All Martin ever wanted was to be…forever…happy.
He was playing with a stuffed animal, his pudgy-pink T-rex. His parents must have been watching a movie in another room. But something was wrong…
The film. The actor’s voice was soft, but it was…Clint Eastwood!
Martin hated Clint Eastwood. His whole body shook with rage. Why did he hate Clint Eastwood so?
No Name! Now revealed as Detective Ann Worth. She kept calling him that funny name, “ma cushla” or whatever, from a Clint Eastwood movie. Which Clint Eastwood was it? Million Dollar Baby?
The pink T-rex was winking at him furiously. But something else was wrong: his wrists hurt. He saw the bars of his cell and the dried blood leading toward him and something he’d missed before and even the guards had missed, the homemade rope left behind the toilet…and remembered why his wrists hurt. And remembered that oily male voice behind him, always breathing the cruelest possible taunts into Martin’s ear while he…
The pudgy-cute T-rex was winking at Martin even more furiously until it somehow turned ugly, its voice joining that oily voice and Clint Eastwood’s: “Beginning to like it now, aren’t you?”
The stuffed animal’s winking sped up until it blurred just before its eye split open. The broken eye fell out of its socket, dripping blood. The shiny pink fur withered, curled up, and blackened.
Martin knew what was coming, what almost always came while the movies were on to conceal his screams.
He got to the rope first. Then the chair.
Clint Eastwood’s voice alone sang out from the film’s soundtrack: “Mo chuisle!”
“Ma cushla?” Martin muttered. So this was the bloody American macho movie, designed to humiliate an effeminate, weakling Brit? What irony! Because he wouldn’t be doing this, he could have and would have borne it all if only…
And it finally came to him, the supreme surprise, as he watched his distancing contempt for “No Name” drop away like a house of cards.
…if only Detective Ann Worth had loved him too.
He was having trouble with the knot around the pipe overhead but finally got it, got up on the chair, placed the noose around his neck, and kicked away the chair.
“Mo chuisle,” said Clint Eastwood in an unimaginably soft and loving voice, “means ‘my darling, my blood.'”
Ma cushla means my darling? Martin’s hands flew to the rope around his neck, clawing at it futilely while he looked down beyond his “still alive and kicking” feet to see they couldn’t possibly reach the chair he’d kicked over. Then his vision seemed to curl up and blacken.
The last thing he heard was footsteps outside his cell. The man with the oily voice, whose attentions he’d now welcome if it wasn’t too late? If those footsteps weren’t too far away?
Martin was six. In his mum’s garden in Kent. All was as prim and proper as the primroses. Even Martin. He would never fall in with what his Daa called “that bad lot.” Martin was happy.