Forty-five years after Carrie’s murder, I search through the New York Library’s aptly named newspaper morgue. I read everything I can find about Carrie. I scan the New York and Indiana papers for months before and after her murder. The ephemera surrounding her death distracts me. Yankee scores. African famine. Watergate. Unimportant, long-ago-bullshit.
I give all the info I find to Sergeant Tom, my photographer, and ask him to look into Carrie’s murder for me. He’s long retired but has friends in the Cold Case Squad. They owe him a favor so they look long and hard but Carrie’s case file is missing.
“Don’t worry, Tommy. It’s in there somewhere. It’s just misplaced.”
Actress slain. File missing. Presumed misplaced.
Not much of an ending. So, I can’t end here.
Maybe this way –
Still chasing her ghost, I look online for everything, anything about Carrie. I wander around her Indiana town via Google Maps. I lay a wreath on her tombstone via Find-A-Grave. (Her father was buried in that same cemetery a mere seven years after Carrie was – no doubt her killer’s second victim.)
From a Kokomo, Indiana newspaper I learn that a teenage poem of Carrie’s had been read aloud at her funeral. The title of her poem? “What Is Death?” I don’t have the answer to Carrie’s question. Maybe she does. Now. Maybe her question holds the answer to mine – “Why does her murder haunt me so?”
Online I find a long-abandoned “Question-and-Answer” thread begun by an Indiana college student who was writing a term paper about Carrie’s murder. The student posted some questions. Someone in Indiana, who claimed to have known Carrie, posted some answers.
I don’t cry on 9/11. I cry on 9/12. I cry while watching a news report about people who had escaped the Twin Towers before they collapsed. One survivor says that as he walked down fifty flights of stairs with terrified co-workers, he was amazed to see a line of firemen loaded with equipment walking up. Up! Up to who knew what? “I’ll never forget the faces of those young men,” he says. “They all had blue eyes.”
That’s when I cry.
Of course, they all had blue eyes, you dumb fuck. They were New York City firemen. Every real New Yorker knows that New York firemen are Irish. New York cops, too. And, plenty of them died on 9/11. They were Irish kids from the street. Irish kids from the stoop. We went to St. John’s together and served Mass together. We got ascared at horror movies together and played stickball and swapped baseball cards and wrestled on the sidewalk and gave each other fat lips and black eyes. They called me “wop” and I called them “mick.” Their fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers had been cops and firemen. They’d sit on the stoop and shake their Irish heads and tell me that we should have unleashed Patton. They’d take a slug from the beer they clutched in their big Irish mitts and teach me that Joe McCarthy was right. They’d warn me about pinko-commie attack that was headed our way. And, they were right! And, I wept like a sonofabitch for their kind.
The cops ask anyone who knew Carrie to get in touch. So, I get in touch and they offer to send a squad car to pick me up in Manhattan. But, I tell them, “You don’t have to do that. I’m from Brooklyn. I know how to get there. I’ll save you some time.” This is when I become a suspect. Figures. I know Brooklyn. I knew Carrie. I get to the stationhouse and it is right out of Kojak.
Who chose this vomit-green paint for all municipal buildings in New York?
The cops put me in an interrogation room and leave me there for thirty minutes.
A long, sweaty thirty minutes.
A that’s a two-way mirror and they’re watching me right now, thirty minutes.
A hold-on, I’m-a-suspect, thirty minutes.
Whoa. Wait a minute. Did I kill Carrie? I’ve never killed anyone as far as I know but maybe this is what it’s like to be a killer – you blank the crime out. Missing time. Wait a minute. Where was I last night? Was that dream I had about Carrie’s death a few nights ago the way my homicidal-maniac brain filtered reality? Did I kill Carrie?