Wayne and I are up in Oregon, at his parents' farm. Once teeming with cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, and ducks, it is mostly quiet now, save the grumblings of a few wild turkeys and the low hum of the neighbor's mower as he tackles the growth on the edges of the unpaved road leading up to the house.
It is hard to fathom that nearly a year has passed since Scott and Marilyn were murdered. In a small town unaccustomed to the kind of drama that arouses the attention of even such national personalities as Nancy Grace, the wound remains fresh. We went to the local DMV to transfer the title of one of the vehicles, and discovered that unlike the big-city DMV employees in the Bay Area, small-town government workers are not cold, unhelpful, heartless, and distant. On the contrary, here they are warm, helpful, and nosy - but still a tad heartless.
She took Wayne's paperwork and recognized the names on the death certificates immediately. "So," she said, "Did your brother have a history of mental problems?"
Inappropriate as it might have been for a DMV employee to ask, it's the question on everyone's mind. In a few hours I will come face-to-face with the man who has confessed to the brutal killing of his own parents. I will also come face-to-face with my youngest brother-in-law. These two men happen to be one in the same - a Jekyll and Hyde, if you will... or at least that is what we would all like to believe.
For how can the little boy - only 10 years old when I sat in the living room of Wayne's grandmother's house, laughing as Wayne scolded him for interrupting our movie - be capable of this? Will I look into his eyes and see a cold-blooded killer - which he certainly is - or the 19-year-old groomsman at my wedding, so clumsy and skinny that he nearly fainted when he locked his knees in the gazebo behind us?
I don't know what to say to him through the glass. What are you up to these days? Is your isolated cell comfortable? Did anyone wish you a happy 21st birthday a couple months ago?
It's a lot easier to seek solace in the barrenness of the farm than to face the inner turmoil that will surely be present in an occupied county jail. I sat in the garage last night, trying to keep my eyes away from the spot where I know Scott fell. The damaged wall remains, but presumably, it will soon be fixed as the house is prepared for sale. But other wounds will always remain.
Up next: forgiveness. Stay tuned.