I knew these people. These two people. They were in love with each other. The girl was very young, about 17 or 18, I guess. And the guy was quite a bit older. He was kind of raggedy and wild. And she was very beautiful, you know. And together they turned everything into a kind of adventure. And she liked that. Just an ordinary trip down to the grocery store was full of adventure. They were always laughing at stupid things. He liked to make her laugh, and they didn’t much care for anything else because all they wanted to do was be with each other. They were always together…Yes, they were, they were real happy. And he, he loved her more than he ever felt possible. He couldn’t stand being away from her during the day when he went to work. So he’d quit, just to be home with her. Then he’d get another job when the money ran out, and then he’d quit again. But pretty soon, she started to worry. Money, I guess. Not having enough. Not knowing when the next check was coming in. So he started to get kind of torn inside. Well, he knew he had to work to support her, but he couldn’t stand being away from her either. And the more he was away from her, the crazier he got, except now, he got really crazy. He started imagining all kinds of things. He started thinking that she was seeing other men on the sly. He’d come home from work and accuse her of spending the day with somebody else. He’d yell at her and break things in the trailer. Yes, they lived in a trailer home… Anyway, he started to drink real bad, and he’d stay out late to test her, to see if she’d get jealous. He wanted her to get jealous, but she didn’t. She just worried about him but that got him even madder…because he thought if she never got jealous about him, that she didn’t really care about him. Jealousy was a sign of her love for him. And then one night, one night, she told him that she was pregnant. She was about three or four months pregnant. And he didn’t even know, and then suddenly everything changed. He stopped drinking and got a steady job. He was convinced that she loved him now, because she was carrying his child. And he was going to dedicate himself to making a home for her. But a funny thing started to happen…He didn’t even notice it at first. She started to change. From the day the baby was born, she began to get irritated with everything around her. She got mad at everything. Even the baby seemed to be an injustice to her. He kept trying to make everything all right for her. Buy her things. Take her out to dinner once a week. But nothing seemed to satisfy her. For two years, he struggled to pull them back together like they were when they first met, but finally he knew that it was never gonna work out. So he hit the bottle again. But this time it got mean. This time, when he came home late at night, she wasn’t worried about him, or jealous, she was just enraged. She accused him of holding her captive by making her have a baby. She told him that she dreamed about escaping. That was all she dreamed about: escape. She saw herself at night running naked down a highway, running across fields, running down riverbeds, always running. And always, just when she was about to get away, he’d be there. He would stop her somehow. He would just appear and stop her. And when she told him these dreams, he believed them. He knew she had to be stopped or she’d leave him forever. So he tied a cow bell to her ankle so he could hear her at night if she tried to get out of bed. But she learned how to muffle the bell by stuffing a sock into it, and inching her way out of the bed and into the night. He caught her one night when the sock fell out and he heard her trying to run to the highway. He caught her and dragged her back to the trailer, and tied her to the stove with his belt. He just left her there and went back to bed and lay there listening to her scream. Then he listened to his son scream, and he was surprised at himself because he didn’t feel anything anymore. All he wanted to do was sleep. And for the first time, he wished he were far away. Lost in a deep, vast country where nobody knew him. Somewhere without language, or streets. And he dreamed about this place without knowing its name. And when he woke up, he was on fire. There were blue flames burning the sheets of his bed. He ran through the flames toward the only two people he loved, but they were gone. His arms were burning, and he threw himself outside and rolled on the wet ground. Then he ran. He never looked back at the fire. He just ran. He ran until the sun came up and he couldn’t run any further. And when the sun went down, he ran again. For five days he ran like this until every sign of man had disappeared.
Paris, Texas, Travis Henderson