My Murder Suicide
Katherine Sinback

My Murder Suicide

My phone chimes as I ease into the parking spot in front of my favorite sushi joint. At least a global pandemic is good for open parking spaces and improved takeout options. I glance at the illuminated purple box on the phone’s screen. A Facebook message titled “Bandmates.” It begins: It is with a heavy heart that I write to tell you . . . . My first thought—it’s a mistake, a hack. My mom’s email account was hijacked yesterday. The hacker emailed everyone in her address book a sob story about a niece dying of cancer and a request for Amazon gift cards.

The message blinks to darkness on my phone as I secure my mask and stuff my phone into my pocket. I beep the car locked and marvel that people are still sitting outside in the cold and drizzly winter afternoon, drinking beers at picnic tables outside of a bar, masks askew. While I wait in the lobby of the sushi restaurant, I pull out my phone and read the words again. It is with a heavy heart that I write to tell you . . . .

The server places a fish-shaped tray on the table between us. “Be right back.”

I drop my credit card onto the tray and pick a pen from the “Clean” cup before signing.

I read the rest of the message. It is not from a random hacker prowling for gift cards but, rather, an old friend, the guitarist from my angry-woman college band. The lead singer from my band is dead. A woman whom I loved, hugged, fought, and shared infinite cigarettes with when we were young and dumb and so very beautiful. She was murdered by her husband tonight in a murder-suicide. I read the message again and again. It is with a heavy heart . . . She was murdered . . . . I understand the meaning of the words, but together they make no sense.

A list of the COVID dead arrives in my email inbox daily: 79-year-old woman died at her residence. She had underlying conditions. 84-year-old man died at his home. He had underlying conditions. 31-year-old man died in the hospital. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed. I am lulled into numbness by the lists. I sometimes forget that death can take other forms. Last March, the day before the lockdown began, I sat across the table from a friend, drinking my final restaurant martini. Her husband’s test results were back. A rare cancer. “He has maybe five months?” she said, averting her eyes so I wouldn’t see the gathering tears. He died during the Labor Day wildfires. The news came to me in a text. A day later, I stood outside their apartment with his widow, handing her the blueberry cake I’d baked as a replacement for the hugs I could not give. The sunlight that filtered through the smoke from the wildfires bathed the world in a yellowish hue. Our eyes watered. Our masks didn’t protect us from the choking smoke, so we had to be brief in our condolences.


I drive home from the sushi restaurant in a daze. I have to remind myself to stay anchored within my body: watch the road, accelerate, brake. The words from the message keep ticking through my mind. She was murdered by her husband tonight in a murder-suicide. Her husband, her murderer. I didn’t know him well. They got together after I graduated college and moved across the country to the west coast. Our mutual friends, the ones who knew him, said he was nice, a steady guy devoted to my friend. The few times we met, he struck me as too much of a dude, a real dude’s dude, to be with someone as fiercely feminist, deep, and smart as my friend. A little simple to be with a woman so complex.

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Katherine Sinback

has contributed to The Rumpus, Hobart, Bayou Magazine, and Taco Bell Quarterly, among other publications. Born and raised in Virginia, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family.