What do you think?
Rate this book
291 pages, Hardcover
First published May 31, 2022
Maybe everyone has a story, but not everyone was interviewed by Barbara Walters at age twelve, cross-legged on a couch in a red dress and Mary Janes, skin still red from stomach acid, getting chastised for her wantonness. Not everyone was in a Western 45 Gun Company handgun ad just to pay the hospital bills. Not that I was the one who shot him. Not everyone is the fictionalized star of pedo-erotic-true-crime fan fiction and actual porn, posted on the deep corners of the internet, some version of me wandering around a subdivision in pigtails naked, save for a red-hooded cape.
Emil and I have this on-again, off-again storage-closet romance. "Romance" is a strong word for it. He sometimes nonexclusively jams his junk down my throat over lunch breaks until I can't breathe.
Emil has the personality of a drunken pirate trying to clean up his act. For three weeks out of each month, he treats me like a siren trying to shipwreck him. When he's exhausted himself from abstaining, he'll reappear with that hungry, wanting look. Later, he'll pawn it off as a moment of weakness that was my fault, saying things like "Well, when you wear that dress" or "You finally washed your hair." We keep doing it, just like that, in a way that's annoyingly unstoppable, like how you find yourself singing along to a crappy pop song on the radio that you unfortunately know by heart.
"To be honest, I thought Gretel, of all people, would get it," says Ruby. "We both escaped being eaten for lunch, just to have the media eat us for dinner."
In my new neighborhood bodega, the cashier stared, then looked over near the window. I followed his eyes to a display of newspapers and tabloids. I picked up a paper where an op-ed headline read WHEN CURIOSITY KILLS, as if opening the door had been the real deathblow. A tabloid had a photo of me on the cover, on the day of the funeral, wearing a dark navy dress, almost smirking under a rainbow umbrella. TRUE BLUE! The headline shouted in bold lettering. The subheading: BLUEBEARD'S GIRLFRIEND STANDS BY HER MAN.
I was always a reference point for someone else. I was born into the last name of a father I hardly knew, in school I was always my sister's little sister, in the mansion Andrea had called me Taylor, and now I was the nameless possessive of some stupidly named serial killer.
"Wearing navy to the funeral," said one apparent expert in an unnamed field," suggests that she's still aligning herself with Bluebeard." They write about me as if I'd attended the funeral of a mistress I was complicit in murdering. They compared me to the smiling wives of cheating politicians and the adoring fans of death-row inmates.