“Is this the end of Rico?”

Film noir fills the void.

The widower watches film noir movies to fill the void. Tough guy voices in the lonely house. The low-cut lure of femme fatales. The sound of gunfire. And when the movie ends that’s how he wants to go out. Shot down like Johnny Rocco on a boat off the Florida Keys. Riddled with bullets like Rico Bandello in a New York gutter. Plugged by a sniper like “Mad Dog” Roy Earle in the High Sierras. Filled with lead and burned up like Cody Jarrett (“Top of the world, Ma, top of the world!”)

Our antihero was hit with a double whammy — the death of his wife and isolation from the pandemic.

His life reads like a bad movie script. This guy and his wife, they went through hell, shee, yeah, through hell, I’m giving it to ya straight. The suicide of a son, love and hate, separation and desperation, retribution and redemption. And then she fell ill and together they fought the demons of death but they couldn’t catch a break and she ended up on life support and he sat by her bed and the monitor flatlined and he went home without her. The empty house. The death of hope.

He cried out to her in prayer but she wasn’t there. No spiritual connection. She had no awareness or memory of him or the love and the madness they had shared. She was nonexistent in nothingness. As though she never lived. Never loved or laughed or cried or know he died when he came home without her.

And the lousy part is, nothing has changed. In all the days and all the months, the same scene plays over and over, coming home without her, walking in the door, Hi, honey, I’m home, but she’s not there, and all the cries and all the prayers will never change that.

Roll credits, a mournful dirge fills the dead room and he takes the empty liquor bottles outside to the recycling bin and casts a glance at the night crushing the house and imagines a home invader coming out of the darkness waving a gun and he tells the gunman, Go ahead, shoot my ass, do me a favor, shoot me down like Johnny Rocco and Rico Bandello and Roy Earle and Cody Jarrett.

Bang bang bang!


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