Edna, and I had started down from Kalispell heading for Tampa-St Pete, where I still had some friends from the old glory days who wouldn’t turn me in to the police. I had managed to scrape with the law in Kalispell over several bad cheques–which is a prison crime in Montana. And I knew Edna was already looking at her cards and thinking about a move, since it wasn’t the first time I’d been in law scrapes in my life. She herself had already had her own troubles, losing her kids and keeping her ex-husband, Danny, from breaking in her house and stealing her things while she was at work, which was really why I had moved in in the first place, that and needing to give my little daughter, Cheryl, a better shake in things.

I don’t know what was between Edna and me, just beached by the same tides when you got down to it. Though love has been built on frailer ground than that, as I well know. And when I came in the house that afternoon, I just asked her if she wanted to go to Florida with me, leave things where they sat, and she said, ‘Why not? My datebook’s not that full.’

Edna and I had been a pair eight months, more or less man and wife, some of which time I had been out of work, and some when I’d worked at the dog track as a lead-out and could help with the rent and talk sense to Danny when he came around. Danny was afraid of me because Edna had told him I’d been in prison in Florida for killing a man once, though that wasn’t true. I had once been in jail in Tallahassee for stealing tyres and had got into a fight on the county farm where a man had lost his eye. But I hadn’t done the hurting, and Edna just wanted the story worse than it was so Danny wouldn’t act crazy and make her have to take her kids back, since she had made a good adjustment to not having them, and I already had Cheryl with me. I’m not a violent person and would never put a man’s eye out, much less kill someone. My former wife, Helen, would come all the way from Waikiki Beach to testify to that. We never had violence, and I believe in crossing the street to stay out of trouble’s way. Though Danny didn’t know that.


Rayme - A Memoir of the Seventies
The Compartment