orange arm around his father’s shoulder

after my father accused me of murdering my mother
i went looking for an old friend in phoenix
and found old harvey, who remembered me a little from ’85
handscrawled ‘VIDEO SURVEILLANCE’ signs and chain-link concrete
i ring the bell and he calls me to the side door
two pekingese want to destroy me
but harvey lets me on in to an old man cigarette smoke dungeon
where it’s still ’72 and he looks up the name of my friend
in the phonebook for me.
harvey and i start talking (normally i’m a tight-lipped guy)
i pet the dogs and we swap big stories. this is his:
my son’s in prison. second degree murder. he didn’t do it.
his girlfriend was always jealous and pushing him around, hittin’ him
but the son never touched her once, according to all his friends
except for once when he poured a beer over her head
and the medical examiner lied. said the son shot her five times in the head with a .22 Remington
but the autopsy only shows two bullet holes from a .45 he doesn’t even own.
he’s got sixteen years to go, and i’ll never stop trying to get the truth out
there’s no justice in arizona. no justice anywhere.
seventy thousand dollars i spent and now i’m going federal on their ass
he got beat up by a guard at maricopa county
the plate holding his head together with the eight screws could have come out
see the crease in his forehead? harvey points at the picture on the wall
that came from the .22 he keeps in his truck
came right through the front wall of his bedroom
they thought they’d killed him but he got up and returned fire
he was shot by the babysitter but that’s another story
i don’t want to go into that one harvey says.
we talk about the autopsy procedures for awhile
i look at the pictures on the wall
the orange jumpsuit on the son arm around his dad
next to the cut-up family picture in a frame
part of the son’s head cut-off with scissors
the daughter separated, down and to the right
his mother died of liver failure in 1999
but harvey says it was losing her boy to the prison that killed her.
he closes his eyes. I’ll never stop trying to save my boy.
i think about the son at ten years old and things the father couldn’t do then
that he can do now.
love that pours out later
when it’s too late.

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