The last time I saw June was at a birthday party she threw for her nephew at their big old house one Saturday in late fall.
I’ll tell you what the inside of their house looked like because it plays a role in the tragedy.
Through the front door darkly colored stairs lead to a landing then right a few steps to the second floor.
Straight ahead on the first floor, half way to the kitchen, on the right was what we would call today, the living room where June threw the best birthday party ever; one continuous strand of low level activity, never boring, exactly like her summer yard parties except instead of booze and poker we drank Coke and played kid games.
June moved around the room cajoling, laughing at our antics, giving prizes.
With candles blazing, June brought the cake into our midst. We gathered, around, the room quiet for the first time.
Knife poised over the cake June, master of the tease, poked and prodded each of us until we were practically drooling before giving each of us a good sized piece of her frosted cake.
It’s easy to see how she lured him into the temptation to eat a piece of her cake deliciously sweet as I’m sure he thought it would be.
Unable to resist, within seconds I was asking for more.
After cake, we could play games inside or run around outside getting grass stains on our pants.
I explored the house.
Starting with the big yellow kitchen with its old fashioned faucets, windows looking down on the grassy area where Jim and June had their summer parties before the tragedy struck.
After looking into a scary space below the stairs so dank and dark I couldn’t see where it ended I decided to go outside but first, I had to pee.
June told me to use the bathroom upstairs.
I creaked up the stairs to the landing, turned right rising to where I found myself standing between the bathroom to my left (with its black and white tiles, green walls, pedestal sink and cast iron tub with curled feet) and a room at the end of the hall behind a closed door.
After peeing I tip toed toward the door at the other end the hall.
Half way, on the left, a well lit bedroom with high ceilings, a good sized six over six window looked down on the same sidewalk June and my dad walked on the night the tragedy began to unfold.
I opened the door and looked inside the room at the end of the hallway.
There was a ghastly darkness in the corners of the bedroom that seemed to suck light from the walls and floor creating a death like pall where later, I was to learn, June’s husband Jim had blown his head off with a shotgun.