Of course, he didn’t own a suitcase. That would’ve been too simple. He didn’t have many clothes—you tend to pack light when you drift from place to place. He’d only been in town six months when we met at the DMV—I renewing my license, he getting his CDL.
“I’d make a great truck driver,” he’d said later that afternoon over coffee. “I can’t stay put in one area for long.” He then recited the cities he’d lived before temporarily settling in Greensboro, North Carolina. Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond.
Repeatedly he’d expressed his desire to live in Atlanta, or further south in Florida, possibly Miami, with its white beaches and exotic women. However, he loved how quiet Greensboro was and reveled in our small town atmosphere. By then, I was already smitten, so I convinced him to give my quaint little city a year, enough time for him to fall in love with it, and subsequently, with me too.
“I don’t want to be a burden,” he said.
“It’s a little late for that,” I scoffed as I backed out of the parking space in front of his apartment.
“I mean, I don’t want you to get your hands dirty.”
“Then why even show me…her?” I couldn’t make myself say body, still in shock that I was agreeing to help him. How could I blatantly ignore another woman’s voice silenced forever? Could I be that blindly in love after only a few months?
Our first night together was in the backseat of his Toyota, under the clear, starry night sky. We’d pretended to have found the perfect spot for a date when truthfully, the blanket lining the backseat, the pillow propped against the door handle, the pile of laundry rising from underneath the driver’s seat, and the toothbrush and tube of toothpaste in the cup holder had always been there.
We’d just finished watching his favorite movie on Netflix, Doomsday. He had an unsettling obsession with graphic deaths—blood squirting from the neck of a decapitated body; a man with half his face blown off from a shotgun, blood splattering on the camera lens; cannibals surrounding a pyre, a primal chant of hunger exiting their lungs as a crane lowered their hostage into the dancing flames.
My pizza had been sitting at the back of my throat, waiting to resurface as the scenes became gorier. I squirmed in the seat, but he put his arm around me, stilled my body, kissed my neck and my collarbone and lower, unbuttoning my blouse.
“I love to give you pleasure,” he’d whispered, going further to say that he couldn’t be aroused until he knew I was, until he knew my entire body was quivering under his touch, until he knew I was gushing to have him inside of me. But I could already feel him rising during the movie, when I was still shielding my eyes behind my fingers, when I turned my head every time a sword severed a limb. Was it my moans that turned him on, or could it have been the last breaths of the dying characters on screen?
How easy it was for him to kiss me back at his apartment, to touch me, give me pleasure while his dead girlfriend decomposed in the bedroom. How easy it was for me to return his affections. Was I really any better than him?
“Are we going to the store?” he asked.
“We can’t leave a trail.”
“You sound like you’ve done this before,” he said jokingly. I was never a fan of his dry humor. It came at the most inappropriate of times. His voice often carried when he spoke distastefully of “trannies” and referred to white women as “snowbunnies” in public.
“I’ve watched enough forensic files cases on TV to know that killers are always caught when video of them buying weird items at Wal-Mart, or Home Depot comes out,” I said, keeping my eyes on the road, both hands on the wheel, making sure my tone remained stern so that he could understand the seriousness of what we were doing.
“What could be weird about buying a suitcase?” he asked.
“In the middle of the night?” I pointed to the clock on the dashboard displaying the time. 1:45 AM. “And what if they find your girlfriend’s body inside a suitcase that you recently bought. They would have the receipt, the tape. The evidence is stacking up against you already.”
“She’s not my girlfriend.”
“Fine! You’re baby mama!” I sharped right into my driveway and put the car in park.
“How would they know it’s not your suitcase then?” he asked.
“It was a gift from my parents back in college. A luggage set to go to Mexico for Spring Break with a couple of my roommates. I’ll take my nametag off it and it’ll just be a plain black suitcase. No trail.”
He nodded and moved to unbuckle his seatbelt.
“Stay here,” I said, and taking the keys from the ignition, I trotted up the steps into my house. The luggage set was in the back corner of my bedroom closet. I packed the three smaller suitcases inside the larger one, lugged it back down the steps and heaved it into the trunk.