This post comes with a paragraph of disclaimer. It’s such a downer, I waited until after Christmas to post it. And I want to be clear: I’m posting this for what it says about the ways we use sex in surviving (or not) the human condition. Not everything on ErosBlog is posted with the intent to arouse. This certainly is not. I apologize, a little, to anybody who comes here looking only for arousal. I apologize, a little more, to anybody whose emotional equilibrium is upset by reading this. But I was enormously affected by this tragic picture of the last moments of a wife and mother, a woman who surely knew her husband was in a bad mental place. Sex was the tool she was using to try and fix it, to fix him, to placate him. It didn’t work.

The setting is a long article in the January Esquire magazine about a man on death row who is there because he came home from work one day and murdered his wife and children. In the tradition of such journalism, the reporter invests a lot of effort into getting close to the convict, and ultimately gets a detailed confession out of him, from which the following excerpt is taken. Whether to believe the story is, ultimately, up to you; there’s certainly nothing inherently reliable about such accounts.

“How long before that final night did you know you were going to kill your family?” I asked.

He said it was only a few hours before, while at work, that he came to a decision. He said he couldn’t see any other solution. He couldn’t call his father and ask for money — he was too ashamed. He couldn’t kill himself — he was too weak. He was a failure, he told me, “and I didn’t want to leave any witnesses to my failure.” He said he didn’t know how, exactly, he was going to do it, but that he’d made up his mind. “I knew before I came home that night I was going to kill my family. I was locked on that thought.”

When he came home from work, though it was quite late, MaryJane initiated lovemaking, he said, and soon he was naked and she was naked and they were in the small one-bedroom condo — a nice place overlooking Yaquina Bay, on the Oregon coast, with his two older kids asleep in the living room on a pullout couch and little Madison in their bedroom, on a sleeping bag on the floor. It was past midnight. He was making love to his wife. She was on top. He told me this in a clear, steady voice, but he would not make eye contact. He was staring at the visiting-booth floor, at the worn industrial carpeting.

And it hit him, he said, it dawned on him right then, that this was the opportunity. This was the time. As they were having sex. And he reached up and took her throat. Longo said that he didn’t see any surprise in her face. He grasped his wife by the throat, grabbed with both hands. He said she didn’t resist at all. It’s possible, he said, that she thought it was a little sudden, sexual kinkiness.

But he never let go. He squeezed and didn’t stop squeezing. Longo told me that if he’d had a gun, he would’ve used it, but then immediately he changed his mind. Too messy, he said. He didn’t want to make a mess. He said MJ — that’s how he always refers to his wife — didn’t really struggle, didn’t kick or claw at his hands or make any noise at all. He said it was silent. “She seemed to relax into it. She never looked at me. Her eyes were closed. She didn’t fight me, she didn’t seem terrorized.” The TV was on, softly. Longo couldn’t recall what was playing, but he remembered the flickering blueness across the room, across his naked body and hers; he was still on the bottom, he was reaching up, grabbing his wife’s neck with both hands, grabbing so hard his fingers dug deep, forming the scars that would be found when the divers opened the suitcase.

It takes quite a long time to kill someone by strangulation. Like five minutes. Longo said it was long enough for him to think, during the act, that maybe he ought to stop. But then he figured he’d already begun, and if he stopped and MJ survived —then what? His wife would leave him and he’d still be in trouble.