"What happened to you, McGonagle? You used to be a GOOD cop! Where'd it all go wrong?!", she demanded, or rather begged from the other end of the alley.
"It's these damned city streets, America. These filthy, rotten streets. No matter how hard you try, no matter how clean and upright a man you are when you walk into them, you walk away a putrid animal."
It was glib bullshit. Or at least I thought it was at the time. But it seemed like the only reasonable answer to a faded highschool princess who'd just seen the former star quarterback completely take the head off a total stranger in a darkened alley with a Midnight Special at point-blank range.
"You're a god-damned savage now, McGonagle . . . a god-damned . . . savage . . ." Her voice quavered off into a blubbering white noise in the background as I massaged my temples, trying to force back down the bubbling cauldron of terror and self-loathing I'd come to recognize as the inevitable aftermath of committing an act as abominable as I'd just done. I was now experiencing such things with a shocking regularity and had begun to formulate a list of suggested responses to them in the back of my head.
America, on the other hand, had no friggin' idea what the hell she was going on about. She seemed to carry on for decades as if she were still the lilly-white pure virgin painted on some old Mary Pickford movie poster. It takes increasingly massive doses of heroin to sustain this illusion, of course. Certainly after a career as checkered as America's. How could I put this to her? COULD I put this to her? She was certainly no virgin. She'd probably serviced more people of all descriptions than the entire McDonald's(tm) franchise, sometimes simultaneously both at the front drive-through window AND from behind the counter.
No. I decided quickly. No, I could not explain this to her. It was simply beyond the mental, moral and imaginative resources left to her after decades of self-abuse. The denoument of this particular matter seemed pretty clear to me, however, and the re-education of a smack-addled whore figured in no part of it. I was going on the lamb. If-and-when the "Law" caught up with me, I would be on my own and offer no excuses. Under no conditions was I going to render a mundane-factual account of events which had transpired, of how I had actually been duped by America into the wholesale slaughter of complete strangers in a dark city alley.
First of all, even if a factual account were believed, it could not hope to save me from the hangman. Second of all, it would only result in snapping the final barrier between America and decades worth of filthy deeds waiting to revisit her from the other side.