“Why look so glum,” she said, “you were too weak to live with it. I did you a favor. I left you at a children’s home for awhile,” she said. “but I took you back. That should count for something.”
“Why?” Billy said.
“Never mind that,” she said. “You enlisted in the Army as soon as you got out of high school and that was the last I saw of you.”
“Why did you change my name to Wilson Gentry?” Billy said.
“To keep the police off our trails,” she said.
“Why?” Billy said.
“I was afraid of being a suspect,” she said. “The busybodies across the street didn’t believe their daughter was the slut she was.”
“She wasn’t a slut,” Billy said defiantly. “She was a kind and gentle girl.”
“A slut,” she said, “no better than me.”
“What happened?” Billy said.
A scowl rested across her face. “My husband was infatuated with her, a little girl, he was over 20 years her age. He gave her gifts and wrote love poems about her. I caught them together in the garage. I kicked over a five gallon can of gasoline and tossed a match to it, slammed the garage door, and let it explode inside.”
Billy’s head dropped and he grasp his face with his hands.
“That’s what happens to sluts and perverts,” she said.
“I remember,” Billy said painfully. “It wasn’t that way. I remember. I remember.”
“You don’t remember anything,” she said bitterly.
“My father dragged her into the garage,” Billy said. “I watched through the window. I ran across the street to get her dad. That’s when I heard the explosion. I ran back and opened the door. I remember. You were standing in the back door of our house smiling. I ran inside and called the fire department.”
“All the sudden you remember,” she said suspiciously.
“What part am I missing?” Billy said.
“It was a crime of passion,” she said. “You can’t convict a woman on something like that.”
“Alicia confided in you, Mom,” Billy said. “She told you that Dad was making her feel uncomfortable and that he had asked her to run off with him. She was reaching out to you for help and you killed her along with Dad because of his obsession over her. She had nothing to do with it. It‘s coming back to me now. You manipulated me.”
“It was for your own good,” she said.
Billy stood and walked toward the car.
“Are you going to report this to the police in LA?” she said.
“I’ll tell her parents,” Billy said, “but as for me, I’m going to let her rest.”
“They’ll turn me in, you know.” she said.
“That’s something you can lay awake at night wondering, wondering if the next knock on the door, the next slam of a car door, or next car you hear pull in the park is the police,” Billy said. He opened the car door. “You made me forget once before. I was very young. It was before I started to school. I was crying and you told me to forget. What were you telling me to forget?”
She snarled. “You weren’t mine or your Dad’s. You was a throw-away – garbage.”
“How did you get me?” Billy said.
“Before we moved into our last house in LA we lived in a better neighborhood, because I was an up-and-comer. There was this little rich bitch that lived next to us. She bought you and decided she didn’t want you. She didn’t know what to do so she paid us $2,000 to take you. After a while we didn’t know what to do with you. You had no personality so we couldn’t get you in the movies. Butch kind of got attached to you so I let him keep you that way I didn’t have to give him a child.”
“You don’t know where I came from,” Billy said.
“Not a clue,” she said.
“Hope you enjoy the strawberries,” Billy said.
“The chain,” she said, “around your neck.”
Billy grabbed it.
“It came with you,” she said.
“Thanks,” Billy said. He opened the car door and slid in. He gave her a quick glance hoping for some sign of affection. He drove away empty.