It ends with Lila and Sal

It ends with Lila and Sal. They’re at the center of the action. That’s how it ends.

Yurgi, the one who remembers how things used to be when there was real community, the one who’s always sitting in the beat-up leather chair at the hardware store, he’s there when it ends. With a ball-peen hammer; it’s the only thing he could find, it’s what he grabbed as he left in a hurry, eager to get to the end.

Samantha, a sophomore at the local high school, local in population only because it’s actually 45 minutes away, is there at the end too. Samantha with the long, black hair and the deep brown eyes. “Always so quiet,” they’d say, almost never in front of her, “why is she always so sad? Her mother is so wonderful, always so happy. Why is she always so sad?” She walks to the end, a book clutched under her arm. There’s a black scarf wrapped around her shoulders, too. It’s bitter outside.

Ortega, with the self-conscious red hair and the shifty eyes, always looking for someone else, never the person who’s there. Ortega with the crisp navy suit, just like the ones he wore every day of the week, but not on Saturday or Sunday when he usually wore a sweater and casual slacks, maybe corduroys.

Vincent. Mary. Hastings. Diane. Tara. Naomi. Lewis. They’re all there at the end.

But it ends with Lila and Sal. They’re the ones it ends with. With whom it ends, except they’re not really there anymore. They weren’t there when everyone else needed them. They weren’t there when they should’ve been there. And then, when they should have been somewhere else, they were there. Not the somewhere else but here.

It ends in a screaming chorus and a frenzy of activity, no one completely aware of their own actions or certain, anymore, of where the guilt can reasonably be said to lie.