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Death; Juxtaposed

Death; Juxtaposed

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Published by George W Parker
Mary and Al Martin's marriage is failing. Mary is a successful lawyer; she is looking outside the marriage for her answers. Al, a not so successful graphic designer, is looking in the past; searching for his personal validation. And then the storm arrives. Long before the disaster of Katrina an estimated category 5 hurricane struck Galveston, Texas in 1900. Its thirty-foot wave surge and 100mph winds leveled the city and killed over eight thousand people. That is only part of the story.
Mary and Al Martin's marriage is failing. Mary is a successful lawyer; she is looking outside the marriage for her answers. Al, a not so successful graphic designer, is looking in the past; searching for his personal validation. And then the storm arrives. Long before the disaster of Katrina an estimated category 5 hurricane struck Galveston, Texas in 1900. Its thirty-foot wave surge and 100mph winds leveled the city and killed over eight thousand people. That is only part of the story.

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Published by: George W Parker on Jan 31, 2013
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novels by George W. Parker The Krew Death;Juxtaposed The Letters Vanishing Trick Conversations at Night The Boy in the Box

Death; Juxtaposed by George W. Parker

Copyright © 2012-2013 George W. Parker Scribd Edition
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the permission of George W. Parker.

Cover design by nge!ine Co!!ier.

Scribd Edition, License Notes "his ebook is !icensed #or yo$r persona! en%oy&ent on!y. "his ebook &ay not be re-so!d or given a'ay to other peop!e. (# yo$ 'o$!d !ike to share this book 'ith another person) p!ease p$rchase an additiona! copy #or each recipient. (# yo$*re reading this book and did not p$rchase it) or it 'as not p$rchased #or yo$r $se on!y) then p!ease ret$rn to S&ash'ords.co& and p$rchase yo$r o'n copy. "hank yo$ #or respecting the hard 'ork o# this a$thor

hapter ! +,$st !eave hi&)+ -ark said setting his ha!# e&pty g!ass do'n on the bar o# the Stone!eigh P. +(t.s easy.+ /e t$rned s!ight!y in his chair to'ard -ary. +0o$ %$st pack a bag and as yo$ 'a!k o$t the door yo$ stop) t$rn aro$nd and say) . !) ( don.t !ove yo$ any &ore. (.& &oving in 'ith -ark Ed'ards. 0o$ kno' -ark) the ta!!) good !ooking g$y at the o##ice.. "hen yo$ !eave. (t.s as easy as that.+ -ark t$cked his e!bo's in at his sides) raised his hands) pa!&s $p) and shr$gged his sho$!ders e&phasi1ing the point. /e t$rned back to the bar and picked $p his drink. -ary 'as thirty-si2) t'o years o!der than -ark. She sat side'ays in her chair staring at hi&. /er bright green eyes b!a1ed. S&a!! #ra&ed and very attractive) her !ight bro'n hair 'as c$t short and parted on the !e#t side. +(t.s not as easy as that and yo$ kno' it. "his is not so&e co!!ege !ive-in co&patibi!ity test (.ve been taking. We.re ta!king abo$t ten years o# &arriage. 0o$ don.t %$st pack a bag and te!! so&eone to take a hike.+ +S$re yo$ do)+ -ark said t$rning to #ace her. +"hat.s e2act!y the 'ay yo$ do it. Peop!e do it a!! the ti&e.+ +We!! (.& not one o# the&)+ -ary snapped back. She picked $p her &argarita #ro& the co$nter and took a !ong drink. -ark 'atched) a!!o'ing a !itt!e ti&e #or her to coo! do'n. /e 'as a ta!! &an 'ith dark bro'n eyes. /is short b!ack hair 'as s'ept back #ro& his #orehead giving hi& a #or&idab!e !ook. (t 'ent 'e!! 'ith his +$p and co&ing+ rep$tation at the !a' #ir& 'here he and -ary 'orked.

/e p$t his right hand on -ary.s knee and asked) +3o yo$ !ove !#red -artin4+ -ary !ooked do'n at the #!oor shaking her head) +( don.t kno'.+ -ark &oved his hand to her #ace and to$ched her cheek. -ary s!o'!y bro$ght her eyes $p to &eet his. +3o yo$ !ove &e4+ he asked. She s&i!ed s!ight!y and nodded her head. +"hen everything 'i!! 'ork itse!# o$t) 'on.t it4+ -ary nodded again. +So ( 'on.t p$sh anything #aster than it can go) a!right4+ /e !eaned over and kissed her !ight!y on the !ips. +We need to get on o$t o# here)+ he said as he stood $p. +Got a !ong day ahead o# $s to&orro'.+ +( don.t even 'ant to think abo$t to&orro')+ -ary said) re!$ctant to !eave. +We can.t stay here a!! evening. 0o$ 'ant to go over to &y p!ace4+ +0es) ( do)+ -ary ans'ered) +b$t ( g$ess ( sho$!d go ho&e. (t.s getting !ate and ! 'i!! be 'orried.+ +0o$ co$!d sti!! ca!! hi&) say yo$.re st$ck at the o##ice)+ -ark s$ggested. /is right hand so#ty br$shed the nape o# -ary.s neck. +5o)+ she sighed and stood $p. +0o$.re right) to&orro' 'i!! be a to$gh day.+ /er green eyes s&i!ed $p at hi&. + nd yo$.!! need a!! yo$r strength.+ -ary &oved a'ay to'ard the #ront door be#ore -ark co$!d ans'er. /e tossed so&e &oney on the bar and h$rried a#ter her. Catching $p he s!ipped his ar& aro$nd her 'aist and asked) +What is that s$ppose to &ean4+ -ary !a$ghed and &oved c!oser to hi&. +We!! it &eans) yo$ can.t drink a!! day and !ove a!! night and sti!! e2pect to set the 'or!d on #ire in the &orning.+ "hey reached the #ront o# the bar. -ark re!eased his ho!d on -ary and opened the door. /e #o!!o'ed her o$t onto the side'a!k 'here he again 'rapped an ar& aro$nd her. "he tra##ic on -ap!e ven$e 'as !ight. "he !ights o# the high-

rises do'nto'n re#!ected against !o' hanging c!o$ds. "he &id-5ove&ber night 'as 'ar& and &oist. +"hat.s 'hat yo$ say) b$t yo$ kno' better. ( can drink a!! 'eek and !ove a!! &onth and sti!! beat any 3. . in this to'n)+ -ark !a$ghed. +0o$ kno' (.& a #$sion device. ( can.t be stopped.+ /e p$!!ed -ary c!ose and they kissed. When they separated -ary said in a !o' voice) +"hat is a!! very 'e!! sir) b$t) that) is a persona! opinion. Can yo$ present e2pert 'itnesses to s$pport that opinion4+ +0es ( can Co$nse!or.+ "hey kissed again. +( can ca!! t'enty or thirty 'itnesses i# yo$ 'ant &e to.+ /e !a$ghed as -ary p$!!ed a'ay in &ock anger. +0o$ cad6 0o$.ve been toying 'ith &e.+ -ark s&i!ed) +We!!) yes ( have been. Wo$!d yo$ care to be toyed 'ith so&e &ore4+ -ary &oved back c!ose) +0es ( 'o$!d) thank yo$.+ +-y p!eas$re.+ "hey 'a!ked do'n the side'a!k to'ard their cars. +( hate this kind o# 'eather)+ -ary said. +(t &akes a!! &y c!othes stick to &e.+ +( can he!p yo$ 'ith that)+ -ark !a$ghed. +( kno' yo$ can) b$t #or the &o&ent) ( 'ish it 'o$!d %$st rain and get it over 'ith.+ +Give it a chance) it 'i!!.+ t their cars they kissed again) pressing against each other tight!y. /o!ding -ary c!ose -ark said) +( rea!!y don.t &ean to p$sh so hard. ( %$st 'ant to be 'ith yo$ a!! the ti&e. 0o$ kno' that don.t yo$4+ +0es) ( kno' that. 5o' %$st h$sh.+ "hey kissed again. 7e#ore p$!!ing a'ay she poked a #inger into -ark.s chest and said) +0o$ be care#$! driving ho&e.+ +0es) -a.a&)+ -ark sa!$ted. 8a$ghing at his antics -ary opened her car door and s!id in behind the 7-W.s 'hee!. She c!osed the car door and said) +See yo$ in the &orning)+ thro$gh the 'indo'. -ark s&i!ed as he 'atched her start the car and back

o$t. "hey 'aved good-bye as she p$!!ed onto the street and sped a'ay. -ark #e!t a !ight &isting o# rain on his !e#t cheek. S$dden!y) in a span o# seconds) the night sky opened $p and re!eased a terri#ic do'npo$r. -ark scra&b!ed into his Porsche. "he rain beat heavi!y against the 'indshie!d o# -ary.s 7-W) #!ooding the g!ass s$r#ace #aster than the 'ipers co$!d c!ear it. She drove ca$tio$s!y thro$gh the do'nto'n streets !eaning #or'ard) s9$inting thro$gh the 'indshie!d) co&bating the e##ects o# both the rain and the drinks) her &ind racing #ro& her conversation. +-ark.s right) a!! ( have to do is te!! hi&. (t.s not !ike it 'o$!d s$rprise hi&. ( can.t re&e&ber the !ast ti&e 'e act$a!!y en%oyed being together.+ She stared #or'ard reso!$te!y. +,es$s) yo$.d think a#ter ten years yo$.d #ind so&ething to keep yo$ together.+ She s!o'ed the car even #$rther as she &ade her 'ay onto Pear! Street. 3o'nto'n 'as e&pty. "he 'ipers beat rapid!y back and #orth. "he rain po$nded do'n on the car. :isibi!ity 'as a #e' #eet. + !! ( have to do is te!! hi&)+ she said #ir&!y. We!! ahead o# her the tra##ic signa!s at the intersection o# 7ryan and Pear! Streets 'ent thro$gh their cyc!e; green !ights to ye!!o') the 'hite +'a!k+ #ig$re changing into a p$!sing red) then ye!!o' !ights to red 'ith the red #ig$re stricken so!id by the s!ash thro$gh his body. -ary 'as at the intersection be#ore she sa' the !ights thro$gh the rain. (nstinctive!y she s!a&&ed on the brakes) !ocking $p the 'hee!s on the 7-W) sending it skidding 'i!d!y on the #!ooded street into the intersection. <rantic!y she #o$ght to contro! the car) to keep it #ro& ra&&ing one o# the !ight po!es. "he car.s !o' speed 'as -ary.s savior. "he &o&ent$& drained 9$ick!y a'ay and car ca&e to a stop. +Shit6+ -ary s'ore s!$&ping #or'ard onto the steering

'hee! in nervo$s e2ha$stion. +God) ( can.t be!ieve ( didn.t hit so&ething)+ re!ie# #i!!ed her voice. She rose $p and !ooked thro$gh the rain-encased 'indo's o# the car. +(.d better &ove be#ore so&e #oo! o$t here r$ns into &e.+ Shi#ting the car into reverse -ary backed $p severa! #eet and t$rned the car back to its origina! direction. She headed #or ho&e !eaving the !ights cyc!ing their co!or patterns in the rain.

hapter " ! 'a!ked a!ong the beach) the ocean on his right. "he night 'as c!o$d!ess. "he &oon bright!y i!!$&inated the shore. "he sand 'as dark near the 'ater) !oose and 'hite a'ay #ro& it. 8ong) !o' breakers ro!!ed in #ro& the sea. ! stopped and 'atched. =$t in the sea the &oon!ight shi&&ered si!very. 7eneath the sheen) s'e!!s %oined and &oved to the beach 'here they po$nded against the &i!es o# 'hite sand. >epeated!y the sand sto!e their po'er and ret$rned the 'aves to the ocean as a thin #oa&. "he batt!e o# the shore!ine 'as ca!&ing. ! t$rned a'ay on!y a#ter sec$ring #or hi&se!# the kno'!edge the #ight 'o$!d contin$e $na!tered in his absence. /e 'a!ked a!ong the beach past dri#t'ood #or&ed into #antastic i&ages by the &oon!ight. S&a!! sand d$nes topped 'ith 'i!d!y tasse!ed grasses rose on his !e#t. S&a!! ani&a!s sc$rried in the d$nes $nconcerned. Stopping) he bent and #reed a s&a!!) #an shaped she!! #ro& the sand. /e s&oothed the !oose grains a'ay #ro& its sides. (n the so#t !ight the she!! 'as a !ight) paste! pink. <or a !ong ti&e ! e2a&ined the she!!) then 'ith a short step and a 9$ick toss he cast it into the s$r#. ! 'a!ked a !ong distance. "he sky began to change. "he 'ind rose in strength. "he beach darkened) the &oon disappeared behind dense c!o$ds. White caps #or&ed o$t on the ocean. "he 'aves gre' in their t$rb$!ence and crashed against the beach. ! 'a!ked #aster. =$t in the ocean a 'ave gre' and r$shed #or'ard) gaining height and po'er. !) r$nning) 'atched over his

sho$!der) as the 'ave !eaped #ro& the sea. "he 'ave #e!! on hi& !ike a brick 'a!!) knocking the 'ind o$t o# hi&. Eng$!#ed in the onr$shing 'ater) he t$rned over and over and over) #ighting to #ind the s$r#ace and air. "he sa!ty taste o# the ocean #orced its 'ay into his &o$th as the receding crest o# the 'ave p$!!ed hi& do'n deeper. high-pitched) e!ectronic b!eeping noise so$nded. "he a!ar& on the c!ock) it never #ai!ed to bring ! o$t o# his s!eep. 8ying on his !e#t side) his head sec$red $nder a pi!!o') !.s body reacted to the 'arning ca!!. <ighting o$t #ro& $nder the pi!!o') then ha!# sitting $p) he groped #or the c!ock on the nightstand and pressed the s&a!! b$tton on its top) s9$e!ching the noise. >ising to a #$!! sitting position) he s'$ng his !egs o$t #ro& $nder the 'ar& covers and got o$t o# bed. "he a!ar& never 'oke -ary. She contin$ed to s!eep peace#$!!y? her on!y reaction to !.s rising 'as to ro!! onto his side o# the king si1e bed. ! care#$!!y crossed thro$gh the dark bedroo& to the bathroo& and sh$t the door. /e #!ipped on the !ights edging the &irror. "heir brightness #!ooded the !avatory. /e sa' nothing b$t red spots #or seconds. When his vision c!eared eno$gh to tr$st his neck to a ra1or he 'ashed and !athered his #ace. 8eaning over the sink) ra1or in hand) staring into the &irror he tasted the ocean.s brine.

hapter # ! and -ary sat at their s&a!! g!ass and chro&e tab!e in the break#ast area) drinking co##ee. #e' &onths yo$nger than ! -ary) sti!! 'earing her robe) !ooked re!a2ed) sipping s!o'!y #ro& her c$p. Even %$st o$t o# bed her #ace !ooked ca!&) $nr$##!ed. Witho$t &ake-$p) her !ight!y co!ored eye!ashes 'ere a!&ost invisib!e? her green eyes bright!y e2posed. /er e!bo's rested on the tab!e. She he!d her c$p in both hands and peered across the tab!e at hi&) thinking) +,$st te!! hi&. . ! ( don.t !ove yo$ any &ore.. (t.s as easy as that. "hat.s a!! it takes. /o' hard does it have to be4+ /er sto&ach ch$rned at the tho$ghts. /er &o$th 'as dry) $n&oistened by the co##ee she drank. ! stood $p #ro& the tab!e to re#i!! his c$p. /e 'as dressed in a 3a!!as b$siness $ni#or&? dark b!$e s$it) 'hite shirt) 9$iet!y patterned si!k tie) and a pair o# tasse!ed) 7ostonians. +( 'ent to bed a !itt!e ear!y !ast night. What ti&e did yo$ get in4+ -ary !ooked at hi& thinking) +What does he &ean by that4+ She sipped her co##ee be#ore ans'ering) her co$rt training at 'ork. +(t 'as a !itt!e a#ter e!even. We.ve got that bankr$ptcy thing going on so 'e ate Chinese in the o##ice. nd that rain.+ -ary shook her head. +( 'asn.t s$re ( 'o$!d &ake it ho&e.+ ! picked $p the co##ee pot. +3id it #ina!!y rain4+ +We!! yes. Cats and dogs)+ -ary s&i!ed. "hen she added) +( g$ess yo$ 'ere s!eeping so so$nd!y yo$ didn.t hear &e or the stor&.+

+( g$ess ( didn.t.+ /e po$red co##ee into his c$p. (n an o## hand #ashion he said) +( 'ent to the coast again !ast night.+ /e t$rned 9$ick!y to rep!ace the co##ee pot on the co$nter hoping to dodge the inevitab!e. +=h 8ord) here it goes again)+ -ary tho$ght to herse!#. +Why can.t he %$st be sensib!e !ike he $se to be4 God) give &e the strength to te!! hi& (.& !eaving6+ ! 'a!ked back to the tab!e 'itho$t !ooking at -ary. /e sat back do'n at the tab!e and !ooked across to -ary) 'aiting. ! c$t his eyes a'ay 'hen she !ooked at hi&. She 'atched hi& a !ong ti&e) ca!&ing herse!#) be#ore asking) +Was it !ike be#ore4+ ! !ooked $p at her and bobbed his head in a yes rep!y) adding) +Pretty &$ch so.+ /e to!d her 'hat had happened in his drea&. She sat 9$iet!y 'atching his &o$th as he ta!ked. (nside she #o$ght against screa&ing at hi&. ! #inished his story. "hey 'ere 9$iet. -ary said) +( don.t kno' 'here yo$ get those drea&s. ( 'ish yo$ 'o$!dn.t have the&. 0o$ kno' they $pset &e.+ +"hey $pset &e too. "hat.s 'hy ( have to ta!k abo$t it.+ ! pa$sed gathering his tho$ghts. +"hey.re not drea&s. "hey.re &ore than that.+ /is #ear o# the drea&s sho'ed itse!# as he snapped) + nd it.s not !ike ( ask #or the& yo$ kno'.+ /e r$bbed the back o# his neck 'here a tightness 'as beginning. +7$t in so&e 'ays ( do !ike the&.+ +,es$s) !6 /o' can yo$ say that4+ -ary de&anded. She g!ared across the tab!e. She set her c$p do'n and p!anted her hands so!id!y on the tab!e. ! took a !ong) s!o' drink o# his co##ee be#ore he spoke. +3on.t try any o# that !a'yer crap on &e -ary. (.ve seen it be#ore. Save it #or the o##ice.+ /e !ooked !eve!!y across the tab!e into -ary.s eyes. +Whenever ( think abo$t that beach ( #ee! content. (.& co&#ortab!e there. (t #ee!s good. (t scares &e. 7$t there is so&ething good there.+

+Shit)+ -ary inter%ected. +/o' can yo$ #ee! co&#ortab!e $nder an ocean4+ +( don.t kno')+ ! shr$gged. +7$t it.s tr$e)+ he stated enth$siastica!!y. +Even 'hen (.& $nder the ocean ( #ee! good) happy.+ +3ead. "hat.s 'hat yo$ #ee!.+ +5o) no it.s not dead)+ he arg$ed. +(t.s good. ( kno' it.s good.+ + !#red -artin) yo$ are #$!! o# shit)+ -ary said even!y. + nd yo$.re !ate #or 'ork.+ She stood $p to !eave the tab!e. +( co$!d care !ess abo$t that da&n p!ace.+ ! sat at the tab!e $n&oving. +(.d &$ch rather go to the beach) hadn.t yo$4+ +0o$.re serio$s) aren.t yo$4+ +=# co$rse (.& serio$s. Wo$!dn.t yo$ !ove to go to the beach4 Wa!k in the &oon!ight4 0o$ $se to !ike that.+ +,es$s) !) 'hat have 'e been 'orking #or4 'a!k on a beach4+ -ary.s hands gripped the chair in #ront o# her. +We.re %$st no' getting so&e'here. nd yo$ 'ant to ditch everything beca$se o# a drea&. 0o$ &ake &e so god da&ned &ad6 (.& 'orking so ( can do 'hat ( 'ant) go 'here ( 'ant) and in sty!e. 5ot b$& aro$nd on a beach so&e'here.+ She sp$n a'ay #ro& the tab!e and stor&ed o## to the bathroo&. +( didn.t say anything abo$t b$&&ing aro$nd on the beach)+ ! added to hi&se!#. +7$t it.s not a bad idea.+ /e rose #ro& the tab!e and c!eared it) p$tting the dishes into the dish'asher.

hapter $ When ! !e#t the apart&ent -ary 'as sti!! in the bathroo&. (t 'as 'ar& o$tside and &isting rain. /e h$rried to the covered parking area. "he cars 'ere c!ose!y parked $nder the a'ning. ! 'as care#$! o# his c!othes as he s9$ee1ed into his 5avy b!$e Co$gar. /e started the car) backed o$t) and headed #or the #ree'ay. /e 'orked #or an advertising agency on the 'est side o# 3a!!as. Whi!e their condo 'as a #ive-&in$te drive east o# -ary.s do'nto'n o##ice it 'as a thirty-&in$te drive #or hi&) i# the tra##ic 'as good. <ro& their apart&ent there 'as no 9$ick 'ay to his o##ice near "e2as Stadi$&. /e #o$ght the tra##ic across #o$r #ree'ay syste&s p!aying his radio t$ner !ike a video ga&e) #ro& 5e' Wave to =!dies to C!assica! and back) p$nching $p a di##erent station a#ter every song. -ary sat at her bedroo& dresser peering into the bright!y !it do$b!e-sided &ake-$p &irror be#ore her. She 'as a!&ost #inished. @sing a #ine tipped br$sh she 'as care#$!!y app!ying !ip !iner) her &o$th #i!!ed the con#ines o# the en!arging conve2 &irror as she !eaned #or'ard. bo$t &id'ay do'n the right side o# her $pper !ip -ary.s hand t'itched nervo$s!y. "he tip o# the !iner br$sh danced o$t o# contro!. +Shit)+ -ary snapped. She thre' the br$sh do'n on the dresser and reached #or a tiss$e to correct the &ake-$p !ine. + !! yo$ have to do is te!! hi&)+ she said dabbing at her !ip. Shaking her head she !a$ghed derisive!y) +Easier said than done.+ Setting the tiss$e do'n -ary e2a&ined the da&age

done to her &ake-$p. +(t.!! have to do. -y hands are shaking too bad to get it any better.+ She #!ipped the &irror aro$nd and !ooked into the nor&a! re#!ection side) appraising the over a!! !ook o# her &ake-$p. +Peter Pan yo$.re not) not any &ore)+ -ary s&i!ed. +0o$ can.t stay yo$ng #or ever.+ 5o' added a!ongside her s&i!e there 'as an increase in visib!e !ines aro$nd both her eyes and &o$th. +0o$.ve got to gro' $p.+ She tho$ght o# ! and their past as she said it. "he se&ester be#ore -ary trans#erred to S-@ 8a' Schoo!) there 'as a bea$ti#$! #a!! a#ternoon in Waco 'hen both she and ! 'ere in $ndergrad$ate schoo!. "hey 'ent to the #ive and di&e near the co$rtho$se and bo$ght a thirty-#ive cent 'ooden g!ider. nd they spent the a#ternoon !a$ghing together) chasing a#ter the !ooping) sai!ing toy. +0o$.ve got to gro' $p so&eti&e !)+ -ary repeated. +"hose kinds o# days don.t !ast #orever. 0o$.!! %$st have to be a &an abo$t it and ad&it this is yo$r !i#e) o$r !i#e4 We can have everything 'e co$!d ever ask #or) i# yo$.d p$t yo$r &ind to it.+ -ary shook her head sti!! !ooking at her o'n #ace. +(nstead) yo$.re &aking &e see so&eone e!se. (t.s not #air !. 0o$ are part o# &y !i#e. ( %$st 'ant to be happy.+ #ter #orty-seven &in$tes in tra##ic ! reached the o##ice parking !ot) a !arge) #!at shopping center si1e area. /e had not heard a co&p!ete song d$ring the entire drive. "here 'ere severa! e&pty reserve spots ! passed be#ore he #o$nd a p!ace to park. (t 'as not too #ar #ro& the b$i!ding entrance. /e h$rried across the 'et parking !ot and thro$gh the do$b!e g!ass door entry to the bank o# e!evators. Severa! peop!e p$shed onto the #irst avai!ab!e car a!ong 'ith hi&. ! asked so&eone to p$sh #o$r #or hi&. "he #$!! e!evator 'as 9$iet as it &ade its stops. =nce on the #o$rth #!oor ! stopped #irst at the &en.s roo&. /e said he!!o to a co$p!e o# the &en a!ready there.

#ter the &en.s roo& he 'a!ked into the o##ice and he &ade his 'ay to the co##ee pot) po$red hi&se!# a !arge Styro#oa& c$p #$!! be#ore proceeding on to his c$be. /e 'as g!ad to see he 'as not the !ast one to &ake it in. 5ever the #irst one in the o##ice he a!'ays #o$ght hard not to be the !ast one o$t in the evenings. 3espite the rainy 'eather it 'as coo! in the o##ice) the air conditioning 'as r$nning #$!! ti!t. !.s %acket #e!t co&#ortab!e on hi&. -aking his 'ay to his tab!e he said he!!o to severa! peop!e in passing. /e reached his tab!e and took his %acket o##) hanging it on the back o# his chair. "he o##ice) an open 'ork area) 'as !arge and spacio$s 'ith a&p!e roo& #or the #i#teen dra#ting tab!es set 'ithin &od$!ar 'a!!s. "he roo& 'as on the so$th side o# the b$i!ding? t'o !arge banks o# 'indo's ran the !ength o# the so$th 'a!!. 8o$vered &ini-b!inds over the 'indo's a!!o'ed ad%$st&ent o# the inco&ing s$n!ight. <ro& a !ighting standpoint the so$thern e2pos$re 'as econo&ica! b$t 'hen the "e2as s$&&er) -ay thro$gh =ctober) had a ho!d) the air-conditioning never stopped p$&ping. !.s tab!e 'as in the #ar back corner a'ay #ro& the 'indo's. "here 'as nothing distinctive abo$t it) an artistAdra#ting tab!e) ad%$stab!e height chair) pen and penci! ho!der) and the !ike encased by #o$r-#oot &ovab!e 'a!!s. s'eater !ay on the seat o# the !.s chair. ! keep the s'eater at the o##ice to #ight o## the co!d at&osphere o# the b$i!ding. /e set his c$p o# co##ee do'n on the tab!e) p$!!ed his coat o##) and h$ng it on the back o# the chair. /e picked $p the cre' neck s'eater and began to p$!! it on. !.s head 'as hidden in the &idst o# the s'eater) his ar&s raised over his head 'hen >obin Co!!ins 'a!ked into the o##ice 'ith Bi& Wi!!ia&s. >obin 'as t'enty-#o$r years o!d 'ith !ong a$b$rn hair. /er eyes 'ere green b$t not as bright or as deep as -ary.s eyes. >obin 'as sti!! yo$ng. She had been o$t o# co!!ege no' #or !ess than t'o years. <ro& across the roo& >obin sa' the e2posed position !

'as in. She did not &ind taking advantage o# it. Bi& 'as a s!ight b$i!t 'o&an eight years o!der than >obin. "hey had beco&e good #riends in the year and a ha!# they had 'orked together. Bi& en%oyed >obin.s sense o# h$&or. >obin en%oyed having #$n. nd Bi& !iked that type o# attit$de. Bi& #o!!o'ed >obin.s eyes over to !) and she !a$ghed. +Why are yo$ !a$ghing4+ >obin s&i!ed. +7eca$se ( kno' ho' yo$ think.+ +We!!)+ >obin ans'ered) +he is adorab!e. 8ike a big kid a!! tied $p in his s'eater.+ +"his kid is &arried)+ Bi& rep!ied a !itt!e stern!y. +0o$ kno' as 'e!! as ( do) that can change.+ +=h) ( kno' that too 'e!!)+ Bi& agreed. +(.ve done it t'ice &yse!#.+ Bi& shr$gged her sho$!ders. +We!!) yo$ had better go get hi&.+ She s&i!ed 'atching >obin &ove to'ard !. +8ove. (t &$st be nice) #or so&eone.+ Shaking her head kno'ing!y Bi& 'a!ked to her 'ork c$be. >obin s!ipped $p 9$iet!y behind ! and %$st 'hen he had his ar&s highest above his head she goosed hi& vicio$s!y in the ribs. +=h shit6+ ! s'ore as he #$rio$s!y str$gg!ed 'ith the s'eater trying to avoid the ne2t pinch) the one he kne' 'as on its 'ay. +>obin6 ( kno' it.s yo$. Give &e a break)+ he p!eaded as he t$rned this 'ay and that hoping to th'art her. +Shit6+ he c$rsed as her hand darted in again. /e got the s'eater do'n over his head and his eyes 9$ick!y #o$nd her. She stood be#ore hi&) a s!ight b!$sh on her #ace. /e #o$nd her very attractive. /e !ooked 9$ick!y to see i# anyone 'as 'atching as he said) +( 'ish yo$ 'o$!dn.t do that. God ( hate that.+ >obin #!ashed a g!ea&ing s&i!e at !. /e s&i!ed 'ar&!y back. +0o$ !ove it and don.t try to deny it6+ /er voice 'as #i!!ed 'ith a !a$gh as she spoke. /e !oved to hear her ta!k. (gnoring the co&&ent ! said) +Get o$t o# here so ( can

do so&e 'ork. "his thing has got to go o$t today and yo$ on!y distract &e.+ /e tried to act &ad b$t the g!o' abo$t his #ace be!ied the tone. /e 'as a poor !iar. +(.!! !eave on!y on the condition that yo$ have !$nch 'ith &e. 3ea!4+ +3ea!.+ +(.!! be 'aiting) so don.t #orget.+ >obin t$rned and 'a!ked to'ard to her tab!e across the roo&. ! #o!!o'ed her #or& 'ith his eyes as she crossed the roo&. >obin e2changed severa! +Good &ornings)+ 'ith co-'orkers as she passed. She 'as 'e!! !iked in the o##ice. When he !ost sight o# her ! t$ned back to his 'ork. /e sat do'n) resting his e!bo's on the tab!e) !eaning his head do'n onto his hands. /e stared at the art board on the tab!e. +( hate this kind o# crap. (t.s not art.+ /e 'as 'orking on a ha!#-page &aga1ine ad #or a !oca! hote!) a 'eekend a'ay #ro& the ho$se package. /is tho$ghts ret$rned to the beach scene. /e t$rned the drea& over and over in his &ind. What 'as the point o# it4 With a great dea! o# e##ort he #orced his &ind onto the %ob at hand. nd then everything c!icked. "he ad see&ed to design itse!# and the &orning 'as over be#ore ! rea!i1ed it. /e !ooked at his 'atch? it 'as a 9$arter to t'e!ve. +Good)+ he tho$ght) +%$st in ti&e #or !$nch.+ "he hands on the 'atch b!$rred) then do$b!ed) then ca&e back (nto #oc$s) a sharp) crisp #oc$s. !.s eyes ro!!ed $p into their sockets and he #e!! o$t o# his chair to the #!oor

hapter % <ro& the t'enty-si2th #!oor o# =ne -ain P!ace yo$ co$!d see West 3a!!as and the "rinity >iver stretching o$t be!o'. -ary se!do& !ooked at the &eager strea& o# 'ater &oving bet'een the !evees. She sat at her desk) her back to the 'indo') her attention #i2ed on the !ega! brie# spread o$t be#ore her. "he o##ice door in #ront o# her opened and -ark Ed'ards entered. -ary noticed his entry b$t did not !ook $p #ro& her 'ork. +/e!!o there)+ he said s'eet!y to -ary. +/o' are yo$ this &orning4+ She !ooked $p 9$ick!y #ro& her 'ork to ans'er) +7$sy as he!!. /o' abo$t yo$4+ She 'ent back to the brie#. +We!!)+ -arked !a$ghed. +0o$ see& a !itt!e testy to &e. 7$t &e no') (.& %$st #ine) no' that (.& in here.+ /e 'a!ked aro$nd behind -ary. P!acing his hands on her sho$!ders) his th$&bs on either side o# her neck) he began to &assage. -ary.s head rose $p s!ight!y $nder the press$re and the p!eas$re o# the hands. /er body eased itse!# $p'ards too. +0es !) this is 'hat !i#e is s$ppose to be abo$t)+ she tho$ght as she pressed $p against the strong hands. +(.& sorry. ( didn.t &ean to so$nd so bitchy.+ -ary.s eyes c!osed as -ark contin$ed to kneed her neck &$sc!es. /e bent do'n and kissed her so#t!y on the back o# the neck. /is !ips &oved to her cheek. +3on.t)+ -ary said so#t!y. She shook her head s!ight!y #ro& side to side to stop his 'ar& !ips. /er eyes re&ained c!osed as she said) +( don.t have ti&e #or that right no'. (# ( don.t get this done be#ore !$nch ( 'on.t be ab!e to b$y

!$nch.+ +(.!! be happy to b$y yo$r !$nch 'hether yo$ #inish or not)+ -ark said as he straighten $p #ro& his kissing. -ary sp$n her chair aro$nd 9$ick!y) reached $p and p$!!ed hi& do'n to her. She kissed hi& s!o'!y) thoro$gh!y. "hen she re!eased hi& and s'$ng back aro$nd to her desk be#ore he had ti&e to react. +We!! no') -ary+ -ark grinned. +"hat.s rea!!y not #air is it4+ + !!.s #air yo$ kno')+ she said !a$ghing. +5o' get o$t o# here be#ore ( ca!! #or he!p. nd be back here at t'e!ve so 'e can go to !$nch)+ she ordered. +0o$ bet yo$r !i#e (.!! be here. ( !ove take charge 'o&en.+ /e caressed her neck !ight!y one &ore ti&e 'ith his #ingers then t$rned a'ay s&i!ing. Watching -ark 'a!k to the door a gri&ace took the p!ace o# the s&i!e on -ary.s #ace. + !! ( have to do is te!! !. "hen it.!! be over and ( can get &y !i#e back $nder contro!. 3a&n it !) it 'asn.t s$ppose to be this 'ay6+ -ark e2ited the o##ice and the door s'$ng s!o'!y c!osed behind hi&. -ary p$t head back do'n and 'ent to 'ork.

hapter &

! #e!t s$rro$nded by a vast spacio$sness. (t 'as da'n) t'i!ight %$st beginning to !eave the b!ack behind. (n the sky overhead no stars 'ere visib!e. "he air 'as heavy 'ith &oist$re. /e he!d a heavy piece o# &eta! in his hands. (t 'as co!d and da&p to the to$ch. 8o'ering it do'n onto his !ap he !ooked at 'hat he he!d. "here 'as %$st eno$gh !ight to &ake o$t the ob%ect. (t 'as a shotg$n in his hands. shotg$n6 (ts stock and #orear& 'ere Circassian 'a!n$t po!ished to a 'ar& g!o'. +Circassian4+ he 9$estioned hi&se!#. +What is Circassian 'a!n$t4+ (t 'as !ike one o# those 9$estioning tho$ghts 'ithin a drea& 'here yo$ kno' 'ho the person is in the drea&) b$t they don.t !ook !ike the rea! person. 0o$ %$st kno' they are one and the sa&e. /e shi#ted the g$n abo$t in his !ap. /is eyes #o!!o'ed the !ines o# the ha&&er !ess) do$b!e barre!. "he grip and #orear& o# the shotg$n 'ere sharp!y checkered. !ong both sides o# the grip there 'as a spade-!ike design set 'ithin another s!ight!y !arger device. "he b$tt p!ate 'as g$ttapercha. (t bore a checkered backgro$nd s$rro$nding a circ$!ar #ie!d. Within the #ie!d a spanie! he!d a bird in its &o$th. bove and be!o' the circ!e 'ere the 'ords +Parker 7rothers.+ "he t'o ten ga$ge barre!s 'ere 'orks o# art) +3a&asc$s+ barre!s 'ro$ght o$t o# the best 7e!gi$& &ade &eta!s. "he barre!s bore a tiny) over!apping) &$sc!e

shaped) seashe!! pattern. "he triggers and #ront sight 'ere tri&&ed 'ith go!d. ! sa' he 'ore !ight c!othing) a cotton shirt 'ith sti## paper co!!ar) knickers) vest and a %acket. =n his #eet 'ere heavy !eather boots topped 'ith canvas gaiters. s&a!!) 9$i!t !ined) 'oven hat protected his head. With the s!o' rising o# the s$n the &arsh!and s$rro$nding hi& ca&e into #oc$s. /e sat in a d$ck b!ind. Cattai!s stood stoica!!y bet'een hi& and the open 'ater. dense gro$nd #og b!anketed !arge parts o# the &arsh. ! #e!t a #aint bree1e #ro& behind. /e s&e!t the increased presence o# the ocean and breathed deep!y) ho!ding the c!ean) &oist$re !aden air in his !$ngs #or a !ong 'hi!e be#ore re!easing it. "he s!ight 'ind began to shred the #og. 8arge gaping ho!es appeared. "o his right ! heard the &$##!ed creak o# an oar. With the !ight increasing he peered into the dense #og covering that area o# the &arsh. "he bree1e to$ched the area o# #og and ripped a %agged ho!e in it? !eaving 'hite) 'hispery tentac!es trai!ing across the 'ater. =n the no' visib!e e2panse o# open 'ater #!oated scores o# 'ater#o'!? green-headed d$cks inter&i2ed 'ith !ight bro'n) pinstriped) b!ack d$cks) and a #e' geese. t the right edge o# the #og bank) a dist$rbance o# &otion ca$ght !.s attention. /e 'atched a dark) t$b$!ar pro%ection e&erge #ro& the 'hite c!o$d. (t gre' t'o #eet be#ore the bo' o# a ski## sho'ed. "he t$b$!ar pro%ection 'as attached to the ski## !ike a cannon. + p$nt g$n)+ ! said to hi&se!#) his third +$nderstood+ tho$ght. "he si2teen-#oot ski## &oved into open 'ater. "'o ro$gh g!ad &en) one near the bo' the other at the stern) sc$!!ed 9$iet!y to'ard the #!ight o# birds a!ight on the &arsh. S&a!! patches o# dis&e&bered #og #!oated abo$t the area. "he boat &ane$vered 'henever it co$!d to keep the satin vei! bet'een it and the birds. C$iet!y the boat &oved

in c!ose to the #!ock and bro$ght its g$n into a!ign&ent. "he &an at the bo' bent over the g$n. (t roared) thro'ing shot across the &arsh) and covering the 'ater 'ith a s$##ocating #og o# g$n s&oke. "hro$gh the th$nder o# the g$n.s discharge and its dense s&oke ! did not the kno' the #ate o# the birds. (t took severa! seconds #or the air to c!ear. -ost o# the birds had escaped &orta! in%$ry. score) or so) #!oated on the s$r#ace. "he t'o &en in the boat b$sied the&se!ves retrieving the #!oating bodies. +God da&ned &arket h$nters)+ a voice c$rsed %$st to !.s !e#t. t the so$nd ! !ooked and sa' the t'o &en seated in the b!ind 'ith hi&. "hey both he!d shotg$ns and 'ere dressed si&i!ar to hi&. "he &an nearest 'as dark) heavyset) se!#-con#ident !ooking. /e 'as c!ean shaved b$t had a deep b!$e tint to his #ace #ro& the denseness o# his b!ack 'hiskers. /e stood to peer over the b!ind at the &en in the ski##. /e sat back do'n and t$rned to !) +"hose &arket h$nters are going to r$in the h$nting #or a!! o# $s i# 'e don.t do so&ething to stop the&.+ +"hat.s right Char!es)+ the second &an assented in a high-pitched voice. /e 'as not &$ch ta!!er than the #irst) b$t thinner) &$ch thinner than 'hat !ooked hea!thy. "he s!eeves o# his %acket 'ere 'orn thin by his e!bo's. /is #ace 'as narro') 'ith a beak-!ike nose above a #$!!) drooping &$stache and a receding chin. +"hey 'i!! &ost certain!y r$in the h$nting i# so&ething isn.t done to c$rb the&)+ he said in a high-pitched 'hining voice. +Sh$t $p ,a&es)+ Char!es ordered c$rt!y. +( don.t need yo$ to repeat everything ( say. #ter a!!) ( have said it.+ +0es) ,a&es)+ Char!es ans'ered) nodding. + !)+ ,a&es t$rned th$&ping ! heavi!y on the back. +We.re g!ad yo$ co$!d co&e. <ine &orning isn.t it4+ ,a&es contin$ed 'itho$t a!!o'ing ! an opport$nity to ans'er.

+(t.s a&a1ing 'hat #o$r o$nces o# D2 shot 'i!! do to a #!ock o# birds) isn.t it4+ "he 9$estion 'as p$t to ! b$t Char!es ans'ered. +0es) it s$re is. "hat.s over three h$ndred #orty o# those !itt!e %e'e!s) drop %e'e!s that is)+ he added pro$d!y. +Sh$t $p) Char!es)+ ,a&es said #!at!y. Char!es sh$t his &o$th tight!y and !ooked o$t at the &arsh. +Char!es ta!ks too &$ch) he does)+ ,a&es said to ! in an $ndertone. + s ( 'as saying) 'e.re happy yo$ co$!d %oin $s.+ ,a&es sat #acing ! his hard #ace trying to !ook #riend!y. +(sn.t that a Parker 7rothers g$n yo$ have there4+ he asked !. +0es) it is)+ ! ans'ered. +Wo$!d yo$ care to see it4+ +5o) thank yo$)+ ,a&es shook his head s!ight!y. +(.ve got a / Pigeon grade Parker at ho&e. ( 'ent a!! the 'ay $p to -eriden) Connectic$t to get it. 7o$ght it #ro& the o!d &an hi&se!#. "he assho!e didn.t co&e o## a di&e #ro& the cata!og price either.+ +/o' &$ch 'as that4+ Char!es asked) ret$rning to the conversation on!y to provide the !ead #or ,a&es. +EFGG.00)+ ,a&es rep!ied. +( don.t rea!!y !ike it &$ch tho$gh) thro's a bit to the right. "hat.s 'hy ( carry this P$rdy. (t.s a better g$n.+ ! noticed the g$n ,a&es he!d. (t 'as an e2ceeding!y bea$ti#$! 'eapon 'ith handso&e 3a&asc$s barre!s and a de!icate #!ora! pattern engraved on the receiver. +(t.s a pretty piece)+ ! ackno'!edged. +( !ike it)+ ,a&es condescended) adding) +( !et Char!es $se &y 12 ga$ge S&ith since he o'ns the ne'spaper.+ "hey both !a$ghed $nti! they noticed ! had &issed the %oke. +3on.t yo$ kno' 'ho S&ith is4+ Char!es de&anded. +/e b$i!ds a!! those type'riter things.+ "he t'o again broke into !a$ghter.

a&es e2$!ted. (t 'as not !ong be#ore severa! birds neared the b!ind.s been a #ine &orning #or a shoot hasn. Char!es p$!!ed a second 'ooden ca!! #ro& his %acket and p!aced it to his !ips. Char!es) i# yo$ 'i!! begin. +"hose t'o are gone.a&es) then Char!es) bo$nded to their #eet and #ired. Char!es) #o!!o'ing c!ose!y behind . +Gent!e&en) gent!e&en) it.a&es s&i!ed.+ /e tipped his cap and started to 'ork his 'ay o$t o# the b!ind. -aybe 'e can get so&e d$cks no'. . >esting on the bench in the b!ind 'ith a s&a!! si!ver #!ask raised to his !ips) . "he &orning 'as sti!! very yo$ng) the s$n %$st #$!!y $p. (t 'as not !ong be#ore the #!ight o# geese !o'ered to'ard the &arsh.a&es stood and !ooked over the b!ind. +( hope 'e do this again soon. "hey sat back do'n and Char!es started ca!!ing again.a&es n$dged Char!es again.. /e had a ta!ent #or the device. 5either Char!es nor ! rose.t it)+ . gain and again the &en stood and #ired creating a &$ch greater !oss to the bird pop$!ation than the +&arket h$nters+ had done.+ When Char!es began b!o'ing into the d$ck ca!! it 'as obvio$s 'hy he 'as a!ong. +What abo$t a!! those birds4+ ! asked indicating the bodies #!oating on the &arsh. /e 'as a gi#ted bird ca!!er. "he birds 'o$!d arrive #ro& no'here.a&es as he 'a!ked) . ! #o!!o'ed their e2a&p!e. <irst . "hey a!! bro$ght do'n birds.a&es bro$ght do'n the !ead goose and the #!ight veered a'ay to sa#ety. .a&es !eaped to his #eet and #ired. "$cking the bott!e a'ay in his %acket pocket he n$dged Char!es) then !) and pointed $p into the sky. !o$d +ka-ronk) ka-ronk)+ 'ith the second sy!!ab!e higher pitched than the #irst) #i!!ed the air. "he geese 'ere gray-bro'n co!ored 'ith b!ack heads and a 'hite chinstrap. /igh above the &arsh a !ong :shaped #!ight o# birds 'ere visib!e. "hey 'ere no &ore than t'e!ve #eet above the 'ater 'hen .

ans'ered) +=h) those are %$st &a!!ards and tea! 'ith a co$p!e o# pintai! thro'n in.+ ! 'atched the& disappeared into the trees at the edge o# the &arsh.re 'e!co&e to . (# yo$ !ike goose.e&) yo$. (# yo$ 'ant .e&. . >ea!!y tho$gh)+ he added over his sho$!der) +that goose is the on!y bird 'orth c!eaning.

+3id yo$ ta!k to !4+ -ary. Shi#ting aro$nd he b!ocked any vie' into the booth 'ith his back. With his body t'isted in the booth) his !e#t e!bo' rested on the tab!e and his right ar& !ay across the back o# the seat. P$rsing . +We!! at !east ( kno' 'hat yo$ !ove)+ her !e#t hand &oved s&ooth!y #o!!o'ing the conto$rs o# her #ig$re do'n to her !ap 'here her inde2 #inger circ!ed #or a &o&ent be#ore it rose 9$ick!y back to the tab!e and toyed 'ith an e&pty g!ass. /e !o'ered his !e#t hand) resting it on -ary. /is eyes #o!!o'ed the rec!ined body do'n #ro& her #ace to the he& o# the so#t) dark b!$e dress ending %$st be!o' her knees.s eyes.s.t yo$4+ +0o$ have to say so&ething to the&)+ -ark s&i!ed.+ +0o$ say that to a!! the gir!s don. "heir backs 'ere to the door) their #ood &ost!y eaten.re right) yo$ kno')+ he agreed. -ary rec!ined in the corner o# the booth) e2tending her !egs o$t $nder the tab!e $nti! they &ade contact 'ith -ark. -ary &oved into the corner o# the booth and !ooked hi& $p and do'n) her eyes #i!!ed 'ith &irth. -ark sat his g!ass o# ice tea do'n and !ooked into -ary. "he resta$rant 'as not b$sy.hapter ' -ark and -ary 'ere seated in the back booth o# a barb-9$e p!ace on E!& Street near the o##ice. "he so#t inde2 #inger to$ched his !ips and rested there in a s$stained kiss. +0o$. +0o$ kno' that ( !ove yo$ &ad!y. -ost o# the !$nch cro'd 'as !ong gone.s knee.s hand &oved a'ay #ro& the g!ass. -ark 'atched its &ove&ent as it neared his &o$th.

"aking the paper she h$rried to her o##ice. -artin and that yo$ sho$!d ca!! her at this n$&ber. Co!!ins. +8et.t 'ant to think abo$t that right no')+ she said so#t!y. +Shit6+ -ary &$r&$red $nder her breath. +0es) &y na&e is -ary -artin and ( 'as given a &essage to ca!! this n$&ber abo$t &y h$sband !) !#red -artin4 What. She said it 'as so&e kind o# e&ergency 'ith -r.his !ips against the 'ar& #ingertip -ark !ooked at -ary. +7ay!or E&ergency >oo&) &ay ( he!p yo$4+ a 'o&an ans'ered.+ -ary nodded yes 'itho$t opening her eyes. 3ra'ing his hand do'n a!ong her !eg to the he& o# her dress -ark 'atched the ripp!ing e##ect his hand had on the #abric. /er head ro!!ed to the right and rested against the 'a!!.s !egs 'ere bare) so#t) and 'ar&. She #orced 'ords o$t) past her 'ooden tong$e. 8eaning back $nti! her head rested against the 'a!! she c!osed her eyes and shook her head !ang$id!y.c!ock 'hen -ark ret$rned to the o##ice. -ary. Seated behind her desk she p$!!ed the te!ephone over and dia!ed the n$&ber.s &o$th 'ent dry.s happened4 (s he . t the botto& o# the he& his hand s!ipped $nderneath. -ary. +( don..a&. +Were there any ca!!s #or &e) Sa!!y4+ +0es) -a.)+ the yo$ng b!ond gir! shi#ted thro$gh a s&a!! stack o# notes $nti! she #o$nd the right one) +a -iss. =pening 'ider) her !egs gave roo& to the hand $nti! it stopped in the &oist 'ar&th at the %$nct$re o# her thighs. -ary #o!!o'ed hi& by a #e' seconds.s get o$t o# here)+ he said h$ski!y..+ She passed the s!ip o# paper over to -ary. She p$shed open the heavy g!ass doors to the reception area and crossed to the receptionist. S!o'!y his hand s!id $p a!ong her inner thigh. "he hand !e#t his !ips and sett!ed at her side. (t 'as a#ter t'o o. "here 'as a ca!! #ro& a. +0o$r p!ace is on!y #ive &in$tes a'ay.

She gathered $p her things and h$rried to the door. 5o good deed goes $np$nished. ( co$!dn. +( kne' so&ething !ike this 'o$!d happen. +Who is this 'o&an4+ 5ancy asked herse!#. .s in the e2a&ination roo& right no'. +What.s voice 'as #i!!ed 'ith e&otion.s initia! concern #or ! 'as !ost in her annoyance. (.a!right4+ + !#red -artin) ho!d #or a &in$te p!ease)+ the 'o&an said. -ary gripped the te!ephone receiver tight!y.+ -ary h$ng $p be#ore >obin co$!d be rep!y.s she doing there4+ -ary. (n her best co$rtroo& voice -ary ans'ered s'eet!y) +"hat.+ +"he a$dacity o# this) this gir!)+ -ary snapped to herse!#. +What happened4+ -ary de&anded sharp!y.+ -ary heard an e&phasis on the 'ord +'ork+ that she did not !ike. +0es4+ -ary tensed. "hen she re&e&bered >obin. "here 'as a pa$se be#ore >obin ans'ered. (t opened as she neared it and -ark b!ocked her 'ay.t get a ho!d o# yo$ and ( didn. 0o$ did #ine and ( kno' ! 'o$!d appreciate it.s voice) it.+ +-rs. /er &ind raced to associate the voice 'ith a #ace. "he doctor said it 'o$!d be a 'hi!e be#ore he co$!d te!! &e anything. -artin4+ the phone ca&e back to !i#e.t co&e to i&&ediate!y 'e ca!!ed the a&b$!ance.s #ine >obin. -ary 'as instant!y annoyed by the tone o# >obin. >obin contin$ed) +When he didn. +"his is >obin Co!!ins #ro& 'ork) !. /er tone chi!!ed) + ! %$st dropped o$t o# his chair at 'ork and b!acked o$t. /e.+ >obin.s 'ork.t 'ant ! to be there a!one) so ( %$st did 'hat ( tho$ght 'as best and #o!!o'ed a!ong behind hi&.!! be there %$st as #ast as ( can.s concern #or !. very yo$ng 'o&an s&i!ing at everyone at so&e co&pany #$nction she had attended 'ith !. She breathed rapid!y thro$gh her &o$th s'earing at herse!# #or the !ong !$nch break.

Where is . -ary gave her a hard g!are. She t$rned at the to$ch and sa' it 'as >obin. +"his 'o&an)+ indicating >obin) +has a!ready taken care o# everything. (t 'as a short drive #ro& do'nto'n to the hospita!. "e!! everyone #or &e) okay4 "hat. +( hope he.s p!ace) her p!ace to be there 'ith !) not anyone e!se. She passed thro$gh the e!ectric doors and into the receiving area) h$rrying to the ad&issions co$nter. +So&ething has happened to ! and (.s head snapped aro$nd to 9$estion >obin.ve trans#erred hi& to a roo& $pstairs.a&)+ the ad&issions c!erk ans'ered.s.ve got to get do'n to 7ay!or /ospita!... "hey. She did not kno' 'hat to do ne2t.+ hand p!aced on her sho$!der interr$pted. +( co$!d sho' yo$ the 'ay)+ >obin o##ered her tone o# voice so#tening so&e'hat.s a!right)+ -ark ca!!ed a#ter her) b$t she did not hear hi& as she !e#t the o##ice.+ "oo &$ch 'as happening to -ary. .t ( need to #i!! o$t so&e #or&s or so&ething4+ She t$rned back to the co$nter. -ary parked behind the hospita! and h$rried to the e&ergency entrance. "he 'eather 'as sti!! 'ar& and da&p) 'ith overcast skies) b$t the 'ind had shi#ted to the north and there 'as a coo! s&e!! in the air.+ -ary. nd it 'as a!! happening too #ast and #ro& too &any directions. ! -artin) 'as bro$ght in ear!ier. +5o) -a. + !right)+ -ary ans'ered a !itt!e sti##!y) +b$t don. -artin) !.s regained conscio$sness and see&s to be okay... (t 'as a 'i#e.s s'eet)+ she said not 'aiting #or an ans'er. S$dden!y she 'as be'i!dered by a!! the events o# the day and 'eek. >obin ret$rned the !ook and said) +-rs. =$t o# breath) she said) +-y h$sband) .+E2c$se &e -ark)+ she s9$ee1ed past hi& thro$gh the door) kissing hi& !ight!y on the cheek.

+ >obin reached into her p$rse and p$!!ed o$t a 'a!!et. + ! is in 312)+ >obin said as she pressed the b$tton #or the third #!oor.s in here)+ >obin stated 9$iet!y) as tho$gh she 'as ta!king in the !ibrary. =h) yea.>obin ca!&!y ans'ered the 9$estioning !ook) +( #i!!ed o$t the #or&s so they 'o$!d start checking hi& o$t.& -rs. +"his is !. Co!!ins. "he doors c!osed and the e!evator began to rise.s 'a!!et into her p$rse as she h$rried to catch $p. +-rs. "'o corridors !ined 'ith c!osed doors branched o$t #ro& there. She opened the door #or -ary and #o!!o'ed her inside. nd 'ho) i# ( &ay ask) are yo$4+ . ( hope yo$ don. When it arrived they had it to the&se!ves.+ "he e!evator opened and the t'o 'o&en stepped o$t into a s&a!! #oyer #acing the n$rse*s station.+ 7e#ore >obin co$!d begin to correct hi&) -ary 'aded right into hi&) +(. ( a!&ost #orgot.s chart.s 'a!!et. +/e. >obin !ed her to a bank o# e!evators 'here they 'aited si!ent!y #or a car. "he te!evision set &o$nted on the 'a!! 'as o##. 0o$ kno' ho' they are at hospita!s. -artin) yo$r h$sband has been given a sedative. t the #oot o# the bed a doctor 'as 'riting in !.t &ind. !! -ary co$!d do 'as #o!!o') st$##ing !. -artin doctor. /e sho$!d s!eep #or severa! ho$rs no'. "he doctor spoke to >obin. 0o$ &ay 'ant to p$t yo$r ins$rance do'n too. "his is a #riend o# the #a&i!y) -iss.+ +( !isted !. (t 'as a s&a!! private roo&) the bed r$nning 'idth 'ise across the back o# the roo&) $nderneath a do$b!e'ide 'indo'. +"his 'ay)+ >obin said) !eading -ary pass the station and into the !e#t corridor) stopping at the third door. 5either spoke) they both tho$ght abo$t the others +!$nch. 7oth 'o&en stood !ooking to the #ront o# the car. ! see&ed to be s!eeping peace#$!!y.+ She handed the 'a!!et to -ary and began 'a!king do'n the ha!!. ( needed to get his Socia! Sec$rity #or the hospita!.s ins$rance co&pany #ro& 'ork.

!! be better ab!e to ans'er yo$r 9$estion. (t 'as a !ot !ike a trance.s rep!y. +Whi!e he 'as in the e&ergency roo& 'e tried severa! things to revive hi&) nothing 'orked. 8et &e e&phasi1e that) a co&a-!ike state.s b!ood tests and then &aybe (.s happened to hi& 3octor4+ +We don.+3octor . (# yo$ 'o$!d !ike to ca!! yo$r persona! physician that 'o$!d be #ine.& sorry 3octor. (. "he t'o 'o&en stood there #or a short) c!$&sy &o&ent be#ore >obin e2c$sed herse!#) +( g$ess ( need to get on back to 'ork and te!! the& that !. 5othing i&&inent!y dangero$s tho$gh.+ -ary.+ /e gathered his things together and then to!d -ary) +P!ease ask #or &e at the desk on yo$r 'ay o$t) 'e need to ta!k abo$t so&e other tests ( &ay need to r$n on yo$r h$sband be#ore 'e re!ease hi&. (s there anything ( can do to he!p4+ .+ /e 'aited #or -ary. (t 'as strange. 5o one o##ered her any co&#ort.+ /e !e#t the roo& p$!!ing the door a!&ost c!osed behind hi&.+ Peters stopped and !ooked at the t'o 'o&en #or a second be#ore contin$ing) +( need to check so&e res$!ts o# yo$r h$sband. She t$rned her ga1e do'n to !. Peters 'as in his ear!y #orties) bro'n eyes) thinning bro'n hair.a&)+ he ans'ered co!d!y. +What.& s$re that yo$ 'i!! do very 'e!!. /e s!ept chi!d!ike be#ore her.t rea!!y kno') -rs. /e. /e added br$s9$e!y) +( 'as on ca!! 'hen yo$r h$sband 'as bro$ght in. (.!! do anything ( can to he!p hi&.s tone trying to so#ten by the end o# the state&ent. () (. "his has been a great shock.t have a doctor. -artin. /is b!ood press$re had dropped) not drastica!!y tho$gh) and his heart rate 'as considerab!y s!o'. 0o$r h$sband see&s to have gone into a co&a-!ike state. She said terse!y) +We don.s okay. "hen he %$st ca&e to on his o'n.a&es Peters) -a.s %$st resting no'.+ Peters 'ar&ed to the s$b%ect and his voice and opinion eased to'ards -ary.

(t is a!right i# ( co&e back) isn.t think so.+ >obin.t it4+ + ny ti&e >obin. . 0o$. ( kno' ! 'i!! be happy to see yo$.+5o. 5o) ( don.+ -ary took >obin.ve been a !ot o# he!p. #ter >obin 'as gone) -ary sat at the #oot o# the bed and 'atched ! s!eep.s s$rprise sho'ed on her #ace) +We!!) that.s hand in a 9$ick handshake. /er &ind s'ir!ed 'ith tho$ghts o# !) -ark) hospita!s) and >obin.s okay) ( %$st 'ish there 'as &ore ( co$!d do.+ -ary stood $p straighter and !ooked >obin in the eye to say) +7$t thank yo$ #or 'atching a#ter !.

/e c!osed his &o$th) cocked his head a s&a!! a&o$nt to the !e#t and !ooked his 'i#e in the eye. "his is %$st 'hat ( need right no'.hapter ( +0o$ %$st can.t been 'ashed in a year.t be!ieve it)+ he contin$ed. (t 'as rea!. nd those +&arket h$nters)+ God it !ooked !ike their c!othes hadn. -ary sat in a chair p$!!ed c!ose to the bed. /is eyes !ooked #everish to her as he described the !atest drea&) hoping she 'o$!d $nderstand. 5o' she sat #ir&!y back into her chair as he ta!ked. +What is happening. /o' co$!d ( re&e&ber a!! o# that i# it 'asn.s hand 'hen he 'oke $p #ro& the sedative en#orced s!eep. +"he air 'as so #resh) the contrasts so sharp bet'een the birds and the &arsh.+ She s&i!ed at ! and #orced her 'ay into the conversation as &$ch to b$ttress her o'n co$rage as to ca!& hi&. /e 'as sitting $p in the hospita! bed !eaning to'ard her. +5o' dear)+ she said) !eaning s!ight!y #or'ard in her chair) +yo$ need to ca!& do'n) at !east s!o' do'n. She had s!o'!y 'ithdra'n her hand #ro& his as he 'ent on and on abo$t the d$ck h$nt. nd there 'e three 'ere dressed to a #a$!t.t rea!4+ . +0o$ %$st 'o$!dn. /e acts possessed.+ +=h &y god)+ -ary str$gg!ed to repress her #ears as she !istened to hi&.+ ! stopped) his &o$th s!ight!y opened) sho'ing the tip o# his tong$e. "hey 'ere no !onger in contact.t i&agine ho' rea! it 'as) -ary6+ ! e2c!ai&ed. 0o$ kno' it 'as on!y a drea&. +"hat. (t 'as 'onder#$!) %$st 'onder#$!.s not tr$e. She had been ho!ding !.

+ +( hope yo$. 0o$ &$st have read the& or heard the& so&eti&e in yo$r !i#e.t patroni1e &e -ary) (. ( &ight kno' o# so&eone 'ho co$!d he!p hi& 'ith it."he !ook he gave -ary 'as &ore #rightening to her than his 'i!d ta!k.t hesitate to give &e a ca!!.+ "hen he added) +(# yo$r h$sband sho$!d contin$e to p$rs$e this idea) his drea&) !et &e kno'. (.t !earn abo$t the& in a drea&.+ ! !ay back in the bed 'itho$t co&&ent. + ! can be very st$bborn 'hen he 'ants to be. /e. +"hat doesn. ( can on!y say that a!! o# o$r tests have sho'n nothing. -artin.& hoping that 'ith a !itt!e ti&e and distance #ro& the tra$&a o# the b!acko$t yo$r h$sband 'i!! a!!o' the drea& to beco&e %$st that) a drea&. /o' co$!d ( &ake that $p4 ns'er &e that6+ +E2act!y !) yo$ didn. 0o$ didn.t so$nd good at a!!)+ -ary tho$ght as she .re right)+ -ary said 'ith !itt!e conviction. +5o) they didn. P!ease take care.s #ine physica!!y. When 'e spoke) he 'as &ost e&phatic abo$t it. So yo$ &$st have a!ready kno'n those things. 3id those &en te!! yo$ abo$t the& in yo$r drea&4+ -ary &oved o$t o# the chair and onto the bed nearer hi&.+ Peters !a$ghed at that) +Everyone can be) -rs. -ary reached o$t a hand to hi&) he took her hand in his) b$t he 'as not thinking abo$t her. Peters and -ary stood in the ha!! o$tside o# !. 3r.& not a chi!d.+ +0es) ( kno'. /e kne' it 'as rea!. She pressed on reasoning 'ith hi&) +3ar!ing) drea&s can see& terrib!y rea! so&eti&es.t kno' anything abo$t the& b$t no' yo$ do. She 'as s$re he 'as !osing his ho!d on rea!ity.+ /e t$rned and 'a!ked brisk!y do'n the ha!! to'ard the e!evators.+ +3on.s roo&) +7$t 3octor) ! be!ieves it rea!!y happened to hi&. /o' do ( kno' abo$t those birds4 ( kno' 'hat kind o# d$cks 'e shot.t kno' anything abo$t shotg$ns.t. (# yo$ have any 9$estions don. nd those shotg$ns4 What abo$t the&4 ( don.

(n the three days he had been in the hospita! the "e2as 'eather had changed dra&atica!!y. -ary drove ho&e. .+ -ary !ooked at her h$sband. b!ast o# #rigid air near!y p$!!ed it o$t o# his hand.s get the he!! o$t o# here)+ he s'ore in a re!ieved voice. +-ary) !et. When they reached -ary. =n the gro$nd #!oor ! p$shed the heavy g!ass door open #or -ary. :irt$a!!y no one 'as o$tside in the 'eather as they h$rried to the parking to'er. <irst i&pressions are i&portant. +So&eone 'ho can he!p hi& 'ith it.s car on the third #!oor o# the garage) they #e!t #ro1en to the bone. +/e !ooks a!right)+ she tho$ght appraising hi& #ro& head to #oot !ike she 'o$!d a ne' c!ient.+ "he door to the roo& opened and ! 'a!ked o$t dressed in his s$it.'atched Peters !eave. +/e &ight even !ook better. Winter had arrived in the #or& o# an rctic #ront #ro& Canada 'ith near 1ero te&perat$res and thirty &i!e an ho$r 'inds.+ -ary s&i!ed at ! in agree&ent abo$t the hospita! and they 'a!ked to the e!evators. + nd ( hope ( never see the inside o# this p!ace again.


ve &issed beca$se o# !) (. +What are yo$ doing #or !$nch today4+ -ark asked cas$a!!y) b$t 'ith transparent &otive.s #ine. -ary no !onger en%oyed that trait. ! said) he did not 'ant to +'aste+ his evening +deve!oping contacts. "he chair 'as co&#ortab!e) the roo& 'as p!easant) and -ary 'as pretty.+ When ! re#$sed to go she 'ent 'itho$t hi&.s tastes 'ere si&p!e. -ark 'as reta!iation. t the party she &et -ark. With the co!d 'eather she 'as dressed in a !ong) gray ca&e! hair skirt and %acket 'ith a r$##!ed 'hite b!o$se. attraction to -ary 'as #or the obvio$s reasons) she 'as pretty and desirab!e. -ark. ! !ed his !i#e as he sa' #it and 'o$!d not !et anyone or anything a!ter its co$rse. =n!y nine &onths ear!ier -ary and ! had arg$ed over attending a co&pany party) her co&pany. /er arg$&ent 'as) he 'as standing in the 'ay o# her #$t$re advance&ents by his !ack o# respect #or her co&pany co&&it&ents.ve got eno$gh 'ork to keep &e b$sy #or a h$ndred !$nches. /er attraction to hi& 'as &ore co&p!icated.hapter ) -ark Ed'ards sat in the visitor. -ark 'as ta!! and handso&e) b$t she had not noticed hi& #or over a year) despite his atte&pts. -ary !ooked $p #ro& her desk) $ns&i!ing) and ans'ered) +(s that a!! yo$ think abo$t -ark4 With a!! the ti&e (.s party. -ark set si!ent!y across #ro& her #or a 'hi!e be#ore he said) +/o' is the o!d boy doing4+ -ary !ooked $p s$!!en!y.+ She !o'ered her head and res$&ed 'orking.s chair across the desk #ro& -ary. /e en%oyed sitting in her o##ice. Ed'ards. +/e.+ She pa$sed be#ore .

+ -ark 'hist!ed so#t!y $nder his breath) +So$nds !ike a good idea to &e. . +(. /e says the geese 'ere &igrating and 'ith the& and the d$cks in the sa&e p!ace at the sa&e ti&e) there.+ (gnoring the co&&ent -ary 'ent back to her 'ork.!! be gone #or a 'hi!e. +What a& ( doing4 Se2 is a!! this g$y thinks abo$t.+ She raised her eyes #ro& her desk b$t on!y as high as -ark.+ -ark did not see the pain in her eyes.s &o$th 'hen she ans'ered. nd he 'ants to see i# he can #ind 'hen and 'here it happened.s at the !ibrary4 (t is Sat$rday and he. We co$!d &eet so&e'here.s going to the !ibrary to&orro' to check his #acts on a!! that shotg$n st$##. +/e is so s$re its rea!) he.s on!y a #e' spots in the 'or!d it co$!d be.saying) +E2cept he thinks this drea& he had 'as rea!. !itt!e cra1y tho$gh.!! give yo$ a ca!! 'hen he !eaves the ho$se. /e 'as shocked 'hen -ary to!d the drea& to hi&.+ -ary stopped 'orking b$t did not raise her head as she debated the proposition.+ +/o'.+ +What drea& is that4+ -ark asked o## handi!y) not caring abo$t the ans'er) %$st carrying on the conversation.s he going to do that4+ +/e thinks he can #ind a date by 'hat the g$y said abo$t b$ying that shotg$n? and he p!ans to !ocate the area by the d$cks that 'ere there. -ark !eaned #or'ard in the chair and asked) +What are yo$ going to do 'hi!e he. nd ! %$st thinks abo$t his da&n drea&s.

=n!y #o$r years o!d) the !ibrary no !onger had a ne' !ook to it) a res$!t o# the !ong "e2as s$&&ers. "he !ast one had on!y &ade it #or t'o days. +Co&p$ters6 -aking o$r !ives easier)+ ! tho$ght to . "he architect$ra!!y receding #ace o# the eight-story b$i!ding re&inded ! o# eight giant stair steps.t be "e2as then 'o$!d it4+ Good 'eather had ret$rned. cross Ervay 'as the &ain branch o# the 3a!!as 8ibrary.t it be !ike this in the s$&&er4+ ! s&i!ed to hi&se!#) +(t 'o$!dn.! &ade a right hand t$rn into the parking !ot on the corner o# 0o$ng and Ervay Streets do'nto'n. "he high te&perat$re 'as to be near si2ty-si2) an +average+ day #or !ate #a!! in 3a!!as. "he !ight changed and ! crossed Ervay and entered the !ibrary #oyer. #rican &ericans) 8atinos) ng!os) &a!e) #e&a!e) 'ea!thy) poor) yo$ng and o!d. Co!d spe!!s se!do& !asted #or &ore than #o$r days in 5orth "e2as. design) 'hich had been #ostered on it by the arrogant!y %$tting #acade o# City /a!! %$st across 0o$ng Street. Why can. ! s!ipped &oney into the co!!ection bo2 o# the $nattended parking !ot and 'aited at the corner in the bright s$nshine #or the !ight to change. "he +ne'+ !ibrary had p$t its card cata!og and a!! the branch cata!ogs on !ine. "he F0 odd access ter&ina!s 'ere b$sy 'ith a cross section o# 3a!!as citi1ens. "he #e' ter&ina!s not occ$pied 'ere o## !ine #or technica! reasons. /e 9$ick!y crossed the distance to the e!ectronica!!y &onitored entrance ports and contin$ed to the card cata!ogAco&p$ter ter&ina!s. +3a&n) it is nice today.hapter !* Sat$rday a#ternoon %$st a#ter 1 P.

/e 'as not s$re i# the &an 'as 'asted on his pi!!s or trying to peda! the&.+ #ter severa! variations ! at !ast hit $pon the si&p!e entry +7irds+) #ro& 'hich he #o$nd a !ong !ist o# books sho'ing birds by each state. /e searched aro$nd a !itt!e $nti! he #o$nd the area 'here +shotg$ns+ 'ere #i!ed. /e sat at the ter&ina! singing !ight!y $nder his breath in a hip sty!e) + nybody got the& pi!!s !ike ( got the& pi!!s4 5o) no) nooo. 7oth o# his sc$##ed bro'n shoes had !arge ho!es in their so!es) the right shoe 'as b$rst o$t on the instep. /e 'rote do'n so&e o# their ca!! n$&bers and the #!oor n$&ber) the #i#th) +7$siness and "echno!ogy. "he &an. "he &an !ooked as tho$gh he had r$n short o# !$ck. ! tried to ignore the singing) b$t no' that he had heard a !itt!e o# the song it 'as di##ic$!t not to try and trans!ate the rest.+ !) $nti! no' concentrating on!y on the ter&ina! and his search) #ina!!y took notice o# a yo$ng b!ack seated at the ter&ina! to his i&&ediate !e#t.+ t that point the song !apsed into incoherent &$tterings $nti! he ret$rned to the chor$s o# + nybody got the& pi!!s !ike ( got the& pi!!s4+ /e acco&panied his singing by striking the keys on the ter&ina! keyboard.s socks) hanging !oose!y aro$nd his thin ank!es) did not &atch.+ "he &achine ca&e back 'ith +5o &atch. When one #ina!!y did he h$rried over and began inp$tting his s$b%ect &atter starting 'ith) +-igrating #o'!. With ca!! n$&bers #or shotg$n re#erence books) a!so on the #i#th #!oor) added to his !ist o# +bird+ books ! !e#t the ter&ina! and the babb!ing keyboard p!ayer behind. "here 'as a short 'ait #or an e!evator) then ! 'as 9$ick!y !i#ted to the #i#th #!oor. "he coat 'as dirty b$t not #i!thy.hi&se!# as he 'aited #or a ter&ina! to open $p. /e 'as dressed too 'ar&!y #or the 'eather. /e . !ong bro'n cord$roy coat covered a 9$i!ted greenish %$&ps$it and a dark b!$e ski cap sat on his head.

! 'as at a !oss as to 'here to start. ! %$&ped $p ecstatic 'ith this con#ir&ation o# his . +"hese are per#ect6+ ! took the books and headed 9$ick!y to the reading tab!es to give the& a c!oser !ook. nd ( kno' 'e 'ere near the ocean. "he price .a&es had 9$oted hi& #or that sa&e g$n.+ /e p$!!ed a co$p!e o# !arge to&es o## the she!ves and ret$rned to his tab!e. "here 'ere scores o# books o# a!! sorts on #o'!. ( co$!d s&e!! the sa!t in the air. (n one book ! #o$nd the state&ent) +Ga!veston (s!and) "e2as receives GIJ o# the &igratory birds o# 5orth &erica.scanned over the tit!es ignoring the 3e'ey 3eci&a! Syste&. /e #o$nd) as he kne' he 'o$!d) that &a!!ards) pintai!s) tea!s) and even . + h) this !ooks !ike the spot6+ /e p$!!ed t'o books o## the she!# and rapid!y #!ipped thro$gh their pages. /e #o$nd +"he 7irds o# "e2as)+ a book !isting a!! the #o'!) their areas o# habitation) and the ti&e o# the year that they 'ere present in the state. +3a&n6 ( kne' it) ( kne'6+ ! said e2cited!y. We!!) ( g$ess this is as good a p!ace as any. ccording to both te2ts that 'as the year the Parker 7rothers o##ered a / Pigeon grade ten-ga$ge shotg$n #or EFGG.drea&.+ ! 'ent back to the tab!e and 9$ick!y t$rned to the section on d$cks. +( co$!d spend the 'ho!e day !ooking thro$gh these. 8eaving the shotg$n books on the tab!e to ho!d his seat he headed into the she!ves a#ter the birds. +( kno' . Severa! peop!e near hi& gave hi& the sa&e !ook he had $sed on the keyboardist do'nstairs.+ With that in#or&ation he 'as back in the she!ves !ooking #or a "e2as bird !i#e book.a&es and Char!es 'ere &ericans.. "he cata!og search had been to get hi& c!ose. +( %$st need a good history book)+ he said $nder his breath as his ga1e ran over the tit!es. +"his has got to be the book.00. (t took ten &in$tes to date the drea&) 1HGG.+ With those #acts ! concentrated his search on the states that bordered the t!antic and Paci#ic =ceans) and the G$!# o# -e2ico.

Canada geese co$!d be #o$nd on Ga!veston (s!and) "e2as bet'een !ate $g$st $nti! pri!. +0es6 Every b!essed one o# the& are in Ga!veston.s 'ere 'e 'ere) Ga!veston) "e2as6 8et &e see -ary try to arg$e 'ith this6+ . "hat.

ve been doing a !itt!e Sat$rday ho$se 'ork. She stepped back to vie' her 'ork. -ary) 'a!king do'n the short ha!! connecting the bedroo&s to the !iving roo& 'as start!ed by the s$ddenness. (t %$st !ooks !ike (.+ -ary s&i!ed at the tho$ght o# her and -ark an ho$r ago. +"here) as good as ne'.& right here)+ -ary ca!!ed o$t.t s&e!! anything6+ With her ar&s pinned to the b$nd!e o# c!othes by the h$g) a!! -ary co$!d do 'as shake her body) t'isting #ro& the 'aist $p as . +-ary6 -ary) 'here are yo$4+ ! ca!!ed e2cited!y as he r$shed into the apart&ent. "he #ront door 'as thro'n open. +=h god) 'hat is he doing4+ she asked herse!#4 + nd these sheets6 ( hope he doesn. She picked $p the dirty sheets #ro& the #!oor and headed to the !a$ndry roo& beside the kitchen.hapter !! With a s!ight gr$nt -ary !i#ted the corner o# the &attress and s!ipped the end o# the #itted sheet do'n over it) then she !et the &attress #!op back into p!ace. With the end sec$red she #o!ded the sides o# the sheet $nder the &attress and p!aced the pi!!o's at the head o# the bed then spread the !ight b!$e goose do'n co&#orter over the !ot. nd ho' the bed had !ooked then. ! r$shed into the ha!! and e&braced her) sheets and a!!) cr$shing her 'ith a big h$g. With a co$p!e o# #anning 'aves in the air the sheet 'as spread over the bed. +(. She evened the overhang o# the sheet on both sides) !ined $p the top) and then t$cked the botto& o# the sheet $nder the &attress. She picked $p the #o!ded #!at sheet #ro& the nightstand and ho!ding onto one edge) she tossed the sheet o$t over the bed.

t even god da&n !isten to &e6+ -ary e2p!oded +0o$. (t 9$ick!y beca&e apparent ! 'o$!d not re!ease her $nti! he !anded a kiss on her? she a!!o'ed hi& to #ind her cheek #or a brie# &o&ent.s eyes 'ere bright) b!a1ing e&era!ds in sharp contrast to her red raging #ace.+ /e began to te!! -ary a!! that he had discovered corroborating his drea&.s not a !ot o# shit to &e? even tho$gh it see&s to be to yo$6+ -ary. Whi!e yo$.re as cra1y as everyone says yo$ are6+ With that verba! shot) .s a!! a !ot o# shit6 (t. +0o$ &$st have had so&e !$ck at the !ibrary)+ she said over her sho$!der as she entered the !a$ndry roo&.t care 'hat yo$ #o$nd . 5e2t second she 'as #ree and h$rrying to the !a$ndry roo&) c!$tching the sheets tight!y.ve been in the !ibrary #or ho$rs) b$sting &y b$tt) proving so&ething) #or yo$6 nd a!! yo$ can do is the 'ash6 0o$ can.& here taking care o# b$siness.t !isten to yo$. +0es)+ he began) then recovered so&e o# his prior e2cite&ent p$tting aside his negative tho$ght.s &y !i#e and that.s a !ot o# shit isn. /is e2c!a&ations 'ere interr$pted by the 'ashing &achine starting $p. +She %$st ran a'ay)+ he to!d hi&se!#. +What in the he!! are yo$ doing -ary4+ he de&anded. +(.she tried to #ree herse!#. So&eone has to do it) that. ! stood 'here he had e&braced her. +5o it.t it !4+ She #o$nd this !o$d e2change a better o$t!et #or her g$i!ty #ee!ings than a h$g and a kiss.re right) ( can.s not shit6 (t.re scre'ing aro$nd a!! a#ternoon) (.ca$se that.s &e) right4 ( don. + !) yo$r !i#e is i&portant to &e b$t i# yo$ think that this drea& is yo$r !i#e) then yo$. /e spoke !o$d!y) both #ro& e2cite&ent and to be s$re that his voice carried into the !a$ndry roo&.s i&portant) it. "he #!$sh o# his e2cite&ent 'as sti!! on his #ace b$t a h$rt 'as in his eyes. /is tone brightened) +0es) ( #o$nd everything ( 'ent !ooking #or. /e 'a!ked into the !a$ndry. /is anger b$i!ding) ! 'atched -ary add detergent to the &achine.

+ ! 'a!ked into the kitchen and sat do'n at the tab!e) c$pping his chin in his hands. +( can. +/o' dare he acc$se &e o# not caring6+ she said $nder her breath as she took a !arge drink #ro& the g!ass.she sto&ped o$t to the !iving roo& 'here she opened the !i9$or cabinet and po$red herse!# a !arge g!ass o# bo$rbon. +5o 'onder ( s!eep 'ith -ark.t be!ieve she thinks !a$ndry is &ore i&portant than &y !i#e4+ .

"he #resh sheets #e!t good to his tense) tired body. . -ary 'as never a'are o# his arriva!. /e s!id o$t o# the bed 9$iet!y and headed to the bathroo& 'here he s!ipped on his ho$se shoes and robe then 'a!ked to the kitchen to bre' so&e co##ee. "he &orning o$tside the door 'as bright and c!ear) the . ! #orced hi&se!# to stay $p and 'atch the #irst ha!# ho$r o# +Sat$rday 5ight+ be#ore he 'ent to bed. /is side o# the do$b!e bed 'as co!d as he s!ipped bet'een the covers.she 'ent o## to bed. S!eeping 'as a poor description o# !. What &ore co$!d he do4 "his 'as not the #irst ti&e he had asked hi&se!# that 9$estion. With the co##ee bre'er p$&ping o$t its hot 'ater and the cara#e receiving the dark) dripping !i9$id) ! stepped o$t the #ront door to retrieve the S$nday paper. (t 'as #i!!ed 'ith rea! drea&s o# his e2perience) te&pered 'ith the #ight that had occ$rred that evening.s night. /e tried to do 'hat he #e!t 'as the right thing in his &arriage and !i#e. /e a!'ays #o$nd the sa&e ans'er? he) !ike everyone) had to #o!!o' his o'n !ead and be!ieve in his choices) and te&per the& 'ith the re&e&brance o# his aptit$de #or error. /e 'atched te!evision and ate si!ent!y as -ary contin$ed to drink. t !ast ! gave $p 'rest!ing 'ith s!eep) it 'as si2-thirty in the &orning. /e co$!d not #or the !i#e o# hi&se!# #ig$re 'hy -ary 'as not &ore on his side.hapter !" ! &icro'aved a b$rrito ": dinner #or s$pper that evening.$st be#ore G P. Why 'o$!d she not be!ieve hi&4 /e 'as #ar #ro& a per#ect h$sband sti!! he #e!t that a 'i#e) his 'i#e) sho$!d s$pport hi&.

"he s$nshine #e!t good to !. +3id yo$ s!eep here a!! night4+ she de&anded.+ (t 'as sti!! ear!y and there 'ere a!&ost no cars on the streets as he drove. (t 'as past t'e!ve as he started $p the car.t care to start that a!! over again either. ! drank co##ee 'hi!e he bro'sed the paper.!! do that)+ ! said. + nd ( don. "he bars 'o$!d be open no'. She 'as sti!! on #ire #ro& yesterday. /e #i2ed hi&se!# a stack o# pancakes and bacon. +5o ( didn. /e rose #ro& the co$ch and headed to the bedroo& to dress. 7y eight o.t yo$ get o$t o# here and !et &e rest4+ +(. "he bar set katty- . /e 'ent into the !iving roo& and !ay do'n on the co$ch and #e!! as!eep. She s!ept #acing the door) !ooking tired thro$gh the di& !ight o# the roo&. /e c$t over to Greenvi!!e ven$e and drove $p +8o'er Greenvi!!e.s$n a!ready 'ar&ing the concrete street be#ore the apart&ents and the dark bricks o# their e2terior. :irt$a!!y every grass s9$are he!d a p!astic c!ad ne'spaper. 5o one e!se 'as visib!e as ! picked $p his paper.t)+ he shot back) #reeing his #oot #ro& her hand and sitting $p) staring into his 'i#e. "he ne'spaper !ay on the narro' band o# green grass separating the b$i!ding #ro& the street and broken reg$!ar!y by the side'a!ks c$tting thro$gh to the c$rb. -y head h$rts bad eno$gh no' 'itho$t ta!king to yo$6 Why don. "he broken p!ots o# grass appeared to ! as tho$gh they contin$ed on ever!asting!y in both directions #ro& his #ront door.s distorted #ace.+ +-e either. /e got a parking p!ace in #ront o# "he Sa!oon.c!ock his sto&ach 'as trying to digest itse!# and -ary 'as sti!! not a'ake. /e started to !ay back do'n then decided against it) thinking he &ight 'ake her. ! 'as a'akened by -ary shaking his #oot. #ter he ate ! c!eared the tab!e and 'ashed his dishes then he 'ent to the bedroo& and checked on -ary.

!! be da&ned i# (.corner across #ro& the +"he Greenvi!!e ven$e 7ar and Gri!!. ! 'aited a 'hi!e) 'hen no one ca&e to take his order he 'a!ked to the sp!it in the retaining banister and stepped do'n the eight inches to the !o'er #!oor.+ +Co&ing $p. <ro& this point he co$!d not see nor be seen #ro& the entrance. + #ternoon)+ ! said to the bartender) a stringy b!ond haired &an) abo$t #orty) b$sy 'ashing g!asses) his back to !. +What can ( get yo$4+ <rightening the bartender brightened !.t kno' anyone had co&e in. +>obin) this is !. +/e!!o)+ a ca$tio$s #e&a!e voice spoke. Sipping on the drink) he tho$ght abo$t this !atest #ight 'ith -ary and decided he had done nothing to ca$se it.+ ! sta!ked into the bar angri!y and headed to the raised section to the !e#t o# the tinted g!ass #ront. Was it his #a$!t he had a b!acko$t4 +(.& going to sit here by &yse!# a!! day. "he bar 'as to the right) abo$t ten #eet a'ay.i& 7ea& and Coke) p!ease. With a s&i!e he ans'ered) +.+ With the co!d g!ass in hand ! ret$rned to his tab!e. /e sat do'n at a heavy 'ooden tab!e p!aced in the corner created by the rear 'a!! and the restroo&s. When ! spoke the &an t$rned 9$ick!y aro$nd) near!y dropping the g!ass in his hand.s day. When he #o$nd one he 'a!ked to the 'a!! phone across #ro& the restroo&s and dia!ed a n$&ber.+ /e breathed heavi!y as he began to 'ipe at the g!ass in his hand 'ith the dishto'e!. (t rang three ti&es be#ore it 'as picked$p. .+ /e stood $p) set the g!ass do'n on the tab!e and r$&&aged in his pocket #or a 9$arter. +God da&n &an) ( didn. 0o$ scared the shit o$t o# &e. What are yo$ $p to4+ "he voice 'ar&ed $p i&&ense!y at the other end.

!! be there as 9$ick as ( can.s a!!. 3o yo$ kno' 'here it is4+ +5o) b$t i# yo$. Wo$!d yo$ !ike to %oin &e4+ +We!!) ( don.+5othing &$ch !. What is going on4 Where are yo$4+ >obin asked in ans'er.t kno'.+ . (.!! te!! &e) (. +=h) ( %$st had a #riend!y #ight that.& at "he Sa!oon right no'. What are yo$ doing4+ +(.& getting dr$nk.

hapter !# ! 'as b$sy !ooking at the botto& o# his second drink and did not see >obin $nti! she stopped in #ront o# the tab!e. She said) +/e!!o) !)+ in 'hat he took as a sed$ctive voice. /e !ooked $p and stared) not intending to) b$t her appearance 'as a happy s$rprise. /e had not been s$re she 'o$!d rea!!y &eet hi&) &$ch !ess be bea$ti#$! doing it. She 'as dressed in %eans) a 'estern shirt) %ean %acket) and 'ore a si&p!e pair o# open-toed #!ats. /er hair had a so#t 'ar& g!o' in it that carried over to her s&i!ing #ace. +3o yo$ &ind i# ( sit do'n4+ she asked) &otioning to'ard the chair opposite !. "hat $n#ro1e !. /e %$&ped to his #eet and b!$stered o$t) +S$re) s$re sit do'n. ( didn.t &ean to stare) ( 'as %$st a !itt!e shocked to see yo$.+ /e #$&b!ed his 'ay back into his seat as >obin took hers. +We!!) yo$ did ask &e to co&e)+ she said 'ith a to$ch o# a 9$estion in her tone. +S$re ( did. nd (.& g!ad yo$.re here.+ When he sa' her s&i!e at the state&ent) he re!a2ed a !itt!e hi&se!#. /e 'as not $se to this. +(t.s %$st that)+ he contin$ed) +'hen yo$.re #ee!ing sorry #or yo$rse!# yo$ a!'ays #ig$re that no one e!se gives a shit either.+ /e !i#ted his g!ass and #inished o## the !ast o# the drink. +"hat.s the basis #or the 'ho!e &oping process. Can ( get yo$ so&ething to drink4+ he asked be#ore >obin co$!d co&&ent. +0es) 'hat are yo$ having4+ ! to!d her and she &ade a so$r #ace) it &ade hi& s&i!e. +/o' abo$t a dai9$iri4+ he asked. +0es) that 'o$!d be good.+ ! 'a!ked over to the bar

and ordered. /e 'aited nervo$s!y 'hi!e the bartender #i2ed the drinks and then carried the& back care#$!!y to the tab!e. /e set >obin.s drink do'n in #ront o# her and rec!ai&ed his o'n chair. +Sorry) service is a !itt!e s!o' today)+ he s&i!ed. +"ending &y o'n tab!e today. 3on.t #orget to tip.K >obin took $p the co!d g!ass and) as she took a sip) 'atched over its ri& as ! took a big drink #ro& his. +/o' &any have yo$ had4+ she asked) resting her e!bo's on the tab!e) the g!ass c$pped in both hands %$st be!o' her &o$th. +"his.!! &ake the third)+ he said. +What.s happened4+ >obin asked) peering over the g!ass that she on!y occasiona!!y raised to her !ips. +5othing)+ ! rep!ied) his eyes dancing over the tab!e top) kno'ing #$!! 'e!! >obin 'o$!d never be!ieve that ans'er and #ee!ing chi!dish 'aiting #or her to 9$estion it. She reached across the tab!e and took his !e#t hand in her right and asked again) +What.s 'rong4+ ! !ooked $p into her #riend!y eyes and said) +(.& %$st tired o# a!! the shit) going to 'ork) &arriage) driving ninety &i!es an ho$r every'here ( go. ( 'ant to do so&ething 'ith &y !i#e. Earn a p!ace in the 'or!d.+ /e kne' he so$nded sorry #or hi&se!# b$t that 'as ho' he #e!t. /e 'as #r$strated. +3idn.t that so$nd corny4+ +5o) not at a!!. What happened4+ >obin asked #ir&!y ho!ding onto his hand. Sec$red by her hand he to!d abo$t 'hat he #o$nd at the !ibrary) -ary.s reaction) and their #ight) the !atest o# &any #ights in recent &onths. >obin !istened 9$iet!y to !. When he 'as #inished she did not disc$ss the &arriage) she ta!ked abo$t the drea&. >obin re!eased !.s hand) took a sip on her drink) and sat back into her chair. +3o yo$ think this co$!d be so&ething !ike reincarnation4+ +5o6+ ! 'as e&phatic. /e !eaned over his drink in a

state o# physica! and &enta! #atig$e) ca$sed e9$a!!y by 'orry over his hea!th) +.-aybe ( a& cra1y4.+? and his &arriage) +.-aybe ( a& a #oo!.K +5o by god) ( 'as there. ( 'ent back there 'hen ( 'as b!acked o$t. ( kno' ( did6+ /is gestic$!ations got o$t o# contro! and he knocked his g!ass over) spi!!ing o$t the !itt!e a&o$nt o# !i9$id that 'as !e#t. +Shit) !et &e go get a to'e!)+ ! said beginning to rise #ro& the tab!e. Grabbing so&e drink napkins #ro& the ne2t tab!e >obin began to c!ean $p the spi!!. +We don.t need one) this.!! get it.+ ! 'as g!ad to drop back into his seat. /e 'as not $se to drinking this &$ch. +(.!! go get another drink)+ he said 'ith a s!ight s!$r o# his tong$e. +0o$ ready #or one4+ +5o) ( don.t need another one. (t.s sti!! a !itt!e ear!y #or &e)+ >obin ans'ered in a kind) dip!o&atic voice. +( think it.s a !itt!e ear!y #or yo$ too. /ave yo$ eaten any !$nch4+ S!$&ped in his seat ! said) +( had a big break#ast) (.& not h$ngry %$st yet. What abo$t yo$4+ +( co$!d $se so&ething to eat and so co$!d yo$. 8et.s get o$t o# here)+ >obin got $p #ro& the tab!e 'itho$t 'aiting #or a rep!y. ! #o!!o'ed her !ead. =$tside the bar the a#ternoon 'as 'ar&) a!&ost hot. "he g!aring s$n) re#!ecting o## the street and b$i!dings) da1ed !) &aking hi& #ee! sick. /e rea!i1ed ho' dr$nk he 'as. +0o$r car or &ine4+ >obin asked. +(.& parked aro$nd on the side street. (# 'e take it) yo$.d better &ove yo$rs) they.re !ike!y to to' it a'ay.+ +8et.s take &ine)+ he ans'ered) +i# yo$.!! drive4 ( don.t think ( can.+ >obin !ooked at !. She had not rea!i1ed he 'as in that bad a 'ay. (n the s$n!ight she co$!d easi!y see the drink in his eyes. + re yo$ okay4+ she asked) taking hi& by the ar&) 'a!king hi& over to the passenger side o# his car.

+(.& a!right) %$st st$pid. ( sho$!dn.t drink in the &orning)+ he said as he !eaned against the car and p$!!ed o$t his keys. =nce he 'as sa#e!y seated in the shady #ront seat and the car door !ocked) he #e!t &$ch better. With his eyes c!osed) trying to contro! his sto&ach) ! #o!!o'ed the so$nds o# >obin circ!ing to the driver.s side and entering the car. /e #e!t the seat &ove as it absorbed her s!ight 'eight. 'ar& hand sett!ed on top o# his and she said) +0o$ going to be okay) !4+ +S$re) %$st drive)+ he ans'ered) b$t he did not open his eyes. >obin drove $p Greenvi!!e ven$e to -ockingbird 8ane 'here she t$rned !e#t and p$!!ed into a shopping center opposite the 3r. Pepper b$i!ding. She parked in #ront o# an E! Chico.s. She he!ped ! o$t o# the car and into the resta$rant. =nce seated >obin ordered #a%itas and co##ee #or t'o. She spent the ne2t #orty-#ive &in$tes getting ! to eat and sober-$p a !itt!e. When they 'ere #inished eating and ! 'as drinking his #orth c$p o# co##ee she asked) +What do yo$ 'ant to do no'4 re yo$ ready to head #or ho&e or 'hat4+ "he +'hat+ ca$sed ! to !ook $p into >obin.s 9$estioning eyes. /e co$!d see 'hat her idea 'as. nd he !iked the idea too &$ch to co&p!y 'ith it. /e 'anted to take her ho&e) to her ho&e) b$t he 'o$!d not. /e 'as not s$re 'hy. (t &ay have been -ary. &arriage is a &arriage and theirs. had &any good &o&ents) %$st not !ate!y. (t &ay have been he 'as a#raid o# >obin) a#raid o# another e&otiona! attach&ent. /e !ooked !oving!y into her eyes. +8et.s see 'hat.s on at the Granada)+ he o##ered. +So$nds good to &e)+ she happi!y) &aybe in re!ie#) ans'ered. +"hey.re sho'ing a 7ogart do$b!e #eat$re) +.-a!tese <a!con.+ and +.Casab!anca..+ ! paid the check and >obin drove the& back do'n Greenvi!!e to the Granada. She parked behind the b$i!ding. +"he -a!tese <a!con+ had %$st started as they took their

seats. ! and >obin he!d hands thro$gho$t the &ovie. So&eti&e d$ring +Casab!anca+ ! #e!! as!eep. >obin 'atched &ost o# the #i!& 'ith his head !eaning on her sho$!der.

hapter !$ When >obin 'oke ! he 'as e&barrassed. She to!d hi& to h$sh) she had en%oyed every &o&ent. (t 'as dark as ! drove back to 'here her car 'as parked. She s!ipped o$t the passenger.s side and c!osed the door. /e s!id over and ro!!ed the 'indo' do'n. +"hank yo$) >obin)+ 'as the best he co$!d say in the 'ay o# appreciation. + nyti&e !) anyti&e)+ she said. /e reached o$t the 'indo' and grabbing her hand p$!!ed her do'n to hi&. /e kissed her s!o'!y) thoro$gh!y on her so#t) 'ar& !ips. /e en%oyed it great!y) she see&ed to. +"ake care o# yo$rse!# !)+ she said as he began to ease the car a'ay #ro& her. +See yo$ in the &orning)+ she ca!!ed a#ter hi&. /e 'aved back in ackno'!edge&ent o# his having heard. >obin opened the door to her b!ack <eiro and 'atched a#ter ! $nti! his tai!!ights t$rned the corner. t ho&e ! opened the #ront door and 'a!ked into the dark ho$se. (t 'as a#ter e!even) he had been gone a!&ost t'e!ve ho$rs. /e 'ondered i# -ary 'as ho&e) he had not noticed her car in its $s$a! parking spot. s he headed to the bedroo& he decided he did not care either 'ay. "he night !ight in the bathroo& e&itted eno$gh !ight that he co$!d see -ary) as!eep in the bed. She 'as !aying on her side) her back to'ard hi&. ! p$!!ed o## his c!othes and c!i&bed into bed 9$iet!y. "he bed 'as so#t and co&#ortab!y 'ar&. -ary &oved s!ight!y to co&e in contact 'ith hi&. /er skin #e!t nice to the to$ch.

! beca&e sick. /e #e!t dr$nk again. With his eyes c!osed tight he #o$ght to keep #ro& e&ptying his sto&ach. /is head began to spin. /e opened his eyes to stop the spinning b$t it contin$ed) increased. /is eyes 'o$!d not #oc$s) his head sp$n too #ast. "here 'as a #!ash o# bright red !ight) he tried to screa&. (t 'as a hot) s$n shining &orning. "he 'ind b!e' brisk!y. ! !ooked aro$nd in 'onder) and p!eas$re. /e 'as standing on the broad) coarse p!anking o# a 'har#) dressed in a pair o# heavy) 'orn brogans) overa!!s) and a threadbare b!$e ca&bric shirt. "he ocean !ay be#ore and behind hi&. "o the !e#t and to the right) there stretched 'areho$ses) b$sy 'areho$ses. "here 'as an end!ess strea&ing o# &en and goods in and o$t o# the&. @sing handcarts) horse p$!!ed s!eds and 'agons) goods 'ere being h$rried abo$t. "here 'as a great dea! o# s&oke and stea& arising #ro& behind the 'areho$ses. /e 'a!ked a!ong the 'har# and ca&e $pon a s&a!! break in the !ine o# 'areho$ses. /e sa' a &$!tit$de o# rai!road tracks behind the b$i!dings. "he c$&$!ative b$st!e 'as dea#ening. "he 'har# stretched #or &i!es. =n the 'areho$se be#ore hi& ! read in !arge) 'ashed o$t red !ettering) +S&ith and Sons) E2portA(&port) Port o# Ga!veston.+ ! s&i!ed) he kne' 'here he 'as) he had been right. "o the ocean side o# the 'har# there 'as a #!eet o# ships tied-$p) either !oading their goods or $n!oading so&eone e!se*s. "he ships 'ere &agni#icent to see) so varied. 3ocked in #ront o# !) a three &asted schooner 'as taking on ba!es o# cotton. "here 'ere h$ndreds o# ba!es 'aiting to be sto'ed. 'ooden boo& 'as #i2ed on the cra#t.s deck to raise the heavy co&pressed ba!es. "hro$gh a series o# p$!!eys the rope #ed back to the ship.s 'ind!ess 'here #o$r &en s$pp!ied the 'inch.s po'er. =nce the cotton 'as hoisted above the ship) severa! hands g$ided it across the deck and do'n into the ship.s ho!e. (t 'as a %oy#$! e2perience #or ! to stand there in the &idd!e o# the b$sy

'har# and 'atch. !o$d stea& 'hist!e do'n to his right interr$pted. ! t$rned and sa' a stea& driven crane-hoisting cotton onto a stee! h$!!ed ship. ! 'orked his 'ay do'n the dock to'ard the ship. Standing tight-!ipped b$t s&i!ing he 'atched the &odern !oading o# a ne' ship. "he crane be!ched b!ack soot #ro& its stack as it roared back and #orth) &oving cotton ba!es #ro& the 'har# $p onto the ship. "he ship 'as severa! ti&es !arger than the s&a!! schooner he had been 'atching. coa! b$rner) it 'as taking in coa! at one ho!e on its deck 'hi!e !oading the cotton in at another. "he ship) the crane) the 'har# area ad%acent to it) 'as #i!thy 'ith soot. ! &oved do'n the 'har#. 5o one paid any notice o# hi&. "he 'har# 'as b$st!ing 'ith co&&erce. ! spent the ever 'ar&ing &orning covering the 'har# #ro& the So$thern Paci#ic >ai!road "er&ina! and its cotton co&press at the so$th end) 'here they took the ginned) deseeded cotton) and pressed it into the tho$sand po$nd ba!es #or shipping) to the north end) 'here he no' stood. /ere the 'har# 'as in disrepair and dis$se. =n!y scattered space 'as taken $p by ships and these 'ere s&a!! cra#ts the&se!ves in sad states o# $pkeep. "he 'areho$ses in the area 'ere &ost!y e&pty. "he area had the s&e!! o# decay. ! 'as 'a!king abo$t) observing) 'ith his hands thr$st into the pockets o# the overa!!s. "he c!othes 'ere 'orn b$t c!ean. "hey #e!t good against his skin. "he s$n 'as hot on his head and a s&a!! a&o$nt o# perspiration g!istened on his #orehead. "he rest o# his body re&ained coo!. "his part o# the 'har# 'as sti!!. 5o one 'orked) no one see&ed to even be aro$nd. ! neared one o# the 'areho$ses and began to poke aro$nd. /e stepped inside thro$gh a broken door. "he door had at one ti&e been over ten #eet high and h$ng on a track so it 'o$!d s!ide open or c!osed. 5o' it h$ng precario$s!y by one end and 'as broken in

t'o) the second piece !ying in the door'ay. ! 'a!ked care#$!!y into the !arge 'areho$se. (t 'as dark and coo! inside) the air #$!! o# a &$sty) dirt !ike odor. "he 'ind o$tside) 'hich b!e' s!ight!y stronger than it had ear!ier in the day) had no e##ect in here. Co&ing in #ro& the bright day!ight it took severa! seconds #or !.s eyes to #$!!y ad%$st. /e 'as in a great) e&pty roo&) the roo# at !east t'enty #eet above the s&ooth 'ooden #!oor. "he #!oor 'as covered in p!aces 'ith a #ine bro'n dirt) !e#tovers #ro& its occ$pation. "he roo# 'as corr$gated tin !aid on 'ooden %oists and ra#ters. "he 'a!!s 'ere o# si&i!ar constr$ction. =pposite the 'har# side o# the b$i!ding 'ere severa! doors hanging open) a!!o'ing sha#ts o# s$n!ight to !ight the edges o# the #!oor. "he s$n) as it !o'ered !ater in the day) 'o$!d #i!! the area 'ith its a#ternoon heat. "here 'as a s&a!!) $n$sed o##ice near the&. "hro$gh the rear doors ! co$!d see an e&pty rai!road car standing near and another car t$rned over on its side) b!ocking the t'in sets o# rai!s passing behind the b$i!ding. ! crossed to the trackside o# the 'areho$se. "he o##ice consisted o# a s&a!!) ten. by t'e!ve.) b$i!ding set inside the 'areho$se. (t had a #!at roo#. stovepipe e2ited #ro& the !e#t side and ran o$t o# the 'areho$se. "he $pper sections o# the 'a!!s 'ere g!ass. ! 'as c!ose eno$gh to peer into the roo& 'hen a #ace rose $p behind the g!ass and stared at hi&. ! near!y #ainted. +/e!!o there b$bba)+ the &an in the o##ice said) +Wo$!d yo$ have the price o# a drink on ya4+ "he voice so$nded s!ight!y &$##!ed co&ing #ro& inside the roo&. !.s hands 'ere in his pockets. "here 'as no &oney. /e shook his head d$&b!y no. +"hat.s okay)+ the &an said t$rning and &oving to'ard the o##ice door #ronting on the dock doors. +( got a co$p!e o# bits. ,$st tho$ght (.d ask) never h$rts to try.+ ! tho$ght abo$t r$nning b$t he 'as too #ascinated to do anything b$t 'ait #or 'hatever 'as to happen.

"he &an s&i!ed as he stopped be#ore !. /e 'as ta!! and thin. ! tho$ght he 'as dressed &ore !ike a co'hand than a dock'orker. /e 'ore heavy bro'n cord$roy pants) &$ch too heavy #or the 'eather that shined at the knees. pair o# 'orn b!ack boots covered his #eet and the 'oo! shirt he 'ore had been s!ept in #or severa! nights in a ro'. "he #ace 'as ang$!ar) c!ean shaved and happy. /is pa!e) 'atery b!$e eyes s&i!ed o$t #ro& $nder a 'i!d gro'th o# b!ondish hair that #e!! across his #orehead) despite the atte&pt &ade by a battered gray Stetson to keep it in check. ! kne' that here 'as so&eone to !ike) so&eone not to be a#raid o#. ! s&i!ed and stretched #orth his right hand in greeting. + ! -artin.s &y na&e)+ ! said p!easant!y) as he o##ered his hand. "he &an.s hand 'as hard) dry as a bone. !.s hand 'as s'a!!o'ed in its !argeness. +"hose that ca!! &e ca!! &e S!i&)+ the happy stranger stated &atter o# #act!y. +Pro$d to &eet yo$ !.+ +Watch ya doin. sai!or4+ S!i& asked s'inging his !e#t #oot back and #orth in #ront o# hi& in a chi!d!ike 'ay. Watching S!i& ta!k) seeing hi& kick at the dirt on the #!oor ! decided &aybe S!i& 'as a to$ch #eeb!e &inded. /e tho$ght he sa' a certain 'eakness in S!i&.s his eyes. +G$ess yo$.re a sai!or) !ook !ike one. 0o$ 'ork be!o' decks4 8ook a !itt!e pa!e #or a deck hand.+ +0es)... (.& a stoker.+ ! tho$ght it c!ever to thro' that in. +0o$ 'ear o$t a !ot o# g!oves4+ the happy) si&p!e voiced S!i& asked. ! 'as s$rprised at the 9$estion. /e tho$ght #or a second) #o$nd no reason #or the 9$estion and ans'ered) +5o &ore than the ne2t &an. Why do yo$ ask4+ +<ig$red yo$ &$st be hard on g!oves to be a stoker 'ith s$ch hands) so#t as a 'o&an.s.+ S!i&.s voice got a !itt!e drea&ing so$nd in it 'hen he ta!ked abo$t a 'o&an.s hand. /e stood !ooking do'n at his boots. <!$stered by his o'n ignorance) ! changed the s$b%ect)

+Why did yo$ ask #or the price o# a drink4 re yo$ thirsty4+ S!i& !ooked $p 'ith a broad s&i!e on his #ace. +(.& a!'ays thirsty)+ he ans'ered. ! !a$ghed and c!apped S!i& on the back. ! 'as happy. /e 'as in a 'or!d he !iked) and he 'anted to sho' it) to be !ike he a!'ays 'ished to be) #riend!y) o$tgoing) happy. +Sorry ( can.t b$y yo$ one S!i&.+ S!i& 'as p!eased by !.s gest$re. /e s&i!ed even broader) as tho$gh the s&i!e sho$!d #a!! o## the ends o# his #ace. +( got t'o bits. (.!! b$y)+ he pro$d!y boasted. +3on.t spend yo$r !ast cent on &e)+ ! started) b$t stopped 'hen he sa' the g!o' !eaving S!i&.s #ace. +=kay) b$y $s a drink)+ ! said &erri!y. "he happy !ook ret$rned to S!i&.s #ace. +8ead on.+ S!i& !ead the 'ay o$t o# the back o# the 'areho$se) across the r$sting tracks) and into an a!!ey that 'o$nd abo$t #or severa! h$ndred yards be#ore ! sa' a break in the s$rro$nding 'a!!s. /e noticed the 'ind had risen higher. S!i& !ed hi& o$t onto a shabby street covered in b!a1ing 'hite sand. "he a!!ey had been sand) b$t there had been grass and 'eeds and the shado's o# the b$i!dings to b!ock the g!are. /ere on the street) the s$n 'as b!inding) the heat sti#!ing as the 'ind 'as b!ocked o## by the b$i!dings on the north side o# the street. ! s!o'ed to shade his eyes. +S$n.s bad here a!right)+ S!i& said. "ho$gh shaded by the bri& o# his hat S!i& sti!! s9$inted thro$gh near!y sh$teyes. +/eard they 'ere gonna pave these streets.+ (t so$nded as &$ch !ike a 9$estion as it did a state&ent. +"hey sho$!d do so&ething)+ ! chi&ed in %$st be#ore S!i& grabbed hi& by the s!eeve and !ed hi& into a coo!) dark bar. When his eyes ad%$sted ! sa' that they 'ere in a s&a!! p!ace) no &ore than nine #eet 'ide and t'enty #oot deep. short bar co$nter ran a third o# the 'ay do'n the !e#t 'a!!. "he con#ines o# the p!ace bare!y a!!o'ed 'a!king roo& bet'een the three &en a!ready standing at the bar and

the right 'a!!. 7ehind the bar and above the !i9$or 'as a cr$de!y !ettered sign that proc!ai&ed) + &ericans =n!y 7ar)+ then in s&a!! !etters $nderneath it said) +5o !i&ys) or #oreigners6+ s they 'a!ked past the bar to the ro$gh 'ood tab!es in the rear o# the roo&) the short) #at bar keeperAo'ner) th$ndered his #ist $pon the bar) ca$sing the g!asses be#ore the three c$sto&ers to bo$nce. +0o$ there)+ he sho$ted at !) + re yo$ an &erican4 ( don.t a!!o' nothing b$t &ericans in here6 S!i&) yo$ didn.t bring a god da&n $ssie in here did yo$4 (# yo$ did (.!! thro' yo$ o$t 'ith hi&6+ "he !itt!e #at &an spoke too 9$ick!y #or either ! or S!i& to rep!y. When he stopped to catch his breath S!i& took the opport$nity to say) +Where.s ya ho&e !4+ +3a!!as) "e2as)+ ! boasted. +3a!!as &y ass)+ the #at &an said. +0o$ so$nd !ike a 0ankee to &e.+ +We!! (.& not6+ ! sta$nch!y de#ended hi&se!#. +"hey.ve got a !ot o# 0ankees $p there no') so ( g$ess they.ve r$bbed o## on &e.+ +( heard they had a #e' $p there)+ S!i& %oined. +Even i# he 'as a 0ankee) he.d sti!! be an &erican) <at.+ +( never co$nted 0ankees as &erican)+ the bar tender na&ed <at said. +7$t i# yo$ say they are S!i&) that.s good eno$gh. ro$nd on the ho$se #or 0ankees)+ <at be!!o'ed. "he &en at the rai! had paid no attention to the e2change. "hey had heard it a!! be#ore) <at.s 'ay o# 'e!co&ing a ne' &an into the bar and the e2c$se #or getting hi&se!# a drink. "hey p$shed their e&ptied g!asses #or'ard. +Whiskey a!! aro$nd)+ <at sho$ted as he po$red. /e p$shed t'o g!asses to'ard S!i& and !. ! picked his g!ass $p. <at said) + &erica)+ and ! #!ipped his head back #o!!o'ed c!ose!y by the shot o# 'hiskey. "he ra' !i9$id b$rnt the back o# !.s throat searing its 'ay to the pit o# his

sto&ach. S!i& p!aced his e&pty g!ass on the co$nter and #o!!o'ed it 'ith t'o nicke!s that he gent!y) !oving!y set by the g!ass. side. +"'o &ore) <at)+ he said in no 'ay o# an order. +G!ad!y S!i&)+ <at bea&ed 'ith p!eas$re) and his o'n !i9$or) and he re#i!!ed the t'o g!asses. S!i& nodded his thanks as he picked $p his drink. /e &oved to'ard one o# the rear tab!es) ! #o!!o'ed? <at pocketed the &oney) then 'iped do'n the co$nter. "he others there at the bar 'ere sti!! sipping on their #ree drinks. "hey 'ere in no h$rry to #inish) not kno'ing 'hen another one 'o$!d be p!aced be#ore the&. "hey took no notice o# ! or S!i& nor o# the !i#e o$tside the bar. "hey 'atched their drinks. S!i& did not do'n his bo$ght drink as rapid!y as he had the #ree one. /e sipped the !i9$id s!o'!y and !et it rest a great dea!. ! toyed 'ith his drink) p$shing the g!ass abo$t the tab!etop s!o'!y. /e 'as en%oying the at&osphere. /e g!anced abo$t the bar hoping to see a ca!endar 'anting to pinpoint the ti&e o# this visit. /e did not see one. /e !eaned back in his chair) p$!!ing the #ront !egs o## o# the #!oor to sho' he 'as re!a2ed here. +/o' do yo$ ask the date 'itho$t !ooking !ike a #oo!4+ he asked hi&se!#. /e tried severa! scenarios in his &ind. "hey did not 'ork very 'e!!. +/e!!) (.!! %$st ask)+ he decided. +S!i&)+ ! asked) +'hat day is it today4+ S!i& !ooked $p #ro& st$dying his no' ha!# do'ned drink and s&i!ed his broad) happy s&i!e) +/eck) ( don.t kno'. 5ever paid it any &ind.+ /e !ooked to'ard the bar and ca!!ed) +<at) 'hat day is it4+ "he #at &an 'as s'eeping behind the bar. /e stopped and said) +Why yo$ 'ant to kno'4 Got a date4+ "he &en aro$nd the bar cack!ed !ight!y 'hi!e S!i& b!$shed a hot red. +5o ( don.t)+ and then he pointed over to !. +Septe&ber the seventh)+ <at said #or !.s bene#it. +3o

yo$ 'ant the year too4+ he asked sarcastica!!y. "he &en at the bar again had a !ight !a$gh. ! sti!! sat back on the rear !egs o# his chair. /iding his e2cite&ent) he ans'ered back in the sa&e vein) +-ight as 'e!! thro' it in. See&s !ike they go better that 'ay.+ Everyone en%oyed the !itt!e e2change. <at) trying to &aintain the !ead) s'aggered and be!!o'ed o$t) +Septe&ber the seventh) nineteen h$nerd.+ /e stopped so s$dden. ! 'aited) e2pecting so&e &ore years to #o!!o'. +We!!)+ he tho$ght to hi&se!#) +( g$ess that year.s as good as any.+ "hen to <at he said) +"hanks <at) and here.s to yo$r hea!th.+ /e bro$ght his chair back to rest on the #!oor) picked $p his drink) he!d it #or <at to see) and pitched the contents back into his throat. gain the !i9$or b$rnt the back o# his throat and seared its 'ay to'ard his sto&ach. ! never #e!t it reach there.

hapter !% ! opened his eyes. (t 'as dark. /is head h$rt terrib!y. (t #e!t !ike so&eone had hit hi& in the head 'ith a baseba!! bat. /is te&p!es throbbed 'ith each beat o# his heart) the so$nd o# his p$!se #i!!ed his head. /e 'as hot) covered in s'eat. /e pressed his #ingertips to his te&p!es and pressed against the veins trying to stop the pain. (t he!ped on!y a !itt!e. /e sa' a !ight) the night !ight in the bathroo&. /e 'as in bed) $nder the covers? the centra! heating roared o$t hot air) -ary.s hot body !ay pressed c!ose!y to his. With his hands sti!! at his head he b!e' o$t his breath thro$gh his &o$th. +(.ve got to get $p and take so&ething)+ he to!d hi&se!#. /e #orced hi&se!# to !o'er his hands a'ay #ro& his head. /o!ding very sti!! he gent!y p$!!ed the hot covers a'ay #ro& his body. "he roo& 'as &$ch coo!er) it #e!t good to hi&. Easing o$t o# the bed) ho!ding his head again) ! &ade his 'ay to the bathroo& cabinet. /e had no tho$ghts o# 'here he had been. /is on!y concern 'as to c$re his head. +3a&n bo$rbon)+ he to!d hi&se!# as he opened the cabinet and searched #or so&e sin$s pi!!s. "hey &ight not he!p the headache b$t they 'o$!d p$t hi& to s!eep so he co$!d ignore the pain. /e #o$nd the p!astic bott!e and began to pry o## its !id. s the top ca&e o##) ! co!!apsed to the #!oor) hitting his head sharp!y on the side o# the batht$b. "he sin$s pi!!s scattered over the #!oor. ! stood #acing the beach) the ocean stretched a'ay inde#inite!y behind it. /e re&e&bered the bathroo& and his headache) it 'as gone. /is ti&e 'ith S!i& 'as no' a vivid

&e&ory. "he 'ind b!e' hard #ro& the north) %$st as it had ear!ier 'ith S!i&. (t 'as hot) tho$gh the sky 'as covered over 'ith a thick !ayer o# c!o$ds. "he ocean 'as a!ive 'ith !arge) dirty !ooking s'e!!s that ro!!ed in #ro& the so$theast. "he ocean !ooked a!! 'rong to !. "he at&osphere did not #ee! right. "here 'as so&ething in the air) so&ething 'rong. "he beach) the ocean) in #ront o# ! 'as e&pty. 5o one 'as abo$t. +7ad beach or so&ething)+ ! to!d hi&se!#. /e began to 'a!k to'ard the east end o# the is!and) 'here he kne' the city !ay. ! 'a!ked easi!y a!ong) above the ocean. /is ar&s and !egs 'orked s&ooth!y. /e breathed 'ith ease and #e!t 'e!!) the best he co$!d ever re&e&ber #ee!ing. /e !iked it here. =## in the distance he sa' a tro!!ey &oving) heading east'ard. /e a!tered his co$rse to intercept it. (t 'as a s&a!!) e!ectrica!!y po'ered) 'ooden tro!!ey) open to the air and e&pty save #or the driver. =n its sides it stated +7ath ven$e and 7ranch 8ine.+ "he tro!!ey stopped. ! stepped $p and onto it. +<ive cents) sir)+ the driver said. /e did not have any &oney) ! re&e&bered) as his hand p!$nged into his pocket. (t #o$nd a hand#$! o# change. stonished) ! 'ithdre' his hand) opening it to revea! a !arge gro$p o# coins. /e #o$nd a nicke! and handed it to the driver 'ho s!ipped it into his co!!ection bo2. ! !ooked #ro& the driver to his coin #i!!ed hand to his pants. /e 'ore a pair o# 'hite !inen pants that !ooked as tho$gh they 'ere part o# a s$it a!tho$gh he 'ore no coat. /is shirt 'as bright!y striped cotton 'ith a paper co!!ar. /e 'ore no tie. 7ro'n high top shoes and si!k socks #inished his dress. +(# yo$.!! take a seat sir) (.!! start $p)+ the driver said po!ite!y eno$gh. +=h) (.& sorry)+ ! &$&b!ed as he 'a!ked to the rear o#

the car. +Where 'o$!d yo$ !ike to go sir4+ the driver in9$ired) t$rning part!y aro$nd in his seat to !ook at !. +( 'as heading #or to'n)+ he said. + !right sir) to to'n.+ "he tro!!ey started #or'ard. ! 'as si!ent #or a !ong ti&e thinking abo$t his c!othes) S!i&) and the h$nters. /e had no idea 'hat 'as going on. Was it a past !i#e) reincarnation4 /e did not think so. "his 'as rea!. /e kne' that. "his see&ed &ore rea! to hi& than his o'n rea!ity. /e !iked it. /e !iked it a great dea!. (t 'as another 'ho!e 'ay o# !i#e. +3river4+ ! had to sho$t to be heard above the noise o# the 'ind and the tro!!ey. +0es) sir4+ the &an ca!!ed backed. ! stood and 'a!ked #or'ard) pitched abo$t s!ight!y by the &oving tro!!ey. When he 'as at the driver.s end o# the car he sat do'n and asked) +What day is it today4 (.ve kind o# !ost track o# ti&e the !ast #e' days.+ +3on.t 'orry sir. (t happens a!! the ti&e do'n here. 7y the ocean) ti&e passes di##erent!y. "oday.s Septe&ber the seventh.+ +Good)+ ! s&i!ed. +What year4+ "he driver t$rned in his seat to !ook at !. /e ans'ered) +nineteen h$ndred) sir.+ /e tho$ght that he 'as being kidded. +"hank yo$ very &$ch)+ ! ans'ered sincere!y. "his got another !ook #ro& the driver. ! began to en%oy the ride no'. +Sa&e day) sa&e year)+ he said to hi&se!# happi!y. /e re!a2ed and !ooked abo$t the tro!!ey. "he interior 'as 'ood e2cept #or the !eather handho!ds hanging #ro& the cei!ing) the seat #ra&es) and the brass hard'are. "he seat ! 'as in 'as backed against the 'a!! o# the car #acing the opposite side) 'hich he!d a si&i!ar bench a s!atted) hard 'ood bench set in a &eta! #ra&e. "he 'ood had at one ti&e born a high g!oss as evidenced by the s!ats. ends and a spot on each o# the

bench.s tops 'here the g!oss had not yet been 'orn a'ay by the passing o# hands. "he driver 'as dressed in a dark $ni#or& 'ith a short cro'ned) b!ack bri&&ed hat. "he cro'n o# the hat 'as dark b!$e to &atch the $ni#or&. /e 'as an o!der &an) did not see& too ta!!. /is b!ack shoes 'ere shined to a t'ink!e. "here 'as a great dea! o# gray hair in his short sideb$rns and a!so in the hair that sho'ed on the back o# his head beneath the hat. "he tro!!ey took a &i!d shake and began to veer o$t to'ard the 'ater!ine. Soon it 'as r$nning o$t over the ocean. ! had not e2pected this. +What.s going on4+ he asked e2cited!y. /e sat sti##!y $pright in his seat and peered an2io$s!y to his right and !e#t seeing on!y the ocean. "he driver said) +"his is the +7ath ven$e and 7each 8ine+ sir and that is the G$!# o# -e2ico.+ /e pointed do'n) not o$t. +0o$.re not #ro& aro$nd here) are yo$4+ ! tried to behave tota!!y $nconcerned. /e did not do a good %ob. "here 'as a crack in his voice 'hen he spoke as the tro!!ey rode #$rther o$t to sea) the dirty bro'n 'aves !icking at the thin rai!s he!d in p!ace on!y by 'ood pi!ings. +5o) (.& #ro& 3a!!as.+ +8ot o# dry !and $p there)+ 'as the driver.s happy co&&ent. /e en%oyed !.s case o# nerves. (t a!'ays happened the #irst ti&e so&eone 'ent o$t. ! tried changing the s$b%ect to ease his nervo$sness. +/o' co&e ( haven.t seen anyone o$t on the beach today4+ +"his ro$gh 'ater and 'ind is keeping &ost peop!e in)+ the driver said over his right sho$!der. +With the 'ater #$!! o# sand !ike it is &ost peop!e don.t 'ant to get 'et.+ +(s that 'hy the 'ater.s so nasty !ooking4+ "he tro!!ey 'as beginning to ret$rn to the shore no'. "he driver) again over his sho$!der said) +S$re is. ( heard that C!ine has a 'arning posted. 3on.t kno' i# that.s tr$e or not tho$gh.+

+What are yo$ ta!king abo$t4+ ! 9$estioned #orgetting to cover his #oreignness. + h$rricane 'arning)+ the driver said &$ndane!y. +(saac C!ine over at the Weather 7$rea$ says there &ight be a h$rricane co&ing.+ "he driver t$rned abo$t to #ace ! as the tro!!ey c!icked on its 'ay) +7$t don.t 'orry) it can.t be 'orse than the over#!o' back in .LI. "hat &eas$red eight point t'o #eet. -ost b$i!dings on the !o' gro$nd have been raised higher than that. 0o$.re not staying on !o' gro$nd are yo$4+ the &an asked very serio$s!y. +5o) no (.& on high gro$nd)+ ! said. +3a!!as is pretty high)+ he tho$ght to hi&se!#. "he driver had gone back to !ooking o$t the #ront o# the tro!!ey. +Weather can.t be any 'orse than it 'as in =ctober o# .HM. We had a big ga!e b!o' by on the thirteenth and then a cyc!one hit $s on the nineteenth. 5o' that 'as a &ess.+ "he tro!!ey shook and s'ayed s!ight!y as it ret$rned to #ir& gro$nd. ! breathed easier. (t !ooked to hi& as tho$gh he 'as in #or his #irst h$rricane. "he tro!!ey stopped and ! stood to e2it. "he driver t$rned and said good neighbor!y !ike) +5o' don.t 'orry none son. "hese things &iss &ore o#ten than they hit.+ +"hanks. (.!! re&e&ber that.+ ! stepped o## the tro!!ey and o$t into thin air.

hapter !& -ary 'as as!eep. She 'as co!d and had dra'n herse!# $p into a co&pact ba!!. 7eca$se o# the chi!! she #o$ght $p'ards thro$gh her s!eep to'ards conscio$sness. She 'oke $p. 'ake) b$t 'ith her eyes sti!! c!osed) -ary i&&ediate!y discovered the ca$se o# her chi!!. "he covers 'ere thro'n o## o# her. "hey !ay &assed at the #oot o# the bed. C$ick!y she sat $p) opening her eyes) and reached #or the covers. She p$!!ed the& $p and over her as she #e!! back do'n into the bed. She searched #or ! to sn$gg!e against. /e 'as not in the bed. /er eyes opened 'ide no'. +/e can.t sti!! be o$t4+ she asked herse!#. +What ti&e is it4+ -ary reached across !.s side o# the bed to the s&a!! a!ar& c!ock. She co$!d not read its dia! in the di& !ight #ro& the bathroo&. She t$rned on the reading !a&p above !.s #!at pi!!o'. +,es$s)+ she said !ooking at the c!ock. +<o$r-thirty)+ she e2ha!ed) e&ptying o$t her !$ngs so#t!y. +( hope the assho!e didn.t get hi&se!# ki!!ed in a car 'reck)+ she spoke o$t !o$d. "he tone o# her voice be!ied her act$a! 'orry. -ary ret$rned the c!ock to the tab!e. Sitting $p in the bed she passed her !e#t hand thro$gh her short hair. +-aybe the #oo!.s on the co$ch)+ she &$ttered. + !'ays inter#ering 'ith &y rest.+ She tossed the covers back a'ay #ro& her and got o$t o# the bed. /o!ding her ar&s to her breasts to retain 'hat !itt!e 'ar&th her go'n contained) she h$rried to the !iving roo&. When she t$rned the !ights on in the !iving roo& she sa' an e&pty co$ch. She !ooked into the other roo&s in the ho$se

'ith the sa&e res$!t. She 'as 'orried) and h$rt) and &ad as she ca&e back into the bedroo&. +Where is he4+ She i&agined tho$sands o# ans'ers to that 9$estion. (t 'as not $nti! she 'as near the bed) #acing the open bathroo& door) that she sa' a hand) pa!& $p) e2tending into vie'. +=h &y god6+ she cried r$shing to the door'ay. "here) 'ith a s&a!! poo! o# b!ood beside his head) !ay her h$sband. /is eyes 'ere c!osed and his #ace 'as a stark) b!ooddrained 'hite. -ary.s hands 'ere at her #ace) hiding &ost o# it. "hro$gh her hands she repeated) h$shed) +=h &y god6 =h &y god4+ She sa' a s&a!! a&o$nt o# b!ood on the edge o# the t$b. She 'as a a#raid to to$ch hi&. #raid that he 'o$!d be ice co!d. nd i# he 'ere a!ive) she 'o$!d never be ab!e to &ove hi&. -ary t$rned and ran to the phone by the bed. "here in the dra'er o# the nightstand she kept e&ergency te!ephone n$&bers. She #o$nd the 7ay!or /ospita! e&ergency n$&ber and dia!ed it. >e&aining ca!& -ary gave her na&e and address to the 'o&an 'ho ans'ered the ring. "he 'o&an asked #or the nat$re o# the e&ergency and -ary said) +-y h$sband has #a!!en and hit his head on the bath t$b. /e &ay be dead.+ "he 'o&an on the other end said that the -(C@) -obi!e (ntensive Care @nit) 'as on its 'ay. -ary h$ng $p the phone and !ooked 9$ick!y into the bathroo& be#ore going to the door to 'ait o$tside #or the a&b$!ance. She stood on the doorstep o$tside the apart&ent. "he door 'as open partia!!y and the e2terior !ight on. (t 'as a co!d) c!ear 5ove&ber night) te&perat$re in the $pper thirties. -ary 'aited bare#ooted in her ank!e !ength satin go'n. She did not notice the co!d. /er ar&s 'ere crossed) he!d tight!y against her chest as she stared do'n the e&pty street in the direction o# the hospita!.

"he #!ashing !ights o# the s9$arish) 'hite) van-!ike a&b$!ance appeared #ar do'n the street &aking a broad s'eeping t$rn to'ard -ary. She 'atched #i2ed!y as the si!ent !ight sho' &ade its 'ay c!oser. (t 'as not $nti! the t'o $ni#or&ed &en stood ta!king to her) there on her o'n door step) that she ret$rned to the scene. +0es) he.s in here6+ she said $rgent!y in ans'er to the ta!!er o# the t'o &en. 7ack in the rea!ity o# the sit$ation -ary r$shed to the bathroo& !eading the para&edics. When they sa' ! !ying on the #!oor the t'o &en br$shed past -ary and cro'ded into the bathroo&. "he s&a!!er &an dropped to one knee and p!aced a stethoscope over !.s heart 'hi!e the other stood peering over his partners sho$!der. strong +tha-th$&p+ ca&e thro$gh the stethoscope to the para&edic*s ears. +/e.s a!ive) !ooks !ike a possib!e conc$ssion 'ith shock.+ "he cro$ched &an spoke ca!&!y) a$thoritative!y. +Get &e so&e b!ankets)+ he ordered. "he second &an t$rned and b$&ped ro$gh!y into -ary as he r$shed to the bed and p$!!ed the cover o##. -ary stood back o$t o# the 'ay as he ret$rned to the bathroo&. "he s&a!! &an took the cover and spread it o$t over !.s cr$&p!ed #ig$re. "hen gent!y) care#$!!y) he raised and t$rned !.s head to e2a&ine the e2tent o# the c$t. "he &an t$rned s!ight!y to speak to -ary. "here 'as a s&a!! s&i!e o# 'e!! being on his #ace as he said) +(t.s a s$per#icia! !aceration) %$st a !ot o# b!ood. (t !ooks !ike he #ainted and hit his head. /e.s not an epi!eptic is he4+ "he h$ge re!ie# that co$rsed thro$gh -ary.s body prevented her) at the &o&ent) #ro& speaking. She shook her head negative!y. +Good)+ the &an said p!acing !.s head care#$!!y back onto the ti!e #!oor o# the bathroo&. /e reached into a shirt pocket and p$!!ed o$t a caps$!e o# s&e!!ing sa!ts and broke it. "he s&e!! o# the a&&onia 'as strong eno$gh to a'aken -ary) #ive #eet a'ay) as he passed it $nder !.s nose.

5othing. /e passed it $nder the pinched !ooking nose again. gain ! &ade no response. "he &an $sed his stethoscope and the strong heartbeat reso$nded to his ears. +Shit)+ he c$rsed so#t!y $nder his breath. +Wayne) get a stretcher) #ast6 ( don.t kno' 'hat.s 'rong b$t 'e got to get this g$y in.+ -ary stood da1ed as they !oaded ! care#$!!y onto the stretcher and h$rried hi& o$t to the a'aiting vehic!e) its #!ashing !ights rebo$nding o## the e2terior 'a!!s a!ong the street. "he rear doors to the a&b$!ance c!osed 'ith ! and the ta!!er &an inside. s the short one headed to the driver.s seat he stopped and asked -ary) +0o$ a!! right -a.a&4+ She nodded yes) sti!! h$gging herse!# tight!y 'ith her crossed ar&s as she stood in the co!d da'ning !ight. +We.re taking hi& to 7ay!or &a.a&. /e.!! be a!right)+ the para&edic said reass$ring!y. -ary kne' that they 'ere trained to ta!k that 'ay) reass$ring!y. She nodded her agree&ent. +3o yo$ have so&eone to drive yo$ do'n there4+ he asked. gain -ary nodded yes. +Ca!! the& then)+ he ordered as he %$&ped into the cab and headed the a&b$!ance a'ay. (t 'as -onday &orning. -ary 'a!ked back into the ho$se and to the bedroo& 'here she dressed. She did not kno' 'hat to e2pect. <irst there 'as !.s b!acko$t and no' this. +What.s going on4+ she 'ondered. She drove herse!# do'n to the hospita!.

hapter !'

t 10;0I - that -onday &orning -ary and 3r. Peters stood at the #oot o# !.s bed ta!king. Peters had trans#erred ! #ro& the e&ergency roo& to a private roo& a#ter he &ade his initia! e2a&ination. +(.& sorry that there.s so !itt!e to say at this ti&e) -rs. -artin. 0o$r h$sband.s vita! signs are a!! very strong and there doesn.t appear to be any serio$s da&age #ro& his #a!!.+ -ary 'as tired and pa!e as she !istened. She 'as dressed #or 'ork in a b!$eish gray b$siness %acket and skirt. "he opened necked) b$rg$ndy b!o$se e&phasi1ed the pa!eness o# her skin. She had taken the e2tra ti&e to dress #or 'ork a#ter the a&b$!ance !e#t that &orning. She had anticipated 'hat Peters 'as no' saying. +/e see&s to have ret$rned to that catatonic state he e2hibited previo$s!y. We.ve got hi& sched$!ed #or the co&p!ete battery o# tests again) starting in abo$t #i#teen &in$tes.+ Peters pa$sed in his earnest de!ivery and then on a &ore persona! !eve! asked) +What are yo$r p!ans) -rs. -artin4 re yo$ intending to 'ait here4+ (n a 9$iet) near &onotone) she said) +5o) ( tho$ght (.d go on to 'ork. ( can.t do anything here. "here.s p!enty to do there.+ Peters gave her a searching !ook. <ro& her tone he tho$ght she &ight be in shock) b$t a#ter a #e' seconds he decided it 'as %$st #atig$e.

+-rs. -artin) ( think that yo$ 'o$!d be &$ch better o## i# yo$ 'o$!d go ho&e and get so&e rest. (.& s$re yo$r o##ice can get by 'itho$t yo$ #or a short ti&e.+ +>ea!!y 3octor4+ -ary s&i!ed a s&a!!) ha!# grin !ooking &ore sick than a&$sed. +-aybe ( can.t get by 'itho$t it.+ Peters !o'ered his eyes and &ade no co&&ent to that. +P!ease be s$re and ca!! &e as soon as yo$ have any res$!ts)+ -ary said as she &oved aro$nd to kiss ! goodbye. +( 'i!! -rs. -artin. nd p!ease rest ass$red that 'e 'i!! do everything in o$r po'er #or yo$r h$sband)+ he added as she rose #ro& !.s bedside. -ary 'a!ked back to the #oot o# the bed and stretched o$t a hand to 3r. Peters. s he shook her hand she said) +( kno' that yo$ 'i!! 3octor. "hank yo$.+ She re!eased his hand and 'a!ked to the door. 7y ten-thirty -ary 'as b$sy at her desk. "here 'as a back!og o# brie#s she had to read be#ore passing the& on to the other !a'yers invo!ved. She 'as 'orking on the& 'hen -ark Ed'ards entered. +-orning -ary. >$nning a !itt!e !ate today 'eren.t yo$4+ Striding across the deep pi!e carpet to take his $s$a! chair) he never noticed -ary.s obvio$s #atig$e and distress. /e did notice her open necked b!o$se and the c!eavage it e2posed as she bent #or'ard over her 'ork. /e 'as co&#ortab!y seated and 'e!! rested be#ore -ary took notice o# hi&. +/e!!o -ark)+ she said 'ith no sho' o# e&otion. +(.& a !itt!e b$sy right no') sorry.+ She 'ent back to the papers on her desk. +"hat.s okay. 3on.t !et &e bother yo$.+ Ed'ards sat back in the chair and p$!!ed a cigarette package o$t o# his shirt pocket. "he pack 'as open. /e bo$nced it against his !e#t hand ca$sing the cigarettes to pop o$t e2act!y !ike in an advertise&ent. /e practiced this a !ot. With the cigarettes poised in the pack he !i#ted the& to

his &o$th) inserted the o$ter&ost tip bet'een his !ips) and p$!!ed the package a'ay) !eaving the !one cigarette ready #or !ighting. /e p$rsed his !ips to point the tip o# the cigarette to the cei!ing and $sed a go!d p!ated !ighter to !ight it. E2ha!ing a !$ng #$!! o# s&oke he asked) +/o' did that h$sband do Sat$rday4+ Ed'ards. s&irking s&i!e and !a$gh did not set 'e!! 'ith -ary) b$t she to!d hi& abo$t !.s #indings at the !ibrary. nd ho' he #e!t he had con#ir&ed his drea&. She &entioned the arg$&ent they had and #ina!!y she to!d hi& abo$t !.s !atest co!!apse. +"hat boy has rea!!y gone over the edge)+ Ed'ards b$rst o$t !a$ghing. Ed'ards. !a$gh 'as the !a$gh -ary #o$nd so a&$sing. "his &orning it 'as not very #$nny. -aybe it never had been. -ark did not see the change in her #ace 'hen he !a$ghed. /e paid &ore attention to the &ove&ents o# her breasts. -ary stood $p #ro& her desk. /er an2iety abo$t !.s hea!th and her &arriage) the #atig$e and stress #ro& the 'eekend) -ark.s attit$de and !a$ghter a!! these #ee!ings s$rged together. "hey ca&e to gather behind the her pa!e #ace) a pa!eness that 'as no' anger. +-ark) 'hy don.t yo$ get yo$r d$&b ass o$t o# here be#ore ( te!! yo$ so&ething yo$ rea!!y don.t 'ant to hear.+ She 'as death!y 'hite) her green eyes b!a1ed as she pointed to the door. Ed'ards at #irst s&i!ed at her) then he rea!i1ed she &eant it. /e took the cigarette o$t o# his &o$th and dropped it to the carpet. +S$ch as4+ he asked de#iant!y. +S$ch as) ( a& sick to death o# yo$ and yo$r s&irk. 0o$ think yo$ are God.s gi#t to both the !a' and to 'o&en. 0o$ r$n aro$nd this o##ice 'ith yo$r head st$ck $p yo$r ass and yo$r dick in yo$r hands 'hi!e other peop!e do yo$r 'ork #or yo$) &aking yo$ !ook pretty. nd s$ch as) ho' did (

ever &ake the &istake o# s!eeping 'ith yo$4 5o') get o$t o# here -ark. ( have 'ork to do.+ -ary said a!! this 'ith a vicio$s) s&i!ing de!ight) her eyes b$rning ho!es thro$gh Ed'ards. Ed'ard.s #ace #!$shed a dark red. /e stood $p in shock and &oved to the #ront o# the desk. /e rested his hands on the g!ass-covered top and !eaned #or'ard. +8isten -ary) ( don.t kno' 'hat this is abo$t b$t nobody ta!ks !ike that to &e and gets a'ay 'ith it. 5o &atter ho' good o# head she gives.+ /e g!ared at -ary 'ith a b!ind) ignorant hatred. -ary stared ca!&!y eye-to-eye 'ith hi& over her desk. +-ark) (.ve had eno$gh o# yo$. Get o$t o# here)+ she ordered. "hen she ca!&!y sat back do'n to 'ork. Ed'ards tried to g!are at her $nti! she gave in) b$t he never got her to even !ook $p. t !ast he str$ck the desktop a b!o' 'ith his #ist) sp$n on his hee!s and !e#t the o##ice) care#$! not to s!a& the o##ice door and dra' attention to his !eaving. When the door 'as c!osed -ary 'eak!y ca&e aro$nd to the #ront o# the desk and picked $p the cigarette b$tt. She s&ashed it o$t in the ashtray and co!!apsed into her chair crying. +What is going on4+ She cried) not beca$se o# Ed'ards or !) b$t beca$se o# her o'n #oo!ishness.

hapter !( -ary 'as b$sy at her desk 'hen the te!ephone rang. (t 'as %$st a#ter noon. +/e!!o) -rs. -artin4+ the yo$ng #e&a!e voice began. +"his is >obin Co!!ins. Can ( ta!k to yo$ #or a &in$te4+ -ary shook her head a !itt!e #ro& side to side thinking) +,$st 'hat ( need a#ter -ark) a hot !itt!e gir! #riend. 5othing b$t b$siness today #or !itt!e -ary.+ +S$re >obin) 'hat can ( do #or yo$4+ =n the other end o# the !ine -ary heard a short intake o# air then) +( 'as 'ondering i# yo$.ve heard anything #ro& the doctors4 When ( heard ! 'as back in the hospita! ( ca!!ed $p there b$t they 'on.t te!! &e anything at a!!.+ When she heard the desperation in the voice over the phone !ines -ary #e!t sorry #or the gir!. She re&e&bered 'hen she 'orried !ike that. (t see&ed ages ago. 0o$ get $se to things. +5o >obin. (.ve not heard anything. "hey 'ere s$ppose to r$n tests a!! day today and then go over the res$!ts to&orro' &orning. "hey to!d &e that physica!!y) ! see&s #ine and that ( sho$!dn.t 'orry. nd yo$ sho$!dn.t either.+ -ary 'as ab!e to e&pathi1e. (t 'as easier to shi#t her 'orries to >obin) to !et her concerns e2press the&se!ves that 'ay than it 'as #or her to 'orry open!y. +(t.s %$st so terrib!e)+ >obin said at a !oss #or 'ords. +0es it is)+ -ary agreed. +7$t ! 'i!! be okay. 3on.t 'orry. /e is to$gh.+ "hen >obin b!$rted o$t in a #ast) tight strea&) +-rs. -artin) 'o$!d it be a!right i# ( visit ! tonight4 0o$.d have to !eave 'ord at the desk beca$se he.s restricted to #a&i!y

on!y.+ be&$sed) ha!# sad s&i!e ca&e to -ary.s !ips. +(.!! be g!ad to te!! the& to !et yo$ in >obin. (.& e2ha$sted. (# yo$ co$!d sit 'ith ! #or a 'hi!e) (.!! go to the ho$se and try to get so&e rest.+ +"hank yo$ -rs. -artin6+ >obin b$bb!ed o$t. +( sho$!d thank yo$ >obin. ( hate #or ! to be there by hi&se!#) b$t ( %$st can.t be there a!! the ti&e. (.& grate#$! #or yo$r he!p. (.!! ca!! the& right a'ay. 0o$ be s$re and ca!! &e be#ore yo$ !eave there tonight) okay4+ >obin agreed. "he t'o 'o&en said goodbye and h$ng $p. -ary cried so#t!y to herse!# #or a #e' &in$tes. /ere she 'as he!ping another 'o&an to see her !. /o' had their &arriage ever gotten to this point4 nd -ark Ed'ards6 /o' co$!d she have ever invo!ved herse!# 'ith hi&4 7e#ore !ong -ary 'ent back to 'ork) b$sying herse!# in paper'ork. 7e#ore she !e#t the o##ice #or ho&e -ary spoke to 3r. Peters over the phone. +-rs. -artin)+ he said) +a!! o# o$r tests so #ar have sho'n negative. 0o$r h$sband did not s$##er a conc$ssion 'hen he #e!!) nor has he s$##ered any type o# ne$ro!ogica! da&age. /e contin$es to check o$t e2ce!!ent!y b$t there has been no change in his condition. /e sti!! appears to be in a co&a !ike state.+ Peters pa$sed 'aiting a co&&ent #ro& -ary) 'hen none ca&e he contin$ed. +-rs. -artin) there is the possibi!ity that this is not a physica! prob!e&) b$t a &enta! condition.+ +What do yo$ &ean4+ +(t is possib!e that yo$r h$sband is in a se!# ind$ced co&a) a catatonic trance. With yo$r per&ission) (.d !ike to ca!! in so&eone to e2a&ine this possibi!ity.+ +0o$ &ean a psychiatrist4+ (t 'as a very #!at) e&pty voice that ca&e across the !ine to Peters. +0es) &a.a&. 3r. -.". Wes #ro& "i&ber!a'n.+ Peters

h$rried on. /e 'anted to #inish his say be#ore the 'o&an b!e' $p and arg$ed against the psychiatric approach. 5o one ever 'ants to ad&it to the possibi!ity o# &enta! i!!ness in their #a&i!y. +/e is a very good psychiatrist and ( think that he &ay be ab!e to he!p yo$r h$sband.+ /e 'aited. -ary.s #!at tone ca&e across the !ine again. "here 'as no arg$&ent in it. +(# yo$ think this &an can he!p !) ca!! hi&.+ "hat 'as it. "hat 'as a!! she had to say. -ary said goodbye and they h$ng $p.

hapter !) So$nd. ! beca&e ac$te!y a'are o# the so$nds aro$nd hi&. !&ost beyond his !i&its he heard tra##ic. Cars approached and passed o$t o# his reach) an occasiona! horn inter%ected itse!#. <ootsteps near by c!icked sharp!y on an $ncarpeted #!oor. "here 'as the &$ted #!$shing o# a toi!et #ro& so&e'here behind hi&. /e !istened #or 'hat see&ed ages. /is body began to have #ee!ing in it. "here 'as no ting!ing or pain in his e2tre&ities) %$st a grad$a!) gro'ing a'areness o# their presence. /e &oved his #oot. + !6+ an e2cited voice said. /e !ay their thinking abo$t the voice. /is &ind 'orked s!o') b$t that did not anger hi&. (t 'as 'orking. s he searched #or a description o# the voice ! hoped it 'o$!d repeat itse!#. + !4 Can yo$ hear &e4+ "he voice 'as ca$tio$s) b$t $nder!ain 'ith tense e2cite&ent. /e co$!d hear her. "hat 'as easy. Who 'as she4 /e did not notice he had &ade the connection to a #e&a!e voice. /e ro!!ed his head to the !e#t and there 'as a s&a!! h$rt. ! raised his !e#t hand to to$ch it. "he voice !ost itse!# in %oy. + !) !6 "hank god.+ 7e#ore his hand reached the back o# his head ! 'as s&othered in an e&brace #ro& >obin. "hro$gh his s!ight!y opened eye!ids he co$!d see a d$!! redness. /e opened the& 'ider. >obin 'as !eaning over hi& ho!ding hi& tight!y. She had a &i!d) s'eet s&e!!. /e !iked it. 8aying on his back as she e&braced hi&) his eyes &oved a'ay #ro& her and abo$t the roo&.

/e 'as back in the hospita!. "hat 'as easy to see. (t 'as not the sa&e roo&. "he te!evision set 'as !o'er on the 'a!! and a di##erent &ode!. /e opened his &o$th and 'ords ca&e o$t. +/o' did ( get here) >obin4+ +=h !)+ >obin said) re!easing hi& and sitting $pright beside hi& on the bed. /er eyes 'ere #i!!ed 'ith tears. "ears o# %oy) #or hi&6 +0o$ #e!! and hit yo$r head so&eti&e S$nday night and !ost conscio$sness. =h) ( sho$!d ca!! the n$rse6+ she s$dden!y tho$ght. 7e#ore she co$!d reach #or the b$tton to ca!! the& ! said) +3on.t 'orry abo$t the&) (.& okay. What day is it4+ +(t.s -onday night)+ >obin ans'ered) $nco&#ortab!e 'ith not ca!!ing the n$rses. station. +8et &e ca!! the n$rse !4+ +5o) not yet)+ ! said. +(.& #ine) rea!!y. nd ( 'ant to kno' 'hat (.ve &issed. ( been o$t a!&ost a #$!! day then) right4+ + bo$t eighteen ho$rs)+ >obin s$pp!ied. +3o yo$ re&e&ber S$nday4+ she asked shy!y. +( re&e&ber o$r being o$t together. "hen ( 'ent ho&e and 'ent to bed.+ ! pa$sed #or a second then a great g!o' began in his #ace. >obin co$!d not be!ieve the change in hi&) the happiness he sho'ed. E2cited!y he ta!ked) +( 'ent back there again6+ +Went back 'here4+ >obin asked. +7ack to Ga!veston) Septe&ber L) 1G00)+ ! boasted pride#$!!y. +( to!d yo$ ( 'ent there the #irst ti&e6+ >obin nodded her head yes. She !istened) b$t she 'anted to ca!! the n$rses) or -ary) so&ebody. +( 'ent back there t'ice)+ ! to!d her. +(t 'as great) so bea$ti#$! there on the G$!#. 0o$ %$st can.t i&agine it >obin) yo$ %$st can.t. (t 'as ear!y in the &orning 'hen ( got there)+ he began to te!! her the #$!! story o# the visits to Ga!veston. >obin !istened 9$iet!y thro$gh the 'ho!e story) never co&&enting or interr$pting the ecstatic storyte!!er.

She did not kno' 'hat to do. She 'as a#raid to interr$pt hi&. +( got the date tho$gh didn.t (4+ the de!irio$s!y happy ! asked. +0o$ s$re did)+ >obin soothed. +Can ( ca!! the n$rse no'4+ (t 'as a!&ost &idnight. "he ta!e had taken over an ho$r in the te!!ing. >obin 'as near an e&otiona! co!!apse. She co$!d not be!ieve 'hat 'as happening) 'hat she heard. +S$re) ca!! the&)+ ! said) adding) +( 'anted to te!! yo$ 'hat happened 'hi!e ( re&e&bered. 0o$ kno' ho' drea&s can s!ip a'ay #ro& yo$ i# yo$ don.t &ake yo$rse!# re&e&ber the&.+ ! sat back in the bed. +0o$ had better ca!! -ary too) i# yo$ 'i!!. ( #ee! a !itt!e tired right no'.+ When she ca&e in the n$rse r$shed >obin o$t o# the roo& and ca!!ed #or the doctor. >obin ca!!ed -ary #ro& the n$rses. station. (t 'as %$st past nine o.c!ock. -ary 'as in the batht$b and had been resting there #or over #orty-#ive &in$tes. !! o# the prob!e&s 'ith !) his b!ack o$ts and their #ighting) her 'ork and -ark Ed'ards) they a!! see&ed better in the hot 'ater. She stayed deep!y b$ried $nder the hot) stea&ing bath 'ater. With on!y her &o$th) nose and eyes above the 'ater) she !ay 9$iet!y 'atching the stea& rising o## o# the 'ater. She on!y rose occasiona!!y o$t o# the 'ater to drain the t$b s!ight!y) &aking roo& #or #resh hot 'ater. "hen the doorbe!! began to ring. (t rang insistent!y. +3a&n doorbe!!)+ she s'ore sitting $p in the t$b. She 'aited) hoping the be!! 'o$!d stop. (t did not. +Who can that be4 (# it is a sa!es&an (.!! ki!! hi&)+ she said standing $p and stepping o$t o# the t$b. Water ran o## o# her body) poo!ing at her #eet on the ti!e. She reached #or her bath robe) a dark green terry c!othe thing and 'rapped it aro$nd her 'et #or&. -ary &oved s!o'!y) giving 'hoever 'as at the door

a&p!e ti&e to go a'ay. "he be!! contin$ed to ring. She headed #or the door. "he &oist$re #ro& her body &ade dark areas on the robe. She opened the door. (t 'as -ark Ed'ards) !eaning on the doorbe!!. +What do yo$ 'ant4+ -ary de&anded. +( 'ant to ta!k to yo$)+ Ed'ards ans'ered. "here 'as a!coho! on his breath. +( !ove yo$ -ary.+ +0o$.re dr$nk and ( have nothing to say to yo$)+ she spat back. + nd it.s !ate. So get o$t o# here)+ she ordered. Ed'ards !ost his re!a2ed stance. /e straightened $p) +5obody ta!ks to &e !ike yo$ did today. 5obody d$&ps &e !ike that either6 0o$.!! ta!k to &e and !ike it6+ /e p$shed past -ary and 'a!ked into the !iving roo&. +With Pa!sy !sy o$t o# the 'ay in the hospita! ( tho$ght yo$ and ( co$!d pick$p 'here 'e !e#t o## Sat$rday.+ Ed'ards. speech s!$rred as he dropped heavi!y onto the co$ch. /e !eaned back breathing !o$d!y thro$gh his &o$th and stretched one ar& o$t a!ong the back o# the co$ch. /e crossed his right !eg over the !e#t) his ank!e resting on the knee. -ary had never seen -ark !ike this. /e 'as disg$sting. She re&ained at the open door. +Get o$t o# here yo$ bastard6+ she s'ore vicio$s!y. +"sk) tsk)+ Ed'ards &ocked. + !ady sho$!dn.t ta!k !ike that dearest. 7$t yo$ aren.t a !ady are yo$.+ /e patted the spot on the co$ch beside hi&. +Set do'n and be #riend!y -ary. 0o$.re too good o# a !ay to 'a!k o$t on.+ /e s&i!ed $p to her thro$gh g!assy eyes. "here 'as a br$tishness in his #ace she had never seen be#ore. +(# yo$ don.t !eave (.!! ca!! the po!ice and have yo$ thro'n o$t6 5o' get o$t o# here6+ Ed'ards !ooked aro$nd the apart&ent as i# it 'ere an a$dience and shr$gged his sho$!ders) he s!o'!y raised his !arge #or& o## o# the co$ch and 'a!ked to the door. -ary stepped back to !et hi& pass.

/e stopped in #ront o# her and 'ith a 'hiskey breath said) +/o' abo$t a good night kiss) babe4+ /e reached o$t and p$!!ed her to hi&) pressing her tight!y against his #ra&e) tight eno$gh to #ee! every c$rve o# her very #a&i!iar body. She str$ck at hi& b$t the b!o' had no e##ect. /is right hand grabbed her head) #i!!ing his #ist 'ith her hair. /e he!d her body ta$t against his. Ed'ards !oved co&&anding. /e p$!!ed do'n on the hair) #orced her #ace $p'ard) 'here he covered her &o$th 'ith his open) 'et !ips. -ary spit into his &o$th. -ark.s head snapped back. @sing on!y the hand #i!!ed 'ith hair) he thre' her to the #!oor. +5obody #$cks 'ith &e c$nt6 Who do yo$ think yo$ are4 3o yo$ think yo$ are so&eone specia!4+ /e &oved c!oser. /e stopped and !ooked do'n at her) +(.!! be back bitch6+ -ary 'as abo$t to screa& #or he!p 'hen he stepped o$tside and !e#t. <ro& her knees -ary s'$ng the door c!osed. (n tears and #ro1en in the co!d) 'et robe she 'ent over to the !i9$or cabinet and po$red herse!# a !arge shot o# bo$rbon. She drank 9$ick!y) c!$tching the g!ass in both hands. "he b$rning 'hiskey gave her the #ire to ret$rn to the bathroo& 'here she stripped o## the robe and took a hot sho'er) trying to 'ash a'ay -ark Ed'ards) a!! the 'hi!e saying to herse!#) +0o$ #oo!6 0o$ da&n !itt!e #oo!6+

hapter "* "he hot sho'er and then a second drink &ade -ary #ee! &$ch better. She sat in bed 'ith the covers dra'n c!ose aro$nd her. n $nopened Steven Bing book !ay beside her. She stared at the 'a!!) 'ishing she co$!d te!! so&eone abo$t Ed'ards. What co$!d she do4 She had been 9$ite the #oo! !ate!y and no' she had the piper to pay. "he te!ephone rang) breaking her trance. +God) ( hope it.s not that dr$nk again.+ +/e!!o)+ she spoke co!d!y into the receiver. +-rs. -artin4+ the ca!!er asked. +"his is >obin Co!!ins) -rs. -artin. ( hope ( didn.t 'ake yo$4+ "he sing!e tho$ght) + !6+ s$rged thro$gh -ary. "hen she said) +"hat.s okay >obin. ( 'as a'ake. What.s 'rong4 (s ! okay4+ -ary 'as s$dden!y #rantic 'ith #right. +Everything.s #ine -rs. -artin6 ! 'oke $p a !itt!e 'hi!e ago6 "he doctor ran &e o$t. /e.s in there right no' 'ith !.+ -ary.s #right b$rst into happiness. +/e.s a!right then4 God) (.& g!ad to hear that6 "hat.s the best ne's (.ve heard in ages.+ She bo'ed her head do'n onto her chest #ighting back tears. +-rs. -artin4+ +0es4+ +"hey to!d &e yo$ sho$!dn.t co&e $p here right no'. "hey 'ant to r$n so&e &ore tests) and that &ight take ti!! &orning they said. 3r. Peters said there 'as rea!!y no reason #or yo$ to co&e be#ore noon $n!ess yo$ !ike sitting in hospita!s.+ +"hat.s #ine) that.s great.+ -ary 'as so re!ieved and

happy. +>ight no' even sitting in the hospita! so$nds !ike #$n6 "hank yo$ #or ca!!ing >obin. ( rea!!y appreciate a!! the he!p yo$.ve given &e.+ +(t.s &y p!eas$re -rs. -artin.+ -ary started to ask >obin to ca!! her -ary b$t she s$dden!y tho$ght better o# it. -aybe it 'as better to keep the re!ationship 'ith >obin on a &ore #or&a! note $nti! ! 'as o$t o# tro$b!e) then &aybe) things co$!d be straightened o$t. + re yo$ staying $p there any !onger4+ -ary asked. +5o. ( can.t see ! so ( g$ess (.!! go on ho&e.+ +( rea!!y do thank yo$ >obin)+ -ary o##ered sincere!y. +0o$.re 'e!co&e. ( %$st 'ant to he!p ! yo$ kno'4+ +( kno' >obin.+ -ary 'as not s$re ho') or i#) she and >obin had co&e to an $nderstanding over !) b$t she #e!t she had so&eone she co$!d tr$st) at !east in so&e &atters. "hey said good night to each other and h$ng $p. -ary sat $p a !itt!e !onger thinking things over be#ore she t$rned o$t the !ights. !! the 'ay ho&e >obin asked herse!# 'hy she had not &entioned !.s story to -ary. She #ina!!y rea!i1ed she en%oyed having !.s secret con#idence.

hapter "! ! 'as re!eased "$esday a#ternoon. -ary drove hi& ho&e and then she ret$rned to 'ork. /e spent the a#ternoon 'atching te!evision and daydrea&ing. /e co$!d not stop thinking abo$t Ga!veston. ! had s$pper #i2ed 'hen -ary got ho&e) broi!ed ribeye steak) baked potatoes) #resh peas) and !.s specia!ty) #ried app!es. "he tab!e 'as set 'hen she entered the door. +=h) !. ( tho$ght 'e co$!d go o$t #or s$pper. 0o$ sho$!d have rested)+ she !a$ghing!y reb$ked hi&. +( get tired o# eating o$t)+ he said. +5o' 'ash $p so 'e can eat.+ /e shooed her to'ards the bathroo&. "hey ate 9$iet!y) &aking on!y a !itt!e s&a!! ta!k $nti! -ary asked) +3id yo$ ca!! and &ake an appoint&ent 'ith 3r. Wes4+ She did not !ook at ! 'hen she spoke. ! set his #ork do'n on his p!ate. /is &ea! 'as on!y ha!# eaten) sti!! he p$shed the p!ate a'ay #ro& hi&. /e !aid his napkin do'n covering the p!ate. +( g$ess it starts no'4 ( didn.t ca!! hi&.+ +What starts4+ -ary asked) naive !ike. +"he shit6+ ! said harsh!y) e&phasi1ing the pron$nciation o# his 'ords. +0o$ don.t be!ieve a 'ord o# 'hat ( say. 0o$ think (.& n$ts6+ -ary contin$ed to eat as tho$gh nothing 'as going on. (t 'as not easy. +( don.t think yo$.re cra1y !)+ she did not !ook at hi& as she ta!ked. +3r. Peters thinks 3r. Wes can he!p stop yo$r b!acko$ts. 0o$ 'ant that don.t yo$4+ She raised her eyes to see his reaction to that. +( don.t kno') &aybe not rea!!y)+ he said $ncertain!y. +( don.t !ike being sick)+ he #ro'ned as he ta!ked &ore to

hi&se!# than to -ary) +7$t ( #ee! #ine right no' and Ga!veston is so &$ch nicer than 3a!!as.+ /e !ooked at -ary 'ho shi#ted her eyes back to her #ood) hiding her 'atch#$!ness. +-ary) !et.s go to Ga!veston.+ "hat s$rprised her6 She !ooked $p into !.s 'ar&) 'ide eyes and sa' he 'as very serio$s. /er tone a!tered) it beca&e one o# condo!ence) apo!ogetic as tho$gh e2p!aining to a chi!d) + !) ( can.t take o## 'ork right no'. ( don.t get any vacation #or another three &onths. 0o$ kno' that. nd yo$.re $sing yo$rs $p right no'. /o' can 'e go to Ga!veston4+ +Who cares abo$t 'ork or vacation)+ he said. (t 'as !ike he 'as p!eading to her) b$t she co$!d not hear it. +We can both ca!! in .9$it.) se!! this p!ace) and &ove do'n there. ( kno' 'e can do so&ething there to &ake a !iving. (# 'e have to 'e co$!d co&&$te to /o$ston. (t.s not that #ar.+ ! stopped o$t o# breath. -ary care#$!!y set her #ork do'n beside her p!ate and !ooked kind!y at !. +=h !) it 'o$!d probab!y take #or ever to se!! this p!ace and get any &oney o$t o# it. 8ook ho' !ong it.s taken $s to get 'here 'e are. We can.t %$st thro' it a'ay can 'e4+ ! !eaned back into his chair and crossed his !egs at the ank!es) +5o. ( g$ess 'e can.t.+ #ter a second he asked) +Where did yo$ say that g$y Wes 'as at4+ "hat brightened -ary and the e##ect 'as not !ost on !. +/e.s at "i&ber!a'n) in the pro#essiona! b$i!ding. 0o$ kno' 'here that is don.t yo$4+ +S$re)+ ! rep!ied ironica!!y) +that.s over on Sa&$e!) by Grove /i!! Ce&etery.+ +Grove /i!! -e&oria! Park)+ -ary corrected &issing his in#!ection in her happiness. NNN ! ca!!ed Wes. o##ice ear!y Wednesday &orning and got an appoint&ent #or that a#ternoon. "hen he ca!!ed >obin at

'ork. /e 'anted to ta!k to so&eone 'ho 'o$!d !isten to hi&. + !6 (.& so g!ad yo$ ca!!ed.+ >obin.s voice 'as #i!!ed 'ith %oy. "hat a!one &ade ! #ee! better. +/o' are yo$ #ee!ing4+ she asked. ! to!d her everything) abo$t 'anting to go to Ga!veston and his appoint&ent 'ith 3r. Wes. + !) that.s terrib!e. "here.s nothing 'rong 'ith yo$. 0o$ sho$!d %$st pick$p and go do'n there.+ She !e#t herse!# an opening #or an invitation. ! sa' the opening and he tho$ght !ong and hard abo$t asking her. (t 'as the rea! reason he had ca!!ed. She be!ieved hi&) even i# she &ight be !etting !ove b!ind her. ! needed the s$pport. /e 'anted to go. /e decided. (&portant things need to be done right. (# -ary 'o$!d not %oin hi& he 'o$!d !eave her. /e !oved her b$t he 'o$!d not !et that !ove r$in his !i#e. /e did not 'ant to !ook back on so&ething $ndone #or the rest o# his !i#e. -ary had her !i#e.s a&bitions) and she 'anted the& bad!y. She 'anted to be so&eone in the b$siness 'or!d and he %$st 'anted to re!a2 and !ive a 9$iet) happy !i#e. nd the #!ashes into the past had to be sorted o$t. /e had to #ind o$t 'hat they 'ere abo$t. +7$t &aybe >obin is the right 'o&an #or &e. She is yo$ng) b$t that is not a!'ays bad. nd) she is s$re o# herse!#.+ ! said) +>obin) ( g$ess ( can.t go %$st yet. (.& %$st not ready. (.& %$st a 'eak ass #or even bothering yo$ 'ith &y prob!e&s. (.& sorry ( ca!!ed yo$.+ /e h$ng $p the phone be#ore >obin had the chance to te!! hi& she !oved hi&. She dia!ed his n$&ber right back b$t he did not ans'er. ! !e#t ear!y #or his t'o-#i#teen appoint&ent. (t 'as coo! o$tside 'ith g$sty 'inds. /e drove s!o'!y) taking the .scenic ro$te. to "i&ber!a'n. /e drove thro$gh the S'iss ven$e - -$nger P!ace

area. "'o generations ago it had been the +in+ area o# to'n. -any o# the o!d !arge ho&es 'ere broken do'n into apart&ents renting to the poor and o#ten i!!ega! /ispanic pop$!ation? the peop!e that b$i!t the roads) !aid the se'er !ines) and &o'ed the !a'ns aro$nd 3a!!as. "he area 'as #$!! o# s&a!!) to$gh bars) a scattering o# strip %oints) porn and pa'nshops) and OOO theaters. ! #o!!o'ed 7eacon Street $nti! it t$rned into Sa&$e! 7!vd. at East Grand. 3riving do'n Sa&$e! he had "ennyson -e&oria! Park on his !e#t and on his right so&e o# the !o'est dives in to'n. 7ars that 'ere good p!aces #or a #ight) good p!aces to get yo$r ear bit o##. ,$st be!o' the bars and !i9$or stores he passed $nder (nterstate 30. "hen he co$!d see Grove /i!!. n o!d ce&etery) Grove /i!! set on a ridge and ran do'n the s!ope to'ard !. /e drove $p the inc!ine o# the hi!! !ooking at the park. (t is a park) he tho$ght to hi&se!#. "he p!ots 'ere 'e!! kept) &any o# the& 'ith !arge b$shes p!anted beside the headstones. "he &a$so!e$&s !ooked co&#ortab!e. /e topped the hi!! and there 'as "i&ber!a'n Psychiatric /ospita! on the right and "i&ber!a'n Pro#essiona! 7$i!ding on the !e#t) 'edged in bet'een the interstate and Sa&$e! 7!vd. "he hospita! had p!easant gro$nds) a happy environ&ent. 7ehind the 'hite p!antation sty!e ho$se there 'as constr$ction going on. ne') $g!y b$i!ding 'as being added on in the rear. "he pro#essiona! b$i!ding a!so 'as being added onto) a gro'ing b$siness this psychiatric p!ace. ! t$rned into the parking !ot) b$t did not stop. /e circ!ed aro$nd and p$!!ed back o$t onto Sa&$e! and headed back do'n the hi!! to ho&e.

hapter "" "hat evening -ary got ho&e a !itt!e a#ter si2. (t 'as dark. "here 'ere no !ights on in the ho$se. She #$&b!ed 'ith her keys in the dark trying to $n!ock the door) dropping the& t'ice and dropping her brie#case once be#ore she got the door opened. + !)+ -ary ca!!ed hesitating!y into the dark !iving roo&. + !4+ She had e2pected a ca!! #ro& hi& a#ter he sa' 3r. Wes) b$t that never ca&e. She 'as 'orried. She had seen his car in the !ot so she kne' he 'as in the ho$se) so&e'here) in so&e condition. "he !ight s'itch #or the !iving roo& cei!ing !ight 'as by the door. -ary #!icked it on. (t 'as not a bright b$!b b$t in the transition #ro& the dark to the !ight it #!ooded the roo& 'ith a harsh 'hite !ight. "he i&ages in the roo& !eaped o$t at -ary.s eyes. ! 'as on the co$ch) the !ight not stirring hi&. +=h) !)+ she 'hispered so#t!y) setting her brie#case and p$rse do'n. She p$shed the door to $nseeing) $nti! she heard the &echanica! c!ick stating its c!os$re. She 'a!ked over to !. /e !ay on his !e#t side #acing the back o# the co$ch) his #eet to'ards the door. -ary bent over hi& and to$ched his sho$!der. "he #!esh beneath his shirt 'as 'ar& to her #ingers. + !4+ -ary gent!y ca!!ed. + !4+ she repeated a !itt!e !o$der as she shook his sho$!der s!ight!y. +Wake $p dar!ing.+ /e &oved. /is eyes opened. /e ro!!ed his head $p'ards to !ook at 'ho had a'akened hi&. Seeing -ary) ! ro!!ed

over onto his back and said) +Good &orning.+ -ary s&i!ed broad!y in re!ie#) +(t.s evening si!!y. 5o' 'ake $p so 'e can go get so&ething to eat.+ ! dropped his #eet o## the co$ch and sat $p r$bbing his #ace 'ith both hands. Seeing hi& stirring -ary headed #or the bedroo& to change. =ver her sho$!der she asked) +Wo$!d yo$ !ike so&e #a%itas tonight4 ( tho$ght i# yo$ did 'e co$!d go over to E! Chico.s in 8ake'ood. "hey do &ake the best #a%itas there.+ <ighting to get the s!eep o$t o# his brain ! ans'ered) +So$nds good to &e. What ever yo$ 'ant.+ /e got $p #ro& the co$ch and 'ent to the kitchen. <ro& one o# the $pper she!ves he p$!!ed o$t a bo2 o# tea bags. /e got a c$p #ro& the cabinet and #i!!ed it 'ith 'ater. 3ropping a tea bag in he set the c$p in the &icro'ave and t$rned the &achine on. Whi!e the 'ater heated ! stood and 'atched the ti&e c!ick o## the ti&er. /e 'as sipping the tea) sitting on the co$ch) 'hen -ary reentered the !iving roo&. +/aving so&e tea4 /o' are yo$ #ee!ing4+ she asked. +,$st tired. <e!! as!eep abo$t #ive and ( don.t rea!!y #ee! !ike 'aking $p)+ he ans'ered. +So&e good hot -e2ican #ood 'i!! 'ake yo$ $p)+ -ary said standing happi!y be#ore hi&. "he happiness 'as rea! #or !. /e gave a 'eak grin back and said) +(.& ready i# yo$ are)+ and he stood $p. "hey !e#t the apart&ent. -ary !ocked the door and ! sipped on his c$p o# tea. "he 8ake'ood section o# 3a!!as 'as a ten-&in$te drive east o# do'n to'n. "he streets 'ere torn $p #ro& constr$ction and street 'idening in the area. s&a!! parking !ot had been &ade o$t o# the o!d) bypassed street. (t 'as hard #or -ary to get the 7-W into the !ot) b$t once in) she had no tro$b!e #inding a spot to park. "hey parked in #ront o# 8i& 0ee.s Cantonese >esta$rant and 'a!ked $p to E! Chico.s. (nside) it 'as 'ar& and #i!!ed 'ith good s&e!!s and the

c!atter o# b$sy 'aiters. "he s&a!! cantina) o## to the !e#t) 'as #$!! o# drinkers. "he tab!e area o$t #ront 'as b$sy b$t not #$!!. ! and -ary 'ere 9$ick!y seated. "hey 'ere bro$ght hot sa$ce) chips and 'ater 'hi!e they !ooked over the &en$ a!ready kno'ing 'hat they 'ere going to order. "hey did not ta!k as they 'aited #or the 'aiter to ret$rn. /e 'as a ta!!) s!i& -e2ican &an in his si2ties. With neither pad nor penci! in his hands he stopped be#ore their tab!e and 'ith a c$rt !itt!e bo' asked) +(# yo$ are ready ( sha!! take yo$r order.+ ! ordered) +<a%itas #or t'o) co##ee #or &e) and a peach dai9$iri #or &y 'i#e.+ -ary !oved their dai9$iris. +Wi!! that be a!! sir4+ the o!d &an asked. +0es) ( think so.+ +"hank yo$ very &$ch sir)+ the 'aiter rep!ied as he t$rned to !eave. ! 'atched hi& stop %$st be#ore he 'ent back into the kitchen and 'rite the order do'n. (t 'as nice to be 'aited on by so&eone 'ith a &e&ory ! tho$ght. (n the &idd!e o# the &ea!) d$ring 'hat 'as &ore a po!ite conversation than an ani&ate one) -ary at !ast asked) +/o' did things go 'ith 3r. Wes today4+ "he co##ee c$p 'as at !.s !ips 'hen she spoke. /e !o'ered the c$p and ans'ered) +( 'o$!dn.t kno'. ( didn.t go.+ + !4+ -ary started b$t ! interr$pted. +(.& not cra1y -ary)+ he stated so!id!y. + nd ( 'i!! not !et anyone try to convince &e that ( a&. ( kno' 'hat ( sa' and it 'as rea!) ( 'as rea!!y there. ( don.t pretend to kno' ho' or 'hy this is happening) b$t it.s $p to &e to #ig$re it o$t) not so&e shrink.+ -ary 'anted to speak b$t ! contin$ed) +(t co$!d be (.ve got so&e brain t$&or they can.t #ind and &y head is #i2ing to e2p!ode. (# so) (.ve got eno$gh ins$rance to cover the !oss.+ gain -ary tried to speak b$t ! 'o$!d not a!!o' her.

+(t co$!d be so&ething bigger than that too. !! ( kno' is ( #ind it e2citing going back there and it.s &y prob!e&) no one e!se.s. (.& sorry) b$t that.s the 'ay it has to be. (# yo$ #ee! b$rdened by it) &aybe 'e sho$!d separate.+ ! ca!!ed the 'aiter over and asked #or &ore co##ee. -ary did not co&&ent #or severa! &in$tes) 'hen she did speak it 'as 'ith obvio$s pain and conci!iation) + !) yo$.re cra1y.+ /e s&i!ed at that. (t 'as a#ter eight 'hen they ret$rned ho&e a#ter s$pper. ! sat do'n at the kitchen tab!e to !ook at the paper. -ary changed into her nightgo'n and robe. She ca&e in and sat opposite her h$sband. +What do yo$ 'ant to do #or "hanksgiving4+ she asked) s$rprising !) 'ho 'as e2pecting a big #ight. +( don.t kno'. ( hadn.t rea!!y given it any tho$ght)+ he said. +( g$ess 'e co$!d visit yo$r #o!ks and &ine !ike $s$a!. Why4+ +( %$st tho$ght that 'ith the !ong 'eekend yo$ &ight !ike to drive do'n to Ga!veston. (t on!y takes abo$t #o$r ho$rs to get there.+ She see&ed shy as she spoke. +(.d ...+ ! 'as interr$pted by the doorbe!!. +3a&n)+ he set the paper do'n and pressed -ary.s sho$!der !oving!y as he passed her. +7e right back.+ When he opened the door he sa' a disheve!ed -ark Ed'ards. +/e!!o -ark)+ ! said hesitant!y. /e had on!y &et -ark a #e' ti&es at o##ice #$nctions and -ark had never been !ike this. "he &an 'as 'asted. 0o$ co$!d see the a!coho! in the dirty 'hites o# his eyes. +What can ( do #or yo$4+ +Get o$t o# the 'ay assho!e)+ the big &an s!$rred. "hen he p$shed ! o$t o# the door'ay and !et hi&se!# in. +/ey b$ster6+ ! said #!aring into his o'n rage. +0o$ had better 'atch yo$rse!#.+ +<$ck o##) assho!e)+ Ed'ards s'ore standing) 'eaving s!ight!y) in the &idd!e o# the !iving roo&. +Where.s that god da&n !itt!e 'i#e o# yo$rs4 ( need to see her.+ Ed'ards

straightened $p and stopped s'aying. +( bet ( see &ore o# her than yo$ do any'ay) 7$bba.+ (t 'as the !eer &ore than the 'ords that angered !. -ary ca&e in #ro& the kitchen. +"here yo$ are yo$ s'eet !itt!e piece. 8et.s go dancin.) 7$bba.!! be okay by hisse!#.+ -ary 'as #ro1en in disbe!ie#. /o' co$!d this be happening4 +Get o$t o# here yo$ dr$nk son-o#-a-bitch6+ ! s'ore. /is voice 'as #i!!ed 'ith rage. -ary 'as &ore #righten by hi& than #or hi&. She had never seen hi& !ike this. +0o$ gonna &ake &e)+ Ed'ards ta$nted. ! 'as not a s&a!! &an) b$t he 'as no physica! &atch #or Ed'ards. Co!d!y) ! said) +0es.+ /e stepped over to the coat c!oset near the door and reached $p to the top she!#. Ed'ards 'atched dr$nken!y as ! t$rned aro$nd #ro& the c!oset and !eve!ed a G&& PPB Wa!ther at his head) the co!!ector.s pisto! ! had 'orried over #or years. /e he!d the a$to&atic so!id!y in his right hand) his ar& #$!!y e2tended. +Get o$t o# here be#ore ( !et the vac$$& o$t o# yo$r head yo$ st$pid bastard.+ "here 'as no hate in his voice as he ta!ked) %$st tr$th. "here 'as no hesitation in Ed'ard.s no' very sober eyes. /e did not care to save #ace) he 'anted o$t. (t did not take hi& !ong to e2it. ! #o!!o'ed his &ove&ents) $n'avering) 'ith the pisto!. -ary ran to ! 'hen Ed'ards 'as gone and h$gging hi& tight!y cried) +(.& so sorry !) (.& so sorry6+ ! he!d her c!ose and stroked her hair soothing!y saying) +(t.s not yo$r #a$!t. 3on.t 'orry.+ -ary did not say anything e!se) she %$st cried on her h$sband.s sho$!der.

hapter "# -ary !ay a'ake in bed. She had a'aken &$ch ear!ier and s!eep 'o$!d not ret$rn. She !ay 'aiting #or the a!ar& to so$nd. (t 'as <riday &orning) the 'eek be#ore "hanksgiving. ! s!ept 9$iet!y beside her. "he a!ar& so$nded. -ary 'aited #or ! to 'ake and t$rn o## the a!ar& !ike $s$a!. /e did not stir) the a!ar& had no e##ect on hi&. + !)+ she n$dged hi&. + !) the a!ar&.+ "hen she re&e&bered he 'as not going to 'ork. (t 'as his !ast day o##) his !ast day o# vacation. -ary t$rned) sat $p and reached over hi& to si!ence the a!ar&. ! sti!! did not &oved. + !4+ -ary shook his sho$!der. +=h shit)+ she said to herse!#. /is body 'as 'ar& to her to$ch. She #e!t his 'rist seeking his p$!se. + !6+ she ho!!ered. She shook hi& savage!y. +Wake-$p6+ /e did not &ove. -ary got o$t o# the bed and 'a!ked aro$nd to the phone on the nightstand and dia!ed 7ay!or /ospita!. ! 'as back. /e 'as standing in the is!e o# a streetcar #i!!ed to over#!o'ing 'ith &en) 'o&en and chi!dren. 8ooking aro$nd he sa' it 'as raining heavi!y o$tside the car. /e 'as dressed as be#ore 'ith the addition o# a rain s!icker over his c!othes. "he peop!e on the car 'ere #estive. "hey !a$ghed) %oked) and en%oyed the 'eather. "hey 'ere &irth#$!!y de!irio$s 'hen the car stopped to !et the& o## at the beach. "he 'ind b!e' hard. ! stepped o## the car and it near!y sent his #eet o$t #ro& $nder hi&. Severa! 'o&en opened their $&bre!!as on!y to have the& t$rned inside o$t and torn

a'ay #ro& their hands by the 'ind. "he rain #e!! heavi!y) drenching everyone. "he day 'as 'ar&) everyone decided to en%oy the 'eather) they 'ere a!ready 'et any'ay. ! #o!!o'ed the cro'd to the -id'ay as &ore and &ore streetcars e&ptied their passengers into the throng. "he -id'ay 'as a ten-b!ock stretch o# beach#ront #i!!ed 'ith ra&shack!e #ra&e b$i!dings catering to to$rists. So$venir shops on end) hot dog stands) and ga&ing areas cro'ded the beach. "ho$sands 'atched the spectac!e o# the h$ge sea rising $p and r$shing the beach) breaking heavi!y $pon it. "he -id'ay 'as taking a terrib!e beating #ro& the ocean. -any stores) a!ready #i!!ed 'ith the tide) stayed open #or the bene#it o# the cro'd and the pro#it. =$t over the ocean) set on strong pi!ings) 'ere t'o bathho$ses and the !arge circ$!ar arena $sed #or dances and concerts. "he 'aves roared aro$nd the pi!es) !eaping to reach the b$i!dings !ying sa#e!y above the #oa&) sa#e on!y by the #e'est o# inches. "he rain contin$ed to #a!!) heavier i# that 'ere possib!e. "he 'ind rose higher and higher) sti!! the #ascinated) drenched) cro'd ooohed and aaahed as the 'aves bashed) stea& ro!!er !ike) against the -id'ay. 7$i!dings 'ere s&ashed and thro'n against others by the 'aves. "he +Pagoda+ the !argest o# the bathho$ses) near!y t'o b!ocks !ong) 'as being shaken by the #orces. t one end a photographic stand 'as torn !oose and crashed into the sea. "he cro'd !oved it. "he streetcars contin$ed to r$n) tho$gh the tracks 'ere beco&ing covered 'ith 'ater. "he cro'd re#$sed to d'ind!e. "he streetcars po$red their contents o$t into ank!e deep 'ater. "he 'ind and the rain increased. 7$##eted by the stor& ! roa&ed thro$gh the cro'd) 'atching their #aces. "hey 'ere !oving the spectac!e. So&e 'ere dressed in bathing s$its. "hey see&ed ob!ivio$s to the po'er they 'atched. ! b$&ped into an o!d &an) he !ooked !ike a poor)

dro'ned rat) his ragged c!othing getting its #irst c!eaning in a !ong 'hi!e. +(s it sa#e aro$nd here4+ ! screa&ed to &ake hi&se!# heard above the 'ind and rain. +S$re it is)+ ret$rned the o!d &an. +"his don.t happen every year. 8ast ti&e 'as .HM. En%oy it. ( heard that they are evac$ating so&e o# the !o' parts o# to'n? the 'ho!e to'n.+ "he o!d &an !a$ghed at his o'n %oke. Severa! others 'ho overheard 'hat he said !a$ghed too. +(# yo$.re scared yo$ co$!d head $p to 7road'ay. "hat.s high gro$nd.+ /e pointed back to'ard the heart o# the to'n. "he cro'd.s attention 'as dra'n o$t to the +Pagoda+) the 'aves and 'ind ripped at it. "he b$i!ding &oved s!ight!y. "he cro'd cheered #or it to ho!d its gro$nd) b$t it co$!d not. "he beating 'aves tore it #ro& the driven pi!es and sent it crashing into the !ast o# the -id'ay. "he cro'd 'as shocked. "hey never tho$ght the stor& co$!d beat the +Pagoda.+ >apid!y the cro'd thinned) in #ear they r$shed #or ho&e. ! 'a!ked a !ong distance thro$gh 'ater that) at ti&es) 'as 'aist deep) as he headed to higher gro$nd. "he stor& gre'.

hapter "$ ! entered >itter.s Ca#e) nest!ed sa#e!y in a great) heavy) t'o story brick b$i!ding) to get o$t o# the stor&. /e shook the rain o## o# his s!icker and h$ng it $p on the rack by the door. (t 'as a re!ie# to be o$t o# the 'ind and rain. /e sat do'n at a tab!e and ordered a 'hiskey #ro& the b!ack 'aiter. ! sat 9$iet!y at his tab!e and !istened to the other &en in the ca#e as they ta!ked over the stor& raging o$tside. +( heard that they.ve evac$ated over si2 tho$sand peop!e #ro& aro$nd the beach.+ +3on.t &atter none. "his one 'on.t do any har&. ,$st a big scare. "his to'n.s b$i!t to take this.+ (n another area he heard) +C!ine &eas$red the baro&eter at !ess than 2G degrees. Can yo$ be!ieve that4+ +0o$ bet ( can. "he tide.s a!ready over nine #eet. "he 'ho!e is!and is $nder 'ater no'. ( 'aded thro$gh it $p there on the hi!!. (t.s incredib!e6+ nother) +-ost b$sinesses are sti!! open. (# there 'as anything to 'orry abo$t) yo$ kno' the shops 'o$!d c!ose.+ ! drank #o$r ro$nds !istening to the ta!k. /e co$!d not be!ieve the ca!&ness) 'hich pervaded everyone. "his 'as %$st a !itt!e rain to the&6 (n the !ate a#ternoon ! sa' the streets boi!ing 'ith 'ater. "he 'ind) he had heard) 'as &eas$red at over eighty-#o$r &i!es an ho$r be#ore it broke the ga$ge. /e 'as 'orking on his #i#th drink 'hen one o# the patrons said) +/ey) did yo$ kno' that there.s thirteen o# $s here in the roo&4+ "hat dre' !a$ghs #ro& near!y everyone. ! got $p and

'a!ked over to get his s!icker. /e did not !ike the score. "he terrib!e so$nd o# breaking bea&s) snapping in t'o) carried above the so$nds o# the stor& and the patrons. ! !ooked $p to see a !arge b$!ge #or& in the cei!ing and then it ripped 'ide open. (n a sho'er o# p!aster d$st) paint) torn and broken 'ooden bea&s) and screa&s? the roo# #e!! in on the ca#e. /$ge printing presses #ro& the second story #e!! into the roo&. (t 'as devastating. "he stor& po$red thro$gh the de&o!ished $pper #!oor and rained do'n into the ca#e. ! 'as $nscathed. "he cei!ing by the door'ay had he!d. "he s!icker in his hands #e!! to the #!oor. !! abo$t hi& 'as destr$ction sp!attered in rain. Severa! &en had %$&ped $nder the oak bar 'hen they sa' the roo# co&ing do'n) they began to e&erge thro$gh the p!aster and 'ood that had been the $pstairs #!oor. +=h god) he!p &e)+ a terrib!e voice cried o$t over the so$nd o# the stor&. +God he!p &e6+ ! sa' the ha!# e2posed #or& o# a &an protr$ding #ro& beneath a press. =n!y his head and right ar& e2tended o$t in vie'. /is hair !ay s!icked back on his head #ro& the rain. /is body 'as so positioned that he had to strain his neck terrib!y $p'ard to keep his #ace o$t o# a poo! o# 'ater so he co$!d speak. "he rain #e!! so #ast it 'o$!d dro'n hi& easi!y. 5ear the cr$shed &an ! sa' a #oot pointed de#iant!y at the sky. "he shoe!ess #oot a!so ca&e #ro& beneath the press. ! 'ondered i# the #oot be!onged to the one &an or to another. "he air 'as #i!!ed 'ith cries o# pain. ! 'as at a !oss #or a &o&ent then picked $p his s!icker and r$shed over to the press. S9$atting do'n beside the press ! he!d the s!icker against its co!d &eta! 'ith his !e#t hand and e2tended it o$t 'ith his right above the pinned &an. "he rain beat do'n) the 'ind ho'!ed. +/e!p &e... /e!p &e...+ the poor &an &oaned o$t. ! kne' that the &an 'as a!! b$t dead) sti!! ! ca!!ed #or he!p. +So&eone co&e he!p6 We.ve got to get this &an o$t

#ro& $nder here6+ "'o &en) near the bar) cra'!ed over the 'reckage to 'here ! stooped over the &oaning &an. +=ne o# yo$)+ ! ordered) +Get one o# those bea&s and s!ip it $nder here.+ /e indicated a spot 'here there 'as an open area $nder the press. +7e care#$!) care#$!6+ he sho$ted as they #orced the heavy bea& $nder the press. +"here co$!d be so&eone e!se $nder there6+ ! ca$tioned. +=n three) p$t yo$r 'eight to it and (.!! p$!! hi& o$t6+ +=ne6 "'o6 "hree6+ "he t'o &en p$shed their 'eight do'n onto the bea&. "he press raised s!ight!y. ! grasped the &an $nder the ar& and tried to p$!! hi& #ree. /e st$ck #ast. "he press needed to be raised higher. ! dropped the s!icker to one side and added his 'eight onto the bea&. "he press raised higher. +5o' try and ho!d her here6+ ! sho$ted. /e eased his ho!d on the bea&. "he press did not !o'er) they had it co$nter ba!anced. ! h$rried!y stooped to 'ithdra' the in%$red &an. /e p$!!ed hi& #ree. ! !ooked at the cr$shed #or& o# the &an) bones protr$ding o$t o# the body in a score o# p!aces. 5a$sea s'ept over hi&. /e p$!!ed the s!icker over the &an and covered the destroyed body. Whi!e ! !ooked on there 'as a s!ight conv$!sion in the &an.s body. /e 'as dead. "here 'as no ti&e #or ! to stare at death) too &any others cried o$t #or he!p. =ver near the door he heard a &an ca!!ing) +7oy6 >$n get the doctor6 nd h$rry6+ "he b!ack 'aiter opened the door) and c!inging to the door #acing) he stepped o$t. "he 'ind tore hi& a'ay #ro& the door thro'ing hi& into the torrent o# #!ood'ater that 'as no' the street. /e screa&ed #or he!p. ! raced to the door seeing the 'aiter 'ashing a'ay do'n the street) $nab!e to s'i& in the c$rrent. ! %$&ped o$t into the stor&. "he 'ater 'as $p to his ar&pits) there 'as no 'ay to stand in it. "he G$!# o# -e2ico #i!!ed the streets o#

Ga!veston) driven there by a 1I0 &ph tropica! cyc!one. S'i&&ing 'ith a!! his strength ! &ade good $se o# the c$rrent and ca$ght $p 'ith the 'aiter. /e grasped the &an by the shirt co!!ar and p$!!ed hi& a!ong) #orcing a passage thro$gh the !etha! &ass o# #!otsa& !ittering the 'ater) driven b!ind!y by the po'ers o# nat$re. ! p$!!ed the 'aiter $p into a stair'e!! seeking she!ter) he shook and shook the &an trying to revive hi&6 "he &an 'as dead) dro'ned 'ithin a #e' short b!ocks o# the ca#P. "he 'ind and the rain strengthened. <ro& the stair'e!!) 'ith the body o# the dead 'aiter ne2t to hi&) ! 'atched as the 'ater contin$ed to rise. !ready bodies #!oated by in the sea. #ter a brie# rest ! &oved back o$t into the stor&. "he stair'e!! 'as no p!ace to end his !i#e. /e #o$nd hi&se!# a&ong a s&a!! gro$p o# peop!e 'orking their 'ay to'ard the higher gro$nd o# 7road'ay. /e c!$tched s&a!! chi!dren to his chest and p$!!ed #athers a!ong) saved &others p$!!ed into the ocean that 'as the street. "hey &ade progress) the 'ater 'as !ess deep as they &oved $p the hi!!. Within the stor& there ca&e a 'hir!ing so$nd ! had not heard be#ore. /e stopped and !ooked aro$nd #or the ne2t 'ave o# horror.

hapter "% ! !ed the shattered gro$p o$t o# the sti!! deepening 'aters and $p the &arb!e steps onto the 'ide porch s$rro$nding a t'o story :ictorian ho$se. =$t o# the pe!ting rain) ! took stock o# the gro$p. yo$ng co$p!e) brother and sister) 'e!! dressed) h$dd!ed together t'o steps a'ay in tears) having !ost their &other and #ather in the hai! o# roo#ing ti!es. teenage gir!) her dress torn to tatters) so she 'as &ore $nc!othed than c!othed) stood tear#$!!y in the grasp o# a b!ack 'o&an 'hose o'n ha!# gro'n da$ghter c!$ng to her dress 'ith one hand 'hi!e 'ith the other she he!d onto her !itt!e brother. "he boy !ooked no &ore than #ive years o!d. "his 'as 'hat 'as !e#t o# a gro$p that had been &ore than t'enty in n$&ber. ! began ha&&ering on the !ocked #ront doors o# the ho&e #or entrance. "hey 'ere ta!! doors) over ten #eet high and #o$r #eet 'ide. "hey 'ere sectioned so that the top co$!d be opened in the hot 'eather 'hi!e the botto&s stayed c!osed to keep o$t dogs. "hey 'ere so!id 'ood 'ith no g!ass in the&) tr$!y) stor& doors. "he 'ind ho'!ed thro$gh the porch) the beaded p!ank cei!ing s'ayed $p and do'n. "he so$nds o# !.s knocking 'ere b!o'n a'ay be#ore he co$!d hear the&. "he door opened in'ards) %$st 'ide eno$gh to s9$ee1e thro$gh) ad&itting the gro$p. "hey 'ere in a s&a!! area bet'een the stor& doors and the &ain doors) 'hich 'ere carved oak 'ith beve!ed crysta! 'indo'panes. very o!d &an) straight backed !ike a ra&rod) !ed the& into a !ong ha!!. "he end o# the ha!! 'as #i!!ed 'ith a &assive spira! staircase. "o

their right) as they 'ere !ed do'n the ha!!) ! sa' an ornate sitting roo& and #$rther behind it) thro$gh open s!iding doors) he sa' a dining area that &$st have easi!y seated thirty. "he o!d &an !ed the& in si!ence to the end o# the ha!!? there he opened a door and spoke. +(# yo$ 'i!! a!! be so kind)+ he pointed into the roo&. "hey #i!ed in? he c!osed the door and the so$nds o# the stor& 'ere no' a!&ost none2istent to their ears. "hey 'ere in a !arge ba!!roo&. "he hard'ood #!oors shined to a g!are) its cei!ing rose near!y t'o stories above the&. "he e!ectricity 'as o$t) the three e!ectric chande!iers in the roo& rendered $se!ess by the stor&. =ver a do1en cande!abras 'ere p!aced aro$nd the roo&. "he roo& 'as bright and 'ar& 'ith &ore than #orty peop!e in it. "hey 'ere 'ea!thy and poor) 'e!! dressed and so&e near!y $ndressed by the stor&) b!acks) -e2icans) 'hites) so&e in%$red) others 'eeping. Everyone tried to co&#ort each other as best they co$!d. "he o!d &an) apparent!y the ho&eo'ner) t$rned to !eave the roo&. ! spoke to hi&. +Sir4 What can ( do to he!p4+ "he o!d &an !ooked abo$t searching #or an ans'er then he 9$ick!y responded) +Co&e 'ith &e6+ /e !e#t the roo& and as ! #o!!o'ed he heard hi& say) +3a&n door.s getting too hard to c!ose.+ "hey stopped behind the t'o ornate inner doors. "he stor&.s #$ry here &ade conversation a!&ost i&possib!e. 5either spoke #or a !ong ti&e $nti! the dapper o!d gent!e&an co&&ented) +/aven.t ever seen it this bad be#ore. ( heard te!! that over at the 'eather station the 'ind &eas$red 100 &ph be#ore the ga$ge broke.+ ! &ade no co&&ent) %$st nodded. "he o!d &an 'as not rea!!y speaking to receive a rep!y. /e %$st needed to ta!k. "he o!d &an !eaned back against the 'a!! beside the !e#t door and p$!!ed a si!ver cigar case #ro& his inside coat pocket. 7e#ore he took one he o##er the& to !. ! shook his head no.

+Where yo$ #ro& son4+ the o!d &an asked. /e se!ected a cigar #ro& the case and ret$rned it to his pocket. <ro& his pants pocket he 'ithdre' a s&a!! kni#e. /e nipped o## one end o# the cigar. =nce the cigar reached his &o$th the o!d &an t'isted it s!o'!y aro$nd) 'etting it. /e set his %a' heavi!y into its end and searched abo$t his e2terior %acket pockets #or a !ight. /e began to pat his other pockets. /e did not have a !ight. +(.& #ro& 3a!!as) sir)+ ! ans'ered and seeing the gent!e&an.s prob!e& he reached into his pant.s pocket and p$!!ed o$t a bo2 o# &atches. "ho$gh &ost o# the& had gotten 'et ! did get one to !ight) at !ast. /e he!d it o$t #or the o!d &an.s $se. +"hanks son)+ he said dra'ing deep!y on the cigar. /e re!eased a !arge b!$ish c!o$d o$t into the ha!! and 'atched si!ent!y as it disse&inated) dri#ting $p'ard. +3a!!as) h$h4+ he said at !ast) &ore s&oke rising and snaking a'ay #ro& his !ips. +5ice to'n) 3a!!as. 7een a'hi!e since ( seen it. Sti!! gro'ing4+ +0es) sir. (t.s gro'ing !ike a 'eed)+ ! ans'ered thinking abo$t the #ie!ds spro$ting apart&ents and s$bdivisions every'here) the ho$ses) #ro& start to #inish) co&p!eted 'ith the ne' #a&i!y insta!!ed) in !ess than a 'eek. 0es) 3a!!as 'as sti!! gro'ing. +Good)+ the o!d &an nodded. + to'n needs to gro'.+ "he ho$se 'as b$##eted by a terrib!e b!ast o# 'ind. "he ho$se creaked and groaned on its #o$ndations. "he o!d &an peered o$t thro$gh the g!ass in the doors into the s&a!! entrance space bet'een the do$b!e sets o# doors. ! heard hi& c$rse !o'!y) +God da&n it) the 'ater.s co&ing in the door.+ nd it 'as. (t 'as a s&a!! trick!e that had 'or&ed its 'ay beneath the o$ter doors) b$t as the t'o &en 'atched the s&a!! 'ater poo! gre'. (t 'orked its 'ay past the t'o &en standing behind the ta!! doors and to'ard the ha!!. "he 'ater 'as in the ho$se and the 'ind and rain) i# anything)

increased their #$ry to !.s &ind. "he h$ge ho$se &oved severa! inches on its #o$ndations. "he o!d &an ca!&!y contin$ed to s&oke his cigar. /e see&ed to be en%oying the s&oke a great dea!. ! co&prehended the sit$ation and e2cited!y tried to e2p!ain it to the o!d &an. +"he 'ater has gotten $nder the ho$se and it*s trying to #!oat6 (# 'e don.t do so&ething it.s !ike!y to co!!apse on $s6+ "he o!d &an s&oked and 'atched as the e2ha!ed s&oke rose to'ard the cei!ing 'here it had created eight inches o# 'a#ting) #og-!ike !ayers. ! grabbed hi& by the sho$!ders? they 'ere thin) bony sho$!ders? and shook hi& savage!y. +We.ve got to do so&ething6+ he sho$ted over the stor&. Water eddied abo$t their #eet as it 'orked its 'ay #$rther into the ha!!. +What ever yo$ say son) it.s #ine 'ith &e.+ "he &an see&ed to have !ost 'hatever #ight he had. "he stor& raged against the doors. +/ave yo$ got an a2 or so&ething in the ho$se4+ ! screa&ed. "he o!d &an nodded yes. +We!! 'here the he!! is it4+ ! de&anded. "he o!d &an pointed to'ard the back o# the ho$se. ! shoved hi& in that direction and sho$ted) +Sho' &e6+ ! 'as !ed into the kitchen at the rear o# the ho$se. (ts 'indo's 'ere s&ashed and the 'ind and rain #orced the&se!ves in at every opening. 5e2t to the co&bination gas and 'ood stove there 'as a s&a!! bo2 o# #ire'ood. (n it 'as a hatchet #or &aking kind!ing. ! scooped $p the hatchet and p$shing the gent!e&an on be#ore hi&) they ret$rned to the ba!!roo&. ! stopped o$tside the ba!!roo& doors and asked) +(s there eno$gh roo& $pstairs #or everyone here4+ "he o!d &an nodded yes. So&eti&e d$ring the visit to the kitchen the cigar had been e2ting$ished by the stor& and 'ith its !oss o# #ire he see&ed to regain his o'n. /e

said) +(.!! !ead the& $p6+ /e $nderstood !.s p!an. "hey 'a!ked into the ba!!roo&. Everyone 'atched the& as they entered) !ooking to the& #or their sa#ety. + !! o# yo$)+ the o!d &an roared) +#o!!o' &e $pstairs6 "he 'ater 'i!! soon be in here6+ "hey #o!!o'ed the co&&anding voice) there 'as no panic $nti! ! dropped do'n to the 'ooden #!oor near the entrance and began to chop at it. Everyone began h$rrying as they #o!!o'ed the o!d &an $p the circ!ing stairs. ! chopped and chopped at the #!ooring stopping on!y to re&ove pieces o# 'ood. "he yo$ng co$p!e that had arrived 'ith ! stood near hi&. "he three 'ere the on!y ones sti!! do'n stairs. "he yo$ng &an) b!ond 'ith very pa!e b!$e eyes and #rai! !ooking hands) he!d his sister c!ose to his breast. +( don.t kno' 'hat yo$.re doing b$t i# there is anything ( can do to he!p) ( 'i!!.+ ! !ooked $p #ro& his 'ork #or on!y a second. "heir eyes &et and ! !iked 'hat he sa'. /e 'ent back to his chopping. 7et'een b!o's he said to the &an) +"he 'ater is $nder the ho$se trying to #!oat it. (# 'e !et the 'ater in) the added 'eight and di&inished b$oyancy sho$!d stabi!i1e the b$i!ding. -aybe it 'on.t 'ash a'ay then. 0o$ can he!p &e &ake a ho!e in #!oor.+ +8et.s %$st open the door)+ the yo$ng &an vo!$nteered. Witho$t !ooking $p ! stated) +"he 'ater is t'o or three #oot higher than the #!oor right no'. =n!y so&e da&n good #itting doors have kept $s sa#e this !ong. (# 'e open those doors a!! that 'ater 'i!! co&e r$shing in and do 'ho kno's 'hat kind o# da&age. "his is o$r sa#est bet.+ h$rried e2change bet'een brother and sister ended 'ith her #o!!o'ing the others $pstairs. "he b!ond &an started prying at the boards that ! had !oosened. Soon a s&a!! a&o$nt o# 'ater #i!tered $p. "hen it 'as a s&a!! spring and 9$ick!y a #o$ntain. "he roo& 'as knee deep in 'ater a#ter on!y a #e' seconds. "he t'o 'et &en 'aded to

the staircase.

hapter "& "he 'ater had c!i&bed three-9$arters o# the 'ay $p the stairs. "he stor& contin$ed $nabated. "he ho$se) #$!! o# 'ater) acted &$ch !ike a sea anchor. nd !ike a sea anchor it had &oved. "he s$rging G$!# o# -e2ico s$rro$nded it. "he #orty-p!$s peop!e that #i!!ed the open portions o# the second story 'ere very ca!&) s$rprising!y so) as tho$gh they kne' the stor& 'as #ate and their on!y p!ace 'as to s$rvive it) those that co$!d) not to rai! against it. "hey 'ere divided bet'een #o$r roo&s) a !ibrary and a setting roo&) 'hich !inked t'o bedroo&s. "he roo&s 'ere arranged rectang$!ar!y aro$nd the staircase. 3irect!y behind the stairs 'as the sitting roo&) #!anked by the t'o bedroo&s that e2tended on either side o# the stairs) past the !anding. "he 'ho!e #ront on the second story 'as taken $p by the !ibrary) it being the !argest roo&) it contained the !argest gro$p. (t 'as cro'ded) hot and h$&id. ! stood near the door !eading o$t to the stairs. t the #ront o# the roo& stood the o!d &an? he 'as sho'ing o## his ho$se. "he #ront 'a!! 'as a!&ost entire!y &ade o# g!ass) not panes) b$t a sing!e) great sheet o# g!ass. /e and &any others pressed #or'ard to !ook o$t into the stor&. "hey sa' ho$ses dri#t by) stray dogs sti!! a#!oat) and peop!e ho!ding onto anything they co$!d grasp. "he ho$se &oved. Shrieks #i!!ed the ho$se and then si!ence. "he cand!es) hand he!d) shook. "he ho$se groaned and creaked. "hey !istened to the ho$se) to see i# it 'o$!d ho!d. (t 'hined and cried at the stor& as tho$gh it 'ere dying. (t shi#ted again) the #!ickering #!a&es danced in the si!ent hands. "he ho$se sti!! he!d onto its #o$ndations.

(t a!! happened so #ast) a!! at the sa&e ti&e. ! stood at the door) at the back o# the roo& and sa' everything. "he stor& 'as a &ighty) !o'-press$re syste&. "he at&ospheric press$re inside the !ibrary 'as greater than that o$tside and the di##erence beca&e so great the h$ge 'indo' 'as s$cked o$t'ard and the #o!!o'ing r$sh o# air p$!!ed 'ith it the o!d &an and &ore than ten others inc!$ding the brother and sister. "hey 'ent screa&ing o$t thro$gh the great ho!e in the 'a!! as the stor& roared in. "he roo& p!$nged into b!ackness) the 'ind and rain ki!!ing o$t a!! the !ights. "here 'as a &o&ent 'hen ! co$!d see nothing and hear on!y the rage o# the stor&) b$t his eyes ad%$sted #ast eno$gh to see t'o #!oating rai!road #reight cars) sti!! !inked and driven by the stor&) as they crashed into the ho$se. "he co!!ision ripped o$t a !arge corner o# the !ibrary. "earing their 'ay thro$gh the right side o# the ho$se the cars spi!!ed the contents o# the roo&s on that side o# the ho$se o$t into the ocean. "he #reight cars. i&pact) added to the #orce o# the ocean) &oved the ho$se o## o# its #o$ndations and set it adri#t. (t began to sink. "he 'ater rose rapid!y in the $pper roo&s as the ho$se 'ent $nder. "here 'ere seven others 'ith ! in the one roo&. /e ca!!ed to the roo&s behind b$t heard no ans'ers. /e 'as #orced to ass$&e that a!! the others 'ere gone) %oining the stor&. +8et.s get o$t o# this roo& be#ore 'e get trapped here6+ ! screa&ed to the others above the roar o# the 'ind. /e pointed to the gaping 'ho!e in the 'a!! 'here the 'indo' had once been and he headed those !e#t in that direction. With hi& 'ere the b!ack 'o&an and her t'o chi!dren 'ho had been 'ith hi& d$ring the ti!e stor&) the tattered 'hite gir! sti!! hanging c!ose to the b!ack &other. "here 'as a!so a pregnant 'o&an) her &other and a very yo$ng baby boy. "hey a!! 'aited #or !. /e stopped at the 'indo' and sho$ted) +We.ve got to

try and c!i&b o$t onto the roo#. (t.s o$r on!y chance. (# 'e get ca$ght in here 'e.!! a!! die.+ 5o one arg$ed the point. ! 'as the #irst one o$t) testing the 'ay. "he 'ind ripped at hi&) the b!o'n rain #e!t !ike need!es as it str$ck hi&. "here 'as a rain g$tter %$st above the 'indo' opening. /e 'as ab!e) 'ith its he!p) to p$!! hi&se!# $p onto the s!ick ti!e roo#. -any o# the ti!es 'ere &issing) possib!y so&e o# those he had e2perienced be#ore. "he #irst to #o!!o' 'as the 'hite gir!. "he b!ack 'o&an thr$st her o$tside and ! p$!!ed her $p beside hi& 'here she c!$ng #ast. 5e2t the 'o&an sent $p her o'n chi!dren. =nce on the roo# the da$ghter he!d to the roo# ti!es as her brother he!d on to her. ! heard an arg$&ent be!o'. /e co$!d not &ake o$t 'hat 'as being said) the 'ind b!e' the voices a'ay #ro& hi&. /e sho$ted do'n) +Send the o!d 'o&an $p ne2t) then the boy6 "his is no ti&e #or a da&n #ight6+ "he o!d 'o&an 'as 9$ick!y o$t o# the roo& and on the roo# 'here she c!$ng beside the three chi!dren. "he boy 'as passed $p and given to his grand&other) then the pregnant &other 'as o$t. She !ooked as tho$gh she co$!d de!iver at any ti&e. ! hoped not. "he 'indo' opening 'as no' be!o' the 'ater !ine as the ho$se sank rapid!y. "he b!ack 'o&an had to dive $nder the sea and s'i& o$t the ho!e. When her head broke the s$r#ace she 'as 'ithin easy reach o# !) he p$!!ed her on to the roo#. "hey 'ere sa#e!y on the roo#) and !$cky to have &ade it. "he ho$se contin$ed to sink $nti! the air trapped in the attic created a b$oyant e##ect) and stabi!i1ed its sinking. (t began to dri#t abo$t in the ocean that covered Ga!veston) driven by the terrib!e 'inds and eddying c$rrents. "he rain #e!! heavi!y. "he seven !ay prone c!inging tight!y to each other and to the roo#. Where the roo# ti!es had been b!o'n o## provided the best handho!ds. /ere there 'ere e2posed ti!e edges

#ro& 'here desperate #ingers co$!d not be easi!y !oosed. "he t'o b!ack chi!dren and the !one 'hite gir!) 'ho see&ed ob!ivio$s to the stor& no') either #ro& shock or #ro& so&e &enta! de#iciency) he!d to the &other. She !ay c!ose to ! on his !e#t? to his right 'ere the pregnant &other) her son) and then her &other. Everyone h$ng on #or their o'n !ives) b$t severa! ti&es the th$ndering 'ind 'o$!d !oosen a ti!e or a hand 'o$!d 'eaken and so&eone 'as near being b!o'n o## their perch. "hen one o# the others had to brave the 'ind) ho!ding on 'ith on!y one hand) so&eti&es re!easing their ho!d co&p!ete!y) so that they co$!d reach o$t a saving hand. "he hand &ost o#ten 'as !.s. "he ho$se) s'ir!ing) #!oating abo$t in the stor&) !$rched sharp!y. bove the roar that 'as the 'ind and rain a !o$d snap 'as heard and the roo# bo$nced $p into the air severa! inches) sett!ing back do'n into the sea) #!oating at a higher !eve! than it had #!oated a &in$te ear!ier. "he roo# no' canted over to the !e#t) 'here it 'as ten inches !o'er than the right side. "hey had been hanging onto their b$oy in si!ence) saving their energies #or the ta2ing) !i#e preserving c!$tching o# the ti!es. "he roo# o# the ho$se popped and bo$nced $p'ard and ret$rned. "he pregnant &other screa&ed as she hit hard against the ti!es 'ith her ta$t!y #i!!ed abdo&en. She cried and her body 'as racked 'ith the pain o# a contraction. ! sa' it in her #ace) the #ear o# the i&pending birth. /e a!so sa' her !oosening grip. /e reached o$t and grasped her !e#t hand 'ith his right and ca!!ed o$t !o$d!y into her ear above the sho$t o# the stor&) +(t.!! be a!right6 We.!! a!! he!p yo$6+ he #o$nd hi&se!# !ost #or 'ords. (n this stor&) having a baby) 'hat co$!d he say to co&#ort this 'o&an4 /e he!d her hand strong!y in his. She tried to s&i!e back into his #ace.

hapter "' ! 'as b$ried deep in the ocean beneath the ti!ed roo# that had s$pported hi&. "hey) ! and the roo#) had t$rned one h$ndred and eighty degrees. 5o' he s$pported the roo# on his back. "he co!d) hard) ti!es pressed into hi&. /e t$rned in the 'ater and p$t his hands onto the ti!es. Which 'ay 'as $p4 /is !$ngs began to ache. ! 'as not $sed to ho!ding his breath #or !ong periods o# ti&e) ho' do yo$ kno' 'hat to prepare #or in !i#e4 "he &ore the pain in his chest increased) the #aster his &ind raced. /e co$!d try #!oating4 /e co$!d try dying6 /e &ight not #!oat $p in ti&e6 - Panic6 - "hat 'as his tho$ght. "he ti!es) they are !aid one on top o# the other beginning at the roo#.s edges) their ends sho$!d be pointing $p'ard) no' that the ho$se 'as $pside do'n6 /e #e!t #or the ends o# the roo#ing and #o$nd his direction. /and over hand he !eaped his 'ay a!ong the roo# to'ard the s$r#ace) and air. 7reaking the s$r#ace a!ong side the eves o# the ho$se ! gasped #or air. Catching his breath he !ooked abo$t #or the others. 5ot #ar #ro& hi& he sa' the b!ack 'o&an 'ith her t'o chi!dren a!ready sa#e!y on board the ne' !i#e preserving ra#t) the $pt$rned roo#. "hey 'ere p$!!ing the pregnant 'o&an into their strongho!d. ! hoisted hi&se!# o$t o# the 'ater and onto the %oists that crossed the $nderside o# the roo#. 8o'ering hi&se!# do'n be!o' the %oists onto the ra#ters he crossed) d$cking be!o' the %oists) over to he!p 'ith the 'o&an. "he t'o chi!dren 'ere o# no assistance to the b!ack

'o&an as they p$!!ed on the ar&s o# the screa&ing 'o&an. ! took over #or the t'o kids. "hey bro$ght the 'o&an $p o$t o# the 'ater. She screa&ed and 'ithered on the $pt$rned roo#. ! co$!d not $nderstand her at #irst. "he t'o chi!dren r$shed over to their &other and c!$ng to her in #right. She stood a !itt!e a'ay #ro& the screa&ing 'o&an. +-y 7aby) -y 7aby6+ ! &ade o$t at !ast. /e &otioned #or he!p #ro& the b!ack 'o&an as he kne!t do'n to sooth the 'o&an. /e he!d her tight!y to his chest trying to ca!& her. +Shhh... Shhh...)+ he said rocking her s!o'!y back and #orth. +We.!! he!p.+ +-y baby) 'here is he4+ she screa&ed at !. /e had #orgotten abo$t the boy) and the grand&other) and the 'hite gir!. "hey 'ere sti!! in the 'ater so&e'here6 /e gave the pregnant 'o&an over to the b!ack 'o&an and r$shed to the side o# the roo# peering o$t into the b!inding stor& #or those !ost ones. 7ehind hi& there 'as a great screa& o# pain. /e t$rned and sa' that) 'ith the b!ack 'o&an.s kno'ing he!p) the 'o&an 'as beginning to give birth. =$t the corner o# his eye ! sa' so&ething. /e t$rned back to the ocean and sa' it6 "he 7oy6 ! !eaped over the eves o# the ho$se and o$t into the sea. "he ocean 'as a s'ir!ing &ass) #i!!ed 'ith debris o# a!! si1es and shapes. (t 'as &$ch harder 'ork #orcing a passage thro$gh the #!otsa& than thro$gh the stor&) b$t !) at !ast) reached the boy. /e 'as sti!! a!ive6 ! grabbed one o# the !itt!e boys hands and began to strike his 'ay back to the roo#. /e 'orked the boy onto his back) #reeing his o'n hands #or s'i&&ing. "he boy h$ng tight!y to his neck. "hey had trave!ed on!y a short distance 'hen so&ething heavy) a rai!road tie &aybe) crashed) 'ind driven into the&. "he s&a!! boy re!eased his grip on ! and began to s!ide o## o#

s head had been cr$shed by the co!!ision. "he distance bet'een hi& and the roo# 'ith its crying ne'born increased s!o'!y. "here on the roo# they ass$&ed ! had %oined the others 'ho 'ere &issing. . "reading 'ater in the stor&) ! re!eased the #rai! !itt!e body o# the boy and 'atched as the stor& &oved it a'ay. "he i&pact o# the co!!ision st$nned !. "he boy 'as a!&ost #ree #ro& hi& be#ore he rea!i1ed 'hat 'as happening. /e 9$ick!y ca$ght the boy and p$!!ed hi& back to his breast. head o# hi&) on the #!oating roo# ! heard the cry o# a ne'born baby above the horror o# the stor&. (t 'as then that ! sa' 'here the !itt!e boy. ! co$!d not go back there and #ace that 'o&an 'itho$t her son. ! grasped ho!d o# a !arge piece o# ti&ber) &aybe the very thing that had co!!ided 'ith the&) and draped hi&se!# over it.s back.!.

"here 'ere ti&es 'hen ! considered !etting go) b$t he he!d on. "he pinpricks o# !ight stopped #or&ing as s$rprising!y as they had started. !one) in the center o# the sea) ! sa' a !ight. ! 'as a!one again) dri#ting. "i&e a#ter ti&e ! str$gg!ed to right hi&se!#) to bring his head back above the 'ater so he co$!d breath. (t 'as bea$ti#$!. E2cept #or the 'reckage beside hi& in the 'ater he sa' no sign o# anyone or the city. =n the hori1on a great disp!ay o# !ightning began. /e did not 9$estion his reasons. "hro$gh the stor& he sa' the !ight 'as on the #ar end o# the bea&. /e %$st co$!d not give $p and !et the stor& de#eat hi&. ! had once heard !ightning 'as a sign o# the end o# a . ! 'atched it spring into brightness then #ade repeated!y as #ast as the rain #e!!. -ore and &ore o# the short-!ived !ights spro$ted) gro'ing into an eerie !ight disp!ay. (t !asted on!y the brie#est ti&e then 'as gone. "he stor&) its po'er inde#atigab!e) !ashed at his straining hands. /e trave!ed 'here the 'ind and 'aves drove hi& over Ga!veston) cast adri#t on the G$!# o# -e2ico. Even his hands g!o'ed bright!y !ike speck!ed g!oves.hapter "( ! 'as a!one. "he sea repeated!y 'ashed over hi& and tossed the !ong bea& aro$nd !ike a t'ig. gain there 'as the s&a!! !ight. /e h$ng on to the !ong bea& #or 'hat see&ed an eternity. /is p$rpose 'as to !ive. >ising $p as high as he co$!d on the ti&ber he !ooked aro$nd e2cited!y. (t 'as an e2ha$sting batt!e. "he rain s&ashing into the ocean soaked ti&ber created a !$&ino$s !ight.

! began to 'ork his 'ay to'ard the visib!e !and. <ee!ing 'ith his #eet he discovered the gro$nd.etty) stretching into the G$!#) protecting Ga!veston 7ay. /e stood on a high point o# gro$nd %$st above <ort Point. /e str$gg!ed to stand $p. /e hoped it 'as the tr$th. /o!ding onto the !ong bea& he stood $pright in chest high 'ater. "he stor& 'as over. Standing he co$!d see the vag$e o$t!ines o# higher gro$nd.s #eet b$&ped into so&ething so!id. "here 'o$!d be &$ch to do there. With a !ightening sky behind hi& ! t$rned 'est and began 'a!king to'ard the city. 3ang!ing be!o' hi& in the 'ater) !.h$rricane. /e #ina!!y p$shed the ti&ber a'ay and 'aded onto dry gro$nd. <ro& there he s$rveyed the east end o# Ga!veston (s!and and the So$th . . "he ocean 'as ret$rning to its tr$e !eve!.

+"'o days)+ he tho$ght. /e 'as a!one) !ying co&#ortab!y in the bed) in his o'n pa%a&as) nice and sn$g $nder a cheni!!e bedspread.t e2pect yo$ to. -artin) three . -artin6 !! yo$ a!! right4 We didn. ! tho$ght the pane! !ight si&p!e and p!ain co&pared to the !ights o# the stor&. "he stor& had taken t'o days o# his !i#e. When the ther&o&eter 'as o$t o# his &o$th ! asked) +(s it a!right i# ( ca!! &y 'i#e4+ +(t. Peters i&&ediate!y6+ she h$rried to the roo& phone to ca!! the 5$rses.+ She began checking !. desk. /e pressed it #ir&!y and a s&a!! indicator !ight on the 'a!! pane! !it $p) sho'ing d$ti#$!!y that the n$rse had been ca!!ed. .s 'ait ti!! 3r.. +/o' !ong have ( been here this ti&e4+ She pa$sed) then ans'ered) +. She b$rst into the roo& !ike a !inebacker. #ter a #e' &in$tes he sat $p and reached #or the b$tton to ca!! the n$rse.$st over t'o days. +"i&e #!ies 'hen yo$. (t see&ed 'orth it.s vita! signs.+ She began dia!ing the phone. Peters 'i!! be here short!y.+ /e s&i!ed.hapter ") +5o) not again. /e 'aited ca!&!y #or the n$rse to arrive.re having #$n. "he n$rse h$ng $p the phone and said) +3r. short) broad 'o&an she said breath!ess!y) +-r. "he bed #e!t especia!!y good to hi& a#ter his e2pos$re to the stor&. +5$rse) (.)+ she pa$sed a'k'ard!y #or a second then p!$nged on) +( had better noti#y 3r. 8et.+ ! !ooked aro$nd the se&i-dark hospita! roo&.s rather !ate -r..& #ine)+ ! said in 'ay o# s!o'ing her do'n to ask his 9$estion.-.

t be!ieve &e. /e 'as tired) very tired. When he #inished) he sat do'n in the chair at the #oot o# the bed and ca!&!y asked) +Where did yo$ go this ti&e4+ s ! re!ated his !atest e2perience to Peters he 'ondered 'hat the doctor tho$ght o# a!! this. +She doesn.+ Whi!e he ta!ked ! 'ondered abo$t the peop!e on the roo# 'ith hi&. 5$rses !ike patients 'ho do 'hat they are to!d 'i!!ing!y. +( a& invo!ved here 'ith so&ething rea!) so&ething that is happening. /e checked ! over in a c$rsory &anner) !ike he kne' 'hat to e2pect. She probab!y 'ishes ( 'o$!d h$rry and get it over 'ith.+ ! !ay back in the co&#ortab!e bed and !ooked at the .& cra1y beca$se ( have a chance to !ive and e2perience a rea! !i#e. "here is &ore to !i#e than doctors and hospita!s and advertising agencies and &arriage. /e stopped at the door and asked) +3o yo$ #ee! !ike ca!!ing yo$r 'i#e4+ ! shook his head no. 3id Peters think it happened or that it 'as &ade-$p4 +( co$!d care !ess 'hat the &an thinks)+ ! decided. Peters stood $p) t$rned to !eave. "here 'as so &$ch going on there6 ! #inished his story and !ay back on the bed. "he city 'o$!d be 'recked.!! ca!! her)+ Peters said and he !e#t the roo&. Everyone %$st 'ants to think (. +Why sho$!d ( ca!! -ary4+ he asked hi&se!#.& tired o# arg$ing. nd there is so &$ch 'ork to do there.!! %$st arg$e abo$t so&ething.+ +5o) i# ( ca!! -ary 'e. -aybe over seeing a psychiatrist.Peters sho's $p and ask hi&) okay4+ She s&i!ed s'eet!y at ! trying to circ$&vent his re9$est 'ith her p!easantness. (. /o' had they #ared thro$gh the rest o# the night4 nd a!! the other peop!e in Ga!veston. ! ac9$iesced to her s&i!e beca$se o# the ho$r. (t 'as #ive-thirty 'hen Peters entered the roo&. +(. She thinks (.& !osing &y &ind.

& not the 'orst either. +( a& not the greatest person on earth b$t (. Who 'ants the da&n thing any'ay4+ ! ro!!ed onto his side and c!osed his eyes.cei!ing.+ .& okay)+ he decided. +(. +( don. nd ( a& o!d eno$gh to rea!i1e ( a& not going to con9$er the 'or!d. -aybe change 'here ( !ive. +( a& not $nhappy 'ith &yse!#)+ he tho$ght. ( %$st need to change 'hat ( do.t need to change &e.

+ !. /e 'as dressed in street c!othes 'aiting to be re!eased #ro& the hospita!. /er eyes beca&e d$!! 'ith &oist$re.s ti&e+ #or a !itt!e over a day no'.& in Ga!veston.s tho$ghts ca&e back to the roo&. +"hat #e!t good)+ he tho$ght.ve not see& hi& any'here in the o##ice.s trips to Ga!veston and his sanity) #ro& the Co'boys !oss the day be#ore to the po!itics in -ary. +8ike 'hen (. /o' can peop!e !ive that 'ay4 ( 'on. /e !ooked at -ary and asked) +We!!) 'hat do yo$ think o# &y !atest trip4+ -ary !ooked at !) start!ed by the 9$estion. "o be a!ive. "he doctors had #o$nd nothing again.s o##ice. /e s&i!ed) &ore to hi&se!# than to -ary) re&e&bering r$nning the bastard o$t o# the ho$se. ! had been back in +-ary. "hey had been ta!king abo$t anything and everything e2cept !. (t. ! !ooked at -ary and asked) +/as that Ed'ards g$y given yo$ any tro$b!e at 'ork4+ -ary. "o do so&ething rea!.+ ! !a$ghed a brie# snort !ike so$nd and s&i!ed. (. (n a voice strained 'ith .hapter #* (t 'as -onday) H -.s eyes never !e#t the p$rse she he!d in her !ap as she ans'ered) very $nco&#ortab!y) +5o. "o &ake so&ething happen.t !ive that 'ay again.s chair 'hi!e he sat !eaning back on his e!bo's 'ith his !egs stretched o$t) re!a2ing on the $n&ade bed. -ary 'aited in the roo& 'ith hi&.s great to !ive instead o# having &y !i#e dea!t o$t to &e !ike cards in a ga&e. She sat in the visitor.

! is n$ts6. (.s rea!6 s rea! as the 'or!d 'e. /e to'ered above her. 0o$. +0o$ are &aking a &ess o$t o# &y !i#e !6 ( !ove yo$ b$t this prob!e& o# yo$rs is taking over &y !i#e. 0o$.ve rea!!y done so&ething6+ She g!ared angri!y at hi&.+ + nd 'hat are yo$ doing4+ she de&anded. ( never kno' 'hen it 'i!! happen again. /e stopped. /e 'as one step inside the roo& be#ore he sa' -ary.re standing in right no'. When 'e are apart ( 'orried constant!y i# yo$ are okay.re %$st creating yo$rse!# a ne' !i#e in the past.+ -ary 'as in tears as she #inished. /e !eaned to'ard -ary. (t. /e sat $p and s'$ng his !egs over the side o# the bed.+ 7e#ore -ary co$!d rep!y 3r. /is rage at her disbe!ie# s$rged thro$gh hi&.t yo$ %$st be!ieve &e4 ( kno' 'hat happened) it.& sorry) ( didn. 7$t yo$ need he!p. "asted it and breathed its air. +(# yo$ 'o$!d %$st !isten to &e #or a &in$te yo$ &ight !earn so&ething6 7$t 5=) . nd then 'hen 'e are together ( a& a#raid to be near yo$. ( %$st ca&e in to say that yo$ can !eave no' -r.s #aces.t ta!k !ike that4+ +3on. +5ot everybody gets to do 'hat (.& not cra1y by a !ong shot -ary6+ /e p!eaded) +Why 'on.ve b!acked o$t #o$r ti&es and then yo$ te!! a &ore 'i!d story than the ti&e be#ore.e&otion she said) +3on. Peters entered the roo&. +0es) ( a& doing so&ething specia!6+ he sho$ted.t ta!k !ike it is so&ething yo$.re pro$d o#)+ -ary ans'ered. +0o$. . +( a& pro$d o# it)+ ! boasted. nd this attit$de o# yo$rs6 0o$ have !ost a!! concept o# rea!ity.s rea!. ( need yo$ here in the present. +(. ( !ove yo$ !. ! got o## the bed and stood in #ront o# -ary.t &ean to barge in on yo$.& doing.t ever be ab!e to e2p!ain it -ary) b$t (.t ta!k !ike 'hat4+ +3on. ( probab!y 'on.ve #e!t the past 'ith &y o'n hands.s and !.

! 'a!ked past her to pick $p his things. nd ( don.-artin.+ "$rning to ! he said) +(# yo$ p!ease -r.+ +-rs. /e 'i!! see no one. Peters) +0o$ have got to convince hi& to get he!p. She 'as thinking abo$t 'hat 3r. "he on!y option yo$ have is to have hi& co&&itted. +8et. -artin) 'e need this roo& #or other patients.+ 3r. +Co&e on -ary)+ he said.s entrance #or a co&&ent. .s a!right 3octor.t think yo$ 'ant that either. ! %$st 'on. We 'ere %$st arg$ing abo$t the past. -artin) yo$r h$sband and ( have disc$ssed this and he is ada&ant. Peters t$rned and !e#t the roo&. -ary stared a#ter the doctor. Peters had said) abo$t co&&it&ent to ! and o# !. -ary contin$ed ta!king to 3r.t ad&it a!! this is i!!$sionary.+ -ary #o!!o'ed ! o$t into the ha!!.+ ! g!ared angri!y at -ary. /e did not !ike being disc$ssed !ike this.+ -ary stood $p and $sed the doctor.s go. +"hat.

hapter #! ! 'as taking the three days prior to "hanksgiving o## as sick days 'itho$t pay. ! 'a!ked the #!oor debating 'ith hi&se!#) trying to decide i# he sho$!d ca!! >obin. <ina!!y he decided) +. nd no' 'ith these b!acko$ts everything is &ore intense. +/ere is this bea$ti#$! yo$ng 'o&an 'ho is interested in &e. Where to !ive4 What to drive4 Where to eat4 Everything has been a #ight. -aybe she had given $p on hi& too. (# that.t see ho' 'e can contin$e !ike this.t) at !east yo$. /e tho$ght o# a h$ndred reasons 'hy she had not.+ >obin had not visited ! in the hospita! this !ast ti&e.!! ta!k.t. ! hated ta!king to peop!e over the phone. -e) as ( a& right no'. (# she 'ants to ta!k she. ( can. "hey had said !itt!e to each other in the car and !ess at her !eaving.+ nd 'hen it 'as not -ary he 'as thinking abo$t) it 'as >obin.s possib!e4 ( %$st don. -aybe -ary had not to!d anyone abo$t this !atest episode. We!!) at !east ( think she is. "he events in Ga!veston had been set-aside #or the ti&e being. ! spent his ti&e pacing the #!oor thinking.& &iserab!e and so is she. + !! -ary and ( have done #or the !ast #o$r years is arg$e.+ t ten &in$tes a#ter ten ! 'a!ked into the kitchen and ca!!ed >obin at 'ork. (. -ary 'ent on to 'ork a#ter dropping ! o## at the ho$se. /e $sed the kitchen .!! kno'. !! his paid persona! days and vacation had been $sed since the beginning o# the &onth.ee1) %$st ca!! her. /e pre#erred to see their #aces and their reactions. nd i# she doesn.

"hat.t been by the hospita! to see yo$. +( %$st #ig$red yo$ 'ere b$sy) 'ith the ho!iday. /e #e!t !ike she had %$st p$!!ed hi& o$t o# the G$!# o# -e2ico to sa#ety. +=h) !6+ she e2c!ai&ed. nd don.s happiness) +=h !) (. "hen in a so#t p$rr) + !) (.t 'orry abo$t 'hat -ary thinks.s okay) she doesn. ( don. 7eing on ho!d) on the phone or in !i#e) 'as a great 'aste o# ti&e. +(.phone 'henever he co$!d. ! &oved the receiver a'ay #ro& his ear. "here 'as a c!ick on the phone and ! heard >obin. >obin.s voice asking) +/e!!o4+ /e p$t the receiver to his ear and spoke) +/e!!o >obin. /o' are yo$ #ee!ing4+ ! 'as e!ated by the !oving tone in >obin. "his is !. "he !a$gh 'as a !itt!e !o$d he tho$ght. /e 'as on ho!d 'hi!e they trans#erred the ca!! back to >obin.s co&ing $p and everything.+ nd ! 'as g!ad he had ca!!ed. 5erves.s &y prob!e&.s part) she ans'ered instant!y) +(. +( #ee! great >obin.s voice. +(.re g!ad)+ he !a$ghed.s voice so$nded so happy. So&e +easy !istening+ &$sic ca&e over the phone !ine. + nd (.+ ! began to re!a2 as he ta!ked. Where and 'hen4+ "here 'ere on!y a #e' resta$rants in the area.+ +(t. /e stopped pacing the kitchen #!oor and !eaned $p against the co$nter.& g!ad yo$. /e did not care to !isten.d !ove to !. "here 'as si!ence on the phone.t !ike &e there either)+ ! happi!y stated.+ /is voice 9$ivered s!ight!y #ro& nervo$sness) he hoped she did not notice.& so g!ad to hear that.t think -ary !ikes &e there. +Wi!! yo$ have !$nch 'ith &e today4+ "here 'as no pa$se #or consideration on >obin.& so g!ad yo$ ca!!ed. ! 'aited apprehensive!y #or her reaction to his ca!!.+ ! spoke #ast) c!ear!y) and 'ith obvio$s p!eas$re. (t had a !ong cord and a!!o'ed hi& to 'a!k as he ta!ked.& so sorry ( haven.& o$t again any'ay)+ he !a$ghed. >obin ret$rned !. "hey . (t he!ped so&e.

-aybe they co$!d get a ha&b$rger there in re!ative sa#ety.+ ! !a$ghed back saying) +(. "he p!ace 'as big) 'ith I0 a!!eys.s hand #e!t so#t and 'ar& resting on top o# his.!! see yo$ in a !itt!e bit) bye. +0o$ had better get back to 'ork no' be#ore they get pissed o##. When he #inished ta!king >obin reached across the s&a!! &eta! tab!e and grasped his hand &$ch as he had done #or others d$ring the stor& and said) + !) yo$. ! did not recogni1e any o# the&.re so brave. +(. ! 'as not 'orried abo$t hi&se!#.t kno' ho' it happens)+ ! ad&itted. ! ta!ked aro$nd the so$nd as he to!d >obin abo$t his !atest trip. ! he!d the phone to his ear a second !onger be#ore he p$t it do'n.+ +"hat so$nds #ine to &e)+ she ans'ered.+ She !ooked into his eyes and asked hi& 'ith abso!$te sincerity) +/o' do yo$ go back there !4+ +( don. "here 'as a bo'!ing a!!ey %$st o## the #ree'ay near 'ork. "heir .+ +( don. >obin. "here 'ere a #e' peop!e bo'!ing a'ay their !$nch ho$r. /e did not 'ant peop!e ta!king abo$t >obin.t care)+ >obin !a$ghed) +!et the&. >obin and ! sat at a s&a!! tab!e behind the !anes) eating their b$rgers and #ries. /e t$rned on the te!evision and !ay back on the co$ch to 'atch so&e ga&e sho'.!! see yo$ there at t'e!ve then)+ ! said. She did not deserve that. +/o' abo$t noon over at the bo'!ing a!!ey.t think 'e 'i!! be bothered there. ( don. "he bright!y !it a!!eys g!ea&ing 'ith oi! o##ered a great contrast to the dark area behind) 'here the spectators sat. /e !e#t the kitchen and 'a!ked into the !iving roo&. (t 'as nice to ta!k !ike that to so&eone? to %oke) to kid aro$nd) to #!irt. "he boo& o# s&ashing bo'!ing ba!!s into the ten pins echoed thro$gh the b$i!ding. "here 'ere severa! gro$ps o# peop!e taking their !$nch at the bo'!ing a!!ey.'o$!d be b$sy at !$nch) #$!! o# peop!e 'ho &ight kno' the&.+ +7ye) !)+ >obin ans'ered and then she h$ng $p.

+"here is so &$ch to do back there. /e 'as so a!ive) co&&itted) and independent. +>obin) ( can. /e he!d her hand tight!y and !ooked deep!y into her eyes.t te!! yo$ ho' &$ch it &eans to &e that yo$ be!ieve &e. (t 'as good to ta!k 'ith so&eone 'ho be!ieved hi&6 /e ans'ered) +>obin) ( don. When everything is over i# 'e are &eant to be together) 'e.t $nderstand it. +Can ( go 'ith yo$4+ she asked.t even kno' i# it 'i!! ever happen again. She had never seen ! !ook &ore handso&e. .s eyes) sti!! on hi&) 'ere #i!!ed 'ith tears. >obin b!$shed $nder his ga1e b$t she did not t$rn a'ay. ( have to do that.t kno'.t see ho' that can happen.t ans'er e2cept by saying it is %$st so&ething ( have to #inish. 7$t ( don.+ +7$t 'hy do yo$ have to do it4 Can. +( 'ish ( co$!d &ake it happen)+ he stated reso!$te!y. She !oved hi&. ( #ee! the sa&e abo$t yo$.t ask #or it and ( don. ( #ee! !ike it 'i!!) b$t ( don.+ /e stopped ta!king) >obin.t they do it the&se!ves) 'hatever it is4 Why do yo$ have to take the risk4+ "here 'as no disbe!ie# in >obin. +>obin) ( don.ha&b$rgers sat ha!#-eaten be#ore the& on the tab!e.!! be together. ! s&i!ed.& pro$d yo$ #ee! that 'ay abo$t &e.s tone) no patroni1ation. ( didn.+ ! t$rned his hand over and took her hand in his. /o' co$!d yo$ %oin &e4 0o$ 'ant &e to hit yo$ in the head 'ith a chair or so&ething4+ "hey both !a$ghed. (# ( can go back ( 'i!!. /e 'as easy to !ove. (# ( co$!d) ( 'o$!d take yo$ 'ith &e. She ret$rned his !ook.t kno' 'hat this is a!! abo$t.s hand as he contin$ed) +( kno' 'hat yo$ &ean 'hen yo$ ask that tho$gh. ! s9$ee1ed >obin. (. ( can.

nd she is 'orried abo$t &e. "hey needed his he!p.hapter #" "hat a#ternoon ! !ay on the co$ch in the !iving roo&. What i# she is right4+ nd he had so&ething ne' to consider in the present) >obin. /e 'as i&portant back there6 nd no' he did so$nd a !itt!e cra1y. ! took a deep breath and e2ha!ed s!o'!y p$tting the past o$t o# his &ind #or a &o&ent. +(t is !ike dying here 'hen ( b!acko$t. /e kne' he 'as needed in Ga!veston. .s ho' -ary thinks abo$t it. (t 'as as p!ain as the tears on her #ace. ( !ost t'o days !ast ti&e. (s that so&ething ( 'ant to ga&b!e 'ith right no'4+ Was !ove eno$gh tho$gh4 ! co$!d not ans'er that 9$estion. 3espite his ear!ier conviction 'hen he ta!ked 'ith >obin) a gro'ing #ear o# his b!acko$ts pervaded his &ind. "hat. +>obin does !ove &e. nd s$dden!y he 'as #ee!ing !ess co&#ortab!e 'ith that idea. /e kne' there 'as on!y one ans'er to his 9$estion) another b!acko$t. "he te!evision 'as on b$t he 'as not 'atching it. -ary &ay be a !ot o# things b$t she is not st$pid. +/o' do yo$ go back into the past4+ ! asked hi&se!# over and over.

7et'een -ary and the "e2as s$nset stood the centra! do'nto'n b$siness district) skyscrapers in si!ho$ette. "he 'estern hori1on 'as ab!a1e 'ith co!or.hapter ## "he s$n 'as setting 'hen -ary arrived ho&e a !itt!e ear!ier than $s$a!. "he !iving roo& 'as dark) b!ack. 5o one ca&e to the door. She knocked again on!y !o$der. When -ary tried the knob she #o$nd the door !ocked. (t 'as poised) s$rrea!istica!!y) &i!es in #ront o# the diagona! bea&s o# co!or. Starting #ro& the so$thern edge) !ong #an!ike #ingers o# a!ternating dark paste! b!$e and a 'ar& reddish pink stretched north'ard and heaven'ard. =ne !ong) 'ispy) #eather shaped c!o$d h$ng s$spended) g!ea&ing ivory 'hite 'ith a tint o# b!$e aro$nd the edges. -ary 'atched as the s$n receded and the #an #o!ded itse!# a'ay) on!y the b$i!dings) !ights on inside #or c!eaning) re&ained. +=h shit)+ -ary s'ore $nder her breath. "he 'eather 'as 'ar&) it had been a very &i!d #a!! so #ar) not even a hint o# a hard #ree1e) and -ary de!ayed entering the apart&ent as !ong as she co$!d. She 'as a#raid o# 'hat she 'o$!d #ind. "hen she #$&b!ed abo$t in her p$rse) !ooking #or her ho$se key. She knocked !ight!y t'ice and 'aited #or ! to open the door. <inding it she $n!ocked the door and eased it open and stepped inside. "here 'ere no !ights on any'here in the apart&ent. <ina!!y) she co$!d not p$t o## going inside any !onger. "he o$tside !ight 'as not on over their door. + !4+ -ary ca!!ed o$t so#t!y) !ike she did not 'ant to . She 'a!ked aro$nd to the #ront.

+7e okay !) p!ease be okay. /e !ooked as tho$gh he had been drinking. Ca!&!y and co!!ected!y she said) +(.& tired o# a!! this shit yo$ bring in here abo$t the past. /is eyes 'ere shot #$!! o# red and he !ooked e2ha$sted. nd considering his reticent behavior -ary e2pected near!y anything #ro& hi&.t try to p$sh &e o## on so&e 9$ack6+ "here it 'as. "he dark roo& %$&ped into vision.t sneaking6 /o' dare yo$4 /o' do ( kno' 'hat to e2pect #ro& yo$4 Where yo$ &ight be4+ ! stood $p and pointed a #inger at -ary) sho$ting) +"hat. 0o$.& 'orried abo$t yo$ !. -ary on!y 'anted hi& to be 'e!! again) to be hi&se!#) instead o# this person he 'as beco&ing.t 'ant it) that. She !istened #or a rep!y and 'hen there 'as none she took a deep breath and raised her hand to the !ight s'itches beside the entrance. What are yo$ doing sneaking in4+ ! did not !ook 'e!! to -ary.& not6 7$t at !east 'hen ( a&) peop!e back there !isten to &e6 "hey don. /o' 'as ( to kno' yo$ 'ere s!eeping there4 7esides) it. "hat 'as the tro$b!e. (# yo$ can. nd ! 'o$!d not !et go o# it. (. +Good God !6+ -ary gasped.receive an ans'er. 3e#ensive!y -ary retorted) +"he door 'as !ocked and the !ights 'ere o$t.K -ary #!icked on the !iving roo& cei!ing !ight. "his b$siness abo$t the past had taken over his e2istence and -ary co$!d not stand it.re god da&ned cra1y and yo$ need so&e he!p6 nd i# yo$ don.t see that then yo$ are a #oo!.t yo$4 We!! (. "he !ight reached the #ar corner o# the roo& and ! %ackkni#ed into a sitting position on the co$ch.+ She 'a!ked past ! and headed to . Every piece o# #$rnit$re etched itse!# deep!y in her &ind. +0o$ scared the pee o$t o# &e6+ /a!# a'ake) ! ans'ered) + nd yo$ da&n near gave &e a heart attack.s &y ho$se too6 ( can sneak aro$nd here i# ( 'ant to and ( 'asn.s it right there6 0o$ #ig$red ( 'as b!acked o$t) didn.s #ine too.

When they parted ! sa' tears in -ary. ! !o'ered his head? their !ips &et and they kissed.t #ind so&eone to he!p.s so&ething #or &e to take care o#. "here 'ere things he had to do 'ith his !i#e and she on!y thre' obstac!es in his 'ay.+ .& being tested. /e &oved c!oser) reached o$t 'ith his right hand) and !i#ted her chin $nti! she 'as !ooking at hi&. -ary had changed #ro& her 'ork s$it into a 'hite si!k b!o$se) !ong s!eeved) r$##!ed c$##s) 'ith a dra'string neck) and a &id-ca!# !ength) !oose #itting b!$e skirt. +(t.t 'ork this o$t) i# ( r$n #ro& it) (. 0o$ 'on. (. P!ease) don.t rea!!y kno' 'hat.+ -ary p$!!ed ! to her tight!y) h$gging hi& 'ith a!! her strength.t &ean to $pset yo$.& not cra1y.s %$st that things are so &i2ed $p #or &e. 0o$. (t.the bedroo&.t have to !ook over yo$r sho$!der. ( %$st 'orry abo$t yo$ so &$ch. P!ease)+ she said p$!!ing back so she co$!d !ook into his eyes) +see i# yo$ can. -ary a!'ays !iked her per#$&e to be s$bt!e. (t. (t.s happening any&ore. /e said) +( don. /e sat her do'n on the bed and sat do'n ne2t to her ho!ding her hands in his. +( don.!! a!'ays be !ooking over &y sho$!der 'ondering 'hat it 'as a!! abo$t. She o##ered no resistance. "he air in the !iving roo& carried a hint o# per#$&e.t &ean 'hat ( say !.s not so&ething ( can be he!ped 'ith.+ +-ary)+ ! sighed.s %$st that ( kno' this is so&ething ( have to do.+ E2cited) -ary interr$pted) +7$t !) a doctor 'i!! be ab!e to e2p!ain a!! this to yo$. ( don. (# ( don. +5o' (. (t.s !ike (.t !ook at &e that 'ay. Why it happened and 'hat it &eans. 5o' 'as the ti&e to te!! her they 'ere #inished.re 'e!co&e to co&e a!ong i# yo$ !ike. ( never kno' 'hat to e2pect any &ore.s not ta!king to &e.+ ! stood in the !iving roo&. She !ooked !ove!y.& going to go and get so&ething to eat. /e 'a!ked into the bedroo&.s eyes. /e co$!d hear -ary in the bedroo& changing c!othes. ! 'a!ked over c!ose and stood be#ore her. -ary 'o$!d not !ook $p at hi&. God.

(t is so bea$ti#$! and peace#$!. /e did !ove her. +-ary) ( 'ish yo$ co$!d see the ocean do'n there.+ She reached $p and so#t!y p!aced a hand over his &o$th and p$!!ed hi& do'n on top o# her. +5o) -ary. . !! ( can do is ask yo$ to p!ease tr$st &e) to be!ieve ( kno' 'hat is best #or &e.! p$!!ed -ary c!ose to hi&.+ /e kissed her passionate!y) r$nning his !e#t hand $p $nder her b!o$se. (t had been too !ong since they had &ade !ove together.

/o' to go back4 . 8osing days o$t o# his !i#e 'orried hi&. . "hat one 9$estion had beco&e his !i#e.s sho$!der.03 -. /e kne' that. "he 8E3 on the a!ar& c!ock) in a s$bd$ed) #aint b!$e) sho'ed the ti&e as 2."he b!acko$ts 'orried hi&. "'o 'o&en !oved hi&. Either one 'as &ore than s$itab!e #or a 'i#e) tho$gh one a!ready 'as.! had to consider that -ary and the doctors &ight be right. . She rested on her !e#t side #acing !? her back bo'ed s!ight!y) th$s a!!o'ing on!y her #eet at the one end and her head at the other to &ake contact 'ith hi&.What to do) 'hat to do4 . /e co$!d be !osing it. /e !ay in the bed 'ide-a'ake. "here sho$!d have been no decision to &ake? yet there 'as one.hapter #$ (t 'as !ate -onday night) ear!y "$esday &orning. nd this prob!e& pa!ed 'hen he co&pared it against 'here he had been and 'here he needed to go. -ary had &oved the c!ock over to her side o# the bed since his b!acko$t spe!!s had beg$n keeping hi& ho&e. . -ary s!ept 9$iet!y ne2t to hi&. .roared thro$gho$t !.-aybe they are right6 . /e had gone back to Ga!veston6 "hat 'as rea!. (# he did not ret$rn he 'o$!d be !eaving so&ething very i&portant ha!#-done and he co$!d not stand that tho$ght. "he so#t so$nd o# her breathing #i!!ed the 9$iet roo&. (t 'as no past !i#e) it 'as his c$rrent !i#e6 Was he to go back there again or 'as he going to stay here #orever4 "here 'ere things he had to #inish there. -ary s!ept 'ith her chin t$cked against her chest? her #orehead and the per#$&ed hair that h$ng over it sn$gg!ed at !.

What to do) 'hat to do4 . When that 'as done he 'o$!d &ake his choices here. Wo$!d it never go a'ay4 Was this ho' every i&portant 9$estion 'as decided) thro$gh g$t 'renching indecision4 Was greatness on!y the &eas$re&ent o# the sto&ach !ining4 Was ! s$pposed to sit and 'ait #or ti&e and chance to decide 'here he sho$!d be4 Chance had decided6 /e had gone to Ga!veston6 /e 'o$!d ret$rn there and #inish 'hat he had started. ! 'o$!d take it one step at a ti&e) no 'orrying abo$t the #$t$re) no 'orrying abo$t the present.5o6 ..Even a#ter that deter&ined state&ent it 'as sti!! there./e 'o$!d #inish 'hat he had started6 . /e &$st sett!e the past be#ore !ooking on'ard. /e had so&ething to do) so&ething he had to &eas$re hi&se!# against6 .

(t 'as the east end o# the is!and. ! 'ondered 'hy that 'as. /e had been there) he 'o$!d be back there) that 'as ho' it 'as to be. -aybe he 'as not s$pposed to be there4 /e #orced the tho$ght #ro& his &ind. "he retreating #!ood'aters had !eve!ed any trace o# sand d$nes. /e ran a hand thro$gh his hair and r$bbed his eyes) re&oving a s&a!! a&o$nt o# s!eep #ro& their . /e had #a!!en as!eep d$ring his concentration. ! had ca!!ed >obin short!y a#ter -ary !e#t the ho$se. /e searched every corner o# his &ind #or detai!s o# that &o&ent. "he s$n had been rising and he 'as on the beach. ! tried to #orce hi&se!# back into ti&e.hapter #% "$esday &orning) ! 'as again on the co$ch. /e hoped they 'ere not. -ary 'as at 'ork. "he co!d 'inter s$n!ight passed thro$gh the 'indo'panes and 'ar&ed as it !it the roo&. 8ying on the co$ch ! #oc$sed on his prob!e&. ! 'oke $p. She 'as going to &eet hi& #or !$nch again. "he sand had been s&ooth as #ar as he co$!d see. =n the beach there 'as on!y the ca!& that can be nat$re. "here 'as no visib!e 'reckage #ro& the city. /o' to have another b!acko$t4 "hey &ight be tota!!y spontaneo$s) independent o# his in#!$ence entire!y. "he s&e!! o# the sa!t air. /e tried #oc$sing on the !ast &o&ent that he had been back there. /is presence see&ed to be the on!y dist$rbing #eat$re. "here 'as nothing positive to be achieved #ro& it. "he ocean and the t'o %etties 'ere the on!y things bet'een hi& and the s$n. ! concentrated on the act o# t$rning to the 'est) 'a!king a'ay #ro& the s&ooth 'hite beach to'ards the city.

+ !! ( kno' is that ( 'i!! go back. (. 5either had ordered any #ood. "he 'ar&th radiating #ro& the stone'are #e!t good to his chi!!ed #ingers.s not as bad as ( tho$ght it 'o$!d be. +Shit6 (t.& going to go back there and see this thing thro$gh to its end.+ ! rose #ro& the co$ch and h$rried into the bathroo& to 'ash his #ace.ve got to get going. >obin sti!! he!d !. "he 'eather o$tside had t$rned co!d. When she #irst sa' !. /e !ooked at his 'rist'atch.+ >obin pa$sed b$t ! did not speak so she contin$ed) +/o' are yo$ going to get back there4+ +( don.+ "hey 'ere si!ent #or a short 'hi!e. ( rea!i1e that and ( do so very &$ch appreciate it. /it &yse!# in the head ( g$ess.s #ace >obin kne' she 'as in #or bad ne's.re never co&ing back. +>obin) ( 'ant yo$ to kno' that yo$ and on!y yo$)+ here he !ooked $p at her) +have be!ieved &e) have tr$sted &e thro$gh a!! this.t kno' 'here that end is tho$gh.+ >obin s&i!ed and said) +"hat.corners.s hand. She had ordered the beer in preparation. ! contin$ed. ! did try to brighten $p a !itt!e tho$gh as he !ooked into >obin.& %$st cra1y.+ +We!! then) don. (t.s possib!e (. ( don. ! she!tered his co##ee c$p $nder both hands. >obin 'as sipping on a beer? ! drank co##ee.ve ever had. ( 'as a#raid yo$ 'ere going to say yo$ co$!d never see &e again.ve got to go and #ace that.+ +=h) no >obin6 ( co$!d never say that. /e !ooked do'n at the c$p as he spoke. +(.s yo$ng #ace. nd i# that is the tr$th then (.s a 9$arter past e!even a!ready.t kno'. 0o$ ta!k !ike yo$.t !ook so sad !.+ (t 'as an o!d %oke no' and 'as beginning to see& !ike a reasonab!e so!$tion. ( 'ant yo$ to kno' that yo$ are the best #riend (.s . >obin and ! 'ere seated at a tab!e in the bo'!ing a!!ey.+ >obin reached across the tab!e and he!d !.

+ !ong si!ence #o!!o'ed.s a!! ( need to be!ieve it.t it a!! so$nd a !itt!e o## the 'a!!4+ + !)+ She said tightening her ho!d on his hand) +0o$ te!! &e it. . t !ast ! t$rned his hand over and they he!d each other*s hand.hand. "hat. With this &otion he asked her) +/o' can yo$ take any o# this serio$s!y4 3oesn.s tr$e. When they started ta!king again it 'as abo$t nothing) shopta!k) no goodbyes.

+( 'i!! do it or be da&ned. /aving decided his co$rse o# action ! sti!! co$!d not #ree hi&se!# physica!!y #ro& his c$rrent !i#e. -ary rested her right hand on a chair back and !ooked ! over #ro& head to toe) s!o'!y.+ /e got $p #ro& the co$ch 'here he had been !aying and headed into the kitchen. She sa' the dining roo& tab!e 'as set #or&a!!y and that t'o ta!! tapers) topped 'ith bright ye!!o' #!a&e) s$pp!ied the scene 'ith !ight. /is &ind 'as set b$t the #!esh 'as $n'i!!ing. +( kno' that)+ -ary rep!ied as she headed back to hi&. 5o &ore sitting on this #ence. She sa' it then) a s&a!! series o# red spots) &ost no !arger than a pinhead) and said) . +What are yo$ #i2ing4+ She 'as near the dining roo& tab!e 'hen ! popped o$t o# the kitchen.t stand that any !onger. So&e ti&e d$ring the #irst ne'scast ! #ir&ed to his task.hapter #& ! spent the re&ainder o# the a#ternoon at ho&e in shi#ting &oods) #ro& the high e!ation o# the proposed ret$rn to the past to the #oreboding &ood that had per&eated his !$nch conversation. ( can. When -ary) backed by the no' co!d air o# 5ove&ber) opened the #ront door she 'as &et by the beckoning aro&a o# (ta!ian #ood. +G$ess4+ he !a$ghing!y to!d her as he stood in the kitchen door'ay) protecting it #ro& prying eyes. "he 'ar& #!ood o# heated) per#$&ed air #ro& the kitchen #!ooded aro$nd her) s'a!!o'ing her 'ho!e. + !)+ she ca!!ed tossing her heavy coat do'n on the co$ch) +What are yo$ $p to4+ +Cooking)+ he ca!!ed #ro& the kitchen. n $nopened bott!e o# 'ine graced the tab!e.

Stea&ing aro&atic vapors #!o'ed o$t aro$nd the raised !id intensi#ying the #ragrance o# the air. She sat do'n and they both began to eat.t have to be to!d t'ice) not #or the #a&o$s -artin spaghetti. -ary had been !oving!y 'atching hi& as he spoke) no' she si&p!y said) +=h !.s happiness. (t had been so !ong since they had been ab!e to do that.!! be back in a second)+ -ary said t$rning to'ards the bedroo&. +( don. /e s&i!ed over the top o# the no' c!eaned spoon and said to -ary) +0o$ had better h$rry and 'ash $p.+ +(. +Spaghetti is abo$t the on!y thing ( tr$st &yse!# not to r$in)+ he conc!$ded. <reeing hi&se!# #ro& her ar&s ! gave -ary a short kiss and said) +(.s gotten into yo$4+ -ary asked be#ore rea!i1ing 'hat she 'as saying.+Spaghetti6 0o$. =n the #ront right b$rner the nood!es t$&b!ed over and over in their boi!ing 'ater.+ When -ary ret$rned) ! sat at the tab!e.ve got to check the sa$ce. ! did not see& to notice the phrasing as he ans'ered) +( tho$ght yo$ &ight !ike to eat at ho&e #or a change) %$st the t'o o# $s)+ he said shy!y. 5either spoke &$ch and then it 'as o# no i&port. ! spooned o$t a !itt!e o# the sa$ce and tasted it. . "here 'as a rosy tint in his cheeks) either #ro& the heat o# the stea&ing ver&ice!!i or #ro& a b!$sh at his 'i#e. -ary sti!! had the abi!ity to &ake hi& nervo$s.re #i2ing spaghetti6+ Sheepish!y ! nodded yes. She 'anted to en%oy the evening.. ( !ove yo$)+ and she 9$ick!y crossed the space bet'een the& and h$gged hi& dear!y. "his st$## is ready to eat. +What.. ! dipped a !arge 'ooden spoon into the b$bb!ing redness and s!o'!y stirred it. "he 'ine 'as po$red and the p!ates ready. -ary 'anted to ask 'hy ! 'as being so nice) b$t she 'as a#raid to say anything and chance spoi!ing it a!!.+ /e 'ent to the stove) !eaving her at the door'ay to 'atch) and peeked $nder the !id o# a deep pot.

+ She 'as so re!ieved. +0o$ think this is so&e $nrea!ity in &y head) b$t yo$ are 'rong. +(.t kno')+ he said s9$ee1ing her hand pain#$!!y in his e2cite&ent over her serio$s) be!ieving 9$estion. .Ga!veston6 Good 8ord) is that it4 . (t.+ Coo!!y) the 'ords ringing in her ears) -ary asked) +Where are yo$ going4+ +(.s &e. ! c!eared the tab!e. (t 'as a !ove!y night #or hi& and a!&ost that #or -ary.t ta!k !ike that !. ! !ooked at his 'i#e and said to her) +-ary) ( can.+ !. "he t'o cand!es 'ere no' short and s9$at) coo!ed 'a2 !ay poo!ed be!o' the&. She tried to dis&iss it #ro& her &ind so she and ! co$!d %$st be together) $nenc$&bered. She 'as #rightened by 'hat she sa'.ve got to go back to Ga!veston. "he bott!e o# 'ine 'as sti!! near ha!# #$!!) their g!asses a!&ost !ooked $nto$ched.& serio$s -ary)+ ! said. "his 'as %$st abo$t those si!!y b!acko$ts.+ -ary !ooked c!ose!y at !. "he te!evision set 'as t$rned o##) the ho$se 'as si!ent. ! 'as $nconscio$s..s rea!) and it. +7$t ( 'i!! do it. +3on. (# she sho'ed any trace o# her concern over his sanity) ! never noticed it. (n e9$a! serio$sness she asked) +/o' can yo$ go back there !4+ +( don. /e took it in both o# his.+ -ary sa' happiness in that decision. =h !)+ -ary said reaching a hand o$t to hi&. Wednesday at a 9$arter ti!! e!even ! !ay on the co$ch. /e !ooked) 'as) so deter&ined.+ . She had tho$ght it 'as going to be abo$t >obin.t stay here."hey #inished eating.

"hen he stood $p. <ro& his #eet to his #ace) 'here the b!ack hair 'as sti!! 'et and p!astered back on his head) the birds 'ere &aking a #east o# hi&. "he dead boy 'as partia!!y c!othed in a pair o# bro'n pants. When his head hit the dry) 'hite sand he ro!!ed over and began vo&iting and contin$ed to vo&it as he atte&pted to get back to his #eet. "hey pecked at any e2posed #!esh they #o$nd) tearing at it 'ith their sharp) hooked beaks. Wiping his right s!eeve across his &o$th ! ret$rned to the top o# the d$ne. "he spas&s stopped. "he &$sc!e 'renching contractions a!!o'ed ! to on!y gain his a!! #o$rs. "his ti&e 'hen he vie'ed the contents o# the depression he 'as $nder better contro!. "he 'hite-#eathered birds) their beaks #!ecked 'ith red) hopped aro$nd the boy. @nderneath a s'ar& o# sea g$!!s) !ay the tattered body o# a teenage boy. "he birds 'orked those openings. <ro& the top o# a d$ne ! !ooked do'n into the sha!!o' depression beyond.hapter #' 5earing the city) the s$n brightening in the east) it 'as readi!y apparent that Ga!veston had been devastated by the stor&. -any sat on the body. "he pants and the body had both been br$ta!i1ed by the stor&. "he s&a!! d$nes he no' crossed 'ere !ittered 'ith debris. "he eyes 'ere gone) the nose &issing. +Good 8ord6+ he e2c!ai&ed. /is hands rose to cover his &o$th as he gagged back the contents o# his sto&ach. Staggering back'ard ! st$&b!ed and #e!! to the sand. "he head 'o$!d toss #ro& side to side as i# it 'ere trying to dis!odge . ! shook his head s!o'!y to c!ear it) as he gasped #or air.

"here 'ere no stones) on!y sand.the #o'!. s ! 'a!ked on to'ard the city the gro$nd began to be covered by an e2cretory-!ike s!i&e !e#t by the ocean. S!o'!y) $sing the short p!ank as a shove!) ! began to cover the dead boy 'ith the bright) 'hite sand.s right #oot. When the %ob 'as done and ! 'as 'a!king a'ay he 'atched and sa' the g$!!s circ!ing over the s&a!!) ne' d$ne. /e #o$nd and b$ried three &ore bodies be#ore he reached Ga!veston. ! !i#ted the #oot) his sto&ach sett!ed by his anger) and p$!!ed the p!ank o$t. Grasping it in his right hand he 'aited) the& s'$ng at the #irst bird that ca&e a !itt!e too near. "he g$!!s 'ere in no h$rry. ! !ooked aro$nd #or so&ething) anything) to thro' at the creat$res. "he other birds a!! rose higher in the air. +Get o$t o# here yo$ sons-o#-bitches6+ ! roared r$nning do'n the d$ne) 'aving his ar&s abo$t) hating the creat$res. "hey circ!ed and soared at a !o' !eve! 'atching !) 'aiting #or hi& to !eave. s&a!! broken p!ank !ay $nder the boy. "he bird 'as no &atch #or the #orce o# the s'ing and it 'as driven to the gro$nd dead) 'itho$t a s9$a'k. (t 'as severa! &in$tes be#ore ! rea!i1ed this 'o$!d contin$e $nti! he e2ha$sted a!! o# his energies. Crying) tears strea&ing do'n his #ace) ! #e!! to his knees beside the body. "he so!id p!ank &ade contact 'ith a !o$d +th$&p+. "here 'ere ho!es in his abdo&en that attracted &any birds. (t 'as a !itt!e over t'o #eet !ong. "hey co$!d #ind no opening to attack. . "he birds on the sand on either side t$gged at the #!esh on his cheeks) his ears) and head) #orcing the dead ob%ect to !o!! back and #orth. /e screa&ed and roared inartic$!ate) ani&a!istic so$nds at the birds #rightening the& back into the air. ! contin$ed to roar abo$t the body 'hipping the p!ank thro$gh the air. =thers pecked at his hands and ar&s giving the& a dread#$!) pained &ove&ent.

! !e#t the &o$ntain o# r$bb!e behind as he 'orked . +/ey) yo$6+ "here 'as no sign o# recognition #ro& the &an. <ro& the top o# one heap ! !ooked into the side o# a #o$r-story ho$se. >$bb!e !ay every'here. "here 'as no bringing hi& back to rea!ity. Eye !eve! 'ith !) on the third #!oor o# the b$i!ding) 'as a &an sitting on one end o# a battered) 'ater !ogged) ca&e! back co$ch. +/ey6+ ! ca!!ed over the t'enty #eet that separated the&. -any o# those ho$ses that had 'ithstood the stor& 'ere destroyed by the receding #!ood'aters. "he &an sat) head in hands) $na'are o# his dangero$s sit$ation. ! did not kno' 'here he 'as headed or 'hy) %$st that he &$st keep &oving. "he #orce o# the 'aters ret$rning to the sea had s$cked their contents) &ateria! and h$&an) o$t s&ashing the& into the departing stor&. "he other end o# the co$ch !eaned precipito$s!y o$t the side o# the roo&. ! c!i&bed over and thro$gh !abyrinth-!ike &o$ntains o# ti&bers) bricks) trees) tossed together by the stor& as he 'orked his 'ay #$rther into Ga!veston.Ga!veston 'as covered 'ith over an inch o# oo1e #ro& the sea. /e 'orked across the o$tside o# the r$bb!e 'here ever possib!e b$t so&eti&es) d$e to the steepness o# the &o$nd) he had to c!i&b into its interior and grapp!e thro$gh its inner 'orkings. ! care#$!!y began to &ake his 'ay do'n #ro& the height. +Wake $p6 /ey6+ ! %$&ped $p and do'n 'aving at the &an. "he so$th 'a!!s had been ripped o$t by the stor&) #$rnit$re h$ng o$t 'indo' openings. =n his second %$&p there 'as a shi#t o# the r$bb!e be!o' !. C$iet!y) standing &otion!ess) ! !ooked at the &an on the co$ch 'ho sti!! sat ob!ivio$s to the ret$rn o# the 'or!d.s #eet.s #!oor. Every'here he !ooked ! sa' death and destr$ction. (t !ay every'here. "he city 'as near!y !eve!ed) on!y a #e' str$ct$res stood $nhar&ed. (nside the #ooting 'as #ir&) the area cra&ped) and it 'o$!d gro' darker as he &oved #$rther #ro& the s$r#ace. "here 'as a &o&ent 'hen ! tho$ght the heap 'as going to co!!apse.

.#$rther into the city. Every'here he sa' peop!e da1ed) their bodies c$t and br$ised) &any o# the& stripped o# their c!othes by the stor&) 'andering abo$t !ooking) !ooking #or their #a&i!ies.

t have stea& $p in her boi!ers) not that there 'as any 'ay he 'as going to be ab!e to &ake head'ay against that stor&) so then she had to #end #or herse!#. (# it hadn. "here 'as &$ch ani&ated disc$ssion abo$t the e##ects o# the stor& and a!&ost no ta!k o# its tragedies.s over t'enty &i!es #ro& here6 +"'enty-t'o &i!es6 "hat.s nothing6 3id yo$ hear 'hat happened to the "a$nton4 Everyone spoke at once. 0o$ kno' 'here that da&n ship 'o$nd $p) sa#e and in one piece4 +5o) 'here4+ the voices c!a&ored.K +"hat. <ro& a s&a!! gro$p o# &en o## to his right he overheard. +"hat.s a 7ritish stea&ship.s a "a$nton4 What are yo$ ta!king abo$t4 What. +"he 'ho!e #a&i!y 'as $p on top o# their ho$se. +5o 'hat happened4 What.d he say4+ +We!! the "a$nton. "hen her anchor chain snapped #ree6 "he captain didn. She 'as anchored o$t there by the 'harves 'hen the b!o' hit.s b$!!6 +5o it.s not6 ( s'ear it6+ nother gro$p ta!ked.t been #or that) no te!!ing 'here she &ight have #etched $p. ( g$ess . +Cedar Point6 +"hat can. !arge gro$p o# &en &i!!ed aro$nd.hapter #( 7y &id-&orning ! had #o$nd his 'ay to the do'nto'n area o# Ga!veston.s 'here she ran agro$nd. "hat da&n ship ran into a thirty-#oot e&bank&ent o$t there.t be6 Cedar Point. She rocked and pitched #or the !ongest ti&e.

+ !o$d co&&anding voice sho$ted) +0o$ &en a!! !isten $p. +What. We ho!!ered) !ike ( said) and this &an %$st keeps on goin.. ny vo!$nteers4+ "here 'as a s$rge by a!! the &en in the area to'ard the speaker.ve got to send so&eone o$t to /o$ston 'ith a &essage. Co$!dn. at the #e!!o'.that. "hey 'ere a!! hanging onto the roo# ti!es 'hen his 'i#e 'as b!o'n o##. nd not a one o# the others even got a scratch the 'ho!e night. We #ig$red he &$st have !ost everything) #a&i!y) everything. :egetab!es a!! over the p!ace.re a!! sp!it open and the goods are every'here. t a!&ost the sa&e ti&e the roo# popped over) thro'ing the !ot o# the& into the 'ater. She had nine kids sti!! hanging to her) a!! o# .bo$t #orty. She &$st have gotten ca$ght on the ti!es 'hen the roo# #!ipped and dro'ned there right be!o' the&.t ever #ind her. +( %$st ca&e thro$gh the 'harves.s #o$r.. /e 'atn. We!!) they a!! &ade it back into the over-t$rned roo# e2cept the 'i#e.e& dead. o$t into the G$!#. /e 'as %$st 'adin.s going on4+ he asked t$gging at the coattai! o# .t too o!d a &an) . (t 'as !ike she 'as $nder there protecting the&. We. 0o$ seen the 'areho$ses4 "hey. ! 'as sp$n abo$t and knocked do'n.+ <ro& others. -anaging to get his #eet back $nder hi& be#ore he 'as tra&p!ed he stood #ar back #ro& the center o# the gro$p 'here the disc$ssions 'ere taking p!ace. +-e and &y brother stood there on the beach ho!!erin. -ary. no #ive kids) hi& and his 'i#e. 3ressed good. "hey #o$nd one o# the n$ns dro'ned do'n by the shore.s =rphanage is on!y a pi!e o# bricks no'.+ ! &oved nearer three &en) and !istened to a #o$rth.. (n %$st a !itt!e bit the 'aves broke over his head and he 'as gone. +St. nd 'hen the 'ater 'ent do'n and the roo# ca&e to rest they a!! c!i&bed do'n to the gro$nd and there) pinned $nder the roo# 'as the 'i#e6 3ead as co$!d be o# co$rse. She stayed there #or over si2 ho$rs as they dri#ted aro$nd.

We..+ /e rode on $p the street sho$ting o$t orders here and there to the cre's o# &en attacking the destr$ction.+ "he &an added) +"hey 'ere to!d not to e2aggerate the da&age. 7astard sho$!d try so&e o# this)+ he said tossing aside brick a#ter brick as the gro$p 'orked on the pi!e? none o# the bricks #e!! any'here near the street no'.+ /e t$rned back aro$nd and passed on the 9$estion. +3on. Porch) >ichard Spi!!ane) "o& S&ith) and so&e &an na&ed Co2 to head to /o$ston and te!! .s sitting $p there on that horse.s that bastard think he is4+ the &an beside ! asked $nder his breath) !ooking askant at the rider.t kno' 'hat they. #ter a #e' patient &in$tes the &an to!d !) +"hey chose .re doing. E2aggerating 'o$!d be hard to do.ca$se he. (. 3e!aney) E. +"hinks he so&e kind o# a!&ighty ass-ho!e .s hands br$ta!!y. ! &ade no co&&ent to the &an. "he disgr$nt!ed &an s&e!!ed 'orse than the death ! had enco$ntered. /e did not even !ook in that direction) the s&e!! 'as eno$gh. +Who.. ! stayed b$sy &oving r$bb!e. (t 'as no' no &ore than a brick pi!e. "hirty #eet o# #!ood'ater had not been eno$gh to 'ash the &an c!ean.& trying to #ind o$t too.e& to send he!p. "he bricks 'ere red) 'ith a coarse grainy e2terior that cha##ed !. "hey began tossing the bricks aside. +0o$ &en there6+ a &an on horseback ca!!ed o$t to the&.the &an in #ront o# hi&. /is #ingers 'ere c$t and b!eeding a#ter on!y #ive &in$tes o# 'ork.. ! vo!$nteered his he!p.t pitch that r$bb!e into the street.+ When the #ive &en set o## #or /o$ston) the others 'ere asked to he!p search #or bodies. "he &an t$rned 9$ick!y abo$t and $nder his breath ans'ered) +( don. "hey began at a s&ashed ho$se) 'hich once had been a ta!! brick b$i!ding. sti##ness in the !o'er back 'as a!ready beginning to s!o' his 'ork 'hen .!! need it c!ear.8. ! 'orked 'ith si2 others.

/er hand 'as !ocked #ast in that o# her &other. "hey tota!!y eng$!#ed the s&a!! hand o# the da$ghter. (n that hand she he!d the s&a!! hand o# her da$ghter. +7ring those bodies do'n here to the street.t take it b$bba4+ the s&e!!y one sneered. =ne by one ! pried at the #ingers) 'hich had a!ready beco&e very sti##. "heir bodies 'ere terrib!y battered. "he others %oined hi&. We.ve started a &org$e over on the docks to hand!e the dead. "he &other. "here 'ere t'o &ore !o$d pops be#ore ! co$!d sho$t) +Stop that6 0o$ son-o#-a-bitch6+ "hen he c$##ed the &an in the side o# the head vicio$s!y) bo'!ing hi& over side'ays onto the bricks. ! took a #orced) deep breath at the shock) then he ca!!ed o$t to the others) +/ey6 ( #o$nd so&eone6 Co&e he!p6 /$rry6+ ! began to thro' the bricks aside #rantic!y.s #ingers 'ere !ong and e!egant!y shaped. S!o'!y) brick by brick) the body 'as $ncovered. (t 'as the big toe o# a right #oot.ve broken it)+ ! said so#t!y. "he &en 'ere standing ringed abo$t the t'o bodies) 'ondering 'hat to do ne2t) 'hen the horse&an ca&e back. ! stooped do'n to !i#t the !itt!e gir!. "hey had apparent!y been in one o# the $pper roo&s 'hen the b$i!ding co!!apsed on the&. "here 'as a sharp snap as he p$!!ed at the c!asping ring #inger. "he #oot) the knee) then the !e#t #oot 'as #o$nd) and the #ig$re 'as presented.+ /e started o##) then stopped and added) +7e s$re to !ook #or identi#ication)+ and he 'as gone. . She 'ore a go!d band on her !e#t hand. =n!y the s&a!!est portion o# the #at ro$nd end 'as presented.s.he &oved a brick and e2posed a toe. /e p$!!ed his horse to a stop near the&. +Good god) (. +8et &e in there)+ and he p$shed ! aside and 'ent to 'ork on the hands. ! took the pair o# co!d hands in his to separate the&.!! be a dray a!ong soon to pick the& $p. ! bent back do'n to the hands. +Can. "here. (t had been a yo$ng &other.

+ +/e hit &e by God6+ St$bber screa&ed pointing at !) sti!! knee!ed at the bodies. ! and his cre') #or they no' #o!!o'ed his !ead) 'ere !eaving the site to begin on another 'hen St$bber ca!!ed o$t) +/ey) here co&es one o# the& 'agons no'. St$bber stood) seething in anger) on the pi!e o# r$bb!e and 'atched the& 'ork. 7y ear!y a#ternoon the entire b$i!ding had been shi#ted thro$gh brick by brick. E2cept #or St$bber) the others 'ent to the task o# &oving the &other. (t 'o$!d take a concerted e##ort by the 'ho!e cre' to get the bodies decent!y !oaded on the 'agon.+ ! bent do'n and !i#ted the sti## #or& o# the !itt!e gir! and began to carry her do'n to the street. "he #!at-bedded 'agon carried a !oad o# bodies a!ready three high.+5o one does that to &e6+ the &an roared as he picked hi&se!# $p #ro& the r$bb!e. 5e2t he took the &other) grasping her !e#t ar& in one hand) her !e#t ank!e in the other) and began to spin) dragging the body abo$t in the dirt o# the street as he . "hey !ay side by side at the edge o# the street. "hey #o!!o'ed its progress $nti! it stopped at their #eet. "he driver) an o!d) bent &an 'ith a great bri&&ed) s!o$ching hat) spoke to the&) +0o$ #e!!o's &ind giving the& a hand $p4+ /e pointed do'n at the #ive bodies 'ith his right hand) 'hich he!d the reins !oose!y. +(.i&&y St$bber stop right there6+ one o# the gro$p ca!!ed o$t as he stepped bet'een the t'o. +"his here &an. <ive bodies had been #o$nd d$ring the search.+ @p the street severa! b!ocks a &$!e dra'n dray 'as picking its 'ay thro$gh the street.+ Grinning) he h$rried over to the chi!d that they had #irst #o$nd. /e hoisted her $p e##ort!ess!y tossed her $p to the top o# the heap.s right6 0o$ got no ca!! to be treating the dead that 'ay. Ga&e!y St$bber spoke-$p) +7e happy to he!p. ! did not even !ook $p as the &an started to'ard hi&.!! do it again)+ ! spoke) rising to his #eet) +and 'orse) i# anything !ike that happens again. +.

+ "hey a!! eager!y !ent a hand. St$nned) St$bber !et go o# the body) sending it t$&b!ing end over end #or a distance o# ten #eet. ! 'aited.s see i# 'e can get the& onto the 'agon respect#$!!y. ! did not bother to check the heaped &an? he stepped aro$nd hi& and said to the others) +8et.s t'ice yo$ done that.s head 'ith a!&ost his #$!! strength.s reach ! !i#ted his right hand and sho'ing the brick it he!d. +"hat. ! !eaped in as St$bber sp$n and he !anded a heavy b!o' 'ith his #ist to the side o# St$bber. 5ot no &ore)+ and he began to &ove in to'ard !.$st be#ore he 'as in St$bber. (n a cro$ch St$bber r$shed at !. St$bber) his eyes #i!!ed 'ith hate) t$rned to #ace !. /e bro$ght the brick do'n on St$bber. . ! stood straight) cas$a!!y a'aiting St$bber.s head. "here 'as a !o$d gr$nt #ro& St$bber as the b!o' i&pacted) then he co!!apsed !ike an e&pty sack.tried to pick $p speed so that he co$!d #!ing her $p onto the 'agon. .

+ "he &an !ooked a'ay. "hat. P!ease co&e 'ith &e.t co&e a'ay.t yo$ co&e 'ith &e -a.hapter #) ! #o!!o'ed the dray as it headed to'ard the docks in a #$nera!-!ike procession.s 'onder&ent) spoke $p. +-a.a&) are yo$ a!right4+ "he 'o&an 'as back on her #eet be#ore !) p!eading 'ith hi&) +0o$ got to he!p &e) &ister.s dead.s in there he. She #e!! to her knees be#ore the r$bb!e) digging at its base.s in there)+ she he!d $p the !i&b as con#ir&ation o# her 9$est. =ne o# the &en) seeing !.a&4+ ! soothing!y vent$red.+ ! took another step to'ard her. (n her hands she c!$tched the severed right ar& o# a yo$ng chi!d. She 'on. s they neared the sea &ore and &ore drays !oaded 'ith bodies 'ere to be seen.a&)+ ! said) +(# yo$r baby. +-a.s not dead) he. ! &oved to'ard her saying) +Why don... +0o$ can.a&. =## to !.+ +5o6 5o6 5o6 /e. +-a. See) ( kno' he. She stood beside a pi!e o# r$bb!e) tears strea&ing do'n her #ace.s a!! that 'e 'ere ab!e to #ind o# hi&. +She !ost her baby in there. (# anything #e!! o## the 'agon ! 'as there to p!ace it back on.+ +0o$ 'ant to take &e a'ay #ro& &y baby6+ she sho$ted) then she began to &ove a'ay #ro& !.s not6 See6+ gain she he!d o$t the #!esh as testi&ony. +5ooooo6+ she shrieked and #!ed to the #ar side o# the .t stay here !ike this.s right a gro$p o# &en stood near a pi!e o# bodies 'atching the spectac!e o# a !ive) n$de 'o&an. "hose others a!ready gave $p.t stop !ooking #or hi&) 'on.

"he heavi!y !aden dray p$!!ed onto the 'harves. "he &org$e 'as a s!apped together) tin roo#ed a##air) $sing sa!vaged !$&ber #or s$pports. !! #o$r sides o# the b$i!ding 'ere open and a!! aro$nd it 'ere drays $n!oading their goods.+ +Co&e on)+ the o!d driver said to !. 7!$ebott!e #!ies #i!!ed the air. +=n!y the 8ord can he!p her no'. "he &org$e. "he heat 'ave that preceded the stor& had contin$ed in its 'ake) by ear!y a#ternoon the te&perat$re 'as in the &id-eighties. (. "he stor& and the receding 'aters had acted together to p$!! o$t the contents o# the great 'areho$ses in an er$ption o# prod$ce) dry goods) grains) and cotton. "he air 'as overpo'ering) its ca$se se!#-evident. "heir thick odors h$ng choking!y in the air) b$t there 'as a s'eeter) !ighter) &ore deep!y sickening air abo$t the docks. /ere the bodies 'ere being hand!ed reverent!y. "hose bea$ti#$!) e2citing 'harves ! had ear!ier seen 'ere no' non-e2istent. "he nearer to the docks ! ca&e the &ore he 'as b$##eted by a great stench. "he seaside o# the &$!tit$de o# 'areho$ses 'as bashed in by the stor&. "he dray stopped at one o# the &akeshi#t &org$es.!! #ind &y baby by &yse!#. -ore and &ore !oaded drays arrive. =cean going t$gs) a!! si1es o# sai!ing vesse!s) and ships had been driven into the 'areho$ses by the #orce o# the stor&. "heir droning 'ings 'ere di##ic$!t to speak over. @p and do'n the !ength o# the docks as #ar as he co$!d see) ! sa' on!y destr$ction. "he vegetab!es and sodden grains had 9$ick!y beg$n to deco&pose $nder the hot s$n. Care#$!!y they 'ere !o'ered #ro& the 'agon) carried into the &org$e and p!aced side by side.+ ! nodded agree&ent and began to !oad the 'aiting bodies. Workers at the &org$e then searched the bodies #or any identi#ying papers or &arks.s .r$bb!e heap #ro& 'here she said) +Go a'ay6 Go a'ay6 0o$.re !ike the others. "he &org$e 'as rapid!y being #i!!ed.

"he driver ca!!ed over to !) +/op $p here son? !et. ! breathed deep!y. 7oth &en 'ere hot and e2ha$sted. civi!ian ho!ding a ri#!e stood in the door. (t 'as near!y i&possib!e #or ! to catch his breath.es$s6 What in the he!! they c!osed #or4 &an needs a drink) ti&es !ike these.t 'ant no dr$nks going cra1y. "he night o# the stor& had been !ong #or everyone) no' the day 'as !onger.s been p$t $nder &artia! !a' and they don.+ ! c!i&bed $p beside the driver 'ho t$rned the &$!es and 'agon back to'ard the heart o# the city. + drink.+ s he t$rned back to his 'ork he said to hi&se!#) +5one o# the& can take &$ch &ore o# this heat and soon 'e 'on.s been c!osed.s he!p the dray 'as 9$ick!y e&ptied.s get a drink.+ With this the &an raised his ri#!e and pointed it in the driver. /e said) +"he sa!oon.tin roo# baked the air abo$t it. 8eaving the dock area behind the air began to #reshen. "he &$ck that covered the city 'as drying and &any o# the dead 'ere sti!! to be $ncovered) $n!ike the &org$e 'here they 'ere set o$t to air. !! the sa!oons are c!osed. &an dressed in a b$siness s$it) his coat set aside and his s!eeves ro!!ed $p) ca$ght sight o# the ne'!y arrived !oad and he ca!!ed over to so&e &en trying to identi#y the dead.+ With !.+ +"he to'n. "hey don.t !ook !ike they can take &$ch &ore o# this heat.t be ab!e too either.+ 8eaning aro$nd ! the o!d &an s'ore e2cited!y) +.s not 'orth getting dead)+ the driven said . "he 'agon p$!!ed $p be#ore a sa!oon #o$r b!ocks 'est o# the docks. +Who in the he!! ordered this4+ the o!d &an s'ore angri!y.s genera! direction. 5o' get o$t o# here6+ the &i!itia&an ordered.s orders o# -a%or <ay!ing and he says to shoot i# ( have too. +0o$ &en there6 /e!p $n!oad that 'agon and get those bodies $nder cover as 9$ick!y as yo$ can. +(t.

s the 'agon began to &ove a'ay the sentry sho$ted a#ter the&) +Everyone is s$pposed to keep 'orking6+ and #ina!!y) + !! the sa!oons are c!osed and g$arded6+ +Beep 'orking) ha6+ the driver snorted. ! had kept si!ent and contin$ed to do so #or the rest o# the day. /e p$!!ed angri!y at the reins to the &$!es. .9$iet!y to !.

! care#$!!y ro!!ed over onto his sto&ach and raised his head s!ight!y to !ook over the edge o# the depression and vie' the street. Crack6 Crack) crack) &ore g$ns #iring sp!it the night. "here 'ere a #e' #ires b!a1ing near the docks) b$t o$t in the city there 'ere on!y s&a!! g!o's 'here cooking #ires ear!ier had been. "he dead 'ere bro$ght in #aster than they co$!d be b$ried. Crack6 "he report o# a ri#!e %arred hi& a'ake. (n spite o# the heat o# the day the air 'as no' heavy 'ith &oist$re. "he n$&ber o# ho&e!ess 'ent $nco$nted. /e had chosen the position beca$se o# its sec$rity. "he so$nds o# their po$nding #eet gre' reso$nding!y. "he so$nds gre' !o$der. . Present!y he heard a great dea! o# sho$ting and the po$nding o# r$nning #eet.s si!ence. ! s!ept o$t $nder the stars. "he &i!itia troops patro!!ed the city 'atching #or !ooters.hapter $* S$nday night the city 'as e2ha$sted. "he 'harves 'ere covered 'ith the&. ! peered in the direction the shots ca&e #ro&.s direction. "he night 'as b!ack. cro'd o# &en headed to'ard hi&. /e !ay in a sha!!o' depression on the top o# a high r$bb!e pi!e) a !itt!e &ore than ten #eet #ro& the street. "hose that had #ood prepared it and shared it 'ith those that did not. "he sea bree1e s'ept over Ga!veston 'ith a #resh breath o# air. "'o b!ocks $p the street #o$r &en t$rned onto the street) r$nning to save their !ives) and raced in !. "hey 'ere dressed dark!y and ! had di##ic$!ty &aking the& o$t against the night.

"he #o$r had no &ore than t$rned to'ard ! 'hen a great throng o# &en ca&e into vie' in hot p$rs$it. screa& #i!!ed the night. "hey 'ere c!i&bing $p the s!ope on their hands and knees. "he torches b!a1ed above their heads i!!$&inating the scene 'ith a harsh) #!ickering !ight casting shado's the !ength o# . >aising his ri#!e to his sho$!der he took in another deep breath and he!d it) sighting do'n the barre!. "heir breath ca&e in coarse) gasping hisses. "hey 'ere near!y a score in n$&ber. "he &a%ority carried torches !i#ted high above their heads as they ran do'n the street. (t ended abr$pt!y? one o# the #!eeing &en #e!! dead. =ne o# the p$rs$ers) on the !e#t o# the pack) torch !ess) p$!!ed aside #ro& the gro$p and stopped. ! 'atched 'ith #ascination as the three str$gg!ed $p the hi!!. "he ri#!e s!o'!y !o'ered) pa$sed) then be!ched o$t a dea#ening roar. /andho!ds 'o$!d give 'ay on the&) t$&b!ing the& back to'ard the base. "hey carried 'eapons) pisto!s and ri#!es) in hand. "he horses capered o$t o# contro! abo$t the base o# the r$bb!e as the riders tried $ns$ccess#$!!y to take ai& 'ith their carbines at the #!eeing trio. /e took a !ong) s!o' de!iberate breath) then e2ha!ed. "he ta!! one 'as a h$ge b!ack &an 'ho drove ahead o# hi& the other t'o b!ack &en. >ight be!o' !. "he #!eeing &en stopped co!d!y as a gro$p o# &o$nted &en s'$ng into sight. =ne o# the &en) &$ch ta!!er that the other t'o) p$shed one o# the& to'ard the r$bb!e pi!e indicating their ro$te o# escape. "he re&aining three did not s!o' their pace. <ro& the opposite end o# the street a ne' so$nd 'as added) the po$nding o# hooves. "heir eyes sho'ed 'hite to ! as they str$gg!ed $p'ard. "hey a!! three started $p the &o$nd. "hey 'ere trapped no' 'ith no o$t!et. 7e!o') the &en on #oot had %oined the horse&en.s position the three stopped to vie' the ons!a$ght #ro& the #or'ard and the rear. "he horse&en arrived #irst.

s pockets.s &o$nt. "he &an took a step) st$&b!ed) reached #or a hand ho!d) #o$nd one and !ost it) then he co!!apsed #ace do'n on the heap and began to s!ide do'n'ard. "he riders had dis&o$nted and he!d their prancing &o$nts in check. /e began to search the dead &an. /is body stopped short o# the hooves o# the co&&anding o##icer. With the co&bined !ight o# the torches #ro& be!o' ! sa' the s'eat as it ro!!ed do'n the #ace o# the !ead &an) tracking thro$gh the dirt there. +Beep yo$r g$ns on the&)+ the co&&anding one ordered. Everyone. When the other t'o sa' their !eader shot do'n they stopped their atte&pted escape and began to 'ork their 'ay) s!ipping and s!iding) to the botto& 'here they 'ere s$rro$nded by the &i!itia&en. .the street. /e he!d it #or'ard casting !ight on the gro$nd near the body.es$s6+ /is hand 'as in the inner coat pocket 'hen he sho$ted. (t so$nded to ! !ike every g$n in the 'or!d #ired at once. With his boot he tried to t$rn the body over? it 'as too heavy.s position. "he !ead horse&an handed his reins to another and 'a!ked over to the dead &an. =ne spoke as !eader #or the gro$p) +Stop there) or 'e 'i!! shoot6+ "he trio contin$ed $p'ard) nearing !. <ro& be!o') + i& #or the big one6 (# he #a!!s the others 'i!! give $p6+ "here 'as no ti&e bet'een the co&&and and the carrying o$t o# it. 3irt a!! abo$t the big &an 'as kicked $p into the night. +/o!!y . yo$ng !ad) no &ore than #i#teen years o!d) his ri#!e as ta!! as he) ca&e #or'ard 'ith a b!a1ing brand. "he &an bent do'n and 'ith a gr$nt ro!!ed the heavy #or& over. +7ring a torch over here)+ he ordered. !! the g$ns 'ere a!ready trained on the pair. /e !eaped back #ro& the body 'iping his hands on his tro$sers.s attention 'as on hi&.

"he co&&ander stor&ed over to the prisoners and dre' his pisto!. /e 'atched the t'o bodies pitch back into the 'a!!) 'here) #inding no'here e!se to go) they began to s!ide s!o'!y to the gro$nd. +0o$. "here 'as a gasp and a rapid #ront to rear &$r&$r as the sight 'as vie'ed by the &i!itia. +We didn. When he had the 'rapped #inger p$t a'ay into his sadd!ebag the co&&ander !ooked over at the t'o &en and co&&anded) +<ire6+ !. .s head 'ith a cr$nch and he dropped $nconscio$s to the gro$nd. "here they 'ere stood-$p) backs to the 'a!!) #acing into the torch!ight o# the &i!itia.s head 'as #$!!y e2posed above the ri& o# his bed as he 'atched the scene. +Where did yo$ get that4+ he de&anded o# one o# the &en. Whi!e the horse&an stooped over the severed #inger) 'rapping it care#$!!y in his handkerchie#) the t'o prisoners 'ere taken to a s&a!! standing section o# a brick 'a!!. +Where did yo$ get that)+ he de&anded o# the second prisoner. "he roar o# g$ns again #i!!ed the air.re a god da&ned !iar)+ the horse&an s'ore as he s'$ng at the prisoner. +3on.t kno' 'here he got it)+ 'as the ans'er given. S$rro$nded by s'o!!en #!esh) a!&ost to the point o# invisibi!ity) 'as a !arge dia&ond engage&ent ring."here 'as a t'ink!e o# !ight on the gro$nd and the !eader ca!!ed o$t) +8ord) !ook at that6+ =n the gro$nd t'o #eet #ro& the prone body !ay an ashen co!ored) b!oated ring #inger. "he !ight #ro& the torches 'as a!ready disappearing $p the street be#ore the t'o bodies at !ast ca&e to a rest on the gro$nd. +Shoot the thieving bastards)+ the co&&ander ordered. "he pisto! in his hand crashed against the prisoner. +/e c$t it o## a dead 'o&an)+ the &an b!$rted o$t.t do it) he done it)+ pointing to the big dead &an.

=n 7road'ay ven$e ! ca&e to a ho$se.hapter $! (t 'as a !ong s!eep!ess night #or !. /e 'as $p and &oving do'n to the street !ong be#ore the s$n broke the eastern hori1on. "hey ta!ked. t the &org$e on!y a #e' !ive &en 'ere visib!e) they 'ere the doctors and t'o to'n !eaders. "he stench at the docks 'as near!y $nbearab!e. !ong !ine o# peop!e had a!ready #or&ed 'hen ! arrived. (n response another said) +"hey. "hro$gho$t the city ho&es 'ere opened to the starving peop!e. b!ock and a ha!# #ro& the &org$e he had seen the day be#ore) ! began gagging. (ts doors 'ere thro'n 'ide open and the s'eet aro&a o# break#ast #i!!ed the street. "he s$n 'as $p? skies c!ear) another hot day.+ . "he odors) the p$trid prod$ce on the docks and the corr$pted #!esh do$b!ed hi& over p$!!ing at the #ood in his sto&ach. "'o &o$th-#i!!ing gags 'ere #orced back do'n be#ore ! 'as ab!e to right hi&se!# and contin$e on.re b$rying the& as #ast as they can. With the added heat o# the co&ing day it 'o$!d beco&e into!erab!e. +We have got to do so&ething 'ith these bodies be#ore 'e have an epide&ic and ki!! 'hat.s !e#t o# the city)+ one o# the doctors stated. /is sto&ach threatened to rebe! again at any &o&ent. "hey %$st keep #inding the& #aster. /e took his p!ace in the !ine and 'aited 9$iet!y #or the #ood to be served. When ! #inished eating and !e#t the ho$se he 'a!ked s!o'!y to'ard the docks) 'here he 'o$!d he!p pay #or the &ea!.

+Who are 'e going to get to !oad the bodies4+ one doctor asked. s they approached !) one o# the o$triders ca!!ed over to hi&) +0o$ there) get over here. We can. "he body 'as b!oated 'ith gases) the #ace a disco!ored &ass o# hideo$s #!esh. ! 'as the #irst to &ove to'ard the bodies. =ne o# the t'o representatives #ro& the city no' spoke $p) +8ast night it 'as agreed that) 'ith yo$r ac9$iescence) 'e 'o$!d begin to !oad the bodies on board barges) so they can be b$ried at sea. "he g$ns 'ere pointed at the cro'd o# &en.+ gro$p o# &en ca&e into vie'. "hey need yo$ at the &org$e. "he t$g that bro$ght it 9$ick!y !e#t the area. "he p!ank 'as sti!! 'obb!ing #ro& being dropped into p!ace 'hen the 'aiting &en 'ere ordered) +Start !oading those bodies6+ 5o one &oved to co&p!y. We &$st dispense 'ith these ti&e cons$&ing processes o# identi#ication and noti#ication and dispose o# the bodies as 9$ick!y as possib!e. "he second city &an ans'ered) +-a%or <ay!ing is ro$nding $p vo!$nteers right no'. /e stopped at the #irst corpse) a &an near #i#ty years o# age. "he i&pressed gang o# &en stood abo$t the &org$e $nder c!ose scr$tiny by the troopers as they 'aited #or a barge to be to'ed in. 3o yo$ agree 'ith that4+ Everyone #e!t it 'as a good p!an. "he barge) 'e!! over a h$ndred #eet !ong) 'as tied $p 'ithin #i#teen #eet o# the &org$e. <irst one) then another trooper p$!!ed o$t his pisto! $nti! they 'ere a!! soon ar&ed.+ ! did as ordered.t contin$e on this 'ay)+ #ro& a third. "hey 'ere being headed to'ard the &org$e) driven there !ike a herd o# catt!e by &o$nted troops. 'ide) 'ooden p!ank 'as !aid as the gangp!ank bet'een the dock and the barge.+So&ething e!se &$st be done. "he eye !ids 'ere c!osed p$t the press$res on .

"he t'o carried the body $p to the #ront o# the barge opposite the dock and care#$!!y set it do'n. "ogether the t'o !i#ted the body and carried it onto the barge.s #ace. "he 'agon. ! took ho!d o# the sho$!ders o# the coat and began to p$!! the body do'n to the barge. ! !ooked $p into the &an. barre! o# 'hiskey 'as its #are. "he day began to 'ar& $p. Ear!y &id-&orning a 'agon p$!!ed $p to the barge.the eyeba!!s) #orcing the& o$t o# their sockets) had beg$n to spread the !ids back open. (t 'as the #irst 'agon anyone had seen in the !ast t'o days that 'as not carrying any dead. =thers 'ere no' beginning to he!p. ! and his partner had to 'ait at the gang'ay #or a body to be bro$ght do'n be#ore they co$!d pass. "here 'as a !o' 'a!! s$rro$nding the o$ter edge o# the deck s$r#ace. r&ed troopers contin$ed to oversee the !oading. t the knotted tie the neck #!esh had beg$n to over#!o' the co!!ar) atte&pting to bypass its restraints.s driver tied o## the . /e had died #$!!y dressed) coat) tie) vest) and etc. =nce back on the dock ! ca!!ed o$t to no one in partic$!ar) +We need another p!ank to !eave the barge. "he 'orkers a!! stood in a'e o# the barre!) re!ishing tho$ghts o# its contents. 7odies contin$ed to be bro$ght into the &org$e.+ =ne o# the troopers #o$nd another p!ank and !aid it do'n #or their $se. "he s$it 'as tight!y stretched o$t by the s'e!!ing #!esh. "he &en) those on #oot and those on horseback) a!! si!ent!y 'atched in #ascination as ! dr$g the body s!o'!y sea'ard. "he en!arged chest t$gged grotes9$e!y at the vest b$ttons. "he s&e!! 'as horrib!e. /e nodded c$rt!y to ! then stooped and grasped the pant c$##s o# the dead &an. "he reeking gases 'ere s$ch that no one co$!d beco&e acc$sto&ed to the&. "he barge 'as o# 'ood constr$ction. thin) yo$ng b!ack &an stepped o$t o# the cro'd and 'a!ked over to 'here ! str$gg!e 'ith the body.

"he g$ards sc$rried back to their #or&er p!aces. "he 'orkers at the barre! readi!y sa' this and 'itho$t a &$r&$r 'ent back to 'ork. "he &en abo$t the 'hiskey stopped and !ooked aro$nd the&.s second p!ank and righted. <ighting broke o$t at the barre!. "he barre! 'as rapid!y ro!!ed over to the barge. So&e o# the& ran to the &org$e to hasten their #irst drink. +0o$ &en !oading bodies)+ he addressed the gro$p. "hey sho$ted and s9$ea!ed in de!ight) easi!y $n!oading the 'hiskey. "he pisto! in his right hand sti!! s&oked.reins and hopped to the gro$nd on the side nearest the barge. #ro& the city)+ he said and he broke open the barre!.s an order.+ "here 'as a &ad dash over to the 'agon by nine o# the &en. +( 'as to!d to set it $p over there by the !eaving p!ank)+ the driver said.s top) s!oshing 'hiskey o$t over the gro$nd.+ "he &an ho!stered his pisto!) sp$n his horse abo$t and 'as gone. 7!a&6 7!a&6 "'o shots #ro& a pisto! 'ere #ired $p into the air. "hat. "he day t$rned into an end!ess cyc!e) pick$p a body) carry it do'n to the barge) cross the springy gangp!ank) p!ace the body on the barge) cross the second s'aying p!ank) stop at the barre!) $sing the tin c$p p!aced there) take . "hat had been -a%or <ay!ing. =## to the right o# the &org$e) astride a ta!! horse) sat a dapper) o!der &an in &i!itary dress. +"hat drink is #or those 'ho e2it the barge a#ter bringing on one o# the dead. +0o$ troopers) back to yo$r positions6+ he ordered. +"his here is a . nyone 'ho takes a drink 'itho$t having done his %ob 'i!! be shot on sight. +=ne o# yo$ &en)+ he ca!!ed o$t to the !oaders) +co&e over here and he!p &e $n!oad this barre!.thank yo$. "he troopers 'ere s$!!en at their !oss o# a drink b$t they 'ere #i2ed to their p$rpose) to see that the bodies 'ere disposed o#. "he &en) troopers inc!$ded) r$shed #or a drink.

gain) the day 'as hot.a drink) then &ove back $p to the &org$e and begin again.t)+ the yo$ng &an screa&ed. "he #acts o# the %ob 'ere bro$ght into bright re!ie# 'hen one &an) yo$ng) apparent!y ed$cated) bo!ted #ro& the barge. Sti!! &ore bodies arrived. "he tin roo# o# the &org$e baked the air $nder it. ! #o$nd nothing overpo'ered the s&e!! o# death in Ga!veston. "he trooper p$!!ed o$t his pisto! and ai&ed it at the &an. "he &an sti!! screa&ed his re#$sa!. t noon there 'as no tho$ght given to eating. ! #o!!o'ed s$it.t) ( 'on. "heir strength sapped by the heat and the drink) the &en beca&e !ess concerned abo$t the #ee!ings o# the dead. "he yo$ng &an. =ne o# the troopers) an o!der &$stached &an) ca&e $p to hi& and ordered) +Get back to 'ork or the 'ho!e city co$!d die. Stepping o## o# the barge) reaching the barre! ! #o$nd bo2es o# great) #at cigars and &atches. .s head. "he dead &ade 'et so$nding th$ds as they #e!! into p!ace. 5othing co$!d have been retained in the strongest o# sto&achs. "he a!coho! st$por a!!o'ed the re!ent!ess &arch to contin$e.t do it any &ore6 ( 'on.t) ( 'on. +( 'on. "hey dropped bodies) tossed the&) prodded the& onto the barge.+ +( 'on.t6+ he screa&ed. t #irst the drink had !ightened the process b$t reso!$te!y) it !apsed into a si!ent) sh$##!ing procession 'ith the 'hiskey acting as both the anesthetic and the sti&$!ant to the proceedings. "he trooper #ired) b!o'ing a h$ge ho!e in the &an. "he cyc!e) never pa$sing) contin$ed. /e hoped the s&oke 'o$!d !essen the s&e!!.s head.s body 'as added to the barge. 5ear night #a!! the barge 'as #i!!ed 'ith over seven h$ndred dead. 5o one said anything. "he &an be#ore hi& !it $p and began p$##ing a'ay. +So&e o# yo$ there stay on board)+ so&eone order. t$g ca&e in to to' it o$t to sea #or the b$ria!s.

"hen he tried to tie the other end o# the rope to one o# the bodies. ! 'as overco&e by the sight and s&e!!. "he rope 'as 'rapped abo$t the ank!e o# a s&a!! &an.+ ! co&p!ied. "he t$g p$!!ed the& o$t to sea.+ "his 'as 'orse than the !oading.+"hey need yo$ to he!p o$t at sea. ! picked $p a piece o# scrap &eta! that 'as to serve as a 'eight and !ooped a !ength o# the s$pp!ied rope aro$nd it. "he s$n in the 'est 'as sinking in a c!o$d!ess b!a1e. . When ! p$!!ed the rope tight it b$rst thro$gh the p$trescent #!esh) severing the #oot #ro& the !eg. /e had !ost a!! vo!ition. 5o one on the barge or the t$g co&&ented on the sea o# bodies that #!oated aro$nd the&. "he others on the barge) seeing the res$!t o# trying to 'eigh the bodies) began d$&ping the& over board as rapid!y as possib!e. /e began retching vio!ent!y. 7e s$re yo$ tie so&e 'eights to the&. <ro& the t$g so&eone ca!!ed o$t) +0o$ can start pitching the& o$t no'.

"he dead tossed into the sea !ast night had co&e ho&e. "he i&ages #ro& the day #i!!ed his &ind. /$ndreds o# &en 'ere 'orking on the beach) b$rying . Grotes9$e!y b!oated bodies) reeking) na$seating odors) p$trid #!esh sheering o## at his to$ch? the day raved at his senses. "he other &an s$!!en!y 9$iet. /e ret$rned to the kitchen o# yesterday.hapter $" (t 'as the third s!eep!ess night in a ro' #or !. "he three o# the& 'ere no' &oving a!ong together. +"he beach is the prob!e&.t need the he!p at the &org$e)+ the !ad) 'ho !ooked a!! o# seventeen) said. "he beach) as #ar as he co$!d see in either direction) 'as !ittered 'ith bodies. "he night 'as !ong.+ ! short!y sa' it #or hi&se!#. (nter&ittent g$n#ire so$nded thro$gho$t the night as the &i!itia troopers #o$ght to keep !ooting in check. E2ha$sted) ! !ay on the hard r$bb!e and stared into space. /e !ay do'n in his p!ace o# the previo$s night a#ter !eaving the e&ptied barge at the dock. "he bodies o# the three !ooters 'ere gone.+ +"hey don. +( 'as going to the &org$e to he!p. "hey need yo$r he!p at the beach. 7e#ore he co$!d reach the dock ! 'as intercepted by a yo$ng trooper p$shing a vo!$nteer be#ore hi&. 7e#ore #irst !ight the aro&a o# cooking #ood bro$ght ! to his #eet. <i!!ed 'ith the 'ar&th o# bacon) grits) eggs) and co##ee ! once &ore headed to the docks.+ +"he beach4+ ! repeated p$11!ed. "here 'as &$ch sti!! to be done. +0o$ there) &ister)+ the yo$ngster ca!!ed to !. +Co&e a!ong 'ith &e.

the bodies 'here they !ay. "he hair ca&e o$t in hand#$!s) the heads p$!!ed o##.s hands. "he #ire !eaped and roared. pyre 'as started on the beach? the s&e!! o# b$rning #!esh #i!!ed the air. ! dropped the !i&b to the sand and ran do'n to the ocean to 'ash. "he dead near the 'ater !ine 'ere a di##erent &atter. When #i!!ed) oi! 'as po$red into the trenches and then set on #ire. "hose troops that had bayonets $sed the& !ike pitch#orks to &ove the rotted #!esh. "he dead that 'ere c!othed 'ere p$!!ed a!ong the sand) the c!othing the on!y handho!d. . Grasping an ar&) the corr$ption #!o'ed over !. 3etached !i&bs) hands) and #eet #!oated in the s$r#. -any bodies 'ere 'ashed $p high on the beach. Whenever ! to$ched #!esh it 'o$!d b$rst open) p$trescence #!o'ing o$t. P$!!ing on it) the ar& popped o## #ro& the body. "his progressed too s!o'!y #or the sa#ety o# the city. t #irst trenches 'ere d$g) then they 'ere #i!!ed 'ith a!ternating !ayers o# bodies and 'ooden debris. "he heat 'as a'eso&e. =rders 'ere given to b$rn the bodies. "he &en 'ere #orced into carrying the bodies) part by part) to the #ire. "he n$de bodies 'ere i&possib!e to &anage. /ere the &en 'ere ab!e to dig sha!!o' graves and cover the bodies 9$ick!y. Cre's 'ere organi1ed to bring in 'ood #or a pyre? others began to gather the bodies into great pi!es. (n the a#ternoon) 'ith the beach c!eared o# the dead) ! began 'orking in the city. "he #!esh that yesterday had been b!oated 'as no' o# a %e!!o !ike consistency. <ro& the dock area and other parts o# the city great bi!!o's o# s&oke began to rise sky'ard as Ga!veston began to b$rn its dead. =ther &en tried $sing the hair on the bodies as a handho!d. ! !ost sight o# the !ad and his vo!$nteer 'hen he began to 'ork. 3igging a grave 'as i&possib!e) 'ithin inches o# the s$r#ace the grave 'o$!d begin to #i!! 'ith 'ater. ne' approach 'as adopted.

! sat do'n #or a &o&ent. "he pyre nearest !. /e co!!apsed in one heap) dead. Every !ine) every cr$&b o# &ortar on it 'as e&b!a1oned into !. +0o$)+ so&eone ca!!ed o$t s!y!y #ro& the darkness. (t 'as dark abo$t the base o# the &o$nd? on!y things very c!ose at hand 'ere discernib!e. s they si#ted thro$gh the r$bb!e they &oved any bodies they #o$nd to the center o# the area and pi!ed the& there 'ith !$&ber gathered #or #$e!ing the c!eansing #ire. "he s&e!! #ro& the pyres 'as a re!ie# #ro& the odors o# the dead.s rest be#ore starting $pstairs. "he dense s&oke #ro& the #ires b!ighted the night air. /e stared o$t into the darkness) s&oke dri#ted over his head as the 'ind shi#ted. +Who is it4+ "here 'as no #ear in !.s voice) on!y #atig$e. "here 'as an obscene !a$gh) #o!!o'ed by) +( to!d yo$ . "he brick bashed into !. "hey 'ere coarse #ingers) r$## 'ith !abor.s !e#t te&p!e) sinking deep!y into his brain. ! sa' #i!thy #ingers c!$tching at the brick they he!d. /e tried to p!ace it b$t co$!d not in his e2ha$sted state. "he !ight #ro& the b!a1ing) crack!ing pyres !it the night.s &e) b$bba)+ the voice coy!y rep!ied.s ho&e 'as severa! b!ocks to the 'est. =n his 'ay to rest in the r$bb!e pi!e that he #e!t o# as ho&e) ! st$&b!ed) #ro& #atig$e) a!ong the partia!!y c!eared street. b!ack shado' !eaped into his vie'. "he nai!s 'ere torn short to the 9$ick) b$t not short eno$gh to keep dirt #ro& pi!ing b!ack!y $nder the&. s &any as a do1en pyres b$rned at a ti&e thro$gho$t the day and on into the night. +(t.s &ind. nd they 'ere set a#!a&e. 8ooking in the direction the voice ca&e #ro& he stood $p s!o'!y. "here 'as a &ove&ent o## #$rther to his right. ! 'as start!ed. "he brick gre' in si1e as ! 'atched its approach. ! re&e&bered the voice."he c!ean$p cre's 'orked t'o s9$are b!ocks at a ti&e. ! shi#ted in that direction.

nobody got a'ay 'ith hitting &e yo$ son-o#-a bitch6 Who. .i&&y St$bber g!o'ering above hi&.s on top no') h$h4+ t the base o# the r$bb!e that had been ho&e) ! !ay dead) .

! 'as one o# those peop!e yo$ read abo$t) one o# the !iving dead.s voice and she stopped. +"hank yo$ >obin)+ -ary said. 3octor Peters spoke) +-rs. She kne' it 'as the tr$th) had kno'n it #or 'eeks. Soon on!y the doctors) 'ith her per&ission) 'o$!d be keeping hi& a!ive.+ -ary heard nothing #$rther o# the conversation. What can ( do #or yo$4+ -ary asked. +( %$st 'anted yo$ to kno' that ! 'i!! be a!right. ( kno' he.& not bothering yo$4+ +5o >obin) o# co$rse not. ! 'o$!d have to be p!aced in a n$rsing ho&e. 0o$r h$sband has been here #or #o$r 'eeks no' 'ith no change. +( think yo$.hapter $# -ary sat in the doctor. Everyone ( have cons$!ted is in agree&ent) physica!!y he is #ine. +>ea!!y) nothing)+ >obin said. /is brain is active. "he phone on her desk rang. -ary ans'ered it) +/e!!o4+ +-rs. (t had to co&e #ro& so&eone e!se. -artin) (.+ "here 'as a catch in >obin. So&eone ( be!ieve in.s o##ice 'aiting to be to!d 'hat she had kno'n #or t'o 'eeks. /is vita! signs are e2ce!!ent) b$t it sti!! re&ains he is in so&e #or& o# a co&a. We #ee! that a private ho&e co$!d better serve yo$r h$sband*s needs. She had to have it voca!i1ed tho$gh. (t 'as a ne' year) a ne' !i#e. (t 'o$!d a!so be !ess cost!y #or yo$. /e is so&eone specia!. She 'as not angered) or h$rt.re right.!! be okay. -ary 'ent back to 'ork as soon as she co$!d) hoping to p$t the agony o# the ordea! behind her. -artin) this is >obin.& sorry. (t 'as a responsibi!ity she 'o$!d hand!e. /e . ( hope (.

+ +S$re) -rs.'i!! be a!! right soon.+ +7ye.& g!ad yo$ ca!!ed b$t ( need to get back to 'ork. Good-bye.+ "here 'as si!ence on both ends o# the phone be#ore -ary spoke again) +We!!) >obin) (.+ +"hank yo$ >obin. "hen she raised her tear-streaked #ace #ro& the desk and cried o$t into space) + !) ( !ove yo$. /er head !o'ered to the desk and rested on her c!asped hands #or a #e' &o&ents. 0o$ take care a!so.s so &$ch to do here. (t 'as good ta!king to yo$.+ -ary h$ng $p her phone 9$ick!y. "here. -artin. "he tears began to #!o' do'n her cheeks. P!ease co&e ho&e6+ "he End . "ake care o# yo$rse!#.

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