I knew when the church on the corner — the Episcopal one with the gargoyles — wasn't there. Not torn down, not burned, just not there. I'd been feeling strange all morning: sick, angry, lost. Now I knew why.
They're not supposed to be able to just take it. You have to bargain it away, or gamble it away, or curse it away. I didn't do any of those things. Not even accidentally. I've been good.
I went to the shop see Mama Rayes, who knew it the second she looked at me. "You're empty. Get out."
"No," I said, pleading. "I didn't do this. I've been robbed."
"That's not possible. That doesn't happen."
"But it has, I swear."
"You have nothing to swear on." She stared at me. "And I can't save you, you're already gone. This is just the meat and bone that's left over. All I can do for you is end the suffering." She produced the sawed-off from under the counter.
I left. I got on the train out to where Harry lives. He'd do anything for me; we're brothers.
The people on the train wouldn't make eye contact, but that wasn't unusual. Nobody sat next to me, even when it started to get full up. Was there a smell? None that I could detect. Did I look sick? My reflection in the car window wasn't sharp enough to answer.
I got off the train, walked down to the corner and caught the bus. There was a nun sitting in the back, and she locked her eyes on me until I got off. I'm pretty sure she was praying under her breath and white-knuckling her crucifix.
Harry's place was locked but I know where he hides the key: a little pewter frog in the front garden. I let myself in and collapsed onto the couch. I hadn't realized how tired I was; I drifted off to sleep. It was three in the afternoon.
Harry woke me by bursting through the front door at one in the morning: wearing a new suit, singing, with a girl on his arm. "Bobby! What are you doing here? Hey, meet Angelica. Angelica: this is my twin brother Bobby."
"You," I said, as soon as I understood the situation, "are an asshole. Not you, Angelica; Him. Will you excuse us?"
"Sure." She teetered on drunken high heels back towards the bedroom.
"Okay. Why am I an asshole?" Harry was laughing. I wanted to punch him but I didn't have the energy.
"You sold your soul. For money? The girl?" As I spoke he started looking confused, guilty. "It doesn't matter. They came to collect. Only they took mine by mistake, Harry."
"They shouldn't have done that…"
"You shouldn't have done it, Harry. Do you know what this feels like? And then Hell, eventually? What were you thinking?"
"I'll fix it."
"They'd just take yours, Harry. What would I tell Mom?"
"I'll fix it."
"Don't do anything." Mama Rayes would fix it.