John Hart (author)
The King of Lies (2006)
- I've heard it said that jail stinks of despair. What a load. If jail stinks of any emotion, it's fear: fear of the guards, fear of being beaten or gang-raped, fear of being forgotten by those who once loved you and may or may not anymore. But mostly, I think, it's fear of time and of those dark things that dwell in the unexplored corners of the mind. Doing time, they call it — what a joke. I've been around long enough to know the reality: It's the time that does you.
- Ch. 1
- I felt eyes upon me, and they pulled me away. I looked at the gathering of eager cops; some were merely curious, while others, I knew, sought their own secret satisfaction. They all wanted to see it, my face, a defense attorney's face, here in this musty place where murder was more than a case file, where the victim was flesh and blood, the smell that of family gone to dust.
I felt their eyes. I knew what they wanted, and so I turned to look again upon the almost empty clothes, the flash of bone so pale and curving. But I would give them nothing, and my body did not betray me, for which I was grateful. For what I felt was the return of a long-quiescent rage, and the certain conviction that this was the most human my father had ever appeared to me.
- Ch. 1
- I used to look at homeless peopleand try to imagine what they had once looked like. It's not easy. Beneath the grime and degradation is a face once adored by someone. It's a truth that tricks the eye; our glances slide away. But something happened to ruin that life, to strip it bare; and it was something small, something that but for the grace of God could take us, too.
- Ch. 2
- I thought of my own wife's tears and her limp submission the night before — the bleak satisfaction I took from her smallness as I used her shamelessly. She's cried out, and remembering the taste of salted tears, I thought, for that instant, that I knew how the devil felt. Sex and tears, like sun and rain, were never meant to share a moment: but for a fallen soul, an act of wrong could, at times, feel very right, and that scared the hell out of me.
- Ch. 4
- I drifted for what felt like hours. Neither of us spoke; we knew better. Peace like this came rarely and was as fragile as a child's smile.
- Ch. 8
- Denial was a weapon; it killed truth, numbed the mind, and I was a junkie.
- Ch. 8
- I thought of the brutal truths so often borne on predawn light. I'd had a few in my time, and they'd all led to this. I was a stranger to myself. I'd gone to law school for my father, married for my father; and for that same man, and for the vile woman who shared my bed, I'd surrendered my dreams of family — my very soul. Now he was dead and all I had was this truth: My life was not my own. It belonged to an empty shell that wore my face, Yet I refused to pity myself.
- Ch. 10
- I looked at the high walls where once-white paint had grayed and then peeled. Barbara had always said the house had good bones, and she was right about that; but it had no heart, not with us living inside it. In place of laughter, trust, and joy, there was a hollow emptiness, a kind of rot, and I marveled at my blindness. Was it the alcohol, I wondered, that had made it bearable? Or was it something else, some inner failing? Maybe it was neither. They say that if you drop a frog into boiling water, he'll hop right out. But put the same frog into cold water and slowly turn up the heat, and he'll sit quietly until his blood begins to boil. He'll let himself be cooked alive. Maybe that's how it was for me. Maybe I was like that frog.
- Ch. 31