Supreme Court Refuses To Block Execution of “Good, Decent” Woman

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block the execution of a woman convicted in two killings, clearing the way for Virginia’s first execution of a woman in nearly a century.

Via FoxNews:

Teresa Lewis, 41, is scheduled to die by injection Thursday for providing sex and money to two men to kill her husband and stepson in October 2002 so she could collect on a $250,000 insurance pay out.

Two of the three women on the court, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, voted to stop the execution. The court did not otherwise comment on its order.

The court’s decision followed Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s refusal to reconsider a clemency request, which he rejected Friday.

“A good and decent person is about to lose her life because of a system that is broken,” said attorney James E. Rocap III, who represents Lewis. He said he was referring to the decision by the Supreme Court and McDonnell’s rejection of clemency.

And pause.

There are a lot of valid reasons to block the execution of this woman but it seems a foolish tactic to use “she’s a good and decent person” as a reason, when in fact she killed her husband and stepson. The tertiary reason – that she’s a woman – seems beside the point.

I remember almost the same appeals being heard from coast to coast when Karla Faye Tucker was executed here in Texas. George W. Bush was the governor at the time and every bleeding heart who could find a camera condemned him for being so cold and callous as to kill a woman who had killed a man with a pickaxe and later said she’d had orgasms doing it.

It was the fact that she was a woman that offended the liberals more than anything – a fact I find hilarious. If they want equality, well, isn’t that equality in action?

I support the death penalty. But my experience with the Enron cases have made me extremely wary of allowing the federal government to have that much control over a human being. The DOJ is made up of ambitious attorneys who crave success just like the rest of us. They are not above doing lowdown, illegal, unethical things to advance their cause. So it seems to me that we have to be extremely cautious about the death penalty.

Can you imagine if the Enron cases were death penalty cases? Can you imagine John Kroger deciding whether or not to pursue the death penalty? I think if that were the case, half of the executives that I write about and care about and admire so much would be dead.

And it’s not because they were guilty. It’s because John Kroger, Andy Weissman and others acted with ruthless disregard to the rules. The executives were going to be found guilty, no matter what.

So while I think we should definitely execute murderers and child abusers, I worry that there’s no entity who can actually carry it out with 100% accuracy.

I admit that I don’t care if we’re accurate with terrorists. I don’t care if they were just the moneyman, or if they weren’t planning to blow up anything but just shot at a few soldiers in Afghanistan. I want them dead. I realize this is not a foreign policy that most people can get behind, but I’m okay with that.

Mostly I just want to know for a stone-cold fact that when an American citizen is put to death, they’re actually guilty. All the other pleas, such as “she’s a nice person”, “she’s a woman”, “she had a bad childhood,” etc etc don’t faze me at all. If she’s guilty, execute her.

But knowing what I know about the DOJ, I wonder how I will ever know if they’re really, really guilty.

A Very Bad Day

Yesterday was a bad day in the general. There was the sadness of 9/11. Then my tire blew out while I was driving and I had no idea what to do about it. Then last night, as I was running, a guy reached out and grabbed my breast. After he walked away, I called 911. I also tweeted something – I was in a weird state and probably shouldn’t have done that. But I did. I was upset. So I was waiting for the police and then the guy came back. He shoved me into a hedge of bushes, was trying to kiss me, and his hand went down my pants.

All those times we’ve talked about being prepared suddenly meant nothing. I don’t think I even screamed. I was just trying to get away from him. After a few seconds, he got up and walked away again. I called the police again.

The police arrived very shortly after that. There were two cars. One of them said he’d drive around while the other took my statement. He said, “It seems odd, since there are people around.” He indicated a lively Starbucks literally across the street. I said, “Believe me, it’s odd to me too.”

From around the corner, I saw the cherry and blue lights popping in the darkness, and then the cop who drove around walked with the guy back toward us. “That’s him!” I said to the cop questioning me. Just like on Law and Order.

He tried to look completely innocent. Then the cop said, “Why did you do that?” and the guy said, “I dunno.” The cop asked me a question, I answered, and the coldest little smirk went across the guy’s face. I wanted to scissor kick him but I figured jail and the problems he will face in trying to resolve this will be enough.

As they were arresting him, he said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disrespect you like that.”

I just took a couple of pictures.

While the cop called the prosecutor, he told me I could look the other way so the dude in the back of his car couldn’t see my face. I listened to my iPod and paced the empty parking lot.

He gave me a small piece of paper with the case number on it and then said that was it. He offered to get the other cop to give me a ride home, but I declined. I wanted to finish my workout.

I felt okay last night – just very angry. Today I woke up with the worst pain in my ankle. I can’t put any pressure on it. That’s really the only physical reminder of what happened.

Pictures Of The Cantor Fitzgerald Office

These are pictures of the office on East 59th Street. It’s not the building where the company offices now. It’s the place they were directly after 9/11.

All Our Friends At Cantor Fitzgerald

Pictures of Shanksville, PA

I made the pilgrimage to Shanksville, PA one cold Spring morning. It was a desolate, isolated place. Beautiful. What I remember most is looking at the memorial of notes and firemen’s jackets. A young man stood beside me, looking at the items as reverently as I. “Did you lose somebody?” he asked.

I blinked, uncertain what he meant. Without thinking, I said, “Yes. I lost them all.”

You can see the rest of these Shanksville pictures here, on my Flickr page.

In Loving Memory

Storm Windows

That was it.

Everything was gone.

He knew this on some instinctive level, though the had no time to really understand what that meant. He rolled from underneath an SUV, jelly-legs, and looked around. The building would not stop collapsing. It came down, then the giant clouds of dust, coffee cups, motherboards, phones, people, a burning Pompeii in the sky. Now the air was full of dust lighter than air, floating on the currents. When he rubbed his eyes, they stung. He tasted gritty metal in his mouth, and he spat on the ground.

The ground was covered in ash, like a nuclear winter. He lifted his face, astonished to feel sunlight suffused through the dust, warm on his cheekbones. His red, irritated eyes would not register the empty blue space where a 105-story building had stood until just sixty seconds ago.

It was over. Gone. Work, marriage, Manhattan: gone.

Sean stumbled forward, knowing he must move. He had lived in Manhattan for most of his life, yet he was disoriented. He did not know which streets led where, or even where he was going. He looked down and realized he was still holding his cell phone. With the clarity of shock he knew that she would not be on the other end anymore. He slid the device into his pocket and continued to walk, picking up random documents from the debris, as if he could save something, anything.

The second building came down. He felt the rumble vibration in his body, he saw the cloud, grey-white, huge, abstract. He stood shivering with strangers in a small bodega, face pressed against the glass, watching the building pass him by.

It took hours to find his apartment. His parents burst into tears when they saw him. He recoiled, he did not want to be hugged or touched.

He went into the bathroom and turned on the shower and stepped in the stream. Under the water, he pulled off his jacket, his shirt, pants, underwear, socks, shoes. The floor outside the shower was muddy. Dirt and dust and people.

He stood under the shower.

It was all gone. His wife. His job. He tried to wash off the dust. The dust was in his nose, in the seashell curves of his ear, between his teeth, under his fingernails, in his hair. He lifted his face to the stream.

He checked on his son. His son was napping. His son slept through it, somehow.

There was no hope. But even not having hope was torture because in the darkness was the promise of light. He second-hand hoped, grudgingly, against his better judgement. He hoped because it was all he knew how to do.

His home phone would not stop ringing. His mother answered the calls. One of the calls was from his company’s CEO. He told the CEO that he was alive. He agreed to meet him in the morning.

He did not sleep. They watched television all night and talked on the phone. He went to bed around four but could not sleep. At six-thirty, his alarm rang. He got up and showered and dressed. It was all gone but he could not step outside the template of his life. He could not stop acting like it still existed.

His mother could not sleep either. In the morning, his mother made eggs. Sean drank orange juice to please her, but could not eat the eggs. The eggs were scrambled and had onion and diced green bell peppers in them, and a little bit of cheese. They were his favorite eggs. He could not eat the eggs. He drank the juice and he washed his cup and left in the sink. He knew his mother would clean the cup. He left there as an act of mercy, to give her something to do – an apology for not eating her eggs.

His parents did not want him to go. He had to go because it was all he knew how to do. Everything was gone, except the outline of a life. He would trace the outline. He would lie in bed even if he could not sleep. He would eat. Maybe not today, but eventually. He would look for his life in the outlines. The existence of the outlines, the actions taken in rote memory, would lead him up and out.

He kissed his son. He took his father’s cell phone, which had periodic coverage, and he left.

There was nothing left.

The company was gone.

There was no building, no desk, no computer, no paperclips, no printers, no chairs, no coffee cups, no phone system. There was no way to know who was alive and who was dead. He met with the CEO and a few others who had survived. The first thing to do was make a system for accounting for those who were alive.

They used pens and paper. They tried to hunt down survivors. Sean would not think of his hope. Sean would focus on the next minute. When that was too much, the next second. He had an outline. When he felt like screaming he knew that he wouldn’t because he had an outline that would keep him contained.

Rumors would appear – Joe was alive! – but then hours later the rumor would die. They visited hospitals. They called widows.

When they were not trying to account for the people who might have survived, they worked. There was a back up facility in New Jersey, and another office in London.

Everything was gone, but there were backups. As long as he could manage the problem of getting data back online, he did not have to know that most of his coworkers were dead. He worked hard.

They set up an office at a hotel. It was a clearing house for information, where widows could come and try to find out about insurance settlements, and a place where the skeleton crew would try to work. He bought computers with his own money for those who came in, shellshocked like himself, and wanted to work. He bought pens and pads and food.

When the markets opened, he took orders for trades over the phone. He had not been a trader in a very long time, but he took the orders, writing them down on a pad of paper, then calling the order in to the backup facility, and the back up facility would complete the order. When he was not taking orders, he was trying to get a new system built, and when he wasn’t doing that, he was trying to find out who was alive.

The small hope was extinguished after ten days. After ten days, he said, “she is gone.” He shut his eyes to hope. He could not concentrate on the pain of that knowledge, so he worked hard. He took orders on the phone, like it was 1981.

One day he heard piano music. He looked up and saw Carol King playing the piano, singing “You’ve Got A Friend.”

Joe is alive! Joe was not alive.

The funerals began. There was a funeral every day for eighteen months, sometimes two or more a day. When the funerals became too much, friends would step in and go in his stead. He would go in their stead. The survivors tried to be everywhere, every funeral, every widow’s midnight companion, every babysitter helper nursemaid. They tried but they were exhausted.

He was a widower but he made himself available to the widows who called in the middle of the night, crying, wanting to know, “what was the last thing he said to you?” or “tell me what he was like at work.”

The widows had children. The widows did not know how to balance their checkbooks or who their mortgage company was. Sean drove to Westchester County one Saturday morning and helped the wife of a friend get her financial affairs in order. He wrote out the checks himself while she nursed her newborn baby. When he was done, he saw that she had fallen asleep with the baby on the sofa. The widows were exhausted too.

The funerals were a full-time job. He dutifully attended the funerals. He tended to the widows. He bought computers and food.

They had a meeting about new office space. Sean said, “Any suggestions?”
Someone said, “Not a tall building.”

They all laughed.

They got a new office space. Sean took a an office on the top floor. A plane would not fly into the building, but once he looked down at the street and he knew that anyone who wanted to could drive up with a car bomb, park on the curb, and accomplish almost the same thing.

They had new office space. He had an office on the top floor.

Work – the company – had come back from the dead. Nothing else would repeat the miracle. His wife was gone. His old life was gone, a giant swirl and enormous vacancy.

Everything else had fallen apart, disintegrated, collapsed, pancaked. There was nothing but dirt. He had released himself from hope and all thoughts of a future of peace.

Without being consciously aware of it, he had made a vow that he would survive. The vow was the broken remains, the trace of eternity, which a person can live on for the rest of his life. Even if it cursed him, he loved it. He dragged it with him, lugging it into the sunlight, into darkness, exposing it to the elements. It could not be broken.

Filthy air filled his lungs.

Unfathomable evolving. Do you know what you are, what you have been, what you may or must become?

Flight Path

[This is a repost.]

One perfect August afternoon, on Nantucket, Sean called me by his wife’s name. I was at the fridge, getting a bottle of water. I often think of that moment and wonder if there was something in the tilt of my head or the angle of my arm that reminded him of her, or if it was just because she was on his mind, free-floating psychic debt. Her name had the ability to break glass. It was a bell that instantly demanded perfect reverence and respect. I tolerated it, but calling me her name was a river he could not cross. I looked up, startled. He quickly corrected himself but it was too late.

Very calmly, I set the water on the counter and walked out of the kitchen. I was walking like a zombie. I had no idea where I was going, but I found myself walking upstairs, down the long stairway, to the bedroom. I locked the door behind me. I sat very still and very small on the edge of the bed, like a child waiting for punishment. Looking around the room, I felt like a tourist. Oh look, let’s marvel at this life, this life crowded with the past, where there is no room for anything new because she’s always there, displacing everything, even my thoughts. Apparently even his.

Because I could not think of anything else to do, I hauled out my suitcase, which he had placed high on the shelves in the closet. I stood on a little footstool and yanked, and fell backward into his summer suits and shirts, the suitcase dropping on top of me and pulling down with it an open banker box that had been beside the suitcase. When I could sit up, under his summer suits and shirts, I realized it was just one of the millions of collections of her stuff. In this case, a scarf, a couple of handbags which I touched as reverently as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the lustre of the leather tight and shiny and beautiful, little chic pieces of art to carry cell phones and keys on some glamorous street in New York or some wide-lane avenue in Paris. Artistry aside, I was instantly convinced I had been on the right path – get my suitcase and flee Nantucket. I stood up and began throwing my clothes into the suitcase. I was nearly done when I heard a soft knock on the door.

“Go away.”

“It’s my house.”

“I’m using this room. Go away.”

He didn’t go away. I could feel the pressure of his presence beyond the door. I dropped my phone into my purse and then, wheeling my suitcase behind me, flung open the door.

Sean was standing against the wall with his hands in his pockets. He looked up with a serious, pensive expression on his face.

I deeply wanted to hurt him in that moment, for the hateful box of purses and scarves, for calling me her name, for a thousand other tresspasses which had no name. Before I could say anything, he looked at my suitcase and asked, “You’re leaving?”

“Yes.” I rolled my suitcase past him to the stairs and bump-bump-bump down to the first floor.

He grabbed my sleeve at the landing. “I’m sorry.”

“So what.”


“Shut up. Just shut up,” I said. The last thing I wanted was to hear him talk more about her, about how it was an accident, how it was an honest mistake. I felt small and mean and like an alien, where nothing was safe and nothing was my own.

When a woman loves a man, she is at his mercy. When a woman loves a man, it is a challenge to the man, to push him to be a bastard, to see what kind of outrageous shit they can fling, to see what havoc they can wreck – because she will take a lot. And when a man loves a woman, he accepts the challenge, he tries to prove he is worthy of her. But suddenly I had become the one pushing, pushing, heaping free-floating hostilities in his direction. Just watch, wait until little diamond flicker in his eyes. It felt impossibly powerful. I liked it. All the fury felt beautifully contained and I became cold; this, at least, was mine. It was all I needed. The words came calmly and unrehearsed, as if reading from a script: “I am sorry, this isn’t what I want. I don’t even like you very much. I find you and this whole dead-wife thing a bit tiresome.”

He had no reply. He winced, his skin going pale. I continued. “I decided a couple of weeks ago that this was all wrong. I see now that I was correct. I see that you’re simply incapable of participating in any relationship which isn’t subordinated by your stupid dead wife.”

No reaction. So I continued. Mid-way through this speech, I realized that I was trying to hurt him the way she had hurt him by dying. Leaving with unfathomably deep, unresolved pain seemed to be the only way to make an impression on him, to be remembered and valued by him.

He said nothing for the entire time I was eviscerating our relationship. No avast demands, no refutation. Perfect silence; why was he allowing me to speak to him this way? Why wasn’t he telling me not to call her stupid. Was it generosity?

When I was finished, I felt positively invincible, radiant and impassable as a skyscraper. Never in my life had I ever felt so thunderously powerful. I wasn’t sure what to do, though I was certain I didn’t want to be in Sean’s house – the house I had started to think of as ours.

I walked past him. He followed me calmly to the door. I opened it. To my complete shock, he did not stop me. I slammed the door closed and stood in the darkness. The ocean, black water slashed with white, tumbled before me, like our bedsheets. Only when I recognized the sound of it did the shock of tears come.

I trudged to the Jeep in the driveway and threw my suitcase in the back. I drove five minutes to the White Elephant, got a room, and prepared to wake up at dawn to fly back to Boston, then to New York. I lay stiffly under the covers of the bed, the horror of what I had done becoming clearer to me with every second.

Horrible girl.
Horrible, awful girl.

But the germ of truth still beating in my ear: I was not her. I was never going to be her, or like her, or replace her. The image of her beautiful handbags kept coming over me, sickening me. They signified everything wrong with the world.

My phone rang. Sean’s name flashed across the screen. I answered.

“Where are you?”

“I’m gone, Sean.” He was silent. I could think of nothing to say. “I need to go.” He was silent. I hung up.

In the morning, I flew to Boston and then home to New York. It was barely eight o’clock as the great city came into view, grey and wide, against a blue shore.

Imagine the city, every dream that went into its construction. Imagine the volume of space in every office tower.

Imagine he could forgive me.
Imagine I might find meaning or dignity in my own cruelty, if only I write it down.

Love In A Time Of Danger

[I post this every year on September 11. Since 2004. I guess you could call it a tradition.]

Sean does not like it when I call him a 9/11 Victim. He tells me he’s not a victim. His coworkers who died were victims. His wife of ten years was a victim. He was just there when it happened.

When we are together, I ask him questions about her. He is patient with me, explaining their relationship, not diminishing it just because she is no longer here, which I appreciate. I listen, trying to understand how it must feel to be in his skin and to live through that day and the thousand days that have passed. A few weeks ago, while in New York, I sat on the counter of his modern kitchen while he poured glasses of red wine. On the fridge was a snapshot of his wife and their son taken in Central Park that September. She’s tiny, with a brown ponytail, bright brown eyes, and a natural, genuinely happy grin. Had things been different, she is the kind of woman who might be one of my best friends.

Instead, I’m dating her husband.

I knew I had fallen in love with him and his life – his beautiful son, his beautiful apartment with the astonishing views, his thoughts and mind and heart, all of it, everything – when I woke up one Saturday morning to a knock on the door. I grabbed a sweater to throw over my pajamas and went to the door, and there he was, like the continuation of a very nice dream. Unexpectedly, he had flown down on the breakfast flight from New York. I threw my arms around him, and told him I was exhausted and to come nap with me. After that, we’ve known that this was not a trivial thing.

I realize that I am getting into something that is both wonderful and daunting. Every time 9/11 is mentioned, I see the crinkles around his eyes tighten up, just for a second. It’s personal to him, and by extension, it’s personal to me. The other night he called me at three in the morning. I stay up late, so I didn’t mind, but I knew he had to be at work early the next morning. As soon as I saw his name on my caller ID I answered, “Hey, is everything okay?”

He said yes. I guess I already know him well enough to not press him. I said okay and asked what he was doing. He deflected the question, and asked what I was doing. I told him I was writing and watching television and doing yoga and thinking about baking some butterscotch cookies for him when I go up to New York on Saturday. He was very quiet. I said, “Are you okay?”

And then he said, “I had a nightmare.”

I shut off the television with the remote.

He started to tell me that he had a nightmare that she had jumped. She was standing in the window, in her little pantsuit and pumps, looking down. It was flames or freefall. Then he was there, beside her, and he was asking her to try and get out, then she fell suddenly, into the vast blue nothingness. When he woke up he was sick. He hadn’t had a nightmare in a long time, nearly a year. I told him it was okay. He said that he was afraid that she was in pain when she died. That she was burned or crushed or …. jumped. I told him that she wasn’t in pain. It was fast, it was very fast, I say – because what else can I say? I start to cry. I don’t know that his wife didn’t die a horrible painful death – and neither does he. He doesn’t know how she died because they did not find enough of her to determine that. We talk for a long time. He tells me he feels guilty and that he should have gone inside and gotten her out of there. I remind him, gently, that he was lucky to get out of his own building alive. He didn’t know that the building would topple. He didn’t know that she wasn’t on her way out. There was nothing he could have done. He is quiet, so I keep saying it. “There is nothing you could have done. It’s not your fault.”

After half an hour, he is calm. He tells me that he loves me. I say, “I know you do. I love you too.” Sean is quiet. I can imagine him perfectly. He’s in bed, the crimson coverlet kicked to the foot of the bed while the cream colored comforter is up to his waist. He’s kept the lights off, the phone is against his ear. The sheers are down over the windows, though the curtains are pulled back. Through the gauze, the lights of the city filter in. He is thinking about his wife, and me, and this new life. Finally I can hear him shift in bed, rolling over to his left side, probably. He says, “Thank you for listening to me.”

I wipe a few tears out of my eyes. “It’s my pleasure. I love listening to you.”

“It’s us now,” he says in a rush, like he has to get this overwith quickly. “Isn’t it?”

The breath is knocked out of me. I say “Yes.”

We say goodnight and hang up. I pace around my house, thinking about the conversation. I feel suddenly very angry and very sad. It’s overwhelming, like I can’t get on top of it. I am sad for Sean, but also for all of us. The West: UK, the USA… just all of us who have to live with the damage, and who have to find a way to stop this so it doesn’t happen again.

The fight against terrorism isn’t just happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world. It’s still happening here at home, in places like Virginia and New York City. It’s being waged in the 3,000 families who aren’t finished grieving over their loved ones and who will never be finished grieving. It’s being waged every time a wife wakes up to the crying baby who will never know his father, and every time a man wakes up in a cold sweat dreaming that his wife jumped to avoid being burned alive. That is why I can’t believe that the war on terror is some make believe idea, an inconvenience that has no relevance to our daily lives. I say this as someone who has experienced firsthand the sorrow and ache and the misery of war, but who nevertheless believes, with beaten resolve, that it is simply the only proper way to address the current state of the world.

From Inside The Skyline

I work in one of the largest office complexes in Houston. It’s a massive building connected via skyways and tunnels to other buildings. Every day I walk half a mile from the elevators to Starbucks. There are actually two Starbucks closer, but I like the one that’s far away because I count it toward my daily exercise quota. One day, coming back from Starbucks, I looked out the window and saw my building. It looked exactly like the World Trade Center. I was standing in a skyway, over a busy road, and looked down, and then back up at the facade of my building, thinking… it could be me.

I love my office building. The scale of it is just not human. Yesterday I went down to a lower- lower level to see off a friend who was leaving the company. I had never been down there. It’s a vast, beautiful, open space with nobody around. A massive bank of six escalators runs, unused for the most part. Twenty-four elevators. The great hall is flooded with light from the vast windows, but there is a weird uninhabited feel to it. I felt it again, that weird feeling of … what if?

I mentioned it to a friend. Before I could even get to my point she said, “I know.”

We nodded knowingly. We feel it.

Helicopters fly across my window at distances that scare me to death and I always pause, a little frightened, when I see them.

But what I think about most of the time, when I’m in my scary place, is the scale of the infrastructure, how for the building to collapse, it would have to break through three or four “lower lobby levels”….the massive granite walls would have to give way, and the escalators would crunch like plastic toys. I know it can happen. So what would I do if it did happen?

Sean tells me a better question is to remember what actually happened. There is no place to run or hide. The elevators become unusable. People die because of things falling overhead, or the ground simply vanishing beneath their feet. People die … they died in the strangest ways.

When I go to work I remember after 9/11 how I got really buff because I wanted to be strong enough to survive if I were ever in a bad situation. I wanted to have the strength to pull myself up, or push myself out. But now I know that stuff doesn’t really matter. If something – God forbid – happens, I know that my fate is exactly the fates of the people in the World Trade Center on September 11. It is a whim of where I happen to be standing at the exact moment the world ends.

I grapple with that concept. Sean’s morning routine – inefficient and frankly stupid – saved him. He would go up, drop his briefcase, get his voicemail, then go back downstairs for coffee and a bagel. He was downstairs when the first plane hit. Random chance. He survived because he wanted his morning coffee. He could have just as easily died if there was a voicemail that he had to answer right away, or if someone caught him in the hallway, or …

But he survived. It seems so random, and that’s why it’s so scary. You can’t know what to do. You just have to take your chances when every action could be your last.

I love working in my building. It feels like a real, grown-up job in that building. On the margins of my mind, I’m aware now that something could happen. It doesn’t make me “careful” because, as I said, you can’t defend against the invisible. But not a day goes by that I don’t think of the people inside the World Trade Center.

I like to think it’s a blessing, and not a curse.

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