Orville sensed the house by the river was unnaturally quiet as he unlocked the front door. Not a sound, not even the usual noises from the TV. “I got a raise,” he shouted. “Anybody want to celebrate?”
Then he saw his father and the letter. The man was on the living room floor and the letter centered on the man’s chest. The gash on the man’s forehead and the baseball bat nearby told Orville he was an orphan. In shock, he picked up the tablet paper and read Paula’s labored script:
By the time you read this I will be gone. I know you don’t think much of me cuz of all those things I done. Sorry I never learnt nothing after those beauty school lessons you bought me. And the guitar I never practiced. And the Ford that’s now broke so I could look for work.
Well, goddammit to hell, I never said I was perfect. You always called me predictable as a hog. Okay. You kick a hog in the head and he’ll go right back to his slops, same as me hitting the nearest bar. But a woman’s gotta have some fun and all you and your old man ever do is work.
Okay. So you will see soon enough I hacked your checkbook and took half cuz you owe me all those months.
Your daddy is dead too, but he had no call to whack me when I was just tryin to get some sleep. You were both agin me from the start.
I have borrowed your boat and will leave it on the Canadian side of the river. Don’t try to find me cuz I will never come back. I have my dreams to follow and some man will love me for who I am. Not what they think I should be.
Orville read the letter three times, looking at his father lying in a pool of blood. Oh, Paula, he thought, I could have told you the boat’s gas tank was empty. There wasn’t enough to get you 50 feet out onto the Niagara River, half a mile above the falls.