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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
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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 soðing 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 soðing)+ 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$t there is soðing good there.+
+Shit)+ -ary inter%ected. +/o' can yo$ #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.
! #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# $s i# 'e don.t do soðing to stop the&.+ +"hat.s right Char!es)+ the second &an assented in a high-pitched voice. /e 'as not &$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# soðing 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 soðing 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' soðing !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 soðing4+ She t$rned back to the co$nter.s. +"his 'o&an)+ indicating >obin) +has a!ready taken care o# everything... +Soðing 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 soðing) #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$re that no one e!se gives a shit either.+ /e !i#ted his g!ass and #inished o## the !ast o# the drink. +"hat.s the basis #or the 'ho!e &oping process. Can ( get yo$ soðing 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$r every'here ( go. ( 'ant to do soðing 'ith &y !i#e. Earn a p!ace in the 'or!d.+ /e kne' he so$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$!d be soðing !ike reincarnation4+ +5o6+ ! 'as e&phatic. /e !eaned over his drink in a
state o# physica! and &enta! #atig$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 $se soðing to eat and so co$!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 soðing)+ ! 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 $p and take soðing)+ he to!d hi&se!#. /e #orced hi&se!# to !o'er his hands a'ay #ro& his head. /o!ding very sti!! he gent!y p$!!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$theast. "he ocean !ooked a!! 'rong to !. "he at&osphere did not #ee! right. "here 'as soðing in the air) soðing 'rong. "he beach) the ocean) in #ront o# ! 'as e&pty. 5o one 'as abo$t. +7ad beach or soðing)+ ! 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!.
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$t o# here be#ore ( te!! yo$ soðing 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$it.) se!! this p!ace) and &ove do'n there. ( kno' 'e can do soðing there to &ake a !iving. (# 'e have to 'e co$!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 soðing $ndone #or the rest o# his !i#e. -ary had her !i#e.s a&bitions) and she 'anted the& bad!y. She 'anted to be so&eone in the b$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 $p so 'e can go get soðing to eat.+ ! dropped his #eet o## the co$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 soðing 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 soðing 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$!ders? and shook hi& savage!y. +We.ve got to do soðing6+ he sho$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 soðing 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$ntain. "he roo& 'as knee deep in 'ater a#ter on!y a #e' seconds. "he t'o 'et &en 'aded to
hapter "& "he 'ater had c!i&bed three-9$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. =$t the corner o# his eye ! sa' soðing. /e t$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$ng tight!y to his neck. "hey had trave!ed on!y a short distance 'hen soðing heavy) a rai!road tie &aybe) crashed) 'ind driven into the&. "he s&a!! boy re!eased his grip on ! and began to s!ide o## o#
"here on the roo# they ass$&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 soðing 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$se ( have a chance to !ive and e2perience a rea! !i#e. (t 'as #ive-thirty 'hen Peters entered the roo&. +( a& invo!ved here 'ith soðing rea!) soðing that is happening.& tired o# arg$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 soðing. "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$t to &e !ike cards in a ga&e. "o do soðing rea!. /o' can peop!e !ive that 'ay4 ( 'on.+ ! !a$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 soðing 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 soðing6 7$t 5=) . +0o$. /e to'ered above her.s rea!.t yo$ %$st be!ieve &e4 ( kno' 'hat happened) it. .re standing in right no'.t ta!k !ike it is soðing yo$.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 soðing 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$. +5ot everybody gets to do 'hat (.ve rea!!y done soðing6+ She g!ared angri!y at hi&. (t.& doing.
+ 3r. She 'as thinking abo$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 soðing ( 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 soðing4+ "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$t it. What i# she is right4+ nd he had soðing ne' to consider in the present) >obin. /e 'as i&portant back there6 nd no' he did so$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$t. (t 'as as p!ain as the tears on her #ace. (s that soðing ( 'ant to ga&b!e 'ith right no'4+ Was !ove eno$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 %$st that ( kno' this is soðing ( have to do. 5o' 'as the ti&e to te!! her they 'ere #inished. +(t. (t.s soðing #or &e to take care o#. 0o$.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 $p at hi&.t rea!!y kno' 'hat.& going to go and get soðing to eat. (. ( never kno' 'hat to e2pect any &ore. P!ease)+ she said p$!!ing back so she co$!d !ook into his eyes) +see i# yo$ can.s not soðing ( 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 soðing 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$s a!!o'ing on!y her #eet at the one end and her head at the other to &ake contact 'ith hi&.What to do) 'hat to do4 . /e !ay in the bed 'ide-a'ake.
/e had soðing to do) soðing he had to &eas$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 soðing) 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 $nbearab!e. +We have got to do soðing 'ith these bodies be#ore 'e have an epide&ic and ki!! 'hat.+ . "hey %$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.+Soðing 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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