I put the rifle stock-first on the motel bathroom floor and press the barrel to the underside of my chin. The metal is cool, though somehow it’s not enough, not quite real, like the nerves there don’t work right or I’m touching myself with it over layers of clothing. There are flecks of blood on my knuckles and a pain in my stomach from all the whiskey radiates into my back like a beam of pulsing heat. I push the gun harder up under my chin, and I put my right index finger on the trigger. And that makes it all real. I think of all the people who have managed to pull the trigger, and all those who never had the choice. How it’s such a simple thing to do. Just a little bit of pressure and then darkness.

“LARRY FUCKING WALTERS!”

The gun pops out of my grip and clatters to the ground. I’m shaking. Heart fluttering in my chest like it’s trying to get out. How long have I been here?

“I gotta piss like a naked race horse out here, Mike,” Dean yells, pounding on the door. “Quit jerking it and let me the fuck in!”

I’m so shocked all I can do is laugh. It comes from my sternum, where the memory of Matt still vibrates, from so deep the peals of laughter are like light. I laugh as hard as I’ve ever laughed. As hard as anyone could ever laugh. So hard it drowns out the shower, Dean, my phone buzzing. I laugh so hard my vision clouds with tears and I rise above the room, the basement, the Totem Motel, all of Montana, until I’m floating there alone in the darkness, naked and shimmering, a smile across my face.

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