When I got there, my hands were empty…. with one detective who believed in me, I might have surrendered….
for David Goodis
I’ve driven miles for this memory.
It’s worth thinking about,
this conceptual investment in a dream past sleeping,
but where it will get me,
another dead-end road on a mountain highway,
is something I cannot imagine as different,
cannot hope to fashion into a hopeful escape route.
I robbed a bank, but I was never there.
I shot a man, but he was holding the gun.
I ran miles with a satchel in my hand,
but when I got there, my hands were empty.
Lost in the woods, fleeing the police,
an ad agency man on the run.
With one detective who believed in me,
I might have surrendered,
and I might have escaped sentencing,
but I’ve run down that thought a million times.
I’m my own historian,
a man out on a limb,
when all I wanted
was the steady paycheck,
a post-war gift,
a family, perhaps,
now only a dream.
They are on my trail,
my fingerprints on a gun
beside a dead body.
Brad K. Hawley is a senior lecturer at Oxford College of Emory University, where he teaches American Crime Fiction.