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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

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

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

Why can. cross Ervay 'as the &ain branch o# the 3a!!as 8ibrary. "he +ne'+ !ibrary had p$t its card cata!og and a!! the branch cata!ogs on !ine.t be "e2as then 'o$!d it4+ Good 'eather had ret$rned. /e 9$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. "he !ast one had on!y &ade it #or t'o days. +Co&p$ters6 -aking o$r !ives easier)+ ! tho$ght to . Co!d spe!!s se!do& !asted #or &ore than #o$r days in 5orth "e2as. design) 'hich had been #ostered on it by the arrogant!y %$tting #acade o# City /a!! %$st across 0o$ng Street. "he architect$ra!!y receding #ace o# the eight-story b$i!ding re&inded ! o# eight giant stair steps. #rican &ericans) 8atinos) ng!os) &a!e) #e&a!e) 'ea!thy) poor) yo$ng and o!d.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 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. "he high te&perat$re 'as to be near si2ty-si2) an +average+ day #or !ate #a!! in 3a!!as. =n!y #o$r years o!d) the !ibrary no !onger had a ne' !ook to it) a res$!t o# the !ong "e2as s$&&ers. "he !ight changed and ! crossed Ervay and entered the !ibrary #oyer.hapter !* Sat$rday a#ternoon %$st a#ter 1 P. ! 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. +3a&n) it is nice today.

"he &an !ooked as tho$gh he had r$n short o# !$ck. "here 'as a short 'ait #or an e!evator) then ! 'as 9$ick!y !i#ted to the #i#th #!oor. /e sat at the ter&ina! singing !ight!y $nder his breath in a hip sty!e) + nybody got the& pi!!s !ike ( got the& pi!!s4 5o) no) nooo. When one #ina!!y did he h$rried over and began inp$tting his s$b%ect &atter starting 'ith) +-igrating #o'!. "he &an. 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. 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 &achine ca&e back 'ith +5o &atch. /e searched aro$nd a !itt!e $nti! he #o$nd the area 'here +shotg$ns+ 'ere #i!ed. /e . ! tried to ignore the singing) b$t no' that he had heard a !itt!e o# the song it 'as di##ic$!t not to try and trans!ate the rest. /e 'as not s$re i# the &an 'as 'asted on his pi!!s or trying to peda! the&.hi&se!# as he 'aited #or a ter&ina! to open $p. /e 'as dressed too 'ar&!y #or the 'eather.s socks) hanging !oose!y aro$nd his thin ank!es) did not &atch. "he coat 'as dirty b$t not #i!thy. !ong bro'n cord$roy coat covered a 9$i!ted greenish %$&ps$it and a dark b!$e ski cap sat on his head.+ #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.+ !) $nti! no' concentrating on!y on the ter&ina! and his search) #ina!!y took notice o# a yo$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.

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

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

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

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

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

(t 'as #i!!ed 'ith rea! drea&s o# his e2perience) te&pered 'ith the #ight that had occ$rred that evening. S!eeping 'as a poor description o# !.s night.she 'ent o## to bed. /is side o# the do$b!e bed 'as co!d as he s!ipped bet'een the covers. "he #resh sheets #e!t good to his tense) tired body. /e 'atched te!evision and ate si!ent!y as -ary contin$ed to drink. t !ast ! gave $p 'rest!ing 'ith s!eep) it 'as si2-thirty in the &orning.$st be#ore G P. ! #orced hi&se!# to stay $p and 'atch the #irst ha!# ho$r o# +Sat$rday 5ight+ be#ore he 'ent to bed. . What &ore co$!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. -ary 'as never a'are o# his arriva!. "he &orning o$tside the door 'as bright and c!ear) the .hapter !" ! &icro'aved a b$rrito ": dinner #or s$pper that evening. /e co$!d not #or the !i#e o# hi&se!# #ig$re 'hy -ary 'as not &ore on his side. /e a!'ays #o$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$de #or error. /e tried to do 'hat he #e!t 'as the right thing in his &arriage and !i#e. Why 'o$!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$pport hi&. /e s!id o$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.

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

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

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

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#

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

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

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

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

+ ! !ay back in the co&#ortab!e bed and !ooked at the . Peters stood $p) t$rned to !eave.& cra1y beca$se ( have a chance to !ive and e2perience a rea! !i#e. (t 'as #ive-thirty 'hen Peters entered the roo&. +( a& invo!ved here 'ith so&ething rea!) so&ething that is happening.& tired o# arg$ing. 5$rses !ike patients 'ho do 'hat they are to!d 'i!!ing!y. /o' had they #ared thro$gh the rest o# the night4 nd a!! the other peop!e in Ga!veston. +She doesn. +(. 3id Peters think it happened or that it 'as &ade-$p4 +( co$!d care !ess 'hat the &an thinks)+ ! decided. "he city 'o$!d be 'recked.+ +5o) i# ( ca!! -ary 'e. She probab!y 'ishes ( 'o$!d h$rry and get it over 'ith.Peters sho's $p and ask hi&) okay4+ She s&i!ed s'eet!y at ! trying to circ$&vent his re9$est 'ith her p!easantness. /e checked ! over in a c$rsory &anner) !ike he kne' 'hat to e2pect.& !osing &y &ind. 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$ght o# a!! this. "here 'as so &$ch going on there6 ! #inished his story and !ay back on the bed.!! ca!! her)+ Peters said and he !e#t the roo&. She thinks (. Everyone %$st 'ants to think (. ! ac9$iesced to her s&i!e beca$se o# the ho$r. -aybe over seeing a psychiatrist. (. nd there is so &$ch 'ork to do there.t be!ieve &e. /e 'as tired) very tired.+ Whi!e he ta!ked ! 'ondered abo$t the peop!e on the roo# 'ith hi&. +Why sho$!d ( ca!! -ary4+ he asked hi&se!#.!! %$st arg$e abo$t so&ething. "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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"he 8E3 on the a!ar& c!ock) in a s$bd$ed) #aint b!$e) sho'ed the ti&e as 2. (t 'as no past !i#e) it 'as his c$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. . "'o 'o&en !oved hi&.-aybe they are right6 . ./o' to go back4 . "hat one 9$estion had beco&e his !i#e. 8osing days o$t o# his !i#e 'orried hi&.hapter #$ (t 'as !ate -onday night) ear!y "$esday &orning.s sho$!der. Either one 'as &ore than s$itab!e #or a 'i#e) tho$gh one a!ready 'as. -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.roared thro$gho$t !. (# 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 b!acko$ts 'orried hi&. /e co$!d be !osing it. . -ary s!ept 9$iet!y ne2t to hi&. nd this prob!e& pa!ed 'hen he co&pared it against 'here he had been and 'here he needed to go. /e had gone back to Ga!veston6 "hat 'as rea!. -ary s!ept 'ith her chin t$cked against her chest? her #orehead and the per#$&ed hair that h$ng over it sn$gg!ed at !. /e kne' that.03 -.! had to consider that -ary and the doctors &ight be right. "here sho$!d have been no decision to &ake? yet there 'as one. "he so#t so$nd o# her breathing #i!!ed the 9$iet roo&. . 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 !ay in the bed 'ide-a'ake.

/e had so&ething to do) so&ething he had to &eas$re hi&se!# against6 . Wo$!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.5o6 .Even a#ter that deter&ined state&ent it 'as sti!! there. When that 'as done he 'o$!d &ake his choices here. ! 'o$!d take it one step at a ti&e) no 'orrying abo$t the #$t$re) no 'orrying abo$t the present. /e &$st sett!e the past be#ore !ooking on'ard.What to do) 'hat to do4 ./e 'o$!d #inish 'hat he had started6 ..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#$rther into the city. . Every'here he sa' peop!e da1ed) their bodies c$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.

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

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

s sitting $p there on that horse.!! need it c!ear. "he disgr$nt!ed &an s&e!!ed 'orse than the death ! had enco$ntered. 3e!aney) E.+ /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 t$rned 9$ick!y abo$t and $nder his breath ans'ered) +( don.& trying to #ind o$t too. (. "he bricks 'ere red) 'ith a coarse grainy e2terior that cha##ed !.t pitch that r$bb!e into the street.+ "he &an added) +"hey 'ere to!d not to e2aggerate the da&age. ! stayed b$sy &oving r$bb!e.8. We. +"hinks he so&e kind o# a!&ighty ass-ho!e .. +Who. +0o$ &en there6+ a &an on horseback ca!!ed o$t to the&.re doing.s that bastard think he is4+ the &an beside ! asked $nder his breath) !ooking askant at the rider. +3on. (t 'as no' no &ore than a brick pi!e.. "hey began tossing the bricks aside.t kno' 'hat they.s hands br$ta!!y.+ /e t$rned back aro$nd and passed on the 9$estion..+ When the #ive &en set o## #or /o$ston) the others 'ere asked to he!p search #or bodies. ! 'orked 'ith si2 others.e& to send he!p. Porch) >ichard Spi!!ane) "o& S&ith) and so&e &an na&ed Co2 to head to /o$ston and te!! . ! vo!$nteered his he!p.the &an in #ront o# hi&. "hirty #eet o# #!ood'ater had not been eno$gh to 'ash the &an c!ean. #ter a #e' patient &in$tes the &an to!d !) +"hey chose . 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'. "hey began at a s&ashed ho$se) 'hich once had been a ta!! brick b$i!ding. /e did not even !ook in that direction) the s&e!! 'as eno$gh. E2aggerating 'o$!d be hard to do.ca$se he. /is #ingers 'ere c$t and b!eeding a#ter on!y #ive &in$tes o# 'ork. ! &ade no co&&ent to the &an. sti##ness in the !o'er back 'as a!ready beginning to s!o' his 'ork 'hen .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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$arded6+ +Beep 'orking) ha6+ the driver snorted.9$iet!y to !. /e p$!!ed angri!y at the reins to the &$!es. ! had kept si!ent and contin$ed to do so #or the rest o# the day. .

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

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

+/o!!y . "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. . Everyone.s position. 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.s &o$nt.es$s6+ /is hand 'as in the inner coat pocket 'hen he sho$ted. "he !ead horse&an handed his reins to another and 'a!ked over to the dead &an. !! the g$ns 'ere a!ready trained on the pair. +Beep yo$r g$ns on the&)+ the co&&anding one ordered. <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. /e he!d it #or'ard casting !ight on the gro$nd near the body. With his boot he tried to t$rn the body over? it 'as too heavy. +7ring a torch over here)+ he ordered.s pockets. /e !eaped back #ro& the body 'iping his hands on his tro$sers.s attention 'as on hi&. 3irt a!! abo$t the big &an 'as kicked $p into the night. =ne spoke as !eader #or the gro$p) +Stop there) or 'e 'i!! shoot6+ "he trio contin$ed $p'ard) nearing !.the street. yo$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. /is body stopped short o# the hooves o# the co&&anding o##icer. /e began to search the dead &an. "he &an bent do'n and 'ith a gr$nt ro!!ed the heavy #or& over. With the co&bined !ight o# the torches #ro& be!o' ! sa' the s'eat as it ro!!ed do'n the #ace o# the !ead &an) tracking thro$gh the dirt there. "he riders had dis&o$nted and he!d their prancing &o$nts in check. (t so$nded to ! !ike every g$n in the 'or!d #ired at once.

s head 'as #$!!y e2posed above the ri& o# his bed as he 'atched the scene. "here they 'ere stood-$p) backs to the 'a!!) #acing into the torch!ight o# the &i!itia. . +Where did yo$ get that)+ he de&anded o# the second prisoner. /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$nd.t kno' 'here he got it)+ 'as the ans'er given. "he roar o# g$ns again #i!!ed the air. +/e c$t it o## a dead 'o&an)+ the &an b!$rted o$t.s head 'ith a cr$nch and he dropped $nconscio$s to the gro$nd. "he co&&ander stor&ed over to the prisoners and dre' his pisto!."here 'as a t'ink!e o# !ight on the gro$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. +Shoot the thieving bastards)+ the co&&ander ordered. When he had the 'rapped #inger p$t a'ay into his sadd!ebag the co&&ander !ooked over at the t'o &en and co&&anded) +<ire6+ !. +We didn. +0o$. S$rro$nded by s'o!!en #!esh) a!&ost to the point o# invisibi!ity) 'as a !arge dia&ond engage&ent ring. Whi!e the horse&an stooped over the severed #inger) 'rapping it care#$!!y in his handkerchie#) the t'o prisoners 'ere taken to a s&a!! standing section o# a brick 'a!!.t do it) he done it)+ pointing to the big dead &an. +3on. "here 'as a gasp and a rapid #ront to rear &$r&$r as the sight 'as vie'ed by the &i!itia. "he pisto! in his hand crashed against the prisoner.re a god da&ned !iar)+ the horse&an s'ore as he s'$ng at the prisoner. +Where did yo$ get that4+ he de&anded o# one o# the &en. "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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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