By Dinah Lenney
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Extra resources for Bigger than Life: A Murder, a Memoir (American Lives)
I don’t have to close my eyes to conjure my father. I build him in parts, and I start with his cheek, the right one if he’s driving, the left if I’m at the wheel. I can almost touch it, shockingly soft, fresh-shaved, one cheek or the other, sinking into jowl. From there, he comes into focus: Slavic eyes, heavylidded, bushy brows, the stray hairs seem to catch in his lashes, receding hairline but not very gray, a big face, a big head, a smirk or no expression at all. He’s indifferent to me mostly, or distracted by something out the window, until I jolt him with a joke, an opinion; then he’s reluctantly amused, chuckles, maybe, yeses me, but the truth is, I seldom know what he’s really thinking.
You stand still, he’s likely to pause, himself. Maybe he’ll snarl at you, but chances are he’ll do it from a distance. But this dog never hesitated. He came at me with a vengeance, grabbed onto me with his teeth and tussled my leg as though it was a branch, a trophy he could tear off and carry away. Then, suddenly, he looked me in the eye and froze. He actually seemed surprised. Abruptly he dropped the prize and loped back up the hill to his farm. So there I was on a quiet road, a half a mile or so from my brother and my boyfriend, a hundred yards from a farmhouse with smoke curling up out of the chimney, blue-black in a slate sky.
Asked my father. Just Business | I winced, watching Eddie shrug, smile, pat the surface of the water with his palms. “Tell you what. ” Eddie’s eyes widened. “Shoot,” he gasped. My father slowly extracted a new fifty-dollar bill from the thick wad in his money clip and put the rest back in his pocket. ” He put the bill on the table without getting up. ” I was ready for the bill to blow off the table and into the pool, and I stuck my hands in my pockets. “I’ll take it,” said Eddie, removing the hat.