Memories of Breece D’J Pancake

Read “Complicated Manners: Memories of Breece D’J Pancake” by Marion Field (in Oxford American). Excerpt:

The night before he died, Breece went to the movies with his girlfriend, Emily. They saw The Deer Hunter.

The next morning was Palm Sunday, and Emily went to church while Breece stayed home with a cold. He went later, to a 3 p.m. Mass, and stopped by Emily’s place to let her know he’d pick her up Monday morning so she could ride with him to an out-of-town job interview.

After Mass, he went home and drank a few beers.

Around 6 p.m., a neighbor’s girlfriend was startled by the dark shadow of a man she did not expect or recognize when she walked into her boyfriend’s home with a sack of groceries. She screamed and dropped the bag and Breece rose from a chair in the unlit kitchen. According to the complainant’s report to the sheriff’s office, “Mr. Pancake cornered her and explained that he had a drinking problem and had a tendency to wander around.”

In the half-hour between the moments the woman dropped her groceries and the police arrived, Breece’s landlady, Mrs. Meade, knocked on his door and told him that police were on their way to question him.

He called out from his room that he was sorry, and as the sirens neared, he walked outside with the only gun he hadn’t gifted off, a Savage Arms over/under shotgun, serial number B366615, sat down in a plastic folding chair beneath an apple tree, propped the gun on the ground with the muzzle in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.