Invisible Friends

“It looks like a bloodless massacre,” the woman says, bending slightly to switch on the plug-in nightlight.

“Come on,” says the man, “don’t even say stuff like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like ‘bloodless massacre.’ They’re our kids, not Bonnie and Clyde.”

“The Clutters. I was thinking of the Clutters, not Bonnie and Clyde.”

“Who are the Clutters?”

“Were. They’re that family from In Cold Blood.”

“For God’s sake.” He’s used to it, Hugh is, but tired of it at the same time. So is Liz, but she can’t seem to stop it.

Here we have Liz and Hugh. I asked a friend if I could borrow her name for this story. She agreed, and suggested the husband’s name. You may have noticed many of the characters in these stories are unnamed. When I use a name, I scramble around getting permission from people with the same name. My friend Liz is nothing like the Liz in this story. Except for — oh, well. 

This is, perhaps, the story in this collection which most overtly portrays characters who straddle the line between what is real and what is true. Can something be true even if it is not real? For Liz in this story, definitely.

I maintain this is a love story, even though in it you will learn how to commit murder in a way that leaves very little blood.

This story is for Bill Shepherd.