I Need to Know


Photo credit: Scott Liddell

I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked, Brother, about 4 months. Here’s why: I’m struggling. I don’t feel like I can talk to you about normal, everyday shit until I have some answers. I was there for your last court appearance. I heard what you said. But I don’t really buy it. I feel like there’s got to be more to it than that. So can we finally talk about it?

You said in court that the reason you all decided to rob and eventually kill her is that you wanted some money for pot. Is that the truth? I don’t believe it. If you wanted some cash for drugs and somehow thought that robbing someone you know would be something you could get away with without killing her, that doesn’t make sense at all. Because if you knocked her out, robbed her, then she woke up and would know it was you who did it. So were you planning to kill her from the beginning? If so, then WHY?

I understand that your partner was jealous of her and that serves as her motive, but what the hell was yours? Why would you do something so terrible and so stupid over drug money? And you weren’t even under the influence of drugs at the time! That does not compute. I’m not an idiot. I know there’s more to the story. And I need to know. Can you tell me now? Now that it’s been 2 years? I can’t wait for the trial for answers, and I doubt I would get any then either. And you didn’t even seem remorseful on the witness stand. You shed no tears. No apology. Does it not seem real to you? Do you not realize the depth of what you’ve done?

I’m so MAD at you. I’m so damn disappointed. I’m filled with so much anger toward you, toward everyone. I feel like I don’t know who you are. I can’t reconcile the Brother that I know and the Brother that was up there on the witness stand those months ago without further explanation. I can’t talk to you on the phone and pretend everything’s alright because it’s not alright. I’m not alright. My heart is broken. My mind is confused. I’m racked with guilt. I don’t know what to think about anything and I’m tired of not knowing. I need to know in order to get passed this and move on. I need to know in order to have a relationship with you.

Can you please explain?


Letter To My Brother, A Murderer

8655428106_1f26bf2ccb_zToday is your 17th birthday. I can’t believe it. Looking back at old pictures of you as a little boy, your face is just the same. Only now, your eyes are sadder.

I’m sorry I haven’t written you back. I’ve been desperately searching for the right words, but I don’t think they exist. Please forgive me if I say something stupid.

I too wish that we could go back to the day of my wedding and the dance we shared. It is one of my favorite photos. It reminds me of how much fun we used to have when we were younger. Do you remember the songs and poems you used to write and recite for us? Or when you used to try and break dance? You were such a goof, always making us laugh. Your eyes sparkled, your smile beautiful.

I love you so much. I’ve always cared about you so much, worried about you, wanted to help you. Did you know? Did you know that I loved you all this time? It used to hurt me to see your social media posts about how absolutely no one cared about you. Because I did. And I thought I had made that clear. But it always felt like you just wanted to push me away. I felt like I would stick my neck out for you, or try to help you or love you and you didn’t care. Or it didn’t matter. And I wonder now if you even knew. Or if I went about it the wrong way.

I wish you had trusted me enough to let me in. I wish we knew each other better.

I won’t lie to you: I’m angry. I’m beyond angry with you for what you did, what has happened. I’m angry with our parents too, for both what they did and what they didn’t do. I’m mad at myself for not having had the answers to everything, for not knowing how to help or make things better, and for not being a better sister. I won’t be angry at you forever. But I am now.

I wonder if you can have any idea of the ripple effects of the decisions you’ve made. I wonder if you’ll ever fully know. How you affected her family and friends and friends of her family, how you’ve impacted our family and friends. How it’s affected me, my relationship with my husband, my work, how I relate to people in general.

But mostly I wonder why. WHY? Maybe you don’t even know the answer yourself. Maybe why doesn’t even matter. But the question haunts me.

What do you think lead you up to this point? I could certainly make some guesses, but I want to hear what you think. What were the things that lead you here?

No matter what, I am your sister. And I will love you. I hope you know that your life is not over. The life you knew is over, yes. But your life still has purpose, even if most or all of it is lived in prison. So don’t give up.

Happy birthday, baby brother. You’re not alone.

I hope to hear from you.


Back when I lived at home with my parents, I found Bare Minerals make-up in a random drawer one day. I came out of the room all excited and confused. “Look what I found! Some nice, super-expensive make-up! It’s mine now!” As soon as I said it, my dad was up in my face in a panic. Apparently, the make-up was his. Hmm, unexpected. His explanation was that he has Rosacea, and needs make-up to cover it up. Funny thing is that his “rosacea” is hardly noticeable. But he’s so vain that he’d cough up the cash to spend on Bare-Minerals, hide it in a secret place, and wear make-up as a grown-ass man. When he wore it, he looked quite clownish. Therefore, I shall forever refer to him as Ass Clown.

Anyway, back in their early days as newlyweds, Ass Clown was just as ridiculous as he is today. Expecting him home from work any minute, my mom was watering the grass in the front yard. Probably humming to herself a little, maybe some little Janet Jackson number, thinking to herself, Man, I’m getting hungry for dinner. What sounds good? Lasagna perhaps? Or maybe we can go out for a burgWhat the hell?! Interrupting her thoughts, she catches sight of their Mustang parked down the street. Alarmed, she drops the hose and starts marching toward the vehicle. Her heart’s pounding, the voice of Ms. Jackson no longer fills her head. Is he cheating? With a neighbor? That can’t be- it’s too strange! Does he secretly work as a door-to-door insurance salesman on the side? As she gets close, she realizes that Ass Clown in still in the car. And he’s alone. Oh, thank God! However, when she peers into the driver’s side window, she’s astounded by what she sees.

McDonald’s. A big McDonald’s bag is on the passenger seat along with some stray fries. There’s a crumpled burger wrapper or two on the console next to his seat, and he’s scarfing down cheeseburger #3 when he’s startled by her stare. “What the hell are you doing?!” she asks. Ass Clown has no words, no reasonable excuse for his behavior. It turns out that he simply did not want to spend the extra money buying his wife a Happy Meal too- despite the fact that McDonalds burgers were something like 30 cents a pop back then. This sneaky-eating habit of his continued throughout their marriage as he learned from his mistake, and parked a little farther from home the next time.

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