ever kissed, but aside from some playing-doctor experimentation when we were eight (that got us grounded from playing together for two weeks), it never went any further than that.
We remained close through high school, and even after that, when she went away to college and I decided to stay in Twilight.
My dad took off pretty much the moment of my conception, and neither me nor my mom ever heard from him again. Sammy’s parents didn’t split up until she was in eighth grade, and although she spent a lot of time crying on my shoulder, she eventually got over it, and realized that things were better with her parents divorced.
Both her mother and her father remained in Twilight until Sam graduated, and then her father moved to Ft. Worth. Not wanting to offend her mother, Sammy decided to go to school at the University of Texas in Austin instead of anywhere in Dallas or Ft. Worth, where it might be misconstrued that she was choosing her father over her mom.
The problem started when Dan—Sammy’s dad—met Kristy Brown. Actually, I guess that isn’t 100% accurate. At first, there were no problems. Kristy was pretty, she was sweet, friendly, and quick to laugh. Best of all, she made Dan happy, which made Sam happy.
And life was good for all of them for a while.
It didn’t go bad quickly—it just sort of corroded. Little stuff at first: Kristy “forgetting” to pass important phone messages from Sam on to Dan. Misplacing the birthday present that Sam sent, shit like that. It seemed innocent, except for the pattern.
It got worse as time went on. The lies became more blatant, and the hostility became more apparent. Sam wasn’t quite sure what to make of all of it. For a while, she thought she had done something to offend Kristy.
I sat around listening to her ponder for probably a hundred friendship hours before I finally told her that it was nothing that she did.
“Either she’s up to something,” I said, “Or she just doesn’t like you. And if she doesn’t like you, it’s because she’s up to something.”
“What do you mean, ‘up to something?’ Who even says that anymore?”
“I’m just saying. Look: everything was going fine, right? The two of you got along wonderfully. And then you realize that she isn’t giving your dad your messages, and she doesn’t give him the presents you send, she starts lying flat-out, and now she ignores you when you go to visit. It’s not anything you did, Sammy, it’s something she’s doing. She’s alienating you, instilling a barrier between you and your father. People don’t do shit like try to separate fathers from daughters unless they’re up to something.”
“I think you’re being too dramatic.”
“Could be. To tell you the truth, I’ve been drinking entirely too much coffee lately, so I’m probably just being paranoid.”
Unfortunately, I wasn’t.
Kristy continued to get worse until Sammy finally had to say something to Dan about it. By that time, it was too late. Never underestimate the power of an amazing fuck.
There were all sorts of sordid details, but I’m not about to get into them here—like I said, I’m under the gun, as it were. Heh.
That’s what it all boils down to, though, is the power of an amazing fuck. It turned one of the nicest men I knew against his own daughter, made him ostracize himself from his friends and family, and eventually, it killed him.
Dan accused Sammy of trying to ruin his happiness. He accused her of working with her mother to make sure that he stayed miserable. He told her he didn’t want to see her again until she was ready to apologize.
Not the first time that she talked to him about it, of course. The first time Sammy mentioned it, he discussed it with Kristy, who denied everything. Once she realized that Sam was onto her, she picked up the pace.
Less than a year later, Dan would have nothing to do with Sam. She tried to talk to him, tried to reason with him, but he would have nothing to do with it. He was blind to everything but the sight of Kristy, deaf to everything but her voice.
I once went out to talk to him. I made a special trip without telling Sam, and I called to arrange to meet him at his office. He listened as I described the events I had witness over the past couple of years, the deterioration in communication, and why Sam felt that Kristy was trying to drive a wedge in between Sam and her father. I described the effect his abandonment had had on Sam: the heartbreak, the feelings of betrayal, the hurt, and the tears.
He listened to me for almost an hour, nodding, and appearing to think it over. Then he had me thrown out of the building.
I don’t suppose it’s fair to say that he was like my father, but he was the closest thing that I had ever had to one. I had spent as much of my childhood in front of his TV as I had in front of my own. He had raised me as much as my mother had.
And just like that, I was out of his life.
“Can I say one thing before I leave?” I asked that day.
“Make it quick—security is already up to make sure you don’t cause a scene.”
Unbelievable. “I don’t know why you’re doing the things you’re doing, but some day, you’re going to look back and realize what a terrible mistake you’ve made with all of this Kristy business. It’ll probably be too late to fix most of the damage you’ve done, but I’ll be there, Dan. If you’re willing to try to repair all the shit you’re destroying right now, I’ll be there to help you. I just wanted you to know that.”
I didn’t wait for him to respond—the look of utter sadness in his eyes forced me to turn away, and once I was turned, it was easier to just walk away.
A year and a half later, he blew his brains all over the walls of that fancy office. When I finally got around to checking my email a week later, I found one from him. Apparently, he had written it about an hour before he killed himself.
I thought about coming to you for help. I really did. Do you remember what you said that time? Because I do. You said if I was willing to try to repair the damage, you’d be there for me.
I think you would be. I think if I picked up this phone and called you, you would help me to make everything right. But it wouldn’t work. She has me hooked good, little buddy. I try to get away, and I just can’t do it. I’ve moved out twice. There’s no way you could know that, but it’s true. But she’ll show up, she’ll take me to bed, and I’m back under her spell.
I’m weak, Jackson. So weak. She’s been cheating on me for the last year or so. She isn’t subtle about it. She isn’t apologetic. She just does it, and when I confront her, she just laughs.
It isn’t love. I don’t even know if it’s just sex. It’s something, though. I’m broken. If I thought there was a chance that I could fix things, I would try. I really would, little buddy.
But it would never work. I’m sorry for what I have to do, but at least I’ll be free from her.
I love you, Jackson. I’m so very proud of you, and you were like a son to me and I just love you so much. I’m so sorry. So sorry. I love you, and I hope you can forgive me for what I did and what I have to do now.
He wrote to Sam and Peggy, too, but nothing about the sex. He just wrote that he was sorry for what he did, he hoped they could forgive him, and goodbye.
Kristy moved back to Twilight two months later, and both Sam and Peggy took it as a personal attack. A slap in the face, no matter what she said her reasons were. I think they were right.