Paul was my sounding board, devil’s advocate, ‘camerado,’ goad, fount of naughty ideas, and sympathetic ear.
SAN IGNACIO, Cavo, Belize — There was a notorious news photo from a scorching hot Tuesday in Austin, Texas, July 1967. I’m wearing a plain white dress my mom made for me a couple of years earlier for my high school graduation festivities. I’m staring at nothing, straight ahead, utterly blank, focused on my mother-in-law’s innate dignity as I leave the funeral home to get into the limo that will carry us to the cemetery in San Antonio to bury my murdered husband.
To my left, not in the picture, a swarm of news photographers, including the Department of Public Safety’s well-known surveillance shutterman, is calling me, trying to get me to look at them, asking the questions idiots always ask survivors, like “How do you feel?” I don’t hear them and I don’t see them. Between me and the news mob, a madman, with huge, angry eyes, a bristling black beard, and a snarling, teeth-gnashing grimace, lunges at the intruders, keeping them away. That was my friend, Paul.