Just an hour before my wife was murdered, I pulled into a long line of
vehicles waiting outside of our daughter’s elementary school. I was
tired. Today, teaching had drained me. I wasn’t a particularly good
student growing up, but I found myself irritated when my junior college
students showed the same lack of motivation.
One paper clearly indicated the student hadn’t even opened the book:
Hemingway’s novel uses the symbolism of a man who lost his arms to
illustrate the symbol of how helpless he feels.
A bell rang and a group of children rushed through the doors, making
beelines for our long line of cars and SUVs. Julie disengaged from the
pack, trotted to my truck, and climbed into the passenger seat.
“How was school?” I asked as I guided my truck into the street.
“It was okay. I have to write a book report.”
“Really?” I glanced at her, my curiosity piqued. “On what book?”
She shrugged. “I dunno. We have to pick one.”
“What are the choices?”
“You don’t know?”
Julie sighed and crossed her arms. “She gave us a list.”
“Can I see the list?”
Julie stared out her window and absent-mindedly played with her hair,
the way an older woman would. “Later,” she said.
I started to speak but caught myself. I wanted to tell her to talk nicer
or say something that started with, “Young lady,” but I wasn’t
sure how harsh I should be. I hated to admit it, but I didn’t feel
comfortable disciplining Renee’s daughter, even if I had legally
adopted her. Besides, Renee was better at this stuff than I was.
“I’m going to help you with this,” I said defiantly.
Julie sighed and continued to look out the window. “I know you
When I worked out the calculations later, based on what the crime scene
investigators reported, I realized Renee faced her murderer at some
point during that argument with Julie.
He’d watched her for days, because he knew she liked to buy fruit and
vegetables at the small market just off the Jones Fall Expressway.
Somehow, he’d convinced her to walk around the store and, once there,
forced her to the ground and pushed a rag deep in her mouth, too far for
her to pull out. He dragged her into the trees that bordered the back of
the store, just before the nature trail that wound through a small
delicate forest. He threw her to the ground but Renee climbed to her
feet and tried to run off, awkwardly pulling at the rag. He rushed after
her and tackled her. They crashed into a tree. A deep cut on the side of
her head left the bark bloody.
Renee sprawled on the ground, dazed. He picked up a metal baseball bat
he had left leaning behind a tree.
She saw him approach, probably saw a glint of sunlight reflect off the
metal, and tried to climb to her feet. That’s when he swung the first
time. The first blow hit her squarely on the side of her head and
knocked her off her feet. She was barely conscious as she crawled away,
as he kicked her in the ribs, knocking her to her back. Renee raised her
hands to protect her face as the bat came down, and then her hands
dropped to the side of her head as the bat came down again and again.
The medical examiner told me she wasn’t raped, but her clothes were
removed, probably because the murderer was worried about evidence.
The image of Renee’s naked dead body made things worse. Nudity left
her helpless. Even after death, the murderer took something from her.
I’ll never understand how Julie and I were able to drive home, both of
us stupidly irritated, while Renee was viciously murdered just miles
away. There should have been some sign, a feeling, a premonitory sense
that something terrible was happening. But there was nothing.
Until three years later.
Excerpted from "I'll Sleep When You're Dead" by E A Aymar. Copyright © 2013 by E A Aymar. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.