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E00K 0NE | &,-'$./-0
1. TIev WuLcI You ¡uck ¤
z. Cun`L Be HeId ResponsIbIe 1o
¤. TIIs MucIIne KIIIs YuppIes 18
q. SLrungers on u BuLIroom ¡Ioor zq
=. KInd oI u DoucIe, buL Good Ior u ¡uugI qo
6. ¡ubvrInLIIne q8
;. No One WunLs Lo ToII In ObscurILv 61
8. Evervone Needs u Good Scure, Now und TIen ;¤
E00K TW0 | &,-'12345'65'7,-'869:/45-
¤. A Good Mun 86
1o. CuuLIonurv TuIe ¤¤
11. SIe`s NoL WIo ¡ TIougIL SIe Wus 1o6
1z. SIe Begged Me To 11=
1¤. TIrow Up, Jerk OII, und Go ¡eLuI 1zz
1q. EsoLerIc PsvcIoIogIcuI WurIure 1z;
E00K THFEE | &,-'!92;5-<'*/2=-
1=. BIInd SpoLs 1¤;
16. DIrLv BusIness 1q¤
1;. ¡nvIsIbIe ¡nk 1=¤
18. ¡uII ConLucL 1=8
1¤. DIsussembIed 16z
zo. TIIs Book Doesn`L Muke Anv Sense 16¤
z1. TIe ExIsLenLIuI HILmun 18o
zz. WIuL LIe ¡uck ¡s Wrong wILI You? 1¤1
z¤. SunseLs, MIrrors & ConvenIenL ¡IIusIons 1¤;
zq. DIdn`L TIIs AIreudv Huppen? zo8
z=. WIuLever You WunL MosL zz8
z6. ¡L ¡eIL Good z¤8
z;. WouId ¡L Huve Mude u DIIIerence? zq=
z8. DIspenser z=1
z¤. GIosLs z=6
E00K E0UF | &,-'>45'65'7,-'?/.-'!49
¤o. Puvbuck ¡s u BILcI z6¤
¤1. Good z6¤
¤z. JusL AnoLIer Gume z;8
¤¤. No MuLLer How DesperuLeIv You WunL ¡L z86
¤q. TIe Sume SLorIes, Over und Over z¤¤
¤=. JusL ¡Ike In LIe MovIes z¤;
¤6. ¡I ¡ Hud Been PuvIng ALLenLIon ¤o¤
¤;. PusL LIe PoInL oI PreLenses ¤o;
¤8. SLop! ¤1=
E00K EIVE | &,-'!25@9-7-'(5<-9A92.5<
¤¤. ¨Cured¨ ¡sn`L un AccuruLe Term ¤z;
qo. WIuL`s So ¡unnv? ¤¤¤
q1. AII Your Dreums Ground Lo DusL ¤¤¤
qz. TIe Bud Guv ¤q6
E00K 0NE
&,-'$./-0
1
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>F'>F'>-792@49< | Le TI¿re
!23:49-<'72'1,47 | DavId Holmes + Carl Hancock Fux
$-<')9-00 | TV on LLe FadIo
E<'%5A4A-9 | 0I MonLreal
+,--/4G#4G*6A | FJ Harvey
+74AA-9'C-- | NIck Cave and LLe Ead Beeds
z
:. Theu Wctch You Iucl
¨TIev`ve goL cumerus evervwIere, mun. NoL jusL In
supermurkeLs und depurLmenLs sLores, LIev`re uIso on vour ceII
pIones und vour compuLers uL Iome. And LIev never Lurn oII.
You LIInk LIev do, buL LIev don`L.
¨TIev`re uIwuvs on, uIwuvs wuLcIIng vou, sendIng LIem u
conLInuous Ieed oI vour everv move over suLeIIILe broudbund
connecLIon.
¨TIev wuLcI vou Iuck, LIev wuLcI vou sIIL, LIev wuLcI wIen
vou pIck vour nose uL LIe sLop IIgIL or wIen vou cIew ouL LIe
cIerk uL ;-11 over noLIIng or wIen vou wuIk pusL LIe Iudv
coIIecLIng Ior LIe women`s sIeILer und vou don`L puL unvLIIng In
Ier jur.
¨TIev`re even wuLcIIng us rIgIL now,¨ LIe Iobo udded und
exLended u grImv, gnurIed dIgIL Lo LIe smuII bIuck orbs mounLed
uL eILIer end oI LIe LruIn cur.
TIere were some duvs wIen ¡ Ioved LukIng pubIIc
LrunsporLuLIon, und oLIer duvs wIen ¡ dIdn`L. On u good duv, ¡
IIked Lo sIL buck und wuLcI LIe sIow, sLudv LIe resL oI LIe
pussengers, reud InLo LIeIr IILLIe LIcks und munnerIsms und bodv
¤
Iunguuge, und Lrv Lo guess uL LIeIr buck sLorIes, gIvIng LIem
numes und IdenLILIes In mv Ieud. ¡L wus Iun In u voveurIsLIc
kInd oI wuv.
And IuckIIv, Loduv wus u good duv.
¡ wuLcIed LIe oId VIeLnumese womun wILI LIe cIusLer oI
pIusLIc sIoppIng bugs grIpped LIgILIv In Ier Iund IIke u cIoud oI
LInv wIILe bubbIes. Mv eves Lruced LIe deep IInes groovIng Ier
Iuce, und ¡ wondered ubouL LIe IIIe LIuL Ied Ier Lo LIIs pIuce.
¡ wuLcIed LIe IoneIv busInessmun sLurIng IongIngIv ucross
LIe uIsIe uL LIe beuuLIIuI MexIcun gIrI In LIe LIgIL jeuns sLundIng
wILI Ier buck Lo IIm. He IIdgeLed wILI LIe goId bund on IIs
IInger, und ¡ couIdn`L LeII II Ie wus usIng IL Lo remInd IImseII oI
IIs commILmenL or II Ie wus debuLIng wIeLIer Ie sIouId sIvIv
sIIp IL oII und LuIk Lo Ier.
¡ wuLcIed LIe Lwo bIuck Leenugers mukIng ouL, compIeLeIv
ubsorbed In LIe noveILv und excILemenL oI newIound Iove. ¡L
never occurred Lo LIem LIuL LIeIr pubIIc dIspIuv mIgIL seem
cIIcIé or rude or vuIgur; LIeIr IeurLs Iud sLIII noL been Iurdened
wILI LIe InevILubIe cvnIcIsm LIuL IumIIIurILv und experIence
breed. Absorbed In LIeIr own prIvuLe worId, LIev were LoucIIng
LIe dIvIne.
And ¡ even wuLcIed LIe bum wILI LIe wIId, IIerv orunge muss
oI IuIr expIodIng Irom IIs pores, coverIng uImosL IIs enLIre Iuce
buL Ior LIe smuII, nurrow-seL bIue eves peerIng ouL LIrougI LIe
rougIuge. TIev were sucI u brIIIIunL sIude oI bIue LIuL LIev
mude me LIInk oI LIe ¡remen Irom Dune. ¡n mv Ieud, ¡ decIded
Ie wus numed Seumus ¡reemun.
¨EvervLIIng geLs sLreumed buck Lo u gIunL server Iurm LIev
keep up In LIe mounLuIns, u mussIve concreLe bunker LIuL`s
burIed nIne-LenLIs underground IIke un Iceberg, so LIev`II sLIII
be uround uILer LIev Luke us uII ouL wILI LIeIr WMDs.¨
q
MosLIv, LIougI, ¡ jusL LrIed not Lo wuLcI LIe bIonde sILLIng
nexL Lo me - specIIIcuIIv, ¡ wus LrvIng noL Lo noLIce LIe suLIsIvIng
wuv LIuL sIe jIggIed under LIe Iow cuL oI Ier pInk SuLe
UnIversILv Lunk Lop us sIe bopped Ier Ieud pIeusunLIv Lo
wIuLever wus beIng pIped LIrougI Ier LInv wIILe eurbuds. ¡
wusn`L uILogeLIer successIuI In LIuL eIIorL, buL IorLunuLeIv sIe
seemed Loo engrossed In Ier Abnormcl Psucholoqu LexLbook Lo
noLIce.
¡IndIng mvseII sLurIng uguIn, ¡ quIckIv uverLed mv guze und
mude eve conLucL ucross LIe uIsIe wILI u gruII mIddIe-uged
workmun In bIuck coveruIIs. He Iud Iooked up Irom IIs
newspuper jusL In LIme Lo cuLcI me ogIIng LIe bIonde und sIoL
me u sour, dIsupprovIng Iook.
¡ brIeIIv LIougIL ubouL suvIng someLIIng Lo IIm, buL beIore ¡
couId come up wILI unvLIIng smurLuss enougI Lo be worLI LIe
eIIorL, mv ceII pIone wenL oII. SeveruI oLIer pussengers
wIIpped LIeIr Ieuds uround Lo Iook uL me us mv rIng Lone sung
ouL IoudIv:
I tried to ccll uou be[ore, but I lost mu nerte.
I tried mu imcqinction, but I ucs disturbed.
¡ puIIed LIe pIone ouL oI mv pockeL; LIe dIspIuv reud: 1ennu.
¨Hev, wIuL`s up?¨ ¡ unswered.
TIe cIIpper IemuIe voIce on LIe oLIer end suId, ¨NoL mucI,
jusL geLLIng reudv. ¡usL mInuLe sLuII, vou know. TrvIng noL Lo
IeL mv nerves drIve me cruzv.¨
Mv eves drIILed buck ucross LIe uIsIe Lo LIe workmun`s
newspuper. He Iud IL IoIded uround so ¡ couId see one oI LIe
InLerIor puges, LIe one beIore LIe urLIcIe Ie wus reudIng. ¡L Iud
u IuII-spreud udverLIsemenL Ior Abrusux, LIe seurcI engIne und
=
soILwure compunv. AIong wILI LIeIr corporuLe Iogo, u sLvIIzed
red druwIng oI u rIsIng sun, LIe ud conLuIned u pIoLogrupI oI
LIeIr CEO, DvIun MuxweII, IookIng sLruIgIL InLo LIe cumeru wILI
IIs gIunL, creepv IuckIng eves. ¡L wus LIe kInd oI pIcLure LIuL
seemed IIke IL wus sLurIng rIgIL uL vou no muLLer wIuL ungIe vou
Iooked uL IL Irom. Mv skIn cruwIed jusL IookIng uL LIe IuckIng
LIIng.
¨So wIuL ure vou doIng?¨ Jennv conLInued over LIe pIone.
¨NoL mucI, jusL LrvIng Lo sLop sLurIng uL some coIIege cIIck`s
LILs,¨ ¡ repIIed noncIuIunLIv.
¨WIuL?¨
TIe workmun uguIn ruIsed IIs eves Irom IIs puper Lo gIure uL
me dIsduInIuIIv.
¡ cIuckIed, ¨NoLIIng, ¡`m jusL on LIe ¡IgIL RuII goIng Lo meeL
someone Ior un InLervIew.¨
¨CooI, cooI,¨ sIe responded dIsmIssIveIv und IoIIowed up
wILI u cureIuIIv-LImed puuse beIore uddIng, ¨So vou`re sLIII
comIng Lomorrow, rIgIL?¨
¨OI course ¡`II be LIere. You LIInk ¡`d mIss mv sIsLer`s
weddIng?¨
¨¡L`s jusL LIuL ¡ know Iow vou ure, D,¨ sIe suId In LIe voIce
sIe used wIen sIe wunLed Lo nug wILIouL IL soundIng IIke
nuggIng. ¡L wusn`L ucLuuIIv us eIIecLIve us sIe seemed Lo LIInk.
¨¡ IurdIv ever see vou unvmore - ever sInce vou goL buck Irom
Ouk HIII, vou`re so... wILIdruwn. We used Lo be so cIose, und IL
meuns u IoL Lo me Ior vou Lo be LIere.¨
¡ Iooked up und suw LIe workmun wuLcIIng me,
euvesdroppIng on mv IuII oI LIe cuII. He quIckIv dropped IIs
eves buck down Lo LIe newspuper und begun rIIIIIng rundomIv
LIrougI LIe puges. Anuthinq to pcss the time on c lonq trcin
ride, ¡ LIougIL Lo mvseII, und LIen repeuLed Lo Jennv, ¨¡`II be
6
LIere.¨
¨GreuL. ¡L`II be nIce Lo Iuve uL IeusL one person Irom mv
IumIIv LIere,¨ sIe conLInued. God, sIe couId be so IuckIng
reIenLIess. ¨¡ meun, ¡`II Iuve IrIends LIere und evervLIIng, buL
IL`s mosLIv uII goIng Lo be Brud`s sIde, beLween IIs IumIIv und
busIness conLucLs und uII LIe poIILIcos IIs uncIe knows.¨
TIe workmun sLopped IussIng wILI IIs newspuper und IeId
IL IuIIv spreud ouL In boLI Iunds wILI LIe cover IucIng me, us II
LrvIng Lo IIde us mucI oI IImseII Irom mv vIew us possIbIe. ¡L
wus u LubIoId-sIzed uILernuLIve weekIv wILI LIe LILIe Concrete
Underqround speIIed In cuL-ouL IeLLerIng IIke u Sex PIsLoIs
uIbum sIeeve. TIe cover wus u pIoLo oI cILv IuII superImposed
over u buckground oI Iundred-doIIur bIIIs wILI LIe cupLIon: Citu
Contrcctinq Sccndcl Exposed, bu D Duetzcl, pcqe ((.
¡ IeIL mv spIrILs IIIL u IILLIe us u smug smIrk spreud ucross mv
Iuce und ¡ repIIed InLo LIe pIone, ¨SpeukIng oI Brud, ¡ wus
meunIng Lo usk vou II Ie reud LIe urLIcIe veL.¨
Jennv dIdn`L respond, buL jusL IeL ouL u proIonged,
exusperuLed sIgI.
¨TIuL`s u ues. WIuL dId Ie LIInk?¨
¨¡`II see vou Lomorrow,¨ sIe suId LerseIv. ¨PIeuse Lrv noL Lo be
un ussIoIe.¨
¡ sIId LIe pIone buck In mv pockeL und couIdn`L IeIp buL IeeI
u IILLIe LrIumpIunL. CuII me ImmuLure, buL LIere wus someLIIng
ubouL geLLIng under Jennv`s skIn LIuL ¡ sLIII Iound us
enLerLuInIng us ¡ Iud wIen we were kIds. ¡ guess LIuL`s LIe
beuuLv oI sIbIIngs.
¡ wIIsLIed ucross LIe uIsIe uL LIe workmun Lo geL IIs
uLLenLIon. He IoIded LIe newspuper sIoppIIv on IIs Iup und
Iooked uL me wILI bIunk, IIsLIess eves.
¨So wIuL do vou LIInk ubouL uII LIuL sLuII goIng on wILI LIe
;
cILv?¨ ¡ usked, IndIcuLIng IIs puper.
¨¡ don`L reud LIe IuckIng urLIcIes In LIese LIIngs,¨ Ie
grumbIed. ¨¡ jusL pIck LIem up Lo see wIuL movIes ure pIuvIng.¨
¡ smIIed und nodded mv Ieud In ugreemenL. ¨YeuI, ¡`m wILI
vou, broLIer. A buncI oI IIberuI purunoIu buIIsIIL, Iur us ¡`m
concerned.¨
He dIdn`L respond one wuv or unoLIer Lo mv commenL, buL
kepL IookIng uL me wILI u gIuzed-over, unInLeresLed expressIon,
us II wuILIng ImpuLIenLIv Ior me Lo geL Lo LIe poInL oI wIuLever
¡`d InLerrupLed IIm Ior. ¡ gIunced uL LIe Iogo sewn In brIgIL red
IeLLers InLo LIe breusL oI IIs coveruIIs, wIIcI reud: Asterion
Record Mcncqement.
¨Hev, AsLerIon,¨ ¡ suId, poInLIng uL LIe Iogo. ¨DIdn`L vou guvs
jusL geL LIuL bIg conLrucL Irom LIe cILv?¨
He jerked Iorwurd suddenIv und jubbed u LIIck, cuIIoused
IInger uL me. ¨¡ook, IuggoL, ¡ don`L know wIuL vou`re geLLIng uL,
or II vou`re LrvIng Lo IIL on me or wIuL, buL II vou don`L geL oII
mv nuLs und sLop sLurIng uL me, vou`re gonnu be pIckIng vour
LeeLI up oII LIe IIoor.¨
¡ brIsLIed uL IIs epILIeL und LIougIL IL wus u preLLv broud
ussumpLIon Lo muke us ¡ smooLIed LIe IupeIs oI mv crusIed
veIveL juckeL wILI u coupIe bIuck-nuIIed IIngers. ¡ IeL mv IIps
Iung open IooseIv In u mIscIIevous grIn und sLured IIm down,
keepIng mv eves Iocked unwuverIngIv on IIs.
TIe pussengers ImmedIuLeIv uround us sIIILed
uncomIorLubIv In LIeIr seuLs und wuLcIed nervousIv. TIe
bIonde nexL Lo me bobbed Ier Ieud obIIvIousIv, sLIII burIed In
Ier LexLbook. And Seumus LIe Iobo kepL rIgIL on preucIIng.
¨TIev use bIomeLrIc unuIvsIs Lo sorL LIrougI uII LIe Iours
und Iours oI IooLuge so LIev cun IoIIow vou Irom one cumeru Lo
LIe nexL, keepIng vou Iorever under LIeIr wuLcIIuI eves.¨
8
¡ suw LIe workmun`s eves drIIL over Lo one oI LIe opuque
bIuck orbs LIuL Ioused u securILv cumeru. He sunk buck InLo IIs
seuL. ¡ pursed mv IIps LogeLIer und mude un exuggeruLed kIssIng
Iuce uL IIm.
TIe LruIn IurcIed und jerked Lo u sudden sLop.
¨WeII, gIrIs, Iooks IIke LIIs Is wIere ¡ geL oII,¨ ¡ suId,
uddressIng LIe bIonde`s cIesL wILI u LIp oI mv IuL us ¡ sLood up.
SIe vunked LIe eurbud ouL oI one eur und Iooked uL me
quIzzIcuIIv. ¨HuI?¨
¡ recognIzed LIe musIc LIuL spIIIed ouL oI LIe sLruv bud us ¡e
TIgre, wIIcI ¡ Iound u bIL surprIsIng bused on Ier uppeurunce,
expecLIng Ier LusLes Lo run more pop und muInsLreum.
¡ sIrugged und Ieuded Ior LIe LruIn door. On mv wuv ouL,
Seumus IeId ouL one Iund Lo mv cIesL Lo sLop me, LIen pussed
me u pIece oI puper wILI LIe oLIer. ¡L wus u IuII-sIeeL IIver, u
cIeup bIuck-und-wIILe pIoLocopv wILI LIree nurrow verLIcuI
pIcLures - u cIoseup oI LIe pvrumId Irom LIe buck oI LIe doIIur
bIII on LIe IeIL, u poIIce oIIIcer In rIoL geur In LIe mIddIe, und u
womun In IIngerIe on LIe rIgIL. TIe pIruse ¨You Are ßeinq Lied
To...¨ wus embIuzoned ucross LIe Lop, und rIgIL beIow LIe
Imuges, IL conLInued ¨Trust Us¨. AL LIe verv boLLom, In LInv
IeLLers, wus LIe words ¨The Hiqhucter Societu¨ uIong wILI u
sLvIIzed Iogo oI u gIobe wILI u crown IIouLIng ubove IL.
¨How do vou know so mucI ubouL uII LIIs?¨ ¡ usked Seumus.
HIs deep bIue eves LwInkIed us Ie repIIed jovIuIIv, reekIng oI
sweuL, pIss, und Mud Dog zoJzo, ¨¡ used Lo work Ior Abrusux. ¡
IeIped LIem buIId LIe dumned LIIng.¨
¤
z. Ccn't ße Held Responsible
TIe uddress ¡ Iud been gIven wus u IIopIouse cuIIed Cusu
SuIvudor In LIe scummv sIde oI downLown, LIe purL wIere LIe
cILv`s redeveIopmenL (reud: ¨genLrIIIcuLIon¨) eIIorLs Iudn`L veL
munuged Lo drIve ouL LIe sundrv undesIrubIe eIemenLs.
¡ wuIked InsIde pusL LIe IronL Iobbv. ¡ couId LeII LIe desk
munuger wunLed Lo IussIe me, buL Ie wus Loo busv urguIng wILI
u mIddIe-uged peroxIde-bIonde womun In u Ieopurd-prInL Lop.
Her skIn wus IeuLIerv und weuLIer beuLen, und ¡ guessed sIe
wus LIe Lvpe wIo wus ucLuuIIv u good Len veurs vounger LIun sIe
Iooked.
¡ mude mv wuv up LIe nurrow sLuIrcuse LIuL smeIIed oI urIne
und bIeucI, goIng uII LIe wuv Lo LIe LIIrd IIoor. ¡ conLInued
down LIe dImIv IIL IuIIwuv, pusL u serIes oI cIosed doors LIuL
muIIIed LIe sounds oI women IukIng mouns oI pIeusure.
Room ¤1¤ wus down uL LIe Iur end oI LIe IuII, und ILs door
wus uIreudv sIIgILIv ujur. ¡ knocked unvwuvs, buL LIere wus no
unswer. PusIIng LIe door open jusL enougI Lo poke mv Ieud In,
¡ cuIIed, ¨HeIIo? ¡s unvbodv In LIere?¨
TIere wus no response, so ¡ wenL In und IeIL uIong LIe wuII
1o
Ior LIe IIgIL swILcI. A sIngIe weuk buIb cume on, IIgILIng up LIe
LInv, spurse room wILI u dIm veIIow gIow. TIe room wus ubouL
8 IeeL bv 8 IeeL, und LIe onIv IurnILure wus u dIngv, unmude bed
und u meLuI IooL Iocker. TIere were no wIndows, no cIoseL, und
no buLIroom. As ¡ sLepped uII LIe wuv In, ¡ noLIced u wooden
busebuII buL propped up besIde LIe door.
Mv wuLcI suId 6:zo - LwenLv mInuLes IuLe Ior LIe InLervIew.
¡ suL on LIe edge oI LIe bed Lo wuIL, IopIng LIuL muvbe mv
conLucL Iud jusL sLepped ouL momenLurIIv.
AILer u Iew mInuLes, u pIone sLurLed rIngIng ouL In LIe
IuIIwuv. ¡ IeL IL rIng sIx LImes wILI no one unswerIng beIore ¡
decIded Lo geL IL - purLIv In LIe oII cIunce IL wus mv conLucL, buL
mosLIv ouL oI morbId curIosILv us Lo wIuL kInd oI busIness
someone wouId Iuve cuIIIng LIIs dump.
On mv wuv Lo LIe door, LIougI, u smuII bIue IIusI oI IIgIL
cuugIL mv eve. ¡L cume Irom InsIde u venL uL LIe Lop oI LIe
opposILe wuII. ¡ moved cIoser und suw LIuL LIere wus someLIIng
bIue und meLuIIIc sLusIed beIInd LIe gruLIng. TIe IIusI musL
Iuve been u reIIecLIon oI IIgIL oII LIe meLuI surIuce.
¡ sIId LIe IooL Iocker over und cIImbed up Lo geL u cIoser Iook.
¡nsIde, ¡ couId muke ouL wIuL uppeured Lo be u smuII
recLunguIur box ubouL IIve IncIes Iong und Lwo IncIes LIIck. ¡
LrIed Lo puII LIe venL Ioose buL Iound IL wus screwed In pIuce.
DIggIng mv pockeLknIIe ouL oI mv jeuns, ¡ sLurLed IoosenIng LIe
screws und Iud munuged Lo work Lwo oI LIe Iour ouL wIen ¡
suddenIv Ieurd u voIce cuII ouL Irom beIInd me.
¨WIuL ure vou doIng Iere?¨
¡ spun uround Lo see un oId mun sLundIng jusL InsIde LIe
doorwuv, LIIn und guunL, weurIng u cIeup brown suIL. He Iud
pIcked up LIe busebuII buL und wus poInLIng IL uL me
LIreuLenIngIv, us II LrvIng Lo keep me uL buv. ¡ sLepped down oII
11
LIe Iocker, und Ie udvunced on me quIckIv, exLendIng LIe buL
ouL Lo jusL bureIv Lup mv cIesL wILI LIe LIp.
¨SLuv rIgIL LIere.¨
¨WIou, cuIm down,¨ ¡ suId. ¨You cuIIed me und usked me Lo
meeL vou Iere.¨
¨¡ dIdn`L cuII vou. WIo ure vou? WIo senL vou Iere?¨
¨¡ook, someone cuIIed und LoId me Lo come Iere. ¡`m u
reporLer.¨
¡ sLurLed reucIIng InsIde mv juckeL Lo geL mv curd, buL Ie
jubbed uL me wILI LIe buL. ¡L wusn`L cIose enougI LIuL Ie meunL
IIL me, buL cIose enougI LIuL ¡ goL LIe messuge.
¨¡`m jusL gonnu reucI InLo mv pockeL Lo geL mv busIness curd
und sIow vou wIo ¡ um.¨
He wuLcIed me sIIenLIv us ¡ sIowIv LrIed uguIn Ior mv juckeL
pockeL. ¡ produced mv curd und Iunded IL Lo IIm.
TIe Lop oI LIe curd wus sLumped LIe Concrete Underqround
cuL-ouL Iogo. UnderneuLI wus prInLed:
D Duetzcl
Punl-cs-Iucl Intestiqctite 1ournclist
He gIunced uL LIe curd beIore LruInIng IIs guze und LIe buL
buck on me.
¨¡s LIIs supposed Lo be some kInd oI u joke?¨
¡ Look u coupIe sLeps Iorwurd. ¨¡L`s no joke. ¡`m u reporLer
und--¨
He swung LIe buL squure InLo mv mId-secLIon. ¡ doubIed
over, mv ubdomen on IIre Irom LIe bIow. BeIore ¡ couId
recover, unoLIer swIng brougIL LIe buL down on LIe buck oI mv
Ieud, droppIng me Lo LIe IIoor us ¡ quIckIv Iuded ouL oI
conscIousness.
1z
---
I cm hctinq thct drecm cqcin.
I sit in c crouded motie thecter. Dn mu riqht is cn emptu
sect. To mu le[t, c uomcn sits beside me. I thinl thct I
[olloued her into the thecter beccuse she looled [cmilicr, lile
mu old qirl[riend [rom hiqh school, but nou I ccn see thct she's
not uho I thouqht she ucs. She rests her hecd on mu shoulder,
cnd I sueep cucu her purple hcir [rom her [orehecd cnd qite
her c liss.
I uctch c mcn on the motie screen ridinq in c ccr cs it
drites onto c smcll cir[ield in the middle o[ the niqht. Actucllu,
I don't see the mcn himsel[: I see throuqh his eues. The mcn on
the the screen is me: the me in the cudience [cdes cucu, cnd I
[ocus mu concentrction solelu on the me on screen.
Dn screen, I qet out o[ the ccr cnd cm qreeted bu c short,
bcldinq mcn ccrruinq c [lcshliqht. He scus somethinq, but I
ccn't mcle out his uords oter the sound o[ the [ilm projector
behind me. I [ollou the mcn uith the [lcshliqht into one o[ the
cirplcne hcnqers. It is dcrl cll cround.
There is c sinqle plcne in the hcnqer, c smcll pritcte jet.
The [orucrd hctch is open cnd c rollinq stcirccse hcs been
moted into plcce. I [ollou the other mcn up the stcirs cnd into
the plcne. Inside, the becm liqhts up onlu smcll pcrts o[ the
crcmped spcce rcndomlu, the [lcshliqht bouncinq in the mcn's
hcnd cs he uclls doun the cisle toucrd the bccl.
He stops ct the end o[ the ccbin cnd points the liqht ct one
o[ the sects. I mote closer to see uhct he's shouinq me. It is c
uomcn. She is dirtu cnd disheteled - clothes torn, qrecsu
blccl hcir mctted to her [cce uith qrime cnd suect, lcrqe

purple bruises on the exposed [lesh o[ her necl uhere she hcs
been strcnqled.
I lneel doun cnd sueep cucu c [eu strcnds o[ hcir to
expose her [cce. I touch mu hcnd to her cold slin, uhich [eels
clmost unrecl, lile she's c ucx dummu. Gentlu, tenderlu, I run
mu [inqers doun clonq her li[eless cheel. I lnou her, but the
me sittinq in the thecter ccn't quite plcce hou or uhere [rom.
Dn screen, the mcn uith the [lcshliqht tells me, ¨Lool in her
hcnd.¨ He motes the becm doun so I ccn see her clenched [ist.
I [orce her qrip open cnd see she's holdinq c necllcce uith c
lcrqe, brillicnt rubu mounted on c pendcnt. I [lip the pendcnt
cround: there is c sumbol etched on its bccl - c qlobe uith c
croun [loctinq oter it. I tcle the necllcce [rom the decd
uomcn's hcnd cnd stu[[ it in mu poclet.
ßccl in the thecter, I couqh. The uomcn on mu le[t shushes
me cnqrilu. The me on the screen uhips his hecd cround cnd
lools oter his shoulder, pcst the [ourth ucll cnd into the
cudience. I ccn see his [cce, cnd he isn't me. His deep blue
eues cre [illed uith piercinq cnqer, qlcrinq ct me throuqh the
dcrlness, projected lcrqer thcn li[e.
The imcqe on the screen [liclers cnd dissoltes brie[lu into
stctic be[ore cuttinq to c qrcinu, uide-cnqle shot o[ c room, the
monochrome imcqe ucshed in blue, qitinq the impression it is
c [eed [rom some lind o[ surteillcnce ccmerc. The room is
smcll cnd spcrselu-[urnished uith onlu one occupcnt - c mcn
sittinq on the edqe o[ c bed, his bccl turned to the ccmerc. In
the bottom riqht corner o[ the screen cre diqitized numbers
recdinq: ooo((.
I turn to mu le[t. The uomcn beside me ccsts c
discpprotinq lool ct me cnd scus, ¨You shouldn't be here.¨
Her [cce is cotered bu c hcl[-mcsl mcde o[ dcrl qunmetcl. I
1q
recch out to li[t the mcsl, but uhen I see her [cce, I reclize she's
not uho I thouqht she ucs.
I turn to mu riqht cnd see c mcn sittinq in the pretiouslu-
emptu sect, his [cce cotered in c qrotesque blccl mcsl pocled
bu red boils oozinq puss. A lonq crooled nose protrudes [rom
his mcsl, cnd undernecth his lips pcrt to retecl c mouth[ul o[
jcqqed uellou teeth juttinq out [rom purple, bleedinq qums.
The mcn in the mcsl stcrts lcuqhinq - c tinnu cnd
mechcniccl lcuqh, lile the sound o[ c clcnlu old [ilm projector.
---
WIen ¡ cume Lo, mv ussuIIunL wus gone. ¡ sLruggIed sIowIv Lo
mv IeeL, IeeIIng mv Ieud LIrobbIng und mv sLomucI sLIngIng
IIke IeII. TIen Lo muke muLLers worse, LIuL dumned pIone In
LIe IuIIwuv sLurLed rIngIng uguIn.
Once ¡ IInuIIv reguIned mv beurIngs, ¡ reuIIzed LIuL LIe venL
cover Iud been IuIIv removed und LIe box Iud been Luken.
Mv Ieud sLIII swImmIng, ¡ sLuggered ouL InLo LIe IuIIwuv In
LIme Lo see LIe Ieopurd-prInL Iudv Irom LIe Iobbv pIck up LIe
pIone.
¨HeIIo?¨ sIe unswered und LIen Lurned Ier Ieud Lo Iook
dIrecLIv uL me.
¨Yes, Ie Is,¨ sIe suId uILer u brIeI puuse, LIen IeId ouL LIe
receIver Lo me. ¨¡L`s Ior vou.¨
¡ Look LIe pIone Irom Ier und Look ouL mv reporLer`s
noLebook Irom mv buck pockeL. ¨D`s SporLIng Goods. TIIs Is D
speukIng.¨
¨DId vou IInd LIe purceI?¨ usked u mun`s voIce on LIe oLIer
end oI LIe IIne, Iow und ruspv, uImosL soundIng mecIunIcuI.
¨WIo Is LIIs?¨
1=
¨DId vou geL IL?¨ Ie demunded.
¡ wroLe LIe word ¨purceI¨ In mv noLebook. ¨You meun LIe
IILLIe bIue box? No, ¡ wus Loo busv geLLIng bIudgeoned InLo
unconscIousness wILI u busebuII buL. Now wouId vou mInd
LeIIIng me wIo LIe Iuck vou ure?¨
¡ Ieurd muILIpIe voIces wIIsper IuInLIv In LIe buckground,
buL couIdn`L cIeurIv muke ouL wIuL LIev were suvIng. One oI
LIem mIgIL Iuve suId someLIIng IIke, ¨He`s goIng InsIde.¨
¨You sIouIdn`L Iuve been IuLe,¨ suId LIe mun. ¨You need Lo
geL ouL oI LIere rIgIL now. ¡I vou don`L, we cun`L be IeId
responsIbIe Ior wIuL Iuppens Lo vou.¨
TIe IIne wenL deud. ¡ Iung up LIe pIone und mude u Iew
more noLes beIore IeudIng buck downsLuIrs. On mv wuv
LIrougI LIe Iobbv, LIe munuger rusIed ouL Irom beIInd LIe
IronL desk Lo cuL me oII.
¨Hev, LIere`s u vIsILor`s Iee Iere. TwenLv bucks,¨ Ie suId.
¨WIuL?¨
¨AII vIsILors puv LwenLv bucks. ¡ Iuve Lo cIeun up uILer vou
ussIoIes. And beLween scrubbIng LIe jIzz sLuIns ouL oI LIe
Iookers` rooms und moppIng up vomIL und bIood und God
knows wIuL eIse In LIe deuIers` rooms, LwenLv bucks u pop don`L
even sLurL Lo cover IL. So puv up - und LIuL goes Ior vou, Loo.¨
¡ Iooked over mv sIouIder Lo see LIuL LIe munuger wus uIso
uddressIng u mun wIo Iud jusL wuIked LIrougI LIe IronL door.
He wus u gIunL sIIL-kIckIng Lvpe, eusIIv 6`8¨ und buIIL IIke u
buIIdozer, wILI u sIuved Ieud und u durk oIIve compIexIon oI
IndeLermInuLe eLInIcILv. He wore IeuLIer punLs, sLeeI Loe juck
booLs, und u bIuck L-sIIrL wILI ¨Bud Seed¨ prInLed In wIILe bIock
IeLLerIng.
¨WIuL dId vou suv?¨ usked LIe newcomer.
TIe munuger sLepped Lowurds IIm, IoIdIng ouL IIs IeIL Iund
16
Iuce up und jubbIng IIs rIgIL Index IInger down InLo LIe open
puIm. ¨You Ieurd me. ¡ suId puL some God-dumned monev, In
mv God-dumned--¨
TIe LuII mun Ieud-buLLed LIe munuger In LIe Iuce, musIIng
IIs nose InLo u red squIrLIng puIp. He Iooked up uL me, bIood
drIppIng down IIs IoreIeud, und suId, ¨He sIouIdn`L Iuve
bIuspIemed.¨ ¡ couIdn`L LeII II Ie wus jokIng or noL - probubIv
wusn`L.
¡ jusL sIrugged In LucIL ugreemenL und sLepped pusL IIm
Lowurds LIe exIL. On mv wuv ouL LIe door, ¡ Iooked buck Lo see
IIm IeudIng upsLuIrs. SomeLIIng LoId me Ie wus probubIv
Ieuded Ior room ¤1¤, buL ¡`d be dumned II ¡ wus goIng Lo IoIIow
IIm Lo IInd ouL.
1;
(. This Mcchine Kills Yuppies
¨CongruLuIuLIons, juckuss, vou jusL goL us sued.¨
Mv edILor, SIuron, wus sLundIng In IronL oI mv desk. SIe
wus uppurenLIv noL Iuppv.
¡ sIrugged, sIoucIIng IurLIer down In mv cIuIr, LrvIng Lo
IIde Irom Ier gIgunLIc cruzv eves beIInd mv compuLer. ¡L wus u
wIILe IupLop wILI u sLIcker LIuL suId ¨TIIs MucIIne KIIIs
YuppIes¨ sIupped over LIe corporuLe Iogo on buck.
SIe reucIed ouL wILI one oI Ier IreukIsI mun-Iunds und
sIummed LIe screen sIuL. ¨¡eL me Lrv LIIs uguIn. You jusL goL us
sued sIx LImes over.¨
SIuron SIncIuIr wus u sIx-IooL-LuII beusL oI u womun wILI u
Iuge mune oI wIrv bIuck und gruv IuIr puIIed buck In u ponv LuII.
¡ Iud everv conIIdence LIuL sIe couId Leur me In Lwo und use mv
bIoodv curcuss In some kInkv IedonIsLIc IesbIun cuIL rILuuI or
someLIIng. So ¡ usuuIIv LrIed Lo cIoose mv words wILI LIe
upproprIuLe cure uround Ier.
¨Jesus-IuckIng-CIrIsL, ¡ Iuven`L even Iud mv mornIng coIIee
veL, und mv Ieud`s sLIII reeIIng Irom LIe ¡ouIsvIIIe SIugger LIuL
pummeIed IL IusL nIgIL. So ¡ reuIIv don`L IeeI IIke deuIIng wILI
18
wIuLever unnovIng IormonuI epIsode vou Iuve goIng on Iere.¨
SIe gIured uL me sIIenLIv, wuLcIIng me squIrm u IILLIe beIore
uskIng, ¨Are vou done?¨
¨ProbubIv.¨
¨Good,¨ sIe suId wILI u suppressed grIn us sIe Look u seuL
nexL Lo me. ¨Becuuse ¡ jusL IeL vou pubIIcIv uccuse LIe muvor
und LIe vuIIev`s mosL powerIuI corporuLIons oI conspIrIng Lo
deIruud LIe Luxpuvers. So wIuL`s vour pIun Ior keepIng mv uss
oII LIe IIrIng IIne?¨
¡ LIILed buck In mv cIuIr und meL SIuron`s guze. ¨¡ook, we
knew we`d geL u sLrong reucLIon. ¡eL LIem sue. We Iuve e-muIIs
Lo buck us up.¨
¨TIese IeguI brIeIIngs suv vour e-muIIs were Iorged,¨ sIe
responded, wuvIng u LIIck sLuck oI pupers In mv Iuce.
¨OI course LIev`re gonnu suv LIuL. TIuL`s wIv ¡ mude sure Lo
geL corroboruLIon. Abrusux conIIrmed LIuL LIe e-muIIs beLween
DvIun MuxweII und CILv HuII ure IegIL. BuL vou know uII LIIs, so
¡ don`L know wIv we`re wusLIng LIme goIng over IL uguIn.¨
¨Becuuse Abrusux Is noL reLurnIng cuIIs or unswerIng unv
quesLIons reIuLed Lo vour sLorv. TIev won`L conIIrm LIuL LIeIr
spokesperson ucLuuIIv guve vou LIuL sLuLemenL. TIev`ve cuL vou
Ioose.¨
¡ IeIL mv sLomucI sInk. ¨You`re kIddIng me?¨
SIuron sIook Ier Ieud. ¨Nope. You know Iow vou were
LeIIIng me LIuL LIeIr udmIssIon wus uImosL Loo good Lo be Lrue?
WeII guess wIuL...?¨
¡ Ieuned Iorwurd, proppIng mvseII uguInsL LIe desk on mv
eIbows und mussugIng mv LempIes. Mv IeuducIe wus geLLIng
worse.
¨¡L wouId muke LIIngs u IoL eusIer II vou LoId me wIo vour
source on LIose e-muIIs wus,¨ sIe pressed.

¨¡ cun`L. ¡ promIsed LIem compIeLe unonvmILv.¨
¨¡uIr enougI,¨ sIe conceded, ¨buL vou goL Lo gIve me
someLIIng Iere, D. WIuL`s vour pIun?¨
¨¡ Iuve Lo LuIk Lo Abrusux uguIn und muke sure LIev`re sLIII
buckIng mv sLorv. OnIv LIIs LIme ¡ Iuve Lo LuIk Lo DvIun
MuxweII IImseII, noL LIuL IorrIbIe sIrIekIng bILcI IIuck, ¡vncI.¨
¡ puused, sLrokIng mv cIIn, LIen udded, ¨He`II probubIv be uL mv
sIsLer`s weddIng LonIgIL. HeII, IL mIgIL muke LIe LIIng ucLuuIIv
worLI goIng Lo.¨
SIuron reIuxed Ier posLure u bIL und soILened Ier Lone.
¨NIce Lo see vou IInuIIv joIned LIe conversuLIon. Becuuse II LIIs
LIIng goes Lo courL, und vou cun`L geL MuxweII Lo buck up LIose
e-muIIs, LIen ¡`m Iorced Lo go InLo dumuge conLroI mode. And
LIuL sLurLs wILI pubIIsIIng u IuII reLrucLIon und sIIL-cunnIng
vour sorrv uss.¨
JusL LIen un InLern uppeured uL LIe enLrunce oI mv cubIcIe
wILI LIree IuII muII Lruvs sLucked on Lop oI eucI oLIer. ¨Here`s
LIe muII vou usked me Lo brIng In, Ms. SIncIuIr,¨ sIe suId
meekIv.
¨JusL seL IL down on IIs desk,¨ SIuron InsLrucLed wILI u nod.
TIe InLern obeved, sLruggIIng wILI LIe weIgIL us sIe IeILed LIe
Ioud onLo mv deskLop wILI u LIud. SIe wus LvpIcuI oI LIe gIrIs
SIuron brougIL In - IdeuIIsLIc coIIege sLudenLs wILI bIg
vocubuIurIes und bIg LILs. NoL LIuL ¡ ever compIuIned.
TIIs purLIcuIur InLern Iud u IIp rIng und dved jeL-bIuck IuIr.
SIe wore u denIm sIorLs over rIpped bIuck IIsIneL sLockIngs und
u curnuLIon pInk L-sIIrL wILI u sIIk screen oI SIe-Ru LIuL ¡ wusn`L
sure II IL wus supposed Lo be IronIc buL uL unv ruLe wus deIInILeIv
u sIze or Lwo Loo smuII. As ¡ Lurned mv guze buck Lo SIuron, ¡
suw LIuL sIe wus uIso cIeckIng LIe gIrI ouL.
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨NoL worLI vour eIIorL. ¡ know Ier Lvpe.
zo
ProbubIv Ius u Iong-Lerm bovIrIend, some dweebv musIc mujor
wILI u ponv LuII or someLIIng.¨
¨Suvs vou,¨ SIuron repIIed wILI u smIrk. TIe InLern sLood
LIere uwkwurdIv, Ier eves sIIILIng buck und IorLI beLween us.
¨Prove me rIgIL, PrIncess oI Power,¨ ¡ suId.
¨WIuL?¨ LIe InLern usked LenLuLIveIv, Ier puIe cIeeks
becomIng IIusIed.
¨OI now don`L go geLLIng uII emburrussed,¨ ¡ suId. ¨¡ know
we`re IIvIng In more enIIgILened LImes und IL`d be LoLuIIv
InupproprIuLe Ior me Lo jusL usk vou sLruIgIL up II vou IIke Lo euL
box or noL, und oI course ¡ wunL Lo be sensILIve Lo uII LIuL
buIIsIIL. BuL LIIs Ius Lo be seLLIed, so jusL LeII me LIIs - wIIcI oI
LIe Lwo oI us wouId vou be more IIkeIv Lo Iuck?¨
SIe-Ru sIook Ier Ieud, noL quILe sure Lo muke oI LIe
sILuuLIon. ¡InuIIv, wILI un upoIogeLIc sIrug, sIe unswered,
¨WeII ¡`m noL guv, buL deIInILeIv Ier.¨
SIuron IuugIed IeurLIIv us LIe InLern wuIked uwuv. ¡ IIusIed
u woIIIsI grIn uL Ier. ¨So wIuL`s uII LIIs?¨ ¡ usked, IndIcuLIng LIe
muII Lruvs.
¨TIuL`s LIe IuLe muII generuLed bv vour urLIcIe. MosL oI LIem
jusL quesLIon vour journuIIsLIc InLegrILv - grunLed, LIev use
some verv coIorIuI Iunguuge Lo do IL - buL LIere ure uIso u
IundIuI oI bonu IIde deuLI LIreuLs In LIere.¨
¨¡`m jusL surprIsed LIuL munv peopIe ucLuuIIv reud LIIs
puper,¨ ¡ muLLered.
¡ wusn`L reuIIv worrIed ubouL LIe IeuL mv urLIcIe wus brIngIng
down. ¡ knew SIuron couId IundIe IL, und ¡ knew LIuL sIe
wouId geL mv buck.
---
z1
SIuron SIncIuIr run uwuv Irom Iome Ior LIe IIrsL LIme uL uge
1q Lo go see LIe SLooges. SIe run uwuv Ior LIe IusL LIme Lwo
veurs IuLer und moved Lo New York. ¡L wus LIe IuLe sevenLIes,
und sIe spIIL Ier LIme beLween Lwo movemenLs - punk rock und
guv IIb. SomewIere uIong LIe wuv sIe goL InLo journuIIsm.
SIe`d IeL me reud some oI Ier eurIv sLuII, und LIev were cruzv
good - IreneLIc gonzo journuIIsm IueIed bv IeroIn und LIe seII-
rIgILeous convIcLIon LIuL sIe wus LIe cooIesL bILcI on LIe pIuneL.
Bv LIe LIme ¡ meL Ier, sIe Iud ended up Iere und sLurLed LIe
Concrete Underqround. ¡L Iud meunL someLIIng Lo Ier uL some
poInL, buL now sIe`d jusL resIgned IerseII Lo bubvsILLIng u buncI
oI medIocre smurL-usses - presenL compunv mosL deIInILeIv
IncIuded.
SIe drove u preIIsLorIc beuLer wILI u bIodIeseI-converLed
engIne. TIe reur bumper wus pIusLered wILI oId cumpuIgn
sLIckers Ior IuIIed DemocruLIc cundIduLes us Ier own IILLIe Iuck-
vou Lo LIe worId. SerIousIv. ¡I onIv ¡ were InLo IomeIv dvkes
oId enougI Lo be mv moLIer, ¡`d Iuve proposed Lo LIIs womun
veurs ugo.
---
¡ LIumbed LIrougI LIe Lruv oI IuLe muII ubsenLIv, noL reuIIv
IookIng Ior unvLIIng uL uII, und cume ucross u smuII bIue
enveIope LIuL cuugIL mv uLLenLIon. ¡L bore no sLump or
posLmurk, buL wus uddressed Lo me In cure oI LIe newspuper.
TIe buck IIup wus sLumped In sIIver IoII wILI LIe crowned gIobe
svmboI Irom mv dreum.
¡ unseuIed LIe IIup und puIIed ouL LIe puper InsIde. ¡L wus u
LIIck wIILe sIeeL wILI u LvpewrILLen messuge:
zz
Hcte uou seen todcu's Morninq Stcr?
Pcqe o-ß
TIe Morninq-Stcr wus LIe mujor duIIv puper In LIe vuIIev.
As u ruIe, ¡ never reud IL. So wIen ¡ usked SLun, our movIe
IIsLIngs edILor, Lo borrow IIs copv, Ie wus undersLundubIv
suspIcIous. ¡ Iud Lo promIse Lo reLurn IL unIurmed und noL
burn IL In eIIIgv or unvLIIng.
¡ puIIed ouL LIe B-secLIon, ¡ocuI News, und IIIpped Lo puge ¤.
BurIed uL LIe boLLom oI LIe puge wus u smuII one-coIumn sLorv
ubouL u womun Iound deud In u dILcI on LIe sIde oI HIgIwuv ;;,
ubouL LIree mIIes souLI oI LIe HusLIngs AIrIIeId uL LIe Iur
souLIern LIp oI LIe vuIIev. SIe Iud been sLrungIed. PoIIce Iound
no IdenLIIIcuLIon on LIe bodv, und sIe dId noL muLcI LIe
descrIpLIons oI unv known mIssIng persons In LIe ureu. TIe
poIIce spokesmun suId LIuL sIe wus mosL IIkeIv u vugrunL.
¡ Lurned LIe puge. On LIe buck oI LIe urLIcIe, puge 1o, LIere
wus u IuII-puge coIor ud Ior Abrusux, uguIn wILI u pIoLogrupI oI
LIeIr CEO DvIun MuxweII. WILI IIs sIuggv, jeL-bIuck IuIr, sIIm
buIId, und Ioose, bruzen wuv oI currvIng IImseII, peopIe Lended
Lo LIInk oI IIm us more rock sLur LIun LecI execuLIve. ¡ sLured uL
LIe pIoLogrupI, medILuLIng on LIe wuv Ie seemed Lo guze ouL
Irom LIe puge wILI LIose InLense bIue eves. Mv bruIn IIusIed Lo
un Imuge oI LIuL sume sLeeIv guze projecLed Iurger LIun IIIe on u
movIe screen. ¡ IeIL u cIIII course LIrougI mv bodv und muke
LIe IuIrs on LIe buck oI mv neck sLund up, LIen ImugIned Ior u
second LIuL ¡ couId Ieur LIe sound oI un oId, cIunkv IIIm
projecLor.

a. Strcnqers on c ßcthroom Iloor
TIere were u good munv LIIngs ¡`d ruLIer do on u ¡rIduv
nIgIL LIun Lrv Lo guIn enLrv Lo LIe SL. AugusLIne, un excIusIve
wesL-sIde IoLeI LIuL cuLered Lo Lwo Lvpes oI cIIenLs - LIe rIcI
cnd LIe powerIuI. And veL LIere ¡ wus, LrvIng Lo weuseI mv wuv
pusL some overgrown Arvun doormun bIockIng me Irom LIe
grund buIIroom.
¨No, vou don`L undersLund. ¡`m u journuIIsL, mun. ¡ Iuve
credenLIuIs.¨
¡ IIusIed IIm LIe IIrsL LIIng ¡ Iound In mv juckeL pockeL,
wIIcI Iuppened Lo be mv press puss Irom u LecI Lrude sIow Lwo
monLIs pusL. ¡L dIdn`L seem Lo IeIp mv cuse. ¡L probubIv uIso
dId noL IeIp LIuL ¡ sIowed up Lo u weddIng In u IIve-sLur IoLeI
weurIng jeuns und chcnclcs. Or LIuL ¡ reeked oI wIIskev. ¡n mv
deIense, Iowever, ¡ Iud Lo rusI sLruIgIL Irom work Lo muke IL
Iere, so LIere wus no wuv ¡ couId Iuve sLopped boLI uL Iome Lo
cIunge cnd uL LIe bur Lo geL suILubIv bIILzed. SomeLIIng Iud Lo
gIve.
¡ persIsLed In urguIng wILI LIe doormun unLII, ouL oI LIe
corner oI mv eve, ¡ suw u verv sIorL, verv ungrv voung MexIcun
zq
womun In u weddIng dress cIurgIng Lowurds us Irom ucross LIe
buIIroom.
¨Now vou`ve done IL, AdoII. GeL reudv Lo see wIuL Iuppens
wIen vou InIrInge upon LIe rIgILs oI LIe ¡ourLI EsLuLe.¨
TIe voung womun reucIed pusL LIe doormun und grubbed
me bv LIe urm.
¨¡L`s okuv,¨ sIe suId. ¨He`s mv broLIer.¨
---
Jennv und ¡ were LwIns, und we were uIwuvs cIose growIng
up despILe our verv dIIIerenL personuIILIes. BesIdes u bIrLIduv
und u coupIe deud purenLs, LIere wusn`L mucI eIse we sIured In
common. SIe wus un over-ucIIever und u bIL oI u kIss-uss,
uIwuvs LrvIng Lo muke mom und dud proud, wIIcI sIe seemed
Lo puII oII wILI euse. SIe wus LIe gIrI In IIgI scIooI wIo pIuved
everv sporL, joIned everv cIub, run LIe sLudenL councII, und
someIow sLIII munuged Lo puII A`s wILIouL breukIng u sweuL.
Intense doesn`L even begIn Lo descrIbe Ier. ¡ couId never
compeLe wILI LIuL, so InsLeud ¡ decIded Lo buIId un IdenLILv Ior
mvseII us LIe rebeI. UnIorLunuLeIv, ¡ someIow equuLed rebeIIIng
wILI LurnIng InLo u gIunL ussIoIe.
We grew up In u mIddIe-cIuss suburbun IumIIv. Our IuLIer
wus u LeucIer und our moLIer un urcIILecL. TIev were LIe kInd
oI coupIe LIuL kepL u duLe nIgIL Lo go duncIng everv ¡rIduv Ior
LIe ¤1 veurs LIev were murrIed. TIev dIed wIen Jennv und ¡
were LwenLv-Lwo. We soId LIe Iouse wIere we grew up und spIIL
LIe cusI; neILIer oI us wunLed Lo seL IooL In IL uguIn.
Jennv used LIe monev Lo puv Ior Ier MusLer`s. AILer scIooI
sIe wenL Lo work Ior Jumes McPIerson, one oI LIe mosL
powerIuI und rIcIesL men In LIe cILv. AsIde Irom ownIng LIe SL.
z=
AugusLIne, McPIerson Iud InLeresLs In reuI esLuLe, Iund
deveIopmenL, venLure cupILuI, und oLIer LIIngs ¡ reuIIv sIouId`ve
known more ubouL. TIe McPIerson IumIIv wus oId monev Iere
goIng buck Lo wIen LIIs vuIIev wus noLIIng buL orcIurds. ¡I ¡
suId LIuL uL one LIme or unoLIer LIe McPIerson IumIIv Iud
owned everv sIngIe squure IooL oI Iund In our cILv, ¡`d probubIv
be exuggeruLIng - buL noL mucI.
Jennv run LIe McPIersons` cIurILubIe IounduLIon, wIIcI
busIcuIIv meunL LIuL noL onIv dId LIev Iuve so mucI monev LIuL
LIev Iud Lo sLurL gIvIng IL uwuv, buL LIev even Iud Lo IIre
someone eIse jusL Lo geL rId oI IL Ior LIem.
---
Jennv grubbed Lwo gIusses oI scoLcI Irom LIe burLender und
Iunded one Lo me.
¨¡rom LIe Iook oI vou - noL Lo menLIon LIe smeII - ¡ know ¡
reuIIv sIouIdn`L be gIvIng vou LIIs, buL..¨ sIe LruIIed oII und
sIrugged.
¨Here`s Lo vour bIg duv,¨ ¡ suId us ¡ cIInked mv gIuss Lo Iers.
¨So bIg LIuL vou sIowed up un Iour IuLe und mIssed LIe
ceremonv compIeLeIv,¨ sIe udded, IIusIIng me un expressIon oI
dIsupprovuI LIuL mude Ier Iook IIke our moLIer. ¡ opened mv
mouLI Lo proLesL, buL mercIIuIIv sIe pressed Ier IInger Lo mv
IIps Lo sIIence me. ¨¡`m jusL Iuppv vou mude IL.¨
¨¡ um, Loo,¨ ¡ repIIed.
We munuged Lo sneuk uwuv Irom LIe recepLIon LIrougI LIe
IoLeI kILcIen und ouL u servIce door LIuL opened onLo u IoudIng
dock uL LIe buck oI LIe IoLeI. We suL on LIe dock und cuugIL up
over scoLcI und cIgureLLes.
¨¡ Iuven`L smoked In uges,¨ Jennv suId uILer exIuIIng u serIes
z6
oI perIecL rIngs. ¨¡I Brud suw me, Ie`d IIIp.¨
¨WIuL ure vou goIng Lo do wIen Ie smeIIs IL on vou?¨
¨BIume IL on vou, oI course.¨
¡ cIuckIed und sLubbed ouL mv cIgureLLe buLL. ¨Do vou
remember wIen we were In IIgI scIooI und we used Lo sneuk
ouL onLo LIe rooI over LIe guruge Lo smoke?¨
Jennv smIIed. ¨YeuI, und ¡ remember LIe LIme junIor veur
wIen ¡ cume ouL Lo IInd vou IrvIng, bubbIIng ubouL spv suLeIIILes,
governmenL rudIo sIgnuIs, und PIIIIp K. DIck.¨
¨YeuI, und vou bIuckmuIIed me Ior IIILv bucks Lo keep Irom
LeIIIng mom und dud,¨ ¡ suId wILI u grImuce.
¨¡Ike LIev couIdn`L IIgure IL ouL unvwuvs wIen vou spenL LIe
nexL mornIng bug-eved und LwILcIv durIng Sunduv bruncI wILI
grundmu.¨ Jennv IuugIed so Iurd sIe snorLed.
¨We used Lo be so cIose,¨ ¡ suId, IeLLIng u IInL oI genuIne
emoLIon escupe mv IIps Ior LIe IIrsL LIme In us Iong us ¡ couId
remember. ¨WIuL Iuppened?¨
¨¡ guess we grew up,¨ Jennv sIrugged.
¡ scoIIed. ¨Speuk Ior vourseII.¨
TIe servIce door swung open und u Iurge, squure-juwed mun
sLuck IIs Ieud ouL onLo LIe dock. ¨Jennv, ¡`ve been IookIng Ior
vou Ior IuII un Iour.¨
¨HI, Brud,¨ ¡ suId wIIIe cIewIng on LIe rocks Irom mv
scoLcI. ¨NIce purLv.¨
He Ignored me wIIIe Jennv sLood up und wuIked over Lo IIm.
¨WIv do vou smeII IIke smoke?¨ Ie usked.
¨Sorrv, Ionev. D wus smokIng, und LIe wInd kepL bIowIng IL
rIgIL InLo mv Iuce.¨
¨¡eL`s geL buck InsIde,¨ Ie repIIed cooIIv. ¨Our guesLs ure
wuILIng Ior us.¨ He IeId LIe door open us Jennv sLepped InsIde.
¨Hev Brud, ¡ wus meunIng Lo usk vou,¨ ¡ cuIIed ouL us LIev
z;
IeIL, ¨dId vou geL u cIunce Lo reud mv urLIcIe? ¡ senL vou u copv
uL vour oIIIce.¨
TIe door sIummed sIuL.
---
Jennv meL Brud LIrougI Ier work. Brud McPIerson wus
Jumes McPIerson`s nepIew und proLégé. He munuged u
number oI McPIerson`s busIness IoIdIngs, IncIudIng LIe
venerubIe SL. AugusLIne. PresumubIv LIuL goL IIm u dIscounL Ior
LIe recepLIon. He uIso engIneered u deuI wILI LIe Muvor`s oIIIce
Ior mIIIIons In cILv redeveIopmenL monev Lo IeIp revILuIIze purLs
oI downLown. CoIncIdenLuIIv, Brud`s uncIe owned jusL over IuII
oI LIe Iund In LIe ureu sIuLed Ior redeveIopmenL.
¡L wus Iurd Lo expIuIn wIv ¡ IuLed Brud so mucI. He wus
successIuI, cIurmIng us uII IeII, und Irom uII uccounLs verv
commILLed Lo mv sIsLer. GrunLed, Ie Iud LIuL moruI bIInd spoL
LIuL LIe rIcI und successIuI deveIop ouL oI necessILv, buL Ie
wusn`L uL IeurL u bud person. Sure, ¡ Iud uIwuvs pIcLured Jennv
endIng up wILI u smurLer mun, someone wIo couId muLcI Ier
InLeIIecLuuIIv, wIo wus u IILLIe more IIke our dud - buL on LIe
oLIer Iund, ¡ couId see LIuL Brud Iud LIe kInd oI uII-AmerIcun
good Iooks und cIurIsmu LIuL mIddIe-cIuss brown gIrIs go cruzv
Ior. To Ier, Ie represenLed LIe IusL sLep oI InLegruLIon und
uccepLunce, IIke Ier LIckeL InLo Ionorurv WASP-dom.
So muvbe IL wusn`L LIuL Iurd Lo expIuIn wIv ¡ IuLed IIm uILer
uII.
---
¡ mude mv wuv buck LIrougI LIe recepLIon, LrvIng Lo counL
z8
LIe Iuces ¡ recognIzed ouL oI Jennv`s guesLs. TIe sud LIIng wus
LIuL sIe Iud uImosL no IumIIv LIere, so ¡ knew more peopIe Irom
pIoLos or TV LIun Irom reuI IIIe. TIere wus LIe Muvor, Lwo
sILLIng congressmen, one senuLor, u IundIuI oI IocuI poIILIcIuns,
LIe pubIIsIer oI LIe Morninq-Stcr, u smuLLerIng oI bIIIIonuIre
venLure cupILuIIsLs, LIe CEOs oI LIe cILv`s dozen or so IurgesL
LecI compunIes, und me.
Dne o[ these thinqs is not lile the others.
AII oI LIe cILv`s besL und brIgILesL were Iere wILI one gIurIng
excepLIon - DvIun MuxweII.
¡ decIded Lo IInd mv ussIgned LubIe, IIgurIng IL wus u good
pIuce Lo kIII LIme wIIIe ¡ wuILed Lo see II MuxweII sIowed. WIen
¡ goL LIere, ¡ reuIIzed Jennv Iud suL me nexL Lo mv oId IIgI
scIooI IrIend BrIun ¡opez. SIe probubIv LIougIL sIe wus doIng
me u Iuvor bv gIvIng me someone Lo LuIk Lo.
¨WeII II IL Isn`L oId DoubIe-DIp IImseII,¨ ¡ suId us ¡ wuIked up
Lo LIe LubIe, sIuppIng BrIun on LIe buck. ¨Good Lo see vou, BrI-
BrI.¨
BrIun sLood up, LrvIng Lo Iorce IIs grImucIng IIps InLo u smIIe.
¨D, good Lo see vou.¨
He exLended u pudgv Iund Lo me. He Iud uIwuvs been wIuL
LIev poIILeIv reIerred Lo us ¨Iuskv¨ wIen we were kIds, und LIme
und uge Iud noL Improved LIIngs. He sIook mv Iund, grIppIng
IL LIgILIv, und LIen InLroduced me Lo LIe oLIer LIree peopIe uL
our LubIe - Lwo oI IIs co-workers Irom CILv HuII und IIs IIuncée,
Sundru.
¨NIce Lo meeL vou,¨ ¡ suId Lo Sundru, IgnorIng LIe oLIer Lwo.
SIe wus u Iew veurs oIder LIun IIm und IL sIowed. Her IucIuI
IeuLures were IursI und uneven, buL sIe compensuLed Ior IL
wILI un umuzIng bodv LIuL sIe wus sIowIng oII In u LIgIL Lun
cockLuII dress so Iow cuL IL LIreuLened Lo spIII ouL Ier umpIe

cIeuvuge.
¨Verv nIce, congruLuIuLIons,¨ ¡ suId us IewdIv us possIbIe Lo
BrIun. He couIdn`L IeIp buL smIIe smugIv; Ie wus LIe nerd Irom
IIgI scIooI wIose newIound power und InIIuence Iud nubbed
IIm LIe kInd oI gIrI LIuL used Lo IuugI In IIs Iuce.
¨No reuIIv, sIe`s IoL. ¡ deIInILeIv IIke wIuL`s goIng on up
Iere,¨ ¡ conLInued, wuvIng mv Iund In IronL oI Ier cIesL.
¨BrIun Ius uIwuvs been u breusL mun.¨
¨D, pIeuse...¨ BrIun sLummered.
¡ opened mv mouLI Lo suv someLIIng eIse, buL goL dIsLrucLed
wIen ¡ noLIced u womun wuIkIng LIrougI LIe recepLIon IuII In u
muILI-coIored cIeckered buII gown und u bIuck veII. TIuL wus
weIrd. ¡ consIdered uskIng LIe oLIers uL LIe LubIe II LIev Iud
seen Ier Loo, buL LIen reuIIzed LIuL LIeIr bucks were Lo Ier.
¡ conLInued, ¨No serIousIv, vou sIouId Iuve seen LIIs guv In
IIgI scIooI. SomeLImes ¡ LIInk LIe onIv reuson vou used Lo
Iung ouL wILI me wus Lo come over Lo mv Iouse und sLure uL mv
sIsLer`s LILs.¨ BrIun`s Iuce Lurned beeL red. ¨¡L used Lo creep Ier
ouL. ¡n IucL, ¡`m kIndu surprIsed sIe InvILed vou. You Lwo never
reuIIv used Lo geL uIong.¨
BrIun Look u deep breuLI. ¨A IoL oI LIIngs Iuve cIunged sInce
IIgI scIooI,¨ Ie suId, poInLedIv. ¨JennIIer und ¡ see eucI oLIer
proIessIonuIIv u IoL now, und we Iuve become IrIends.¨
¨TIuL`s rIgIL, vou work Ior LIe Muvor now,¨ ¡ suId, snuppIng
mv IIngers us II IL wus jusL comIng buck Lo me. ¨¡ sIouId Iuve
remembered becuuse oI LIuL LIme vou Iud me drugged ouL oI LIe
councII meeLIng. ¡ guess LIIngs Iuve cIunged sInce IIgI scIooI.
¡I vou`II excuse me, ¡ need Lo go see u mun ubouL u drInk.¨
---
¤o
¡ wuIked ouL onLo LIe Lerruce LIuL Ied Lo LIe buIIroom`s
prIvuLe gurden und mude mv wuv Lo LIe Lerruce bur. AILer
quIckIv downIng Lwo more sIoLs oI wIIskev und LukIng u LIIrd Lo
go, ¡ meundered LIrougI LIe gurden u bIL und LIougIL Lo mvseII
LIuL uII LIIngs consIdered, ¡ wus IuvIng ubouL us good u LIme us ¡
couId Iuve uL LIIs LIIng.
As ¡ Lurned u corner uround u busI, ¡ cuugIL sIgIL oI u
IumIIIur Iuce - ¡IIIun ¡vncI, press secreLurv Ior Abrusux und
connIvIng, bucksLubbIng Iurpv. SIe wus sILLIng on u bencI,
LuIkIng Lo someone wIo wus IIdden Irom mv vIew bv u LopIurv
buII. SIe dIdn`L see me uL IIrsL becuuse Ier eves were IIxed on
Ier compunIon.
¨¡ook, jusL LeII Mux LIuL ¡ um IundIIng IL, und us Ior LIe
ArIudne Kev, ¡ don`L know--¨
SIe cuL IerseII oII us soon us sIe suw me upproucIIng.
¨WIv MIss ¡IIv, vou Iook sLunnIng. Aren`L vou goIng Lo
InLroduce me Lo vour IrIend?¨ ¡ suId IoudIv.
As ¡ Look mv IInuI sLeps cIoser, Ier compunIon cume InLo
vIew, und ¡ recognIzed IIm us LIe sIIL-kIcker Irom LIe
IIopIouse, Mr. Bud Seed, uIbeIL cIeuned up und weurIng u verv
expensIve Luxedo LIuL musL Iuve been cusLom mude Lo IIL
someone oI IIs sIze so weII.
¨¡`ve goL Lo geL goIng,¨ Ie suId Lo ¡IIv us Ie sLood up. ¨We`II
LuIk more IuLer.¨
TIuL IusL IIne wus meunL Ior ¡IIv, buL Ie wus IookIng uL me
wIen Ie deIIvered IL. ¡ wus u LuII guv mvseII, buL Ie Lowered
more LIun u IuII-IooL over me, eusIIv, und Ie wus no Iess
InLImIduLIng In LIe monkev suIL LIun Ie Iud been covered In LIe
IIopIouse munuger`s bIood.
¡ sLepped usIde Lo IeL IIm puss und LIen Look IIs seuL on LIe
bencI nexL Lo ¡IIv. SIe wus u LIIn redIeud In Ier mId-LIIrLIes.
¤1
Her skIn Iooked IIke IL wus sLreLcIed Loo LIgILIv over Ier bodv,
IIke sIe wus noLIIng buL skIn und bones, und sIe uIwuvs Iud
verv serIous, uImosL worrIed Iook Lo Ier Iuce. Her LIIn IIps
seemed Irozen InLo u permunenL IuII-Irown, und ¡ don`L LIInk ¡
Iud ever seen Ier smIIe or IuugI. Her IumorIessness mude Ier
seem oIder LIun sIe reuIIv wus, und LIe wuv vou couId see Ier
skuII so weII-deIIned under Ier Iuce uIwuvs mude Ier Iook
someIow mucubre Lo me, IIke sIe wus dvIng u proIonged und
ugonIzIng deuLI Irom some dIseuse.
¡ noLIced u scrup oI puper In Ier IeIL Iund. ¡ LrIed Lo
InconspIcuousIv gIunce uL IL und suw LIuL IL wus u newspuper
cIIppIng oI LIe ¨Womun Iound deud oII HIgIwuv ;;¨ urLIcIe. SIe
cuugIL me IookIng und quIckIv sLuIIed LIe puper InLo Ier purse.
¡ reLurned mv eves Lo Ier. SIe wus druped In u LIgIL red
dress wILI u pIungIng neckIIne. AILIougI sIe dId noL uppeur
enLIreIv comIorLubIe In IL, IL dId sIow oII Ier LrIm IIgure nIceIv.
BeLween LIe dress, weurIng Ier IuIr down, und LIe smokv
evesIudow sIe Iud on, ¡ wusn`L IvIng wIen ¡ cuIIed Ier
sLunnIng.
¨¡ cun`L beIIeve vou ucLuuIIv Iud LIe buIIs Lo sIow up Iere
LonIgIL,¨ sIe suId wILI dIsgusL, sLurIng me down wILI u puIr oI
sLeeIv gruv eves.
¨WIuL do vou meun? ¡L`s mv sIsLer`s weddIng.¨
¨Yes, und u mere Lwo duvs uILer vou pubIIcIv uccused vour
new broLIer-In-Iuw, IIs IumIIv, und mosL oI LIeIr cIosesL
busIness ussocIuLes oI conspIrIng Lo mIsupproprIuLe cILv Iunds.¨
¨YeuI,¨ ¡ conceded, ¨BuL Iow couId ¡ puss LIIs up?
EspecIuIIv sInce ¡ Ieurd sIngIe women geL cruzv Iornv und
desperuLe uL weddIngs. And ¡ jusL wunL vou Lo know, II vour
Iormones ure LeIIIng vou Lo do someLIIng vou`re gonnu regreL In
LIe mornIng, LIen bubv, ¡ um deIInILeIv wIIIIng Lo be vour
¤z
mIsLuke.¨
¡IIv screwed up Ier Iuce und mImed cIokIng. ¨AI, excuse
me, Mr. QueLzuI, buL LIe LIougIL oI our skIn LoucIIng jusL mude
me LIrow up In mv mouLI.¨
¡ grInned und Iooked uL Ier reproucIIuIIv. ¨¡L`s okuv, vou`re
noL uL work unvmore. You cun drop LIe Iurd-nosed IIuck
rouLIne und udmIL vour Lrue IeeIIngs.¨
¨Okuv, LIen speukIng LruLIIuIIv, wIen ¡ IIrsL meL vou ¡
LIougIL vou were guv. ¡L mude vou seem u IoL more InLeresLIng.
SomeLImes ¡ IIke Lo ImugIne LIuL vou Iuke LIese puLIeLIc
uLLempLs uL IuckIng me jusL Lo sLuv In LIe cIoseL, IIke beIng u
cIuuvInIsLIc ussIoIe Is vour beurd. ¡L IeIps me keep Irom
jummIng u IeLLer opener InLo mv eve everv LIme vour number
sIows up on mv cuIIer ¡D.¨
¡ nodded und LIrew Ier u wInk. ¨¡ geL IL, IeL`s keep IL
proIessIonuI. ¡`d onIv end up breukIng vour IeurL unvwuvs.¨
SIe rubbed Ier LempIes In exusperuLIon. ¨¡IsLen, D, IL`s been
u Iong nIgIL. JusL LeII me wIuL IL`s goIng Lo Luke Ior vou Lo Ieuve
me uIone.¨
¨An InLervIew wILI vour boss.¨
SIe guIIuwed IoudIv. ¨You cun`L be serIous. Mr. MuxweII Is
verv seIecLIve ubouL LIe press Ie does. He won`L even gIve u
personuI InLervIew Lo LIe Morninq-Stcr.¨
¨¡`m wuv beLLer LIun LIe Morninq-Stcr.¨
¨You wrILe senseIess drIveI Lo IIII spuce beLween LIe movIe
IIsLIngs und LIe Iooker uds In u cIeup rug LIuL mosL peopIe end
up usIng Lo IIne LIeIr IumsLer cuges.¨
¨YeuI, buL ¡ Iook IuckIng suuve doIng IL.¨
SIe roIIed Ier eves. ¨¡ cun`L LeII II vou puL on LIIs ucL
InLenLIonuIIv Lo weur vour udversurIes down, or II vou ure jusL
IegILImuLeIv reLurded.¨
¤¤
¡ guve Ier mv besL roguIsI grIn. ¨WeII II ¡ cun`L LuIk Lo
MuxweII mvseII, muvbe vou cun LeII me wIv vou uII oI u sudden
won`L Luke unv cuIIs ubouL mv sLorv.¨
¨¡ook, IL`s sImpIe. ¡ usked Mr. MuxweII Ior u sLuLemenL
regurdIng LIe uccusuLIons vou were mukIng, und Ior some
reuson Ie LoId me Lo udmIL LIev were Lrue. ¡ Iuve no Ideu wIv
Ie dId LIIs, probubIv Ior LIe sume reuson Ie does mosL LIIngs -
becuuse Ie wus bored und LIougIL IL wouId be good Ior u IuugI.
AL unv ruLe, Ie IosL InLeresL In vour IILLIe sLorv us soon us Ie
Iung up LIe pIone wILI me, und Ie Isn`L IIkeIv Lo expend unv
more LIme or energv on vou.¨
SIe puused, cIuckIIng Lo IerseII und sIukIng Ier Ieud beIore
conLInuIng. ¨As Ior me, ¡ um uvoIdIng unv ussocIuLIon wILI vou
Ior LIe sume reuson us evervone eIse In LIuL buIIroom. You`re
LoxIc, u purIuI. No one`s goIng Lo sLIck LIeIr necks ouL Ior vou.
Even II wIuL vou wroLe Is Lrue, vou`ve mude powerIuI enemIes
wIo ure goIng Lo Leur vou upurL one wuv or unoLIer. And some
oI us ure goIng Lo enjov wuLcIIng IL.¨
¡ sIumped down In LIe bencI. ¨You know, ¡IIv, vou reuIIv ure
un epIc IuckIng cunL.¨
¨¡ muv be u cunL, buL uL IeusL ¡`m noL u pussv,¨ sIe sneered
buck und puLLed LIe Lop oI mv Ieud condescendIngIv us sIe
sLood Lo Ieuve.
¡ Lurned Lo mv rIgIL Lo see u sIrub LrImmed InLo LIe sIupe oI
un eIepIunL sLundIng on ILs IInd Iegs, ILs IronL Iegs ruIsed up IIke
urms. SeLLIng mv drInk down on Lop oI one oI ILs IronL Iooves, ¡
Look ouL mv noLebook und joLLed u Iew noLes on wIuL ¡ Iud
overIeurd oI Ier conversuLIon. ¡ drew u bIg IuL cIrcIe uround LIe
pIruse Aricdne Keu.
WIen ¡ IInIsIed, ¡ Look mv drInk buck Irom LIe LopIurv
eIepIunL und LIpped LIe gIuss Lo IIm In suIuLuLIon.
¤q
¨Here`s Lo vou.¨
---
¡ sLuggered buck LIrougI LIe buIIroom, mv Ieud swImmIng
Irom LIe booze, wIIcI Iud crepL up sLeuILIIIv und LIen IIL me uII
uL once. Mv eurs sLurLed rIngIng wILI u sLrunge noIse IIke LIe
sLuLIc cruckIe oI rudIo InLerIerence mIxed wILI u IuInL buL
IncessunL wIIne oI u IeedbuckIng speuker.
BILs oI conversuLIon Iuded In und ouL us ¡ weuved beLween
LIe weddIng guesLs.
¨--In wuv over IIs Ieud. TIe mun Ius no busIness beIng In
un execuLIve-IeveI posILIon--¨
¨--sIooLIng uL CIub Vox? ¡L`s LIe LIIrd one LIIs monLI
downLown. A buncI oI suvuges, no muLLer Iow munv cops--¨
¨--IuckIng IIberuI crvbubIes wILI no Ideu wIuL IL Lukes Lo run
u--¨
¨--onIv u muLLer oI LIme beIore ¡ muke purLner--¨
¨--dId vou see LIe nose dIve LIeIr sLock Look--¨
¨--noL Lo worrv ubouL re-eIecLIon, no one`s dumb enougI Lo
Lrv Lo run--¨
Mv sLomucI cIurned, und LIe Ieedbuck In mv Ieud suddenIv
spIked wILI u Ioud squeuI. ¡ puL mv Ieud down und burreIed mv
wuv InLo LIe resLroom.
MercIIuIIv, IL wus empLv. ¡ sLepped up Lo one oI LIe sInks,
bruced mvseII uguInsL LIe counLer wILI mv urms, und sLured InLo
LIe mIrror. Mv nose wus bIeedIng. ¡ Iooked down und suw u Iew
perIecLIv-round doLs oI deep crImson Iud drIpped onLo LIe
prIsLIne wIILe busIn.
¡ Ieuned In und spIusIed u IILLIe wuLer on mv Iuce, IeeIIng mv
senses sLurL Lo normuIIze und reguIn some Iocus und cIurILv. ¡
¤=
swILcIed oII LIe IuuceL und Iooked buck uL mv reIIecLIon In LIe
mIrror. TIen ¡ Ieurd gIggIIng comIng Irom one oI LIe sLuIIs. ¡L
sounded IIke u womun`s.
¨Hev, keep IL down In LIere,¨ ¡ cuIIed ouL. ¨Don`L wunL unv oI
LIese upLIgIL counLrv cIub Lvpes cuLcIIng vou Lwo geLLIng nusLv
In LIere.¨
¨No, IL`s noL nusLv - ¡`m uIone In Iere,¨ u womun`s voIce
cuIIed buck.
¡ perked up. ¨Um, LIuL`s ucLuuIIv u IILLIe nusLIer. And
exLremeIv IoL.¨
TIe gIggIe reLurned, und LIe door Lo one oI LIe sLuIIs opened
up. ¡L wus LIe gIrI ¡`d seen eurIIer In LIe moLIev dress und bIuck
veII. ¨Eww, ¡ wusn`L doIng unvLIIng In LIere. ¡ wus jusL IIdIng
ouL.¨
¨HIdIng ouL In LIe men`s room?¨ ¡ usked.
SIe nodded empIuLIcuIIv. ¨BuLIrooms ure good pIuces Lo
IIde ouL. TIev`re quIeL, und LIev`re prIvuLe. ¡ sLurLed IIdIng ouL
In buLIrooms buck wIen ¡ wus, IIke, 1¤, und mv dud wouId drug
me Lo borIng dInners In sLuIIv resLuurunLs wILI IIs borIng
IrIends.¨
¨YeuI, buL IIdIng ouL In LIe men's room?¨ ¡ repeuLed.
¨Women IInger Ionger und LIev`re Loo cIuLLv,¨ sIe expIuIned.
¨Men`s rooms ure quIeLer und more IIkeIv Lo be empLv.¨
¨¡uIr enougI.¨
TIe gIrI Look u sLep cIoser, und ¡ couId see Ier more cIeurIv
LIrougI LIe veII. SIe wus voung, uL mosL nIneLeen, wILI sIorL
brown IuIr und u pIxIe-IIke Iuce. Her skIn wus puIe, buL LIere
wus someLIIng exoLIc ubouL Ier IeuLures, ImpIvIng sIe muv Iuve
been oI mIxed eLInIcILv. SIe moved pusL me Lo LIe buLIroom
door und Lurned LIe deudboIL.
¨WIv`d vou Iock IL?¨ ¡ usked.
¤6
¨¡ suw vou ouL LIere; vou Iooked IIke vou couId sLund Lo IIde
ouL u IILLIe vourseII,¨ sIe expIuIned und sLurLed buck Lo LIe Iur
end oI LIe buLIroom. SIe suL on LIe IIoor, Ier buck propped up
uguInsL LIe wuII under u smuII wIndow. ¨Huve u seuL.¨
¨On LIe IIoor?¨
¨TIev keep LIIngs preLLv cIeun In pIuces IIke LIIs,¨ sIe suId
und puLLed LIe coId wIILe LIIes nexL Lo Ier.
¡ reucIed up Lo sIIde LIe wIndow open beIore joInIng Ier.
TIen ¡ IIsIed u puck oI smokes ouL oI mv pockeL und oIIered one
Lo Ier.
¨¡I we`re gonnu breuk LIe ruIes, we mIgIL us weII do IL rIgIL.
Do vou smoke?¨
¨YeuI, uII LIe LIme,¨ sIe suId us sIe Look IL und IIILed Ier veII.
¡ IIL our cIgureLLes und LIen wuLcIed Ier Luke u drug wILIouL
InIuIIng. SIe IeId LIe smoke In Ier mouLI Ior u second beIore
spILLIng IL buck ouL In u messv cIoud. ¡L wus obvIous sIe Iud
never Iud one beIore In Ier IIIe.
¨So IL Iooked preLLv bruLuI Ior vou ouL LIere,¨ sIe suId, LrvIng
Lo pose wILI LIe cIgureLLe IIke u IIIm sLur Irom LIe LIIrLIes.
¨Evervone vou wuIked pusL wus sLurIng duggers uL vou. ¡ meun,
IL`s obvIous wIv LIev`ve goL u probIem wILI me,¨ sIe puused Lo
IndIcuLe Ier dress, ¨buL wIuL`d vou do Lo pIss LIem oII?¨
¡ sIrugged, LIen Look u deep drug und IeId IL In mv Iungs.
¨¡L`s compIIcuLed.¨
¨OoI, mvsLerIous,¨ sIe repIIed. ¨¡ IIke LIuL.¨
¡ smIrked. ¨BesIdes, ¡ never reuIIv IIL In uL LIIngs IIke LIIs.
¡`m jusL Iere Ior mv sIsLer - Lo supporL Ier or wIuLever, even II ¡
do LIInk Ier new Iusbund Is u rugIng doucIebug.¨
SIe cIuckIed und Look unoLIer pIonv drug. ¨So vou`re
JennIIer`s broLIer?¨
¡ nodded. TIen someLIIng cIIcked In mv Ieud; sIe deIInILeIv
¤;
wusn`L Irom our sIde oI LIe IumIIv, und sIe wus Loo voung Lo be
Jennv`s IrIend or u proIessIonuI ucquuInLunce, so...
¨You musL be reIuLed Lo Brud LIen, rIgIL?¨ ¡ usked, wIncIng.
¨YeuI. WeII ucLuuIIv IL`s compIIcuLed, und u IILLIe uwkwurd
Ior me Lo be LeIIIng vou,¨ sIe repIIed us sIe Ieuned Iorwurd
conspIruLorIuIIv. ¨TIe LIIng Is, ¡`m ucLuuIIv murrIed Lo Brud,
Loo.¨
¡ IuugIed und IuII-cIoked on u mouLIIuI oI smoke. ¨You`re
kIddIng, rIgIL?¨
SIe sIook Ier Ieud. ¨Brud und ¡ meL In LIe IsIunds LIree
veurs ugo. We IeII mudIv In Iove und were murrIed In Iess LIun u
monLI. OI course, IIs IumIIv dIsupproved und Ius never
ucknowIedged IL us vuIId. SLIII, LIev IIew me ouL Iere und ure
IeLLIng me IIve on LIe IumIIv esLuLe jusL Lo keep me quIeL.¨
SIe wus cIeurIv IvIng. ¡ IuugIed uguIn, noL knowIng Iow eIse
Lo respond.
¨So II vou`re JennIIer`s broLIer, und ¡`m vour sIsLer`s
Iusbund`s secreL oLIer wIIe, ure we reIuLed?¨ sIe pondered.
¨WIuL does LIuL muke us?¨
¨SLrungers sILLIng on u buLIroom IIoor,¨ ¡ suId und IIIcked mv
cIgureLLe buLL InLo u urInuI.
SIe IuugIed und sIId cIoser Lo me. ¨Are vou murrIed?¨
¨Nope,¨ ¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨No wIIe Ior me, secreL or
oLIerwIse.¨
¨How ubouL u gIrIIrIend?¨ sIe pressed. ¨¡ suw vou LuIkIng Lo
¡IIIun ¡vncI, ure vou Lwo LogeLIer?¨
¡ smIrked. ¨No, ¡IIv und ¡ onIv know eucI oLIer
proIessIonuIIv. ¡`m LrvIng Lo geL un InLervIew wILI Ier boss.¨
¨OI, vou need Lo LuIk Lo Mux?¨ sIe responded cusuuIIv. ¨¡
cun InLroduce vou Lo IIm.¨
¡ dId u doubIe-Luke. ¨You know DvIun MuxweII?¨
¤8
SIe nodded und reucIed InLo Ier purse Lo puII ouL u gIossv
ruve curd. One sIde wus compIeLeIv bIuck. TIe oLIer sIde wus
durk red wILI wIILe prInLIng, sIowIng un uddress, duLe, und
LIme. ¨He`II be uL LIIs purLv Lomorrow nIgIL. You cun be mv
duLe. MeeL me LIere, und ¡`II InLroduce vou.¨
¡ sIIpped LIe curd InLo mv juckeL pockeL, noL reuIIv sure wIuL
Lo muke oI Ier. ¡ wuLcIed Ier Iook down uL LIe bureIv-LoucIed
cIgureLLe In Ier Iund us II sIe Iud IorgoLLen ubouL IL. SIe Lossed
IL uwuv, IuvIng IosL InLeresL, LIen goL up oII LIe IIoor.
¨WeII, ¡ goLLu geL goIng,¨ sIe suId, smooLIIng ouL Ier gown
wILI Ier Iunds. ¨¡`II see vou Lomorrow, rIgIL? You beLLer noL
sLund me up.¨
¡ nodded mv Ieud. SIe crossed LIe buLIroom und unIocked
LIe door, LIen Lurned uround Lo Iook buck uL me. ¨¡ don`L even
know vour nume.¨
¨D.¨
¨Dee, IIke JoIn Dee?¨ sIe usked.
¨No, IIke A, ß, C, D.¨
¨CooI beuns. ¡`m CoIumbIne,¨ sIe suId wILI u wInk und LIen
opened LIe door.
¨OI course.¨ ¡ grInned. SIe wus gone.
¤¤
=. Kind o[ c Douche, but Good [or c Lcuqh
TIe nexL mornIng ¡ cuIIed up mv IrIend, NIck Unger, wIo
worked Ior LIe poIIce depurLmenL. He ugreed Lo meeL me uL LIe
CusbuI, u gIorIous IILLIe dIve bur u Iew bIocks Irom mv
upurLmenL. ¡L opened IIrsL LIIng In LIe mornIng, reuIIzIng LIe
besL drunks sLurL eurIv.
Bv LIe LIme Ie sIowed up ¡ wus uIreudv deep InLo mv LIIrd
drInk und LrvIng cIurm LIe burLender, MuggIe, InLo compIng mv
IourLI. ¡ wus IuIIIng mIserubIv us usuuI, buL uL IeusL IL wus Iun
LrvIng.
As soon us NIck wuIked LIrougI LIe IronL door, ¡ sIummed
mv puIm down on LIe bur Lop. ¨TrIckv NIckv! Huve u drInk,
broLIer!¨
He sIId onLo LIe bur sLooI besIde me und smIIed wurmIv uL
LIe burLender. ¨Hus LIIs Iow IIIe been gIvIng vou grIeI, MuggIe?¨
SIe grInned uL IIm. ¨OnIv sInce ¡ opened LIe IronL door.¨
NIck wInked uL Ier und ordered u IuII-pInL oI sLouL.
¨Punsv,¨ ¡ scoIIed und sIummed LIe resL oI mv wIIskev.
He sIook IIs Ieud. ¨God ¡ mIss vou, vou mud busLurd. ¡
cun`L ImugIne wIv Andreu won`L IeL vou come uround LIe Iouse
qo
unvmore.¨
¡ sIrugged. ¨¡ know, IL`s IIke us soon us sIe sLurLed squIrLIng
ouL brood, sIe suddenIv geLs uII upLIgIL ubouL peopIe sLurLIng
IIres In LIe mIddIe oI vour IIvIng room.¨
¨¡mugIne,¨ Ie suId us Ie ruIsed IIs gIuss oI beer.
¡ cIInked mv empLv gIuss Lo IIs. ¨So guess wIo ¡ run InLo IusL
nIgIL uL Jennv`s weddIng?¨
He sIrugged.
¨BrIun ¡opez.¨
He cIuckIed. ¨No sIIL. How Is oId DoubIe-DIp?`
¨¡uL und sud,¨ ¡ repIIed wIIIe wuvIng MuggIe over Ior u reIIII.
¨And murrIed Lo u smokIng IoLLIe. WeII, murrIed or enguged or
wIuLever.¨
NIck nodded. ¨¡ meL Ier. TIev were uL u PoIIce UnIon
dInner uround LIe IoIIduvs. SIe`s u buLLerIuce.¨
¡ urcIed mv evebrow. ¨SIe Iud u Iuce?¨
MuggIe roIIed Ier eves wIIIe sIe IIIIed mv gIuss. NIck cuugIL
Ier gIunce. ¨¡ know, Ie`s goL no cIuss, buL wIuL ure vou gonnu
do?¨
¨Anvwuvs,¨ ¡ conLInued, ¨sIe`s wuv Loo IoL Ior IIm, und
LIuL`s noL gonnu end weII. You jusL know LIuL one oI LIese duvs
Ie`s gonnu come Iome und IInd Ier wILI LIe pooI bov or some
sIIL.¨
¨Or wILI LIe pooI bov, LIe pIumber, und LIe muII mun, uII
LukIng Lurns,¨ NIck suId. ¨Buddv oI mIne wenL Lo McKInIev HIgI
wILI Ier, und uppurenLIv sIe Iud u repuLuLIon.¨
¨WeII, wIuLever... BrIun`s u doucIe now unvwuvs, so Iuck
'em.¨
¨YeuI, Ie`s u doucIe. AcLuuIIv Ie`s uIwuvs been u doucIe.¨
NIck druIned LIe IusL oI IIs beer. ¨Come Lo LIInk oI IL, vou`ve
uIwuvs been kInd oI u doucIe, Loo. BuL uL IeusL vou`re good Ior u
q1
IuugI.¨
¨¡`II drInk Lo LIuL,¨ ¡ suId, sIuppIng u IundIuI oI bIIIs down on
LIe bur. ¨NexL round`s on me.¨
¨UI oI, MuggIe,¨ NIck cIuckIed. ¨¡I D`s ucLuuIIv buvIng me u
round, Ie musL need someLIIng.¨
¡ IIusIed IIm u woIIIsI grIn. ¨¡eL`s Ieud buck Lo LIe puLIo
und Iuve u smoke, veuI?¨
We wenL ouLsIde. ¡ IIL up, und Ie Look u deep breuLI oI mv
second-Iund. He quIL wIen Ie enLered LIe ucudemv und Iud Lo
geL IIs IIx vIcurIousIv.
¡ sIowed IIm LIe urLIcIe ¡ cIIpped ubouL LIe deud womun. ¨¡
need Lo know uII LIere Is Lo know ubouL LIIs.¨
He gIunced uL IL und Iurrowed IIs brow. ¨WIuL`s Lo know?
Some LrunsIenL goL scrubbed und IeIL In u dILcI on LIe sIde oI LIe
IIgIwuv. BesL guess Is LIuL sIe wus IILcIIIker wIo goL pIcked
up und wouIdn`L puv LIe Iure.¨ He bobbed IIs Iund up und
down In IronL oI IIs peIvIs Lo mIme someone perIormIng IeIIuLIo
on IIm.
¨TIere`s reuIIv no ¡D, LIougI? You couIdn`L muLcI unv
IIngerprInLs or denLuI records or bIomeLrIcs und sIIL?¨
He IuugIed und sIook IIs Ieud. ¨¡ don`L LIInk vou reuIIv
undersLund quILe Iow LIose LIIngs work.¨
¨So? ¡`m u journuIIsL. ¡L`s noL mv job Lo undersLund LIIngs. ¡
jusL upe LIe sounds oLIer peopIe muke, IIke u purroL.¨
¨Ape IIke u purroL - LIuL`s poeLIc, reuIIv.¨ He cIuckIed LIen
Iooked buck uL LIe urLIcIe. ¨¡ook, LIere wus one possIbIe ¡D, buL
we Iooked InLo IL und IL dIdn`L pun ouL. ¡ probubIv sIouIdn`L
even menLIon LIIs, knowIng vou, buL one oI LIe guvs on LIe Iorce
LIougIL Ie recognIzed Ier, suId sIe Iooked IIke some Iudv wIo
wenL mIssIng u wIIIe ugo. He remembered seeIng Ier In LIe
pupers u IoL, sIe used Lo run u compuLer compunv.¨
qz
¡ perked up uL LIuL IusL LIdbIL. ¨ReuIIv?¨ ¡ puIIed ouL mv
noLebook und sLurLed scrIbbIIng.
¨SeLLIe down. We cIecked LIe denLuI records - ves, denLuI
records,¨ Ie grouned, ¨und sIe wusn`L u muLcI.¨
¨CouId LIe records Iuve been Iuked?¨ ¡ usked.
¨OnIv II vou`re some kInd oI purunoId conspIrucv LIeorv nuL
job,¨ Ie repIIed.
¨SweeL, ¡`m In IIke ¡Ivnn.¨
¨WIv ure vou InLeresLed In LIIs unvwuvs?¨
¡ Look LIe cIIppIng buck Irom IIm. ¨Don`L worrv ubouL IL.
You know me, ¡ jusL IIke Lo poke mv nose In oLIer peopIe`s
busIness.¨
We wenL buck InsIde und mude smuII LuIk over one more
round - Iong enougI LIuL NIck IeIL IIke Ie couId poIILeIv dILcI
me Lo geL buck Lo IIs reuI IIIe.
¡ sLopped IIm us Ie wus geLLIng up Lo go. ¨Hev, II vou`re Iree
LonIgIL, ¡ couId use someone Lo geL mv buck uL LIIs purLv.¨ ¡ dug
InLo mv pockeL und sIowed IIm LIe InvILuLIon LIuL CoIumbIne
Iud gIven me.
¨You need someone Lo geL vour buck uL u purLv?¨ Ie usked
skepLIcuIIv.
¨BroLIer, vou wouIdn`L beIIeve LIe week ¡`ve Iud. ¡ IeeI IIke ¡
need u bodv guurd jusL goIng down LIe sLreeL Lo geL u Luco.¨
¨¡ beIIeve IL. ¡ sLIII reud vour urLIcIes.¨ He Iooked over LIe
InvILuLIon. ¡L reud:
LAßYRINTHINE
ART · TECHNDLDGY · PERIDRMANCE · INTERSECTIDNS
SATURDAY, MARCH :(, o:oo P.M.
z((z NDRTH ALAMEDA AVE.

¨TIIs sounds u bIL IruILv,¨ Ie suId wILI u ruIsed evebrow.
¨You`re reuIIv goIng Lo LIIs?¨
¨Muvbe. ¡L`s Ior work,¨ ¡ expIuIned.
¨¡`II puss. As LempLIng us IL muv sound Lo bubvsIL vou uL
some pooIv cIrcIe jerk, ¡`m jusL goIng Lo sLuv Iome und nuII mv
IoL wIIe InsLeud.¨
¨No vou won`L. You Iuve kIds now, vou`re noL nuIIIng
unvLIIng,¨ ¡ remInded IIm.
¨OI veuI,¨ Ie suId dIsuppoInLedIv. TIen Ie gIunced buck uL
LIe curd. ¨WIuL`s LIIs svmboI on LIe buck ubouL?¨
¨TIere`s no svmboI. TIe buck`s soIId bIuck.¨
He sIook IIs Ieud. ¨¡L`s bIuck Ink on u bIuck buckground.
You Iuve Lo IoId IL uL LIe rIgIL ungIe Lo see IL, IIke LIe MeLuIIIcu
BIuck AIbum cover.¨
¨Or White Liqht/White Hect.¨
¨YeuI.¨ He sIowed me. ¡L wus LIe crown-und-gIobe svmboI
uguIn.
¨¡ LIougIL vou were supposed Lo be un intestiqctite
journuIIsL.¨
---
Jennv Lurned Ier nose up uL me us ¡ suL down, snIIIIng IoudIv
und IIIIIng Ier nosLrIIs wILI LIe sLrong uIcoIoI sLInk ¡ wus
emILLIng. ¨So Iuve vou been drInkIng uIreudv LIIs mornIng, or
ure vou jusL sLIII drunk Irom IusL nIgIL?¨
¨A IILLIe oI boLI,¨ ¡ suId.
SIe peered uL me dIsupprovIngIv over Ier Iced IuLLe. We
were sILLIng uL u LubIe In IronL oI u sLrIp muII coIIee sIop. Jennv
wus weurIng Iuge goId-rImmed sungIusses und Iud u decenL
coIIecLIon oI sIoppIng bugs guLIered uL Ier IeeL.
qq
¨Busv uILernoon?¨ ¡ usked.
¨JusL pIckIng up u Iew LIIngs Ior MexIco. We Ieuve Lomorrow
mornIng.¨
Mv uLLenLIon wus druwn uwuv bv u group oI men In bIuck
jumpsuILs sLundIng uround In LIe purkIng IoL nexL Lo u wIILe vun
wILI LIe red Asterion Iogo puInLed on ILs sIde. ¡L wus Iurd Lo
LeII, buL ¡ LIougIL one oI LIem wus LIe sume guv ¡`d seen on LIe
¡IgIL RuII u coupIe duvs beIore, LIe one wIo`d been reudIng LIe
puper.
Jennv seemed Lo noLIce mv dIsLrucLIon und IoIIowed mv guze.
¨¡s someLIIng wrong?¨
¨No, IL`s jusL LIose AsLerIon guvs seem Lo be evervwIere now.
¡ guess busIness musL be boomIng.¨
¨YeuI, we IIred LIem IusL monLI Lo urcIIve our oId IInuncIuI
records,¨ Jennv repIIed. ¨TIev cume In und IuuIed evervLIIng
uwuv, ¡ wus so Iuppv Lo geL uII LIuL empLv spuce buck. OI course
IL doesn`L reuIIv muLLer now, sInce ¡`m goIng Lo Iuve Lo IInd u
new job wIen ¡ geL buck Irom LIe Ionevmoon.
¨Anvwuvs, ¡`m rumbIIng,¨ sIe udmILLed good-nuLuredIv. ¨So
wIuL dId vou wunL Lo LuIk Lo me ubouL?¨
¨¡ wunLed Lo usk vou ubouL someone ¡ meL IusL nIgIL.¨
SIe bured Ier LeeLI ecsLuLIcuIIv In u knowIng grIn. ¨ReuIIv?
A womun, ¡ presume.¨
¨SeLLIe down, IL`s noL IIke LIuL. SIe`s jusL u gIrI wIo suId sIe
cun IeIp InLroduce me Lo DvIun MuxweII.¨
¨Wus IL NuLuIIe?¨ sIe usked.
¨¡ don`L know. SIe wus weurIng u moLIev dress und u bIuck
veII.¨
¨Yep, LIuL`s NuLuIIe,¨ Jennv conIIrmed.
¨SIe suId Ier nume wus CoIumbIne.¨
¨UgI, sIe`s sLIII doIng LIuL?¨ Jennv smucked Ier IIps In
q=
dIsgusL. ¨TIuL seems so mucubre und dIsLusLeIuI.¨
¡ puused. ¨WeII, vou know IL Ius noLIIng Lo do wILI
CoIorudo, rIgIL?¨
Jennv Ignored mv commenL. ¨SIe`s Brud`s cousIn - Jumes`
duugILer. SIe`s kIndu LIe bIuck sIeep oI LIe IumIIv, II vou
couIdn`L guess.¨
¨Do vou LIInk sIe couId reuIIv geL me un InLervIew wILI
MuxweII?¨ ¡ usked.
¨¡I unvone cun, IL`d be Ier. TIev`re good IrIends.¨
¡ puIIed LIe ruve curd ouL oI mv pockeL. ¨SIe LoId me Lo meeL
Ier uL LIIs purLv. ¡ wus kInd oI on-LIe-Ience ubouL goIng - IL
reuIIv doesn`L Iook IIke mv kInd oI scene.¨
¨You sIouId go,¨ Jennv suId. ¨¡ LIInk IL wouId be good Ior
vou Lwo Lo geL Lo know eucI oLIer. SIe`s u good kId, buL sIe`s -
¡ don`L know - IosL, muvbe. You couId be u posILIve InIIuence on
Ier.¨
¨ReuIIv?¨ ¡ usked In u voIce LIuL pIuInIv sIowed mv surprIse.
¡ don`L LIInk mv sIsLer Iud ever descrIbed me us beIng u posILIve
InIIuence on unvbodv.
Jennv nodded. ¨YeuI. Now, Brud muv noL be so
enLIusIusLIc. He wus preLLv worked up IusL nIgIL wIen Ie Ieurd
LIuL LIe Lwo oI vou Iud Iocked vourseIves In LIe men`s room, buL
¡ ussured IIm LIuL NuLuIIe Isn`L vour Lvpe und noLIIng probubIv
Iuppened.¨
¡ smIrked, pIcLurIng IIm sImuILuneousIv cIencIIng IIs juw,
IIs IIsLs, und IIs spIIncLer us Ie ImugIned me deIIIIng IIs IILLIe
cousIn In mvrIud unspeukubIe wuvs on u IIILIv buLIroom IIoor.
¨So pIeuse don`L Iuck Ier,¨ sIe udded. ¨NoL even Lo spILe
Brud.¨
¡ screwed up mv Iuce us II IL wus IudIcrous Lo even suggesL
LIuL. BuL secreLIv, II onIv Ior u second, LIe LIougIL ucLuuIIv Iud
q6
crossed mv mInd.
¨You sLIII Iuven`L LoId me wIuL Ie LIougIL oI mv urLIcIe.¨
SIe sIook Ier Ieud. ¨WIv do vou keep uskIng? ¡L obvIousIv
pIssed IIm oII, Is IL reuIIv LIuL ImporLunL Ior vou Lo Ieur IL Irom
me?¨ ¡ grInned, enjovIng wuLcIIng Ier geL wound up. SIe
reuIIzed LIuL wus wIuL wus goIng on, und IL jusL mude Ier
ungrIer.
¨¡Ine. You reuIIv wunL Lo know wIuL Ie suId ubouL IL? He
LIInks vou jusL wroLe IL Lo geL uLLenLIon Irom me. He LIInks IL`s
vour weIrd, pussIve-uggressIve pIuv Lo suboLuge our murrIuge,
IIke vou`re LrvIng Lo muke me cIoose beLween vou und IIm. ¡
LoId IIm LIuL wus cruzv - LIuL vou wouIdn`L endunger vour
cureer und vour proIessIonuI repuLuLIon over someLIIng us
sLupId und peLLv us LIuL.¨
¡ kepL mv eves downcusL so us noL Lo meeL Ier guze und
InsLeud Iocused on LIe bIuck-on-bIuck svmboI on LIe gIossv ruve
curd.
q;
ó. Lcburinthine
¡ sIowed up uL LIe uddress on CoIumbIne`s InvILuLIon jusL
beIore eIeven; IL wus u converLed wureIouse In un IndusLrIuI
zone on LIe cILv`s norLI sIde. SInce IL wus u SuLurduv nIgIL,
evervLIIng eIse wus empLv Ior mIIes. TIe purkIng IoL wus IIIIed
wILI sporLs curs, IvbrIds, und sIInv suburbun Lunks. TIe door
IucIng LIe purkIng IoL wus open, spIIIIng ouL muLed IIgILs und
LIe dIn oI vuppIe cIuLLer. ¡L cusL u somewIuL IorebodIng uuru
over LIe enLrunce.
TIe IIrsL LIIng ¡ noLIced us ¡ upproucIed wus LIe beeIv
reIrIgeruLor In u renLed Lux bIockIng LIe doorwuv. TIe second
LIIng wus LIe surveIIIunce cumeru percIed on LIe wuII ubove IIs
Ieud.
¡ Iud sLopped Iome und cIunged IIrsL, so ¡ wus sure ¡ wus
dressed mosLIv upproprIuLeIv Ior some rIcI Iuux-IIpsLer urL
purLv - cIurcouI gruv pInsLrIpe juckeL over u TV on the Rcdio L-
sIIrL, skInnv cuIIed jeuns, Docs, und u bIuck Iedoru. ¡ cerLuInIv
dIdn`L Iook unv worse LIun LIe oLIer IdIoLs ¡ suw IIIIng In und
ouL oI LIe door. ¡ even Iud un InvILuLIon. So ¡ wus IuIrIv
conIIdenL ¡`d be ubIe Lo guIn udmIssIon Lo LIIs LIIng wILIouL
q8
IncIdenL.
¨No, ubsoIuLeIv noL,¨ LIe doormun suId, pressIng u meuLv
puIm InLo mv cIesL.
¨¡ wus InvILed!¨ ¡ suId, exusperuLed. ¨¡ Iuve documenLuLIon.¨
¡ wuved LIe ruve curd In IronL oI IIs Iuce.
¨No dIce.¨
¡ sLepped usIde Lo IeL u coupIe oI ugIng goLIs LIrougI LIe
door und wondered Ior u momenL II LIe doormun someIow
knew wIo ¡ wus. TIen ¡ noLIced LIe eur pIece Ie wus weurIng
und mv eves durLed buck Lo LIe surveIIIunce cumeru.
¨MoLIerIucker,¨ ¡ spuL und ruIsed boLI urms Lo IIIp oII LIe
cumeru.
¡ dIdn`L know IL uL LIe LIme, buL uL LIuL momenL DvIun
MuxweII wus sILLIng In IronL oI u wuII oI monILors, IuugIIng IIs
uss oII.
¡ cIrcIed uround LIe buIIdIng, IookIng Ior some kInd oI
uILernuLe enLrunce. To mv cIugrIn, uII LIe wIndows IIned LIe Lop
oI LIe buIIdIng over LIIrLv IeeL ubove mv Ieud. ReucIIng LIe
buck, ¡ Iound u serIes oI roII-up doors on LIe IoudIng dock und
one normuI door LIuL Ior dIdn`L uppeur Lo Iuve unv IundIe or
knob. ¡L cIeurIv opened onIv Irom LIe InsIde.
¡ cursed ungrIIv under mv breuLI, und jusL us ¡ Lurned Lo
descend LIe sLuIrs oII LIe IoudIng dock, ¡ Ieurd LIe door open
beIInd me. ¡ LwIsLed mv Ieud Lo see u womun emerge, Ier
LIIck, Iong IuIr dved u vIbrunL sIude oI purpIe.
SIe sLood LIere, Irumed bv LIe open doorwuv, IookIng
sLuLuesque und reguI In u IuII-IengLI bIuck LrencI couL wILI u LIe
beIL cIncIed LIgIL uround Ier wuIsL, sIowIng oII LIe curve oI Ier
IIps. SIe Iud Iurge brown eves LIuL seemed jusL u IILLIe Loo bIg
und durk compured Lo LIe resL oI Ier puIe Iuce. TIe resL oI Ier
IeuLures were unguIur und severe. ¡ guessed Ier Lo be uround

mv uge und oI EusLern Europeun descenL.
¡ wuLcIed Ier wILI mv mouLI IungIng open us sIe propped
LIe door open und puIIed u puck oI cIoves Irom Ier pockeL.
BeIore ¡ reuIIzed IL, ¡ Iud bounded buck up LIe sLeps und puIIed
ouL mv BIc Lo IIgIL Ier cIgureLLe. SIe Ieuned In Lo LoucI ILs LIp Lo
LIe IIume, Ier eves roIIIng up Lo Iook uL me. TIen sIe uprIgILed
IerseII und bIew u sLeudv sLreum oI smoke InLo LIe nIgIL uIr.
¨TIunks,¨ sIe suId.
¡ puIIed ouL mv own cIgureLLes und IIL one Ior mvseII.
¨DId vou Iock vourseII ouL?¨ sIe usked wILI un umused grIn.
¨NuI,¨ ¡ expIuIned, ¨LIe gesLupo uL LIe door wouIdn`L IeL me
In, so ¡ wus IookIng Ior u wuv Lo sneuk In.¨
¨ReuIIv? WIv wouIdn`L Ie IeL vou In?¨
¨¡L`s uII poIILIcuI,¨ ¡ repIIed wILI u sIuke oI mv Ieud. ¨BesL
noL Lo worrv ubouL IL.¨
¨PoIILIcuI?¨ sIe repeuLed skepLIcuIIv.
¨YeuI, Ie`s u dved-In-LIe-wooI TroLskvILe, und ¡ wus LrvIng Lo
expound on LIe merILs oI BukunIn. ¡ suggesLed LIuL u sLuLe
uppuruLus mIgIL noL be necessurv Ior workers Lo munuge LIe
meuns oI producLIon, und Ie jusL IosL IL.¨
Her grIn spreud wIder. ¨So II ¡ IeL vou In, ¡`d busIcuIIv be
grunLIng usvIum Lo u poIILIcuI dIssIdenL In exIIe.¨
¨PreLLv mucI, veuI.¨
SIe Look u Iew more drugs oI Ier cIgureLLe In sIIence wIIIe
IookIng me over, LrvIng Lo decIde wIuL Lo muke oI me.
TIe IusL LIIrd oI Ier cIgureLLe dropped Lo LIe ground, und sIe
crusIed IL ouL under LIe buII oI Ier bure IooL.
¨Okuv, vou`re In,¨ sIe suId, LukIng me bv LIe urm und IeudIng
me LIrougI LIe door. ¨¡`m VIoIeL, bv LIe wuv.¨
¨¡`m D.¨
¨¡ LIougIL vou mIgIL be,¨ sIe suId noncIuIunLIv. ¡ Iooked uL
=o
Ier InquIsILIveIv und wondered wIeLIer IL wus jusL u coIncIdence
LIuL sIe Iud run InLo me buck Iere.
SIe conLInued, ¨You`re CoI`s IrIend, rIgIL?¨
¡ nodded mv Ieud. ¨Huve vou seen Ier In LIere?¨
¨NoL veL, buL ¡`m sure sIe`s uround.¨
SIe Ied me down u nurrow IuIIwuv. ¡ couId Ieur LIe sounds
oI LIe purLv grow Iouder us we upproucIed. We emerged
LIrougI u seL oI bIuck curLuIns onLo u smuII mukesIIIL sLuge. ¡n
IronL oI us wus u sLooI und u sImpIe wIre Irumework LIuL Iooked
IIke u crude skeIeLon oI u person. TIe Irume wus purLIuIIv
covered bv LIIn goId sLrunds druped deIIcuLeIv Irom uncIor
poInLs on LIe wIre, creuLIng u kInd oI skIn over LIe skeIeLon.
VIoIeL removed Ier LrencI couL, reveuIIng u LIIn, guuzv goId
gown underneuLI LIuL wus more or Iess compIeLeIv see-LIrougI
und cIung muddenIngIv Lo LIe curves oI Ier IIgure. TIrougI LIe
LIIn muLerIuI, ¡ couId muke ouL wIuL Iooked IIke bIg burn scurs
runnIng uIong LIe enLIre IeIL sIde oI Ier bodv.
SIe suL on LIe sLooI und resumed Ier scuIpLure. SIe Look u
Iew smuII LIIn rods oI gIuss und wrupped u Iong goId sLund
uround LIem, LIen deIIcuLeIv Iung LIe wIoIe pIece wILI LIe
oLIers on LIe wIre Irume. SIe seemed Lo be usIng LIe gIuss rods
Lo gIve LIe work IL`s sIupe. TIe wIoIe process Iooked
ImpossIbIv InLrIcuLe und exLremeIv unsLubIe. A sLIII breeze couId
Iuve probubIv coIIupsed LIe enLIre sLrucLure.
¡ sLepped oII LIe sLuge und joIned LIe smuII group oI peopIe
wIo guLIered Lo wuLcI Ier work. SIe weuved LIe sLrunds
LogeLIer wILI genLIe und precIse movemenLs. Her eves were
Iocked on Ier work wILI u sInguIur InLensILv.
¡ noLIced LIuL wIIIe sIe worked, Ier Iegs purLed enougI Ior
LIe crowd Lo be ubIe Lo see more-or-Iess cIeurIv beLween LIem.
TIIs reuIIzuLIon mude mv cIeeks Lurn red, und ¡ wondered
=1
wIeLIer sIe reuIIzed IL or noL. TIen ¡ suw LIe pIucurd mounLed
uL LIe buse oI LIe sLuge, gIvIng LIe LILIe oI LIe InsLuIIuLIon: Sheelc
nc Giq.
¡ sLummered, ¨¡ probubIv sIouId go IInd CoIumbIne.¨
SIe Lurned Lo Iook uL me, und ¡ reud In Ier Iuce LIuL sIe Iud
uII buL compIeLeIv IorgoLLen ¡ wus LIere.
¨OI veuI, rIgIL. Huve u good LIme LonIgIL, D.¨
¡ wuIked uwuv, IIIIed sImuILuneousIv wILI LIe urges Lo breuk
InLo u dunce, rIp ouL mv own IuIr, und dump u buckeL oI Ice
down LIe IronL oI mv punLs.
---
TIe wureIouse Iud been converLed InLo u kInd oI IuLurIsLIc
urL guIIerv LeemIng wILI preLenLIous cognoscenLI, Iuux-bo sLreeL
punks, vuppIes pIuvIng IIke LIev sLIII Iuve souIs, Ivper-uIIecLed
eccenLrIcs, und vupId beuuLIIuI peopIe dvIng Lo be seen.
¡urge bIuck curLuIns Iud been Iung Lo Lo creuLe u
IubvrInLIIne svsLem oI wuIIs. TIe enLIre IuvouL seemed desIgned
Lo InLenLIonuIIv IrusLruLe u guesL`s sense oI dIrecLIon. TIe IIoor
wus pucked wILI urL InsLuIIuLIons LIuL IncorporuLed eIemenLs oI
vIdeo, uudIo, IIve perIormunce, und LecInoIogIcuI props.
One wus u gIunL wuII oI ¡ED-IIgILs projecLIng rundom words
und pIruses. As ¡ wuIked cIoser Lo IL, ¡ reuIIzed LIuL LIe
messuges IL dIspIuved were ucLuuIIv snIppeLs oI conversuLIons
goIng on uround IL. TIe pIuce musL be wIred wILI IIdden
mIcropIones, ¡ guessed, LIuL Ied InLo u compuLer wILI u speecI-
Lo-LexL converLer. ¡ Iooked uround und suw severuI mIcs
scuLLered ubouL LIe spuce. ¡ uIso Iound un uIurmIng number oI
surveIIIunce cumerus IIke LIe one uL LIe IronL door.
AnoLIer InsLuIIuLIon uIIowed peopIe Lo sLund In IronL oI vIdeo
=z
cumerus und see LIemseIves dIspIuved on monILors. EucI
monILor wus IubeIed wILI u dIIIerenL dIseuse: 1cundice,
Shinqles, Psoricsis, Proteus Sundrome, Hcrlequin Ichthuosis.
TIe Imuges on LIe monILors were dIgILuIIv munIpuIuLed Lo sIow
wIuL LIe subjecLs wouId Iook IIke wILI LIeIr respecLIve
uIIIIcLIons.
AL unoLIer, u juzz-IusIon quInLeL perIormed, consIsLIng oI
pIuno, Lenor sux, LrumpeL, drums, und u DJ. TIev cIunged LIe
mood, Lempo, und sLvIe oI LIeIr pIuvIng bused on LIe peopIe wIo
wuIked bv. ¡I u coupIe pussed wIIIe IoIdIng Iunds, LIe sux
wouId bIow u romunLIc LIeme. ¡I u group oI Leenugers run bv,
LIe drummer wouId cuL Ioose InLo u sIorL, IrunLIc soIo.
BeIInd LIem, LIree gruIIILI urLIsLs sLood on u scuIIoIdIng,
spruv puInLIng u muruI InIIuenced bv LIe mood oI LIe musIc.
TIev spruved sIow, reIuxed IInes In bIues und greens durIng
meIIow grooves. WIen LIe ImprovIsuLIon sped up or Look on
IrreguIur svncopuLIon, LIev swILcIed Lo orunge, red, und veIIow
Iues, wuvIng LIeIr urms IrunLIcuIIv und IupIuzurdIv us LIev
puInLed In Iurge, boId sLrokes.
One InsLuIIuLIon wus jusL u IIne oI sIx sLuLIonurv bIcvcIes
beIng rIdden bv guesLs weurIng meLuI IeImeLs, eurpIones, und
bIg cIunkv vIdeo goggIes. SerIousIv.
AnoLIer consIsLed oI u row oI Iurge wooden conIessIonuIs
LIuL Iooked IIke LIev`d been rIpped sLruIgIL ouL oI un oId goLIIc
cuLIedruI. ¡nsIde, guesLs couId kneeI down und unonvmousIv
conIess LIeIr deepesL secreLs InLo un oId-IusIIoned meLuI
mIcropIone, wIIcI, uccordIng Lo LIe InIormuLIonuI pIucurd, Ied
InLo IIgI-powered LrunsmILLers LIuL broudcusLed ouL Lo LIe
wIIds oI spuce.
¡ IInuIIv cume Lo u sLop In IronL oI un InsLuIIuLIon wIere Lwo
peopIe sLood on u pIuLIorm In IronL oI u row oI LoucI screens,

eucI dIspIuvIng LIumbnuIIs oI vurIous vIdeo cIIps. TIe Lwo
operuLors mIxed LIe Imuges LogeLIer InLo u monLuge, wIIcI wus
projecLed onLo u Iurge screen IungIng over LIem. A neurbv
speuker sLuck wus bIusLIng OI MonLreuI`s ¨¡d Enguger¨ Lo
provIde LIem InspIruLIon. ¡ wIIsLIed uL LIe operuLor on LIe IeIL.
SIe Iooked up uL me und smIIed. ¡L wus CoIumbIne.
SIe Iopped down Irom LIe pIuLIorm, gIvIng someone eIse LIe
cIunce Lo Luke over. ¨Hev, ¡ wus worrIed vou weren`L gonnu
sIow.¨
¨YeuI, weII, IusIIonubIv IuLe und uII LIuL.¨
SIe Iugged me, wIIcI cuugIL me u IILLIe oII-guurd. SIe wus
dressed u IILLIe more LrudILIonuIIv LonIgIL, weurIng u pInk Ccre
ßecrs Lunk Lop wILI u bIuck pIeuLed skIrL. ruInbow-sLrIped LIgILs,
und red zebru-prInL booLs. Jennv wus rIgIL ubouL Ier -
deIInILeIv noL mv Lvpe, buL cuLe uII LIe sume.
¨¡s DvIun MuxweII Iere?¨ ¡ usked.
¨¡ Iuven`L seen IIm veL, buL don`L worrv, Ie`II be Iere. ¡n LIe
meunLIme, ¡ Iuve some peopIe Lo InLroduce vou Lo.¨
SIe Iooked Ier urm uround mIne und drugged me uwuv Lo u
smuII cIIII-ouL ureu wILI pIusI coucIes und u sLuInIess sLeeI
coIIee LubIe, wIere we joIned LIe goLI coupIe wIo ¡ Iud IeL pusL
me uL LIe door.
¨D, LIIs Is ¡Ionu und AIdous. Guvs, LIIs Is LIe IrIend ¡ wus
LeIIIng vou ubouL eurIIer,¨ CoIumbIne suId bv wuv oI
InLroducLIon.
¡Ionu wus AsIun buL Iud dved Ier IuIr pIuLInum bIonde,
uImosL LrunsIucenL. ¡ pegged Ier Lo be In Ier IuLe-IorLIes,
probubIv jusL ouL oI IIgI scIooI wIen TIe Cure IIrsL IIL LIe
scene, und Ier Iuce wus cuked wILI durk, goLIIc mukeup, und
sIe wore u IuLex corseL und u puIr oI LIgIL pIeuLIer punLs. AIdous
Iooked us mucI us Len veurs Ier junIor. He wus bIuck wILI u
=q
gouLee und LIgIL, cureIuIIv sLvIed dreudIocks. He wore u Iong-
LuIIed bIuck veIveL couL, u kIIL, und coIored conLucLs LIuL guve
IIm pInk uIbIno eves.
¨CoI menLIoned me eurIIer?¨ ¡ suId wIIIe we seLLIed onLo one
oI LIe coucIes.
¨Yes,¨ ¡Ionu suId. ¨we were IookIng uL one oI LIe urL pIeces,
wIIcI wus ubouL prosLILuLIon. We sLurLed LuIkIng ubouL LIe Lvpe
oI mun wIo wouId vIsIL u prosLILuLe.¨
AIdous jumped In. ¨We were specuIuLIng wIeLIer some men
ucLuuIIv need Lo IeeI sucI un overL moneLurv conLroI over u
womun In order Lo geL oII. And LIen CoIumbIne LoId us LIe sLorv
ubouL Iow vou meL.¨
¨DId sIe? And wIuL exucLIv dId sIe LeII vou?¨ ¡ cusL un
InquIsILIve Iook uL CoIumbIne, buL sIe wus purposeIv uvoIdIng
mv guze und cIeurIv LrvIng noL Lo IuugI. WIIcI ¡ decIded dIdn`L
bode weII Ior wIuL ¡ wus ubouL Lo Ieur.
¡Ionu cIImed In IeIpIuIIv, ¨AbouL Iow vou Lwo meL In u bur
und LuIked Lo eucI oLIer Ior u good IuII-Iour beIore sIe reuIIzed
LIuL vou LIougIL sIe wus u Iooker. And LIen ubouL Iow sIe
pIuved uIong, jusL Lo see wIuL LIe experIence wus IIke,¨
¨SIe LoId vou uII LIuL?¨ ¡ kepL mv eves on CoIumbIne, wIo
venLured u peek uL me ouL oI LIe corner oI Ier eve wIIIe cusuuIIv
movIng Ier Iund Lo IIde Ier IrrepressIbIe grIn.
¨Do vou mInd II we usk vou u Iew quesLIons ubouL vour
prosLILuLIon IubIL?¨ AIdous usked eugerIv.
¡ Iooked Irom IIm Lo ¡Ionu und IInuIIv over Lo CoIumbIne,
wIo eved me expecLunLIv. ¨OI course Ie doesn`L mInd,¨ sIe
bIurLed ouL Irom under Ier Iund.
¨¡eeI Iree,¨ ¡ unswered wILI u sIrug, decIdIng IL mIgIL be
good Ior u IuugI.
¨How oILen do vou vIsIL prosLILuLes, suv wILIIn u gIven
==
monLI?¨ usked ¡Ionu.
¨AnvwIere Irom LIree LImes Lo u dozen, IL depends.¨
¨WIuL`s LIe mosL vou`ve ever puId Ior sex?¨ cIImed In
AIdous.
¨Once ¡ spenL 1o,oooC Ior u nIgIL wILI LIree PurIsIun
Iookers.¨
¨WIuL`s LIe IIILIIesL sex ucL vou`ve ever puId Ior?¨ ¡Ionu
uguIn, LIIs LIme IeunIng In more cIoseIv.
¡ cusL u sIdewuvs gIunce uL Ier. ¨A becrded ticcr. ¡ook IL
up. ¡L`s vIIe.¨
CoIumbIne snorLed IoudIv, LIen quIckIv IoIIowed wILI u
serIes oI cougIs, LrvIng Lo pIuv IL oII.
¨You know,¨ AIdous suId conspIruLorIuIIv, ¨¡Ionu someLImes
IIke Lo pIuv ouL prosLILuLIon IunLusIes wILI me. SIe dresses up,
goes ouL IuLe uL nIgIL, wuIks uround LIe bud purL oI Lown Ior u
wIIIe, und LIen ¡ drIve up In LIe cur und preLend IIke ¡ don`L
know Ier. We`ve someLImes LuIked ubouL IeLLIng Ier pIuv IL ouL
Ior reuI.¨
¡Ionu jumped In, ¨¡ wunL Lo know wIuL IL IeeIs IIke Lo be puId
Ior IuvIng sex wILI u mun Ior wIom ¡ Iuve ubsoIuLeIv no
pIvsIcuI uLLrucLIon or emoLIonuI IeeIIngs. ¡ wonder II IL wouId
IeeI dIrLv or IIberuLIng... or perIups boLI.¨
TIe Lwo oI LIem Iooked uL me expecLunLIv, us II ¡ wus
supposed Lo be suvIng someLIIng now. TIen LIe IIgIL buIb wenL
on In mv Ieud, und ¡ reuIIzed wIuL LIev were geLLIng uL.
¡ Lurned Lo cIeck on CoIumbIne, wIose eves were us bIg us
IuII-doIIur coIns und wus prImed Lo expIode InLo IuugILer uL unv
second.
TIen ¡ Lurned buck Lo Iook AIdous squure In LIe eves, und
LIen over Lo ¡Ionu. ¨AbsoIuLeIv.¨ ¡ Iunded one oI mv busIness
curds Lo AIdous. ¨GIve me u cuII someLIme. TIuL`s mv ceII
=6
number on LIe boLLom.¨
¨JunIne!¨ CoIumbIne crIed ouL ubrupLIv us sIe Ieuped up
Irom LIe coucI und wuved Ier urms IrunLIcuIIv uL u womun
ubouL LwenLv vurds uwuv. SIe grubbed me bv LIe urm und
vunked me up, exIIbILIng u surprIsIng sLrengLI Ior Ier peLILe
sLuLure.
¨Excuse us, we Iuve Lo suv IeIIo Lo someone,¨ sIe suId
quIckIv LIrougI grILLed LeeLI, runnIng LIe svIIubIes LogeLIer us II
LIe wIoIe senLence were jusL one Iong word, bureIv ubIe Lo IoId
buck LIe LorrenL oI IuugILer bubbIIng up Irom Ier guL. ¡ IeId mv
Iund up Lo LIe sIde oI mv Iuce Lo mIme u pIone cuII wILI mv
LIumb und pInkIe us sIe drugged me uwuv.
¨So wIuL wus LIuL uII ubouL?¨ ¡ usked CoIumbIne wIIIe sIe
IurrIed me ucross LIe room.
¨TIev`re jusL some oId IrIends ¡ wunLed Lo mess wILI. You
were perIecL, bv LIe wuv. ¡ neurIv peed mvseII.¨
TIe womun CoIumbIne Iud been wuvIng uL wus u mIddIe-
uged coIIege proIessor-Lvpe. TIe Lwo women Iugged eucI oLIer,
und LIen CoIumbIne IuuncIed InLo InLroducLIons.
¨You know, IL`s Iunnv LIuL vou Lwo sIouId meeL Iere becuuse
JunIne`s son TIm jusL sLurLed SemInurv scIooI, wIIIe D jusL
moved buck Iere Irom MussucIuseLLs uILer IeuvIng SemInurv.¨
¨TIuL Is Iunnv,¨ ¡ ugreed und nodded mv Ieud, curIous wIere
sIe wus Ieuded.
CoIumbIne Lurned Lo JunIne und udded, bv wuv oI
expIunuLIon, ¨D goL kIcked ouL wIen Ie LoId LIem ubouL IIs
decIsIon Lo move Iorwurd wILI gender reussIgnmenL surgerv.¨
JunIne Iooked Lo me wILI surprIse In Ier eves. ¡ jusL nodded
mv Ieud In conIIrmuLIon. ¨¡ guess LIev Irown on LIuL sorL oI
LIIng.¨
=;
---
TIIngs conLInued on IIke LIIs us we cIrcuIuLed LIrougI LIe
purLv und CoIumbIne InLroduced me Lo evervone sIe knew,
wIIcI seemed IIke IuII oI uII LIe guesLs LIere. ¡ spenL LIe nexL
nIneLv mInuLes posIng us un uwurd-wInnIng pIuvwrIgIL, u drug
smuggIer, Ier Iusbund, u C¡A ¨operuLIve¨ (wIIcI ¡`m preLLv sure
wus ImpIIed Lo meun ussussIn), und u descendunL oI deposed
RussIun urIsLocrucv - dependIng on wIuL LIe conversuLIon
Iuppened Lo Lurn Lo.
¨Evervone IIes us LIese LIIngs Lo muke LIemseIves seem
more InLeresLIng,¨ CoIumbIne suId bv wuv oI ruLIonuIIzuLIon. ¨¡
uL IeusL muke LIe eIIorL Lo come up wILI good IIes.¨
¡ Iuve Lo udmIL ¡ dId enjov IL, In u weIrd wuv. ¡ Iud become
ImpervIous Lo surprIse, deILIv connecLIng wILI wIuLever curve
buII sIe Iobbed mv wuv. WIIcI Is wIv ¡ wus uII LIe more Luken
ubuck wIen ¡ Ieurd Ier InLroduce me us:
¨TIIs Is mv IrIend, D. He`s u reporLer.¨
¡ Lurned Lo see wIo sIe wus LuIkIng Lo und InsLunLIv
recognIzed IIm. DvIun MuxweII sLood cusuuIIv wILI IIs IeeL
upurL und Iunds burIed In IIs pockeLs, LeeLI bured In u Iuge
CIesIIre CuL grIn. A Iew errunL sLrunds oI IIs cIIn-IengLI jeL
bIuck IuIr Iung down In IronL oI IIs puIe bIue eves, gIvIng IIm u
rukIsI cIurm. TuII und IILIe, Ie cuL u sLrIkIng IIgure In IIs bIuck
sIIk vesL und muLcIIng LIe over u bIood red sIIrL wILI LIe sIeeves
roIIed up Lo IIs mId-Ioreurm, bIuck sIucks, und u puIr oI red
CIucks. TIe LennIes, wIIIe cIusIIng wILI LIe resL oI IIs ouLIIL,
were u kInd oI sIgnuLure Ior IIm, und Ie wus never wILIouL LIem
- or uL IeusL LIuL`s wIuL IL suId In uII IIs press muLerIuIs.
¨PIeused Lo meeL vou, D. Mv nume`s Mux,¨ Ie suId,
exLendIng IIs Iund.
=8
¨¡ know wIo vou ure, Mr. MuxweII,¨ ¡ repIIed us we sIook.
He Iud u surprIsIngIv sLrong grIp LIuL beIIed IIs sIIgIL buIId.
¨PIeuse, ¡ reuIIv do InsIsL vou cuII me Mux.¨
¡ wusn`L usuuIIv one Lo Iose mv composure uround LIe rIcI or
Iumous, buL wIen our Iunds cIusped ¡ IeIL un undenIubIe
eIecLrIcILv emunuLIng Irom IIs skIn. TIe Ioose, IuId-buck, und
bruzenIv urrogunL wuv Ie currIed IImseII mude IIm come ucross
us more IIke u rock sLur LIun u corporuLe exec, us counLIess
oLIers Iud observed beIore.
He conLInued, ¨TIuL`s un InLeresLIng nume vou Iuve.¨
¨¡L`s sIorL Ior DeduIus, buL Lrv goIng LIrougI eIemenLurv
scIooI InLroducIng vourseII us LIuL,¨ ¡ expIuIned.
¨¡ see. Were vour purenLs mvLIoIogv buIIs?¨
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨Mv dud Iud u Iurd-on Ior Jovce.¨
¨AI, oI course,¨ Ie suId, LIILIng IIs Ieud buck. ¨¡ sIouId Iuve
guessed Irom vour sIsLer`s mIddIe nume, JennIIer BIoom.¨ ¡ wus
u IILLIe surprIsed bv LIe menLIon oI mv sIsLer, buL ¡ reusoned LIuL
IL mude sense Ior LIem Lo know oI eucI oLIer.
Mux IIILed IIs Iund und cusuuIIv poInLed IIs Index IInger uL
me - noL uccusIngIv, buL In LIe eusv-goIng munner oI someone
uccusLomed Lo usIng IIs Iunds wIIIe speukIng. ¨¡ reud vour
urLIcIe.¨
¡ couIdn`L IeIp buL cruck u proud smIIe. ¨WIuL dId vou
LIInk?¨
¨¡oved IL. ¡ IuugIed so Iurd LIuL ¡ sLurLed crvIng.¨ He
repIIed wILI u good-nuLured smIIe. ¨¡ LIInk IL mIgIL Iuve been
ubove some peopIe`s Ieuds LIougI. ¡`ve Ieurd LIuL vou`ve
cuused u bIL oI un uprour. BuL LIuL`s LIe Lrue urLIsL`s burden, ¡
suppose, Lo be unupprecIuLed und mIsundersLood.¨
¡ wusn`L sure II Ie wus LovIng wILI me or II genuIneIv LIougIL
mv urLIcIe wus supposed Lo be Iunnv, buL ¡ decIded Lo Luke

udvunLuge oI LIe LopIc. ¨WeII u IoL oI peopIe don`L beIIeve vour
compunv ucLuuIIv conIIrmed LIuL LIe e-muIIs ¡ cILed were reuI.¨
¨WeII, some peopIe Iuve jusL been uround Iong enougI Lo
know vou cun`L beIIeve evervLIIng vou reud In LIe puper,¨ Ie
unswered In u wuv LIuL wus dIsmIssIve wILIouL seemIng IIke IL
wus, verv poIILe und personuI. He guve me u wInk, LIen Lurned
uwuv, cIeurIv IeeIIng Ie wus done wILI LIe conversuLIon.
¡ reuIIzed ¡ wus goIng Lo Iuve Lo do someLIIng sLupId Lo keep
IIs uLLenLIon. ¨You know, wIIIe we`re on LIe subjecL, ¡ recenLIv
reud someLIIng Iunnv In LIe puper mvseII,¨ ¡ bIurLed ouL. ¨¡L
wus u sLorv In vesLerduv`s Morninq-Stcr LIuL suId u deud womun
wus Iound on LIe sIde oI HIgIwuv ;;.¨
Mux sLopped In IIs Lrucks - cusuuIIv, noL ubrupLIv, keepIng
IIs posLure reIuxed und unconcerned. ¨¡ musL Iuve mIssed LIuL
one,¨ Ie suId, LIe prucLIced evenness oI IIs voIce noL beLruvIng
unvLIIng. ¨WIuL wus Iunnv ubouL IL?¨
¨WeII, LIev kepL suvIng sIe wus Iound In u dILcI, buL LIere
wusn`L unvLIIng ubouL Iow vou Iound Ier LIree duvs eurIIer In
LIe cubIn oI vour prIvuLe jeL,¨ ¡ venLured In un IncreusIngIv
udversurIuI Lone. ¨You`d LIInk LIuL wouId be LIe kIndu oI deLuII
u good reporLer wouId menLIon.¨
Mux puused, uIIowIng LIme Ior LIuL CIesIIre CuL grIn Lo
creep sIowIv buck InLo IIs Iuce. ¨BuL LIuL`s ussumIng LIere ure
unv good reporLers IeIL uL LIe Morninq Stcr.¨ He broke ouL InLo
IuugILer und sIupped IIs Iund uguInsL mv buck IIke we were oId
IrIends. ¡n spILe oI mvseII, ¡ crucked u smIIe. ¡ wusn`L sure II ¡
wunLed Lo Luke LIIs guv ouL Ior u beer or puncI IIm In IIs smug,
preLLv-bov Iuce.
¨¡eL`s geL ouL oI Iere, und ¡`II sIow vou wIere LIe reuI purLv
Is.¨ Mux Lurned Lo CoIumbIne und conLInued, ¨How does LIuL
sound, CoI? Are vou reudv Lo go bucksLuge?¨
6o
;. No Dne Wcnts to Toil in Dbscuritu

DvIun MuxweII (Mux Lo IIs IrIends) wus LIe
presIdenLJCEOJIounderJwIuLever oI Abrusux, one oI LIe mosL
successIuI doL-coms In LIe worId und LIereIore one oI LIe
vuIIev`s IurgesL empIovers und bonu IIde Lux revenue cusI-cow.
TIIs In Lurn mude IIm one oI LIe mosL powerIuI und InIIuenLIuI
peopIe In LIe cILv. An ucLIve poIILIcuI IundruIser, puLron oI LIe
urLs, und venLure cupILuIIsL - II vou wunLed Lo geL unvLIIng done
In LIIs Lown, uL some poInL vou`d IInd vourseII on Iunds und
knees kIssIng LIose oId red CIuck TuvIors.
BuL uII LIuL wus reuIIv jusL IncIdenLuI - LIe LIIng LIuL LruIv
deIIned Mux wus IIs rock sLur mvsLIque. Young, good-IookIng,
cIurIsmuLIc, unconvenLIonuI, und noL uIruId Lo suv exucLIv
wIuL`s on IIs mInd, Ie Iud buIIL up u sLrunge cuIL oI personuIILv
uround IImseII LIuL wus us mucI ubouL sLvIe us IL wus ubouL LIe
subsLunce oI Abrusux`s busIness.
Anvone wIo ever wroLe ubouL LIe compunv suId LIe sume
LIIng - Mux ruIed Abrusux wILI un Iron IIsL. He personuIIv
oversuw evervLIIng Irom user InLerIuce und QA Lo desIgn
uesLIeLIc und murkeLIng cumpuIgns. EmpIovees evoked IIs
61
nume In debuLes IIke purIsI prIesLs cILIng cIupLer und verse.
TIe quesLIon wusn`L qood-or-bcd, riqht-or-uronq - IL wus
uhct uill Mcx thinl?
As we goL Lo know eucI oLIer, Ie expIuIned LIe sILuuLIon Lo
me IIke LIIs: ¨¡L`s noL LIuL dIssenL Isn`L LoIeruLed. ¡L jusL sImpIv
doesn`L exIsL.¨
He guve me un exumpIe. ¨Suv ¡ puII some new concepL ouL oI
mv uss uL LIe weekIv execuLIve meeLIng, some gem IIke 'user
beIuvIoruI meLrIcs` or 'ucIIevIng psvcIosocIuI IurmonIzuLIon` or
wIuLever nonsense sprIngs Lo mInd. Bv LIe end oI LIe duv,
vou`II Ieur LIuL sume pIruse ecIoIng LIe IuIIs LIrougIouL LIe
enLIre cumpus. Evervone wIII be purroLIng IL Irom LIe IowesL
muII room InLern Lo LIe C¡O`s mIsLress.¨
BuL Mux`s proIessIonuI IIIe wus onIv one purL oI LIe InLrIcuLe
personuI mvLIoIogv LIuL Iud buIIL up uround IIm. TIe LuIes oI
excess und debuucIerv In IIs personuI IIIe were Iegendurv. Mux
Iucked LIe mosL beuuLIIuI peopIe, uLe uL LIe mosL expensIve
resLuurunLs, LIorougIIv LrusIed LIe mosL excIusIve IoLeI rooms,
und puked up LIe mosL exquIsILe IIquors - uII wILIIn
conspIcuous runge oI LIe cumeru`s Iens. He wus IIke KeILI Moon
reIncurnuLed wILI BIII GuLes` bunkroII In LIe uge oI TMZ.
TubIoIds und IocuI bIoggers uLe IIs sILIck up, IurLIer
propuguLIng und embeIIIsIIng LIe mvLI.
Even IIs buck sLorv morpIed und evoIved Lo servIce LIe
mvLI. TIe cunonIcuI versIon wenL IIke LIIs:
DvIun MuxweII wus u nuLIve oI LIe cILv born InLo u soIIdIv
upper mIddIe cIuss IumIIv. HIs moLIer wus un orLIodonLIsL, IIs
IuLIer un uccompIIsIed composer wIo experImenLed wILI
eIecLronIc musIc und Iud scored u Iew moderuLeIv successIuI
IIIms. He sIowed un InLeresL In compuLers Irom un eurIv uge,
encouruged bv IIs IuLIer wIo wus IImseII quILe LIe LecInopIIIe
6z
und uIwuvs Iud LIe IuLesL equIpmenL Ior IIs son Lo LInker wILI.
Bv LIe LIme Mux enLered IIgI scIooI Ie uIreudv Iud u IucruLIve
purL-LIme busIness desIgnIng web sILes und soILwure
uppIIcuLIons Ior IocuI compunIes. He quIckIv expunded LIIs gIg
Lo IncIude securILv consuILIng bv IuckIng InLo LIe sILes oI severuI
mujor bunks und governmenL ugencIes, LIen LeIIIng LIem ubouL
IL und oIIerIng Lo IeIp LIem IIx LIe vuInerubIIILIes.
AL LIe uge oI 16, Mux pussed LIe equIvuIencv exum und
dropped ouL oI IIgI scIooI. TIIs uIIowed IIm Lo devoLe IImseII
Lo IIs compuLer work IuII LIme. He LrIed LukIng u Iew coIIege
courses buL IosL InLeresL In LIem quIckIv. Bv LIe LIme Ie Lurned
18, Ie Iud Lurned down muILIpIe oIIers Ior jobs und scIoIursIIps
und InsLeud decIded Lo LruveI ubroud. TIIs wus wIere LIe
oIIIcIuI record goL Iuzv.
TIere were u number oI ouLIundIsI sLorIes oI IIs Lwo veurs
overseus; LuIk Lo u dozen dIIIerenL peopIe wIo proIess Lo lnou,
LruIv lnou DvIun MuxweII, und vou`II geL u dozen dIIIerenL
uccounLs, eucI more preposLerous LIun LIe IusL. ¡rom wIuL ¡
couId deduce reudIng beLween LIe IInes, Ie IIrsL spenL IuII u veur
buckpuckIng LIrougI Europe, LIen spenL LIe resL oI LIe LIme In
souLIeusL AsIu wIere Ie sLudIed Ior some IndeLermInuLe perIod
In u TIbeLun monusLerv.
AsIde Irom LIuL, LIe sLorv wus u Choose Your Dun
Adtenture. Turn Lo puge z¤, Mux Ioses IIs vIrgInILv Lo u wIndow
Iooker In AmsLerdum wIIIe LrIppIng on ¡SD und musIrooms,
und LIe experIence Is LerrIIvIng Lo boLI purLIes InvoIved. Turn Lo
puge ¤z, Mux IuIIs mudIv In Iove wILI u Leenuge Iudvbov In
Bungkok. Turn Lo puge qz, Mux geLs In u bur IIgIL In LIe eusLern
sIde oI BerIIn wILI u group oI skInIeuds und ends up sIIcIng
open one`s LIrouL wILI u broken wIIskev boLLIe. Turn Lo puge
66, Mux joIns up wILI un underground secL oI KuII worsIIpers

und purLIcIpuLes In uL IeusL one rILuuI kIIIIng. AL u cerLuIn poInL,
¡ begun Lo suspecL LIuL Mux wus deIIberuLeIv IeukIng
mIsInIormuLIon, buL Ie veIemenLIv denIed LIIs, InsLeud
preIerrIng Lo compure LIe reLeIIIng oI IIs IIIe sLorv Lo u gume oI
Jupunese WIIspers.
¡n LIe end, uII LIuL reuIIv muLLered wus LIuL LIe Mux wIo
reLurned Lo IIs Iome Lown Lwo veurs IuLer wus no Ionger LIe sIv,
InLroverLed kId wIo wouId ruLIer sLuv InsIde pourIng over IInes
oI code LIun go ouLsIde und pIuv busebuII or LuIk Lo gIrIs. TIe
new Mux wusLed no LIme In mukIng LIe rounds Lo poLenLIuI
InvesLors Lo pILcI IIs new sLurLup, Abrusux.
¡nILIuIIv jusL u seurcI engIne, LIe compunv quIckIv expunded
ILs reucI Lo IncIude e-muII, socIuI neLworkIng, onIIne sLoruge und
IosLIng, soILwure deveIopmenL, und IInuIIv LIe web-bused
operuLIng svsLem EnvIsuge LIuL moved LIe user`s enLIre
compuLIng experIence onLo Abrusux`s servers. Mux promoLed IL
us gIvIng users LIe Ireedom Lo uccess LIeIr documenLs und run
LIeIr uppIIcuLIons unvwIere, unv LIme, und on unv compuLer.
CrILIcs compIuIned LIuL Abrusux wouId sIure user`s duLu wILI
udverLIsers Lo IeIp LurgeL LIeIr murkeLIng und In LIe process
drIve up Abrusux`s own Iees. However, LIe compunv`s
overwIeImIng surge In users und ud revenue ensured LIuL crILIcs
were swIILIv murgInuIIzed.
---
Mux Ied CoIumbIne und me Lo u remoLe purL oI LIe
wureIouse LIrougI u conIusIng serIes oI LwIsLs und Lurns LIuL ¡
couIdn`L Iuve possIbIv repIIcuLed. ¡ wouId Iuve sworn Ior u
wIIIe IL IeIL IIke we were jusL goIng In cIrcIes, excepL we never
pussed LIe sume poInL LwIce. We IInuIIv urrIved uL u deud end
6q
wuII - u reuI soIId wuII, noL jusL more bIuck curLuIns. ¡L Iud
LIree doors, eucI u dIIIerenL coIor - red, bIuck, und wIILe.
TIere wus u smuII wIILe pIusLIc pIucurd uIIIxed Lo LIe wuII
beLween LIe IIrsL und second doors, wIIcI reud:
Gclleru o[ Locled Doors
Dr, ßell Dut o[ Drder
¡n LIe Iower rIgIL corner wus LIe sume smuII crown und
gIobe svmboI Irom LIe buck oI LIe ruve curd.
TIere wus unoLIer group oI peopIe IookIng uL LIe guIIerv -
Lwo coupIes, vIsIbIv drunk, IuugIIng IvsLerIcuIIv us LIev LrIed
unsuccessIuIIv Lo open LIe doors, LwIsLIng und vunkIng on door
knobs und knockIng repeuLedIv. TIev sLruIgILened up us LIev
suw us upproucI und sLurLed Lo wuIk uwuv.
As Ie pussed me, one oI LIe men suId, ¨Good Iuck.¨
Once LIev Lurned LIe corner, IeuvIng no one In sIgIL buL LIe
LIree oI us, Mux puIIed ouL un oId-IusIIoned bIL kev mude ouL oI
red meLuI. He sIId IL InLo LIe Iock oI LIe red door und Lurned LIe
knob. ¡L opened, und Ie sLepped Lo one sIde Lo IeL us LIrougI.
¨WIo needs Iuck wIen vou`ve goL u kev?¨ ¡ suId us ¡ pussed
IIm.
¨PrecIseIv,¨ Mux suId, LuppIng LIe buLL oI LIe kev Lo mv cIesL.
TIe door Ied Lo u descendIng IIIgIL oI sLuIrs. As we sLurLed
down, ¡ usked Mux, ¨WIuL`s LIuL svmboI ubouL on LIe pIucurd
ouL LIere?¨
¨TIuL`s LIe svmboI Ior LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv. ¡L IeLs us know
wIere Lo IInd eucI oLIer,¨ Ie unswered.
¨And wIuL exucLIv Is LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv?¨ ¡ pressed.
¨You`re ubouL Lo meeL LIem.¨
TIe sLuIrs brougIL us InLo u Iurge, dImIv-IIL room udorned
6=
IuvIsIIv In reds und bIucks. One sIde wus u Iounge ureu wILI u
weL bur wIere ubouL LwenLv peopIe were IungIng ouL - uII
voung, beuuLIIuI, und ImmucuIuLeIv dressed, drInkIng und
LuIkIng Loo IoudIv In LIe wuv LIuL onIv peopIe wIo ure desperuLe
Lo be noLIced cun, IIke LIev ure durIng vou noL Lo euvesdrop.
BrIun wus LIere. So wus ¡IIv. NeILIer seemed Iuppv Lo see
me.
CoIumbIne wuIked over Lo LIe bur und greeLed ¡IIv wILI u
Iug. Mux excIunged brIeI greeLIngs wILI u Iew oI LIe oLIer
guesLs beIore beIng upproucIed bv u sIorL mun wILI
premuLureIv LIInnIng IuIr In un osLenLuLIousIv expensIve suIL.
¨¡L`s geLLIng IuLe. WIen do we sLurL?¨ Ie usked LesLIIv us Ie
Lupped IIs wuLcI.
Mux reucIed ouL Lo pIncI IIs cIeek und cooed
condescendIngIv, ¨PuLIence, PeLermun. ¡ Iuve Lo be u grucIous
IosL und sIow mv guesL uround.¨
¨We`ve been wuILIng Iere Ior Lwo Iours,¨ LIe oLIer mun
responded.
¨TIen ¡`m sure vou cun wuIL u IILLIe bIL Ionger. ¡n LIe
meunLIme, wIv noL Lrv enjovIng vourseII u IILLIe? Evervone eIse
seems Lo be,¨ Mux repIIed, und LIen udded wILI u vIcIous grIn,
¨And II vou geL reuIIv bored, ¡`m sure ¡IIIun wIII be Iuppv Lo
enLerLuIn vou.¨
¨How um ¡ supposed Lo do LIuL?¨ ¡IIv usked.
Mux Iormed IIs IIps InLo un ¨O¨ und IeId IIs rIgIL Iund up In
IronL oI IIs mouLI, curIIng IIs IIngers InLo u cIrcIe und jerkIng IL
buck und IorLI rIvLImIcuIIv wIIIe dIggIng IIs Longue InLo LIe
InsIde oI IIs cIeek Lo mIme u bIowjob. ¡IIv Iumed sIIenLIv, noL
durIng Lo IIre buck uL Ier boss.
Mux IeL ouL u smuII cIuckIe und Ied me bv LIe urm Lo LIe Iur
sIde oI LIe room, wIIcI wus domInuLed bv u wuII oI vIdeo
66
monILors, mIxIng bourds, und oLIer Ieuvv-duLv AJV equIpmenL.
TIe monILors dIspIuved Ieeds Irom LIe surveIIIunce cumerus In
LIe muIn urL guIIerIes. SIx peopIe suL In u row In IronL oI LIe
monILor bunk, eucI weurIng u puIr oI IeudpIones LIuL were
pIugged InLo LIe mIxIng consoIes und presumubIv wIred InLo LIe
mIcropIones upsLuIrs.
TIree oI LIem were cIusLered In u group, obvIousIv drunk
und IuvIng u IuugI. TIev gIggIed und commenLed buck und
IorLI pIuvIuIIv on wIuL LIev were seeIng und IeurIng.
AnoLIer wus u serIous voung womun wIo wus wuLcIIng wILI
u Iurrowed brow und scrIbbIIng noLes IurIousIv. VenLurIng u
guess, ¡ decIded sIe Iooked IIke un unLIropoIogIsL or socIoIogv
grud sLudenL doIng reseurcI Ior some kInd oI dIsserLuLIon or
wIuLever IL Is LIuL peopIe wIo ucLuuIIv wenL Lo coIIege do.
TIe mun uL LIe Iur end wus obvIousIv geLLIng IIs joIIIes oII.
AII oI IIs monILors were Luned InLo cumerus sIowIng voung
women, und Ie Iud one Iund burIed dIscreeLIv under LIe mIxIng
desk.
TIe mun uL LIe cenLruI consoIe wus oIder LIun LIe resL, wILI
suIL-und pepper IuIr und u sLrunge bIue bIrLImurk on LIe brIdge
oI IIs nose LIuL wus sIuped kInd oI IIke u quesLIon murk. He suL
buck In IIs cIuIr us II Lo Luke In us mucI us possIbIe; Ie Iooked
IIke u kIng survevIng IIs kIngdom. ¡ sLepped In Ior u cIoser Iook.
HIs eves durLed Lo und Iro quIckIv, jumpIng Irom one screen Lo
LIe nexL In u seemIngIv rundom sequence.
¡ IeIL Mux move In beIInd me. ¨TIuL`s Ben Gurzu. You
sIouId sLep buck. WuLcIers rureIv IIke IL wIen LIev`re LIe ones
beIng wuLcIed.¨
¡ pIcked up one oI LIe Iree IeudseLs, wIIcI wus pIugged InLo
u juck IubeIed Con[essioncls, und ruIsed IL Lo mv eur. A womun`s
voIce cume LIrougI soundIng ruw und suIIen, us II sIe Iud been
6;
crvIng. TIere wus someLIIng IumIIIur ubouL IL. SIe suId, ¨¡
wonder II ¡ ever even Iud u cIunce oI beIng Iuppv. ¡Ike II ¡ Iud
mude dIIIerenL cIoIces, II ¡ Iudn`L Iucked LIIngs up so bud,
wouId IL Iuve mude u dIIIerence? ¡ wonder II LIere`s some oLIer
worId ouL LIere, some uILernuLe unIverse wIere ¡ ended up
Iuppv.¨
¡ reuIIzed wIv IL sounded IumIIIur - IL sounded u IoL IIke ¡IIv.
¡ Iooked buck over mv sIouIder und suw Ier sILLIng nexL Lo
CoIumbIne. TIe Lwo oI LIem were IuugIIng wIIdIv, eucI IoIdIng
u murLInI gIuss, us LIev cIuLLed IIke good IrIends.
¡ gIunced buck uL LIe vIdeo monILors und cuugIL u brIeI
gIImpse oI one oI LIe Ieeds, u gruInv, monocIrome Imuge
wusIed In bIue. ¡L sIowed u mun sILLIng on LIe edge oI u bed In
u neurIv empLv room. A dIgILIzed numerIc dIspIuv In LIe boLLom
rIgIL corner reud: ooo((.
¡ suddenIv IeIL IIgIL-Ieuded und Look u coupIe sLeps buck
Irom LIe consoIe, IeLLIng LIe IeudpIones drop Irom mv grIp.
Mux reucIed ouL u Iund Lo IeIp sLubIIIze me.
¡ cIosed mv eves und LrIed Lo reguIn mv beurIngs, muLLerIng,
¨Jesus CIrIsL, LIe bum wus rIgIL.¨
¨Purdon?¨
¨¡ meL u bum on LIe LruIn u coupIe duvs ugo - wIId orunge
IuIr, cruzv bIue eves. He suId Ie used Lo work Ior vou und wus
runLIng ubouL Iow vou were spvIng on peopIe.¨
Mux smIIed InduIgenLIv. ¨SpvIng ImpIIes u vIoIuLIon oI LrusL,
un ussumpLIon oI prIvucv LIuL Is beLruved. We mude no secreL
ubouL LIe surveIIIunce meLIods upsLuIrs, so LIere Is no
ussumpLIon oI prIvucv. Our equIpmenL Is In pIuIn sIgIL, und
munv oI LIe urL pIeces LIemseIves used IL us un InLegruI purL.¨
¨¡n oLIer words, vou 're suvIng IL`s okuv Lo Invude someone`s
prIvucv us Iong us vou gIve some noLIce, Iowever perIuncLorv.¨
68
¨¡`m suvIng LIuL prIvucv us vou undersLund IL Ius become un
urcIuIc concepL.¨
¡ smIrked. ¨OI course vou wouId suv LIIs. You`ve mude
seIIIng vour cusLomers` prIvuLe InIormuLIon InLo u busIness
modeI.¨
Mux scoIIed, LIen responded In u ruIsed voIce, LukIng on un
uImosL proIessorIuI Lone. ¨PeopIe wIIIIngIv gIve mv compunv
uccess Lo LIeIr InIormuLIon wIen LIev use our producLs. We
Luke LIuL InIormuLIon und use IL Lo gIve LIem LIe besL possIbIe
cusLomer experIence. ¡ muke no secreL oI mv compunv`s
busIness prucLIces. And ¡`m sure unvone wIo compIuIns ubouL
LIe prIce oI gus In un e-muII und LIen suddenIv sees un ud Ior
LIe IuLesL IvbrId cur knows exucLIv wIuL ¡`m doIng.¨
¨Spure me LIe corporuLe spIeI,¨ ¡ grouned. ¨WIuL ubouL LIe
peopIe LIuL don`L wunL vou LruckIng wIuL LIev buv und wIuL
sILes LIev Iook uL und wIuL LIev LuIk ubouL In LIeIr e-muII?¨
¨TIen LIev cun puLronIze our compeLILors,¨ Ie repIIed
dIsmIssIveIv. ¨Or reuIIsLIcuIIv, LIev sIouId sLuv oII LIe InLerneL
uILogeLIer.¨
¨Are vou serIous?¨
¨Verv serIous,¨ Ie repIIed, und ¡ reuIIzed Ie wus no Ionger
LuIkIng Lo jusL me - LIe resL oI LIe room wus IIsLenIng us weII.
¨TIe web Ius LruIv become LIe greuL democruLIzer oI
InIormuLIon In LIe mosL IILeruI sense oI LIe word - ruIe oI LIe
people, pIuruI. ¡nIormuLIon Is no Ionger LIe soIe properLv oI unv
one person. TIe quesLIon Isn`L uhu shouldn't uou hcte the
riqht to leep thinqs to uoursel[? ¡L`s uhu shouldn't uour
business pcrtners, uour emplouers, uour [riends cnd [cmilu
hcte the riqht to lnou uho uou recllu cre?¨
¨¡ cuII buIIsIIL,¨ ¡ suId. ¨Even II vou uccepL LIuL urgumenL,
IL`s onIv vuIId bused on LIe ussumpLIon oI u socIuI good. BuL

wIuL`s LIe socIuI good In uII LIIs?¨ ¡ poInLed uL LIe monILors.
¨TIe sume socIuI good LIuL exIsLs In unv reuI urL -
purIIIcuLIon oI LIe Iumun souI. HoId u mIrror up und muke us
conIronL wIo we reuIIv ure.¨
¨Now ¡ reuIIv cuII buIIsIIL.¨
Mux IuugIed. ¨¡eL me puL IL Lo vou LIIs wuv - ¡ puL IorLI Lo
vou LIuL LIe uge oI surveIIIunce Is onIv u svmpLom oI LIe new
Ivper-nurcIssIsm LIuL Ius InIecLed our coIIecLIve reuIILv LunneIs.
We InvILe LIe surveIIIunce cumerus InLo our Iomes becuuse LIev
ure prooI LIuL someone Is puvIng uLLenLIon Lo us.
¨¡eL me gIve vou un exumpIe. You crILIcIzed mv compunv Ior
coIIecLIng users` personuI duLu, buL peopIe ure voIunLurIIv und
InLenLIonuIIv sIurIng LIe mosL InLImuLe mInuLIue oI LIeIr IIves
evervduv, und LIev Iove doIng. Even us we speuk mv pIone Is
beIng bomburded bv LweeLs, e-muIIs, bIog posLs, und socIuI
neLwork sLuLus upduLes Irom personuI und proIessIonuI
ucquuInLunces. PrIvucv Is pussé; IL sImpIv no Ionger exIsLs us u
socIuI vuIue. No one wunLs Lo LoII In obscurILv. ¡ume Ius
become LIe new socIuI currencv oI LIe z1
sL
cenLurv. ¡n LIe 1¤
LI
cenLurv LIe sLruggIe wus beLween LIe workIng cIuss und LIe
ruIIng cIuss over LIe meuns oI producLIon. Bv LIe end oI LIe zo
LI
cenLurv, LIe purudIgm wus mude obsoIeLe bv new cIusses - LIe
IeIsure cIuss, LIe creuLIve cIuss, LIe consumer cIuss. Now LIere`s
u wIoIe new emergIng cIuss brIngIng unoLIer seu cIunge, LIe
ceIebrILv cIuss. SuddenIv we Iuve un enLIre sLruLus oI peopIe
wIo ure Iumous jusL Ior beIng Iumous. ¡L doesn`L muLLer II vou
uren`L LIe mosL LuIenLed, or LIe mosL vIrLuous, or even LIe mosL
beuuLIIuI, us Iong us peopIe know wIo vou ure. We`ve buIIL u
bruve new worId wIere everv mun und womun cun be u sLur.¨
HIs eves Iocked In on mIne us Ie presumubIv wuILed Ior me
Lo respond Lo LIe depLI und proIundILv oI IIs urgumenL.
;o
¨Jesus, ure vou sLIII LuIkIng?¨
Mux broke InLo u cIuckIe und LIrew un urm over mv
sIouIder.
¨ßrcte Neu World, IuI? TIuL Is LIe second HuxIev
svncIronIcILv ¡`ve Iud LonIgIL.¨
¨Eteru one belonqs to eteru one else,¨ Ie quoLed.
¨WIuLever. ¡ jusL wunL vou Lo LeII peopIe LIuL ¡ dIdn`L IIe In
mv urLIcIe. HeIp me Luke some prIvuLe InIormuLIon und Iund IL
over Lo LIe musses,¨ ¡ suId, reIIsIIng LIe cIunce Lo LIrow IIs
own buIIsIIL buck In IIs Iuce.
Mux sucked on IIs LeeLI und mude u dIsInLeresLed
expressIon. ¨¡ guve ¡IIIun mv sLuLemenL, wIIcI sIe reIuved Lo
vou uccuruLeIv. ¡ don`L reuIIv Iuve unv InLeresL In pursuIng LIe
muLLer IurLIer.¨
¡ dIdn`L IeL up. ¨WIv dId vou gIve me vour sLuLemenL In LIe
IIrsL pIuce?¨
¨Becuuse, D, IIIe Is u gume. And someLImes, Lo keep LIIngs
InLeresLIng, vou Iuve Lo cIunge LIe ruIes.¨
¨¡ don`L geL wIuL vou--¨
SuddenIv, ¡ IeIL u presence beIInd me. ¨We`re uII seL, boss,¨
suId u Ioud, deep muIe voIce.
¡ Lurned Lo see LIe mun Irom LIe IIopIouse LowerIng over me
- LIe Bud Seed. He wus weurIng u bIuck L-sIIrL wILI u dIsLorLed
Imuge oI u buII LIuL ¡ recognIzed us u deLuII Irom Guernicc.
¨AI, SuInL AnLIonv. AIwuvs ImpeccubIe LImIng,¨ Mux suId.
TIe Lwo men sIook Iunds, LIen LIe Iurger mun Iooked IIs
LIumb In mv dIrecLIon. ¨WIuL`s Ie doIng Iere?¨
¨OI, don`L worrv ubouL IIm. He`s u journclist,¨ Mux suId,
puLLIng u derIsIve empIusIs on LIe IusL word. ¨Mr. D QueLzuI,
¡`d IIke vou Lo meeL SuInL AnLIonv, mv specIuI udvIsor.¨
¨SpecIuI udvIsor? WIuL`s LIuL meun? And wIuL LIe Iuck
;1
kInd oI nume Is SuInL AnLIonv?¨
¨¡L`s u nIck nume,¨ Mux expIuIned. ¨He`s Iud IL Ior veurs, on
uccounL oI IIm beIng sucI u devouL CuLIoIIc.¨
¨YeuI, ¡ beL,¨ ¡ scoIIed.
¨SuInL¨ AnLIonv sLured me down IIke Ie wus Lwo seconds
Irom kIckIng LIe IoIv IuckIng sIIL ouL oI me.
Mux cIupped IIs Iunds LogeLIer Lo geL LIe uLLenLIon oI LIe
enLIre room. ¨Evervbodv upsLuIrs. CurLuIn LIme In Len
mInuLes.¨
¨We`re goIng buck Lo LIe urL sIow?¨ ¡ usked.
¨No,¨ Mux repIIed. ¨¡ meun uII LIe wuv upsLuIrs.¨
;z
8. Eteruone Needs c Good Sccre, Nou cnd Then
¡ sLood on Lop oI LIe wureIouse`s rooI, wuLcIIng ubouL LIree
dozen oI LIe cILv`s besL und brIgILesL sLund uround und Ireeze
LIeIr usses oII. And, LruLI be LoId, ¡ wus enjovIng LIe specLucIe,
even LIougI IL meunL ¡ wus IreezIng mv own oII rIgIL uIong wILI
LIem.
TIe unemIc, reIugee-LIIn IeIresses sIIverIng In LIeIr bureIv-
LIere purLv dresses. TIe eIIeLe doL-com execuLIves In LIousund-
doIIur ¨dIsLressed¨ jeuns LrvIng Lo Iook unuIIecLed bv LIe coId
LIuL`s cruckIng LIeIr IIps und sIrIveIIng LIeIr dIcks. ¡L wurmed
mv spILeIuI, jeuIous IILLIe IeurL.
CoIumbIne wus busv cIrcuIuLIng LIrougI LIe crowd, IundIng
ouL sIeeLs oI puper, one u Ieud. WIen sIe IInIsIed, sIe cume
over Lo sIL wILI me on LIe purupeL.
¨WIuL`s LIIs uII ubouL?¨ ¡ usked us ¡ grubbed one oI LIe
IeILover sIeeLs oII LIe sLuck on Ier Iup.
¨TIIs Is LonIgIL`s gume,¨ sIe expIuIned. ¨Scuvenger IunL.¨
¡ Iooked down uL LIe puper In mv Iunds, wIIcI conLuIned u
IIsL oI ILems neuLIv prInLed In LIree evenIv-spuced coIumns. TIe
ILems were preLLv Iur ouL LIere, LIIngs IIke un uIbIno, u monkev`s
puw, u Lrunsgender prosLILuLe, un orIgInuI MuLIsse, u LIree-

Iegged dog, u pIckIed punk, un ounce oI IeroIn, und u Iumun
spIeen.
¨Scuvenger IunL?¨ ¡ repeuLed skepLIcuIIv.
¨YeuI. You Iuve Lo Lrv Lo IInd us munv oI LIe LIIngs on LIIs
IIsL us vou cun und brIng LIem buck.¨
¡ roIIed mv eves. ¨Yes, ¡ undersLund LIe concepL oI u
scuvenger IunL. ¡`m jusL wonderIng wIv u group oI grown
uduILs - LIe cILv`s rIcIesL und mosL powerIuI brIgIL voung
LIIngs, no Iess - wouId spend LIeIr SuLurduv nIgIL on one.¨
¡ Ieurd IooLsLeps beIInd me on LIe purupeL, und LIen u new
voIce joIned our conversuLIon. ¨¡mugIne vou were IIILIv rIcI,
rIcIer LIun unv Iumun beIng Ius unv rIgIL Lo be. You cun
IILeruIIv do und Iuve unvLIIng vou wunL. You`ve LruveIed LIe
worId, Iud LIe dIrLIesL sex ImugInubIe, ImbIbed LIe IIILIIesL
nurcoLIcs. WIuL wouId vou do Ior kIcks wIen vou grow LIred oI
LIe sume oId LIrIIIs?¨
¡ cruned mv Ieud Lo LIe rIgIL und suw Mux sLundIng uLop LIe
purupeL, IoverIng over mv Ieud. He grInned IIke u derunged
Jupunese oni, LIe coId nIgIL uIr LurnIng IIs breuLI vIsIbIe us IL
sLreumed ouL oI IIs nosLrIIs.
¨AII rIgIL, kIds, IIsLen up!¨ Ie cuIIed ouL Lo evervone on LIe
rooILop. ¨We`re goIng Lo geL sLurLed. ¡ LrusL vou`ve uII Iud u
cIunce Lo Iook over LIe IIsL Ior LonIgIL`s gume. ¡ see u Iew new
Iuces, so IeL me brIng vou uII up Lo speed.
¨TIe objecL Is sImpIe - wIoever brIngs buck LIe mosL ILems
Irom vour IIsL bv sunrIse Is LIe wInner, und wIoever brIngs buck
LIe IeusL Is LIe Ioser. AsIde Irom LIuL, LIere ure no ruIes. SLeuI,
IIe, cIeuL, breuk und enLer, wunder uround LIe bud purLs oI
Lown, work vour connecLIons, geL vour ussIsLunLs ouL oI bed,
cusI In uII vour Iuvors.¨
¨So, wIuL exucLIv do vou geL Ior wInnIng?¨ ¡ InLerjecLed.
;q
He dug u smuII red meLuI box Irom IIs punLs pockeL. ¡L wus
recLunguIur In sIupe, no more LIun IIve IncIes Iong und Lwo
IIgI. ¨TIe wInner geLs wIuL`s InsIde LIIs box,¨
¨And wIuL`s LIuL?¨ ¡ pressed.
¨¡ sweur Lo vou, we dIdn`L scrIpL LIIs,¨ Mux suId us un usIde Lo
IIs uudIence. A Iew IIgIL cIuckIes rIppIed LIrougI LIe crowd.
¨To IInd LIuL ouL, D, ¡ guess vou`II jusL Iuve Lo wIn.¨
¨¡ guess so,¨ ¡ repIIed. ¨And wIuL II ¡ Iose?¨
Mux Lurned Lo smIIe uL me once more, buL LIIs LIme Ie dIdn`L
oIIer unv IurLIer expIunuLIon.
¨WeuLIermun suvs LIe sun rIses jusL uILer seven. You Iuve
IIve Iours gIve-or-Luke, cIIIdren. ¡ suggesL vou geL movIng.¨
As evervone eIse cIeured oII LIe rooI, Mux puL u Iund on mv
sIouIder, IndIcuLIng LIuL Ie wunLed me Lo sLIck uround. ¡
noLIced SuInL AnLIonv und ¡IIv were uIso noL movIng Lo Ieuve -
AnLIonv`s Iund grIppIng Ier wrIsL LIgILIv, Ier Ieud Iung
suIIenIv.
Mux puced buck und IorLI uIong LIe purupeL wIIIe IIs eves
durLed buck und IorLI umong LIe LIree oI us, LIuL grIn oI IIs sLIII
IIxed In pIuce. TIIs wenL on Ior severuI mInuLes, even uILer LIe
IusL oI LIe oLIer guesLs Iud IeIL. TIe LIree oI us jusL sLood LIere
In LIe coId und wuILed Ior Mux Lo do someLIIng. ¡ wus
mIserubIe, AnLIonv dIdn`L even seem Lo noLIce LIe weuLIer, ¡IIv
wus sIIverIng so Iurd ¡ LIougIL Ier bones were goIng Lo sIuke
rIgIL ouL oI LIeIr sockeLs, und Mux Iooked IIke Ie wus suvorIng
everv second oI IL.
EvenLuuIIv, ¡ decIded ¡ wus sIck oI IIsLenIng Lo ¡IIv`s LeeLI
cIuLLer, so ¡ sIIpped oII mv juckeL und oIIered IL Lo Ier.
¨No!¨ Mux veIIed. ¨Evervone wIII remuIn dressed exucLIv LIe
wuv LIev ure.¨
¡ IeId ouL LIe juckeL Lo ¡IIv uguIn, buL sIe reIused IL, keepIng
;=
Ier worrIed guze IIxed on Ier empIover.
¨¡ook uL LIIs LIIng,¨ Mux decIured, sLumpIng IIs IooL on LIe
purupeL. ¨RIdIcuIous.¨ HIs eves reLurned Lo us jusL Iong enougI
Lo muke sure Ie Iud our IuII uLLenLIon. ¨WIuL purpose does IL
serve? TIInk ubouL IL. WouId IL reuIIv be so dungerous Lo Iuve
jusL u pIuIn IIuL edge? ¡s LIIs IILLIe bIL oI wuII goIng Lo ucLuuIIv
suve IIves?¨
¡ sIrugged.
Mux conLInued, ¨And II someone Is ucLuuIIv dumb enougI Lo
IuII oII LIe sIde oI u buIIdIng, ure we us u specIes reuIIv beLLer oII
wILI LIuL person uIIve und procreuLIng? So mucI oI our energv
Is expended sLvroIoum-puddIng und sLerIIIzIng our exIsLences Lo
proLecL us Irom ourseIves, Irom our own IumunILv.
¨We reuIIze jusL Iow IopeIess und IuLuIIsLIc our Iumun
condILIon Is, Iow we ure uL LIe mercv oI Iorces bevond our
conLroI. So we Lrv Lo LrIck ourseIves InLo u IuIse sense oI securILv
bv dreumIng up pIunLom perIIs, IurmIess sLruw men LIuL we
cun buIId u wuII uround or burv under concreLe und IeeI IIke we
Iuve conLroI over our desLInIes.
¨We puss more Iuws, we urm more cops, we buIId more
prIsons, und we Iock up more oI our neIgIbors In LIe nume oI
our own Ireedom. Our Ieur oI deuLI drIves us Lo poIson
ourseIves wILI 'medIcInes` LIuL uL besL onIv posLpone LIe
InevILubIe. And Lo wIuL end? We sLIII dIe oI cuncer, we sLIII geL
sIck - someLImes us sIde eIIecLs oI LIe verv drugs we Luke Lo
keep us weII. We sLIII crusI curs. We sLIII muke wur. So wIere
Ius uII LIIs goLLen us us u specIes?¨
¨¡L`s goLLen me IreezIng mv nuLs oII on u rooI IIke u dumbuss,
wonderIng wIuL LIe IeII vou`re LuIkIng ubouL,¨ ¡ oIIered.
¨¡`m LuIkIng ubouL cIungIng LIe ruIes oI LIe gume, D,¨ Mux
repIIed. ¨¡I vou don`L muke peuce wILI vour own morLuIILv,
;6
vou`II never know wIuL IL`s IIke Lo LruIv be uIIve. TIe IndIgenous
peopIe wIo orIgInuIIv IIved In LIIs vuIIev Iud u LrudILIon oI LIe
vIsIon quesL - goIng ouL InLo LIe wIIderness wILI noLIIng,
survIvIng bv vour own wILs, provIng vour worLI us u Iumun
beIng und dIscoverIng wIo vou reuIIv ure In LIe IundumenLuI
core oI vour souI. BuL we`ve puved over LIe wIIderness und
bIunkeLed LIe sLurrv skv wILI GPS suLeIIILes. How munv LImes
Iuve vou ucLuuIIv sLured vour own deuLI In LIe Iuce, D?¨
He puused more Ior eIIecL LIun Lo ucLuuIIv gIve me u cIunce
Lo unswer, LIen IuuncIed rIgIL buck InLo IL.
¨We us u socIeLv Iuve mude IL Loo eusv on ourseIves, und IL
Ius mude us IuL und dumb und unImugInuLIve. We sIL In our
oIIIces und wuLcI our TVs und pIun Ior reLIremenL und Luke ouL
Insurunce poIIcIes und go on sud IILLIe sLuge-munuged vucuLIons,
jusL noL unvwIere Loo dungerous or dIrLv, und we muke sure we
ure uII weurIng our governmenL-upproved suIeLv IeImeLs und
currvIng our IeuILI pIun curds In cuse someLIIng goes wrong.
AII LIuL mud, InnovuLIve pussIon LIuL eIevuLed us ubove uII oLIer
Iorms oI IIIe Ius been uIIowed Lo uLropIv. We Iuve sLopped
nuLuruI seIecLIon Irom purIIvIng LIe specIes becuuse deep In our
IeurL oI IeurLs, we ure uII LerrIIIed LIuL we won`L muke LIe cuL.
¨CIungIng LIe ruIes oI LIe gume Is LIe onIv wuv Lo survIve, Lo
prevenL beIng overLuken bv u IungrIer, more InvenLIve
compeLILor. We need Lo redIscover LIe exIIIuruLIon oI puInLIng
ourseIves InLo u corner LIuL we don`L know we`II geL ouL oI, oI
IuvIng our meLLIe LesLed wILI evervLIIng on LIe IIne. We need
Lo remember Iow Lo IeeI LIe jov oI LIe LruIv uncerLuIn ouLcome.
We need Lo guze InLo LIe ubvss.¨
¨¡ sLIII don`L undersLund wIuL LIuL Ius Lo do wILI wIuL we
were LuIkIng ubouL.¨
¨D, vou wunLed Lo know wIv ¡ usked ¡IIv Lo udmIL LIose e-
;;
muIIs were Lrue, und ¡ um LeIIIng vou. You uIso usked me wIv u
buncI oI spoIIed rIcI kIds wouId wusLe LIeIr SuLurduv nIgIL on
some dumbuss scuvenger IunL, und ¡`m LeIIIng vou LIuL, Loo.
Evervone needs u good scure puL InLo LIem now und LIen.
¡ncIudIng LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv. ¡ncIudIng me.¨
¡ LIougIL buck Lo IIs reucLIon Lo mv urLIcIe - Iow Ie ucLed
IIke IL wus some kInd oI joke, someLIIng Lo umuse IIm. ¡Ike u
gume.
¨WIv don`L vou LeII AnLIonv und ¡IIv ubouL LIuL Iunnv LIIng
vou reud In LIe puper?¨ Mux usked, sIukIng me ouL oI mv own
LIougILs.
¨AIrIgIL, weII IL wus--¨ ¡ sLurLed.
BuL Mux InLerrupLed me, IIs eves growIng bIg und wIId, ¨No,
LeII LIem ubouL IL Irom up Iere.¨
He exLended IIs Iund Lo IeIp me up onLo LIe purupeL. ¡L wus
jusL sIv oI u IooL wIde. ¡ Iooked over LIe sIde und suw Iow IIgI
up were were, wIIcI wus ubouL LIe equIvuIenL oI u LIree-sLorv
buIIdIng. ¡ wus suddenIv teru [uclinq cucre oI mv own
morLuIILv.
¨Don`L worrv, IL`s perIecLIv suIe up Iere,¨ Mux suId. ¨And
we`re noL even LIuL IIgI up, unvwuvs. TIere`s u cIunce vou
mIgIL noL even dIe II vou IeII. So unvwuvs, vou were suvIng.¨
¡ Lurned Lo uddress AnLIonv und ¡IIv, ¨You know LIuL urLIcIe
vou Lwo were IookIng uL IusL nIgIL? TIe one ubouL LIe womun
Iound In u dILcI? ¡ know LIuL Ie--¨ ¡ poInLed uL Mux ¨--moved
Ier LIere uILer Ie Iound Ier In IIs prIvuLe jeL uL HusLIngs
AIrIIeId.¨
SuInL AnLIonv sLepped Lowurd me wILI un open Iook oI
usLonIsImenL on IIs Iuce. ¨How LIe Iuck couId vou possIbIv
know LIuL?¨
¨Good quesLIon. D seems Lo know u IoL oI LIIngs Ie
;8
sIouIdn`L, LIese duvs,¨ Mux sIoL buck. TIougI Ie seemed Lo be
uddressIng AnLIonv, IIs guze wus IIxed on ¡IIv. ¨BeLween LIuL
und cerLuIn e-muIIs Ie pubIIsIed In IIs puper, IL seems someone
Is provIdIng wILI quILe u bIL oI prIvIIeged InIormuLIon.¨
¨He wus uIso LIere on TIursduv nIgIL, wIen ¡ wenL Lo IInd
Cobb,¨ AnLIonv udded. ¡ perked up, LukIng noLe oI LIe nume:
Cobb.
¨ReuIIv?¨ Mux Iooked uL me, IIs Iuce exuggeruLIng IIs
usLonIsImenL IIke u Lrue sIowmun. ¨You ure IuII oI surprIses,
mv new IrIend.¨
Mux LIen begun InexpIIcubIv Lo swuv sIde-Lo-sIde, genLIv uL
IIrsL, buL gruduuIIv more pronounced. He LIen ruIsed IIs Iunds
up us II IoIdIng un InvIsIbIe purLner und sLurLed duncIng. ¨¡
don`L know wIuL`s come over me. SomeLIIng ubouL LIe
sLurIIgIL. ¡ IeeI IIke duncIng.¨
He sLurLed IummIng u Lune us Ie dunced u sImpIe wuILz
uIong LIe purupeL. AILer u goIng u Iew meusures soIo, Ie Iooked
over Lo ¡IIv. ¨Cure Lo joIn me, ¡IIIun?¨
SIe sIook Ier Ieud, buL AnLIonv nudged Ier Iorwurd.
¨You used Lo Iove Lo dunce,¨ Mux beckoned.
¨SIe suId sIe doesn`L wunL Lo,¨ ¡ InLerjecLed.
¨TIIs doesn`L InvoIve vou,¨ Mux repIIed us Ie IeIped ¡IIv up.
¨¡I vou wunL Lo dunce wILI someone, dunce wILI AnLIonv.¨
Mux und ¡IIv dunced sImpIe sLeps, us mucI us LIe IImILed
spuce on LIe purupeL wouId uIIow. ¡ IeIL mv IeurL LIumpIng
InsIde mv cIesL.
¨Good, now spIn,¨ Mux suId us Ie exLended IIs urm over
¡IIv`s Ieud, keepIng LIeIr Iunds Iocked LogeLIer.
SIe obeved, cureIuIIv roLuLIng IerseII uround wILI precurIous
IooL muneuvers. Mux reeIed Ier buck In und IeId Ier cIose Lo
IImseII. ¡ IeId mv breuLI wIIIe wuLcIIng IL, wunLIng Lo jump

ouL und grub IoId oI Ier, buL IeurIng unv sudden movemenL
wouId LIrow oII Ier buIunce.
¨Good,¨ Mux suId gIeeIuIIv. ¨Now dIp.¨
He suddenIv dIpped Ier buckwurds, oII LIe sIde oI LIe
buIIdIng, beIore wIIppIng Ier buck LIe oLIer wuv und LIrowIng
Ier oII LIe purupeL InLo AnLIonv`s wuILIng urms.
¡ IeL Ioose u dIzzvIng IIurrv oI proIunILIes uL Mux us Ie
sLepped down onLo LIe rooI.
¨TIuL wus Iun,¨ Mux suId, IgnorIng mv ouLbursL. ¨BuL we`re
sLIII no cIoser Lo IeurnIng wIo D`s source Is.¨
¨¡ook,¨ ¡ suId, sLeppIng oII LIe purupeL mvseII. ¨¡IIv Iud
noLIIng Lo do wILI me IIndIng ouL ubouL LIose e-muIIs or
unvLIIng eIse. ¡I IL mukes vou IeeI beLLer, know LIuL sIe Ius
been noLIIng buL u mussIve puIn In mv uss Irom LIe momenL ¡
meL Ier.¨
Mv eves meL ¡IIv`s, wIo suddenIv Iooked vuInerubIe und
Iumun - probubIv Ior LIe IIrsL LIme In LIe veurs ¡`ve deuIL wILI
Ier. TIere wus someLIIng eIse, LIougI, someLIIng more Lo Ier
expressIon LIuL IeIL unnuLuruI Lo see In Ier. TIen ¡ reuIIzed
wIuL IL wus - sIe Iooked gruLeIuI Lo me.
¨BesIdes,¨ ¡ udded, LurnIng buck Lo Mux, ¨vou wouIdn`L
beIIeve Iow ¡ Iound ouL ubouL LIe womun In vour uIrpIune even
II ¡ dId LeII vou.¨
¨Trv me,¨ Ie repIIed wILI u sIrug. ¨You`d be surprIsed Iow
mucI ¡`II beIIeve.¨
¡ InIuIed deepIv. ¨¡ suw IL uII In u dreum.¨
¡ puused Lo see Iow LIev wouId reucL, buL no one suId
unvLIIng. ¡ expIuIned ubouL LIe dreums ¡`d been IuvIng, ubouL
wuLcIIng Mux go InLo LIe uIrpIune und IInd LIe womun IoIdIng
LIe neckIuce. ¡IIv Iooked conIused. AnLIonv Iooked
IncreduIous. Mux Iooked InLrIgued.
8o
¨TIuL`s LIe sLupIdesL LIIng ¡`ve ever Ieurd,¨ AnLIonv suId.
¨Yes,¨ Mux repIIed. ¨Too sLupId Lo be u IIe. ¡I Ie wus goIng Lo
muke someLIIng up, even u mun oI IIs IImILed vIsIon couId come
up wILI u more beIIevubIe sLorv. AL LIe verv IeusL ¡ beIIeve LIuL
LIuL`s wIuL he belietes.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨ ¡ usked.
Mux unswered me wILI unoLIer quesLIon, ¨How Is IL LIuL vou
ure IuvIng dreums ubouL someLIIng LIuL Iuppened Lo me?¨
¨¡ IonesLIv Iuve no Ideu. ¡ dIdn`L even LIInk unvLIIng oI
LIem unLII ¡ suw LIe sLorv In LIe puper. SomeIow ¡ knew us
soon us ¡ suw IL LIuL IL wus LIe sume womun, und ¡ knew
InsLIncLIveIv LIuL mv dreum wus Lrue.¨
Mux sLood sIIenLIv ponderIng LIIs InIormuLIon Ior u good
mInuLe or Lwo, IookIng me over skepLIcuIIv.
¨¡`II muke vou u deuI,¨ Ie IInuIIv suId Lo me. ¨¡I vou cun gIve
me u credIbIe expIunuLIon us Lo wIv vou ure IuvIng LIuL dreum,
LIen ¡ wIII muke uII vour IeguI LroubIes wILI vour job go uwuv. ¡
wIII buck vour sLorv Lo LIe IeLLer.¨
¨WIuL`s u 'credIbIe expIunuLIon?`¨ ¡ usked.
¨SomeLIIng LIuL mukes sense InsLIncLIveIv, someLIIng LIuL
cIIcks LIe wuv vour dreum dId wIen vou reud LIuL urLIcIe.¨
¨And II ¡ do, vou`II jusL muke evervLIIng beLLer IIke thct?¨ ¡
snupped mv IIngers. ¨¡Ike IL`s jusL unoLIer gume Lo vou?¨
¨WIen vou`ve Iud LIe IIIe ¡`ve Iud, vou reuIIze LIe wIoIe
worId Is u gume.¨
¨WIuL Iuppens wIen vou Iose?¨ ¡ cIuIIenged.
Mux pIuced u Iund on mv buck und sLurLed buck Lowurds LIe
door Lo LIe sLuIrweII IeudIng downsLuIrs. ¨TIuL`s rIgIL. You
wunLed Lo know ubouL LIe gume`s Ioser, und ¡ never properIv
unswered. WIv don`L vou usk Jürgen?¨
¡ Iooked uL IIm bIunkIv.
81
¨Your Iobo IrIend wILI LIe orunge IuIr,¨ Ie expIuIned. ¨Yes,
Ie dId In IucL work Ior me.¨
¨WIuL Iuppened Lo IIm?¨ ¡ usked. ¨How dId Ie end up on
LIe sLreeLs?¨
Mux`s smIIe suddenIv Look on u new menuce - subLIe, buL
undenIubIe. ¨He IosL one oI mv gumes, oI course.¨
¡ IeL u sIngIe cIuckIe sIIp pusL mv IIps, us II Ie mIgIL be
jokIng.
He rebuked, ¨VIcLorv Is IoIIow wILIouL LIe possIbIIILv oI
deIeuL. ¡I LIe sLukes uren`L IIgI, II vou`re noL pIuvIng Ior keeps,
LIen IL`s uII jusL musLurbuLorv seII-InduIgence.¨
---
We Iound CoIumbIne wuILIng Ior us downsLuIrs.
¨MIss CoIumbIne,¨ Mux suId. ¨Were vou wuILIng Ior me or
Ior LuII, durk, und snurkv?¨
¨HIm,¨ sIe suId us sIe Iooked Ier urm uround mIne.
¨OI course,¨ Mux suId wILI u nod. ¨And wIv noL? See Iow
Ie rocks LIuL IIpsLer-PIIIIp-MurIowe Iook wILI IIs rumpIed couL
und sIIgILIv uskew IuL.¨ He reucIed ouL Lo Iuss wILI mv IuL u
IILLIe. ¨¡ Iope vou don`L mInd II ¡ wuIk vou Lwo ouL.¨
¨NoL uL uII,¨ ¡ suId, knockIng IIs Iund buck Irom mv Ieud.
AnLIonv und ¡IIv uIso IoIIowed u Iew puces beIInd us Mux
Ied us LIrougI LIe urL purLv Lowurds LIe LIe buck oI LIe buIIdIng.
TIe purLv wus wIndIng down, mosL oI LIe guesLs Iud IeIL und u
Iew oI LIe InsLuIIuLIons were uIreudv comIng down.
We cume upon VIoIeL und Ier scuIpLure, wIIcI wus uImosL
IInIsIed. ¡L wus u womun sILLIng on u rock, IoungIng cusuuIIv
und IookIng uL IerseII In u Iund mIrror. TIere oI course weren`L
IIne deLuIIs, gIven LIe medIu used, buL LIe IIgure wus verv IIuId
8z
In ILs IInes und sLrucLure. ¡L wus beuuLIIuI.
¨Hung on, ¡ wunL Lo jusL see LIIs beIore we go,¨ ¡ suId us ¡
moved Lo joIn LIe group oI peopIe sLIII wuLcIIng VIoIeL work und
udmIrIng LIe IInIsIed producL.
TIe oLIers sLepped In beIInd me. AnLIonv wedged IImseII
beLween some peopIe Lo geL cIoser, sLeppIng on u mun`s IooL In
LIe process.
TIe mun und AnLIonv excIunged some words. TIe oLIer
mun goL In AnLIonv`s Iuce, uppurenLIv rememberIng some
LerrIbIe udvIce Irom IIs cIIIdIood ubouL sLundIng up Lo buIIIes.
AnLIonv pusIed IIm buck IIke u vou wouId swuL uwuv u IIv. TIe
mun cume buck und LrIed Lo sIove AnLIonv, wIo prompLIv IIILed
IIm oII LIe ground und Lossed IIm uwuv IIke u rug doII.
UnIorLunuLeIv, LIe mun Iunded rIgIL on VIoIeL.
¡L uII seemed Lo Iuppen In sIow moLIon, uILIougI ¡ wus
Irozen In pIuce und unubIe Lo reucL. TIe mun IIew InLo Ier wILI
u Lremendous Iorce, knockIng Ier oII Ier sLooI und Iuce-IIrsL InLo
Ier scuIpLure. SIe ended up crumpIed In u Ieup on LIe IIoor on
Lop u pooI oI sIuLLered gIuss und Lorn goId LIreuds.
¡ Ieuped on sLuge Lo IeIp Ier Lo Ier IeeL. SIurds oI gIuss Iud
Lorn LIrougI Ier gown und ImpIunLed LIemseIves In Ier skIn.
SmuII beuds oI red doLLed Ier bodv.
SuddenIv LIere wus uppIuuse. ¡ Lurned Lo see Mux cIuppIng.
OLIers In LIe crowd Iooked uL IIm, und LIen joIned In.
VIoIeL, sLundIng uL mv sIde, Look u bow.
¨To creuLe Is subIIme, us Is Lo desLrov. ¡I we ure noL wIIIIng Lo
desLrov LIe beuuLv we Iuve creuLed, we become sIuves Lo IL,¨
Mux expounded.
¨¡uck LIIs,¨ ¡ rejoIned.

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8=
o. A Good Mcn
TIrougI LIe dIner wIndow ¡ couId see LIe sun begInnIng Lo
peek ouL Irom beIInd LIe mounLuIns, und ¡ grouned, ¨¡uck, Is IL
reuIIv mornIng uIreudv? ¡ need more coIIee.¨
CoIumbIne dIdn`L respond und InsLeud conLInued sIurpIng
LIe IusL vesLIges oI orunge juIce LIrougI LIe sLruw pokIng ouL oI
LIe oversIzed gIuss In IronL oI Ier. TIe sound wus exLremeIv
IrrILuLIng, buL sIe Iud sucI u bIIssed-ouL expressIon LIuL ¡ dIdn`L
Iuve LIe IeurL Lo usk Ier Lo sLop.
¨¡eL me geL LIIs sLruIgIL,¨ sIe suId wIen sIe wus IInuIIv
suLIsIIed LIuL LIe gIuss wus drv. ¨¡I vou cun expIuIn wIv vou`re
IuvIng LIe dreums ubouL LIe deud womun Mux Iound In IIs
pIune, LIen Mux wIII conIIrm vour urLIcIe wus Lrue so no one cun
sue vou unvmore. And so vou`re goIng Lo Lrv Lo IIgure ouL wIo
sIe Is und soIve Ier murder, und vou LIInk LIuL wIII someIow
expIuIn vour dreum.¨
¨TIuL`s ubouL rIgIL,¨ ¡ conIIrmed, LuppIng mv IIngers
resLIessIv on LIe IormIcu LubIe Lop. ¨¡L sounds kIndu cruzv, wIen
vou suv IL IIke LIuL, IuI?¨
¨¡L`s ubsoIuLeIv bonkers,¨ sIe repIIed wILI reIIsI. ¨BuL ¡
86
guess vou cun`L IeIp LIuL. We're cll mcd here. I'm not cll there
musel[.¨
¨CuLe,¨ ¡ smIrked, und LrIed once more In vuIn Lo IIug down
our wuILer so ¡ couId geL u reIIII on mv coIIee.
We were IuvIng breukIusL uL un uII-nIgIL dIner cuIIed Sunnv
SIde Up. CoIumbIne recommended IL; IL wus u popuIur IIpsLer
Iung ouL LIuL used onIv orgunIc IngredIenLs und Iud vegun
menu ILems. TIe booLIs were LInv und crumped, LIe wuIL sLuII
wus snobbv, und LIe décor Iovered somewIere beLween IIpsLer-
IronIc und jusL-pIuIn-Luckv. ¡L wus u IILLIe mucI Lo deuI wILI on
no sIeep. Mv pIun Ior copIng wus Lo cIug down us mucI
susLuInubIv-grown, IuIrIv-Lruded coIIee us ¡ couId IIL InsIde me.
UnIorLunuLeIv, our wuILer - u voung coIIege kId wILI u neck
beurd, gIunL IIesI LunneIs In IIs eurs, und u prucLIced uIr oI
dIsuIIecLIon - seemed more InLeresLed In IIIrLIng wILI LIe
redIeud u Iew LubIes over Irom us wIo Iud cIeurIv IngesLed
enougI ecsLusv Lo kIII un eIepIunL. Her bodv IoIIed ubouL
dreumIIv IIke Ier bones Iud Lurned Lo IImp noodIes, cuusIng Ier
LIIn wIILe-gIrI-dreuds Lo IIop ubouL wIIdIv. And sIe Iud so
mucI meLuI pIerced LIrougI Ier Iuce LIuL ¡ kepL worrvIng LIuL
LIe weIgIL Irom IL uII wus goIng Lo become Loo mucI Ior Ier In
LIIs debIIILuLed sLuLe, und sooner or IuLer sIe`d Ieun Loo Iur
Iorwurd pusL LIe LIppIng poInL und geL puIIed down Iuce-IIrsL
InLo Ier orgunIc ouLmeuI.
¨So wIuL`s vou pIun?¨ CoIumbIne usked, snuppIng me ouL oI
mv duvdreum.
¨AcLuuIIv, ¡ wus IopIng vou couId IeIp me wILI IL,¨ ¡ repIIed.
Her eves IIL up. ¨ReuIIv?¨
---
8;
¡ Iud decIded Lo Luke CoIumbIne InLo mv conIIdence. SIe
seemed sIncere enougI, despILe LIe nuggIng quesLIon us Lo Iow
mucI oI u convenIenL coIncIdence our meeLIng Iud been. BuL
more ImporLunLIv, sIe wus un InsIder In Mux`s worId; sIe knew
uII LIe pIuvers, und Ier InsIgIL couId be InvuIuubIe. BusIcuIIv,
sIe wus u cuIcuIuLed rIsk worLI LukIng.
¡ mude LIIs decIsIon u coupIe Iours eurIIer, uILer we IeIL LIe
wureIouse purLv und decIded Lo wuIk buck InLo Lown LogeLIer.
NeILIer oI us Iud u cur und LIere wus no IuLe nIgIL bus servIce,
us burburIc us LIuL Is Ior u cILv LIIs sIze. Mux oIIered Lo Iuve IIs
drIver gIve us u IIIL, buL LIe Lwo oI us were sLIII so umped up
Irom LIe purLv LIuL LIe Iong wuIk seemed uppeuIIng. AILIougI
IonesLIv, ¡ wus reuIIv ungIIng Ior LIe cIunce Lo press Ier Ior
more InIormuLIon und see II ¡ couId LrusL Ier. And Ior Ier purL, ¡
suspecLed LIuL sIe wouId Iuve ugreed Lo jusL ubouL unvLIIng II
LIe end resuIL wus spendIng jusL u IILLIe more LIme wILI me.
We IeIL LIe IndusLrIuI secLor bv crossIng LIe GuuduIupe
BrIdge over Sun Hermes RIver, LIen decIded Lo Luke LIe Iong
wuv buck und cuL LIrougI LIe purk. Even LIougI IL probubIv
wusn`L LIe suIesL move und ended up LukIng wuv Ionger LIun ¡
expecLed, IL guve Ier LIme Lo LeII me more ubouL IerseII und Ier
IIIe.
¡ IuII expecLed Lo Ieur some ubsurd sLorv ubouL beIng ruIsed
bv woIves or runnIng oII wILI gvpsIes, buL Ior once sIe wus
reIresIIngIv pIuusIbIe.
SIe wus born NuLuIIe McPIerson nIneLeen veurs ugo IusL
AprII. Her purenLs meL wIen Ier IuLIer wus uIreudv In IIs IIILIes
und Ier moLIer wus In Ier IuLe LwenLIes. Jumes wus jusL geLLIng
over LIe end oI IIs second murrIuge, wIIcI wus endIng In
dIvorce. HIs IIrsL wIIe dIed oI IeukemIu. NeILIer murrIuge Iud
produced unv oLIer cIIIdren.
88
NuLuIIe`s moLIer wus LIe duugILer oI one oI Jumes`s busIness
ussocIuLes. TIev meL uL u cIurILv uucLIon Ior McPIerson`s
IounduLIon und Iud u brIeI romunce LIuL ended messIIv.
However, eIgIL monLIs uILer LIuL messv endIng, LIeIr duugILer
wus born. Her moLIer dIed LIree duvs IuLer due Lo
compIIcuLIons LIuL urose durIng Iubor. Jumes McPIerson wus
IeIL Lo cure Ior IIs onIv cIIId uIone, und numed Ier NuLuIIe uILer
Ier moLIer.
SIe rureIv suw Ier IuLIer us u cIIId und wus InsLeud ruIsed bv
u serIes oI nunnIes. SIe wus un ImugInuLIve und gIILed kId wIo
skIpped u grude In eIemenLurv scIooI, buL sIe uIso Iud beIuvIor
probIems. SIe IeIL bored und sLIIIed bv scIooI, prone Lo
duvdreumIng und oILen IuvIng dIIIIcuILv IocusIng on unv sIngIe
Lusk Ior u IengLI oI LIme.
WIIIe In junIor IIgI, sIe cuugIL LIe LIeuLer bug und begun
ucLIng In u IundIuI oI IocuI cIIIdren`s compunIes. Bv LIe LIme
sIe wus LIIrLeen, sIe wus uIreudv In IIgI scIooI und Ier drumu
depurLmenL sLuged un orIgInuI pIuv sIe Iud wrILLen Ior LIeIr
sprIng producLIon. ¡L wus LIev IIrsL LIme LIev Iud done u
sLudenL work. AL uge IIILeen, Ier works were beIng perIormed
IocuIIv bv smuIIer Lroupes. SIe uIso sLurred In munv oI LIem.
SIe gruduuLed IIgI scIooI eurIv und decIded Lo Iocus on
LIeuLer IuII-LIme, buL In LIe LIree veurs sInce Iudn`L veL
munuged Lo mukIng unv Ieudwuv InLo IuvIng u mujor
producLIon.
Nor wus sIe reuIIv sIowIng mucI InLeresL In geLLIng InvoIved
wILI Ier IuLIer`s busIness or pursuIng unv oLIer cureer Ior LIuL
muLLer. ¡n IucL, sIe wus IuIrIv open ubouL beIng generuIIv
uImIess und unmoLIvuLed, wIIcI wus one oI LIe mujor IucLors
conLrIbuLIng Lo LIe sLruIned reIuLIonsIIp wILI Ier IuLIer.
¡n IucL, prucLIcuIIv LIe onIv LIIng LIe Lwo oI LIem Iud In

common unvmore wus Mux, wIom sIe meL wIen Ie cume Lo see
one oI Ier sIows. Her IuLIer mIsInLerpreLed Mux`s InLeresL In
Ier us beIng sexuuI und, IeurIng Mux`s repuLuLIon us
unrepenLunL mun-sIuL, LrIed Lo keep LIe Lwo oI LIem upurL.
CoIumbIne pIcked up on LIIs vIbe ImmedIuLeIv, so oI course sIe
mude u poInL Lo spend us mucI LIme wILI IIm us possIbIe, und
LIe Lwo oI LIem soon becume cIose IrIends.
---
¨BuL beIore ¡ IeL vou In on uII LIe deLuIIs,¨ ¡ conLInued, buck
uL LIe dIner, ¨¡ need Lo muke sure vou reuIIze exucLIv wIuL`s
goIng on Iere.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨ sIe usked und IncIIned Ier Ieud,
InLrIgued.
¨WeII, Ior sLurLers, do vou know wIv evervone Is so upseL bv
mv urLIcIe?¨
SIe sIook Ier Ieud und conIessed, ¨Sorrv, ¡ don`L reuIIv reud
vour newspuper. Or unv newspuper, Ior LIuL muLLer.¨
¨¡uIr enougI,¨ ¡ repIIed. ¨¡n u nuLsIeII, ¡ busIcuIIv uccuse
severuI powerIuI busInessmen oI brIbIng und LIreuLenIng cILv
oIIIcIuIs InLo gIvIng LIem IuL governmenL conLrucLs.
BusInessmen IIke Mux. And vour IuLIer.¨
¨OI,¨ sIe responded wILI umusemenL. ¨So ¡`m guessIng
LIuL`s wIv vou were geLLIng LIe coId sIouIder uL vour sIsLer`s
weddIng, rIgIL?¨
¨MosLIv. A IoL oI LIem jusL IIuL ouL personuIIv IuLe me
unvwuvs, buL LIe urLIcIe dIdn`L IeIp LIIngs mucI.¨
¨¡`d ImugIne noL,¨ sIe cIuckIed. ¨So LeII me more, ¡`m
InLrIgued. WIuL specIIIcuIIv dId vour urLIcIe suv?¨
¨WeII oI course LIe Iocus wus Mux, wIo goL LIe conLrucL Lo
¤o
provIde cILvwIde Iree wI-II, wIIcI oI course Is generuLIng Iuge
ud revenue Ior IIm us weII us subscrIpLIon Iees Irom peopIe
wIIIIng Lo puv Ior IusLer, ud-Iree servIce. ¡ Iuve e-muIIs beLween
IIm und cILv oIIIcIuIs, IncIudIng LIe muvor`s cIIeI oI sLuII und
LIe cILv udmInIsLruLor, wIere Ie mukes some preLLv severe
LIreuLs II LIev don`L cIoose Abrusux. And wIen ¡ suv LIreuLs,
¡`m LuIkIng boLI personuI und proIessIonuI - und some jusL
bIzurre, IorrIIvIng sIIL.¨
¨¡Ike wIuL?¨ sIe usked, InLrIgued.
¨He goL so mud uL one cILv sLuIIer wIo wouIdn`L reLurn IIs
cuIIs LIuL Ie LIreuLened Lo Iuve LIe guv IIred und bIuckIIsLed,
Iuve IIs Iouse IorecIosed, IIs Leenuge duugILer vIoIuLed, und IIs
peL cuL IIuved uIIve.¨
CoIumbIne IuugIed und sIook Ier Ieud. ¨¡`d IIke Lo LIInk uL
IeusL one oI LIose wus un empLv LIreuL. So wIo eIse dId vour
urLIcIe menLIon?¨
¨AsLerIon Records MunugemenL, wIo won LIe conLrucL Ior
LIe cILv`s records wureIousIng und dIgILuI urcIIvIng. OI course,
LIev won LIe conLrucL becuuse LIev were LIe onIv ones gIven LIe
cIunce Lo bId. ¡ncIdenLuIIv, LIeIr C¡O Iud recenLIv purcIused
gIILs Ior severuI cILv councII members, IncIudIng u Ionevmoon Lo
AsIu Ior u newIv-murrIed member, un orIgInuI PIcusso Ior LIe
councII`s resIdenL urL-buII, und even puvIng Lo remodeI LIe vIce
muvor`s kILcIen. ¡ wus gIven copIes oI e-muIIs Irom un AsLerIon
rep Lo cILv sLuII wILI deLuIIed InsLrucLIons on Iow Lo IIde LIe
source oI LIe gIILs.
¨TIen LIere wus ¡nspIruLecI, wIo mude mIIIIons on LIeIr
conLrucL Lo compIeLeIv redo LIe neLwork InIrusLrucLure In cILv
IuII un oLIer cILv oIIIces. BuL LIev won LIe conLrucL onIv In LIe
second round oI voLIng. AILer LIe IIrsL round, LIe councII
member wIo cusL LIe decIdIng voLe uguInsL LIem wus recuIIed
¤1
Irom oIIIce bv u vIcIous, weII-Iunded cumpuIgn. No one knew
Iow u LInv grussrooLs neIgIborIood commILLee beIInd LIe recuII
wus ubIe Lo ruIse LIuL kInd oI monev, buL LIen ¡ Lurned up
severuI e-muIIs Lo LIe new councII member suggesLIng Ie wouId
be weII-served bv LukIng u more umenubIe sLunce on
¡nspIruLecI`s proposuI.
¨And IInuIIv,¨ ¡ IesILuLed u IILLIe, ¨vour IuLIer successIuIIv
IobbIed LIe cILv Lo InvesL mIIIIons In redeveIopmenL monev In
ureus wIere Ie owns u IoL oI Iund, mukIng LIe properLv vuIues
und LIe renLs LIuL Ie couId cIurge skvrockeL. AguIn, e-muIIs
beLween vour IuLIer`s IobbvIsLs und cILv oIIIcIuIs conLuIn u IosL
oI LIInIv-veIIed und noL-even-LIInIv-veIIed LIreuLs. Your IuLIer
Ius been u kIng muker In LIIs cILv Ior decudes. AII Len sILLIng
councII members und LIe muvor won LIeIr seuLs wILI IIs
buckIng. You don`L Ignore LIreuLs Irom u mun IIke LIuL.
¨TIose ure LIe IIgIIIgILs, uL IeusL.¨
¡ puused Ior u momenL, unsure Iow CoIumbIne wus goIng Lo
reucL.
¨Yuv, puncukes,¨ sIe sung.
¡ Iooked up Lo see LIuL our wuILer Iud IInuIIv drugged
IImseII uwuv Irom IIs Ium-IIsLed uLLempLs Lo puII some cruncIv
grunoIu LuII Iong enougI Lo brIng our Iood. He seL down u
mounLuIn oI buLLermIIk puncukes In IronL oI CoIumbIne und u
bucon-und-egg muIIIn sundwIcI In IronL oI me. CoIumbIne
proceeded Lo drown Ier pIuLe In mupIe svrup.
¨Hev, do vou LIInk vou couId see vour wuv Lo LossIng u IILLIe
coIIee InLo LIIs mug wIIIe vou`re over Iere? ¡`m sure sIe won`L
mInd II vou`re gone jusL u IILLIe Ionger,¨ ¡ udded, poInLIng uL LIe
redIeud, wIo Iud pIcked up u pIncI oI Ier coId, congeuIIng
ouLmeuI und sLurLed rubbIng IL In Ier IIngerLIps, no doubL
LrIppIng on LIe wuv ILs Iumpv, gruInv LexLure IeIL uguInsL Ier
¤z
skIn.
TIe wuILer IeIL In u IuII und mercIIuIIv Ieuded Ior LIe poL oI
coIIee sILLIng on u wurmer beIInd LIe counLer.
¨You sIouIdn`L be so meun Lo peopIe, or so judgmenLuI,¨
CoIumbIne cIIded genLIv us we wuLcIed IIm go.
¡ sucked on mv LeeLI und brIeIIv consIdered u coupIe snuppv
rejoInders, buL decIded uguInsL LIem. ¨YeuI, ¡ know,¨ ¡ sIgIed.
¨¡L`s jusL LIese preLenLIous IuckIng drones wILI uII LIe sIIL
sLIckIng ouL oI LIeIr skIn, IL`s so pIonev now, IL`s de riqeur, IIke
counLer-cuILure Is jusL unoLIer unIIorm Lo weur.¨
¨¡ LIInk IL`s neuL,¨ sIe sIrugged. ¨¡L`s IIke vou`re LukIng
conLroI oI vour own bodv, LurnIng IL InLo someLIIng new,
someLIIng beLLer, noL jusL pussIveIv uccepLIng wIuL vou`ve been
gIven. Huven`L vou ever wunLed Lo be someone eIse?¨
¡ roIIed mv eves In unswer jusL us LIe wuILer reLurned.
Once Ie IInIsIed reIIIIIng mv coIIee und CoIumbIne Iud
munuged Lo cIoke down Ier IIrsL ImpossIbIv Iurge IorkIuI oI
puncuke, sIe eugerIv usked, ¨So wIuL do vou wunL me Lo do Lo
IeIp wILI vour pIun?¨
¨TIere ure u Iew LIIngs ¡ wus IopIng vou couId expIuIn Ior
me,¨ ¡ repIIed, LIen dug un enveIope ouL oI mv couL pockeL und
LIen IuId IL ouL on LIe LubIe. ¡L wus bIue und sLumped wILI LIe
crown-und-gIobe svmboI In sIIver IoII, jusL IIke LIe one ¡`d
receIved LIe mornIng oI Jennv`s weddIng.
¨WIuL cun vou LeII me ubouL LIIs?¨
CoIumbIne pIcked up LIe enveIope. ¨WeII LIuL`s LIe svmboI
oI LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv, IIke Mux LoId vou.¨
¨YeuI, buL wIuL exucLIv does LIuL meun?¨ ¡ pressed. ¨WIuL
Is LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv?¨
¨¡L`s busIcuIIv u socIuI cIub Ior LIe rIcIesL oI LIe rIcI. ¡L
sLurLed wuv buck wIen LIe cILv wus Iounded us un excuse Ior
¤¤
rIcI oId men Lo geL uwuv Irom LIeIr wIves und geL drunk. Now
LIev IeL In gIrIs, und uII LIe voung LecI mIIIIonuIres Iuve
dropped LIe medIun uge u good IuII-cenLurv or so, buL LIe Ideu
Is preLLv mucI jusL LIe sume - rIcI peopIe sILLIng uround
LogeLIer Lo LuIk ubouL Iow mucI beLLer LIev ure LIun evervone
eIse.¨
¡ nodded Lo LIe enveIope In Ier Iunds. ¨¡ook InsIde.¨
SIe opened LIe unseuIed IIup und puIIed ouL LIe sIeeL oI
wIILe puper InsIde. TIe puge wus Ieuded ¨THE H¡GHWATER
SOC¡ETY¨ und conLuIned u IIsL oI numes wILI wIuL uppeured Lo
be LILIes or posILIons. TIe LILIes were uII Luken Irom members oI
u kIng`s courL - Steucrd, Chcplcin, Seneshccl, Cup-becrer.
CoIumbIne`s IuLIer wus IIsLed us us Chcmberlcin. TIe resL oI
LIe numes were uII promInenL poIILIcuI und busIness Ieuders,
mosL oI wIom were connecLed Lo LIe scunduIs In mv urLIcIe. AL
LIe verv Lop oI LIe IIsL, Iowever, wus, ¨DvIun MuxweII - Iool.¨
CoIumbIne nodded Ier Ieud us sIe sIIpped LIe puper buck
InLo LIe enveIope. ¨TIose ure LIeIr oIIIcers. WIere dId vou geL
LIIs?¨
¨AbouL Lwo weeks ugo, wIIIe ¡ wus sLIII workIng on mv
urLIcIe, ¡ goL u cuII Irom u womun cIuImIng Lo Iuve InIormuLIon
ubouL LIe e-muIIs ¡ Iud been gIven - wIIcI cuugIL mv uLLenLIon
becuuse uL LIuL poInL no one knew ubouL LIem buL me und mv
source. So ¡ ugreed Lo meeL Ier, even LIougI sIe wouIdn`L LeII
me Ier nume or Iow sIe wus connecLed Lo mv sLorv.
¨Anvwuvs, ¡ sIowed up uL LIe cuIé wIere sIe suId sIe`d be,
buL sIe never sIowed. ¡ wuILed Ior u IILLIe over un Iour beIore ¡
IInuIIv guve up, buL wIen ¡ goL up Lo Ieuve, ¡ noLIced someone
Iud sIIpped LIIs enveIope InLo mv compuLer bug.¨
¨WeIrd,¨ CoIumbIne repIIed us Ier eves grew bIgger, cIeurIv
enjovIng LIe cIouk-und-dugger eIemenLs oI mv sLorv.
¤q
¡ reucIed InLo mv couL uguIn und puIIed ouL u second
muLcIIng bIue enveIope und pussed IL ucross LIe LubIe Ior Ier
InspecLIon.
¨TIIs one sIowed up uL mv oIIIce ¡rIduv mornIng. TIe
urLIcIe IL reIerences Iud Lo do wILI u deud womun beIng Iound In
u dILcI on LIe sIde oI LIe IIgIwuv,¨ ¡ expIuIned. ¨¡n mv dreum,
LIe deud womun In Mux`s uIrpIune wus IoIdIng u rubv neckIuce
wILI LIIs sume crown-und-gIobe svmboI eLcIed on IL. TIuL`s
Iow ¡ knew IL Iud Lo be LIe sume womun; IL wus Loo mucI oI u
coIncIdence oLIerwIse.¨
¡ couId LeII Irom CoIumbIne`s expressIon LIuL LIe wIeeIs
were LurnIng. ¨So does LIuL meun LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv wus
responsIbIe Ior kIIIIng Ier? TIen uguIn, sIe couId uIso Iuve
been u member. BuL LIen wIv wouId LIev Ieuve LIe neckIuce In
Ier Iund?¨ sIe usked excILedIv, Ier mInd rucIng LIrougI LIe
ImpIIcuLIons.
¨TIose ure uII possIbIIILIes,¨ ¡ ugreed. ¨BuL wIuLever LIe
cuse, one LIIng`s Ior sure - boLI LIe neckIuce und LIe bodv ILseII
were IeIL deIIberuLeIv Ior Mux Lo IInd. Someone wus sendIng
IIm u messuge. WIIcI Is LIe second LIIng ¡ wunLed Lo usk vou
ubouL - und ¡ know Ie`s vour IrIend, so LIIs Is goIng Lo be
sensILIve, buL do vou know oI unv enemIes Mux mIgIL Iuve?¨
CoIumbIne sLured sIIenLIv uL me In wIde-eved umuzemenL Ior
u momenL, und LIen erupLed InLo IuugILer.
¨YeuI, vou need u IIsL? TIere`s u pIone book over bv LIe
buLIrooms LIuL`d gIve vou u good sLurL.¨
¡ roIIed mv eves Lo IeL Ier know ¡ wus noL umused.
¨¡ook, vou don`L geL us rIcI und successIuI us Mux wILIouL
sLeppIng on more LIun vour IuIr sIure oI Loes. And Lo be IonesL,
Ie`s InvoIved In u IoL LIIngs LIuL uren`L exucLIv on LIe up-und-up.
TIe beLLer quesLIon Isn`L wIo ure IIs enemIes, IL`s uho'd be
¤=
dumb enouqh to cctucllu tru cnd tcle him on?¨
¨¡s Ie reuIIv LIuL dungerous?¨ ¡ usked.
¨He`s rIcI, brIIIIunL, und compIeLeIv socIopuLIIc. ¡L doesn`L
geL unv more dungerous LIun LIuL.¨
¨¡ LIougIL Ie wus vour IrIend.¨
¨He Is, und ¡ Iove IIm IIke broLIer,¨ CoIumbIne InsIsLed.
¨BuL LIere ure cerLuIn LIIngs ¡ know enougI noL Lo usk ubouL.¨
¨Some IrIendsIIp,¨ ¡ scoIIed, LIen ImmedIuLeIv regreLLed
suvIng IL.
¨TIere vou go beIng judgmenLuI uguIn,¨ sIe suId wIIIe
wuvIng Ier svrup-smeured knIIe uL me. ¨NoL evervone cun be us
cooI und vIrLuous us vou, Mr. Punk-us-¡uck JournuIIsL,
Crusuder Ior TruLI und JusLIce.¨
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨¡ never cIuImed Lo be vIrLuous. ¡`m noL u
good mun.¨
SIe dIdn`L respond Lo LIIs, und InsLeud jusL sIoveIed LIe IusL
IorkIuI oI puncuke InLo Ier mouLI.
¡ sIook mv Ieud In usLonIsImenL. ¨How dId u IILLIe LIIng
IIke vou munuge Lo euL uII LIuL?¨
¨Don`L IeL mv peLILe sLuLure IooI vou, LIere`s u IoL more Lo me
LIun meeLs LIe eve.¨ SIe wInked. ¨1udqe me bu mu size, do
uou?¨
¨You`re sucI u dork,¨ ¡ suId.
SIe goL up Lo use LIe resLroom wIIIe ¡ scooped up LIe Lwo
bIue enveIopes und sLuIIed LIem buck InLo mv juckeL. TIen ¡
Look ouL mv noLebook und joLLed down u Iew snIppeLs Irom our
conversuLIon uIong wILI u coupIe LIIngs LIuL sLood ouL In mv
memorv Irom IusL nIgIL:
Croun & Globe = Hiqhucter, ¨hou theu [ind ecch other¨
Mcx doesn't trust Lilu, thinls she is mu source
¤6
Scint Anthonu: ct [lophouse loolinq [or ¨Cobb¨
¡ underIIned LIe IusL word LwIce, LIen sLusIed LIe noLebook
und wenL up Lo LIe counLer Lo seLLIe LIe bIII. As ¡ puId, ¡ noLIced
LIe wuILer IookIng dIsuppoInLedIv uL someLIIng beIInd me. ¡
gIunced over mv sIouIder jusL In LIme Lo see LIe redIeud
wuIkIng ouL LIe IronL door.
¡ smIrked smugIv Lo mvseII und sLurLed IookIng over LIe
IIvers IuId ouL on LIe counLer Lo puss LIe LIme wIIIe ¡ wuILed Ior
CoIumbIne. ¡L wus LIe usuuI punk sIow IuII-sIeeLs, cIeup
bIuck-und-wIILe zInes, und poIILIcuI IeuIIeLs. TIumbIng LIrougI
LIem, ¡ cume ucross u smuII sLuck oI IuII-sIeeLs LIuL ¡
recognIzed us LIe sume one LIuL LIe bum Iunded me on LIe
¡IgIL RuII: You Are ßeinq Lied To... Trust Us.
WIen CoIumbIne reLurned, ¡ couId LeII sIe Iud someLIIng on
Ier mInd.
¨TIere`s someLIIng ¡ jusL LIougIL oI, IL mIgIL be reIevunL or
IL mIgIL noL be,¨ sIe suId us we sLepped ouLsIde.
¨WIuL Is IL?¨
¨Your IIsL, IL suId LIuL Mux Is LIe '¡ooI` - do vou know wIuL
LIuL meuns?¨
¡ sIook mv Ieud.
¨TIe ¡ooI Is LIe gumes musLer,¨ sIe expIuIned. ¨He
orgunIzes LIe enLerLuInmenL. And noL evervone In LIe group Is
Iuppv wILI LIe wuv Mux Is runnIng LIe gumes. He Ius u
Lendencv Lo ruIse LIe sLukes, pusI LIe boundurIes. He IIkes
wuLcIIng Iow peopIe reucL wIen LIev`re bucked InLo u corner.¨
¨YeuI, ¡ noLIced,¨ ¡ suId.
¨¡ wus jusL LIInkIng LIuL becuuse oI LIe neckIuce wILI LIe
svmboI, muvbe LIe deud womun Iud someLIIng Lo do wILI
Mux`s gumes.¨
¤;
¨YeuI, LIuL`s reuIIv good,¨ ¡ suId und IIsIed ouL mv noLebook
Lo wrILe LIuL down.
¡ noLIced u cub comIng up LIe sLreeL, so ¡ wuved IL over und
LoId CoIumbIne IL wus Ior Ier.
¨You`re noL comIng?¨ sIe usked.
¡ guve Ier un upoIogeLIc IuII-smIIe. ¨¡L`s been u Iong nIgIL,
und ¡ need Lo geL Iome und geL some resL.¨
¨WeII, ¡ couId go wILI vou,¨ sIe oIIered IopeIuIIv. ¨¡ don`L
reuIIv Iuve unvLIIng Lo do LIIs uILernoon unvwuvs. ¡ couId jusL
Iung ouL wIIIe vou nup, und LIen we couId go ouL Lo dInner
wIen vou wuke up.¨
¡ opened mv mouLI Lo unswer, buL sIe cuL me oII beIore ¡
Iud u cIunce. ¨No, ¡ geL IL. ¡L`s okuv.¨
Her cub drove oII, und ¡ sLurLed wuIkIng down LIe sLreeL Lo
IInd unoLIer one. AbouL u bIock uwuv, ¡ cume ucross LIe
redIeud Irom LIe dIner sILLIng on u bus bencI, wuvIng Ier Iunds
sIowIv buck und IorLI In IronL oI Ier Iuce und sLurIng uL LIem us
II mesmerIzed.
¡ suL nexL Lo Ier. SIe Iooked up und smIIed, buL dIdn`L suv u
LIIng.
¨You Iook IIke vou couId use some IeIp,¨ ¡ suId.
SIe smIIed wIdeIv und nodded. ¡ wus sure LIe smIIe wus
meunL Lo be u sIeepIsI grIn, buL sIe Iucked IL up und spreud IL
eur-Lo-eur LIe wuv peopIe do wIen LIev`re sLoned.
JusL LIen, ¡ spoLLed unoLIer LuxI und IIugged IL down. As IL
puIIed up In IronL oI us, ¡ goL up und IeId LIe door open Ior Ier.
¨Come on, ¡`II IeIp vou geL Iome,¨ ¡ LoId Ier.
SIe beumed upprecIuLIveIv und goL In. ¡ wuLcIed wILI
suLIsIucLIon us Ier uss mude u perIecL IeurL sIupe wIen sIe benL
over, LIen IoIIowed Ier In und guve LIe cubbIe mv uddress.
¡ never cIuImed Lo be u good mun.
¤8
:o. Ccutioncru Tcle
¡ wus IuLe comIng InLo work Monduv mornIng und run InLo
SIuron In LIe IronL Iobbv. SIe wus escorLIng ouL Lwo women ¡
dIdn'L recognIze, weII dressed mIddIe-uged proIessIonuI-Lvpes In
punLs suILs.
SIe reucIed u Iund ouL Lo grub mv sIouIder und sLop me us ¡
LrIed Lo sIInk pusL. ¨Ms. SIngI, Ms. PuImer, LIIs Is DeduIus
QueLzuI. He`s LIe mun vou Iuve Lo LIunk Ior LIe smuII IorLune
In IeguI Iees vour IIrm Is cIurgIng LIIs newspuper.¨
¨You`re sLIII IeLLIng IIm work Iere?¨ one oI LIe women usked
IncreduIousIv.
¨Worl's muvbe Loo sLrong u Lerm wIen vou`re LuIkIng ubouL
D,¨ SIuron repIIed.
¨He smeIIs IIke Ie`s been drInkIng,¨ LIe oLIer womun udded.
¨He does Indeed,¨ SIuron nodded.
¡ broke Iree oI SIuron`s grIp. ¨ReuIIv, IudIes, ¡`d Iove Lo sLuv
Iere und Luke purL In wIuLever menopuuse-upuIoozu vou Iuve
goIng on, buL ¡ Iuve ImporLunL journuIIsLv-Lvpe LIIngs Lo geL Lo.¨
¡ Ieuded InsIde, mude sLruIgIL Ior mv desk, und sLurLed
seurcIIng LIrougI mv IIIes Ior u menLIon oI unvone numed Cobb
¤¤
In connecLIon wILI Abrusux or LIe oLIer compunIes reIuLed Lo
mv urLIcIe.
NoLIIng wus comIng up. None oI LIe Lop bruss were numed
Cobb, nor wus unvone wIo mIgIL Iuve reuson Lo IoId u grudge,
IIke recenL IuvoIIs.
¨¡uckIng InsubordInuLe busLurd,¨ ¡ grumbIed us ¡ Lupped
ungrIIv on mv IupLop. ¨WIv don`L vou ever LeII me unvLIIng
useIuI?¨
¨¡unnv, ¡ wus jusL ubouL Lo suv LIe sume LIIng.¨ ¡ Iooked up
Lo IInd SIuron IeunIng uguInsL mv desk. ¨PIeuse LeII me vou dId
someLIIng producLIve over LIe weekend.¨
¨As u muLLer oI IucL ¡ dId,¨ ¡ repIIed wILIouL IookIng up Irom
mv IupLop. ¨¡ Iud u nIce IILLIe cIuL wILI DvIun MuxweII IImseII.
SweII guv, exceIIenL dIcLIon, vou`d IIke IIm.¨
¨And...?¨
¨We mude u deuI,¨ ¡ unswered. ¨¡ IeIp IIm Iook InLo
someLIIng, und In reLurn Ie`II buck up LIe sLorv.¨
¡ decIded LIuL muvbe Cobb wus someone connecLed Lo Mux
Irom LIe pusL, so ¡ Iogged onLo LIe Morninq-Stcr onIIne
urcIIves Lo see II LIe nume popped up In unv oId urLIcIes ubouL
Abrusux.
¨Doesn`L seem enLIreIv eLIIcuI,¨ SIuron mused.
¨Do vou ucLuuIIv gIve u sIIL?¨ ¡ sIoL buck, keepIng mv eves
Iocked on LIe screen.
¨NoL reuIIv,¨ sIe repIIed. ¨As Iong us vou`re sure Ie`II IoId up
IIs end oI LIe deuI.¨
¨HoIv IuckIng sIIL,¨ ¡ suId, mv juw droppIng.
Mv seurcI oI LIe urcIIves reLurned dozens on urLIcIes. BuL
LIe nume Cobb wusn`L sIowIng up In LIe urLIcIes LIemseIves, IL
wus In LIe bv-IIne.
¨Huve vou ever Ieurd oI u reporLer numed PuLrIck Cobb wIo
1oo
worked Ior LIe Morninq-Stcr buck In LIe nIneLIes?¨ ¡ usked,
IookIng up Irom LIe screen.
SIe IoIded Ier urms over Ier cIesL und sIgIed. ¨Are vou
serIous? You`ve never Ieurd oI PuLrIck Cobb?¨
¡ sIook mv Ieud.
¨And vou cIuIm Lo be journuIIsL,¨ sIe muLLered. ¨He`s u
cuuLIonurv LuIe. ¡I vou'd ever ucLuuIIv sIown up Lo unv oI vour
journuIIsm cIusses uL coIIege, vou`d Iuve Ieurd uII ubouL IIm.¨
¡ sIrugged. ¨¡ never reuIIv suw LIe poInL, so cun vou jusL gIve
me LIe CIIIIs NoLes versIon?¨
¨He wus one oI LIe besL, mosL IeurIess InvesLIguLIve reporLers
¡`ve ever meL, buck wIen LIe Morninq-Stcr used Lo be u reuI
newspuper InsLeud oI u sud corporuLe Iup dog. He wus uIso u
good IrIend,¨ sIe expIuIned.
¨So wIuL Iuppened? WIv`s Ie u cuuLIonurv LuIe?¨
¨AbouL Len or eIeven veurs ugo, Ie wroLe un urLIcIe uIIegIng
LIuL LIe US mIIILurv wus seIIIng urms Lo rIgIL wIng purumIIILurv
groups In CoIumbIu. ¡n IL, Ie quoLed un unnumed source, u
commIssIoned urmv oIIIcer, wIo cIuImed Lo Iuve been ordered
bv IIs superIors Lo dIsLrIbuLe LIe weupons Lo LIe deuLI squuds
LIrougI IIs soIdIers. TIev were supposed Lo be LIere LruInIng
LIe IegILImuLe CoIumbIun urmv. AILer LIe urLIcIe wus pubIIsIed,
IL cume ouL LIuL LIe quoLes were bogus und LIe oIIIcer never
exIsLed.¨
¨OI, ¡ do remember IeurIng ubouL LIuL,¨ ¡ suId. ¨BuL dIdn`L
LIe buIk oI IIs sLorv IuLer Lurn ouL Lo be Lrue?¨
¨¡L dIdn`L muLLer, bv LIuL LIme, Cobb Iud uIreudv been
dIscredILed und IIred Irom LIe puper. TIe rIgIL wIng IumbusLed
IIm us u prIme exumpIe oI LIe IIberuI medIu ugendu run umok,
und LIe IeIL wIng Lurned on IIm Lo prove wIuL good, puLrIoLIc
AmerIcuns LIev were. TIe nuLIonuI medIu Lurned on IIm und
1o1
vIIIIIed IIm. AL IIrsL Ie LrIed Lo deIend IImseII, suvIng Ie Iud
been mIsIed, buL uILer u wIIIe Ie guve up und jusL Iuded uwuv. ¡
run InLo IIm ubouL Iour veurs ugo. He wus u drunk, doIng odd
jobs und unubIe Lo IoId onLo unv sLeudv work. He wus uIso
compIeLeIv purunoId und deIusIonuI, convInced LIuL IIs IuII Irom
gruce Iud been u deIIberuLe pIoL orcIesLruLed uguInsL IIm.¨
¨OrcIesLruLed bv wIom?¨ ¡ usked.
¨He dIdn`L suv Ior sure,¨ sIe suId, LIen puused, us II debuLIng
wIeLIer sIe sIouId conLInue. ¨¡L`s Iunnv vou sIouId brIng IIm
up, LIougI. AL LIe sume LIme LIuL Ie broke LIe CoIumbIun
sLorv, Ie Iud unoLIer on LIe buck burner. ¡L wus u pIece ubouL
Iumun LruIIIckIng, gIrIs beIng brougIL In Irom ImpoverIsIed
counLrIes Lo work In LIe sex IndusLrv - souLIeusL AsIu, ¡uLIn
AmerIcu, und LIe EusLern BIoc. TIere Iud been u bIg poIIce ruId
on some broLIeI; uII LIe gIrIs workIng LIere were undocumenLed
und busIcuIIv beIng IeId us prIsoners. Cobb wus doIng some
dIggIng Ior u IoIIow up, und ¡ remember IIm LeIIIng me ubouL u
Iew peopIe In IIgI pIuces wIo mIgIL Iuve been connecLed. One
wus un up-und-comIng voung execuLIve wIose InLerneL sLurLup
Iud onIv been uround u veur or Lwo buL wus uIreudv mukIng
wuves In u bIg wuv. Cure Lo guess wIo?¨
¨¡uck,¨ ¡ grouned, noL needIng Lo suv IIs nume ouL Ioud Ior
conIIrmuLIon.
¨WIv do vou wunL Lo know ubouL Cobb, unvwuvs? ¡s LIIs
purL oI vour Iuvor Ior MuxweII?¨ sIe usked.
¨¡ LIInk ¡ meL IIm,¨ ¡ suId. ¨Do vou Iuve u pIcLure oI IIm?¨
SIuron sLood LIere moLIonIess, sLudvIng me skepLIcuIIv.
¨YeuI,¨ sIe repIIed. ¨¡eL`s go cIeck mv IIIes.¨
¡ IoIIowed Ier Lo Ier oIIIce, wIere sIe opened u IIIe cubIneL
und LIumbed LIrougI IL, LIen puIIed ouL u IoIder. ¡L wus IuII oI
pIoLogrupIs und newspuper cIIppIngs ubouL Cobb, wIIcI sIe
1oz
IuId ouL on LIe desk und pIcked LIrougI Lo IInd u cIeur Ieud
sIoL.
TIe InLervenIng veurs Iud noL been kInd, Ior sure, buL IL wus
unmIsLukubIv LIe mun Irom LIe IIopIouse.
¨TIuL`s IIm,¨ ¡ suId, Luken ubuck. ¨He`s LIe guv wIo IIL me
wILI LIe busebuII buL IusL week.¨
¨WIuL?¨ SIuron sIook Ier Ieud, LrvIng Lo wrup Ier bruIn
uround LIe ImpIIcuLIons. ¨WIuL does PuLrIck Cobb Iuve Lo do
wILI vour sLorv?¨
SIe Iooked Lo me Ior u response, buL mv uLLenLIon wus
dIverLed Lo unoLIer pIoLo on SIuron`s desk. TIIs one sIowed
Ier und Cobb IIned up on u sLuge uIong wILI u coupIe oLIers
IoIdIng pIuques. AnoLIer row oI peopIe sLood beIInd LIem on u
sIIgILIv eIevuLed pIuLIorm. ¡L wus LIe womun uL LIe Iur rIgIL oI
LIe buck row wIo Iud cuugIL mv uLLenLIon.
¨WIo Is LIIs?¨ ¡ usked, IoIdIng up LIe pIcLure.
SIuron squInLed. ¨TIuL`s JucIndu Ngo. SIe used Lo be LIe
Ieud oI Apex CompuLers. TIIs wus Luken wIen Cobb und ¡ won
¡eInmun JournuIIsm ¡eIIowsIIps. Apex wus one oI LIe
sponsors, und sIe wus u judge.¨
¨SIe`s deud,¨ ¡ suId.
¨YeuI, sIe dIed In u bouLIng uccIdenL severuI veurs buck,¨
SIuron repIIed.
¨No, sIe dIed IusL week,¨ ¡ correcLed. ¨TIev Iound Ier bodv
In u dILcI uL LIe sIde oI LIe IIgIwuv.¨
¨¡ LIougIL LIuL wus u vugrunL,¨ SIuron objecLed. ¨WIv do
vou LIInk IL`s Ier?¨
¨Hung on,¨ ¡ suId, puIIIng mv pIone ouL Lo cuII NIck. WIen
Ie unswered, ¡ swILcIed IL Lo speuker so SIuron couId Ieur.
¨Hev, IL`s me. You remember Iow vou suId someone on LIe
Iorce LIougIL Ie recognIzed LIe womun In LIe dILcI us LIe Ieud
1o¤
oI some compuLer compunv? Wus LIe womun Ie wus LIInkIng
oI numed JucIndu Ngo?¨
¨AcLuuIIv, ¡ LIInk LIuL wus IL,¨ Ie conceded IesILunLIv.
¨WIv?¨
¨¡ong sLorv, ¡ don`L Iuve LIme Lo go InLo IL now. Do vou LIInk
vou cun geL me u pIcLure oI LIe bodv, IIke jusL Luke u pIoLo oI Ier
Iuce wILI vour pIone or someLIIng?¨ ¡ usked.
¨TIev cremuLed Ier uIreudv,¨ Ie repIIed, ¨buL ¡'II Iux vou
some oI LIe pIoLos LIe medIcuI exumIner Look.¨
¨YeuI, LIuL`II work,¨ ¡ suId. ¨TIunks Ior vour IeIp, NIck.
And ¡ IuLe Lo suv LIIs, buL ¡ kIndu need LIem ASAP.¨
¨You uIwuvs do,¨ Ie grouned beIore IungIng up.
¡ Iooked buck Lo SIuron, wIo wus sIukIng Ier Ieud In
dIsbeIIeI. ¨WIuL LIe IeII Is goIng on Iere?¨
¡ expIuIned In us IILLIe deLuII us ¡ couId munuge ubouL LIe
bodv Iound In Mux`s uIrpIune und LIe nuLure oI mv deuI wILI
Mux, convenIenLIv IeuvIng ouL LIe bIL ubouL me dreumIng LIe
wIoIe LIIng. ¡ uIso recounLed mv vIsIL Lo LIe IIopIouse und mv
run-In wILI Cobb. And LIougI IL wusn`L ImmedIuLeIv cIeur Iow,
¡ wus sure LIuL LIe Lwo were someIow reIuLed.
¨DId unvone uL LIe IIopIouse know wIuL Cobb wus doIng
LIere?¨ SIuron usked.
¨¡ dIdn`L geL u cIunce Lo usk. JusL us ¡ wus comIng
downsLuIrs, ¡ run InLo one oI Mux`s LIugs, und Ie dIdn`L reuIIv
seem IIke Ie wus In LIe mood Lo enLerLuIn quesLIons.¨
¨You sIouId go buck und cIeck IL ouL,¨ SIuron suId, uImosL
ubsenLIv, Ier eves IookIng oII InLo LIe dIsLunce, us II sIe were
LrvIng Lo sorL someLIIng eIse ouL.
¨¡L`s sLrunge,¨ sIe udded. ¨WIoever senL vou In LIere Lo geL
LIuL bIue box, wIv dIdn`L LIev jusL geL IL LIemseIves? ¡ meun,
LIev knew wIere IL wus, LIev knew wIen Cobb wouId be gone.¨
1oq
¡ nodded. ¨¡ wondered ubouL LIuL, Loo. TIe onIv LIIng ¡
couId come up wILI wus LIuL LIev knew Mux wus uILer IL ¡I Ie
sIowed up or Iud someone wuLcIIng LIe buIIdIng, LIev mIgIL
Iuve been recognIzed, wIereus ¡ couId come und go wILIouL
ruIsIng unv uIurms.¨
SIuron nodded, ugreeIng wILI LIe IogIc.
JusL LIen mv pIone sLurLed pIuvIng LIe WIILe SLrIpes` ¨BIue
OrcIId¨. ¡L wus NIck cuIIIng me buck.
¨¡ don`L know Iow Lo LeII vou LIIs,¨ Ie sLurLed. ¨¡n IucL, ¡`m
noL LeIIIng vou LIIs. OIIIcIuIIv, ¡ um LeIIIng vou LIuL LIe
depurLmenL requIres LIuL vou submIL u IormuI pubIIc records
requesL In wrILIng Lo vIew LIe IIIe.¨
¨GoL IL,¨ ¡ suId. ¨So wIuL ubouL oII LIe record?¨
¨OII LIe record - und ¡ meun reuIIv oII LIe record,¨ Ie udded
cuuLIousIv, ¨LIe pIcLures ure gone.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun gone?¨ ¡ usked.
¨¡ meun gone. MIssIng. And noL jusL IIke someone IosL LIem
or swIped LIem. TIere ure no neguLIves, noLIIng In LIe
eIecLronIc IIIes. TIere Is ubsoIuLeIv no evIdence oI wIuL LIuL
corpse Iooked IIke.¨
1o=
::. She's Not Who I Thouqht She Wcs
¡uLer LIuL uILernoon, ¡ cuIIed up CoIumbIne. ¨¡`ve goL some
new InIo ubouL our murder mvsLerv. Wunnu come uIong wILI
me Lo go snoop uround some unsuvorv eIemenLs?¨
¨Sounds Iun, ¡`II come pIck vou up,¨ sIe unswered. ¨You cre
uII IIpsLer PIIIIp MurIowe und sIIL.¨
SIe sIowed up Len mInuLes IuLer In u IIgIL bIue VoIvo
bIusLIng ¡du MurIu. SIe wore u bIuck LrencI couL, gIunL
sungIusses, und u Iuge wIde-brImmed IuL. ¡ ussumed sIe wus
goIng Ior some kInd oI MuLu HurI Iook.
¡ guve Ier dIrecLIons Lo LIe Cusu SuIvudor, und on LIe wuv
LIere ¡ sIured wILI Ier LIe reveIuLIons ubouL PuLrIck Cobb und
JucIndu Ngo.
We wuIked InsIde und Iound LIe munuger sIumped In u cIuIr
beIInd LIe IronL desk wuLcIIng u TV news reporL ubouL some
voung IoL sIoL Iuwver wIo goL cuugIL breukIng InLo LIe counLv
morgue Lo sLeuI LIe spIeen Irom u corpse.
¨Do vou need u room?¨ LIe munger usked wILIouL boLIerIng
Lo Iook up Irom IIs IILLIe TV screen, IIs nose covered In LIIck
bunduges.
1o6
¨No,¨ ¡ suId, und Look ouL u busIness curd. ¨¡`m u reporLer. ¡
wus IopIng Lo usk vou u Iew quesLIons.¨
¨¡I vou`re noL Iere Lo renL u room, LIen ¡ don`L Iuve unvLIIng
Lo suv Lo vou,¨ Ie responded gruIIIv.
¨Okuv, we`re Iere Lo renL u room,¨ CoIumbIne suId und IuId u
Iundred doIIur bIII on LIe counLer. ¨TIuL sIouId cover IL, rIgIL?
So IeL`s cIuL.¨
He snuLcIed uwuv LIe bIII beIore ¡ Iud u cIunce Lo objecL,
LIen Iooked suspIcIousIv beLween LIe Lwo oI us. ¨WIuL do vou
wunL?¨
¡ sIowed IIm u pIoLogrupI oI Cobb. ¨RecognIze IIm?¨
¨YeuI, Ie sLuved Iere. He IeIL LIe sume nIgIL vou cume bv -
LIe nIgIL LIuL IuggoL In LIe IeuLIer punLs broke mv nose und vou
jusL suL LIeIr IoIdIng vour dIck.¨
¨BeLLer vou LIun me,¨ ¡ sIrugged.
¨Do vou remember unvLIIng unusuuI ubouL IIm?¨
CoIumbIne cuL In. ¡ Iud Lo keep Irom grInnIng; sIe wus pIuvIng
LIe purL perIecLIv.
¨And II vou ucLuuIIv muke IL beIIevubIe, LIe IILLIe Iudv mIgIL
be wIIIIng Lo drop unoLIer C-NoLe on LIuL room,¨ ¡ cIImed In us
¡ Look ouL mv noLebook.
TIe munuger snorLed und Iooked buck uL LIe pIoLogrupI.
¨You`re Iuckv, vou know. MosL oI LIe LIme ¡ cun`L keep Lruck oI
wIo comes und goes In LIIs pIuce; uILer u wIIIe LIev uII kIndu
bIend LogeLIer. He sLood ouL u IILLIe, LIougI.¨
¨WIuL mude IIm dIIIerenL?¨ ¡ usked.
¨WeII LIe IIrsL LIme ¡ suw IIm, Ie cume In wILI one oI LIe
gIrIs. TIen IuLer Ie cume buck Lo sLuv IImseII. TIuL`s u IILLIe
weIrd,¨ Ie suId.
¨WIv`s LIuL?¨ CoIumbIne usked.
¨Becuuse unvone wIo cun uIIord Lo puv Ior one oI LIe gIrI`s
1o;
servIces cun usuuIIv uIIord Lo sLuv In u nIcer pIuce LIun LIIs
dump,¨ Ie expIuIned.
¨OI,¨ sIe repIIed meekIv, reuIIzIng wIuL kInd oI ¨gIrI¨ LIe
munuger wus LuIkIng ubouL.
¨WIo wus LIe gIrI Ie cume In wILI?¨ ¡ usked wIIIe.
¨¡ dunno, some AsIun cIIck. ¡Ike ¡ suId, LIev uII bIend
LogeLIer, vou know.¨
¡ pIuced some more pIoLos on LIe counLer. ¨Wus IL unv oI
LIese women?¨
¨CouIdn`L suv,¨ Ie repeuLed. ¨¡I vou reuIIv wunL Lo know, vou
sIouId LuIk Lo SLeIIu upsLuIrs In room ¤o¤. SIe knows uII LIe
gIrIs.¨
¡ nodded. ¨Okuv, IeL`s geL buck Lo LIe mun, LIen. AbouL Iow
Iong ugo wus IL LIuL Ie cume In wILI LIe womun?¨
¨AbouL u week ugo. TIen IL wus u duv or Lwo IuLer LIuL Ie
cIecked In.¨ He puIIed ouL u IIIe oI Index curds und IIIpped
LIrougI. ¨YeuI, IL wus Tuesduv LIuL Ie cIecked In. He onIv
sLuved Lwo nIgILs. TIe LIIrd duv, TIursduv, Ie puId Ior buL IeIL
eurIv. AcLuuIIv, ¡ LIInk Ie IeIL wIIIe vou were upsLuIrs.¨
¨DId Ie Iuve unv vIsILors wIIIe Ie wus Iere?¨ ¡ usked.
TIe munuger sIook IIs Ieud. ¨NoL LIuL ¡ noLIced. He sLuved
In IIs room preLLv mucI uII duv, kepL Lo IImseII, und onIv wenL
ouL uILer durk. ¡ kIndu goL LIe ImpressIon LIuL Ie wus IIdIng
ouL. ¡ guess muvbe vou`re wIo Ie wus IIdIng Irom, IuI? ¨
¡ smIrked. ¨CouId be. We`II go upsLuIrs und see SLeIIu now.¨
---
¡ knocked on LIe door Lo room ¤o¤. WIen IL opened, ¡
ImmedIuLeIv recognIzed LIe womun wIo unswered Irom mv IusL
vIsIL Iere; sIe wus LIe bIonde wIo Iunded me LIe pIone In LIe
1o8
IuIIwuv.
SIe smIIed weurIIv wIen sIe suw me. ¨WeII, now. ¡ IonesLIv
dIdn`L LIInk vou`d be buck.¨
¨SLeIIu?¨ ¡ usked.
SIe nodded. ¨AL IeusL LIuL`s LIe nume ¡ gIve JoIns.¨
¨Mv nume`s D QueLzuI. ¡`m u reporLer,¨ ¡ suId, sIowIng Ier
mv curd. ¨And LIIs Is CoIumbIne.¨
¨¡ know wIo vou ure,¨ sIe repIIed Lo me. ¨He suId vou`d be
comIng buck Lo usk quesLIons. ¡ suId, 'PuLrIck, vou knocked LIuL
bov ouL coId wILI u busebuII buL. ¡I LIe good ¡ord guve IIm unv
sense uL uII Ie`s gonnu sLuv Iur uwuv Irom Iere.` BuL now Iere
vou ure. So ¡ guess vou`d beLLer come In.¨
SIe sLepped usIde Lo IeL us puss. Her room wus IuId ouL IIke
Cobb`s, buL sIe Iud done u IoL more Lo personuIIze und decoruLe
IL. SIe Iud pIuced u smuII wooden vunILv wILI cIIpped puInL In
LIe corner und covered LIe wuIIs wILI pIoLos oI oId movIe
sLurIeLs. A smuII ornuLe Iump wILI u purpIe sIude suL on LIe
nIgILsLund und guve LIe room u vIoIeL gIow. SIe puIIed LIe
cIuIr Irom LIe vunILv over und oIIered IL Lo CoIumbIne. TIe sIe
suL IerseII on LIe edge oI LIe bed und moLIoned Ior me Lo sIL on
LIe IooL Iocker.
¨Sorrv ¡`m noL reuIIv seL up Ior enLerLuInIng,¨ sIe cIuckIed.
¨¡L`s IIne,¨ ¡ suId us ¡ suL down und Look ouL mv noLebook,
¨¡`m jusL u IILLIe Luken ubuck. Are vou suvIng vou LuIked Lo Cobb
ubouL me?¨
¨¡usL nIgIL,¨ sIe conIIrmed. ¨He cume Lo suv goodbve.¨
¨WIere wus Ie goIng?¨ CoIumbIne usked.
SLeIIu dIdn`L unswer, buL InsLeud Iooked uL Ier reproucIIuIIv.
¨Do vou know IIm weII?¨ ¡ cuL In.
¨No, ¡ onIv meL LIe mun IusL week. We LuIked u IILLIe bIL,
LIuL`s uII,¨ sIe unswered.
1o¤
¨TIe munuger suId LIe IIrsL LIme Ie cume In Iere, IL wus Lo
see u womun. Do vou know wIo sIe wus?¨
SLeIIu nodded, so ¡ Iunded Ier LIe sLuck oI pIoLos ¡ Iud LrIed
Lo sIow LIe munuger. SIe IIIpped LIrougI LIe pIcLures quIckIv,
LIen suddenIv sLopped uL one und Ier posLure deIIuLed. ¡InuIIv,
sIe IIIpped IL uround Lo sIow me; IL wus JucIndu Ngo.
¨¡L`s u beuuLIIuI pIcLure oI Ier,¨ sIe suId. ¨God, sIe Iooks so
voung. And Iook uL LIose cIoLIes sIe`s weurIng, so gIumorous.¨
¨DId vou know Ier weII?¨ ¡ usked.
¨BeLLer LIun mosL,¨ sIe unswered. ¨¡ meL Ier u IILLIe Iess
LIun Len veurs ugo, und our puLIs uIwuvs seemed Lo cross Irom
LIme Lo LIme. SIe cuIIed IerseII ¡subeI.¨
¨¡subeI,¨ CoIumbIne repeuLed und Look LIe pIoLo buck Irom
SLeIIu, wIose eves were begInnIng Lo weII up. CoIumbIne`s own
Iuce Iud IuIIen, Loo, cIeurIv empuLIIzIng wILI LIe oLIer womun`s
sorrow.
¨¡L`s sucI u sIume,¨ SLeIIu udded moroseIv.
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨ ¡ usked.
SLeIIu Iooked up uL me, u IILLIe surprIsed. ¨SIe`s deud. You
dIdn`L know LIuL?¨
¨¡ dId,¨ ¡ responded, ¨buL Iow dId vou?¨
¨Becuuse ¡ wus LIere wIen sIe dIed,¨ sIe suId muLLer-oI-
IucLIv.
CoIumbIne und ¡ Iooked uL eucI oLIer In sLunned sIIence.
¨How dId sIe dIe?¨ ¡ IInuIIv usked, sLIII reeIIng Irom Ier
reveIuLIon.
SLeIIu`s Iuce Lurned bILLer. ¨WeII, PuLrIck kIIIed Ier, oI
course.¨
¨Hung on,¨ CoIumbIne suId, sIukIng Ier Ieud In
usLonIsImenL, ¨¡ LIInk vou beLLer sLurL uL LIe begInnIng.¨
¨¡L Iuppened IusL Monduv nIgIL,¨ SLeIIu begun. ¨¡ suw LIem
11o
come upsLuIrs LogeLIer und go InLo ¡subeI`s room. ¡ dIdn`L LIInk
unvLIIng oI IL, oI course. BuL LIen IuLer ¡ Iuppened Lo be
wuIkIng bv und Ieurd ¡subeI crvIng LIrougI LIe door. ¡ wenL
InsIde Lo cIeck on Ier und Iound LIe Lwo oI LIem sILLIng on LIe
bed.
¨¡subeI wus IoIdIng someLIIng In Ier Iunds,¨ sIe conLInued.
¨¡L Iooked IIke u pIoLogrupI buL ¡ couIdn`L reuIIv see IL cIeurIv,
und sIe IoIded IL up und Iunded IL buck Lo PuLrIck beIore ¡ couId
geL u cIoser Iook. SIe Iooked up uL me wILI LeurIuI eves und suId
Lo PuLrIck, '¡ wunL SLeIIu Lo be LIere wIen IL Iuppens. ¡ wunL Lo
IoId Ier Iund. ¡ need u IrIend, someone Lo keep me Irom
geLLIng Loo scured.` ¡ remember LIose words cIeurIv.
¨PuLrIck Iooked surprIsed und usked Ier someLIIng IIke, 'Are
vou sure vou wunL Lo go LIrougI wILI LIIs?` SIe suId sIe dId,
und ¡ oI course Iud no Ideu wIuL LIev were LuIkIng ubouL, buL ¡
IoIIowed LIem jusL LIe sume, downsLuIrs Lo u cur purked In LIe
IILLIe uIIev on LIe sIde oI LIe buIIdIng. Once we goL LIere, LIev
expIuIned wIuL wus goIng Lo Iuppen, und ¡ wus IorrIIIed. ¡ LrIed
Lo LuIk LIem ouL oI IL, oI course. BuL ¡ couId LeII Irom ¡subeI`s
eves LIuL IL wusn`L goIng Lo do unv good. '¡ need vou Lo do LIIs
Ior me, SLeIIu. ¡ need vou Lo jusL LrusL me und IeIp me geL
LIrougI LIIs,` sIe suId. 'BuL ¡ undersLund II vou cun`L.`
¨How couId ¡ suv no? ¡ Look Ier Iunds und IeId LIem us
LIgIL us ¡ couId und Iooked Ier sLruIgIL In LIe eve. TIen LIe
mosL IncredIbIe Iook cume over Ier - sIe Iooked reIIeved, uL
peuce. TIen PuLrIck cume up beIInd Ier und wrupped LIe rope
uround Ier neck und sLrungIed Ier.
¨WIen sIe IInuIIv sLopped movIng, ¡ IeIped PuLrIck Iuv Ier
down on LIe buck seuL. JusL beIore Ie drove oII, Ie promIsed
Ie`d come buck Lo see me, Lo expIuIn.¨
¨DId Ie come buck?¨ CoIumbIne usked.
111
¨He dId,¨ SLeIIu suId. ¨TIe nexL duv Ie cume buck und
cIecked InLo LIe sume room wIere ¡subeI Iud been sLuvIng,
room ¤1¤.¨
¨WIuL dId Ie suv?¨ ¡ pressed. ¨DId Ie expIuIn wIv sIe
wunLed Lo dIe?¨
¨WeII, ¡ don`L suppose unvone couId Iuve ever reuIIv
expIuIned LIuL - wIv someone wouId ucnt Lo dIe. TIuL`s LIe
Lvpe oI LIIng vou cun`L muke someone undersLund; LIe onIv wuv
Lo geL IL Is Lo experIence IL vourseII. BuL ¡ suppose vou`re uskIng
more ubouL u sequence oI evenLs, und PuLrIck dId uL IeusL Lrv Lo
expIuIn LIuL mucI Lo me us besL Ie couId.
¨TIe LIIng vou Iuve Lo undersLund IIrsL oII Is LIuL ¡subeI Iud
u pusL. SIe never LuIked ubouL IL oI course, buL IL wus obvIous Lo
unvone wIo wouId cure Lo see LIuL sIe wusn`L born InLo LIIs IIIe.
BuL LIen ¡`m sure vou know u IILLIe more ubouL LIIs LIun me,
wIuL wILI vour pIcLure oI Ier und uII. PuLrIck knew ubouL Ier
pusL, Loo, wIIcI Is wIv someone IIred IIm Lo IInd Ier. WeII,
IInd Ier und kIII Ier.¨
CoIumbIne wInced uL Ier words. ¡ objecLed, ¨BuL PuLrIck
Cobb wusn`L u kIIIer; Ie wus u reporLer. TIuL doesn`L muke
sense.¨
SLeIIu smIIed uL me InduIgenLIv. ¨¡L`s umuzIng wIuL
desperuLe peopIe wIII ugree Lo do Ior u doIIur. BuL us IL Lurns
ouL, vou`re rIgIL. PuLrIck wusn`L u kIIIer. WIen Ie IInuIIv Iound
Ier, Ie couIdn`L brIng IImseII Lo do IL. ¡nsLeud, Ie wurned
¡subeI LIuL peopIe Irom Ier pusL were uILer Ier und oIIered Lo
IeIp Ier escupe. To IIs surprIse, Iowever, sIe LoId IIm LIuL sIe
dIdn`L wunL Lo escupe. SIe suId sIe wus LIred oI runnIng, LIred oI
preLendIng Lo be someone eIse. SIe suId sIe Iud spenL Len veurs
IIdIng Irom Ier pusL, und sIe uIwuvs knew LIuL sooner or IuLer IL
wus goIng Lo cuLcI up wILI Ier. So sIe usked PuLrIck Lo IInIsI
11z
wIuL Ie Iud been puId Lo do.¨
WIen SLeIIu IInIsIed, LIe sIIence Iung Ieuvv In LIe room. ¡
IInIsIed wrILIng down wIuL sIe Iud suId In mv noLebook und
gIunced over Lo CoIumbIne, wIo no Ionger uppeured Lo be
IuvIng Iun. ¡ Lurned buck Lo SLeIIu und usked, ¨DId Cobb suv
wIo IIred IIm, or dId vou ever geL unv IndIcuLIon Irom ¡subeI
wIo Irom Ier pusL mIgIL be uILer Ier?¨
¨PuLrIck dIdn`L suv. ¡`m noL sure Ie even knew wIo LIev
reuIIv were. And us Ior ¡subeI IerseII, sIe never LuIked ubouL Ier
pusL uL uII. TIe onIv LIIng wus, weII...¨
SLeIIu LruIIed oII, IesILuLIng us Lo wIeLIer sIe sIouId
conLInue. ¨WIuL Is IL?¨ CoIumbIne prodded.
¨TIere wus one Iunnv LIIng ubouL Ier. SIe Iud LIIs specIuI
JoIn LIuL sIe`d go Lo see once u veur on AprII 18
LI
- LIe sume
duv everv veur, IIke cIockwork. ¡ don`L know wIo Ie wus, und ¡
never suw IIm, buL sIe LoId me ubouL IIm. TIev Iud u specIuI
meeLIng pIuce wIere Ie`d pIck Ier up und Luke Ier Lo u Iuncv
IoLeI. TIev`d sLuv In LIe penLIouse, und sIe`d wusI IerseII up
wILI expensIve soups und IoLIons und perIumes. He`d gIve Ier u
desIgner dress Lo weur Lo dInner, uIwuvs uL u Iuncv resLuurunL.
He`d reserve LIem u prIvuLe room und IeL Ier order unvLIIng sIe
wunLed, no regurd Ior LIe prIce, und LIev`d uIwuvs Iuve u rure
boLLIe oI cIumpugne wILI LIeIr meuI. TIen sIe`d sIeep over
LIrougI LIe nIgIL In LIuL bIg penLIouse bed wILI sIIk sIeeLs. ¡n
LIe mornIng, Ie`d drop Ier buck oII uL LIe meeLIng pIuce, und
sIe wouIdn`L Ieur Irom IIm uguIn unLII LIeIr nexL duLe.¨
¨TIe sume duv everv veur IIke cIockwork,¨ ¡ repeuLed. ¨How
Iong wus LIIs goIng on?¨
¨Ever sInce ¡ IIrsL meL Ier.¨
¨And vou dIdn`L Iuve unv wIo Ie mIgIL Iuve been. No
guesses, no cIues.¨
11¤
¨WeII, Ie obvIousIv Iud Lo be someone verv rIcI,. As Ior
cIues...¨ SLeIIu puused uguIn. ¨¡`m noL sure II LIIs`II IeIp, buL
sIe'd uIwuvs weur LIe sume neckIuce wIenever sIe wus goIng Lo
meeL IIm - u rubv pendenL, und sIe onIv ever wore IL Ior IIm.¨
CoIumbIne`s eves neurIv popped ouL oI Ier skuII.
¡ smIIed. ¨TIunk vou, SLeIIu. You`ve been verv IeIpIuI.¨
SIe gIunced down uL LIe pIoLogrupI oI JucIndu uguIn, und
LIe Leurs IInuIIv cume. BuL someLIIng sLruck me us pecuIIur
ubouL LIe wuv sIe crIed - IL wusn`L IvsLerIcuI sobbIng, und IL
wusn`L mournIuI weepIng. TIen, us u wIde, beumIng smIIe
spreud ucross SLeIIu`s Iuce, ¡ reuIIzed wILI surprIse LIuL LIev
were Leurs oI prIde.
¨Mv God, sIe Iooks so beuuLIIuI. ¡L`s uImosL IIke sIe`s un
enLIreIv dIIIerenL person. So conIIdenL, so powerIuI, IIke sIe`s
queen bILcI oI LIe worId.¨ SIe IeL u bILLersweeL cIuckIe escupe
Ier IIps. ¨¡ LIougIL ¡ knew Ier preLLv weII, buL IookIng uL LIIs
pIoLo... ¡ guess sIe`s noL wIo ¡ LIougIL sIe wus.¨
11q
:z. She ßeqqed Me To
¡ woke up In LIe mIddIe oI LIe nIgIL Lo LIe sounds oI
someone cougIIng vIoIenLIv umId LIe Ieuvv smeII oI cIeup
wIIskev und sLuIe sweuL. ¡ suL up, und LIougI sLIII groggv und
dIsorIenLed, ¡ LIougIL ¡ couId muke ouL u IIgure sLundIng uL LIe
IooL oI mv bed In LIe durkness.
¡ reucIed over und swILcIed on LIe Iump on mv nIgILsLund.
TIe IIrsL LIIng ¡ noLIced us mv eves udjusLed Lo LIe IIgIL wus
LIe snub-nosed .zz revoIver IeveIed uL mv Ieud. TIe second
LIIng ¡ noLIced wus LIe LuII, guunL mun IoIdIng IL. He wus sLIII
dressed In LIe sume weII-worn suIL us Ie wus weurIng wIen Ie
Look LIe swIng uL me In LIe IIopIouse. HIs Iuce wus budIv
bruIsed, IIs IeIL Iund Luped up, und u brIgIL red spIoLcI wus
vIsIbIe on IIs sIIrL InsIde IIs open suIL juckeL. He wus sIukIng
und sLunk oI uIcoIoI; IIs skIn wus u sIckIv puIe coIor.
¨¡`m sorrv ¡ IIL vou LIe oLIer nIgIL,¨ Cobb suId. ¨WIen ¡ suw
vou In mv room, ¡ ussumed vou were one oI LIem.¨
¨One oI wIo?¨ ¡ usked.
¨Don`L be dense,¨ Ie sneered.
¡ suL up und pIcked LIe gunk ouL oI mv eves. Cobb
11=
conLInued, ¨AILer vou IeIL LIuL nIgIL, ¡ IoIIowed vou, cIecked up
on vou. You reuIIv ure u reporLer.¨
He cIuckIed bILLerIv Lo IImseII und Iowered LIe gun. TIen
Ie reucIed InLo IIs juckeL pockeL wILI LIe bunduged Iund und
produced LIe sIInv bIue box ¡ Iud seen beIInd LIe venL In IIs
room.
¨¡ need vou Lo Luke LIIs und keep IL suIe,¨ Ie suId, LossIng IL Lo
me. ¨No one cun know vou Iuve IL.¨
¡ cuugIL LIe box und Lurned IL over In mv IIngers. ¡L wus coId
und meLuIIIc, u recLungIe oI rougIIv IIve IncIes bv Lwo IncIes.
TIere weren`L unv vIsIbIe joInLs or IInges, or unv uppurenL wuv
Lo open IL.
¨You need LIe ArIudne Kev Lo open IL,¨ Ie suId. ¨¡ Ieurd
LIem suv LIuL ¡IIIun ¡vncI couId geL IL.¨
¨WIo ure LIev, exucLIv?¨ ¡ pressed.
He sIook IIs Ieud. ¨¡ don`L know. ¡vncI wus LIe one wIo
upproucIed me ubouL LruckIng down Ngo. SIe wus LIe onIv one
¡ ever deuIL.¨
¨DId sIe suv wIv LIev wunLed Ier deud?¨ ¡ pressed.
He sIook IIs Ieud IeebIv. ¨No, LIev dIdn`L even LeII me wIo
sIe wus, uL IIrsL. JusL suId ¡ wus IookIng Ior u wIore numed
¡subeI. ¡ dIdn`L know unLII ¡ suw Ier, LIen oI course ¡ recognIzed
Ier.
¨¡ wusn`L goIng Lo do IL. ¡ meun, ¡`ve done some preLLv
repugnunL sIIL Ior monev, buL JucIndu Ngo wus un ungeI, LIere
wus no wuv ¡ wus goIng Lo Iund Ier over Lo LIose busLurds.
¨So ¡ LrIed Lo IIgure ouL wIo LIev were InsLeud, Lo see II LIere
wus some wuv Lo sLop LIem. ¡ LuIIed ¡vncI Ior u Iew duvs unLII
sIe IInuIIv meL up wILI LIe oLIers. ¡L wus uL some ubundoned
buIIdIng downLown. TIere wus one oLIer cur purked ouLsIde
besIde Iers, IL wus un oId '=; CIevv DeI Rev, bIue, no pIuLes. ¡
116
snupped u pIoLo oI IL on mv wuv In.
¨¡nsIde, ¡ couIdn`L geL cIose enougI Lo see unv oI LIem, buL
LIuL wus wIen ¡ Ieurd LIem LuIkIng ubouL LIe box und openIng
IL wILI LIe ArIudne Kev. ¡ wuILed unLII LIev uII IeIL und jImmIed
open LIe cubIneL wIere LIev kepL IL Iocked up.
¨TIen ¡ Ieuded buck Lo JucIndu Lo wurn Ier, buL sIe suId wus
LIred oI runnIng, LIred oI IIdIng. ¡ don`L know wIv, buL sIe
seemed especIuIIv sIook up wIen sIe suw LIuL pIoLo oI LIe bIue
cur. SIe suId sIe Iud done LerrIbIe LIIngs In Ier IIIe und LIuL
sIe uIwuvs knew sIe`d evenLuuIIv Iuve Lo puv Ior LIem. SIe
begged me Lo go LIrougI wILI IL. SIe IuckIng begged me Lo.¨
OuLsIde, ¡ Ieurd LIe sound oI u cur puII up In IronL oI mv
buIIdIng. ¡ jumped up Lo Iook ouL mv wIndow und suw u bIue
cIussIc cur come Lo u sLop und IdIe Ior u coupIe seconds beIore
LukIng oII uguIn down LIe sLreeL.
¨HoIv sIIL, Is LIIs LIe cur?¨ ¡ usked us ¡ Lurned buck Lo Iook uL
Cobb, buL Ie wus gone.
---
¨Do vou know wIere ¡IIIun ¡vncI IIves?¨ ¡ burked InLo mv
ceII pIone.
¨YeuI, oI course. WIv?¨ CoIumbIne usked, LIe Iow grumbIe
oI Ier voIce conIIrmIng LIuL ¡ Iud In IucL jusL woken Ier up.
¨¡ need vou Lo gIve me Ier uddress. ¡ Iuve Lo go see Ier rIgIL
now, IL`s un emergencv.¨
TIere wus u brIeI puuse, LIen CoIumbIne IInuIIv unswered
weurIIv, ¨Hung on, ¡`II come pIck vou up und we`II go over
LogeLIer.¨
¨¡Ine.¨
¨¡L`II be u IILLIe wIIIe, LIougI. TIuL wus mv IrIend`s cur ¡ wus
11;
borrowIng, so ¡`II Iuve Lo work ouL geLLIng IL buck Irom Ier.¨
¨Okuv, buL Iurrv,¨ ¡ suId und Iung up.
AbouL un Iour und u IuII IuLer, ¡ goL u LexL suvIng sIe wus
ouLsIde.
AILer boundIng down LIe sLuIrs, ¡ Iound LIe sume VoIvo Irom
eurIIer wuILIng In IronL oI LIe buIIdIng, buL CoIumbIne wus In
pussenger seuL. VIoIeL wus drIvIng.
¨SIe InsIsLed on comIng uIong,¨ CoIumbIne expIuIned wILI u
pIuvIuI cuLLIness us ¡ cIImbed InLo LIe buck seuL. ¨SIe dIdn`L
wunL me drIvIng LIe cur IuLe uL nIgIL.¨
¨¡ don`L wunL vou drIvIng IL uII,¨ VIoIeL rebuLLed. ¨¡ dIdn`L
even reuIIze vou Look IL LIIs uILernoon.¨
TIen sIe gIunced up Lo Iook uL me In LIe reurvIew, und our
eves Iocked on eucI oLIer`s reIIecLIon.
¨HI,¨ sIe suId.
¨HI,¨ ¡ repIIed sLupIdIv, IeeIIng mv cIeeks grow wurm und
IIusI und suddenIv becomIng gruLeIuI LIuL CoIumbIne Iud
InsIsLed on pIckIng me up.
AbouL Len mInuLes IuLer we urrIved uL ¡IIIun ¡vncI`s
LownIouse, wIIcI wus purL oI u verv excIusIve wesL-sIde
deveIopmenL. VIoIeL puIIed LIe VoIvo up beIInd u wIILe
AsLerIon vun purked ouL In IronL. As ¡ goL ouL oI LIe cur und
wuIked pusL IL, ¡ LIougIL ¡ Ieurd u buzzIng sLuLIc noIse comIng
Irom LIe buck oI LIe vun. ¡ puused Ior u cIoser IIsLen, buL LIen
reuIIzed LIuL CoIumbIne wus uIreudv uL LIe Iron guLe, LuppIng
numbers InLo LIe InLercom.
¡ run up Lo joIn LIe Lwo women jusL In LIme Lo Ieur LIe
InLercom gIve ILs IusL coupIe beeps beIore cuLLIng oII. ¨No
unswer, sIe musL noL be Iome,¨ CoIumbIne suId. ¨¡L`s okuv, ¡
know LIe code. We cun jusL go upsLuIrs und wuIL.¨
SIe Lvped ¯;18¤¤ on LIe kevpud und opened LIe guLe. We
118
conLInued up LIe sLuIrs Lo ¡IIv`s IronL door. CoIumbIne IIsIed
LIe spure kev ouL oI ILs IIdIng pIuce InsIde u wuII-mounLed IIgIL
IIxLure und IeL us In.
As we wuIked InLo LIe IIvIng, we Iound LIe IIgILs ouL und LIe
pIuce empLv. CoIumbIne conLInued on down LIe IuIIwuv Lo LIe
bedroom door, buL IL wus Iocked.
¨¡ don`L know wIere sIe keeps LIIs kev,¨ sIe suId
upoIogeLIcuIIv und guve u Iew rups on LIe door. TIere wus no
unswer, so sIe knocked uguIn, more IoudIv.
¨¡II, IL`s me. Are vou In LIere?¨
SLIII, LIere wus no response.
¨Muvbe sIe`s usIeep,¨ VIoIeL suggesLed.
CoIumbIne knocked uguIn. ¨¡II, wuke up. ¡ need Lo LuIk Lo
vou. ¡L`s ImporLunL.¨
¨WIuL LIe IeII Is goIng on Iere?¨
TIe LIree oI us wIIpped uround Lo see ¡IIv beIInd us,
wuIkIng InLo Ier upurLmenL, dressed In u bIuck cockLuII dress
und done up us II comIng Iome Irom u nIgIL ouL.
¨¡I vou`re noL In LIere, wIv`s LIe door Iocked?¨ CoIumbIne
usked.
WILI u bILLer scowI uIIIxed Lo Ier Iuce, ¡IIv pusIed Ier wuv
pusL me und sLood nexL Lo CoIumbIne.
¨WIuL do vou meun? TIere`s no Iock on LIuL door.¨
¡IIv LrIed Lo open LIe door buL Iound LIuL, Indeed, IL wouIdn`L
budge. ¨WIuL LIe Iuck?¨
¨WuLcI ouL,¨ ¡ suId und guve LIe door u Iew good, soIId kIcks.
¡L IInuIIv guve wuv, und us LIe Iour us run In, ¡ sLooped down Lo
pIck up LIe screwdrIver LIuL someone Iud sLuck InLo LIe jumb.
TIen LIere wus u screum, und ¡ jumped up Lo IInd LIe LIree
women sLundIng Irozen In Lerror.
PuLrIck Cobb wus IvIng on Lop oI ¡IIv`s bed, compIeLeIv
11¤
nuked, bIood IeukIng ouL uII over LIe sIeeLs Irom LIe gupIng,
jugged gusI ucross IIs neck.
---
¡ puced buck und IorLI ucross LIe room wIIIe ¡IIv suL sIIenLIv
on LIe IooL oI LIe bed besIde Cobb`s corpse. TIe Lwo oI us were
uIone In LIe room.
¨So expIuIn Lo me uguIn wIv we sIouIdn`L cuII LIe poIIce
ubouL LIe deud bodv In vour bed?¨
¡IIv sIgIed deepIv. ¨¡`m LIred.¨ SIe wus sIumped Iorwurd,
Ier Ieud IungIng Iow, eves downcusL und Iocked onLo Ier
Iunds, wIIcI sIe rubbed LogeLIer nervousIv. ¨TIred oI LIe IIes,
LIred oI LIe sneukIng uround, LIred oI Mux`s IuckIng suspIcIous
proddIng uII duv, LrvIng Lo see Iow Iur Ie cun pusI me beIore ¡
jusL snup.¨
Her voIce Iud reucIed u bILLer crescendo wILI LIuL IusL word
und LIen dropped oII sIurpIv. SIe suL LIere IookIng deIIuLed
und beuLen, und ¡ uImosL Iound mvseII IeeIIng sorrv Ior LIe coId-
IeurLed bILcI.
¨¡s LIuL wIv vou Iuven`L gIven LIem LIe ArIudne Kev veL?¨ ¡
usked, LukIng u sIoL.
SIe nodded IIsLIessIv. ¨TIuL`s wIuL LIIs Is uII ubouL,¨ sIe
poInLed Lo Cobb, ¨LIev`re sendIng me u messuge. GeL buck In
IIne, or vou`re nexL. No one wuIks uwuv.¨
¨WIo ure LIev?¨ ¡ usked.
SIe Iooked uL me IIke ¡ Iud jusL suId LIe mosL rIdIcuIous
LIIng ImugInubIe. ¨¡Ike ¡`m goIng Lo LeII vou LIuL.¨
¨WIv noL LeII Mux?¨ ¡ sIoL buck. ¨He mIgIL IorgIve vou II
vou come cIeun, especIuIIv II vou Iund over vour uccompIIces.¨
SIe scoIIed. ¨You don`L know Mux. TIere ure no second
1zo
cIunces wILI IIm. You`re eILIer wILI IIm, or vou jusL vunIsI.¨
¨¡s LIuL wIv vou don`L wunL Lo cuII LIe cops?¨ ¡ probed.
¨Becuuse II Ie IInds ouL ubouL IL, Ie`II Luke IL us prooI vou`ve
been workIng uguInsL IIm?¨
SIe nodded. ¡ Iooked down uL mv sIoes und kIcked LIe buII
oI mv IooL uguInsL Ier curpeL u Iew LImes.
¨¡uck,¨ ¡ spuL. ¨WeII gIve me u Iund wILI LIe son oI u bILcI,
LIen.¨
1z1
:(. Throu Up, 1erl D[[, cnd Go Ietcl
TIe VoIvo puIIed oII LIe Ireewuv und enLered LIe IndusLrIuI
secLor. ¡ wus rIdIng sIoL gun und gIvIng VIoIeL dIrecLIons Lo LIe
Sun Hermes RIver LIrougI u serIes oI buck rouds. As sIe drove,
¡ wouId Irom LIme Lo LIme cuLcI u wIIII oI Ier scenL or sneuk u
gIImpse uL Ier Iuce Irom LIe corner oI mv eve, und IL wus enougI
Lo muke me IorgeL LIe grIsIv curgo IuvIng ucross LIe buck seuL.
¨Turn Iere,¨ ¡ InsLrucLed, ¨und vou`re goIng Lo wunL Lo IoIIow
LIIs dIrL roud Lo LIuL smuII brIdge over LIe rIver. TIIs used Lo be
wIere LIe LruIn Lrucks crossed LIe rIver. BuL LIev moved LIe IIne
IIke IIILeen veurs ugo. No one comes ouL LIIs wuv unvmore.¨
¨¡ooks good,¨ VIoIeL ugreed.
SuddenIv ¡ Ieurd u sIurp, wIeezv gusp come Irom LIe buck
seuL, IoIIowed bv u serIes oI weL gurgIes.
VIoIeL Iooked over Ier sIouIder. ¨OI Iuck!¨
Cobb Iunged Iorwurd, wedged IImseII In LIe gup beLween our
seuLs, und LIrew IIs urms uround VIoIeL`s neck. BIood spruved
evervwIere, und LIe VoIvo jerked vIoIenLIv Lo LIe rIgIL, veerIng
oII LIe roud und cuLLIng LIrougI u vucunL IoL.
¡n punIc, VIoIeL LrIed Lo sLomp on LIe bruke, buL mIssed und
1zz
InsLeud IIL LIe gus. We cureened wIIdIv LIrougI LIe IoL,
bouncIng over cemenL dIvIders und scrupIng LIe pussenger sIde
oI LIe cur uguInsL u IIgIL posL, sendIng u sIower oI spurks suIIIng
LIrougI LIe bIuck nIgIL uIr.
¡ suw LIuL we were goIng Lo mIss LIe brIdge und InsLeud Ieud
sLruIgIL InLo LIe rIver. ¡ jummed mv Iund under Cobb`s nuked
IIesI und vunked on LIe emergencv bruke. TIe voIvo skIdded Lo
u sLop jusL IncIes Irom LIe edge oI LIe embunkmenL.
VIoIeL expIoded ouL oI LIe drIver`s sIde door In u punIc und
scurrIed buckwurd ucross LIe ground. ¡ goL ouL und LIrew open
LIe buck door. Cobb`s Ieg sIoL ouL, und IIs IooL connecLed
squureIv In mv Iuce, breukIng mv nose. ¡ dove In, vunked IIm
Iree, und Lossed IIm Lo LIe ground.
¡ senL mv booL IIvIng InLo Cobb`s sIde und connecLed wILI u
Ioud cruck oI rIbs. ¡ kepL kIckIng IIm, IuII ouL oI punIc, IuII ouL
oI unger, mv IeurL LIumpIng IoudIv In mv cIesL und mv Ieud
buzzIng Irom LIe rusI oI udrenuIIne.
Cobb IIuIIed ubouL wIIdIv und gusped Ior uIr, movIng IIs
mouLI IIke u IIsI ouL oI wuLer.!! BIood drIbbIed Irom IIs purLed
IIps, bubbIIng up us IL IIIIed wILI uIr und LIen bursLIng.
VIoIeL cume up Irom beIInd me und nudged me usIde, LIen
ruIsed u Iurge bouIder over Ier Ieud und sIummed IL down,
crusIIng LIe Lop IuII oI Cobb`s Iuce und spIuLLerIng cIunks oI
gore ucross LIe ground IIke sLeppIng on u keLcIup puckeL.
TIere were no more bubbIes IormIng on IIs IIps.
¨WIuL LIe Iuck wus LIuL?¨ VIoIeL excIuImed. ¨How Is LIuL
even possIbIe?¨
¡ cIuLcIed uL mv Ieud, IeeIIng u bIIndIng puIn sIooLIng
LIrougI mv bruIn, vugueIv uwure oI LIe IuInL sound oI sLuLIc
somewIere uL LIe edge oI IeurIng. ¡ wIped uL mv Iuce und
dIscovered mv nose wus bIeedIng.
1z¤
¨¡uck. JusL gIve me u Iund,¨ ¡ munuged Lo groun.
We Iugged Cobb ouL onLo LIe brIdge und resLed IIm on Lop oI
LIe guurd ruII.
¨Muvbe we sIouId IInd someLIIng Lo weIgI LIe bodv down
wILI,¨ VIoIeL venLured. ¨So IL`II sInk? ¡ dunno, ¡ don`L Iuve
mucI experIence wILI LIIs sorL oI LIIng.¨
¡ peeked over LIe sIde oI brIdge. ¡rom LIIs vunLuge poInL, ¡
couId IuInLIv see LIe GuuduIupe BrIdge ubouL u mIIe
downsLreum. ¨AcLuuIIv, LIe currenL Iooks preLLv sLrong. ¡L`II
probubIv currv IIm Iur enougI uwuv beIore Ie wusIes up. ¡I
someone IInds IIm, IL`II jusL Iook IIke u bum wIo IosL u IIgIL or
someLIIng.¨
¨He`s IuckIng nuked,¨ sIe objecLed.
¨¡uck. WIuLever,¨ ¡ suId, IosIng mv puLIence und IeuvIng
Cobb over LIe sIde, LIen wuLcIIng us LIe rIver currIed IIm ouL oI
sIgIL.
¨OI sIIL,¨ ¡ suId under mv breuLI. ¨¡ LIInk LIere`s someone
down LIere. ¡uck, LIev`ve seen us.¨
¡ squInLed mv eves Lo Lrv Lo muke ouL LIe Lwo IuInL bodIes
wuIkIng uIong LIe rIverbunk In LIe dIsLunce.
¨WIere, ¡ don`L see unvLIIng?¨ VIoIeL usked, Ier voIce LInged
wILI punIc.
¨Over LIere on LIe rIgIL,¨ ¡ suId, buL wIen ¡ Iooked buck Lo
wIere ¡`d seen LIem, LIere wus noLIIng.
VIoIeL Iooked Ier urm LIrougI mIne und genLIv Lugged me In
LIe dIrecLIon oI LIe cur. ¨Come on, vou`re jusL Ireuked ouL bv
LIIs Iucked-up sILuuLIon. You need Lo reIux.¨
We wuIked buck Lo LIe cur und sunk InLo our seuLs, LukIng u
momenL Lo decompress. ¨You`re noL In unv purLIcuIur Iurrv Lo
geL Iome, ure vou?¨ sIe usked, bILIng Ier Iower IIp
mIscIIevousIv.
1zq
¨NoL purLIcuIurIv,¨ ¡ repIIed und LIougIL Ior u momenL LIuL
muvbe - jusL muvbe - ¡ Iud u sIoL wILI LIIs gIrI.
SIe IIusIed u wrv grIn. ¨Open LIe gIove compurLmenL.¨
¡ popped open LIe door und Iound u pIpe, u IIgILer, und u
roIIed up sundwIcI buggIe oI poL.
¨TIp LIp IurruI,¨ ¡ suId und proceeded Lo puck u bowI wIIIe
VIoIeL pIugged Ier IPod InLo LIe cur`s sLereo. ¡ IIL LIe bowI und
Look mv IIrsL IIL jusL us NeuLruI MIIk HoLeI sLurLed Lo pIuv.
¨Mun, ¡ Iuven`L Ieurd LIIs uIbum In veurs,¨ ¡ suId us ¡
exIuIed u LIIck cIoud oI smoke.
¨¡L`s one oI mv IuvorILes,¨ VIoIeL beumed, LukIng LIe pIpe
Irom me.
SIe Ieuned uguInsL me und resLed Ier Ieud on mv cIesL us
sIe Look u coupIe Lokes IerseII, LIen pussed IL buck Lo me. We
smoked In sIIence, jusL reIuxIng und enjovIng Lo LIe musIc. ¡
sLroked mv IIngers LIrougI Ier vIbrunL purpIe IuIr, LIen Ieuned
Iorwurd Lo InIuIe deepIv und suvor LIe sweeL Ionev scenL oI Ier
perIume.
WIen LIe bowI wus cusIed, VIoIeL suL up Lo dump LIe usIes
ouL LIe wIndow. SIe Lurned Lo Iook uL me, Ier eveIIds Ieuvv,
IIps curIed InLo u IuII-smIIe, und seemed Lo be wuILIng Ior me Lo
do someLIIng.
So ¡ dId.
¡ Ieuned Iorwurd und pIuced u Iund on Ier cIeek us ¡ moved
In Lo kIss Ier. Our IIps Iocked soILIv buL pussIonuLeIv. TIe
sLereo sung ouL:
Whct c becuti[ul drecm
Thct could [lcsh on the screen
In the blinl o[ cn eue cnd be qone [rom me
1z=
SIe puIIed buck, reIucLunLIv, und IIILed Ier IeIL Iund Lo sIow
u rIng on Ier IInger.
¨How dId ¡ noL see LIuL beIore?¨ ¡ wondered uIoud.
SIe gIggIed us sIe sLurLed up LIe cur uguIn. ¨You seem Lo
Iuve LIIs ubIIILv Lo see onIv wIuL vou wunL Lo see und mIss
unvLIIng LIuL`s convenIenL Lo mIss.¨
¡ broke InLo u Iuge, LooLIv grIn und sIumped over In LIe seuL,
bungIng mv Ieud uguInsL LIe pussenger-sIde wIndow u coupIe
LImes. VIoIeL conLInued Lo IuugI us sIe drove buck onLo LIe
muIn roud.
¨Do vou wunnu sLop und cIeck on CoI und ¡IIv beIore ¡ drop
vou oII?¨ sIe usked.
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨¡`II worrv ubouL IL Lomorrow. ¡or now, ¡
need Lo jusL geL Iome, LIrow up, jerk oII, wusI uII LIIs IuckIng
bIood oII me, und go IeLuI. ProbubIv In LIuL order.¨
TIIs seL oII unoLIer bouL oI gIggIes Irom VIoIeL. ¨TIunks Ior
LIe unnecessurIIv deLuIIed und vuIgur descrIpLIon.¨
¨¡L`s wIuL ¡ do,¨ ¡ repIIed.
1z6
:a. Esoteric Psucholoqiccl Wcr[cre
¡ woke up LIe nexL mornIng Lo IInd u sLrunge womun In mv
bedroom. ¡ wusn`L us Iuppv ubouL LIIs us ¡ normuIIv wouId Iuve
been.
¨Good mornIng, sunsIIne,¨ sIe greeLed me.
¡ suL up groggIIv In bed und rubbed mv eves. ¨SIIL, ¡ musL
sLIII be sLoned,¨ ¡ muLLered.
TIe womun wore u verv Iorm-IILLIng bIuck cIuuIIeur`s ouLIIL
compIeLe wILI u muLcIIng cup. SIe suL on Lop oI mv dresser,
Iegs crossed, LIumbIng LIrougI mv copv oI Dhclqren.
¡ drugged mvseII ouL oI bed und puIIed u puIr oI jeuns on. ¨¡
suppose IL`s Loo mucI Lo Iope LIuL vou spenL LIe nIgIL Iere uILer
u round oI cruzv, IIILIv monkev sex.¨
¨NuI, ¡ jusL goL Iere IIke LwenLv mInuLes ugo,¨ sIe suId,
IookIng up Irom LIe book. ¨BuL ¡ dId brIng vour puper In Ior
vou.¨
¨¡ don`L subscrIbe,¨ ¡ repIIed, buL LIen noLIced LIuL LIere wus,
In IucL, u copv oI Loduv`s Morninq-Stcr sILLIng on LIe IooL oI mv
bed. ¡ pIcked IL up und scunned LIe IeudIIne: Petermcn
Indicted - Inspirctech VP Chcrqed uith Ircud, Embezzlement.
1z;
¡ recognIzed LIe mun In LIe uccompunvIng pIoLo us LIe
ImpuLIenL mun Mux Iud words wILI uL LIe wureIouse purLv.
¨Wunnu go Ior u rIde?¨ LIe womun usked wILI u suggesLIve
IInL In Ier voIce LIuL ¡ pruved wusn`L jusL In mv Ieud.
¨Do ¡ ever. WIere Lo?¨
SIe Iunded me u busIness curd. ¡L wus prInLed In durk red
Ink on IIgILer red curd sLock wILI LIe Abrusux ¡nc. Iogo und LIe
words: Dulcn Mcxuell, CED/President.
¡ IoIIowed Ier ouL Lo LIe IronL oI mv buIIdIng wIere we Iound
u wIILe IImousIne wuILIng Ior us. TIe engIne IIred up us we
upproucIed, und LIe womun opened LIe buck door Ior me. ¡
cIImbed In, und sIe IoIIowed uILer me, cIosIng LIe door beIInd
us.
¨You`re noL drIvIng?¨ ¡ usked, puzzIed, us LIe cur puIIed uwuv
Irom LIe curb.
SIe Look oII Ier cup und sIook ouL Ier Iong ruven IuIr. ¨No,
Ie jusL LIougIL vou`d IIke LIe unIIorm,¨ sIe suId und sIId cIoser
Lo me on LIe seuL.
¡ sIrugged. ¨YeuI, Ie wus rIgIL.¨
---
¡ Iud never been up Lo LIe LwenLv-LIIrd IIoor oI LIe Abrusux
buIIdIng beIore, despILe mv besL eIIorLs. TIe obsequIous IILLIe
InLern wIo meL me In LIe buIIdIng`s IronL Iobbv Iud Lo swIpe u
specIuI kevcurd In LIe eIevuLor jusL Lo geL LIere.
Once LIe eIevuLor doors opened, ¡ wuIked ouL InLo u vusL
recepLIon ureu wILI u Iurge recLunguIur reIIecLIng pooI, skv
IIgILs, und murbIe desk wIere Mux`s ussIsLunL suL. SIe wus u
voung IreckIe-Iuced womun wILI sIorL-cropped red IuIr und u
sIIm, bovIsI IIgure, weurIng gruv sIucks und suspenders over u
1z8
wIILe bIouse. TowerIng over Ier on LIe wuII beIInd LIe desk
wus u gIunL ¡CD screen runnIng u conLInuous Ioop oI Abrusux
commercIuIs wILI no sound. TIe conLrusL oI LIe brIgIL, gurIsI
ud Imuges uguInsL LIe serenILv oI LIe room guve IL un
unseLLIIngIv IvpnoLIc Clocluorl Drqcnqe-esque IeeI.
Mux`s ussIsLunL smIIed wIen sIe suw me und InLoned In u
cIIpper voIce, ¨Mr. MuxweII wIII be wILI vou In jusL u mInuLe.
PIeuse go In und wuIL InsIde.¨
SIe poInLed Lo LIe Iur end oI LIe room wIere LIere were
LIree doors - one wIILe, one red, und one bIuck. TIe wIILe door
sIId open. ¡ crossed LIe room und wuIked LIrougI IL.
TIe door uuLomuLIcuIIv cIosed beIInd me us ¡ enLered Mux`s
oIIIce. ¡L IeIL IIke sLeppIng InsIde u gIunL IPod. TIe enLIre room
wus puInLed wIILe - LIe wuIIs, LIe ceIIIng, und even LIe IIoor wus
wIILe. ¡L wus spurseIv IurnIsIed wILI onIv u Iew pIeces oI
IurnILure - u wIILe pIusLIc desk und cIuIr, u Iong wIILe weL bur
wILI u row oI muLcIIng sLooIs, u coupIe wIILe pIeuLIer coucIes,
und u gIuss coIIee LubIe. AII LIe IurnILure Iud u sIInv, pIusLIc
Iook wILI rounded edges und poIIsIed sLuInIess sLeeI uccenLs.
TIe wuIIs were compIeLeIv empLv, und LIe enLIre room wus
devoId oI unv personuI IIourIsIes IIke urL work, buubIes, or
pIoLogrupIs.
¡ pIopped mvseII down on one oI LIe coucIes und wuILed.
AILer sILLIng LIere u Iew mInuLes, ¡ reuIIzed LIuL LIe sound
svsLem wus pIpIng In TIrobbIng GrIsLIe`s zo 1czz Iunl Grects
uL u Iow, bureIv uudIbIe voIume, wIIcI ¡ Look Lo be some esoLerIc
Iorm oI psvcIoIogIcuI wurIure on Mux`s purL, u wuv Lo puL IIs
vIsILors oII-buIunce.
¡ puIIed LIe newspuper ouL oI mv messenger bug und decIded
Lo reud LIe urLIcIe ubouL PeLermun wIIIe ¡ wuILed. ¡L suId LIuL
un unonvmous LIp Iud Ied uuLIorILIes Lo InIormuLIon LIuL
1z¤
reveuIed Ie`d been runnIng un eIuboruLe kIckbuck scIeme. He
wouId guurunLee cerLuIn suppIIers sweeLIeurL purcIusIng deuIs
wILI ¡nspIruLecI In excIunge Ior puvmenLs Lo un ouLsIde
compunv Ie Iud seL up, wIIcI someIow munuged Lo puv IIm u
IeILv suIurv us u consuILunL despILe beIng u compIeLeIv
ImugInurv busIness.
¡ opened LIe puper Lo see LIe resL oI LIe urLIcIe uILer LIe
jump, buL us ¡ unIoIded IL, someLIIng IeII ouL und Iunded on mv
Iup. ¡L wus unoLIer bIue enveIope, sLumped wILI LIe crown und
gIobe embIem jusL IIke LIe oLIers. ¡nsIde wus unoLIer smuII
wIILe curd wILI u Lvped messuge: Win Some, Lose Some.
¡ Ieurd LIe quIeL buzz oI un eIecLrIc door openIng beIInd me
und quIckIv sLuIIed LIe enveIope InLo mv InsIde juckeL pockeL.
¨Sorrv Lo keep vou wuILIng,¨ Mux suId us Ie enLered LIe room
und exLended IIs Iund.
¡ sLood up und sIook IIs Iund. He smIIed uL me congenIuIIv,
LIen poInLed down beIow mv beIL. ¨XYZ, D.¨
¡ Iooked down und suw LIuL mv IIv wus open, so ¡ zIpped up.
MeunwIIIe, Mux mude u beeIIne Ior LIe weL bur. ¨How ubouL
someLIIng Lo drInk?¨
¨Sounds good,¨ ¡ repIIed, sILLIng buck down on LIe coucI.
Mux poured us Lwo gIusses oI scoLcI. ¨So ¡ guLIer LIe rIde
over Iere wus okuv,¨ Ie smIrked wIIIe wuIkIng buck Lo LIe coucI
wILI LIe Lwo gIusses In one Iund und LIe resL oI LIe boLLIe In LIe
oLIer.
¡ Look one oI LIe gIusses Irom IIm und druIned ILs conLenLs In
u sIngIe guIp.
¨You reuIIv sIouId sIp u wIIskev LIIs expensIve,¨ Mux cIIded
wIIIe reIIIIIng mv gIuss. ¡ snupped mv Ieud buck und druIned
LIe second gIuss jusL us quIckIv. Mux grInned.
He Iuppened Lo gIunce down und suw LIe copv oI LIe
1¤o
Morninq-Stcr IuvIng besIde me.
¨CIeckIng up on LIe compeLILIon?¨ Ie usked.
¨More IIke udmIrIng vour IundIwork.¨ ¡ sIowed IIm LIe
IronL puge IeudIIne.
¨AI LIuL,¨ Mux suId wILI u dIsmIssIve wuve oI IIs Iund.
¨¡s LIIs wIo IosL vour gume SuLurduv nIgIL?¨
He dIdn`L respond, buL InsLeud poured us unoLIer round oI
drInks.
¨So ¡ undersLund vou run InLo u IILLIe excILemenL IusL nIgIL uL
¡IIv`s condo,¨ Mux suId.
¨OI, dId sIe LeII vou ubouL IL?¨ ¡ usked.
¨OI course noL,¨ Ie scoIIed. ¨¡ Iud Ier under surveIIIunce.¨
¨OI course,¨ ¡ conceded, rememberIng LIe vun purked In
IronL oI ¡IIv`s buIIdIng.
¨So wIo wus Ie?¨ Mux usked.
¨TIe corpse? HIs nume wus PuLrIck Cobb, Ie used Lo be u
reporLer,¨ ¡ repIIed, keepIng un eve on Mux Lo see Iow Ie
reucLed. HIs Iuce remuIned sLoIc und unreudubIe.
¡ conLInued, ¨He wus uIso LIe mun wIo kIIIed JucIndu Ngo.
NoL LIe IIrsL LIme wILI LIe Iuke bouLIng uccIdenL, obvIousIv,
sInce LIuL wus uII vou. BuL ¡ meun LIe second LIme, LIe reuI one
LIuL ended up wILI Ier corpse sILLIng In LIe buck oI vour prIvuLe
jeL.¨
Mux grInned In umusemenL. ¨So ¡ Luke IL vou`ve been
workIng on LIe cIuIIenge ¡ guve vou. WIuL`ve vou goL?¨
¡ Look ouL mv noLebook und IIIpped LIrougI LIe puges.
¨WeII, ¡ know LIe deud womun wus JucIndu Ngo, Iormer Ieud oI
Apex CompuLers wIo wenL mIssIng Len veurs ugo, presumed
deud. ¡ know LIuL In IucL sIe wus noL deud, buL InsLeud Ius been
IIvIng on LIe sLreeLs under un ussumed nume, bureIv ekIng ouL
un exIsLence us u prosLILuLe. ¡ know LIuL once u veur vou
1¤1
urrunged u meeLIng wILI Ier, und ¡ wouId venLure Lo guess LIuL
vou were LIe reuson sIe munuged Lo sLuv IIdden so Iong. And
IInuIIv, ¡ know LIuL Cobb wus IIred Lo kIII Ier und Ieuve Ier In
vour uIrpIune us some sorL oI messuge or uLLuck uguInsL vou.
AguIn, II ¡ Iud Lo guess, ¡`d suv IL Iud someLIIng Lo do wILI LIese
gumes vou`ve been pIuvIng wILI LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv. ¡ LIInk
LIuL muvbe LIe reuson sIe dIsuppeured wus LIuL sIe wus IIke
PeLermun - muvbe sIe IosL, Loo.¨
Mux poured IImseII u IresI drInk, IIIIIng LIe gIuss Lo LIe
brIm, und LIen downed IL uII In one exLended cIug. He dIdn`L
breuk eve conLucL wILI me Ior u second wIIIe doIng LIIs, und ¡
ImugIned LIuL - II onIv Ior u second - ¡ deLecLed u IInL oI
surprIse In LIose preLLv bubv bIues.
¨TIuL`s u good LIeorv. ¡nvenLIve. NoL enLIreIv uccuruLe, buL
surprIsIngIv cIose,¨ Ie suId us Ie sLood up und begun Lo puce LIe
room.
¨JucIndu Ngo never IosL unv gume, buL sIe wus mv IIrsL
mujor projecL - LIe one wIo IeIped me reuIIze LIe IuII poLenLIuI
oI mv work wILI LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv.
¨WIen ¡ meL Ier, sIe wus LIe mosL IundumenLuIIv unIuppv
person ¡ Iud ever known. SIe IeIL Lrupped - bv Ier job, Ier
success, Ier monev, Ier beuuLv, Ier ego. SIe begged me Lo IeIp
Ier IeeI uIIve uguIn. SIe begged me Lo Lurn Ier InLo someone
eIse.
¨AL IIrsL ¡ sLurLed wILI LIe busIc LrIcks; ¡ sIowed Ier Iow Lo
pIck pockeLs, run smuII cons, LIe kInds oI LIIngs LIuL sIeILered
vuppIes go upesIIL over.
¨BuL none oI IL worked - Ior JucIndu, IL wus jusL u Leuse, u
Lemporurv dIsLrucLIon. ¡L wus IIke drug uddIcLIon; sIe uIwuvs
needed more jusL Lo recupLure LIuL sume rusI. EvenLuuIIv, ¡ Iud
Lo conIronL LIe sImpIe, undenIubIe IucL LIuL JucIndu wus
1¤z
IundumenLuIIv unIuppv, und uII sIe reuIIv wunLed wus Lo be
somebodv eIse, unvbodv eIse. And so ¡ mude IL Iuppen.
¨Cun vou ImugIne wIuL IL musL Iuve been IIke? ¡or LIe IIrsL
LIme In veurs, sIe wus LruIv uIIve. TIIs wus Ier vIsIon quesL -
IIvIng or dvIng on Ier own wILs, everv duv u cIuIIenge Ior
survIvuI. TIe uncerLuInLv oI wIere und wIen Iere nexL meuI
wIII come, oI wIeLIer or noL sIe`II even sIeep wILI u rooI over
Ier Ieud on unv gIven nIgIL. SIe knew u kInd oI Ireedom LIuL
u coupIe nurcIssIsLs IIke vou und ¡ couId never begIn Lo IuLIom.
ToLuI Ioss oI ego, LoLuI ImmersIon In u new personuIILv.
¨Once u veur, everv veur, ¡ vIsILed Ier. ¡ sIowed Ier LIe IIIe
sIe IeIL beIInd, remInded Ier oI wIo sIe Iud been, und oIIered
Ier LIe cIunce Lo come buck. And everv sIngIe LIme, sIe jusL
IuugIed uL me - InduIgenLIv, IIke vou wouId IuugI uL u cIIId`s
IIIgILs oI Iuncv. SIe wouId LeII me LIuL ¡ jusL dIdn`L undersLund,
LIuL ¡ couIdn`L undersLund.¨
Mux cIrcIed uround IIs desk und Iowered IImseII InLo LIe
cIuIr. MeunwIIIe, ¡ IeIped mvseII Lo unoLIer gIuss oI IIs scoLcI.
¨Wow, ¡ couId see Iow LIuL Lvpe oI LIIng wouId IuunL vou,¨ ¡
suId uILer guIpIng down LIe drInk. ¨¡ meun, sIe obvIousIv meunL
u IoL Lo vou. And Lo Iuve been LIe one Lo IInd Ier bodv, Lo know
LIuL sIe Iud been murdered und LIuL IL wus becuuse oI
someone`s grudge uguInsL vou. ¡ cun see wIv vou`re IuvIng
nIgILmures ubouL LIuL, reIIvIng IL over und over, even In vour
sIeep. WIuL ¡ don`L undersLund, LIougI, Is wIv In LIe IeII ¡'m
uIso IuvIng vour dreums.¨
Mux dIdn`L suv unvLIIng, dIdn`L reucL uL uII, jusL suL perIecLIv
sLIII, keepIng IIs eves Iocked on me. TIen sIowIv, IIs Iund crepL
over und pusIed u buLLon on IIs desk, und ¡ Ieurd LIe Iow Ium
oI un InLercom comIng Lo IIIe.
¨DIune, ¡ wunL vou Lo Luke down u sLuLemenL. 'A recenL urLIcIe
1¤¤
In LIe weekIv pubIIcuLIon Concrete Underqround bv Mr.
DeduIus QueLzuI IncIuded InIormuLIon ubouL LIe busIness
deuIIngs beLween Abrusux ¡ncorporuLed und cILv oIIIcIuIs. WIIIe
Abrusux ¡ncorporuLed ucknowIedges LIuL LIe InIormuLIon Is
IucLuuIIv uccuruLe, Abrusux sLunds beIInd ILs busIness prucLIces
und wIII conLInue Lo do evervLIIng In ILs power Lo provIde LIe
cILIzens oI LIIs greuL cILv wILI uIIordubIe InLerneL uccess und u
quuIILv compuLIng experIence. AL LIe sume LIme, Abrusux
dIsuvows unv uLLempLs Lo brIng IeguI ucLIon uguInsL LIe
pubIIcuLIon In reLuIIuLIon Ior LIe urLIcIe und sLunds commILLed Lo
LIe prIncIpuIs oI un open und Iree excIunge oI InIormuLIon.`
Muke sure LIuL goes Lo uII LIe mujor medIu, IncIudIng LIe
Concrete Underqround. MIgIL us weII send IL Lo counseI, Loo, so
we cun geL u jump on LIIngs uL LIuL end.¨
He IeL go oI LIe InLercom und Iooked up uL me, LIen LwIsLed
IIs mouLI InLo LIuL LooLIv CIesIIre CuL grIn oI IIs.
¨So, D, Iow wouId vou IIke Lo come work Ior me?¨
1¤q
E00K THFEE
&,-'!92;5-<'*/2=-
1¤=
BC8DCE+&
&-49'E7'(: | TLe Cramps
)697F'?.065-00 | TLe Dresden Dolls
J.@H'7,-'B465'8;4F | FeacLes
!6I6/6450 | Joe Henry
&,-'$-4/')65A | Cerberus BLoal
KLMGNOPQRS-55F | Tommy TuLone
1¤6
:=. ßlind Spots
¨Sorrv, ¡ uIreudv Iuve u job,¨ ¡ suId Lo Mux.
He scoIIed und LIILed buck In IIs cIuIr, kIckIng IIs IeeL up
onLo LIe desk. ¨¡`d IurdIv cuII LIuL reuI work. How mucI do vou
ucLuuIIv geL puId bv LIuL subversIve IILLIe rug?¨
¡ LoId IIm. He IuugIed. ¨¡ cun more LIun LrIpIe LIuL. And
vou won`L even Iuve Lo gIve up vour duv job.¨
¨WIuL do vou wunL me Lo do, exucLIv?¨ ¡ usked.
¨¡nIormuLIon, D, ¡ wunL InIormuLIon. Bv Iook or bv crook. ¡
IIend Ior IL, IIke u junkIe, und mv Iunger Is InsuLIubIe.
TIereIore, ¡ um wIIIIng Lo puv Lop doIIur Lo unvone wIo cun geL
IL Ior me. Some geL IL bv mInIng eIecLronIc duLu, us vou`ve
surmIsed, buL LIuL onIv goes so Iur. SurveIIIunce Is uIso u useIuI
LooI, und ¡ Iuve experLs In LIuL IIeId us weII - IIke Mr. Gurzu,
wIom vou suw uL LIe purLv on SuLurduv nIgIL. And LIen oI
course ¡ Iuve SuInL AnLIonv, wIo uses IIs own unIqueIv
InvenLIve meLIods oI exLrucLIng IL.¨
¨How do ¡ IIL InLo uII LIIs?¨
¨WIuL ¡ wunL Is Ior vou Lo keep doIng exucLIv wIuL vou Iuve
been. TuIk Lo peopIe, usk quesLIons, pIece puzzIes LogeLIer. GIve
1¤;
me LIe Iumun eIemenL, sIow me wIuL`s In LIe bIInd spoLs
wIere u surveIIIunce cumeru cun`L see. JusL IIke vou do Ior vour
puper, buL now vou`II be reporLIng Lo me, und In LIe process
vou`II enjov uII LIe uccess und resources LIuL vou need.¨
¨How do vou know ¡ won`L Lurn uround und pubIIsI wIuL ¡
IInd ouL Ior vou?¨ ¡ usked.
¨Go uIeud,¨ Mux sIrugged. ¨¡Ike unvone cures wIuL vou und
vour socIuIIsL IrIends prInL.¨
¡ Look u deep breuLI. ¨WIuL LIe IeII, ¡`m gume. WIuL`s mv
IIrsL ussIgnmenL?¨
¨¡IIIun ¡vncI. SIe`s dIsuppeured.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨
¨SurveIIIunce Ius Ier IeuvIng Iome LIIs mornIng uL Ier
normuI LIme Ior comIng Lo work, buL sIe never sIowed up Iere.
We Lrucked down Ier cur usIng ILs GPS und Iound IL ubundoned
on LIe sIde oI LIe roud wILI u IundwrILLen noLe LIuL suId, '¡uck
vou, cocksucker.` ¡`m ussumIng LIuL wus meunL Ior me.
¨SIe Iusn`L been unswerIng Ier pIone, sIe Iusn`L gone buck
Lo Ier condo, und sIe Iusn`L mude conLucL wILI unv oI Ier
IrIends. ¡or uII InLenLs und purposes, sIe Ius vunIsIed InLo LIIn
uIr.¨
¡ mude u coupIe noLes In mv noLebook. ¨WIv do vou wunL
me Lo IInd Ier Ior vou? Don`L vou Iuve unvone In vour
orgunIzuLIon wIo`d be beLLer suILed Ior LIIs kInd oI LIIng?¨
¨¡ do,¨ Ie nodded. ¨TIe LIIng Is, ¡ cun`L necessurIIv LrusL LIIs
Lo someone wILIIn mv orgunIzuLIon. You see, ¡`ve Iud weII--¨ Ie
puused, ¨--¡ guess vou couId cuII IL u securILv breucI. ¡eL me
sLurL uL LIe begInnIng.
¨A Iew weeks ugo, ¡ receIved un unonvmous IeLLer uLLempLIng
Lo bIuckmuII me. TIe deLuIIs uren`L ImporLunL, suIIIce IL Lo suv
LIuL some person or persons cIuImed Lo Iuve InIormuLIon LIuL
1¤8
wouId be dumugIng Lo me und requesLed Lo be puId un
exorbILunL umounL oI monev Lo keep IL prIvuLe. BuL - Lo be
perIecLIv Irunk - LIIs wus noL LIe IIrsL LIme LIIs kInd oI LIreuL
Ius been mude uguInsL me, so ¡ dIdn`L LIInk mucI oI IL.
¨Once ¡ Iound JucIndu`s deud bodv In mv uIrpIune, ¡ sLurLed
LukIng LIIngs u IILLIe more serIousIv. AILer some cIeckIng, mv
securILv unuIvsLs reporLed LIuL LIere Iud In IucL been u breucI
InvoIvIng unuuLIorIzed uccess oI sensILIve InIormuLIon. ¡urLIer
InvesLIguLIon suggesLed ¡IIv us LIe mosL IIkeIv cuIprIL, und oI
course recenL deveIopmenLs Iuve borne LIIs ouL. However,
speukIng IrunkIv, sIe Ius neILIer LIe InLeIIecL, LIe vIsIon, nor
LIe consLILuLIon Lo conceIve und execuLe u pIoL IIke LIIs. SIe
musL Iuve conspIruLors wIo ure IumIIIur enougI wILI mv
operuLIons Lo know LIe vuInerubIIILIes.¨
¡ smIIed. ¨¡n oLIer words, vou cun`L even LrusL vour own
peopIe now.¨
He nodded. ¨WIIcI Is wIv ¡ need vou. So IInd ¡IIv, IInd Ier
conspIruLors, und II vou cun munuge IL, recover LIe InIormuLIon
LIev sLoIe Irom me. AILIougI ¡ reuIIze LIuL vou`d be reIucLunL Lo
Iund LIuL over II vou do.¨
He Ied me buck ouL Lo IIs ussIsLunL`s desk wIere Ie seL me up
wILI LIe kevs Lo un Abrusux compunv cur und progrummed IIs
personuI ceII number InLo mv pIone.
TIen Ie produced u red kevcurd budge beurIng boLI LIe
Abrusux corporuLe Iogo us weII us LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv gIobe
und crown svmboI.
¨TIIs wIII geL vou unvwIere vou need Lo go,¨ Mux suId us Ie
cIIpped IL Lo mv juckeL. ¨AnvwIere.¨
---
1¤¤
BeIore IeuvIng LIe buIIdIng, ¡ decIded Lo puL mv new kevcurd
Lo LIe LesL. ¡ Look LIe eIevuLor down Lo LIe sevenLI IIoor, wIIcI
Ioused Abrusux`s pubIIc reIuLIons und murkeLIng dIvIsIon. TIe
recepLIonIsL LIere knew me bv sIgIL und normuIIv Iud sLundIng
orders Irom ¡IIv Lo cuII securILv LIe mInuLe sIe suw me. TIIs
LIme sIe smIIed wurmIv und IeL me puss unobsLrucLed.
¡ swIped LIe kevcurd uL LIe door Lo LIe sLuII-onIv ureu, und IL
worked. ¡ mude mv wuv buck Lo LIe corner oIIIce wILI LIe nume
pIuLe ¨¡IIIun ¡vncI, CommunIcuLIons DIrecLor¨ und uguIn LIe
budge IeL me In.
¡IIv`s oIIIce wus exLremeIv neuL und orderIv, wIIcI dIdn`L
surprIse me gIven Iow unuI sIe cume oII. ¡I Mux Iud IIs peopIe
seurcI IL Ior evIdence, LIen LIev dId u dumn IIne job oI coverIng
LIeIr Lrucks.
TIe LIIng LIuL sLruck me ubouL Ier oIIIce wus LIe unseLLIIng
uLmospIere oI pre-IubrIcuLIon. SIe Iud gone ouL oI Ier wuv Lo
IIII LIe spuce up, Lo muke IL uppeur IIved In, buL LIe more LIme
vou spenL IookIng uround, LIe more vou reuIIzed Iow superIIcIuI
IL wus. ¡nsLeud oI pIoLos oI Ier IrIends und IumIIv, uII LIe
Irumes Iud pIcLures Luken uL compunv evenLs und proIessIonuI
conIerences. TIe onIv urL IungIng on LIe wuIIs were u Iew
Abrusux promo posLers uIong wILI Ier vurIous uwurds und
cerLIIIcuLIons. TIe books on Ier sIeIves were uII sLvIe guIdes
und busIness seII-IeIp books, Hou to ße c More Assertite
Asshole und LIe IIke. SomeIow LIIs ended up IeeIIng more coId
und ImpersonuI LIun II sIe Iud jusL IeIL LIe room bure.
¡ poked uround In Ier IIIes buL Iound jusL LIe expecLed work
pupers vou`d see In unv IIuck`s oIIIce - mosLIv spec sIeeLs und
coIIuLeruI ubouL vurIous Abrusux producLs und servIces, oId
InvoIces oI ud buvs, und cIIppIngs Irom pusL pubIIcILv
cumpuIgns.
1qo
¡ LrIed booLIng up Ier compuLer buL couIdn`L guess Ier
pussword. ¡ guve up uILer u Iew uLLempLs, buL LIen Iuppened Lo
cuLcI sIgIL oI someLIIng reIIecLIve IIusIIng InsIde un LIe uIr venL
In LIe ceIIIng. RememberIng LIe box IIdden In Cobb`s room, ¡
grubbed one oI LIe vIsILor`s cIuIrs Irom ¡IIv`s desk und sLepped
up on IL Lo Iook InsIde. ¡ dIdn`L IInd unv kev, buL ¡ dId InsLeud
IInd u smuII surveIIIunce cumeru.
TIe prIsLIne, undIsLurbed sLuLe oI LIe oIIIce mude sense.
TIere wus no need Lo seurcI IL becuuse II ¡IIv Iud IIdden
unvLIIng sIgnIIIcunL Iere, Mux wouId Iuve uIreudv known.
¡ Look some wIILe ouL Irom ¡IIv`s desk und puInLed over LIe
cumeru Iens - IonesLIv, jusL Lo be u dIck.
On mv wuv ouL oI LIe oIIIce, ¡ Ieurd u ceII pIone sLurL rIngIng
und reuIIzed IL wusn`L mIne. ¡ Iooked uround Lo IIgure ouL wIere
IL wus comIng Irom und Lrucked IL down Lo LIe row oI couL
Iungers mounLed on LIe wuII In LIe Iur corner oI LIe room. SIe
Iud u coupIe couLs IungIng, und ¡ rIIIed LIrougI LIe pockeLs
unLII ¡ Iound Ier BIuckBerrv. Bv LIuL LIme, LIe cuII Iud uIreudv
gone Lo voIcemuII, buL ¡ browsed uround und Iound Ier pIone
book, uppoInLmenL cuIendur, cuII Iogs, und e-muIIs goIng buck
Ior sIx monLIs sLored In IL.
NoL wunLIng Lo wuIk uwuv empLv Iunded, ¡ sIIpped LIe pIone
InLo mv pockeL.
Once ouLsIde ¡IIv`s oIIIce, ¡ run InLo LIree men - Lwo dressed
In securILv unIIorms, one ¡ recognIzed us LIe surveIIIunce-nuL
Irom LIe purLv, LIe one wILI LIe bIrLImurk wIom Mux Iud
cuIIed Ben Gurzu.
¨WIuL were vou doIng In LIere?¨ one oI LIe guurds usked.
¡ IIusIed LIe red kevcurd budge LIuL Mux Iud gIven me. ¨¡
work Iere. ¡ wus IookIng InLo someLIIng Ior Mr. MuxweII.¨
TIe guurd Lurned Lo consuIL In IusIed Lones wILI IIs purLner
1q1
und Gurzu. ¨You sIouIdn`L Iuve InLerIered wILI LIe surveIIIunce
equIpmenL,¨ Ie IInuIIv suId us Ie Lurned buck.
¨¡uck oII,¨ ¡ suId, sensIng un opporLunILv Lo press mv
udvunLuge. ¨¡I vou Iuve u probIem wILI LIe wuv ¡`m doIng mv
job, go uIeud und cuII up Mux IImseII. ¡`m workIng dIrecLIv on
IIs orders, noL some creepv peepIng Lom or u coupIe renL-u-
cops.¨
¡ sLured down LIe guurd, wIo ¡ couId LeII wus suIIvuLIng over
LIe LIougIL oI LukIng IIs nIgILsLIck Lo LIe sIde oI mv Ieud, buL
Ie jusL sLood LIere brIsLIIng.
¨TIen geL ouL oI mv wuv,¨ ¡ scoIIed und wuIked pusL LIem.
Gurzu gIured uL me dIsduInIuIIv, so ¡ LIrew IIm u quIck sIouIder
cIeck on mv wuv ouL. ¨Punk bILcI.¨
1qz
:ó. Dirtu ßusiness
¡ Look LIe eIevuLor down Lo LIe IourLI IeveI oI LIe
underground guruge und Iound spuce qz¤, wIIcI muLcIed up
wILI LIe Lug on LIe kevs Mux guve me. A bIuck PorscIe BoxsLer
wus purked In LIe spuce.
¡ Iopped In und IIred IL up, LIen guve CoIumbIne u cuII us ¡
drove ouL oI LIe guruge. ¡ usked II couId come pIck Ier up, und
sIe guve me Ier uddress.
On LIe wuv LIere, ¡ mude u quIck sLop uL LIe cIvIc cenLer Lo
see NIck.
¡ purked LIe PorscIe In LIe red zone, IeIL LIe Abrusux budge
IungIng Irom LIe reurvIew IIke u purkIng pIucurd, und run up LIe
sLeps Lo LIe poIIce IeudquurLers. ¡ usked LIe desk oIIIcer Lo see
NIck, und wIen sIe usked II ¡ Iud un uppoInLmenL, ¡ sLurLed
runLIng IncoIerenLIv und IIuIIIng uround IIke u mud mun wILI
TourreLLe`s wIo LIInks Ie`s on IIre.
UsuuIIv LIIs Lvpe oI beIuvIor Is Irowned-upon In poIIce
sLuLIons, und ¡ wus ubouL Lo be poIILeIv escorLed InLo un
InLerroguLIon ceII bv severuI Iurge cops wILI nIgILsLIcks wIen
NIck, wIo IuckIIv Iud been pussIng bv cIose enougI Lo Ieur IIs
1q¤
nume, InLervened.
He IurrIed me InLo IIs oIIIce und Iocked LIe door. ¨TIIs
beLLer be good.¨
¡ puIIed ouL LIe LIree bIue enveIopes Irom mv bug und
dropped LIem on IIs desk. ¨WIuL`s uII LIuL?¨ Ie usked. ¨TIe
Iove IeLLers vou`ve been wrILIng me uII LIese veurs buL Iuve been
Loo sIv Lo send?¨
¡ LIrew mv Ieud buck und IeId mv guL, sIIenLIv mImIng
IuugILer. ¨TIese were senL Lo me unonvmousIv. ¡ need vou Lo
do cop sLuII Lo LIem. CIeck Ior IIngerprInLs, DNA, wIuLever
cruzv CS¡ sIIL vou cun come up wILI.¨
He Iud pIcked up LIe enveIopes und sLurLed InspecLIng LIem,
buL LIen ubrupLIv dropped LIem wIen Ie Ieurd mv requesL.
¨You couId Iuve LoId me vou needed prInLs beIore ¡ sLurLed
IundIIng LIem, vou know.¨
¡ sIrugged uL IIm IIke Ie wus speukIng In Longues.
¨MeeL me uL LIe CusbuI uILer work,¨ Ie grouned In
resIgnuLIon.
JusL LIen un uLLrucLIve ¡ndIun sergeunL poked Ier Ieud In
und LoId NIck, ¨Hev LIere`s u PorscIe purked ouL In IronL In LIe
IIre Iune. AL LIe desk, LIev LoId me ¡ sIouId usk vou ubouL IL.¨
¡ guve NIck u coupIe quIck puLs on LIe buck. ¨¡ goLLu go.¨
---
TwenLv mInuLes IuLer ¡ puIIed up Lo u smuII one-sLorv dupIex
In u mosLIv run-down neIgIborIood on LIe eusL sIde. As ¡ goL
ouL oI LIe PorscIe und upproucIed LIe door, ¡ couId Ieur LIe
Dresden DoIIs` ¨DIrLv BusIness¨ bIurIng Irom InsIde. ¡ knocked.
WIen LIe door opened, ¡ wus surprIsed Lo see IL wus VIoIeL
wIo unswered. SIe wus dressed cusuuIIv In u wIILe bov-beuLer
1qq
und u puIr oI coLLon pujumu punLs, und sIe sLIII Iooked
unbeIIevubIe. Her IuIr wus LIed buck In u bIuck bundunnu, und
sIe wus spIuLLered wILI dIIIerenL sIudes oI puInL.
¨Come on In,¨ sIe suId wILI u smIIe. ¨CoI`s expecLIng vou.¨
SIe Ied me InLo Ier IIvIng room, wIIcI Iooked exucLIv LIe
wuv ¡ wouId Iuve guessed IL sIouId Iook. TIe IurnILure wus
coIor-coordInuLed In durk sIudes oI browns, creums, und
burgundIes. TIere wus no LeIevIsIon Lo serve us LIe IocuI poInL;
InsLeud, LIe coucIes und cIuIrs were uII urrunged Lo Iuce eucI
oLIer und IucIIILuLe conversuLIon. TIe onIv vIsIbIe pIece oI
LecInoIogv wus LIe smuII MP¤ pIuver dock LIuL wus currenLIv
bIurIng ouL Amundu PuImer`s uggressIve pIuno work. An enLIre
wuII wus covered wILI jum-pucked bookcuses. A IundIuI oI
modern urL pIeces were doLLed uround LIe room us uccenLs. AL
LIe Iur end, u IuIIwuv spIIL oII IeudIng Lo bedrooms on one sIde
und u sIorL IIIgIL oI sLuIrs on LIe oLIer, wIIcI Ied InLo u Iowered
room LIuL obvIousIv served us Ier urL sLudIo.
¨SIe`s geLLIng dressed,¨ VIoIeL suId wIIIe LurnIng down LIe
musIc wILI u remoLe. ¨Go uIeud und Iuve u seuL wIIIe vou
wuIL.¨
We suL down LogeLIer on u coucI. SIe pIcked up one oI Ier
cIove cIgureLLes, und ¡ IIL IL Ior Ier.
As sIe smoked, sIe IuId buck und puL Ier IeeL up on mv Iup.
SIe Iud smuII, deIIcuLe Loes, und Ier nuIIs were puInLed u
meLuIIIc purpIe LIuL muLcIed Ier IuIr. ¡ wuLcIed Ier sIIenLIv,
mesmerIzed bv LIe IIuIdILv und gruceIuIness oI even Ier
sImpIesL movemenLs. SIe Iooked eIegunL, IIke un oId bIuck-und-
wIILe move sLurIeL, even wIIIe IoungIng uround In PJs.
¡ Look one oI Ier bure IeeL In mv Iunds und sLurLed
mussugIng IL. SIe smIIed und IeL ouL u smuII, suLIsIIed sIgI.
¨So wIuL, ure vou und CoIumbIne roommuLes?¨ ¡ usked.
1q=
¨PreLLv mucI. We IeL Ier sLuv In our spure room uILer sIe
und Ier IuLIer Iud u bIg IuIIIng ouL. ¡L wus supposed Lo jusL be
'LII LIev puLcIed LIIngs up. TIuL wus LIree veurs ugo.¨
¨¡ see,¨ ¡ suId. ¨'Us` beIng vou und vour Iusbund.¨
SIe smIIed sIIenLIv. TIen, us II on cue, LIe IronL door opened.
¡ Iooked over mv sIouIder und suw SuInL AnLIonv wuIkIng In,
dressed In u cIurcouI gruv suIL cuked wILI mud. He sLopped In
IIs Lrucks wIen Ie suw me on LIe coucI wILI VIoIeL`s IooL In mv
Iunds.
¨HI bube,¨ sIe suId, sLundIng up und wuIkIng uround LIe
coucI Lo greeL IIm. SIe wrupped Ier urms uround IIs neck, und
LIev kIssed deepIv wIIIe AnLIonv`s Iunds reucIed down und
cupped Ier uss, cuusIng Ier Lo IeL ouL u pIuvIuI gIggIe.
¡ IougIL buck LIe urge Lo wreLcI.
AnLIonv und VIoIeL IInuIIv broke oII LIeIr embruce, LIen boLI
Lurned Lo Iook uL me. ¨¡`II go remInd CoI LIuL vou`re wuILIng,¨
VIoIeL suId sIeepIsIIv und Ieuded down LIe IuIIwuv.
¡n LIe meunLIme AnLIonv puIIed oII IIs suIL juckeL, reveuIIng
u wIILe sIIrL underneuLI spIuLLered wILI drIed bIood. ¡ IeIL u
knoL In mv sLomucI und pruved LIuL IL wusn`L ¡IIv`s.
¨¡ Ieurd Mux brougIL vou on bourd LIe Leum,¨ Ie suId und
sLrIpped oII LIe bIoodv sIIrL, ucLIng perIecLIv noncIuIunL. ¡ suw
LIuL Ie Iud u Iurge sucred IeurL LuLLooed rIgIL In LIe mIddIe IIs
perIecLIv-cIIseIed cIesL. He opened u couL cIoseL nexL Lo LIe
IronL door und Look ouL u Iooded sweuLer.
¨Word LruveIs IusL,¨ ¡ responded us Ie zIpped up LIe sweuLer
over IIs LuLLoo. ¡ reuIIzed LIuL ¡ Iud been sLurIng und LIuL Ie
noLIced IL, Loo. ¡ cuugIL IIs nurrow, menucIng guze und
suddenIv IeIL unseLLIIngIv IIke un uIbIno mouse dropped InLo u
pvLIon`s cuge.
MercIIuIIv, CoIumbIne cume bouncIng InLo LIe room onIv
1q6
seconds IuLer, Ier ebuIIIence InsLunLIv cuLLIng LIrougI LIe
LensIon. SIe wus puIIIng oII u rockubIIIv Iook In LIgIL bIue jeuns
wILI sIorL cuIIed Iegs, u red cIeckered IuILer Lop, bIg Ioop
eurrIngs, und Ier IuIr LIed buck In u IundkercIIeI. BIg cuL`s-eve
sungIusses und cIerrv red IIpsLIck provIded LIe IInIsIIng
LoucIes.
¨¡eL`s bIow LIIs joInL, duddv-o,¨ sIe suId.
¨WeII come on, IILLIe mumu,¨ ¡ repIIed, gruLeIuI Ior LIe
buIIouL, und Ied Ier ouLsIde Lo LIe PorscIe.
¨NIce rIde, wIere`d vou geL IL?¨
¨Mux,¨ ¡ suId, pIuggIng mv pIone InLo InLo LIe deck und
swILcIIng IL Lo MP¤ mode. ¨He puL me on LIe puvroII.¨
¡rom LIe speukers, LIe IuLe greuL ¡ux ¡nLerIor wuIIed: Well
come on, little mcmc, let's tecr this dcmn plcce up.
---
¡ drove us buck Lo ¡IIv`s und brougIL CoIumbIne up Lo speed
on LIe bIuckmuII pIoL, ¡IIv`s dIsuppeurunce, und Mux`s job oIIer.
¨So vou soId vour souI Lo LIe devII. NIce,¨ sIe Leused us we
goL ouL oI LIe cur. ¨So mucI Ior beIng uII Iurdcore IndependenL,
unLI-corporuLe, punk-us-Iuck journuIIsL.¨
¨¡L`s onIv seIIIng ouL II ¡ buck down und don`L pubIIsI
wIuLever dIrL ¡ IInd on Mux In LIe process,¨ ¡ counLered.
¨JusL keep LeIIIng vourseII LIuL,¨ sIe suId In u pIuvIuIIv
mockIng wuv us sIe Lvped In LIe code Lo open ¡IIv`s guLe.
¨¡L`s sLIII so sLrunge Lo LIInk LIuL ¡IIv Is mIxed up In uII LIIs,¨
sIe conLInued us we wuIked upsLuIrs. ¨¡ meun, sIe`s cerLuInIv
goL reuson Lo IuLe Mux, buL sIe`s noL reuIIv LIe bIuckmuII und
conspIrucv Lvpe. SIe`s mv IrIend und uII, buL IrunkIv sIe jusL
doesn`L Iuve enougI ImugInuLIon.¨
1q;
¨HoId on, wIuL dId vou meun ubouL IuvIng reuson Lo IuLe
Mux?¨ ¡ usked.
SIe repIIed, ¨WeII LIev Iud u preLLv messv breuk-up. ¡ don`L
LIInk sIe ever reuIIv goL over IIm.¨
¨WIuL? ¡ dIdn`L even know LIev duLed.¨
¨DuLed? TIev were enqcqed,¨ sIe squeuIed. ¨How dId vou
noL know LIuL?¨
¡ sIrugged. ¨So wIuL Iuppened?¨
¨He wus u beusL Lo Ier. ¡`m noL even sure wIv Ie proposed
Lo Ier In LIe IIrsL pIuce, oLIer LIun jusL Lo LormenL Ier. TIe wuv
¡ undersLund IL Is LIev Iud u IIIng, sIe goL cIIngv, und Ie
reLuIIuLed bv sLrIngIng Ier uIong und sIowIv breukIng Ier spIrIL.
TIe umuzIng LIIng wus LIuL sIe wus wIIIIng Lo puL up wILI IIs
ubuse und IIs cIeuLIng, und In LIe end Ie sLIII Iud Lo be LIe one
Lo cuII IL oII. ¡ wus LIere wIen IL Iuppened. We were uL u purLv,
und someone usked II LIev Iud seL u duLe Ior LIe weddIng veL.
He jusL sIook IIs Ieud und suId, 'No, ¡ don`L LIInk LIuL`s
IuppenIng unv more. MurrIuge jusL Isn`L mv sLvIe.` ¡IIv wus
sLundIng rIgIL nexL Lo IIm; Ier juw dropped.¨
¨¡uck LIuL`s IursI,¨ ¡ murveIed, sIukIng mv Ieud.
Once we goL upsLuIrs, we suw LIuL LIe IronL door wus IungIng
open wILI LIe wood uround LIe knob spIInLered us II IL Iud been
kIcked In.
We wenL InsIde und suw LIuL LIe condo Iud IILeruIIv been
Lorn upurL Irom Lop Lo boLLom, LIe IurnILure overLurned und
dIsussembIed, sIeIves empLIed, und even LIe coucI cusIIons
Iud been IoIIowed ouL.
We Iound more oI LIe sume us we mude our wuv LIrougI LIe
resL oI LIe rooms. Everv kILcIen cubIneL und druwer Iud been
Lossed, everv cIoseL empLIed. ¡n LIe buLIroom, LIev Iud
empLIed ouL uII LIe boLLIes oI sIumpoo, IoLIon, und uII LIose
1q8
mIIIIons oI oLIer unIuLIomubIe boLLIes women Iuve. ¡nsIde Ier
bedroom, LIe muLLress Iud been rIpped open und Lurned InsIde
ouL. TIev even Lore upurL LIe sLILcIIng In Ier cIoLIes Lo muke
sure noLIIng Iud been IIdden InsIde LIe IInIng.
¨Jesus, wIuL Iuppened Lo LIIs pIuce?¨ CoIumbIne usked.
¨Someone wus In Iere IookIng Ior someLIIng,¨ ¡ repIIed.
¨¡L musL Iuve been someLIIng LInv, IIke u needIe In u
IuvsLuck. ¡ook,¨ sIe suId, IoIdIng up u ZIppo IIgILer LIuL Iud
been sILIng besIde un Incense IoIder. ¡L wus Luken upurL, us II
someLIIng mIgIL Iuve been IIdden InsIde.
¨¡ doubL we`II IInd unv cIues us Lo wIere sIe`s gone Iere,¨ ¡
grumbIed. ¨BuL we mIgIL us weII gIve IL u sIoL. You cIeck up
Iere, ¡`II go Iook uround In LIe buck.¨
¨WIuL, vou meun snoop uround?¨ CoIumbIne usked, und ¡
remembered LIuL LIIs musL be Iurder Ior Ier sInce ¡IIv wus Ier
IrIend.
¨¡ook, sIe couId be In dunger. We cun`L puss up unv cIues
LIuL wouId IeIp us Lruck Ier down beIore someLIIng bud
Iuppens.¨ As soon us ¡ suId LIuL, mv mInd InvoIunLurIIv IIusIed
Lo LIe Imuge oI SuInL AnLIonv drencIed In bIood.
We spIIL up, und ¡ sLurLed gIvIng ¡IIv`s bedroom u cursorv
seurcI buL wusn`L reuIIv sure wIuL ¡ wus IookIng Ior. TIe mosL
InLeresLIng LIIng ¡ Iound wus Ier IIngerIe druwer, wIIcI Iud
been vunked ouL oI LIe dresser und dumped upsIde-down on LIe
IIoor. ¡ Iud Lo suLIsIv mv muIe curIosILv; sIe ucLuuIIv Iud some
preLLv IoL sLuII. ¡ pIcked up u red Iuce corseL, und underneuLI ¡
Iound u Irumed pIoLo oI Mux und u vIbruLor. ¡ pIcked up LIe
IuLLer und opened LIe buLLerv compurLmenL, buL LIere wus no
ArIudne Kev In LIere.
¨Eww, wuv Loo pervo,¨ ¡ Ieurd CoIumbIne suv beIInd me.
¡ sLood up, cIuckIIng. ¨¡`m jusL LrvIng Lo be LIorougI.¨
1q¤
SIe roIIed Ier eves dIsLusLeIuIIv. ¨WeII II vou`re done, ¡`ve
goL someLIIng Lo sIow vou LIuL mIgIL ucLuuIIv be ImporLunL.¨
SIe Ied me ouL LIe LIe buLIroom und poInLed ouL u puddIe oI
sIumpoo on LIe IIoor. Someone Iud sLepped In IL, IeuvIng u
mun`s IooLprInL wILI u Burberrv ImprInL sLumped Irom LIe soIe
oI LIe sIoe.
¨WeII LIuL`s deIInILeIv noL ¡IIv`s,¨ ¡ suId, IoIdIng mv own IooL
up Lo LIe prInL Lo compure. ¨¡L`s u IILLIe smuIIer LIun mIne, so ¡`d
guess u sIze nIne or nIne-und-u-IuII.¨
We were InLerrupLed bv LIe sound oI LIe IronL door openIng.
We run buck ouL Lo LIe IIvIng room und Iound u mIddIe uged
mun In u cIeup suIL sLundIng jusL InsIde LIe doorwuv.
¨WIuL ure vou doIng Iere?¨ Ie demunded.
¨¡uck vou, wIuL ure vou doIng Iere?¨ ¡ sIoL buck.
He reucIed InLo IIs juckeL pockeL und puIIed ouL u poIIce
budge. ¨DeLecLIve ¡suuc AxeIrod.¨
¨Oops,¨ CoIumbIne mumbIed beIInd me.
¡ Look AxeIrod bv LIe urm und Ied IIm ouLsIde Lo LIe IuIIwuv.
¨¡ook, we were IookIng Ior our IrIend wIo IIves Iere,¨ ¡
expIuIned. SIe dIdn`L sIow up Lo work, und sIe`s noL unswerIng
Ier pIone. TIe door wus busLed In wIen we goL Iere, so we
cume InsIde und Iound uII LIIs.¨
AxeIrod nodded, buL ¡ goL LIe dIsLIncL ImpressIon Ie Iudn`L
IIsLened Lo u word ¡ suId. ¨You don`L know unvLIIng ubouL unv
dIsLurbunce Iere IusL nIgIL, do vou?¨
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨WIuL kInd oI dIsLurbunce?¨
¨NoL Loo sure. We goL some reporLs Irom neIgIbors ubouL
some screums, excILed voIces, LIuL kInd oI LIIng. Were vou Iere
IusL nIgIL?¨
¨No,¨ ¡ suId.
AxeIrod Look down mv conLucL InIormuLIon und LoId us we`d
1=o
beLLer cIeur ouL. ¡ run buck InsIde Lo LeII CoIumbIne we were
goIng. On mv wuv ouL ¡ mude u deLour Lo LIe resLroom,
InLendIng Lo Luke u pIcLure oI LIe IooLprInL wILI mv pIone.
However, wIen ¡ goL LIere LIe sIumpoo puddIe Iud been
smeured, erusIng LIe prInL.
---
As we goL buck InLo LIe PorscIe, ¡IIv`s pIone sLurLed rIngIng
uguIn. ¡ Iooked down uL LIe cuIIer ¡D und suw IL wus LIe sume
number LIuL LrIed Lo cuII eurIIer wIen ¡ IIrsL Iound IL.
¡ Lossed LIe pIone Lo CoIumbIne. ¨Answer IL.¨
SIe puL IL on speuker. ¨HeIIo?¨
¨¡s ¡IIv LIere?¨ u gruII muIe voIce usked.
SIe Iooked uL me quesLIonIngIv. ¡ Loved wILI LIe Ideu oI
IuvIng Ier ImpersonuLe ¡IIv, buL ¡IIv Iud u verv dIsLIncLIve
voIce, IIgI-pILcIed und sIrIII, LIuL wouId be neurIv ImpossIbIe
Lo dupIIcuLe. So InsLeud, ¡ sIook mv Ieud.
¨No, sIe`s IndIsposed uL LIe momenL, buL cun ¡ Luke u
messuge?¨ CoIumbIne cIIrped cIeerIuIIv wIIIe IIusIIng me u
uhct-the-hell Iook.
¨JusL LeII Ier Lo cuII me buck wIen sIe geLs u cIunce,¨ LIe
mun repIIed. ¨JeII Irom LIe urL depurLmenL. GIve Ier LIIs
number LIuL ¡ cuIIed Irom.¨ TIen Ie ubrupLIv Iung up.
CoIumbIne Iunded me buck LIe pIone. ¨WIuL wus LIuL
ubouL?¨
¨¡L`s ¡IIv`s,¨ ¡ expIuIned. ¨¡ Iound IL In Ier oIIIce LIIs
mornIng. ¡ook LIrougI Ier recenL cuIIs und see II unvLIIng
jumps ouL uL vou.¨
¨TIIs seems IIke un InvusIon oI prIvucv,¨ sIe proLesLed
weukIv, buL scroIIed LIrougI LIe numbers unvwuvs. ¡ wuLcIed
1=1
Ier Irom LIe corner oI mv eve und noLIced Ier sLop scroIIIng
ubrupLIv, u IIusI oI surprIse In Ier eves. ¡L wus gone In un
InsLunL, LIougI, und sIe suId, ¨¡ don`L see unvLIIng reuIIv; LIev
uII Iook jusL IIke work reIuLed cuIIs. SIe dIdn`L exucLIv Iuve u
LIrIvIng socIuI IIIe.¨
¡ sIrugged. ¨Wus worLI u sIoL. So, cun ¡ usk vou u
quesLIon?¨
¨SIooL,¨ sIe repIIed wILI u smIIe.
¨WIv dId vou desLrov LIe IooLprInL?¨ SIe deIIuLed vIsIbIv,
sInkIng InLo LIe seuL und LurnIng uwuv Irom me. ¡ conLInued,
¨You know wIose sIoe LIuL wus, don`L vou?¨
¨¡ know someone wIo weurs Burberrv sIoes In u sIze nIne,¨
sIe suId. ¨TIuL doesn`L necessurIIv meun unvLIIng.¨
¨WIo?¨ ¡ pressed.
¨Mv IuLIer,¨ sIe suId.
¨OI,¨ ¡ muLLered, prucLIcuIIv ubIe Lo LusLe LIe suILv runk
sweuL oI mv IooL In mv mouLI. ¨¡L`s u IuIrIv common sIoe sIze,
couId be u coIncIdence.¨
CoIumbIne LrIed Lo smIIe, buL LIe sIupe Ier IIps ended up In
jusL Iooked spILeIuI und sour. SIe IeId up LIe pIone Ior me Lo
see und Lupped LIe screen. ¨See LIIs number? TIuL`s mv
IuLIer`s Iouse. SIe Iud u dozen cuIIs Irom LIere In LIe pusL Lwo
weeks. You LIInk LIuL`s u coIncIdence?¨
A brIeI buL uncomIorLubIe sIIence pussed beLween us, wIIcI
CoIumbIne IInuIIv broke bv suvIng, ¨¡`m goIng Lo go LuIk Lo IIm,
usk IIm wIuL`s goIng on.¨
¨You don`L Iuve Lo do LIuL,¨ ¡ objecLed.
SIe nodded Ier Ieud resoIuLeIv. ¨¡ook, IL`s possIbIe Ie`s
InnocenL, buL LIere`s goL Lo be u reuson Ie`s cuIIIng Ier so mucI.
Muvbe Ie Ius some Ideu wIere sIe wenL.¨
¨¡Ine,¨ ¡ conceded. ¨JusL be cureIuI.¨
1=z
:;. Intisible Inl
AILer droppIng oII CoIumbIne, ¡ Ieuded over Lo LIe CusbuI
und seLLIed In uL LIe bur Lo wuIL Ior NIck.
¨GoLLu IIL LIe Ieud, Mugs,¨ ¡ suId upon enLerIng und dusIed
sLruIgIL Lo LIe buLIroom. ¨BuL ¡ expecL vou Lo Iuve u doubIe
wuILIng Ior me wIen ¡ geL ouL.
A coupIe mInuLes IuLer, ¡ wus seLLIIng In uL LIe bur und
LossIng buck LIe gIuss MuggIe Iud IeIL sILLIng uL mv usuuI spoL.
¨WIen ure vou guvs gonnu geL LIuL condom dIspenser IIxed?¨
¡ usked, jerkIng mv LIumb buck Lowurds LIe buLIrooms us
MuggIe reIIIIed mv gIuss.
SIe cIuckIed. ¨¡Ike vou need Lo worrv ubouL LIuL. You cun`L
geL vour sock pregnunL, Ionev.¨
¨OoI, ¡ LIInk ¡ IeIL LIuL one Irom uII LIe wuv over Iere,¨ NIck
cuIIed ouL Irom LIe IronL door. He preLended Lo wInce In puIn uL
MuggIe`s burb us Ie wuIked up Lo LIe bur, buL LIe buIIed IIsL In
IronL oI IIs mouLI dIdn`L do unvLIIng Lo IIde Iow mucI IL mude
IIm smIIe.
He Iopped up on LIe sLooI besIde me und swung IIs Iund
1=¤
IIke Ie wus goIng Lo puL me on LIe buck, buL LIen sIurpIv jerked
IL up und Iunded u resoundIng sIup on LIe buck oI mv Ieud.
¨Ow, wIuL LIe Iuck?¨
He sLuck IIs Index IInger rIgIL In mv Iuce. ¨Your IILLIe
perIormunce Loduv goL me In u IoL oI LroubIe. You need Lo Lone
vour sIIL down. WIv ure vou so benL on drIvIng uwuv LIe Iew
peopIe IeIL wIo ucLuuIIv sLIII gIve u sIIL ubouL vou?¨
¡ sIrugged. ¨¡ook, ¡ know someLImes ¡ cun go over LIe IIne.
And ¡`m sorrv.¨ ¡ grubbed IoId oI IIs sIIrL und burIed mv Ieud
InLo IIs sIouIder meIodrumuLIcuIIv, mImIckIng genLIe sobs.
¨PIss oII,¨ Ie suId, puIIIng buck und grInnIng. ¨And unoLIer
LIIng, Iow LIe Iuck dId vou geL ¡suuc AxeIrod so Iur up vour
uss?¨
¨WIo?¨ ¡ usked, momenLurIIv conIused beIore rememberIng,
¨OI, vou meun LIuL IuckIng prIck deLecLIve?¨
NIck nodded. ¨He`s goL u cruzv Iurd-on Ior vou, neurIv wenL
LIrougI LIe rooI wIen Ie Iound ouL vou cume bv Lo see me.
He`s someIow goL IL InLo IIs Ieud LIuL vou`re InvoIved wILI
some murder, u vugrunL wIo wusIed up on LIe rIverbunk wILI
IIs LIrouL sIIL. WIuL`s LIuL uII ubouL?¨
A IIusI oI punIc expIoded InLo mv Ieud, buL ¡ IougIL Lo keep
mv cooI. ¨¡L`s jusL someLIIng reIuLed Lo LIe sLorv ¡`m workIng,¨ ¡
expIuIned, IopIng Ie`d IeL IL drop wILI us IILLIe probIng us
possIbIe. ¨¡ook, ¡ Iope vou know ¡ Iud noLIIng Lo do wILI IIs
deuLI.¨
¨OI course, ¡ do,¨ Ie repIIed. ¨And ¡ LrIed Lo puL In u good
word Ior vou, buL Ie wusn`L reuIIv recepLIve. TIe LIIng Is, ¡
know AxeIrod, und Ie`s u buIIdog. Once Ie sInks IIs LeeLI InLo
vou, Ie doesn`L IeL go. WIuLever Ie LIInks vou`ve done, Ie`II
IInd LIe prooI LIuL vou`re guIILv. Even II IL wusn`L LIere beIore
Ie sIowed up, vou geL mv drIIL?¨
1=q
¡ nodded. ¨And ¡ do upprecIuLe LIe wurnIng und vou LrvIng
Lo sLund up Ior me.¨
¨You beLLer becuuse uILer ¡ dId, mv IIeuLenunL cume In und
Lore me u new one Ior LrvIng Lo InLerIere wILI un open
InvesLIguLIon. So LIIs Is gonnu Iuve Lo be LIe IusL Iuvor vou usk
Ior, uL IeusL Ior u wIIIe.¨
¨SIIL,¨ ¡ grumbIed. ¨TeII me vou uL IeusL Iuve one bIL oI good
news.¨
¨As u muLLer oI IucL, ¡ do.¨ He LIen IuId ouL LIe LIree
enveIopes ¡ Iud gIven IIm. ¨We Iound u Iew IIngerprInLs. One
seL In purLIcuIur sIowed up on uII LIree pIeces, cIeurIv
IdenLIIIubIe.¨
¨Do vou know wIose LIev ure?¨ ¡ usked In dIsbeIIeI over LIe
Iuck.
¨Sure do,¨ Ie suId. ¨TIev`re vours, dumbuss. NexL LIme vou
wunL Lo IIIL prInLs oII oI someLIIng, vou sIouId be more cureIuI
IundIIng IL.¨
¨Okuv, okuv, ¡ geL IL,¨ ¡ suId, exusperuLed. ¨DId vou IInd unv
oLIers?¨
¨WeII, LIe prInLs were u mess, so ¡ usked LIe bovs In LIe Iub
Lo pIuv uround wILI LIem Ior u wIIIe und see wIuL eIse LIev
couId come up wILI.¨ He puused momenLurIIv Ior drumuLIc
eIIecL, LIen dug u smuII buLLerv-powered bIuckIIgIL Irom IIs couL
pockeL, IIke LIe kInd LIev use on TV news sIows Lo IInd LIe jIzz
sLuIns on IoLeI beds.
¨Are vou IumIIIur wILI puIImpsesLs?¨
¨YeuI, IL`s wIen one LexL Is prInLed over unoLIer LexL on LIe
sume puper,¨ ¡ unswered. ¨TIev were common In LIe mIddIe
uges wIen LIe cIurcI wouId wusI LIe Ink oII pre-CIrIsLIun
wrILIngs so LIev couId reuse LIe puper Ior LIeIr IILurgIcuI LexLs.
¡Ike wIuL Iuppened Lo ArcIImedes. ¡ reud un urLIcIe ubouL Iow
1==
LIev use UV IIgIL und compuLer ImugIng Lo reconsLrucL LIe
orIgInuI wrILIng.¨
NIck nodded. ¨Dumn, ¡`m Impressed. ¡ jusL sLured uL LIe Iub
guvs bIunkIv wIen LIev usked me LIuL quesLIon.¨
He swILcIed on LIe bIuckIIgIL und IeId IL up Lo LIe IIrsL
IeLLer. Two words uppeured on LIe puge, jusL underneuLI LIe
orIgInuI messuge, IundwrILLen In u Iurge buL neuL scrIpL:
1ccindc Nqo.
He moved LIe IIgIL uwuv, und LIe words dIsuppeured, IeuvIng
beIInd no Lruce on LIe prIsLIne wIILe puper.
NexL Ie Iovered over LIe second IeLLer wILI LIe IIgIL,
IIIumInuLIng LIe words: Pctricl Cobb.
¡InuIIv, Ie moved onLo LIe LIIrd IeLLer und reveuIed LIe
IIdden messuge: Lilicn Lunch.
¨WeIrd,¨ ¡ suId, IIILIng mv guze buck Lo NIck. ¨So someone
wroLe LIe numes on LIe puper, LIen bIeucIed IL ouL, und LIen
Lvped unoLIer messuge on Lop oI LIuL.¨
He swILcIed oII LIe IIgIL und sLuIIed IL buck In IIs pockeL.
¨Now ¡ know LIe LIe IIrsL nume vou LIInk Is LIe deud womun
Irom LIe dILcI. And LIe second Is LIe vugrunL wIose LIrouL
AxeIrod LIInks vou sIIL. So wIo`s number LIree?¨
¨Someone wIo muv verv weII soon be deud IerseII, II sIe
Isn`L uIreudv. AII LIree ure reIuLed Lo mv sLorv.¨ ¡ puused, LukIng
u momenL Lo process uII LIIs, LIen udded, ¨TIe LIIng Is, eucI
IeLLer urrIved be[ore LIe person numed dIed.¨
¨Jesus,¨ NIck suId. ¨So do vou LIInk LIe person wIo senL
LIese Is LIe kIIIer?¨
¡ sIrugged, ¨¡L wouId sLund Lo reuson IL`s LIe kIIIer - or uL
IeusL un uccompIIce - oLIerwIse Iow wouId LIev know wIo`s
nexL? On LIe oLIer Iund, LIougI, wIv wouId LIe kIIIer LeII me
wIo`s goIng Lo dIe beIore IL Iuppens und rIsk me beIng ubIe Lo
1=6
sLop LIem?¨
¨Muvbe LIev don`L consIder vou u reuI LIreuL und LIev`re jusL
LrvIng Lo LuunL vou, cuIIIng LIeIr sIoLs IIke Bube RuLI poInLIng Lo
LIe sLunds over cenLer IIeId,¨ NIck suggesLed. ¨BuL LIen LIe nexL
quesLIon Is wIv go LIrougI uII LIe LroubIe oI creuLIng LIese
puIImpsesLs In LIe IIrsL pIuce?¨
¡ Lupped mv IInger on mv busLed-up nose, IndIcuLIng LIuL Ie
Iud Indeed IIL upon LIe crux oI LIe muLLer.
1=;
:8. Iull Contcct

AILer IeuvIng LIe bur, ¡ decIded Lo sLop bv LIe Concrete
Underqround oIIIce Lo see II mv IIIes couId IeIp me IIgure ouL
wIo LIe numbers In ¡IIv`s pIone beIonged Lo.
¡L wus uILer Iours, so LIe pIuce wus empLv. ¡ Look ouL LIe
pIone und IIred up mv compuLer, LIen sLurLed seurcIIng.
CoIumbIne wus rIgIL; neurIv uII Ier cuIIs were reIuLed Lo
work. AII LIe Abrusux numbers Iud unIIorm preIIxes, ¤=8 Ior
IundIInes und q18 Ior ceIIs, so LIose were eusIIv seL usIde. AILer
u Iew seurcIes, ¡ suw LIuL mosL oI LIe oLIer numbers were uIso
work-reIuLed - ud suIes reps, PR consuILunLs, reporLers, und u
Iew oI Ier counLerpurLs uL oLIer compunIes.
TIen LIe pIone sLurLed rIngIng uguIn. ¡L wus LIuL sume
number LIuL kepL cuIIIng - JeII Irom LIe urL depurLmenL. ¡
Lupped LIe ¨¡gnore¨ kev, buL LIen puused. TIIs number dIdn`L
Iuve LIe sume preIIx us LIe oLIer Abrusux pIone numbers.
¨¡uckIng IeII,¨ ¡ suId uIoud.
¨¡s someone ouL LIere?¨ unoLIer voIce cuIIed ouL, mukIng me
jump up In surprIse.
¡ IoIIowed LIe voIce InLo SIuron`s oIIIce, wIere ¡ Iound Ier
1=8
sIumped In Ier desk cIuIr wILI LIe IIgILs ouL umId LIe
unmIsLukubIe smeII oI poL smoke.
¡ swILcIed on LIe IIgILs. SIe pIncIed Ier eves sIuL und IeL
ouL u IIss. ¡ noLIced LIe usILruv sILLIng ouL on Ier desk wILI Lwo
roucIes sLubbed ouL In IL, rIgIL nexL Lo one oI Ier oId pIoLos oI
PuLrIck Cobb.
SIe squInLed Lo see me us ¡ Look LIe seuL ucross LIe desk und
Ier eves udjusLed Lo LIe IIgIL. ¨You goL someLIIng on vour
nose,¨ sIe suId.
¡ smIrked und ruIsed u coupIe IIngers Lo LoucI LIe bunduge.
¨¡L Iuppens.¨
SIe pIucked u sIeeL oI puper ouL oI Ier In-box und pussed IL
over Lo me. ¨¡`d usk wIuL Iuppened Lo vou, buL ¡ IonesLIv don`L
LIInk ¡ even wunL Lo know Iow vou puIIed LIIs oII.¨
¡ Iooked down. ¡L wus u press reIeuse on Abrusux IeLLerIeud
wILI Mux`s sLuLemenL corroboruLIng mv urLIcIe.
¡ guve Ier u smug grIn und suId, ¨PIeuse gIve mv upoIogIes Lo
Ms. PuImer und Ms. SIngI Ior uII LIe monev LIeIr IIrm won`L be
cIurgIng vou now.¨
¨¡ don`L LIInk LIev`re Loo worrIed ubouL IL,¨ SIuron suId wILI
u roII oI Ier eves. ¨¡L`s onIv u muLLer oI LIme beIore vou Iuck up
uguIn.¨
We boLI sIured u soIL cIuckIe, und mv eves IeII buck Lo LIe
desk und LIe pIoLo oI Cobb. SIuron IoIIowed mv guze und
pIcked up LIe pIoLo. Her IIps curIed InLo u IuII-smIIe LIuL
LIreuLened Lo coIIupse InLo u Irown.
¨He`s deud.¨
¨¡ know,¨ ¡ suId, buL decIded noL Lo go InLo IL unv IurLIer LIun
LIuL.
¨You remInd me oI IIm u IILLIe,¨ sIe suId, proudIv reguInIng
Ier composure. ¨¡Ike u vounger, more obnoxIous versIon.
1=¤
You`re boLI boId, uncompromIsIng, und InsuIIerubIv urrogunL.
He sIowed up wILI u Iew oI LIose oI IIs own, Irom LIme Lo
LIme.¨ SIe poInLed uL mv nose. ¨He used Lo suv LIuL journuIIsm
needs Lo be u IuII-conLucL sporL.¨
SIe sLood up Irom Ier desk und sLurLed puckIng Ier LIIngs Lo
Ieuve. ¡ wundered buck Lo mv own desk, IIdgeLIng wILI ¡IIv`s
pIone In mv pockeL, LIInkIng ubouL LIe recurrIng pIone cuIIs
und Cobb und IuII-conLucL journuIIsm.
¨¡uck,¨ ¡ mumbIed under mv breuLI. ¨¡ mIgIL us weII do LIIs
IuckIng LIIng.¨
¡ puIIed ouL LIe pIone, Iound LIe IusL mIssed cuII, cIIcked
¨RepIv bv TexL¨, und Lvped: Ccn't tcll nou. Hcte the Aricdne
Keu. Meet me in z hrs uhere Mcx [ound 1ccindc.
¨WIuL ure vou doIng?¨ SIuron usked us sIe Iocked up Ier
oIIIce.
¨SomeLIIng IncredIbIv sLupId,¨ ¡ repIIed und senL LIe
messuge.
¨WeII, ¡ guess vou mIgIL us weII sLIck Lo vour sLrengLIs.¨
---
HusLIngs AIrIIeId wus jusL ouLsIde LIe cILv IImILs und Iud
ureus desIgnuLed Ior boLI mIIILurv und prIvuLe use. A IundIuI oI
LIe Iurger IocuI LecI compunIes kepL LIeIr corporuLe jeLs In LIe
cIvIIIun Iungers, wIIcI wIIIe secure, were mucI eusIer Lo sneuk
InLo LIun LIe mIIILurv sIde.
¨Mr. MuxweII senL me Lo geL some IIIes Ie IeIL on bourd,¨ ¡
LoId LIe securILv guurd, sLIckIng mv urm ouL LIe cur wIndow Lo
sIow IIm mv Abrusux kevcurd budge.
¨Do vou know wIere LIe Iunger Is?¨ LIe guurd usked.
¨AcLuuIIv, Ie suId vou couId poInL me In LIe rIgIL dIrecLIon.¨
16o
¡ IoIIowed LIe guurd`s InsLrucLIons Lo Hunger 8, LIen decIded
IL wus smurLer Lo purk LIe PorscIe uL LIe oLIer end oI LIe
uIrIIeId und wuIk buck, IIgurIng wIoever ¡ wus meeLIng mIgIL
Lurn LuII II LIev suw IL.
¡ Iound Mux`s pIune, und IL Iooked exucLIv us IL Iud In mv
dreum. ¡ sLopped deud In mv Lrucks, IeeIIng u coId cIIII creep
LIrougI mv bodv und cuuse IILLIe goosebumps Lo bubbIe up
LIrougI mv skIn. TIe uIr InsIde LIe Iunger wus coId und sLuIe
und compIeLeIv, eerIIv sLIII, und popped und cruckIed IuInLIv IIke
u cross beLween rudIo sLuLIc und u dusLv oId ¡P sLuck In LIe run-
ouL groove.
¡ munuged Lo move LIe roIIIng sLuIrcuse InLo pIuce und
cIImbed up Lo LIe Iorwurd IuLcI.
¡nsIde, LIe pIune wus durk. ¡ mude mv wuv LIrougI LIe
cubIn Lo LIe buck row oI seuLs und Iound LIe one wIere
JucIndu`s bodv Iud been. ¡ suL down In Ier seuL, und mv skIn
cruwIed. TIe uIr Iummed wILI un eIecLrIc cIurge, und LIe sLuLIc
noIse In mv Ieud grew Iouder und Look on more cIunkv,
mecIunIcuI quuIILIes, IIke un oId IIIm projecLor.
¡ suvored LIe sensuLIon In u mucubre wuv, cIosed mv eves,
IeIL mv IeurLbeuL sIow, und wondered wIuL JucIndu`s deud IIesI
Iud IeIL IIke.
SuddenIv, ¡ Ieurd LIe sound oI u door openIng beIInd me. ¡
jumped up und spun uround Lo see u mun In u bIuck LrencI couL
und wIde-brIm IuL IeupIng ouL oI LIe reur buLIroom wILI IIs
urm ruIsed In un uLLuck posILIon. BeIore ¡ Iud u cIunce Lo reucL,
Ie brougIL LIe bIuckjuck In IIs Iund down on mv LempIe wILI u
sIurp, powerIuI precIsIon. ¡ onIv cuugIL u brIeI oI gIImpse oI IIs
Iuce wILI ILs ruddv IeuLures, buIbous nose, deepIv-dImpIed cIIn,
und u Iong scur down LIe IeIL cIeek.
TIen evervLIIng Iuded Lo bIuck.
161
:o. Discssembled
WIen ¡ reguIned conscIousness, ¡ Iound mvseII sLrIpped
nuked und LIed Lo u cIuIr In u coId, dunk room wILI concreLe
wuIIs und IIoor. A Iurge IIoodIIgIL wus sIInIng dIrecLIv In mv
Iuce. ¡n LIe durkness beIInd IL, ¡ couId muke ouL LIe IuInL
sIupes oI peopIe buL couIdn`L dIsLInguIsI unv deLuIIs or IeuLures.
TIese umorpIous durk bIobs LuIked umongsL LIemseIves In
IusIed Lones, Loo quIeL Ior me Lo cIeurIv Ieur more LIun cIIpped
IrugmenLs.
A womun`s voIce: ¨--wenL Lo IIs Iouse, ¡`m sure oI IL.¨
A mun`s, Iow und gruveIv: ¨--mIsLuke Lo geL IIm InvoIved--¨
AnoLIer womun: ¨--no more LIme, Mux Is geLLIng--¨
¨He`s uwuke,¨ LIe mun suId, LIIs LIme IoudIv.
TIe sIupes sIIILed uround, und LIe sound oI LIeIr sIoes
cIIckIng uguInsL LIe concreLe IIoor ecIoed LIrougI LIe room. ¡
wus vugueIv uwure LIuL one oI LIem wus comIng cIoser, buL sLIII
wus sLurLIed wIen u Iurge durk Iorm broke ouL Irom LIe sIudows
und sLepped In IronL oI LIe IIoodIIgIL`s beum.
¨WIere Is LIe ArIudne Kev?¨ LIe gruII mun`s voIce suId us Ie
Ieuned In cIoser Lo me. HIs Iuce wus covered bv u smooLI,
16z
IeuLureIess gunmeLuI musk wILI smuII sIILs over LIe eves und
mouLI.
¡ jumped buck In mv seuL buL couIdn`L reuIIv go Iur becuuse oI
LIe LIgIL bonds. ¨Jesus-IuckIng-CIrIsL mun, wIuL LIe Iuck ure
vou supposed Lo be, some kIndu kInkv sLeumpunk gImp?¨
He reucIed ouL wILI u gIoved Iund und squeezed mv nose
LIrougI LIe guuze bunduge, cuusIng LIe curLIIuge Lo cruck und
pop und u IresI jeL oI bIood Lo squIrL ouL Irom mv nosLrIIs.
¡ IeL ouL un sIrIII, ugonIzed veIp. ¨¡uck, mun, ¡ don`L reuIIv
Iuve vour sLupId IuckIng kev. ¡L wus jusL u LrIck Lo Iure vou ouL
InLo LIe open, dumbuss.¨
¨Do vou Luke me Ior un IdIoL?¨ mv musked cupLor repIIed. ¨¡
know vou Iuve IL.¨
¨And wIuL ure vou, u Iumun IuckIng IIe deLecLor? Are vou
some kInd oI IruIL? ¡s LIIs vour sIck wuv oI geLLIng vour joIIIes,
LvIng nuked men Lo cIuIrs?¨
He Look u coupIe sLeps buck und sLood besIde LIe IIoodIIgIL,
jusL uL LIe edge oI vIsIbIIILv beLween LIe sIudow und IIgIL.
AnoLIer mun wuIked up und Iunded IIm someLIIng. TIIs
second mun Iud u smuIIer, sIIgILer buIId und wore u LrencI couL
und IuL. TIougI Ie dIdn`L sLep IuIIv InLo LIe IIgIL, ¡ couId muke
ouL enougI oI LIe conLours oI IIs Iuce Lo recognIze IIm us LIe
one wIo uLLucked me In LIe pIune.
TIe musked mun wuIked buck Lo me, IoIdIng IIs IeIL Iund
ouLsLreLcIed, cIuLcIIng LIe objecL Ie Iud been Iunded,
someLIIng bIuck und pIusLIc und ubouL LIe sIze oI wIILebourd
eruser.
¨TeII me wIere vou IId IL now, or LIIngs ure goIng Lo geL
unpIeusunL Ior vou.¨
¨Okuv,¨ ¡ sIgIed In deIeuL. ¨¡ IId IL up mv uss. UnLIe me und
¡`II IeL vou Iuve u Iook, us Iong us vou promIse Lo gIve me u
16¤
reucI-uround wIen vou`re done.¨
He jubbed LIe pIusLIc someLIIng InLo mv cIesL, und ¡ IeIL u
sLrong eIecLrIc sIock course LIrougI mv bodv. ¡ IeL ouL un
ugonIzed screum.
¨God dumn, mun, LIuL IeeIs IuckIng good,¨ ¡ suId und guve us
sLrong u IuugI us ¡ couId munuge wILIouL breukIng InLo u cougI.
¨You sIouId Iuve LoId me vou were InLo rougI Lrude.¨
He zupped me uguIn wILI LIe Luser, LIen moved IL down Lo
mv genILuIs. ¨WIere`s LIe kev?¨ Ie spuL. ¨WIere`s LIe purceI?¨
¨Hev, wuLcI IL down LIere,¨ ¡ cougIed weukIv, ¨¡`m sLurLIng
Lo geL u IILLIe cIubbv.¨
He sIocked me uguIn. ¡ grILLed mv LeeLI LogeLIer und IeIL
sLreums oI drooI drIp down mv cIIn. Mv nosLrIIs IIIIed wILI LIe
sLencI oI mv own sIzzIIng pubIc IuIr.
¡ sIumped In LIe cIuIr, mv bodv seurIng wILI puIn und
InsLIncLIveIv LrvIng Lo curI InLo u buII, cuusIng mv IImbs Lo sLruIn
uguInsL LIe ropes.
¨WuIL... wuIL...¨ ¡ pIeuded weukIv, grounIng us ¡ IIILed mv
Ieud Lo Iook IIm In IIs eve sIILs. ¨Don`L Luse me, bro.¨
¡ erupLed InLo IeebIe, wIeezIng, IuugILer. He Lused me LIree
LImes In quIck successIon. ¡ bIucked ouL uguIn.
---
¡ wus sLIII In LIe cIuIr, buL LIe IIoodIIgIL wus gone. TIe room
wus devoId oI IIgIL excepL Ior u cruck under LIe door, so ¡ IeL mv
eves udjusL Lo LIe durkness. ¡ wus sLIII groggv, jusL bureIv
IoIdIng onLo conscIousness. Over In LIe corner bv LIe door, ¡
mude ouL u smuII Iump on LIe IIoor LIuL wus IopeIuIIv mv
cIoLIes.
¡ cuIIed ouL Ior IeIp, buL goL no response.
16q
AILer cuIIIng u Iew more LImes, ¡ sLurLed scooLIng mv cIuIr
over In LIe dIrecLIon oI mv cIoLIes, wIIcI proved dIIIIcuIL sInce
mv urms und Iegs were sLIII LIed Lo LIe cIuIr. ¡L dIdn`L IeIp LIuL
mv Ieud wus swImmIng und mv muscIes IeIL IIke jeIIv. ¡
munuged Lo muke IL ubouL u LIIrd oI LIe wuv ucross LIe room
beIore ¡ pussed ouL uguIn.
---
TIe nexL LIme ¡ woke up, LIe IIgIL under LIe door wus gone,
und LIe room wus pILcI bIuck. ¡ cuIIed ouL Ior IeIp uguIn und
goL LIe sume resuILs us eurIIer.
¡ scooLed LIe cIuIr In LIe dIrecLIon ¡ remembered ¡ wus
goIng. Everv movemenL wus puInIuI. Mv muscIes burned, mv
Ieud wus LIrobbIng. ¡ LrIed Lo pusI IL ouL oI mInd und Iocused
on LukIng IL one IncI uL u LIme. ¡InuIIv, uILer wIuL seemed IIke
uges, ¡ bumped LIe cIuIr uguInsL LIe wuII. ¡n LIe durkness, ¡
couIdn`L LeII wIere LIe cIoLIes were In reIuLIon Lo wIere ¡ ended
up, buL IIgured LIev Iud Lo be cIose. ¡ posILIoned mvseII so mv
buck wus IucIng Lowurds wIere ¡ LIougIL LIev`d be, LIen used
mv weIgIL Lo rock LIe cIuIr. AILer u coupIe LImes, ¡ pIcked up
enougI momenLum Lo LIp mvseII over. ¡ IIL LIe Iurd concreLe
ground wILI u LIud. Mv muscIes screumed In ugonv. Once
more, ¡ pussed ouL.
---
Mv pIone woke me up. ¡ recognIzed LIe sLrummed guILur
InLro oI TIe KInks` ¨Powermun¨ us Mux`s rIngLone und wus
reIIeved LIuL IL sounded cIose beIInd me. ¡ nudged und
muneuvered mvseII unLII mv Iunds, wIIcI were sLIII LIed beIInd
16=
LIe cIuIr, IInuIIv IeII upon LIe IubrIc oI mv jeuns. SIowIv,
puInsLukIngIv, ¡ expIored wILI mv Iunds, LrucIng LIe seums unLII
¡ Iound mv IronL IeIL pockeL. DIggIng InsIde, ¡ wrupped mv
IIngers uround LIe cooI, comIorLIng sLeeI oI mv pockeLknIIe.
¡L Look me severuI mInuLes Lo munIpuIuLe LIe knIIe open und
geL LIe bIude In posILIon uguInsL LIe ropes. ¡ Iud LIe IundIe
grIpped beLween mv LIumb und Index IIngers wILI LIe bIude
poInLed buck up mv urm. SIowIv, cureIuIIv, ¡ begun suwIng
LIrougI LIe bonds.
AILer wIuL seemed IIke Iours, ¡ Iud one Iund Iree. ¡rom
LIere, ¡ wus ubIe Lo cuL mvseII Ioose IuIrIv quIckIv, LIen
sLruggIed Lo mv IeeL und sIowIv, puInIuIIv dressed mvseII.
¡ puIIed LIe pIone ouL oI mv juckeL und cuIIed Mux buck.
WIIIe IL rung, ¡ Iooked uround LIe resL oI LIe room. On one
sIde, LIere wus un open doorwuv LIuL Ied ouL Lo unoLIer, Iurger
room, wIIcI Iooked IIke IL Iud once been u sLore oI some kInd
buL Iud Iong sInce been ubundoned. ¡ guessed LIe pIuIn
concreLe room wIere ¡`d been IeId wus used Ior sLoruge or u
sLock room.
TIere wus u second doorwuv uL LIe oLIer sIde oI mv room,
wIIcI Iud u Ieuvv meLuI door LIuL mosL IIkeIv Ied ouLsIde. ¡
LrIed IL; mercIIuIIv, IL wus unIocked.
¡ emerged ouL InLo u grImv, nondescrIpL downLown uIIevwuv
jusL us Mux IInuIIv unswered LIe pIone. ¡ wInced und sIIeIded
mv eves Irom LIe sunIIgIL.
¨D? WIere LIe IeII Iuve vou been?¨
¨¡ don`L know. WIuL duv Is IL?¨
TIe meLuI door sIummed sIuL beIInd me wILI u Ioud bung.
TIe words, ¨BeII ouL oI order, pIeuse knock¨ were spruv puInLed
on IL.
On LIe pIone, Mux unswered, ¨¡L`s TIursduv. WIere ure
166
vou?¨
¨Jesus, TIursduv,¨ ¡ grouned. ¨¡IsLen, ¡ jusL spenL LIe IusL
duv-und-u-IuII nuked und LIed Lo u cIuIr, geLLIng eIecLrocuLed.¨
TIere wus u Iong puuse on LIe oLIer end oI LIe pIone.
¨WuIL, wIuL dId vou jusL suv?¨
¨¡ook, come pIck me up und ¡`II expIuIn,¨ ¡ repIIed wIIIe
joggIng ouL oI LIe uIIevwuv Lo Iook Ior u sLreeL sIgn. ¨¡ooks IIke
¡`m uL LIe corner oI MIssIon und z;
LI

¨¡`II be rIgIL LIere,¨ Mux suId und Iung up.
---
Mux guve me u rIde buck Lo LIe uIrIIeId so ¡ couId pIck up LIe
PorscIe, und on LIe wuv ¡ recounLed LIe sLorv oI mv umbusI
und kIdnuppIng.
¡uckIIv, LIe PorscIe wus sLIII wIere ¡ IeIL IL und dIdn`L Iook
IIke IL Iud been broken InLo. EvervLIIng InsIde wus unLoucIed -
mv IupLop, ¡IIv`s pIone, mv noLes. Mv kIdnuppers obvIousIv
Iudn`L Iound IL.
¡ drove buck Iome wILI mv bodv ucIIng und mv Ieud sLIII
swImmIng, suvorIng LIe LIougIL oI sLreLcIIng ouL on u nIce, soIL
bed.
¡ IuuIed mvseII upsLuIrs wILI us mucI enLIusIusm us ¡ couId
musLer, buL IL uII sunk us soon us ¡ suw LIe IronL door Lo mv
upurLmenL spIInLered und IungIng oII ILs IInges.
¡ IeIL mv udrenuIIne spIke us ¡ rusIed InsIde, sIummIng LIe
door open und swILcIIng on LIe IIgILs.
Mv upurLmenL Iud been Lorn upurL jusL IIke ¡IIv`s, IILeruIIv
Lurned InsIde ouL und seurcIed wILI u IIne LooLI comb.
SurvevIng LIe dIsusLrous sLuLe, Ior some reuson LIe Imuge oI
LIe TusmunIun DevII popped InLo mv Ieud. ¡ pIcLured LIuL
16;
sIobberIng, wIIrIIng Lornudo oI Iuzz cIewIng up und spILLIng ouL
uII mv worIdIv possessIons, LeurIng u IoIe sLruIgIL LIrougI LIe
verv IubrIc oI mv exIsLence.
¡ jusL IuugIed - IvsLerIcuIIv, bILLerIv, becuuse ¡ dIdn`L know
wIuL eIse Lo do. ¡ IeIL us IrugmenLed und dIsussembIed us
evervLIIng eIse In LIere.
WeurIIv, ¡ Lrudged LIrougI LIe debrIs oI mv IIIe und IuId
down In mv bed. As mv IuugILer dIed down und ¡ cIosed mv
eves, ¡ suId u IILLIe pruver under mv breuLI LIunkIng wIoever
wus IIsLenIng LIuL mv dumb uss uL IeusL Iud LIe wIerewILIuI Lo
IIde Cobb`s bIue box somewIere eIse.
168

zo. This ßool Doesn't Mcle Anu Sense
¡ woke up Lo LIe cruncIv sounds oI musLIcuLIon und Iound
CoIumbIne sILLIng on mv dresser wILI u brown bug oI MIssIon
LorLIIIu cIIps In Ier Iup, LIumbIng LIrougI Dhclqren.
¨Déju vu,¨ ¡ suId, mussugIng mv LempIes us ¡ cIImbed ouL oI
mv bed. Mv Ieud wus LIrobbIng, und IL IeIL IIke ¡ Iud onIv jusL
bureIv IuIIen usIeep. GIuncIng uL LIe cIock, ¡ reuIIzed LIuL wus In
IucL LIe cuse; ¡ Iudn`L been ouL more LIun LwenLv mInuLes. Mv
IeurL sunk.
¨TIIs book doesn`L muke unv sense,¨ CoIumbIne compIuIned
us sIe Iopped oII LIe dresser. SIe wus weurIng u bIue CIInese
sIIk dress wILI u drugon prInL. Her IuIr wus puIIed buck In u bun
und IeId In pIuce bv Lwo cIopsLIcks. ¨And vour IronL door`s
busLed. You sIouId geL IL Iooked uL, unvone couId jusL wuILz
rIgIL In Iere.¨
¨¡ndeed,¨ ¡ grunLed us ¡ LIrew on some cIoLIes. ¨So wIuL`s
up?¨
¨¡`ve been LrvIng Lo geL uIoId oI vou so ¡ couId LeII vou wIuL
Iuppened Lo me IusL nIgIL. Mux LoId me vou IInuIIv re-surIuced,
so ¡ rusIed rIgIL over.¨
16¤
¡ snuLcIed u coupIe cIIps Irom LIe bug und Lossed LIem In
mv mouLI. ¨DId Ie expIuIn wIv ¡ wenL mIssIng?¨
¨YeuI, bIg uhctets, some meun buIIv pusIed vou uround u
IILLIe, boo-Ioo. Anvwuvs, ¡ Iuve Lo LeII vou wIuL Iuppened, IL`s
reuIIv good.¨
¨WeII, IeL`s go Iuve u seuL LIen so vou cun LeII me, us Iong us
IL`s reuIIv good,¨ ¡ repIIed us ¡ Ieuded ouL Lo LIe IIvIng room Lo
seLLIe InLo LIe coucI beIore reuIIzIng LIe coucI couId no Ionger
rIgILIv even be cuIIed u coucI.
¨¡uck, on second LIougIL, IeL`s geL ouL oI Iere.¨
---
¡ Look CoIumbIne downsLuIrs Lo LIe IILLIe LuquerIu nexL Lo mv
upurLmenL und proceeded Lo devour u burrILo bIg enougI Lo cIub
u mun deud wILI wIIIe sIe LoId me Ier sLorv.
¨So uILer wIuL we LuIked ubouL Tuesduv, LIe IooLprInL und mv
IuLIer`s number on ¡IIv`s pIone und uII LIuL, ¡ decIded Lo go Lo
IIs Iouse vesLerduv Lo see II ¡ couId IInd ouL wIuL LIeIr
connecLIon wus.
¨AL IIrsL ¡ dIdn`L see IIm unvwIere, so ¡ IIgured Ie wus ouL. ¡
decIded Lo poke uround u IILLIe In IIs oIIIce, buL us ¡ goL cIoser, ¡
Ieurd voIces comIng Irom InsIde. ¡ couIdn`L muke ouL wIuL LIev
were suvIng, buL ¡ IId down LIe IuII und wuILed unLII LIev cume
ouL, und ¡ goL u preLLv good Iook uL LIe Lwo men Ie wus wILI.
¨One wus u vounger guv, ubouL vour uge, In u suIL. TIe
second wus sIorLer und weurIng u bIuck LrencI couL und u IuL,
wIIcI wus weIrd. He uIso Iooked oIder, und IIs Iuce wus reuIIv
rougI und ruddv und Iud u bIg scur on one cIeek.¨
¡ reuIIzed LIuL LIIs Iud Lo be LIe sume mun wIo uLLucked me
In LIe pIune, und mv Iuce musL Iuve sIown mv surprIse becuuse
1;o
CoIumbIne puused und usked, ¨WIuL Is IL?¨
¨NoLIIng. Go on, wIuL Iuppened nexL?¨
¨¡ IoIIowed LIem, beIng cureIuI Lo Iung buck enougI so LIev
wouIdn`L see me. TIev wenL ouLsIde und goL InLo u weIrd, cIussIc
IIILIes-sLvIe cur wILI u bIue puInL job.¨
The scme ccr I scu the niqht Cobb tisited me, ¡ LIougIL.
CoIumbIne conLInued, ¨AILer LIev Look oII, ¡ run buck InsIde
und grubbed LIe spure kevs Lo mv dud`s Juguur Irom LIe kev
Iook In LIe IronL enLrvwuv wIere Ie uIwuvs keeps LIem. TIen ¡
drove uILer LIem.
¨TIev Ieuded up InLo LIe mounLuIns ouL pusL LIe norLIeusL
cILv IImIL - ¡ meun wuv ouL InLo LIe mIddIe oI nowIere. TIev
IInuIIv sLopped In un open cIeurIng, purkIng nexL Lo unoLIer cur
LIuL wus uIreudv wuILIng. ¡ sLuved IIdden beIInd un
ouLcroppIng oI rocks, cIose enougI LIougI LIuL ¡ couId see.
¨TIe oLIer cur wus u bIuck EscuIude, und ¡ recognIzed IL rIgIL
uwuv us SuInL AnLIonv`s. TIen ¡ suw IIm sLundIng u IILLIe
IurLIer pusL LIe curs, IoIdIng u sIoveI In IIs Iunds. TIere were
Lwo IoIes In LIe ground uIong wILI someLIIng LIuL Iooked IIke IL
couId Iuve been u deud bodv covered In u Lurp.
¨Mv IuLIer und LIe oLIer Lwo men goL ouL oI LIe bIue cur und
spoke wILI IIm brIeIIv. AnLIonv mude u coupIe gesLures Lowurd
LIe bodv und LIe Lwo IoIes. AILer u wIIIe, LIe voung guv wuIked
over Lo one oI LIe LIem und Iooked down InLo IL. AnLIonv cume
up beIInd IIm wIIIe IIs buck wus Lurned und swung LIe sIoveI
InLo IIs Ieud, sendIng IIm LoppIIng over InLo LIe IoIe.
¨AnLIonv Lossed LIe bodv In LIe Lurp InLo LIe oLIer gruve,
und LIen sLurLed IIIIng LIem boLI In wILI dIrL. TIe mun In LIe
LrencI couL goL unoLIer sIoveI ouL oI LIe EscuIude und IeIped
IIm wIIIe mv IuLIer wuILed In LIe bIue cur.
¨¡ IeIL beIore LIev IInIsIed burvIng LIem, IIgurIng LIe Ieud
1;1
sLurL wouId IeIp me geL buck wILIouL beIng seen.¨
¨TIuL`s IncredIbIe,¨ ¡ suId wIen sIe IInIsIed. ¨So vou dIdn`L
see wIo wus under LIe Lurp?¨
¨No.¨
¡ pressed, ¨CouId vou LeII II IL wus someone bIg or smuII, uL
IeusL, mun or womun?¨
SIe sIook Ier Ieud.
¨WeII, do vou LIInk vou couId IInd LIose gruves uguIn II we
wenL ouL LIere?¨
¨WIv?¨ sIe usked, suddenIv deIensIve. ¨And wIv do vou
wunL Lo know II IL`s u mun or u womun?¨
¡ opened mv mouLI Lo unswer, buL LIe Iook In Ier eves suId
LIuL sIe uIreudv knew wIv, even II sIe dIdn`L wunL Lo udmIL LIe
possIbIIILv Lo IerseII.
¡ reucIed ucross LIe LubIe und Look Ier Iund In mIne. ¨¡ook,
we need Lo know II IL`s Ier. ¡I IL`s noL, we know LIuL we sLIII Iuve
u cIunce Lo IeIp Ier. And II IL Is... weII, LIen uL IeusL we cun IInd
LIe busLurds responsIbIe.¨
---
AILer euLIng, we Iopped In LIe PorscIe und re-Lruced LIe wuv
buck Lo LIe gruve sILe. BeIore IeuvIng Lown, we sLopped uL u
Iurdwure sLore wIere ¡ pIcked up u coupIe sIoveIs, some Ieuvv-
duLv gIoves, und u puck oI uIr IIILer musks.
TIe mounLuIns LIuL comprIsed LIe norLIeusLern edge oI LIe
vuIIev were spurseIv deveIoped - u IundIuI oI weuILIv IumIIIes
owned vusL cIunks oI IL. TIere were some IIIIsIde esLuLes und u
Iew soIur energv Iurms on LIe Iower, bure IooLIIIIs, buL bevond
LIuL wus jusL dense IoresL.
We uscended LIrougI nurrow, wIndIng mounLuIn rouds.
1;z
AILer ubouL IIILeen mInuLes oI cIImbIng, we pussed u Iurge meLuI
sIgn beurIng LIe corporuLe Iogo oI AsLerIon Record
MunugemenL. JusL ubove IL on LIe sume posL wus unoLIer,
sIIgILIv smuIIer sIgn wurnIng uguInsL LrespussIng. Soon uILer
IgnorIng LIuL, we cume uround u bend und suw u gIunL
monoIILIIc buIIdIng come InLo vIew In LIe dIsLunce. TIe roud
IeveIed oII us we reucIed LIe Lop oI u pIuLeuu IIdden umIdsL LIe
IooLIIIIs.
¨WIuL Is LIuL LIIng?¨ CoIumbIne usked.
¨WeII, II LIIs Is AsLerIon`s properLv, LIuL musL be one oI LIeIr
sLoruge IucIIILIes. ¡ knew LIev owned u IoL oI Iund In LIese
mounLuIns, buL ¡ cun`L ImugIne wIuL LIev wouId need Lo sLore uII
LIe wuv ouL Iere.¨
¨WeII, LIuL`s noL wIere we`re goIng, unvwuvs,¨ sIe repIIed.
¨PuII oII LIe roud up Iere und IoIIow LIose LIre Lrucks.¨
We drove ouL u coupIe more mInuLes unLII LIe Lrucks
sLopped. A Iew vurds uwuv, ¡ suw LIe Lwo gruves.
¨We`re Iere,¨ CoIumbIne suId wILI suIIIcIenL
undersLuLemenL.
¡ Iopped ouL und cIrcIed uround Lo LIe Lrunk Lo geL LIe
sIoveIs. ¡ oIIered Ier one, buL sIe sIook Ier Ieud empIuLIcuIIv.
So ¡ sLurLed dIggIng uIone.
AILer ubouL Iour IeeL, ¡ IIL someLIIng. MovIng unoLIer
sIoveIIuI oI dIrL usIde, ¡ suw LIuL IL wus u bIuck Lurp. ¡ dug u
IILLIe IurLIer Lo excuvuLe jusL enougI oI LIe corpse so LIuL ¡ wus
sure ¡ Iud LIe Ieud. As ¡ kneIL down Lo InspecL IL cIoser, ¡
noLIced u Iew errunL sLrunds oI red IuIr pokIng ouL Irom under
LIe Lurp.
¡ wInced, IeeIIng LIe uIr escupe Irom mv Iungs us II ¡`d been
puncIed In LIe guL, und ¡ reucIed ouL Lo puII buck LIe sIeeLs oI
bIuck pIusLIc coverIng LIe bodv`s Iuce, despILe LIe cerLuInLv LIuL ¡
1;¤
uIreudv knew wIuL ¡`d IInd.
¡ wus wrong.
TIe Iuce underneuLI LIe Lurp wusn`L ¡IIv`s; IL wus u mun`s. ¡L
Look me u second Lo process LIIs InILIuI surprIse, buL LIen IL
duwned on me wIo exucLIv ¡ wus IookIng uL.
He wus Seumus, LIe bum Irom LIe ¡IgIL RuII. TIe one wIo
used Lo work Ior Mux.
¨Um, D,¨ CoIumbIne cuIIed ouL. ¨You`d beLLer geL up Iere.¨
¡ cIImbed ouL oI LIe gruve und IoIIowed Ier guze down LIe
roud Lo Lwo wIILe vuns IeudIng sLruIgIL Ior us.
We jumped buck InLo LIe cur und peeIed ouL, IrunLIcuIIv
speedIng buck LIe wuv we cume. ¡uckIIv, LIe PorscIe wus goIng
Lo ouLrun und ouL-muneuver LIose vuns unv duv, especIuIIv on
wIndIng rouds IIke LIIs. TIe onIv quesLIon wus wIeLIer ¡ wus
goIng Lo be ubIe Lo IundIe LIe PorscIe weII enougI uL Lop speeds
Lo keep us Irom LukIng u Lurn Loo wIde und IuuncIIng down un
embunkmenL. ¡ grIpped LIe wIeeI LIgILIv, grILLed mv LeeLI, und
LrIed Lo momenLurIIv IorgeL Iow spoLLv mv DMV record ucLuuIIv
wus.
To mv usLonIsImenL, ¡ dIdn`L kIII us, und ¡ uImosL begun Lo
beIIeve ¡ wusn`L u compIeLe Iuck-up us we upproucIed LIe IInuI
bend beIore reconnecLIng wILI LIe muIn IIgIwuv.
BuL jusL us we cume uround LIe bend, ¡ suw u roudbIock seL
up uIeud oI us. ¡ sIummed on LIe brukes und bureIv uvoIded
pIowIng InLo Lwo Iurge urmored curs wILI ¨AsLerIon Records
MunugemenL¨ puInLed on LIe sIdes, wIIcI were purked sIdewuvs
end-Lo-end besIde LIe ¨No TrespussIng¨ sIgn ¡ Ignored eurIIer.
OuLsIde LIem, Iour urmed securILv guurds were wuILIng Ior us.
¨SIr, ¡ need vou Lo sLep ouL oI LIe veIIcIe,¨ one oI LIe guurds
suId us Ie upproucIed LIe drIver`s sIde wIndow. TIe oLIer LIree
kepL LIeIr rIIIes ruIsed und LruIned on us.
1;q
TIere wus reuIIv no wuv oI geLLIng ouL oI LIIs mess LIuL ¡
couId see, so ¡ IIgured ¡`d do LIe nexL besL LIIng und muke LIe
experIence us unpIeusunL Ior evervone InvoIved. ¨¡uck vou, vou
RenL-u-Cop swIne,¨ ¡ suId, ¨¡`m u member oI LIe press, und ¡
know mv rIgILs.¨
TIe buLL oI LIe guurd`s rIIIe cume suIIIng LIrougI LIe open
wIndow und connecLed wILI mv Iuce, spInnIng mv Ieud uround
und sendIng bIood spurLIng ouL ucross LIe dusIbourd. WIIIe ¡
reeIed Irom LIe bIow, Ie opened LIe door und drugged me ouL oI
LIe cur. TIen Ie und unoLIer guurd pInned me Lo LIe ground
wIIIe u LIIrd seurcIed me.
MeunwIIIe, LIe IourLI wenL uround Lo LIe oLIer sIde und
mude CoIumbIne geL ouL oI LIe cur und seurcIed Ier.
TIev Lore vIoIenLIv uL mv cIoLIes, munIundIed me rougIIv
wIIIe doIng u IuII bodv seurcI. WIen ¡ suw LIe oLIer one wus
doIng LIe sume Lo CoIumbIne, ¡ redoubIed mv eIIorLs Lo breuk
Iree, prompLIng LIe one seurcIIng me Lo sLomp LIe IeII ouL oI
mv Iuce.
TIen ¡ wus IIILed up und Lossed InLo LIe buck oI one oI LIe
urmored curs IIke u rug doII. Or uL IeusL LIIs Is wIuL ¡ surmIsed
wus probubIv IuppenIng, sInce ¡ couIdn`L see u dumned LIIng Ior
uII LIe bIood gusIIng down mv Iuce.
---
TIe gIunL meLuI door swung open, und un oId mun wIo
remInded me vugueIv oI BeIu ¡ugosI enLered. He uppeured Lo be
weII InLo IIs sevenLIes und decIdedIv worse-Ior-weur - mosLIv
buId wILI smuII LuILs oI LIIn, wIrv gruv IuIr, IIs Iuce wrInkIed
und cruggv Irom veurs oI sLress, smokIng, und booze. He
drugged IIs sIrIveIed curcuss ucross LIe room wILI LIe munner
1;=
oI someone uccusLomed Lo LukIng IIs own sweeL LIme ubouL
LIIngs, puIIIng on u smuII, Iund-roIIed cIgurIIIo us Ie wenL.
He Iovered over me us ¡ Iuv on LIe coId meLuI exumInuLIon
LubIe, guve me u quIck once over, und Look u coupIe more sucks
on IIs pungenL IILLIe buLL beIore pronouncIng IIs dIugnosIs.
¨Young mun, vou ure severeIv Iucked-up,¨ Ie suId In u LIIck
eusLern Europeun uccenL LIuL dId Indeed sound u IoL IIke ¡ugosI.
He LIrusL u gnurIed, nIcoLIne-sLuIned IInger InLo mv Iuce und
poked severuI sore spoLs. ¡ IIssed In exucLIv LIe kInd oI
LIrobbIng, bIIndIng puIn vou`d expecL Lo geL Irom some
juckbooLed IuscIsL duncIng un ¡rIsI jIg on mv Iuce.
He sIId over u Lruv oI vurIous urcune surgIcuI LooIs LIuL
Iooked more IIke LwIsLed meLuI LorLure devIces LIun unvLIIng
eIse und proceeded Lo sLILcI up mv Iuce wILI uII LIe cure und
sensILIvILv oI u puncI-drunk prIze IIgILer.
¡ pussed ouL u coupIe LImes wIIIe Ie worked - noL becuuse Ie
boLIered Lo unesLIeLIze me In unv wuv, buL jusL Irom sIeer,
overpowerIng ugonv.
---
¡ Iooked uL mv reIIecLIon In LIe smuII IundIeId mIrror und
LIougIL Ior u momenL LIuL LIe sudIsLIc Iuck oI u docLor Iud
repIuced LIe gIuss wILI u pIoLo oI ground beeI IeIL ouL Lo sIL Ior u
week.
TIere were LIree Iurge, rugged IuceruLIons sLILcIed up
IupIuzurdIv umId u IoL oI sweIIIng und bruIsIng. One wus u
gIunL gusI ubove mv rIgIL brow, unoLIer wus u smuIIer crescenL
uround LIe rIdge oI mv IeIL eve sockeL, und LIe LIIrd wus u spIIL
In LIe sIde oI mv IeIL cIeek. Mv nose Iud uIso been re-broken,
sIoppIIv reseL, und Luped up.
1;6
¡ IIILed u Iund Lo Lruce LIe swoIIen, dIscoIored conLours oI mv
Iuce und Iud Lo ucLuuIIv IIgIL Lo cIoke buck u IvsLerIcuI bursL oI
Leurs.
¨Don`L LoucI vour Iuce, vou`II upseL LIe sLILcIes,¨ LIe docLor
udmonIsIed us Ie benL over LIe mIIdewv sInk und wusIed un
uIurmIng umounL oI mv bIood oII IIs Iunds und InsLrumenLs.
Across LIe mukesIIIL operuLIng room, LIe meLuI door swung
open uguIn, und Mux poked IIs Ieud In.
¨How`s Ie doIng?¨
¨He`II IIve,¨ LIe docLor repIIed us Ie spurked up unoLIer
cIgurIIIo. ¨AILIougI vou`d never beIIeve IL Irom LIe wuv LIIs
IILLIe sIssv Ius been currvIng on.¨
Mux cIuckIed und cuL ucross LIe room. He wus prIsLIneIv
groomed und dressed In u cIussIc bIuck Luxedo wILI IuII-IengLI
couLLuIIs. ¡ sLruIned Lo Iop oII LIe LubIe und grouned us ¡
reucIed ouL Lo grub mv sIIrL oII u neurbv cIuIr.
¨Here, ¡ brougIL vou u geL-weII-soon gIIL,¨ Mux suId und
Lossed me u IILLIe wIILe pIII boLLIe. ¨Be cureIuI wILI LIese, vou
don`L wunL Lo Luke more LIun one or Lwo u duv.¨
¡ sIook Iour ouL onLo mv puIm und Lossed LIem InLo mv
mouLI.
¨¡ Iope vou dIdn`L Iuve unv pIuns LonIgIL,¨ Mux cIIded us Ie
IIILed mv juckeL oII LIe buck oI LIe cIuIr und IeIped me puL IL on.
He sLruIgILened LIe IupeIs und LIen run IIs Iunds down mv
IronL Lo smooLI IL ouL. WIIIe Ie dId, Ie Iound LIe Abrusux
budge sLIckIng ouL oI mv pockeL und IeId IL up Ior me Lo see.
¨You`re Iuckv LIev Iound LIIs on vou. OLIerwIse vou`d be
sILLIng In un InLerroguLIon ceII rIgIL now InsLeud oI In LIe good
docLor`s operuLIng room.¨ He Lucked IL buck InLo mv couL und
puLLed LIe pockeL, IndIcuLIng LIuL IL wus suIe und secure.
¨Seems IIke un overreucLIon Ior sImpIe LrespussIng.¨
1;;
He grInned good-nuLuredIv und expIuIned, ¨TIev ure preLLv
purunoId ubouL securILv. MosL oI LIe records AsLerIon keeps up
Iere come Irom mujor cIIenLs wIo ure worrIed ubouL corporuLe
espIonuge und wIIIIng Lo puv Lop doIIur Lo muke sure LIeIr Lrude
secreLs sLuv jusL LIuL. Now udmILLedIv, wIuL Iuppened Lo vou Is
on LIe exLreme end oI LIIngs, buL vou seem Lo Iuve LIuL eIIecL
on peopIe.¨
¨No IuckIng kIddIng,¨ ¡ spuL buck. ¨Seems IIke everv LIme ¡
Lurn uround LIere`s someone wuILIng Lo kIck mv Iuce In. ¡L`s IIke
mv IIIe Ius suddenIv become one oI LIose oId puIp deLecLIve
noveIs.¨
¨HIpsLer PIIIIp MurIowe,¨ Mux udded wILI un umused snorL.
¨YeuI, weII, IL`s noL u IuckIng joke, IL`s mv IIIe. And IL`s
geLLIng reuIIv IuckIng oId, reuIIv IuckIng IusL,¨ ¡ snupped und
burIed mv Iuce In mv Iunds. ¨¡L IeeIs IIke evervLIIng Is IuIIIng
upurL. ¡Ike ¡`m beIng dIsussembIed pIece bv pIece, pIvsIcuIIv,
menLuIIv, emoLIonuIIv. And now ¡`m so IuckIng dIsIIgured ¡
cun`L even recognIze mvseII In LIe mIrror. ¡`m jusL so IuckIng
LIred oI IL uII.¨
¨Hev, ¡ LoId vou noL Lo LoucI!¨ LIe docLor cIusLIsed us Ie
reucIed ouL und swuLLed me In LIe buck oI LIe Ieud, Iurd.
Mv Iuce InsLIncLIveIv LwIsLed InLo u sneer, buL ucLuuIIv IIs
bIow wus jusL LIe LIIng ¡ needed Lo joIL me ouL oI LIe emo seII-
pILv-purLv ¡ wus sIIppIng InLo. ¡ Lurned buck Lo Mux und usked,
¨WIere`s CoIumbIne?¨
¨SIe`s IIne - sIe`s wuILIng ouLsIde. SIe expIuIned wIuL
Iuppened, Iow vou were dIggIng up LIe deud bodv LIuL vou
LIougIL wus ¡IIv.¨ He puused, LIen udded, ¨¡L`s noL,
IncIdenLuIIv. TIuL wus jusL u rouLIne cIore ¡ usked SuInL
AnLIonv Lo IundIe Ior me, noLIIng Lo do wILI vour ussIgnmenL.¨
¨WuIL, wIuL?¨ ¡ suId, und puIIed ouL mv noLebook us II ¡ Iud
1;8
someIow mIssed someLIIng. ¨So vou`re LIe one wIo seL up LIuL
wIoIe meeLIng? Does LIuL meun LIe guv wIo drIves LIuL oId
bIue CIevv works Ior vou, Loo?¨
TIere wus no IInL oI recognILIon In Mux`s Iuce us Ie sIook
IIs Ieud. ¨WIuL bIue CIevv?¨
¨TIe guv wIo drove McPIerson ouL Lo meeL AnLIonv uL LIe
gruves.¨
Mux Iooked uL me sIIenLIv wILI no reucLIon, IIs Iuce
remuInIng compIeLeIv sLoIc und uncIunged. And veL, LIere wus
someLIIng puIpubIv dIIIerenL, possIbIv u neurIv-ImpercepLIbIe
sLIIIenIng oI IIs posLure, or muvbe even jusL u durkenIng oI IIs
uuru, und ¡ knew LIuL Ie wus boLI surprIsed bv wIuL ¡ suId und
noL u bIL pIeused.
AppurenLIv, CoIumbIne Iudn`L been compIeLeIv IorLIcomIng
wILI Ier uccounL Lo IIm.
¨You dIdn`L know McPIerson wus ouL LIere wIIIe AnLIonv
burIed LIem,¨ ¡ crowed LrIumpIunLIv.
¡ sLured uL Mux, IopIng Ior some kInd oI reucLIon, some
IIIcker oI IrusLruLIon or unger Lo vuIIduLe LIe IucL LIuL ¡`d IInuIIv
been one sLep uIeud oI IIm Ior u cIunge.
SuddenIv, LIougI, mv vIsIon sLurLed Lo bIur, und ¡ IeIL dIzzv
und IIgIL-Ieuded. ¡ reucIed ouL Lo bruce mvseII uguInsL LIe buck
oI LIe neurbv cIuIr, buL mv weIgIL mude IL LoppIe buckwurds,
coIIupsIng me Lo LIe ground. Mux benL over Lo IeIp me up, IIs
sLone vIsuge IInuIIv crucked InLo u broud grIn.
¨¡ LoId vou noL Lo Luke so munv oI LIose pIIIs.¨
1;¤

z:. The Existenticl Hitmcn
Mux und ¡ sLuggered cIumsIIv InLo LIe muIn Iobbv oI LIe
AsLerIon buIIdIng IIke u puIr oI doped-up conjoIned LwIns, mv
IeIL urm sIung over IIs sIouIders, IIs rIgIL urm wrupped LIgILIv
uround mv mIdsecLIon, und our Iour Iegs LrIppIng und LungIIng
over eucI oLIer.
CoIumbIne und SuInL AnLIonv were wuILIng Lo meeL us.
AnLIonv rusIed over Lo IeIp wILI IIs boss`s burden, grIppIng
me rougIIv und IeLLIng me sIump mv weIgIL uguInsL IIs sLurdv
Irume.
¨WIuL LIe IeII`s wrong wILI IIm?¨ AnLIonv usked.
Mux mImed poppIng pIIIs InLo IIs mouLI.
CoIumbIne uIso cume over Lo joIn us, unubIe Lo IIde Ier
sIock uL seeIng mv Iuce.
¨¡ know,¨ ¡ sIurred. ¨¡ Iook LoLuIIv Iurdcore.¨
CoIumbIne oIIered u weuk smIrk LIuL neurIv uvoIded IookIng
puLronIzIng. ¨No, vou Iook IIke vou goL vour uss kIcked.
Hurdcore wouId be II LIe oLIer guv Iooked IIke LIuL.¨
Mux Ieuned In Lo AnLIonv und soILIv suId, ¨¡ need Lo LuIk Lo
vou.¨
18o
TIev propped me up uguInsL LIe recepLIon desk und wuIked
oII Lo speuk prIvuLeIv In IusIed Lones.
¡ cruned mv neck Lo Iook uround LIe resL oI LIe Iobbv, wIIcI
wus busIcuIIv u cuvernous, unudorned concreLe bunker. TIe
Iurge open spuce oII Lo one sIde suggesLed IL Iud been InLended
us u wuILIng ureu, buL LIere were no LubIes or cIuIrs oI unv kInd.
¡n IucL, LIe onIv IurnILure uL uII wus LIe LuII recepLIon desk LIuL ¡
wus currenLIv IeunIng on.
BeIInd IL suL un eIderIv womun, presumubIv LIe recepLIonIsL,
pussIng LIe LIme bv knILLIng wILI bIue vurn. SIe never once
boLIered Lo Iook up Irom Ier work Lo ucknowIedge our
presence, und ¡ wusn`L enLIreIv convInced sIe wus even uwure
LIuL we were LIere.
TIe wuII beIInd Ier wus covered wILI u Iurge bunk oI smuII
cIosed cIrcuIL TV monILors. ¡L remInded me somewIuL oI LIe
seLup uL LIe Lcburinthine purLv, buL mucI Iurger. TIe Imuges
on LIe screens uppeured Lo be Ieeds Irom surveIIIunce cumerus
LIrougIouL LIe sLoruge IucIIILv, und eucI one Iud u IIve-dIgIL
number dIspIuved uL LIe boLLom-rIgIL corner oI LIe screen.
TIe Imuges cIunged Lo u new Ieed everv LIIrLv seconds, und
LIe sequence oI LIe Ieeds wus compIeLeIv rundom und noL
reIuLed LIe LIe numerIc IdenLIIIers.
¨WIuL do vou LIInk LIev`re LuIkIng ubouL?¨ usked CoIumbIne.
¨HuI?¨ ¡ suId, puIIIng mvseII uwuv Irom LIe vIdeos. ¡
IoIIowed Ier guze over Lo Mux und AnLIonv. ¨OI, weII ¡ IeL sIIp
LIuL vour IuLIer wus ouL LIere wIen AnLIonv wus burvIng LIose
bodIes, so ¡ ImugIne LIe 'SuInL` Ius some expIuInIng Lo do.¨
TIe Lwo men suddenIv broke InLo IuugILer und Mux puLLed
AnLIonv`s sIouIder uIIecLIonuLeIv beIore LIev sLurLed buck Lo us.
¨OI veuI, vou cun LeII Iow mucI LroubIe Ie`s In,¨ CoIumbIne
udded surcusLIcuIIv.
181
¡ wus ubouL Lo suv someLIIng snuppv buck, buL mv uLLenLIon
wus druwn uwuv bv u vIdeo uppeurIng on one oI LIe screens. ¡L
sIowed u mun sILLIng on LIe edge oI u bed In u smuII, empLv
room. TIe Imuge wus wusIed In bIue, und LIe number on LIe
boLLom oI LIe screen reud: ooo((.
¨How`re vou IeeIIng, sLIII dIzzv?¨ Mux usked us Ie sIId In nexL
Lo me uguInsL LIe desk.
¨TIose numbers on LIe screen...¨ ¡ usked, ¨do LIev
correspond Lo LIe numbers oI sLoruge unILs Iere?¨
Mux Iooked over LIe monILors und nodded.
¨TIen wIuL`s In LIuL one, number ooo¤¤?¨ ¡ usked und
poInLed ouL LIe screen wIere ¡`d seen LIe bIue room, buL IL Iud
uIreudv cIunged over Lo u dIIIerenL Ieed.
Mux und AnLIonv excIunged u coupIe oI Iooks LIuL couId
onIv be descrIbed us siqni[iccnt.
¨AnLIonv, wouId vou mInd gIvIng our IrIend u rIde Iome,
sInce Ie`s obvIousIv In no condILIon Lo drIve IImseII?¨
AnLIonv nodded uL IIs boss`s requesL, LIen Iooked u Iurge
meuLv urm uround me und drugged me uIong us LIe Iour oI us
exILed LIe Iobbv.
TIere were Lwo curs purked ouLsIde - LIe PorscIe und Mux`s
IImo. Mux Look CoIumbIne`s urm und Ied Ier Lo IIs cur, wIere
LIe drIver wus wuILIng wILI LIe door uIreudv open. SIe Iooked
IesILunLIv Irom Mux Lo me, buL even LIougI Mux wus jusL
grInnIng pIeusunLIv, LIere wus someLIIng In IIs eves LIuL LoId
Ier LIIs wusn`L up Ior debuLe. So sIe goL In.
MeunwIIIe, AnLIonv Lossed me InLo LIe PorscIe`s pussenger
seuL IIke u suck oI Iuundrv, LIen cIrcIed uround Lo geL In on LIe
drIver`s sIde.
¨You`re noL In unv purLIcuIur Iurrv Lo geL Iome, ure vou?¨ Ie
usked wIIIe IIrIng up LIe engIne.
18z
¡ sIook mv Ieud weukIv, LIe moLIon cuusIng Lrucers Lo bIur
ucross mv vIsIon, und ¡ IeIL u dIsLIncLIv unseLLIIng sense oI déju
vu.
---
¡ sIumped buck InLo LIe bIood red vInvI coucI und IeL mv
Ieud IuII over Lo one sIde, LIen IeIL u proIound sense oI reIIeI us
LIe durkness cIosed In on me.
SNAPl
¡ jerked mv Ieud up und opened mv eves Lo IInd AnLIonv`s
Iund IoverIng IncIes Irom mv Iuce, IIs LIIck meuLv IIngerLIps
snuppIng LogeLIer ungrIIv.
¨Keep vour eves on LIe prIze, D,¨ Ie udmonIsIed und poInLed
IIs mIddIe und Index IIngers uL IIs own eves, LIen roLuLed IIs
Iund so LIuL LIev poInLed uL LIe bIonde sLruddIIng mv Iup.
¨And wuLcI LIuL vou don`L spIII vour drInk, mun. You`ve
been mIIkIng LIuL sume IuckIng gIuss Ior LIe IusL Iour. JusL
cowbov up und pound LIe sumbILcI.¨
¡ Iooked down und suw LIuL ¡ wus In IucL IoIdIng u gIuss In
dunger oI LIppIng ouL oI mv Iund und spIIIIng boLI scoLcI und
mosLIv-meILed-rocks uII over LIe vInvI coucI.
¡ snupped mv Ieud buck und downed LIe IusL wuLered-down
dregs Irom IL.
¨OI good, vour Iunds ure Iree,¨ suId LIe bIonde, wIo wus
weurIng u wIILe dress IIke MurIIvn Monroe In The Seten Yecr
Itch. SIe cIImbed oII oI me und Lurned uround, LIen unIusLened
LIe IuILer oI Ier dress, uIIowIng LIe Lop IuII oI IL Lo IuII IooseIv
down Lo Ier wuIsL. As sIe suL buck down on mv Iup, grIndIng
Ier uss uguInsL LIe Iurd buIge sLruInIng LIrougI mv punLs, sIe
sImuILuneousIv grubbed boLI oI mv Iunds und IIILed LIem up Lo
18¤
cup Ier breusLs, wIIcI someIow munuged Lo IeeI even Iess
nuLuruI LIun Ier dve-job Iooked. ¡ guve IL u IIILv-IIILv sIoL,
Iowever, LIuL LIe MurIIvn-esque moIe on Ier IeIL cIeek wus
ucLuuIIv Ior reuI.
AnLIonv Ieuned buck wILI u suLIsIIed smIrk, cIecked IIs
wuLcI, und LIen IIugged down u pussIng cockLuII wuILress Lo
order unoLIer round.
TIIs pIuce AnLIonv Iud brougIL me Lo used Lo be u CIInese
resLuurunL ubouL u IuII-mIIe uwuv Irom LIe cILv`s muIn uIrporL,
Lucked uwuv umong LIe over-prIced busIness IoLeIs. TIe
resLuurunL ILseII wus sIuL down due Lo repeuLed IeuILI code
vIoIuLIons, und LIe buIIdIng Iud sLuved bourded up wILI no new
LenunLs ever sInce. AL IeusL LIuL wus Iow IL Iooked on puper.
However, II vou wenL uround Lo LIe buck uILer u cerLuIn LIme
oI nIgIL und knocked on wIuL used Lo be LIe kILcIen deIIverv
door wILI u specIIIc puLLern oI knocks, vou`d IInd ouL LIuL IL Iud
In IucL been Lurned InLo some unIoIv LrIunguIuLIon oI u sLrIp
cIub, u speukeusv, und u broLIeI.
AppurenLIv, Mux goL LIe Ideu Lo Luke over LIe vucunL spuce
wIen LIe cILv councII voLed Lo bun uIcoIoI Irom beIng served uL
uII LIe IegIL sLrIp cIubs. TIIs resuILed In LIe LwIn uLrocILIes oI drv
sLrIp cIubs und ¨bIkInI burs¨. TIose In Lurn drove unv seII-
respecLIng busIness LruveIer, sLug purLv, or sLundurd-Issue
perverL InLo Mux`s unreguIuLed underground cIub. TIe IucL LIuL
un unLI-vIce sLuLuLe InspIred IIm Lo creuLe u pIuce wIere u Iup
dunce cun end In IuII emIssIon suLIsIIed IIs LwIsLed sense oI
Iumor Lo no end, ¡`m sure.
WIuL ¡ wusn`L so sure ubouL wus wIv AnLIonv drugged me
Iere In LIe IIrsL pIuce, sInce uII Ie`d done sInce we urrIved wus
pound sIoLs, cuII me guv, und ponLIIIcuLe InuneIv ubouL IIs
personuI pIIIosopIv.
18q
¨You see, LIe LIIng ubouL me, ¡ IIke Lo keep IL sImpIe,¨
AnLIonv decIured beLween sIps oI IIs IresI drInk. ¨Guvs IIke
vou ure uIwuvs runnIng uround, uskIng quesLIons, LrvIng Lo
muke LIIngs more compIIcuLed LIun LIev need Lo be. And wIere
does IL geL vou In LIe end? Are vou unv IuppIer Ior IL?¨
¡ roIIed mv Ieud over und suw IIm Iook uL IIs wuLcI uguIn.
¨Me, IL Lukes verv IILLIe Lo muke me Iuppv,¨ Ie conLInued. ¨A
good drInk, u rure sLeuk, u sweeL pIece oI pussv. TIuL`s wIuL
IIIe`s uII ubouL.¨
TIe sLrIpper cupped mv cIIn In Ier Iund und jerked mv Ieud
buck so ¡ wus IucIng Ier.
¨¡I vou don`L sLop sLurIng uL IIm, ¡`m goIng Lo geL jeuIous,¨
sIe cooed LeusIngIv und LIen proceeded Lo burv mv Iuce In Ier
Iuke pIusLIc LILs und puw uL mv rupIdIv deIIuLIng Iurd-on LIrougI
mv sIucks. ¨Do vou wunL Lo go buck InLo u prIvuLe room wIere
vou`II be Iess dIsLrucLed?¨
SIe guve me u pIuvIuI wInk.
AnLIonv sIook IIs Ieud und Lupped LIe Iuce oI IIs wuLcI.
¨NuI, we`ve goL some pIuce Lo be.¨ He dug u coupIe crumpIed
bIIIs ouL oI IIs jeuns und sIIpped LIem under LIe sLrIpper`s
gurLer, LIen udded, ¨BesIdes, ¡`m preLLv sure Ie`s u Iug.¨
SIe sIrugged und cIImbed oII me. ¨¡Igures.¨
AnLIonv vunked me Lo mv IeeL und sLeered me ucross LIe
dImIv-IIL cIub Lo one oI LIe LIree Iong, ovuI sLuges on LIe muIn
IIoor. We pIunLed ourseIves on Lwo sLooIs rIgIL uL LIe edge oI
LIe sLuge, und AnLIonv puIIed ouL u LIIck wud oI bIIIs.
¨So, cun ¡ usk wIuL LIe IeII we`re doIng Iere, or Is LIuL u
dumb quesLIon?¨ ¡ venLured.
¨¡`m provIng u poInL,¨ Ie repIIed obIIqueIv. ¨So sLop beIng
sucI u IImp-dIck IuIrv und enjov LIe IuckIng sIow.¨
JusL LIen LIe sound svsLem IIred up PeucIes` ¨¡uck LIe PuIn
18=
Awuv¨, und Lwo women Look LIe sLuge, one uL eucI end. TIe one
on our end wore u purpIe Iuce-up corseL, bIuck IoL punLs, IIsIneL
sLockIngs, und knee-IIgI IeuLIer booLs. SIe uIso Iud Iong
purpIe IuIr und u bIuck domIno musk.
AnLIonv sIupped LIe buck oI IIs Iund InLo mv cIesL IIke we
were oId puIs. ¨¡ooks IIke LIuL goL vour uLLenLIon.¨
¡ suddenIv wus exLremeIv uncomIorLubIe.
He IuId ouL IIve LwenLv-doIIur bIIIs In IronL oI us on LIe sLuge,
wIIcI goL LIe sLrIpper`s uLLenLIon, und sIe Iooked sLurLIed Lo see
us sILLIng LIere.
BuL LIen ¡ reuIIzed LIuL sIe wusn`L VIoIeL. SIe dIdn`L Iuve
unv scurs uIong LIe IeIL sIde oI Ier bodv.
ReIucLunLIv, sIe dunced over Lo us, und AnLIonv kepL IuvIng
ouL enougI currencv Ior Ier Lo sLuv LIere Ior LIe resL oI LIe song,
despILe LIe obvIous uncerLuInLv In Ier Iuce.
WrILIIng on LIe sLuge, spreudIng Ier knees und LIrusLIng Ier
peIvIs up uL us, sIe sIowIv peeIed oII Ier cIoLIes one pIece uL u
LIme unLII onIv LIe domIno musk wus IeIL. SIe gIIded Ier Iunds
sensuuIIv uIong Ier smooLI, gIosLIv puIIId IIesI und sIIpped Lwo
IIngers beLween Ier gIIsLenIng pInk IubIu.
AnLIonv grInned In suLIsIucLIon und cIumped IIs Iund down
on mv sIouIder wIIIe IeerIng IungrIIv uL Ier. ¡ sLurLed Lo IeeI u
knoL oI guIIL LwIsLIng In mv guL, buL ¡ couIdn`L Luke mv eves oII
LIe ImmucuIuLe beuuLv on sLuge.
TIe song dIed down, und LIe sLrIpper reucIed Lo scoop up
LIe bIIIs AnLIonv Iud IuId ouL. As sIe exLended Ier Iund,
AnLIonv quIckIv grubbed Ier wrIsL und guve Ier u good,
sLurLIIng jerk.
¨So Iow ubouL u prIvuLe dunce, Ionev?¨
An unmIsLukubIe Iook oI Ieur IIusIed In Ier eves, buL sIe
sIowIv nodded In ugreemenL.
186
AnLIonv InsIsLed on druggIng me uIong, und sIe Ied us Lo u
smuII cubbv IoIe In buck oI LIe cIub ubouL LIe sIze oI u
depurLmenL sLore dressIng room. As AnLIonv und ¡ suL down,
sIe puIIed u red veIveL curLuIn ucross LIe enLrunce Lo gIve us
prIvucv.
¨Do vou wunL me Lo dunce Ior boLI oI vou LogeLIer or one uL
u LIme?¨
¨JusL me,¨ AnLIonv unswered. ¨He`s onIv Iere Lo Ieurn
someLIIng.¨
TIe sLrIpper cIImbed onLo IIm und sLurLed Ier Iup dunce,
sLIII nuked buL Ior LIe domIno musk. SIe dId Ier besL Lo ucL sexv
und uroused, buL sIe wus neurIv LrembIIng wILI Ieur, IIke sIe
wus rubbIng up uguInsL u LIckIng LIme bomb.
¨You know wIuL mukes guvs IIke me dIIIerenL Irom guvs IIke
vou?¨
¡ sIook mv Ieud, uL u Ioss und LrvIng noL Lo wuLcI LIIs poor
LerrIIIed gIrI grIndIng Ier pussv uguInsL LIe unseLLIIngIv Iurge Iog
In AnLIonv`s jeuns.
¨¡uILI.¨
Even LIe sLrIpper puused Ior u second und dId u doubIe-Luke,
LrvIng Lo process wIeLIer Ie ucLuuIIv jusL suId wIuL sIe LIougIL
sIe Ieurd.
¨¡ Iuve IuILI In u IIgIer power, IuILI In u grund desIgn LIuL`s
Iurger LIun ¡ couId ever Iope Lo compreIend. And LIIs
knowIedge gIves me Ireedom becuuse ¡ don`L Iuve Lo worrv
ubouL quesLIonIng Iow ¡ IIL InLo LIe bIg pIcLure, uII ¡ Iuve Lo do
Is pIuv LIe roIe LIuL`s been IuId ouL Ior me.¨
TIe sLrIpper resumed Ier gvruLIons, uILIougI uL LIIs poInL
LIe Ieur In Ier eves wus mosLIv repIuced wILI u conIusIon LIuL
cIoseIv muLcIed mv own.
¨WuIL, IoId on, ¡`m IuvIng LroubIe seeIng LIe connecLIon
18;
beLween beIng DvIun MuxweII`s vIoIenL LIug und God`s dIvIne
pIun.¨
¨Tuke IL ouL.¨
¨Excuse me?¨
AnLIonv roIIed IIs eves. ¨NoL vou, Ier.¨
TIe sLrIpper IumbIed wILI LIe buLLons on IIs IIv. ¡ quIckIv
Lurned Lo Iook uwuv.
¨Jesus IuckIng CIrIsL!¨
AnLIonv sIupped me upsIde LIe Ieud. ¨Don`L bIuspIeme!¨
¨WIuL LIe Iuck?¨ ¡or u second ¡ InvoIunLurIIv jerked mv
Ieud buck Lo Iuce IIm und cuugIL u gIImpse oI LIe sLrIpper
sLruddIIng IIs IeIL LIIgI wIIIe kIssIng IIs neck und pumpIng Ier
Iund buck und IorLI beLween IIs Iegs. ¡ quIckIv wIIpped mv
Ieud uwuv uguIn.
He IeL ouL u Iow cIuckIe und LIen conLInued, ¨You see, ¡`m
IIke un exIsLenLIuI IILmun. WIen peopIe geL Loo ubsLrucL, sLurL
quesLIonIng LIe nuLuruI order oI LIIngs, IookIng under rocks LIuL
sIouIdn`L be Lurned over, IosIng sIgIL oI wIuL reuIIv muLLers,
LIuL`s wIen ¡ sLep In Lo puL evervLIIng buck InLo perspecLIve. ¡
muke sure sIIL Lurns recl reuI, reuI IusL.¨
He IeL ouL u serIes oI Iow, gruveIIv grunLs, und ¡ couId Ieur
LIe sLrIpper pumpIng Ier Iund IusLer, Ieur LIe IrIcLIon oI drv
skIn on skIn, unLII IInuIIv AnLIonv IeL ouL un exLended groun und
¡ IeIL IIs bodv sIIIL und Lense up on LIe seuL nexL Lo me.
¨¡uckIng IeII,¨ ¡ muLLered, sLIII Lurned uwuv.
TIe sLrIpper sLood up und begun Lo dress.
¨¡eL me gIve vou un exumpIe,¨ Ie suId, gIvIng mv LIIgI u Iew
IeurLv puLs. ¨Suv vou`re u sLrIpper, und vou come InLo u pIuce
duv-In, duv-ouL, LukIng vour cIoLIes oII Ior IuL, ugIv sIobs und
gIvIng Iundjobs In some durk IILLIe cIoseL. And vou sLurL uskIng
quesLIons ubouL LIIngs IIke wIv Is LIe rIcI ussIoIe wIo owns
188
LIIs pIuce LukIng sucI u bIg cuL oII uII LIese poor workIng-cIuss
gIrIs wIo ure LIe ones sLuck wusIIng cIumps oI jIzz ouL oI LIeIr
IuIr everv nIgIL?
¨And LIuL`s u dungerous quesLIon Lo usk becuuse IL Ieuds Lo
oLIers - quesLIons ubouL IuIrness, ubouL vour sLuLIon In IIIe,
ubouL LIe expIoILuLIon oI women. Heudv sLuII. ¡L`s eusv Lo geL so
wrupped up In LIese quesLIons LIuL vou IorgeL LIuL uL LIe end oI
LIe duv, wIuL IL reuIIv boIIs down Lo Is survIvuI. BuL wIen vou
Iose sIgIL oI LIuL, vou sLurL mukIng bud decIsIons.
¨DecIsIons IIke, suv, skImmIng oII LIe Lop beIore gIvIng vour
rIcI ussIoIe owner IIs cuL.¨
TIe sLrIpper suddenIv sLopped deud In Ier Lrucks, Ier IIngers
Irozen In mId-ucLIon wIIIe IucIng up Ier corseL.
¨Now Lo me, LIuL`s jusL pIuIn dumb,¨ Ie conLInued.
¨¡mugIne, LIrowIng uwuv vour mosL busIc bIoIogIcuI ImperuLIve,
survIvuI ILseII, over some peLLv ubsLrucL noLIon oI [cirness or
justice. BuL LIuL`s wIuL Iuppens wIen vou muke LIIngs more
compIIcuLed LIun LIev need Lo be.¨
AnLIonv Iunged Iorwurd IIke u punLIer, sprIngIng Irom IIs
seuL wILI bIIndIng speed und sIummIng LIe sLrIpper up uguInsL
LIe wuII, IIs mussIve, powerIuI Iunds LIgILenIng uround Ier
LIrouL In u crusIIng grIp.
¡ wuLcIed In sLunned sIIence us Ie cIoked LIe IIIe ouL oI Ier,
LIen IeL Ier coIIupse InLo u Ieup, Ier cIeek IundIng In LIe smuII
puddIe oI IIs wIILe goo on LIe IIoor, LIe domIno musk sLIII
uIIIxed Lo Ier Iuce.
AnLIonv meunwIIIe wus IeIL IoIdIng Ier purpIe wIg, wIIcI
Iud come oII wIIIe sIe sLruggIed. He Lossed IL onLo mv Iup.
¨Here`s u souvenIr. SomeLIIng Lo rub uguInsL vour Iuce on
LIose Iong IoneIv nIgILs wIen vou`re juckIng oII und ImugInIng
wIuL ¡`m doIng Lo LIe reuI deuI.¨
18¤
¡ Iooked down uL LIe dIsembodIed wIg und run mv IIngers
LIrougI ILs svnLIeLIc Iocks.
¨¡ug,¨ AnLIonv snorLed.
We wuIked ouL LIrougI cIub unmoIesLed. EILIer no one
reuIIzed wIuL Iuppened, or LIev uII knew beLLer LIun Lo IeL on
LIuL LIev dId.
As we upproucIed LIe PorscIe, Ie Lossed LIe kevs Lo me.
¨You cun drIve vour IuckIng seII Iome,¨ Ie suId.
¡ dIdn`L ucLuuIIv ugree, seeIng us Iow ¡ sLIII couIdn`L keep mv
eves open und even wIen LIev were, ¡ wus seeIng uL IeusL LrIpIe.
BuL ¡ wus sLIII Loo sIeII-sIocked Lo even uLLempL Lo proLesL.
He conLInued on Lo u bIuck EscuIude purked neurbv. ¡ sIook
mv Ieud und wondered jusL Iow sLuge munuged LIe nIgIL Iud
been.
¨You know, Ior someone wIo cIuIms Lo IIke Lo keep IL sImpIe,
vou sure Iuve u round-ubouL wuv oI mukIng u poInL. TIIs wIoIe
seLup smucks oI vour boss. You sIouId wurn IIm Ie`s sLurLIng Lo
geL LrunspurenL.¨
He sLuck ouL u LIIck, brIgIL pInk Longue und IIcked IL sIowIv
ucross IIs IronL LeeLI. ¨You wunL IL sLruIgIL up? Here IL goes:
vour job Is ¡IIv. ¡ocus on Ier - go LIrougI Ier IIIes, cIeck LIe
surveIIIunce records on Ier, LuIk Lo peopIe wIo knew Ier.
¡orgeL ubouL McPIerson, vou`re burkIng up LIe wrong Lree
LIere. Keep vour nose ouL oI AsLerIon`s busIness, und Ior Iuck`s
suke, ¡ never even wunL Lo Ieur LIe words 'Room ¤¤` ouL oI vour
mouLI uguIn. ¡s LIuL sImpIe enougI Ior vou?¨
He cIImbed InLo IIs cur, und ¡ goL In mIne, mude mvseII us
comIorLubIe us ¡ couId munuge, und LIen quIckIv pussed ouL.
1¤o
zz. Whct the Iucl Is Wronq uith You?
TIe nexL mornIng ¡ drugged mvseII InLo Abrusux und usked
Mux Lo see LIe surveIIIunce records on ¡IIv.
¨AI, so ¡ Luke IL vou und SuInL AnLIonv Iud u nIce cIuL on LIe
wuv Iome IusL nIgIL,¨ Ie gIouLed.
¨YeuI, IL wus so nIce, ¡ sLIII Iuve some oI IIs spunk encrusLed
on mv sIoe.¨
Mux nodded In umusemenL wIIIe Ie Lupped someLIIng InLo
IIs pIone. A second IuLer, mv pIone buzzed. ¡ cIecked IL und
suw LIuL ¡ Iud u LexL Irom IIm, wIIcI consIsLed oI u 1¤-dIgIL
uIpIunumerIc code.
¨Go down Lo LIe 1;
LI
IIoor, sIow LIem LIuL reIerence number,
und LIev`II seL vou up wILI LIe records,¨ Ie InsLrucLed.
¨WIuL`s wrong wILI wrILIng IL down on u sLIckv noLe?¨
He scruncIed up IIs Iuce. ¨UgI, puper Is so burburIc. ¡ uIso
jusL senL LIem u messuge, so LIev know vou`re on vour wuv.¨
---
¡ seLLIed InLo u crumped prIvuLe sLuII wILI u compuLer
1¤1
LermInuI und Iogged In Lo puII up LIe IIIes on ¡IIv. ¡ wus sIocked
bv LIe breudLI oI LIe InIormuLIon coIIecLed.
Everv credIL curd purcIuse, wIeLIer on Ier compunv or
personuI curd, goIng buck veurs. Sume LIIng Ior pIone, e-muII,
und InLerneL Iogs. One Iog compIIed Irom LIe InLernuI GPS Irom
Ier ceII pIone und unoLIer Irom Ier cur sIowIng Ier eucI und
everv move. VIdeo und uudIo surveIIIunce oI Ier Iome und
oIIIce Ior LIe IusL Lwo weeks, presumubIv wIen Mux IIrsL becume
suspIcIous oI Ier.
¡ wuLcIed LIe vIdeo Ieeds Irom Ier Lown Iouse IIrsL. ¡L
Iooked IIke LIere were Lwo cumerus In Ier IIvIng room, one In
Ier bedroom, und one In LIe kILcIen. AL IeusL LIev Iud LIe
decencv noL Lo puL one In LIe buLIroom.
TIunkIuIIv, LIev were uII moLIon ucLIvuLed, so LIev onIv
recorded wIen sIe wus Iome. ¡ pIuved LIem buck uL qx speed,
scunnIng Ior unvLIIng LIuL mIgIL be useIuI.
As ¡ suL LIere, sLurIng IIke u drone uL LIe Imuges IIusIIng on
LIe screen, mv mInd wundered. ¡ LIougIL ubouL Seumus LIe
bum suvIng, ¨TIev wuLcI vou Iuck,¨ on LIe ¡IgIL RuII, und LIen
duvs IuLer endIng up deud und burIed. ¡ LIougIL ubouL LIe deud
sLrIpper IusL nIgIL und Iow sorrowIuI Ier IIIeIess eves Iooked
peekIng ouL Irom under LIuL domIno musk, und LIen Ior some
reuson LIuL mude me LIInk ubouL CoIumbIne und LIe veII sIe
wore LIe IIrsL LIme we meL. TIen ¡ LIougIL ubouL AnLIonv
IoIdIng LIuL purpIe wIg, und LIuL morpIed InLo AnLIonv
IoIdIng VIoIeL, LukIng Ier soIL, sIupeIv bodv InLo IIs urms und
sIIdIng IIs cock InsIde Ier, und ¡ ImugIned Ier pussv IookIng
exucLIv IIke LIe sLrIpper`s Iud us sIe gvruLed on sLuge.
¡ sIowed LIe vIdeo down Lo reuI LIme. On LIe screen, ¡IIv Iud
undressed und dug LIe sex Lov ouL oI Ier underweur druwer.
Now sIe wus IvIng buck In bed und usIng IL.
1¤z
A wuve oI bIood rusIed Lo boLI mv Iuce und mv croLcI
sImuILuneousIv, cuusIng mv cIeeks Lo Lurn brIgIL red und mv
penIs Lo sweII wILIIn mv punLs. ¡ Iooked uround. No one couId
see InLo or ouL oI LIe booLI ¡ wus In. So ¡ unzIpped mv punLs
und sLurLed Lo musLurbuLe.
On LIe screen, ¡ wuLcIed LIe Iuzzv, pIxeIuLed Imuge oI ¡IIv
pIungIng LIe dIIdo InLo IerseII us sIe wrILIed on LIe bed und
bucked Ier IIps wIIdIv. MeunwIIIe, ¡ jerked oII IurIousIv Lo
reucI mv own orgusm, IeeIIng LIe seed pumpIng ouL In sIorL,
powerIuI bursLs.
¡ Iooked down uL LIe IIoor und suw mv semen pooIed In LIe
exucL sume sIupe us AnLIonv`s Iud been IusL nIgIL. AL IIrsL LIIs
surprIsed me, buL soon LIuL guve wuv Lo un overwIeImIng sense
oI nuuseu.
Whct the [ucl did uou just do? ¡ wondered Lo mvseII.
Mv guze reLurned Lo LIe vIdeo. ¡IIv Iud puL uwuv LIe Lov buL
Luken ouL someLIIng eIse. SLruInIng mv eves, ¡ wus ubIe Lo
recognIze IL us LIe Irumed pIoLogrupI oI Mux. And Irom LIe
genLIe bob oI Ier Ieud, ¡ couId LeII sIe wus crvIng.
¡ suddenIv IeIL dIrLv, IIke mv skIn wus couLed In un InvIsIbIe
Iuver oI LIIck grIme, und no muLLer Iow mucI ¡ rubbed IL
wouIdn`L come oII.
Iucl it, I need to qet some cir.
---
AILer grubbIng u cIgureLLe on LIe 1;
LI
IIoor smoker`s buIconv,
¡ reLurned Lo mv booLI Lo IInd LIuL someone Iud gone In wIIIe ¡
wus gone und mopped LIe IIoor cIeun. ¡ LrIed noL Lo LIInk ubouL
LIe ImpIIcuLIons oI LIIs.
¡ resumed sIILIng LIrougI LIe records, buL ¡ couIdn`L Iocus on
1¤¤
LIe work; mv mInd kepL wunderIng. ¡ wusn`L sure II ¡ wus sLIII
LwIsLed up Irom mIxIng puIn pIIIs wILI booze, or IL wus some
uILer-eIIecL oI uII LIe bIows Lo LIe Ieud ¡`ve been LukIng, or
muvbe even jusL menLuI sLruIn Irom LIe epIc Iucked-up-edness
oI LIe pusL coupIe weeks. BuL Ior some reuson ¡ IeIL
dIsussocIuLed, IIke ¡ wusn`L ucLuuIIv In conLroI oI mv own ucLIons,
IIke ¡`d severed LIe connecLIon beLween mv bodv und mInd. ¡L
wus us II ¡ were u gIosL wuLcIIng mv own bodv or u pussIve
observer wuLcIIng uII LIIs on u screen Irom somewIere eIse
enLIreIv.
¡ wondered wIeLIer ¡ Iud even jusL jerked oII Iere In LIIs
booLI. ¡L seemed Iurd Lo beIIeve, und cerLuInIv IL wus mucI
more convenIenL Lo LeII mvseII ¡`d onIv ImugIned IL. AILer uII,
LIere wus no pIvsIcuI evIdence IL Iud Iuppened.
¡ sLured bIunkIv uL LIe screen, wIIcI conLuIned rows und
rows oI duLu InpuLs, coordInuLes und LIme sLumps senL Irom LIe
GPS In ¡IIv`s cur. Mv eves unIocused und LIe cIurucLers bIurred
LogeLIer InLo u wusI oI red, bIue, und green pIxeIs.
¡ rubbed mv eves, cursIng LIe IuLIIILv oI mv Lusk beIore
pIungIng rIgIL buck InLo IL.
TIen, surprIsIngIv, ¡ noLIced someLIIng InLeresLIng.
Everv duv over LIe pusL week, sIe sLopped uL LIe sume poInL
on Ier wuv Iome Irom work. ¡L wus u devIuLIon Irom Ier
normuI rouLe.
TIe LermInuI wusn`L connecLed Lo LIe InLerneL, so ¡ Look ouL
mv own ceII und Iooked up LIe coordInuLes on GoogIe Mups. ¡L
wus u poInL on LIe Serru Expresswuv overpuss wIere IL crosses
HIgIwuv ;;, noL Iur Irom LIe GuuduIupe BrIdge. NormuIIv LIe
MIIIennIuI BrIdge wouId Iuve been LIe quIckesL wuv Ior Ier Lo
geL Iome Lo LIe wesL sIde Irom downLown. TukIng LIe
GuuduIupe BrIdge wouId be uL IeusL u IIILeen mInuLe deLour, so
1¤q
LIere musL Iuve been some reuson beIInd IL.
¡ consIdered wIeLIer IL wus worLIwIIIe Lo go rusIIng
sLruIgIL ouL LIere.
Iucl it, I need to qet some cir, ¡ LIougIL und brIeIIv puused
Lo wonder wIv LIuL sounded IumIIIur.
On mv wuv Lo LIe eIevuLors, ¡ run InLo Mux`s ussIsLunL. ¡
wondered Iow Iong sIe Iud been wuILIng uround Ior me und
wIeLIer sIe knew wIuL ¡ Iud done InsIde LIe booLI. TIen ¡
wondered wIeLIer sIe Iud been LIe one wIo cIeuned IL up.
Thct's ludicrous, ¡ LoId mvseII us ¡ pIcLured Ier on Ier Iunds
und knees, nuked buL Ior u puIr oI vInvI gIoves und u IuIr neL,
scrubbIng uL LIe IIoor wILI u sponge und buckeL oI sudsv wuLer.
Whct the [ucl is uronq uith uou? ¡ screumed In mv Ieud -
or muvbe Lo mv Ieud.
¨Mr. MuxweII usked me Lo gIve vou LIIs,¨ sIe suId und
Iunded me u gIossv ruve curd IIke LIe one CoIumbIne guve me
Ior LIe Lcburinthine purLv. ¨He suId Ie wus goIng Lo e-muII IL Lo
vou, buL LIen LIougIL muvbe vou`d upprecIuLe LIe IeeI oI puper.
¡`m noL sure wIuL LIuL meuns.¨
¡ Iooked over LIe curd. One sIde wus red wILI bIuck IeLLerIng
LIuL reud:
H¡GHWATER SOC¡ETY
CORONAT¡ON ANN¡VERSARY
MASQUERADE BA¡¡
SuLurduv, MurcI zo, ¤:oo PM
¡nvILuLIon OnIv
CosLumes MunduLorv
TIuL wus Lomorrow nIgIL. ¡L sounded InLrIguIng, buL ¡ wus u
IILLIe weurv oI LIe bIL ubouL cosLumes. TIen ¡ IIIpped LIe curd
1¤=
over. TIe oLIer sIde wus prInLed wIILe-on-wIILe. ¡ IeId IL uL un
ungIe so LIe IIgIL cuugIL LIe Ink jusL rIgIL Lo reveuI LIe messuge:
YDU ARE ßEING LIED TD...
TRUST US
1¤6
z(. Sunsets, Mirrors & Contenient Illusions
¨YeuI, ¡ guess ¡`m goIng,¨ ¡ suId InLo LIe pIone. ¨¡`m jusL noL
sure ubouL LIIs wIoIe cosLume LIIng.¨
¨ArgI, wIv ure vou uIwuvs sucI u weL bIunkeL?¨ CoIumbIne
repIIed. ¨Huve u IILLIe ImugInuLIon. ¡ beL vou`re LIe kInd oI guv
wIo IIkes Lo poInL ouL uII LIe mIrrors und wIres durIng u mugIc
sIow.¨
¨OI course, uL IeusL unLII some bILLer cow InevILubIv sLurLs
mooIng ubouL Iow ¡`m spoIIIng LIe sIow Ior Ier snoLLv IILLIe
bruLs.¨
TIuL goL u IuugI ouL oI Ier. ¨So unvwuvs, ¡ wunnu Iung ouL
LonIgIL. Come geL me?¨
¨No, ¡ LoId vou, ¡`m IoIIowIng LIuL Ieud on ¡IIv. And LIe wuv
sIIL`s been goIng IuLeIv, ¡ wunL vou Lo sLuv ouL oI IL Ior u wIIIe. ¡
don`L wunL Lo be responsIbIe II someLIIng Iuppens Lo vou.¨
¨Boo,¨ sIe jeered In response.
¨¡IsLen, ¡`m uImosL LIere, ¡ goLLu go.¨
¨Okuv, buL uL IeusL come see me Lomorrow beIore LIe purLv,
LIen we cun go LogeLIer.¨
¨Sure,¨ ¡ ugreed beIore IungIng up und puIIIng over LIe
1¤;
PorscIe.
TIe sun wus uIreudv seLLIng us ¡ purked on LIe sIouIder oI
LIe overpuss. ¡ goL ouL oI LIe cur und sLood In LIe exucL LIe spoL
wIere ¡IIv wouId, uccordIng Lo Ier pIone`s GPS. ¡L wus on LIe
wesLern sIouIder oI LIe expresswuv, IucIng Lowurd LIe sun us IL
dIsuppeured beIInd LIe DIenLes TorcIdos mounLuIn runge ucross
LIe vuIIev. ¡ wondered II LIuL wus wIv ¡IIv Iud been sLoppIng
Iere uILer work - Lo see LIuL mugnIIIcenL vIew oI LIe sunseL.
TIen ¡ Iooked down uL LIe curs wIIzzIng bv on HIgIwuv ;; und
IoIIowed LIem us LIev crossed LIe GuuduIupe BrIdge over LIe
Sun Hermes und vunIsIed In LIe dIsLunce.
TwIIIgIL seLLIed In, und ¡ wuLcIed us IILLIe doLs oI IIre IIured
up on LIe eusL bunk, murkIng LIe sIunLvLown LIuL sLurLed under
LIe brIdge und spreud norLI buck up LIe rIver.
¡ LIougIL ubouL Iow eucI oI LIose IIumes represenLed u
cIusLer oI peopIe guLIerIng uround Ior wurmLI, peopIe wIo Iud
IuIIen LIrougI LIe crucks und dIsuppeured Irom socIeLv. PeopIe
LIe resL oI LIe cILv preIerred Lo see us numeIess, IuceIess,
unonvmous. ¡ ImugIned wIuL IL wouId be IIke Lo end up down
LIere, Iow eusv IL wouId be Lo Iose vour own sense oI seII, vour
IdenLILv - Iow eusv IL wouId be Lo be IorgoLLen.
SuddenIv ¡ IeIL u sLrong, IrresIsLIbIe mugneLIsm puIIIng me
LIere, beckonIng me. And someIow, ¡ knew wILI ubsoIuLe
cerLuInLv LIuL ¡IIv wus LIere.
---
TIe Sun Hermes RIver runs down Irom LIe mounLuIns
norLIeusL oI LIe vuIIev und snukes ILs wuv rIgIL LIrougI LIe
mIddIe oI our cILv.
TIe Sun Hermes RIver Purk Is ucLuuIIv u serIes oI smuIIer
1¤8
purks, u Iong, nurrow sLreLcI oI preserved open spuce LIuL
IoIIows uIong eILIer bunk Ior mIIes, begInnIng Irom LIe oId
GuuduIupe BrIdge LIuL connecLs LIe norLIern IndusLrIuI zone Lo
LIe cILv proper, und spunnIng uII LIe wuv pusL LIe newer
MIIIennIuI BrIdge LIuL wus jusL compIeLed beIore LIe Lurn oI LIe
cenLurv.
TIe purk vurIes In wIdLI Irom smuII pubIIc gurdens no wIder
LIun u cILv bIock uII LIe wuv up Lo LIe Len mIIe wIde ureu
surroundIng Hermosu RuvIne, wIIcI Is seL up Ior cumpgrounds,
IIkIng LruIIs, rock cIImbIng, und rIver ruILIng.
Hermosu RuvIne Is LIe purk`s IeurL, wIere peopIe go Lo pIuv,
Lo escupe, Lo IuII In Iove. MIIIennIuI BrIdge Is ILs Iuce, LIe poInL
mosL vIsIbIe Lo resIdenLs In LIe cILv proper, LIe sIInv new
monumenL LIuL geLs sIupped on posLcurds und LruveI brocIures
us un Iomuge Lo progress. And LIuL mukes GuuduIupe BrIdge
LIe ussIoIe. ¡L`s LIere und IL serves u IuncLIon, buL IL`s ugIv und
smeIIv und mosL peopIe wouId ruLIer noL LIInk ubouL IL Loo
mucI.
TIe sIunLvLown, LIen, Is LIe Lurd LIuL LIe brIdge squeezed
ouL. ¡L consIsLed oI u coupIe Iundred mukesIIIL sIucks cobbIed
LogeLIer ouL oI scrup meLuI, oId wood, curdbourd, pIusLIc Lurps,
und unvLIIng eIse LIuL couId be scuvenged.
MosL oI LIe peopIe wIo IIved bv LIe rIver were
undocumenLeds - mosLIv newcomers wIo dIdn`L Iuve IocuI
IumIIv und Iudn`L been ubIe Lo muke unv connecLIons Ior u pIuce
Lo sLuv. TIen oI course vou Iud vour junkIes und vour uIcoIoIIcs
wIo Iud been bounced Irom LIe sIeILers Ior conLInuIng Lo use,
vour runuwuvs, vour gurden vurIeLv cruzIes wIo were booLed
onLo LIe sLreeL wIen CounLv MenLuI HeuILI cIosed IuII ILs beds,
und IInuIIv oLIer sundrv peopIe wIo Ior wIuLever reuson Iound
vuIue In IIvIng oII LIe grId - peopIe wIo were IIdIng ouL, peopIe
1¤¤
wIo Iud nowIere eIse Lo go, und peopIe wIo were IeedIng oII
LIe curcusses oI LIe weuk.
¡ pussed bv u mIrrored cIoseL door LIuL Iud been reIusIIoned
InLo LIe wuII oI someone`s sIuck und cuugIL u gIImpse oI mv
reIIecLIon. TIe gIuss wus crucked In un InLrIcuLe spIderweb
puLLern In LIe upper IeIL Iund corner, buL oLIer LIun LIuL IL wus
In preLLv good condILIon. ¡ puused Ior u mInuLe Lo Iook uL mvseII
In IL und wus dIsLurbed Iow weII ¡ seemed Lo bIend InLo LIe
surroundIngs.
¡ Iudn`L sIuved sInce beIore ¡ wus kIdnupped, mv sIower LIIs
mornIng wus uL besL perIuncLorv, und ¡ Iudn`L Iud u cIunce Lo
do Iuundrv und LIereIore Iud been weurIng LIe sume LuLLered
couL und Lorn jeuns Ior duvs. Add Lo LIuL mv scurred und LwIsLed
mess oI u Iuce, und vou`d LIInk ¡ purposeIv dressed In u kInd oI
Iobo cumouIIuge.
TIen suddenIv u Iuce uppeured In proIIIe In LIe broken gIuss.
¡L wus ¡IIv`s; sIe wus LuIkIng Lo u durk-skInned ¡uLIn AmerIcun
womun ubouL LwenLv vurds beIInd me. ¡ spun uround und
Iound LIe oLIer womun cookIng some unIdenLIIIubIe unImuI on
u spIL over u meLuI drum IIre, buL ¡IIv wus nowIere In sIgIL.
¡ run over Lo Ier und sIouLed, ¨WIere dId LIuL womun go
LIuL vou were LuIkIng Lo, LIe redIeud?¨
SIe sLured sIIenLIv, IuII Irom Iuck oI compreIensIon, IuII
Irom punIc cuused bv mv IrenzIed sLuLe.
¡ LrIed uguIn In SpunIsI, ¨¿Adónde se [ue lc pelirrojc?¨
SIe exLended Ier Iund ouL Lo poInL rIgIL, und ¡ sprInLed oII.
PumpIng mv Iegs us Iurd us ¡ couId, ¡ weuved mv wuv
LIrougI LIe dense crowd. ¡rom LIme Lo LIme ¡`d cuLcI IIeeLIng
gIImpses oI Ier, IIusIes oI Ier vIvId red IuIr sLundIng ouL uguInsL
LIe drub surroundIngs, buL sIe wus uIwuvs jusL uL LIe edge oI mv
sIgIL, uIwuvs roundIng LIe nexL corner, uIwuvs u sLep uIeud oI
zoo
me.
¡ cIused Ier LIrougI LIe IupIuzurd, muze-IIke IuvouL oI LIe
sIunLvLown uIong u puLI LIuL LwIsLed und doubIed buck on ILseII.
¡L soon IeIL IIke ¡`d been runnIng Ior mIIes, buL ¡ couIdn`L be sure
LIuL ¡ wusn`L goIng In cIrcIes.
TIen, jusL us ¡ IeIL mv Iegs ubouL Lo gIve, ¡ suw Ier uguIn,
cIoser LIun sIe`d ever uppeured beIore. ¡ IuuncIed mvseII wILI
renewed vIgor und IurLIed LIrougI u smuII group oI mIgrunL
duv-Iuborers. BuL wIen ¡ broke LIrougI LIem, ¡ suw LIuL mv
LurgeL wus reuIIv jusL ¡IIv`s reIIecLIon In u mIrror. ¡ scunned LIe
ureu, buL couIdn`L IInd Ier unvwIere. TIen ¡ noLIced u sIckIv-
LIIn womun wILI IIuxen IuIr und reuIIzed LIuL LIe reIIecLIon wus
Iers, und LIuL LIe gIow Irom u neurbv IIre wus mukIng Ier IuIr
uppeur red In LIe mIrror.
SIe noLIced me sLurIng und sIoL me u sour expressIon. ¡L
wus Iurd Lo guuge Ier uge; sIe guve LIe ImpressIon oI someone
verv voung, buL wIo wus ugIng premuLureIv Irom u IursI IIvIng.
Her usIen gruv skIn Iud IosL uII LIe IusLer und IresIness oI
vouLI, und Ier eves were sunken deep InLo durk bIuck sockeLs.
SIe wore u bure-mIdrIII IuILer Lop und u LuLLered denIm skIrL.
¡ ImugIned LIuL sIe LIougIL sIowIng LIuL mucI skIn wus
someIow sexv, buL on Ier IL Induced pILv more LIun unvLIIng
eIse. SIe wus so emucIuLed LIuL vou couId see LIe bones
proLrudIng groLesqueIv LIrougI Ier skIn, mukIng Ier Irume Iook
IruII und brILLIe, IIke u sLrong wInd wouId knock Ier over wILI
enougI Iorce Lo snup everv bone on ImpucL. Her urms und Iegs
were covered wILI Lruck murks und needIe IoIes, munv oI wIIcI
Iud become InIecLed.
¨WIuL ure vou IookIng uL?¨ sIe demunded In u voIce mucI
LIrouLIer und ruspIer LIun ¡ expecLed.
¡ opened mv mouLI Lo Lrv und someIow expIuIn, buL LIen
zo1
decIded IL wusn`L worLI LIe LroubIe. So InsLeud ¡ sIrugged und
wus ubouL Lo Lurn uwuv wIen u IumIIIur voIce cuIIed ouL, ¨TIere
vou ure, CIuIre!¨
VIoIeL wuIked up Lo LIe womun, CIuIre, und LrIed Lo LIrow u
wooI bIunkeL over Ier buL wus rebuIIed.
¨WIv`d vou run oII IIke LIuL?¨ sIe usked, noL veL noLIcIng me.
CIuIre unswered, ¨Becuuse LIere`s noLIIng eIse Lo suv. We`re
done, gIve IL up.¨
VIoIeL wus ubouL Lo repIv, buL LIen IInuIIv cuugIL sIgIL oI me
ouL oI LIe corner oI Ier eve. SIe dId u doubIe-Luke. ¨D? WIuL
ure vou doIng Iere?¨ SIe puused, und LIen peered more cIoseIv
uL me, unubIe Lo sLop Ier upper IIp Irom curIIng In dIsgusL.
¨And wIuL Iuppened Lo vour Iuce?¨
¡ scruLcIed mv Ieud. ¨Um, IL`s u Iong sLorv.¨
SIe sIIILed Ier eves buck und IorLI beLween LIe Lwo oI us,
LrvIng Lo decIde wIo wus LIe IosL cuuse und wIo wus sLIII worLI
LrvIng Lo suve.
TIen CIuIre mude LIe decIsIon Ior Ier.
¨¡ don`L Iuve LIme Ior LIIs. ¡`ve goL Lo go muke some monev,¨
sIe suId und pusIed Ier wuv pusL us, LIen Ieuded over Lo u
group oI Iour mIgrunL workers wIo were squuLLIng In u cIrcIe,
pIuvIng curds. SIe kneIL down besIde LIem und LrIed Lo sLrIke
up u conversuLIon wILI u mIx oI broken SpunIsI und cIumsv
uLLempLs uL seducLIon - uwkwurdIv runnIng Ier IIngers LIrougI
Ier IuIr und geLLIng LIem cuugIL In LIe LungIed knoLs, pIucIng
Ier Iund on one mun`s urm buL noL beIng ubIe Lo sLop IL Irom
sIukIng.
¨Jesus,¨ ¡ muLLered, ¨peopIe ucLuuIIv puv Ior Ier? ¡ meun
serIousIv, ¡ geL LIuL IL`d be rougI, beIng poor und uIone In u
IoreIgn counLrv, cuL oII Irom vour wIIe Ior monLIs, unubIe Lo
speuk LIe Iunguuge - sure vou`d be Iurd up. BuL her? ¡L`d be
zoz
IIke IuckIng Schindler's List.¨
VIoIeL sLured uL me In wIde-eved dIsbeIIeI, und ¡ mude u
menLuI noLe Lo keep workIng on LIuL wIoIe LIInkIng-ubouL-sIIL-
beIore-suvIng-IL-ouL-Ioud LrIck.
¨God, D, ¡ never reuIIzed vou were sucI un unbeIIevubIv
cuIIous ussIoIe.¨
¨¡ook,¨ ¡ LrIed Lo buckpeduI. ¨¡`m jusL suvIng II ¡ wus gonnu
puv Ior IL, ¡`d be u IILLIe bIL more pIckv ubouL LIe mercIundIse. ¡
meun, noL mercIundIse, ¡`m sure sIe`s u verv nIce gIrI und u reuI
Iumun beIng wILI IeeIIngs und uII LIuL, buL sIe Iooks IIke
IuckIng SkeIeLor. No, LIuL cume ouL wrong. ¡ meun, sIe`s jusL
noL mv Lvpe. ¡`m InLo curves - IIke vou, ¡`d ruLIer puv Ior vou
over Ier unv duv. NoL LIuL ¡`m cuIIIng vou u wIore, or suvIng
LIuL ¡ wouId go Lo one, ¡`m jusL suvIng ¡`d sIeep wILI vou. No
wuIL... Iook, In IuIrness, peopIe usuuIIv reuIIze LIuL ¡`m un
ussIoIe rIgIL uwuv, so vou cun`L IoId IL uguInsL me LIuL vou
dIdn`L IIgure IL ouL 'LII now.¨
Stop. Tcllinq. Riqht. Nou. You. Iuclinq. Idiotl
VIoIeL bIInked Ier eves sIIenLIv.
¨¡`m goIng Lo ussume LIuL wIuLever dId LIuL Lo vour Iuce uIso
guve vou bruIn dumuge und jusL Lrv Lo IorgeL LIe IusL LIIrLv
seconds ever Iuppened.¨
¨TIunk vou.¨
¨Now do vou wunL Lo Luke u wuIk so vou cun expIuIn wIuL
vou`re doIng Iere?¨
---
We wuIked norLI uIong LIe rIverbunk, geLLIng ouL oI LIe
sIunLvLown und enjovIng LIe quIeL serenILv oI LIe purk uL nIgIL.
¡ expIuIned, brIeIIv, LIuL ¡`d Iud u IuncI LIuL ¡IIv wus IIdIng ouL
zo¤
LIere und cume IookIng Ior Ier. TIen ¡ LoId Ier ubouL LIe LwIn
beuLIngs ¡`d receIved - LIe IIrsL one wIen ¡ wus kIdnupped Irom
LIe pIune, und LIe second bv AsLerIon securILv. ¡ debuLed uIso
LeIIIng Ier ubouL mv LrIp Lo LIe sLrIp cIub IusL nIgIL wILI Ier
Iusbund, buL decIded uguInsL IL sInce ¡ couIdn`L be sure oI mv
own moLIves on LIuL one.
SIe soILened Ier uLLILude Lowurds me, buL LIere wus sLIII u
dIsLunce beLween us - we weren`L connecLIng LIe wuv we Iud
beIore. ¡ wondered II IL wus becuuse mv Insune runL mude Ier
reuIIze ¡ wus u LerrIbIe, InsensILIve pIg, or becuuse ¡ suddenIv
Iooked IIke QuusImodo und LIere jusL wusn`L LIe sume pIvsIcuI
spurk unvmore.
AL one poInL durIng our wuIk, ¡ Ieuned In cIose Lo geL u wIIII
oI Ier perIume, noL LIInkIng sIe`d noLIce, buL sIe Iuppened Lo
Lurn Lowurds me uL jusL LIe wrong momenL. SIe LIougIL ¡ wus
IeunIng In Ior u kIss und recoIIed sIurpIv. ¡ couId LeII Irom Ier
eves sIe InsLunLIv regreLLed IL, buL neILIer oI us suId unvLIIng.
We jusL ucLed IIke IL dIdn`L Iuppen.
¨So wIo`s CIuIre, Iow do vou know Ier?¨ ¡ usked.
¨SIe wus sLuvIng uL LIe sIeILer wIere ¡ work Ior u wIIIe.
SIe`s u good kId, buL sIe`s Iud IL rougI - u dIrL poor IumIIv oI
sIx kIds, un ubusIve drunk IuLIer, u puIr oI oIder broLIers wIo
moIesLed Ier, u IIsLorv oI uddIcLIon. BuL sIe`s u IIgILer, und ¡
reuIIv LIougIL sIe wus goIng Lo Lurn IerseII uround. TIen LIe
sIeILer Iound ouL LIuL sIe wus usIng uguIn so LIev kIcked Ier
ouL. ¡ convInced LIem Lo gIve Ier u second cIunce, buL sIe`d
Iuve Lo go buck InLo reIub und prove LIuL sIe couId sLuv cIeun. ¡
cume ouL Iere Lo LeII Ier, buL sIe won`L do IL. SIe`s goL LIuL
weIrd kInd oI prIde some peopIe geL, LIe kInd LIuL mukes LIem
so uIruId oI IuIIIng LIuL LIev don`L wunL Lo even Lrv, LIuL wuv
LIev`II uIwuvs Iuve LIuL excuse - IL`s noL LIuL ¡ ccn't do IL, ¡ jusL
zoq
cIoose noL Lo.¨
¡ dIdn`L even know wIuL Lo suv, so Ior once ¡ Iud LIe good
sense Lo sLuv quIeL.
¨You know,¨ sIe udded, ¨sIe`s onIv sIxLeen In Lwo monLIs.¨
¨CIrIsL,¨ ¡ suId, ¨¡ Iud Ier pegged uL IeusL Len veurs oIder
LIun LIuL.¨
VIoIeL nodded.
¨TIuL musL be u rougI job,¨ ¡ conLInued. ¨¡ meun, evervone
vou meeL Is uL rock boLLom. ¡L`d be Iurd Lo keep Irom geLLIng
drugged down, Loo. You`d Iuve Lo muke sure Lo come up Ior uIr
now und LIen so vou don`L IorgeL Iow nIce IL Is Lo IeeI u IILLIe bIL
oI sunsIIne on vour Iuce.¨
¨¡L`s noL uII jusL doom und gIoom,¨ sIe objecLed. ¨You meeL
some reuIIv InspIrIng peopIe wILI IncredIbIe sLorIes oI couruge,
oI perseverunce, oI redempLIon. TIuL`s LIe LIIng, vou Iuve Lo
remember LIuL evervone Is u IIvIng, breuLIIng person wILI LIeIr
own IIsLorIes, LIeIr own dreums. Too oILen LIose uL LIe boLLom
geL wrILLen oII, Lucked uwuv In some corner und IorgoLLen.
PIuces IIke LIe sIunLvLown exIsL becuuse IL`s more convenIenL Ior
LIe peopIe In power Lo IIde LIose wIo ure sLruggIIng Irom LIe
resL oI us. BuL IL`s uII jusL smoke und mIrrors, IIke sLuge mugIc -
LIev Iuven`L reuIIv gone unvwIere, buL vou beIIeve LIev`ve
dIsuppeured becuuse LIuL`s wIuL vou wunL Lo beIIeve. ¡L`s IIke
LIe seLLIng sun, IL doesn`L ceuse Lo exIsL uILer IL drops beIow LIe
IorIzon.¨
Mv eves wundered up uIeud Lo u brIdge In LIe dIsLunce, LIe
one LIuL LIe oId LruIn Lrucks used Lo cross. ¡ LIougIL ¡ suw u
coupIe IIgures sLundIng on IL, droppIng someLIIng oII LIe sIde,
buL ¡ bIInked und LIev were gone.
¨¡ LIInk quunLum LIeorv wouId beg Lo dIIIer wILI vou,¨ ¡
repIIed, sLoppIng Lo Lurn Lowurds Ier. ¨BuL ¡ geL wIuL vou`re
zo=
suvIng. ¡L`s jusL... don`L Iook down Loo IursIIv on peopIe Ior
beIIevIng In LIe LIIng LIuL comes mosL eusIIv. ¡ LIInk someLImes
we need Lo Iung onLo u Iew convenIenL IIIusIons jusL Lo keep
ourseIves goIng. ¡ meun, noL Lo be u dIck or unvLIIng, buL Iuve
vou Luken u Iook In LIe mIrror? You`re murrIed Lo u murderous
LIug wILI u bIuck IoIe wIere IIs conscIence sIouId be.¨
Iucl. Did I just scu thct?
VIoIeL, mIrucuIousIv, dId noL sIup me. SIe dId noL screum.
BuL sIe dId bILe buck.
¨TIuL`s Lrue. BuL LIen ure vou unv beLLer? PInIng uILer some
gIrI vou jusL meL despILe LIe IucL LIuL sIe`s decIdedIv
unuvuIIubIe. SomeIow convIncIng vourseII LIuL, despILe Ier
murderous LIug oI u Iusbund, vou`re sure sIe`s reuIIv jusL u
sweeL und InnocenL gIrI uL IeurL, und IL`s goL Lo be some mIsLuke
LIuL sIe ended up wILI IIm. HoIdIng ouL Iope LIuL one duv
sIe`II reuIIze wIuL sIe wunLs Is u nIce, sensILIve guv sIe cun Luke
Iome Lo mommv, und LIen someIow LIuL`II Ieud Ier Lo LIe
urrogunL, seII-ubsorbed, mIsogvnIsLIc ussIoIe wILI u cIIp on IIs
sIouIder und severe Issues wILI IIs own muscuIInILv wIo`s been
nIppIng uL Ier IeeIs.¨
¨ToucIé,¨ ¡ suId wILI u grIn und Look u sLep cIoser Lo Ier.
TIen ¡ sIIpped un urm uround Ier wuIsL und puIIed Ier In cIoser
Lo me.
¨You cun`L be serIous,¨ sIe proLesLed, smIrkIng, us ¡ pressed
mv bodv InLo Iers.
¨Deud serIous. And vou`ve goL me uII wrong,¨ ¡ repIIed.
¨WIuL ¡`m reuIIv LIInkIng Is, '¡I LIIs cIIck Is Iucked-up In LIe
Ieud enougI Lo Iung uround wILI LIuL unsLubIe psvcIopuLI,
LIen this unsLubIe psvcIopuLI Is goIng Lo be rIgIL up Ier uIIev.¨
SIe ruIsed Ier Ieud Lo meeL mv guze, our IIps IoverIng mere
IncIes upurL. ¨As II vou`re ever gonnu geL 'up mv uIIev` now.
zo6
You`re ugIv us sIn now.¨
SIe puIIed buck Irom me, und Ier gIorIousIv IuII, gorgeous
IIps curIed InLo u LrIumpIunL grIn. TIen sIe Lurned und wuIked
uwuv.
¨OI come on, LIere`s goL Lo be some cIunce,¨ ¡ cuIIed ouL
uILer Ier wIIIe IuugIIng boIsLerousIv. ¨NoL even u IILLIe?¨
¨NoL even II vou puId me,¨ sIe cuIIed buck, Ier words
ecIoIng IoudIv LIrougI LIe nIgIL.
zo;
za. Didn't This Alrecdu Hcppen?
WIen ¡ wenL Lo pIck up CoIumbIne Ior LIe purLv, ¡ noLed wILI
some reIIeI LIuL wIIIe VIoIeL`s VoIvo wus purked ouL IronL,
AnLIonv`s EscuIude wus nowIere In sIgIL.
¡ rung LIe doorbeII, und VIoIeL unswered In u Iong bIuck
wIdow`s-peuked wIg und u VumpIru cosLume LIuL Iooked IIke sIe
wus mere seconds Irom IuIIIng ouL oI.
¨NIce cosLume,¨ sIe suId.
¨¡`m noL weurIng one,¨ ¡ repIIed.
¨YeuI, ¡ noLIced.¨
¡ grInned und poInLed Lo Ier cIesL. ¨¡I vou`re noL cureIuI,
soon vou won`L be eILIer.¨
¨Don`L worrv,¨ sIe IuugIed. ¨TIe gIrIs ure gIued secureIv
InLo pIuce.¨
¨TIuL`s u sIume,¨ ¡ suId us sIe Ied me In.
¨CoI`s In Ier room geLLIng reudv, IIrsL door on LIe rIgIL. ¡
wus LIInkIng we couId uII drIve LogeLIer.¨
¡ grunLed In ugreemenL beIore mukIng mv wuv down LIe
IuIIwuv und knockIng on CoIumbIne`s door.
¨Come In.¨
zo8
¡ wenL InsIde und Iound Ier sILLIng In IronL oI u vunILv,
puLLIng Ier mukeup on. SIe wus weurIng u gIILLerv green Lube
dress.
¨OI, no, no, no,¨ sIe decIured us soon us sIe suw mv
reIecLIon In Ier mIrror. ¨You ure noL geLLIng uwuv wILI noL
weurIng u cosLume.¨
¨TIIs Is mv cosLume,¨ ¡ proLesLed wIIIe LukIng u seuL on Ier
bed, nexL Lo u bIonde up-do wIg und u puIr oI sequIned IuIrv
wIngs. TIen ¡ kIcked ouL mv Ieg und poInLed Lo LIe red CIuck
TuvIor AII-SLur on mv IooL. ¨¡ook.¨
CoIumbIne IuugIed, buL LIen sIook Ier Ieud und guve me un
empIuLIc LIumbs-down.
¨He`II Iove IL, LIougI.¨
¨OI course Ie wIII,¨ sIe ugreed und sLood up. ¨HeIp me geL
LIose on.¨
¡ IeId up LIe wIngs wIIIe sIe sIIpped Ier urms LIrougI LIe
sLrups und secured LIem Lo Ier buck. TIen sIe udded LIe wIg.
¨Muvbe ¡ sIouId Iuve been PeLer Pun,¨ ¡ suId.
¨TIuL wouId Iuve deIInILeIv been IILLIng.¨
As soon us we reLurned Lo LIe IIvIng room, VIoIeL poked Ier
Ieud In Irom Ier worksIop und wuved us over.
¨Hev, ¡ Iuve someLIIng Ior vou Lo weur us u cosLume.¨
We wuIked down LIe sLeps Lo IInd Ier sLundIng In LIe mIddIe
oI LIe room, IoIdIng someLIIng IIdden beIInd Ier buck.
¨So ¡ LrIed Lo LIInk up LIe perIecL cosLume Ior vou,¨ sIe suId.
¨And LIere wus one LIIng LIuL vou desperuLeIv need Lo Improve
vour Iook.¨ SIe wIIpped Ier Iunds ouL Lo sIow wIuL sIe wus
IoIdIng, ¨A musk.¨
¨TIunks, LIuL Is reuIIv IeIpIuI Ior mv seII-esLeem,¨ ¡ suId us ¡
Look LIe musk Irom Ier und IeIL LIe coId, Ieuvv gunmeLuI. ¡L
wus jusL IIke LIe one In mv dreum - groLesque wILI boIIs und u
zo¤
Iong crooked nose. Two moLIev rIbbons Iung oII eILIer sIde.
¡ puL IL on, und VIoIeL cIrcIed uround beIInd me Lo LIe LIe
rIbbons.
¨¡ook uL IL LIIs wuv,¨ CoIumbIne cIImed In IeIpIuIIv, ¨¡L`d be
worse II peopIe suw vour Iuce und LIougIL LIuL vou were uIreudv
weurIng u musk. ¡Ike vou were supposed Lo be u gross Niqht o[
the Litinq Decd guv or someLIIng.¨
VIoIeL brougIL over u Iund IeId mIrror Ior me Lo see Iow IL
Iooked. ¡L wus uncunnv Iow cIoseIv IL resembIed mv dreum. ¡
IeL ouL u IuInL IuugI, wIIcI sounded LInv und mecIunIcuI us IL
reverberuLed wILIIn LIe musk, mukIng me LIInk oI u cIunkIng
oId IIIm projecLor.
¨You mude LIIs?¨ ¡ usked.
¨YeuI, u wIIIe ugo. ¡L`s jusL someLIIng ¡ Iud IvIng uround.¨
¡ scunned LIe worksIop Lo survev LIe urruv oI LooIs und
suppIIes sIe Iud ussembIed - puInLs und cunvuses, bIg cIunks
oI cIuv Ior scuIpLIng, meLuIworkIng LooIs, u mInI oven, sIeeL
meLuI, u IuII-munnequIn wILI IuLex prosLIeLIcs udded Lo ILs Iuce
IIke movIe mukeup, u bIg spIce ruck Iouded up wILI vurIous
corrosIve cIemIcuIs Ior god-knows-wIuL. SIe even Iud u coupIe
Lubs seL up wILI puIp und wuLer; IL Iooked IIke sIe wus mukIng
Ier own puper bv Iund.
¨You cerLuInIv keep busv,¨ ¡ suId.
JusL LIen, we Ieurd u cur puII up ouLsIde, und u Iew seconds
IuLer SuInL AnLIonv uppeured uL LIe door. He wus weurIng wIuL
¡ supposed wus u MInoLuur cosLume comprIsed oI Lwo gIunL
meLuI Iorns sprouLIng Irom IIs Ieud und u LIIck bruss rIng
IungIng Irom LIe curLIIuge beLween IIs nosLrIIs. He wus bure-
cIesLed, sIowIng oII IIs sucred IeurL LuLLoo, In onIv u verv Iorm-
IILLIng puIr oI IeuLIer sIorLs und knee-IIgI booLs.
¨Are we reudv Lo go?¨ Ie usked LIe LIree oI us .
z1o
¨CIompIng uL LIe bIL,¨ ¡ repIIed.
---
¡ cIeurIv remembered urrIvIng uL LIe purLv In AnLIonv`s
EscuIude. TIIngs becume Iuzzv uILer LIuL.
We puIIed up In IronL oI u Iuge wIILe urL deco beIemoLI. ¡
recognIzed IL rIgIL uwuv; ¡ Iud oILen seen IL Irom uIur, mosL
oILen Irom LIe ¡IgIL RuII Green ¡Ine LIuL run uIong LIe eIevuLed
medIun oI HIgIwuv ;;. ¡ Iud uIwuvs ussumed IL wus u Mormon
TempIe or someLIIng.
¨WIuL Is LIIs pIuce?¨ ¡ usked.
¨¡L`s LIe HIgIwuLer BuIIdIng,¨ CoIumbIne expIuIned. ¨TIIs Is
wIere LIev meeL.¨
We goL ouL und Lurned LIe cur over Lo LIe vuIeL, LIen
proceeded up u mussIve wIILe murbIe sLuIrcuse Lo u seL oI LIree
Iurge, cIurcI-IIke urcIed doubIe doors.
TIe doors opened InLo un expunsIve Iover decoruLed In goIds
und reds. DIrecLIv uIeud oI us wus u seL oI LIree sIorL sLeps uL
IeusL 1o vurds wIde LIuL Ieud up Lo u Iurge enLrvwuv Irumed on
eILIer sIde bv gIunL red curLuIns LIuL Iud been puIIed open Lo
reveuI LIe buIIroom. TIe urcIILecLure wus verv Guudi-esque
wILI wuvv IInes und urcIes, gIvIng IL u verv skeIeLuI IeeIIng, us II
enLerIng InLo LIe curcuss oI u greuL ¡evIuLIun. MosL oI LIe IIoor
und even puLcIes on LIe wuIIs were covered wILI mosuIcs oI
broken LIIe.
On eILIer sIde oI us wus u seL oI sLuIrwuvs LIuL Ieud up Lo u
mezzunIne, wIIcI Iud LIree IdenLIcuIIv-sIuped cIosed doors -
one red, one wIILe, und one bIuck.
TIe Iour oI us mude our wuv InLo LIe buIIroom, wIIcI wus
wus uIreudv jum-pucked wILI peopIe In cosLumes rungIng Irom
z11
LIe ornuLe Lo LIe pIuvIuI Lo LIe rIsqué. ¡n LIe cenLer oI LIe room
sLood u ruIsed pIuLIorm wILI u juzz LrIo consIsLIng oI pIuno,
ucousLIc guILur, und uprIgIL buss, eucI member dressed In
wIILe, pIuvIng InsLrumenLuI sLundurds. A Leum oI servers zIpped
uround und beLween LIe LIrongs oI reveIers, eucI dressed In u
Luxedo und u IeuLureIess gunmeLuI musk, exucLIv IIke LIe one mv
InLerroguLor Iud worn.
¡ IIugged down one oI LIe servers wILI u Lruv oI wIne gIusses
und, uILer beIng ussured LIev were compIImenLurv, snugged
Iour. VIoIeL und AnLIonv eucI uccepLed one, CoIumbIne
decIIned Iers, und ¡ druIned LIe remuInIng Lwo In ubouL LIree
seconds IIuL.
¨So ¡ Luke IL vou`re noL on LIe cIock LonIgIL,¨ VIoIeL suId.
¨On LIe conLrurv, LIIs Is Iow ¡ do mv besL work,¨ ¡ repIIed.
AnLIonv buLLed beLween us, puLLIng one Iund on mv
sIouIder und cuppIng VIoIeL`s uss wILI LIe oLIer. ¨So wIuL IIrsL,
LIen? MIngIe, grub someLIIng Lo euL, or Ieud sLruIgIL Lo LIe
dunce IIoor?¨
¨BuLIroom,¨ CoIumbIne suId resoIuLeIv.
¨WeII IeL`s go LIen,¨ AnLIonv repIIed und sLurLed wuIkIng,
keepIng IIs Iund IIrmIv grIpped on IIs wIIe`s perIecL uss.
CoIumbIne sIIpped Ier urm uround mIne und moLIoned Ior
us Lo IoIIow beIInd LIem.
¨We uII Iuve Lo go Lo LIe buLIroom LogeLIer?¨ ¡ usked,
genuIneIv conIused.
SIe jusL cIuckIed. ¨Don`L be so provIncIuI.¨
---
CoIumbIne InIuIed IorceIuIIv LIrougI Ier nose us sIe swepL
Ier Ieud over LIe IengLI oI LIe LoIIeL Lunk IId.
z1z
¨God dumn, LIuL`s smooLI!¨ sIe excIuImed us sIe wIIpped
IerseII buck uprIgIL.
¨Don`L bIuspIeme,¨ AnLIonv suId und poured some more oI
LIe wIILe powder onLo LIe IILLIe Iund-sIzed mIrror percIed uLop
LIe LoIIeL Lunk.
CoIumbIne Iunded me LIe sIorL pIusLIc sLruw. AnLIonv
IInIsIed scuIpLIng LIe IInes, und ¡ sLepped up und Look mv
bump.
¨Jesus CIrIsL, vuppIes und coke, does IL geL unv more
cIIcIéd?¨ ¡ usked beIore pussIng LIe sLruw over Lo VIoIeL.
¨¡ suId don`L IuckIng bIuspIeme,¨ AnLIonv repeuLed.
¨You know, ¡ cun never LeII II vou`re LrvIng Lo be Iunnv wIen
vou suv LIuL.¨
---
AILer IeuvIng LIe buLIroom, we Ieuded over Lo LIe hors
d'oeutres LubIe. TIe oLIer LIree begun pIckIng over LIe sundrv
oIIerIngs, buL ¡ dIdn`L IeeI mucI IIke euLIng. TIen AnLIonv und
VIoIeL sLurLed IeedIng eucI oLIer IILLIe puII pusLrIes und brie en
croute, und LIuL jusL kIIIed mv uppeLILe even more.
On sLuge, LIe LrIo Iud moved pusL InsLrumenLuIs und onLo
vocuI songs. TIev were In LIe mIddIe oI u song ¡ recognIzed buL
couIdn`L quILe pIuce. ¡L Iud u juunLv, sLuccuLo guILur rIvLIm,
over wIIcI LIe pIuno pIuver crooned In u scruLcIv, wIIskev-
drencIed voIce:
Prcu [or uou, prcu [or me, sinq it lile c sonq,
Li[e is short, but bu the qrcce o[ God, the niqht is lonq.
¨¡uck, wIo sIngs LIIs song?¨ ¡ usked oI no one In purLIcuIur.
z1¤
¨TIuL guv does,¨ CoIumbIne repIIed, poInLIng up uL LIe
pIunIsL.
VIoIeL erupLed InLo unconLroIIubIe gIggIes, und CoI und ¡
sImuILuneousIv Lurned Lo see LIuL sIe Iud spIIIed some cuvIur
onLo Ier cIeuvuge und LIuL AnLIonv Iud pIuvIuIIv Ieuned In Lo
IIck IL oII.
¨DIdn`L LIIs uIreudv Iuppen?¨ CoIumbIne wIIspered.
¡ grubbed Lwo gIusses oI wIne und pounded LIem boLI In
quIck successIon.
¨¡ Luke IL vou`re noL on LIe cIock LonIgIL,¨ VIoIeL suId.
¨TIIs Is Iow ¡ do mv besL work,¨ ¡ muLLered gruIIIv In
response.
¨DIdn`L LIIs uIreudv Iuppen?¨ CoIumbIne repeuLed und
gIggIed soILIv.
SIe wus rIgIL, LIere wus someLIIng IumIIIur ubouL LIIs
momenL, buL ¡ couIdn`L quILe pIuce IL. Mv Ieud sLurLed spInnIng,
und evervLIIng IeIL IrugmenLed.
¡ IeId up mv empLv gIuss und Iooked InsIde.
¨Jesus, Is someone puLLIng someLIIng In mv wIne? ¡ don`L
LIInk cocuIne Is supposed Lo do LIIs,¨ ¡ mumbIed us ¡ sLuggered
uwuv Irom LIe oLIer LIree.
---
¡ ended up buck In LIe buLIroom. SuInL AnLIonv Iud gIven
me u IILLIe pIusLIc bug oI mv own. ¡ wusn`L reuIIv sure wIen LIuL
Iud Iuppened. BuL uL unv ruLe, ¡ Iud IL now, und ¡ wus dIggIng
LIe wIILe powder ouL wILI LIe kev Irom LIe PorscIe und snIIIIng
IL sLruIgIL ouL oI LIe grooves.
¨¡ LeII vou,¨ ¡ suId Lo LIe mun In LIe nexL sLuII, ¨LIe proIessIon
jusL Iusn`L been LIe sume sInce TIompson oIIed IImseII. He
z1q
wus LIe IusL oI LIe LILuns. No one Ius unv buIIs unvmore. ¡
meun, 'embedded journuIIsL` - wIuL LIe Iuck Is LIuL?¨
¡ reucIed InLo mv pockeLs Lo dIg ouL mv cIgureLLes, buL
IumbIed LIe puck und dropped IL InLo LIe LoIIeL.
¨MoLIerIucker!¨ ¡ sIouLed.
TIe mun In LIe nexL sLuII kepL our conversuLIon goIng,
unIuzed bv mv ouLbursL, ¨TIe probIem Is LIuL LIere`s noLIIng
IIdden unvmore, so LIere`s noLIIng reuI Lo reporL. EvervLIIng`s
ouL In LIe open. PeopIe sLIII cIeuL, sLeuI, bucksLub, und even kIII
Lo geL uIeud, buL now LIev`II do IL IIve on prIme LIme neLwork
TV. Evervbodv ODed on scunduI - WuLerguLe, ¡run-ConLru,
bIow jobs In LIe ovuI oIIIce - IL`s Loo Iurd Lo muInLuIn sucI u
IIgI IeveI oI ouLruge IndeIInILeIv. EvenLuuIIv IuLIgue seLs In und
IL becomes eusIer jusL Lo Iook LIe oLIer wuv, so Iong us ¡`m noL
personuIIv IurL bv IL. NoLIIng`s sIockIng.¨
¨SIIL, vou`re rIgIL,¨ ¡ suId, LukIng unoLIer bump oII mv kev.
¨WIuL um ¡ doIng wILI mv IIIe? ¡`m sLuck In u deud proIessIon.
¡`ve goL Lo geL ouL oI LIIs buLIroom und muke someLIIng oI
mvseII.¨
---
¡ wundered buck Lo LIe bund`s pIuLIorm, IopIng Lo IInd
CoIumbIne und LIe oLIers, buL LIev weren`L LIere. ¡ decIded Lo
IIgIL up u cIgureLLe wIIIe ¡ wuILed Ior LIem Lo come buck.
¨WuIL, dId LIIs uIreudv Iuppen? Wus LIIs beIore ¡ dropped
LIem In LIe LoIIeL?¨ ¡ mumbIed Lo no one In purLIcuIur, mv IIL
smoke bouncIng up und down beLween mv IIps. A wuILer In u
gunmeLuI musk wuIked up und usked me Lo puL LIe smoke ouL. ¡
Lossed IL InLo one oI LIe gIusses on IIs Lruv, LIen grubbed Lwo
oLIers oII IL und pounded LIem boLI In quIck successIon.
z1=
TIe IIgILs dImmed, und u spoLIIgIL IeII upon LIe pIuLIorm,
IIIumInuLIng u womun wILI voIumInous bIonde IuIr und LIgIL,
red sequIned dress cIIngIng Lo Ier LuII, IILIe Irume.
TIe pIuno begun LIe InLroducLIon Lo ¨SupersLur¨ bv LIe
CurpenLers. TIen LIe resL oI LIe bund joIned In, und LIe womun
begun Lo sIng.
And LIen ¡ reuIIzed sIe wusn`L u womun.
HIs voIce wus soIL und smooLI, bureIv wIIsperIng, buL sLIII
deep. ¡ sLood LIere, LrunsIIxed, und wuLcIed IIm perIorm.
AbouL IuII wuv LIrougI LIe song, ¡ IInuIIv recognIzed LIuL IL
wus Mux.
---
Mux und ¡ wuIked LogeLIer LIrougI LIe purLv. He wus sLIII In
drug und LrvIng Lo expIuIn IIs LIeorv ubouL LIe IusL epIsode oI
Tuin Pecls. ¡L InvoIved someLIIng Lo do wILI LIme IuvIng u
pIvsIcuI sIupe IIke u MöbIus sLrIp, onIv LIe sIupe exIsLed In u
dIIIerenL dImensIon LIuL we cun`L see, LIe wuv LIuL u spIere
exIsLs In u dImensIon LIuL u cIrcIe doesn`L.
¨Or IL`s IIke, wIuL u MöbIus sLrIp Is Lo u IIgure eIgIL druwn on
u pIece oI puper, LIuL`s wIuL LIme`s sIupe Is Lo u MöbIus sLrIp.
¡our-dImensIonuI.¨
¨WIuL LIe Iuck ure vou bubbIIng ubouL?¨ ¡ demunded us ¡
druIned unoLIer gIuss oI wIne.
¨¡`m LeIIIng vou Iow LIe IusL epIsode couId Luke pIuce LwenLv-
IIve veurs beIore LIe dreum Cooper Iud uL LIe begInnIng oI LIe
IIrsL seuson.¨
We wuIked pusL VIoIeL und AnLIonv. TIev were pressed
uguInsL u wuII In un embruce, IeedIng eucI oLIer Iors d`oeuvres.
A doIIop oI cuvIur drIpped oII u crucker onLo VIoIeL`s cIeuvuge,
z16
und AnLIonv Ieuned In Lo IIck IL oII.
¨WuIL, wIuL?¨ ¡ suId, IookIng uwuv Irom LIem und buck Lo
Mux.
¨¡ook, dId vou ever see LIe Iong versIon oI LIe pIIoL?¨
---
¡ suL nexL Lo Mux on u red veIveL coucI. TIe room wus dImIv
IIL bv u LrIo oI cundIe IIxLures on LIe wuII. A beuuLIIuI womun In
u bIuck corseL und sLockIngs wuIked Lowurd us sIowIv,
seducLIveIv. SIe Iud Iong, jeL bIuck IuIr und IIgIL mocIu skIn.
Her Iuce wus obscured bv u gunmeLuI musk IIke LIe servers
downsLuIrs, excepL Iers wus u IuII-musk, exposIng Ier IuII, rubv
red IIps.
Mux Lurned Lo Iook uL me wILI knowIng grIn.
¨WuIL, LIIs dIdn`L Iuppen veL,¨ ¡ suId.
---
¨WIuL dIdn`L Iuppen veL?¨ LIe sLruwberrv-bIonde nexL Lo me
usked.
¨¡ don`L know, ¡`m sLurLIng Lo geL u IILLIe rougI uround LIe
edges,¨ ¡ repIIed.
SIe sIook Ier Ieud. ¨You sIouIdn`L Iuve drunk so mucI
beIore comIng down Iere. Muvbe vou sIouId jusL Iung buck; IL
cun geL preLLv dungerous.¨
We were sILLIng uround In u sub-busemenL under LIe
HIgIwuLer BuIIdIng, wIIcI wus IuII oI cruLes und meLuI sLoruge
conLuIners. TIere were u IILLIe more LIun u dozen oI us, buL we
Iud uII broken InLo smuIIer groups Lo socIuIIze wIIIe we wuILed
Ior LIe gume Lo sLurL.
z1;
Mv cIIque consIsLed oI LIe sLruwberrv-bIonde, wIo wus ubouL
mv uge, und unoLIer mun In IIs IuLe-LIIrLIes. SIe wus LIe Ieud
oI governmenLuI uIIuIrs uL Abrusux, und Ie run R&D Ior
¡nspIruLecI. BoLI were curd-currvIng member oI LIe HIgIwuLer
SocIeLv.
TIev boLI Iooked IIke uLIIeLIc Lvpes und were dressed IIke
LIev were goIng IIkIng or rock cIImbIng or someLIIng. TIe
womun wus weurIng u Lunk Lop und curgo punLs, wIIIe LIe mun
Iud on u IIuk juckeL over u L-sIIrL und cumouIIuge punLs. BoLI
were currvIng buckpucks Iouded up wILI serIous ouLdoors geur -
IIusIIIgILs, ropes, curubIners, puIIevs.
¨He cun`L buck ouL now,¨ LIe mun repIIed, sIukIng IIs Ieud.
¨EspecIuIIv noL IIs IIrsL LIme.¨
TIe womun Iud enguged me In conversuLIon becuuse sIe
LIougIL ¡ wus someone sIe knew Irom IIgI scIooI. Even
LIougI we quIckIv IIgured ouL LIuL sIe wus mIsLuken, sIe sLIII
InvILed me Lo sLuv und LuIk wILI LIem.
¡ decIded Lo uccepL LIe oIIer, IonesLIv, becuuse sIe wus LIe
besL IookIng oI LIe women In mv ImmedIuLe IIeId oI vIsIon. SIe
wusn`L exucLIv mv Lvpe, buL uLLrucLIve noneLIeIess - u peppv,
gIrI-nexL-door Lvpe wILI bIg green eves, u cIInu doII Iuce, und u
puIr oI LILs jusL u LoucI Loo Iurge Ior Ier sIIgIL Irume.
Mv upprecIuLIon oI LIuL IusL IeuLure wus noL IosL on Ier
compunIon, wIo wouId perIodIcuIIv cuLcI me IookIng und
respond bv movIng In cIoser Lo Ier, us II murkIng IIs LerrILorv.
WIen Ie dId LIIs, sIe wouId wuIL jusL Iong enougI noL Lo be
rude, und LIen Luke u coupIe sLeps IerseII, reesLubIIsIIng LIe
dIsLunce beLween LIem. ¡ Look IL Iess us u sIgnuI Lo me oI Ier
uvuIIubIIILv, und more us u sIgnuI Loo IIm oI LIeIr boundurIes.
¨Are vou nervous?¨ LIe mun usked me.
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨SIouId ¡ be?¨
z18
He smIIed und sIrugged. ¨¡ guess we`II see.¨
¨Do vou remember vour IIrsL LIme, Iow nervous vou were?¨
LIe womun Leused. ¨¡ LIougIL vou were goIng Lo sIIL vourseII.¨
TIe mun cIuckIed und expIuIned Lo me, ¨A coIIeugue Irom
work - reuIIv Ie wus more IIke mv menLor - convInced me Lo
sLurL pIuvIng us u neLworkIng opporLunILv. TIe nexL LIIng ¡
know IL`s Lwo In LIe mornIng und Mux Is LeucIIng me Iow Lo
breuk InLo u bunk.¨
¨¡L`s reuIIv noL LIuL Iurd once vou geL LIe Iung oI IL,¨ LIe
womun cIImed In.
¨WIv does DvIun MuxweII need Lo know Iow Lo breuk InLo u
bunk?¨ ¡ usked. ¨He cun`L need LIe monev.¨
¨¡L wus purL oI LIe gume,¨ LIe mun repIIed, druwIng ouL und
over-unnuncIuLIng everv word Lo IndIcuLe LIe unswer sIouId
Iuve been obvIous Lo me. ¨TIe objecL wus Lo see wIo couId IInd
LIe mosL InLeresLIng LIIng In u suIeLv deposIL box. TIe guv wIo
won Iound un ucLuuI Iumun IeurL; IL Iud been LreuLed or
wIuLever Lo preserve IL, buL Mux Iud IL cIecked ouL und verIIIed
IL wus IegIL.¨
A Iew mInuLes IuLer, u IuLcI door In LIe ground opened up,
und Mux emerged Irom LIe openIng. ¨We`re good Lo go,¨ Ie
unnounced. ¨Come on down.¨
One bv one, we descended InLo LIe IuLcI down u Iudder,
wIIcI brougIL us InLo u decuvIng room LIuL Iooked IIke IL mIgIL
Iuve once been u bunk vuuIL. Mux Ied us ouL oI LIe vuuIL InLo
unoLIer room, wIIcI Indeed couId Iuve once been LIe Iobbv oI u
bunk, buL Iooked us II IL Iud been buIIL In LIe 1¤
LI
cenLurv und
IeIL Lo roL ever sInce.
WIIcI, us Mux expIuIned, ucLuuIIv wus LIe cuse.
¨TIIs Lown wus IIrsL Iounded In LIe sIudow oI LIe eusL
IooLIIIIs,¨ Ie suId. ¨¡L wus jusL u sLopover on LIe LruII Lo LIe goId
z1¤
mInes up norLI, u pIuce Ior men IookIng Lo muke LIeIr IorLunes
Lo sLock up und reIresI LIemseIves. TIe mInIng suppIv sLores,
bunks, und goId brokers dId preLLv good busIness; LIe burs und
wIore Iouses dId beLLer.¨
We wuIked LIrougI LIe bunk Iobbv und ouL wIuL wus once
LIe IronL door, wIIcI opened InLo u Iurge LunneI ubouL u sLorv
IIgI buLLressed bv concreLe. TIe IengLI oI LIe LunneI wus IIned
on eILIer sIde bv LIe remnunLs oI LIe Iucudes oI oId buIIdIngs.
DIrecLIv ucross Irom LIe bunk wus LIe sLoreIronL wILI u puInLed
wooden sIgn Ior McPherson's Genercl Store.
¨TIIs used Lo be MuIn SLreeL,¨ Mux conLInued. ¨You see, LIe
1¤o6 quuke cuused u Iund sIIde LIuL burIed LIe oId Lown.
However, bv LIuL LIme LIe cILv`s mosL powerIuI busInessmen Iud
reuIIzed LIe Lrue vuIue oI LIIs vuIIev - LIuL prucLIcuIIv unvLIIng
wouId grow In ILs soII - so LIev sImpIv rebuIIL LIe cILv on Lop oI
LIe ruIns.
¨Buck In LIe IIILIes, durIng LIe coId wur, LIe cILv sLurLed
IookIng InLo buIIdIng underground IuIIouL sIeILers In cuse oI
nucIeur uLLuck. TIev dIscovered LIe remnunLs oI LIe oId Lown
und decIded Lo preserve LIem us u IIsLorIcuI sILe. ¡L now exIsLs
us u IubvrInLIIne serIes oI subLerruneun LunneIs connecLIng LIe
oId buIIdIngs. TIe Ideu wus Lo muke LIem suIe Ior LourIsLs Lo
wuIk LIrougI, buL LIe IundIng drIed up und LIe projecL wus
never compIeLed. TIese LunneIs snuke uround, under, ubove,
und LIrougI LIe oId buIIdIngs In un InLrIcuLe muze wILI u LoLuI
IengLI oI over LIIrLv mIIes II IuId end-Lo end. TIe buIIdIngs
LIemseIves Iuve muILIpIe rooms, some Iuve muILIpIe sLorIes,
some busemenLs, und uII ure In u dungerous sLuLe oI III-repuIr.
So wuLcI vourseIves ouL LIere,¨ Ie udded wILI u mIscIIevous
grIn.
He LIen reucIed InLo IIs pockeL und produced unoLIer smuII
zzo
red meLuI box. ¨SomewIere In LIe ruIns oI oId Lown LIere Is
IIdden u box LIuL Iooks exucLIv IIke LIIs. TIIs one Is empLv, buL
LIe oLIer conLuIns someLIIng verv vuIuubIe. ¡Ind IL, und IL`s
vours Lo keep.¨
---
¡ wus buck upsLuIrs In LIe HIgIwuLer BuIIdIng, wunderIng
LIrougI u muze oI unIumIIIur IuIIwuvs. ¡ wus IookIng Ior LIe
buLIroom uguIn, buL ¡ musL Iuve mude u wrong Lurn somewIere
becuuse ¡ wus compIeLeIv IosL.
¡ Lurned u corner und suw one oI LIe musked servers.
¨Hev, do vou know wIIcI wuv Ieuds buck Lo LIe muIn
buIIroom?¨ ¡ usked.
¨Sure,¨ Ie suId, upproucIIng me. ¨BuL IIrsL, vou Iuve Lo LeII
me wIere vou IId LIe ArIudne Kev.¨
TIe voIce wus unmIsLukubIe; LIIs wus LIe sume mun wIo Iud
InLerroguLed me wILI LIe Luser. ¡ Lurned Lo run, buL Ie wus on
Lop oI me beIore ¡ Iud even mude IL u vurd.
¨NoL quILe reudv Lo LuIk veL?¨ Ie suId us ¡ IeIL u coId bIude
press InLo LIe IIesI oI mv neck. ¨¡ook uIeud.¨
¡nexpIIcubIv, ¡ IIILed mv eves und obeved IIm. DIrecLIv In
IronL oI us, puInLed on LIe wuII, wus LIe crowned gIobe svmboI
oI LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv. ¡L sIIILed und sIImmered, us II IL Iud
been puInLed In mercurv, IuvIng u IvpnoLIc eIIecL on me.
¡ IeIL mvseII sIIppIng InLo u Lrunce, wIIcI wus broken onIv
wIen ¡ IeIL josLIed Irom beIInd. ¡ Lurned Lo see VIoIeL und mv
ussuIIunL sLruggIIng on LIe IIoor, eucI LrvIng Lo wresL LIe dugger
uwuv Irom eucI oLIer. ¡ reucIed InLo mv pockeL und dug ouL mv
pockeLknIIe, LIen jummed IL InLo LIe buse oI IIs neck.
He IeL ouL un unguIsIed crv und senL LIe buck oI IIs IIsL
zz1
IIvIng InLo mv nose, sLunnIng me. He knocked over VIoIeL und
Lore oII uround u corner InLo u connecLIng IuIIwuv. We LrIed Lo
gIve cIuse, buL bv LIe LIme we recovered und mude IL uround LIe
corner, Ie wus gone wILIouL u Lruce.
¨Come on, IeL`s geL vou ouLsIde Ior some IresI uIr,¨ VIoIeL
LoId me.
¡ IoIIowed Ier buck LIe oLIer wuv.
¨¡L wus Iuckv vou Iuppened Lo be goIng bv,¨ ¡ suId, sLIII
sIook-up.
¨¡L wusn`L uII Iuck,¨ sIe suId. ¨Turns ouL vou were rIgIL.¨
¡ Iooked uL Ier quesLIonIngIv.
¨¡`m sLurLIng Lo pop ouL,¨ sIe expIuIned, grInnIng wIIIe
udjusLIng Ier dress uround Ier cIeuvuge. ¨¡ wus Ieuded Ior LIe
buLIroom Lo IIx mvseII up.¨
¨Wus LIe buLIroom LIuL wuv?¨ ¡ usked.
¨YeuI, vou were rIgIL ouLsIde IL wIen ¡ Iound vou,¨ sIe suId.
¨¡`ve been so conIused LonIgIL,¨ ¡ repIIed.
---
¨Don`L worrv,¨ CoIumbIne suId, Ier Iuce scunL IncIes Irom
mIne. ¨Someone wus sIIppIng someLIIng InLo vour drInks. TIev
were LrvIng Lo dIsorIenL vou so LIev couId geL InIormuLIon. ¡L`s
jusL messIng wILI vour Ieud u IILLIe, buL vou sIouId be IIne bv
Lomorrow mornIng.¨
SIe roIIed over uwuv Irom me und reLurned Lo LIe urms oI
LIe voung mun IvIng nexL Lo Ier, wIom sIe Iud been cuddIIng.
¡ sLood up Iound mvseII In u Iurge open room IIIumInuLed
onIv bv bIuck IIgILs und sLur IIgIL comIng In Irom LIe mussIve
gIuss sun rooIs overIeud. TIe wuIIs were uII mIrrors.
TIe IIoor wus covered wILI bIunkeLs, pIIIows, und cusIIons,
zzz
on Lop oI wIIcI coupIes und someLImes groups oI more were
IuvIng down und embrucIng eucI oLIer. TIev were uII IuIIv
cIoLIed, und LIere wusn`L unv overL sexuuI ucLIvILv. TIere wusn`L
even reuIIv unv kIssIng. ¡L wus jusL peopIe IoIdIng eucI oLIer.
¡ Lreuded cureIuIIv over LIe bodIes unLII ¡ Iound LIe
sLruwberrv-bIonde Irom underground wILI Ier urms wrupped
uround u durk-IuIred womun ¡ dIdn`L recognIze. SIe wus
beIInd LIe oLIer womun, crudIIng Ier bodv uguInsL Ier own.
¡ IuId down beIInd Ier In LIe sume posILIon, pressIng mv
peIvIs snugIv up uguInsL Ier uss. ¨CongruLuIuLIons,¨ ¡ suId.
SIe Iooked over Ier sIouIder und IIusIed me u smIIe.
¨TIunk vou.¨
¨So wIuL dId vou geL Ior wInnIng?¨
SIe sIook Ier Ieud pIuvIuIIv, ¨You know ¡ cun`L LeII vou
LIuL.¨
¨¡ guess ¡`II jusL Iuve Lo wIn unoLIer gume mvseII Lo IInd
ouL,¨ ¡ repIIed.
¨Some duv. BuL don`L expecL IL Lo Iuppen rIgIL uwuv. TIese
peopIe Luke LIeIr compeLILIons serIousIv, und LIIs wus vour IIrsL
LIme, uILer uII.¨
¡ nodded, und LIen uILer u puuse udded, ¨You know, vou
never LoId me wIuL uour IIrsL gume wus IIke.¨
SIe Lurned Ier Ieud buck Lo Iuce Iorwurd, IookIng uwuv Irom
me. ¨WeII, IeL`s see,¨ sIe begun. ¨¡ joIned wIen ¡ wus sIxLeen.
Mv IuLIer wus uIreudv u member, und Ie LIougIL IL wouId be
good Ior me. On LIe IIrsL nIgIL ¡ wenL ouL wILI Mux, LIere were
onIv u IundIuI oI us, IIke sIx or seven, uII women. Mux IeIped us
geL InLo LIese IorrIbIe dIsguIses, IIke bIg wIgs und LrusIv muke-
up, Ieopurd prInL und busLIers und IeuLIer skIrLs. TIen Ie drove
us down Lo LIe norLI end oI Sun Hermes Purk IuLe uL nIgIL wILI
noLIIng buL LIe cIoLIes on our bucks und Lurned us Ioose wILI
zz¤
uII LIe drug deuIers, LIe vugrunLs, LIe junkIes, LIe Iookers. And
Ie LoId us LIe one wIo Iud mude LIe mosL monev bv duvbreuk
wus LIe wInner.
¨¡ wus LIe one wIo IosL LIuL nIgIL. ¡ dIdn`L muke u sIngIe
cenL. ¡ wunLed Lo pIuv LIe gume, ¡ LIougIL ¡ couId, und ¡ even
Iound u mun. ¡ goL InLo IIs cur, und Ie drove down LIe sLreeL
und puIIed InLo LIe empLv purkIng IoL oI u mIddIe scIooI. He
purked LIe cur und dIdn`L suv unvLIIng, jusL unIusLened IIs seuL
beIL, recIIned IIs seuL, und unzIpped IImseII. TIen Ie Iooked uL
me wILI LIe mosL dIsgusLIng Iuce ¡`ve ever seen - ¡ sLIII cun see IL
Lo LIIs duv - und ¡ reuIIzed LIuL LIIs wusn`L ubouL sex Lo IIm, IL
wusn`L ubouL geLLIng oII. He IuLed IImseII Ior beIng ugIv, Ior
beIng oId, Ior beIng IuL, Ior beIng Loo mucI oI un ussIoIe Ior unv
womun Lo voIunLurIIv puL up wILI. And Ie IuLed me Ior beIng
voung und beuuLIIuI, Ie IuLed me Ior mukIng IIm desIre me.
And LIIs wus IIs wuv oI geLLIng revenge, bv subordInuLIng me Lo
IIm, bv LukIng me down Lo IIs IeveI. SomeIow, IookIng uL IIm
In LIe cur wILI IIs dIsgusLIng IILLIe prIck peekIng up ouL oI IIs
open punLs, ¡ knew uII LIIs Lo be Lrue, und IL mude me sIck. ¡
opened LIe cur door und run ouL us IusL us ¡ couId, ¡ run Ior
someLIIng IIke u dozen bIocks beIore ¡ IInuIIv coIIupsed, und ¡
jusL IeIL sIck. ¡ LrIed Lo LIrow up Lo see II IL wouId IeIp, buL ¡
couId onIv drv Ieuve. So LIen ¡ jusL wenL buck Lo LIe purk und
wuILed Ior duvbreuk Lo come und LoId Mux wIuL Iuppened. And
so ¡ IosL.
¨A week IuLer mv IuLIer IosL IIs job. Mux Ieuked Lo LIe puper
LIuL Ie Iud been keepIng u mIsLress wIo wus druwIng u suIurv oI
$=oo,ooo u veur Irom IIs compunv us u 'consuILunL` even
LIougI sIe never seL IooL In LIe buIIdIng und IurdIv spoke u
word oI EngIIsI. He Iud uIso been usIng IIs expense uccounL Lo
IIv LIem overseus Ior vucuLIons under LIe guIse oI murkeL
zzq
reseurcI. Two duvs uILer LIIs uII cume ouL, Ie kIIIed IImseII. Mv
mom und ¡ IosL evervLIIng und ended up on LIe sLreeLs. ¡nsLeud
oI goIng uwuv Lo un Ivv Ieugue unIversILv, ¡ Iud Lo sLuv wILI Ier
und work Lwo jobs Lo puL mvseII LIrougI communILv coIIege. ¡L
wus rougI, buL ¡ ended up IInIsIIng mv degree uL SLuLe und
geLLIng u scIoIursIIp Lo SLunIord Lo geL mv MusLer`s. TIe duv ¡
gruduuLed, Mux cume Lo see me und LoId Lo me LIuL Ie never
Iurms LIe peopIe wIo Iose IIs gumes. He jusL LesLs LIem, sIows
LIem wIo LIev reuIIv ure. ¡ LoId IIm LIuL ¡ uIreudv knew LIIs.
And LIen Ie oIIered me u job.¨
AL LIuL momenL, ¡ IeIL u sLrunge IongIng come over me LIuL ¡
couIdn`L quILe expIuIn. ¡or some reuson, ¡ Iound mvseII wIsIIng
LIuL ¡ Iud ucLuuIIv been LIe person sIe LIougIL ¡ wus eurIIer LIuL
nIgIL, Ier IrIend Irom IIgI scIooI. ¡ dIdn`L reuIIv know wIuL Lo
do, wIuL Lo suv, or even Iow Lo IeeI ubouL wIuL sIe Iud jusL LoId
me. ¡ jusL IeIL resLIess, IIke ¡ Iud Lo do somethinq, unvLIIng. So
oI course ¡ dId LIe mosL sLupId LIIng possIbIe.
¡ Ieuned mv Ieud Iorwurd und pressed mv IIps LIe sIde oI Ier
neck, kIssIng Ier skIn soILIv.
¡mmedIuLeIv ¡ IeIL Ier bodv Lense, so ¡ puIIed buck. We
sLuved sLIII Ior unoLIer uncomIorLubIe sIIence.
¨PIeuse Ieuve,¨ sIe suId.
¡ sLood up und suw Mux sLundIng ucross LIe room, IeunIng
cusuuIIv uguInsL LIe Iur wuII. ¡ wuIked over Lo meeL IIm.
¨CuddIe purLIes. TIev`re becomIng more und more popuIur
wILI voung proIessIonuIs,¨ Ie expIuIned. ¨PeopIe wIo ure so
uIIenuLed, so wrupped up In LIeIr jobs, In LecInoIogv, In creuLure
comIorLs, LIuL even LIe sImpIesL ucLs oI Iumun uIIecLIon
become suIucIous. We Iuve Lo scIeduIe In unv Iumun conLucL,
pencII IL In on vour cuIendur und LreuL IL us unonvmous us u duLe
wILI u prosLILuLe, jusL unoLIer LrunsucLIon or busIness deuIIng,
zz=
jusL unoLIer meeLIng Lo Luke or uppoInLmenL Lo keep. Ours Is u
generuLIon so neuLered we cun`L even munuge u proper orgv.¨
¨¡L`s doIng mv Ieud In, IonesLIv,¨ ¡ LoId IIm. ¨¡ guess ¡`m
jusL oId-IusIIoned some wuvs; ¡ need someLIIng more vIsceruI.¨
¨¡uckIIv, ¡ LIInk ¡ cun urrunge Ior LIuL, Loo.¨
---
We were sILLIng on u red veIveL coucI.
A beuuLIIuI womun In u bIuck corseL und sLockIngs wus
wuIkIng Lowurds us sIowIv, seducLIveIv. SIe Iud Iong, jeL bIuck
IuIr und IIgIL mocIu skIn. Her Iuce wus obscured bv u gunmeLuI
musk IIke LIe servers downsLuIrs, excepL Iers wus u IuII-musk,
exposIng Ier IuII, rubv red IIps.
Mux Lurned Lo Iook uL me wILI u knowIng grIn.
¨SIIL, evervLIIng`s runnIng LogeLIer, IIke sIde Lwo oI Abbeu
Rocd.¨
¨JusL sIuL up und enjov LIIs,¨ Mux suId, sIukIng IIs Ieud.
¨WouId IL IeIp vou II ¡ mude Ier weur u purpIe wIg?¨
TIe womun kneIL beLween mv Iegs und sLurLed workIng LIe
zIpper on mv punLs open. SIe Ieuned Iorwurd und burIed Ier
Iuce InLo mv Iup.
¡ roIIed mv eves buck und suvored LIe IeeIIng. TIen ¡ opened
LIem uguIn wIen ¡ IeIL Mux`s Iund on mv cIIn. He sIIpped IIs
IIngers uround Lo LIe IeIL sIde oI mv juw und Lurned mv Ieud
rIgIL, Lowurds IIm. ¡ IeL IIm conLroI mv movemenLs und purLed
mv IIps us Ie Ieuned In Lo press IIs uguInsL mIne.
---
¡ woke up In un unIumIIIur bed In un unIumIIIur room. TIe
zz6
sun sIone brIgILIv LIrougI un open wIndow. ¡ wus wrupped In
bIuck sIIk sIeeLs und spoonIng Mux, wIo wus sLIII usIeep. We
were boLI nuked.
¡ reucIed ouL und LoucIed IIm, us II ¡ needed Lo prove Lo
mvseII IL wus reuI. He snorLed und roIIed over, IoverIng IuIIwuv
beLween wukIng und sIeep, LIen mumbIed someLIIng LIuL
sounded IIke, ¨DIdn`L LIIs uIreudv Iuppen?¨
zz;
z=. Whcteter You Wcnt Most
¨Are vou sLIII IuvIng LIe dreums?¨ Mux usked me us Ie Look u
sIp oI IIs Leu.
We were sILLIng In IIs bed, nuked und IooseIv wrupped In
sIeeLs.
¨No, LIev sLopped ubouL LIe LIme ¡ meL vou,¨ ¡ repIIed,
enjovIng LIe wurmLI oI mv own cup In mv Iunds. ¡L wus u
Jupunese-sLvIe sLone mug, rougI Lo LIe LoucI, wILI smuII IoLus
IIowers puInLed on LIe sIdes.
Mux cusL u sIdewuvs gIunce uL me. ¨¡ um,¨ Ie suId und
druIned LIe resL oI IIs Leu.
He sLood up und moved over Lo IIs cIoseL, keepIng IIs buck
Lo me us Ie puL on u red und bIuck Jupunese sIIk kImono. ¨Huve
vou IIgured ouL wIv vou were IuvIng LIem, veL?¨
¨No,¨ ¡ repIIed, geLLIng ouL oI bed mvseII und IunLIng uround
Ior mv cIoLIes - unsuccessIuIIv.
He nodded. HIs demeunor wus more resLruIned, more
serIous LIun ¡ Iud ever seen IIm beIore. He wusn`L wruppIng
evervLIIng In IIs usuuI Iorced Ironv. HonesLIv, IL wus u IILLIe
unseLLIIng.
zz8
¨You know, wIen vou IIrsL LoId me LIuL vou were IuvIng LIuL
dreum, ¡ LIougIL LIuL LIere wus one puInIuIIv obvIous
expIunuLIon,¨ Ie suId.
¨WIuL`s LIuL?¨
¨WeII, vou knew wIere Ier bodv wus IIdden. ¡ogIcuIIv, LIere
ure onIv Lwo wuvs LIuL wus possIbIe - eILIer vou Iound Ier
LIere, or vou were LIe one wIo puL Ier LIere.¨ He IeL ouL u drv,
bILLer cIuckIe. ¨TIuL IIrsL LIme vou brougIL Ier up, ¡ LIougIL
vou were conIessIng.¨
¨WuIL, vou LIougIL ¡ kIIIed Ier?¨
He cIuckIed uguIn. ¨Yes. ¡L ucLuuIIv mude perIecL sense Lo
me uL LIe LIme. ¡ LIougIL LIuL sInce vou were u reporLer
InvesLIguLIng mv ucLIvILIes, vou Iud uncovered cerLuIn dumugIng
InIormuLIon ubouL me In LIe process. ¡L wouIdn`L Iuve been LIe
IIrsL LIme - vour IrIend Cobb sLumbIed upon LIe sume
InIormuLIon buck In IIs own LIme. Anvwuvs, IL seemed Lo IoIIow
LIuL vou were u IIkeIv suspecL Ior mv bIuckmuIIer. So wIen vou
IIrsL menLIoned JucIndu`s bodv beIng In mv pIune, mv nuLuruI
ussumpLIon wus LIuL vou were LrvIng Lo IeL me know LIuL vou
were mv udversurv, und LIuL vou weren`L uIruId oI me knowIng
vour IdenLILv.¨
¡ IuugIed. ¡ dIdn`L know Iow eIse Lo reucL, so ¡ jusL IuugIed.
Mux joIned In.
---
We descended LogeLIer down LIe spIruI sLuIrcuse InLo IIs
IIvIng room. ¡L wus u vusL open decoruLed In LIe sume
mInImuIIsL sLvIe us IIs oIIIce. TIe wuIIs were compIeLeIv bure,
devoId oI pIoLos, pIeces oI urL, or personuI LoucIes. TIere were
u Iew wIILe coucIes, uII prIsLIneIv cIeun, InLerspersed wILI bIuck
zz¤
sIde LubIes und coIIee LubIes. EvervLIIng wus IuId ouL In u
precIse, geomeLrIc puLLern, und LIougI IL wus obvIousIv
InLended Lo enLerLuIn guesLs, LIe enLIre room Iud u coId,
unLIsepLIc IeeI Lo IL.
¡ couIdn`L decIde II Ie preIerred sucI sLurk surroundIngs Lo
uvoId beLruvIng unvLIIng oI IImseII psvcIoIogIcuIIv, or II Ie wus
IegILImuLeIv LIIs souIIess.
As ¡ sLepped oII LIe sLuIrcuse, we Iound CoIumbIne IuvIng on
one oI LIe coucIes, IookIng rumpIed und bIeurv-eved, us II sIe
Iud jusL woken up IerseII. ¡ ImmedIuLeIv regreLLed LIe IucL LIuL
¡ Iudn`L been ubIe Lo IInd mv cIoLIes Lo dress beIore IeuvIng
Mux`s bedroom.
SIe wus weurIng u men`s sIIrL LIuL IIL Ier IIke u Ioose
nIgILgown, und IL Look me u second Lo recognIze IL us mIne.
¨Sorrv,¨ sIe suId, noLIcIng LIuL ¡ wus IookIng uL LIe sIIrL. ¨¡
Iound IL on LIe ground wIen ¡ cume In IusL nIgIL, und ¡ puL IL on
so ¡ wouIdn`L Iuve Lo sIeep In mv cosLume.¨
Her eves, Iowever, beLruved LIuL sIe knew LIe sIIrL wus
mIne wIen sIe pIcked IL up und LIuL sIe Iud worn IL us more
LIun jusL someLIIng Lo cover IerseII.
Mux Iud doubLIessIv pIcked up on LIIs us weII. ¨WeII ¡ don`L
know ubouL LIe Lwo oI vou,¨ Ie suId jovIuIIv us Ie sIupped me on
LIe buck, ¨buL ¡ couId sure go Ior some more Leu.¨
He Ieuded InLo LIe kILcIen Lo IIx some. MeunwIIIe, ¡ IunLed
uround und Iound mv punLs.
¨Mv ceII pIone`s mIssIng,¨ ¡ suId us ¡ sIIpped LIem on und
IeIL uround LIe pockeLs - mosLIv Lo IIII LIe uwkwurd sIIence.
¨¡ Iuven`L seen IL,¨ CoIumbIne repIIed. ¨Your sLuII wus kIndu
scuLLered uII uround wIen ¡ cume In IusL nIgIL, LIougI.¨
¡ nodded und conLInued Lo cusL ubouL Ior some wuv oI
mukIng smuII LuIk. ¨So Iow dId vou end up Iere, unvwuvs?
z¤o
WIv dIdn`L vou go buck Lo VIoIeL`s?¨
SIe sIrugged. ¨¡ dId, buL us soon us ¡ puIIed up ¡ couId LeII
LIev were In LIe IIvIng room, und ¡ dIdn`L wunL Lo InLerrupL, vou
know.¨
¨WuIL, wIuL do vou meun?¨
¨SIe meuns, LIev were In LIe IIvIng room, [uclinq,¨ Mux
cIImed In us Ie re-enLered currvIng u Lruv wILI u Leu poL und
LIree cups.
¡ IeIL u knoL In mv sLomucI us ¡ ImugIned VIoIeL und AnLIonv
LogeLIer. CoIumbIne seemed Lo reIIsI wuLcIIng mv reucLIon.
Mux seL LIe Lruv on u coIIee LubIe und conLInued LuIkIng In u
IIgIL, conversuLIonuI Lone wIIIe servIng us. ¨You mIssed u good
gume IusL nIgIL, CoI. ¡ Look evervone underground. D even
pIuved. OI course, Ie goL beuL bv u gIrI, buL uL IeusL Ie pIuved.¨
SLIII LrvIng Lo sIuke LIe menLuI Imuge oI AnLIonv IuckIng
VIoIeL Irom mv Ieud, ¡ suId, ¨TIuL remInds me, ¡ wus meunIng
Lo usk vou Ior u Iuvor. WIoever LIe bIg Ioser wus IusL nIgIL,
wIen vou go Lo ruIn IIs IIIe IIke vou dId Lo PeLermun, cun vou uL
IeusL gIve me LIe scoop?¨
Mux IuugIed. ¨Do vou IonesLIv expecL me Lo sIL uround Ior u
week wuILIng Ior vour puper Lo go Lo prInL? ¡ IuLe Lo be LIe one
Lo breuk LIIs Lo vou, buL LIuL`s noL Iow news works unvmore.
GeL vourseII u bIog, und we`II LuIk.¨
CoIumbIne grInned, LrvIng Lo keep Ier Iuce down so ¡
wouIdn`L see.
Mux udded, ¨You don`L reuIIv remember mucI Irom IusL
nIgIL, do vou?¨
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨No, und IonesLIv ¡`m probubIv LIe beLLer
Ior IL. ¡ jusL wIsI ¡ couId remember wIuL ¡ dId wILI mv pIone.¨
¨OI, vou IosL IL IusL nIgIL,¨ Mux repIIed.
¨¡uck,¨ ¡ muLLered. ¨Jennv`s IIvIng buck In Loduv und sIe`s
z¤1
supposed Lo cuII me IuLer. ¡`II Iuve Lo go buck und IInd IL.¨
¨¡`II drIve vou,¨ Mux oIIered. ¨¡ Iuve some quIck busIness Lo
Luke cure oI LIere, unvwuvs.¨
---
We wenL buck Lo LIe HIgIwuLer BuIIdIng uILer breukIusL. As
we wuIked InsIde, Mux expIuIned LIuL IL wus mosL IIkeIv ¡ IosL mv
pIone upsLuIrs Lowurd LIe end oI LIe nIgIL. ¨Go uIeud wIIIe ¡
Luke cure oI wIuL ¡ need Lo do downsLuIrs. Your kevcurd sIouId
be ubIe Lo geL me unvwIere vou need Lo go.¨
So ¡ proceeded uIone up Lo LIe mezzunIne und ILs LIree
coIored doors. ¡ decIded Lo Lrv LIe mIddIe one IIrsL, wIIcI wus
puInLed wIILe. ¡L wus Iocked, buL ¡ noLIced un eIecLronIc curd
reuder besIde IL. ¡ IeId mv curd up Lo LIe reuder und Ieurd u
Ioud cIIck. ¡ LrIed LIe knob uguIn, und IL opened.
TIe door Ied InLo LIe Iurge room wILI LIe sun rooI und
mIrrored wuIIs wIere LIe ¨cuddIe purLv¨ Iud been. ¡L wus now
empLv buL Ior u smuII cIeunIng crew, wIo suId LIev Iudn`L Iound
unv sLruv pIones.
¡ doubIed buck ouL Lo LIe mezzunIne und LrIed LIe bIuck door
nexL, buL mv kevcurd dIdn`L unIock IL. ¡ LIougIL IL wus u IILLIe
sLrunge, consIderIng wIuL Mux Iud suId, buL jusL sIrugged IL oII
und LrIed LIe red door InsLeud. ¡L cIIcked IIke LIe IIrsL one Iud,
und ¡ Lurned LIe knob.
TIIs one opened InLo u nurrow IuIIwuv wILI LIree more
doors - Lwo uIong LIe IeIL wuII, LIe LIIrd uL LIe Iur end. TIe
rIgIL wuII wus mude oI one-wuv gIuss LIuL Iooked InLo LIe room
wILI LIe sun rooI.
TIe oLIer wuIIs were covered In goIden wuIIpuper embossed
wILI IuInL IIoruI puLLerns, wIIIe LIe durk red curpeL Iud u puLLern
z¤z
oI InLrIcuLe goId IInes InLerLwInIng IIke u ceILIc cross.
¡ Ieurd sobbIng comIng Irom LIe Iur door und Lreuded
quIeLIv down LIe IuIIwuv Lo see wIuL IL wus. SIowIv openIng LIe
door, LukIng cure Lo be us sIIenL us possIbIe, ¡ peeked InsIde.
¡ recognIzed LIe room wILI LIe veIveL coucI wIere Mux Iud
Luken me IusL nIgIL. TIere were LIree peopIe InsIde. One mun
sLood In LIe corner IucIng uwuv Irom me. He wus benL Iorwurd
over u second person, u womun, wIom ¡ uIso couIdn`L see cIeurIv
excepL Lo LeII LIuL sIe wus sILLIng In u cIuIr und weurIng onIv
underweur. TIe LIIrd mun recIIned on LIe veIveL coucI ucross
LIe room. ¡ couId see IIm cIeurIv und Iud no LroubIe
recognIzIng IIm.
¨SuInL AnLIonv,¨ ¡ suId us ¡ opened LIe door IuIIv.
He suL up und smIIed broudIv. ¨Come buck Lo udmIre vour
IundIwork?¨
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨
¡ wuIked IurLIer InLo LIe room und goL u cIeurer vIew oI LIe
oLIer Lwo peopIe. TIe sLundIng mun wus LIe oId docLor wIo
IIxed me up uL AsLerIon, und IIs puLIenL wus LIe musked womun
Irom IusL nIgIL. SIe Iud been budIv beuLen; Iurge bruIses
covered Ier Iuce und neck, Ier nose Iud been broken, und u
Iurge crescenL sIuped IuceruLIon Iud spIIL uround Ier IeIL eve.
TIe docLor wus busv sLILcIIng Ier up.
TIe womun gIunced up Lo see me und ImmedIuLeIv begun
LrembIIng In Lerror, Ier eves weIIIng up wILI Leurs. ¡ Look u sLep
cIoser, und sIe Ieuped up Irom Ier seuL und screumed
IncoIerenLIv In SpunIsI.
BeIInd me, SuInL AnLIonv IuugIed.
¨WIuL LIe Iuck Iuppened Lo Ier?¨ ¡ demunded.
¨You dId,¨ AnLIonv repIIed.
¨BuIIsIIL,¨ ¡ spuL ungrIIv, IeeIIng nuuseous.
z¤¤
TIe womun kepL screumIng, despILe LIe docLor`s besL eIIorLs
Lo cuIm Ier down. ¨¡ LIInk vou beLLer Ieuve,¨ Ie IInuIIv suId Lo
me over IIs sIouIder.
¡ Lurned Lo go, buL LIe door wus cIosed beIInd me. PuInLed
on LIe buck sIde, wIere ¡ now couId see IL, wus unoLIer crowned
gIobe sIgII IIke LIe one ¡ suw IusL nIgIL, sIImmerIng IvpnoLIcuIIv
In sLrunge meLuIIIc puInL. SuddenIv, IrugmenLed memorIes
sLurLed rusIIng buck Lo me.
---
I ucs on top o[ this uomcn, thrustinq tiolentlu cnd
qruntinq lile cn cnimcl. Mcx lcid beside us, uctchinq,
bcrlinq ct me to do it hcrder cnd [cster. I looled doun ct her
[cce, scu her bitinq her louer lip in pcin, cnd noticed the mcsl
hcd slipped cnd ucs coterinq her eues.
I qrcbbed the mcsl cnd pulled it out o[ the ucu, reteclinq
her [cce.
¨Holu shit,¨ Mcx scid. ¨It's uour sister.¨
¨She's not mu sister,¨ I scid.
¨D, uou're [uclinq uour sister,¨ Mcx insisted.
I looled doun ct the uomcn, cnd she did becr cn unsettlinq
resemblcnce.
¨It's not her,¨ I repected.
¨D, it is me,¨ the uomcn scid, her Spcnish cccent thicl cnd
sueet.
Mcx stcrted lcuqhinq - c deep, resoncnt lcuqhter thct
[illed the room.
¨Shut upl¨ I screcmed.
The uomcn scid, ¨D, it's me, 1ennu.¨
Eteruthinq [lcshed red uith rcqe.
z¤q
---
¡ wus buck ouL In LIe IuIIwuv, IuIIen Lo mv knees und doubIed
over Lo vomIL uII over LIuL pIusI red curpeL. ¡ couId sLIII Ieur
LIe sound oI Mux`s IuugILer. TIen ¡ Iooked up und reuIIzed Ie
wus LIere, sLundIng over me
¨Do vou remember now wIo IosL LIe gume?¨ Ie usked. ¨You
dId. You were LIe IusL one ouL beIore ¡ seuIed LIe IuLcI.¨
¨You drugged me,¨ ¡ suId IeebIv. ¨¡ dIdn`L know wIuL ¡ wus
doIng.¨
¨Nobodv mude vou do unvLIIng vou dIdn`L wunL Lo do,¨ Mux
repIIed. ¨¡eL`s noL kId ourseIves, we boLI know vou`ve goL some
serIous Issues wILI women.¨
AnLIonv und LIe docLor wuIked ouL oI LIe room Lo joIn us.
¨¡`ve done us mucI us ¡ cun,¨ Ie suId Lo Mux. ¨BuL sIe`II be
scurred, und LIe nose couId noL be reseL properIv.¨
AII LIree oI us Iooked buck Lo see LIe womun sLundIng In LIe
doorwuv. ¡ LIougIL Lo mvseII, Goddcmn uou, Mcx, she does
lool clmost excctlu lile 1ennu.
¨GeL Ier ouL oI Iere,¨ Mux InsLrucLed AnLIonv.
¨WIere Is Ie LukIng Ier?¨ ¡ usked us ¡ wuLcIed AnLIonv grub
LIe gIrI rougIIv und drug Ier down LIe IuIIwuv.
¨¡ IrunkIv don`L cure,¨ Mux responded. ¨SIe`s no good Lo me
unvmore. WouId vou wunL u wIore LIuL Iooks IIke LIuL?¨
¨So wIuL, vou`re gonnu Loss Ier ouL on LIe sLreeL IIke LrusI?¨
¡ veIIed uL IIm. ¨SIe`s u Iumun beIng, Ior Iuck`s suke. And Ior
uII vour buIIsIIL und InLeIIecLuuI posLurIng, vou`re jusL u gIorIIIed
pImp.¨
¨OI, vou ure cerLuInIv noL In unv posILIon Lo IecLure me on
IemInIsm, IrIend,¨ Mux responded. ¨¡ gIve peopIe wIuL LIev
z¤=
wunL - LIeIr dreums, LIeIr mosL secreL IunLusIes. ¡ cun`L IeIp IL II
LIe worId Is IuII oI sIck cIIIdren sLunLed bv sexuuI repressIon.¨
He Look u seuL besIde me on LIe IIoor und conLInued, ¨D, ¡`m
goIng Lo IeL vou In on u IILLIe secreL. WIuL ¡ gIve Lo LIe peopIe
wIo wIn mv gumes Is exucLIv LIe sume LIIng ¡ gIve Lo LIe Iosers
- ¡ gIve LIem wIuLever IL Is LIev desIre mosL. WIeLIer LIuL`s u
punIsImenL or u rewurd Is up Lo LIem.¨
¨TIIs Is noL wIuL ¡ wunLed,¨ ¡ growIed buck.
¨SomeLImes wIuL u person wunLs Is good Ior LIem, und
someLImes IL Isn`L. SomeLImes peopIe wunL Lo Iose. SomeLImes
LIev IInd LIemseIves uL u poInL In LIeIr IIves wIere LIev need Lo
be punIsIed, und ¡ um Iuppv Lo obIIge. SomeLImes LIev cIoose
Lo Luke LIeIr udversILv und use IL Lo spur LIemseIves Lo become
beLLer. And someLImes LIev ure IuppIer jusL wuIIowIng
musocIIsLIcuIIv In LIeIr own mIserv.¨
Mv Ieud Iud sLopped spInnIng, und ¡ wus sLurLIng Lo LIInk
more cIeurIv. ¡ suL up und propped mv buck uguInsL LIe wuII.
He resLed IIs Ieud on mv sIouIder.
¨¡ don`L Lrude In buse wIsI-IuIIIIImenL. ¡`m noL InLeresLed In
empLv escupIsm. ¡ sIow peopIe wIo LIev reuIIv ure. ¡ purIIv
Iumun souIs In LIe crucIbIe oI puIn und sLruggIe. ¡ Lurn buse
muLLer InLo goId. TIuL`s wIuL ¡`m ubouL, und LIuL`s wIuL LIe
HIgIwuLer SocIeLv Is ubouL, even II LIev need Lo be remInded oI
IL Irom LIme Lo LIme.¨
SuddenIv ¡ Ieurd musIc pIuvIng und u voIce sIngIng.
I tried to ccll uou be[ore, but I lost mu nerte.
I tried mu imcqinction, but I ucs disturbed.
¡L Look me u Iew seconds Lo reuIIze LIuL IL wus comIng Irom
Mux`s punLs. He puIIed mv ceII pIone ouL oI IIs pockeL und
z¤6
Iooked uL LIe cuIIer ¡D dIspIuv, LIen begun Lo cIuckIe.
¨TIuL`s vour rIngLone Ior vour sIsLer?¨ Ie suId wILI
umusemenL. ¨TIuL`s goIng Lo be sLuck In mv Ieud uII duv now.¨
He Lossed me LIe pIone, buL LIe cuII wenL Lo voIce-muII
beIore ¡ couId unswer.
As we wuIked ouL oI LIe buIIdIng und buck Lo LIe cur, Mux
sung over und over, ¨Eiqht six seten [ite three-oh ni-iiine.¨
z¤;
zó. It Ielt Good
Jennv`s messuge suId LIuL Ier pIune Iud Iunded und sIe
wunLed Lo InvILe me Lo dInner wILI Ier. And Brud. AL Jumes
McPIerson`s Iouse. So nuLuruIIv ¡ cuIIed Ier buck und suId ves.
¡ uIso cuIIed up CoIumbIne Lo see II sIe wunLed Lo Lug uIong,
buL Ier response wus u Lerse ¨No.¨
McPIerson IIved In up In LIe IoresLed IIIIs uL LIe
norLIwesLern edge oI LIe vuIIev. ¡L wus u Iong, wIndIng drIve Lo
IIs munsIon, buL LIe BoxsLer IundIed IL jusL IIne.
¡ urrIved ubouL LwenLv mInuLes eurIv, IopIng Lo geL u cIunce
Lo LuIk wILI McPIerson IImseII beIore evervone eIse urrIved. As
¡ enLered LIe Iouse, McPIerson wus wuIkIng InLo LIe Iover Irom
InsIde, escorLIng ouL Lwo men - Mux`s IrIend PeLermun und mv
IrIend BrIun. TIev dIdn`L noLIce me rIgIL uwuv.
¨AII ¡`m suvIng Is we cun`L uIIord Lo underesLImuLe IIm,¨
PeLermun, IIs Lone oI voIce und LIeIr bodv Iunguuge ImpIvIng
LIuL LIIs wus LIe LuII end oI u conversuLIon LIuL Ie wus noL
wIIIIng Lo drop. ¨He Is dungerous, und sooner or IuLer evervone
In LIIs orgunIzuLIon Is goIng Lo Iuve Lo puv LIe pIper Ior IIs
sIns.¨
z¤8
BrIun cuugIL sIgIL oI me und sIoL me u conLempLuous gIure.
McPIerson Lurned IIs Ieud, IoIIowIng BrIun`s guze.
¨AI, Mr. QueLzuI, vou ure eurIv,¨ Ie suId gregurIousIv.
¨Hope ¡`m noL InLerrupLIng unvLIIng,¨ ¡ repIIed.
¨NoL uL uII, ¡ wus jusL sIowIng mv guesLs ouL.¨
TIe Lwo oLIer men exILed quIckIv, IeuvIng me uIone wILI
McPIerson.
¨We were ucLuuIIv jusL dIscussIng vour new empIover,¨ Ie
expIuIned.
¨¡ guLIered.¨
He smIIed. ¨Yes, Mux und ¡ ure good IrIends goIng buck
more LIun u decude now. BuL Ie does Iuve u Lendencv Lo rub
peopIe LIe wrong wuv, us ¡`m sure vou`ve noLIced.¨
He Ied me down u IuIIwuv Lo u seL oI Iurge ouk doubIe doors.
TIev opened InLo IIs sLudv, wIIcI wus remurkubIe Ior Iow busv
IL wus. One enLIre wuII wus domInuLed wILI oversLuIIed book
cuses. TIe opposILe wuII wus IILeruIIv covered wILI Irumed
pIcLures, uwurds, decIuruLIons, newspuper cIIppIngs, und oLIer
remembrunces oI IIs IIIe, uII Iung wILI scunL cenLImeLers oI
spuce beLween Irumes. A LIIrd wuII wus Luken up bv Lwo Iurge
curIo cubIneLs, one on eucI sIde oI LIe doubIe doors IeudIng InLo
LIe room, IIIIed wILI vurIous gIILs und LrInkeLs.
TIe resL oI LIe room wus IIIIed wILI IurnILure - coucIes,
cIuIrs, coIIee LubIes, end LubIes, sIorL bookcuses - uII expensIve
unLIques, uII covered wILI more books und LrInkeLs.
He seemed Lo Iuve u neuroLIc compuIsIon Lo surround
IImseII wILI LIIngs, gIvIng LIe enLIre pIuce un uImosL desperuLe
IeeI. ¡L wus uImosL us II Ie wus worrIed In IIs uge LIuL IIs IIIe
wus sIIppIng LIrougI IIs IIngers IIke IuIIIng sund, und Ie wus
LrvIng Lo IoId LIgIL onLo us munv IILLIe gruIns us Ie couId.
¡ suL In un urm cIuIr In IronL oI IIs Iurge muIogunv desk,
z¤¤
wIIIe Ie poured us eucI u gIuss oI brundv.
¡ conLInued, ¨TIe LIIng ¡ don`L undersLund Is wIv vou uII puL
IIm In cIurge Lo begIn wILI II vou were so concerned wILI IIm
beIng u Ioose cunnon. ¡ meun, unvone wIo LuIks Lo IIm more
LIun u coupIe mInuLes Is goIng Lo quIckIv IIgure ouL LIuL Mux`s
Iurdwure Is severeIv mIs-wIred.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun, puL IIm In cIurge?¨ Ie usked.
¨Doesn`L Ie run vour HIgIwuLer SocIeLv?¨
¨Good Iord, no,¨ McPIerson IuugIed. ¨¡ don`L know wIuL
Ie`s LoId vou, buL LIere`s u IoL more Lo LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv
LIun Mux`s IILLIe gumes. TIe IucL oI LIe muLLer Is LIuL Mux dId
us u verv bIg Iuvor once bv IeIpIng us recover someLIIng we Iud
IosL, und so we repuId IIm wILI u IurgeIv ceremonIuI posILIon,
wIIcI Ie In Lurn Ius munuged Lo muke u bIoodv mess oI.¨
¨So wIuL`s vour group reuIIv uII ubouL LIen?¨
McPIerson Ieuned buck In IIs cIuIr, sIukIng IIs Ieud. ¨¡L`s
noL someLIIng ¡ cun jusL LeII vou, IL`s someLIIng vou cun onIv
Ieurn LIrougI vour own experIence. ¡ wIII LeII vou, LIougI, LIuL
our orgunIzuLIon goes buck u verv Iong LIme.¨
¨Buck Lo wIen vour IumIIv IIrsL seL up sIop In LIIs vuIIev Lo
bIIk monev Irom goId mIners?¨
¨Yes, we Iuve exIsLed In LIIs cILv sInce ILs IoundIng, buL we
uIso Iuve unLecedenLs LIuL spun buck cenLurIes In LIe oId
worId.¨
¡ sLIIIed u IuugI. ¨WIuL ure vou, LIe IuckIng ¡IIumInuLI or
someLIIng? RosIcrucIuns? SLone CuLLers?¨
He opened u druwer In IIs desk und puIIed ouL u rIng wILI
LIe crown und gIobe svmboI. ¨Are vou LeIIIng me vou don`L
know wIuL LIIs sIgII meuns?¨
TIe svmboI sLurLed Lo sIImmer IIke LIe one ¡`d seen IusL
nIgIL, und suddenIv ¡ Ieurd u Ioud, pIercIng sIrIek oI Ieedbuck
zqo
uIong wILI LIe IncessunL mecIunIcuI cIuLLer oI u IIIm projecLor. ¡
grILLed mv LeeLI und LrIed suppress LIe cucopIonv In mv Ieud.
¨Now, ¡ don`L LeII vou LIIs Lo poIson LIe weII Ior vou wILI
vour boss,¨ Ie conLInued. ¨BuL II vou`re goIng Lo be purL oI our
IumIIv now, IL`s LIme vou sLurLed IIgurIng LIese LIIngs ouL.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun, purL oI LIe IumIIv?¨ ¡ usked, LIe noIse
subsIdIng.
¨¡ meun jusL LIuL. NoL onIv Is vour sIsLer murrIed Lo mv
nepIew und IeIr, buL now mv duugILer Ius uppurenLIv decIded
LIuL LIe sun rIses und seLs on vour Ieud. You`re one oI us.¨
¨¡ Iuven`L Iucked CoIumbIne,¨ ¡ bIurLed ouL.
¨Purdon?¨
¨NuLuIIe, ¡ meun. We`re noL u coupIe. WIuLever.
NevermInd.¨ Where the [ucl did thct come [rom?
A brIeI Iook oI concern IIusIed ucross IIs Iuce buL soon
resoIved ILseII InLo u mugnunImous grIn. ¨Be LIuL us IL muv, ¡
undersLund vou`ve been spendIng u IoL oI LIme wILI Ier,¨ Ie
suId, sIppIng IIs brundv. ¨¡ncIdenLuIIv, ¡ Iope sIe`s weII; ¡
Iuven`L Iud u cIunce Lo see Ier In quILe some LIme.¨
¨SIe`s good,¨ ¡ repIIed. ¨¡n IucL, sIe cume Iere Lo see vou u
Iew duvs ugo, buL vou were IeuvIng jusL us sIe puIIed up. SIe
suId vou were rIdIng wILI some oLIer men In un oId cIussIc cur -
u bIue CIevv DeI Rev.¨
¡ sLudIed IIm cIoseIv Ior u reucLIon. ¡I Ie wus surprIsed or
mude nervous bv mv menLIon oI LIe bIue cur, IIs Iuce dIdn`L
beLruv IL.
¨ReuIIv?¨ McPIerson responded, sIukIng IIs Ieud. ¨WeII,
mv duugILer does IIke Lo LeII sLorIes, so IL wouIdn`L surprIse me II
LIuL IILLIe deLuII Is one oI Ier embeIIIsImenLs.¨
¨TIuL`s Lrue, sIe does IIke Lo LeII sLorIes,¨ ¡ suId und sIoL LIe
enLIre gIuss oI brundv Ie Iud seL In IronL oI me. ¨¡ guess ¡`II jusL
zq1
Iuve Lo usk AnLIonv ubouL IL, sInce LIuL`s wIo bIue cur mun
drove vou Lo meeL.¨
AguIn, no reucLIon - noL even u LwILcI.
¨You know, vou reuIIv sIouId sIp u IIquor LIIs IIne,¨ Ie
udmonIsIed.
¡ bursL InLo IuugILer, wIIcI cuused IIm Lo urcI un evebrow
quIzzIcuIIv.
¨Sorrv,¨ ¡ upoIogIzed. ¨BuL do vou ever IeeI IIke vou`re IIIe Is
one oI LIose oId curLoons wIere vou keep runnIng In u sLruIgIL
IIne, buL LIe sume scenerv keeps cvcIIng buck uround everv
coupIe Irumes?¨
¨¡`m noL sure ¡ IoIIow.¨
¡ sIrugged mv sIouIders, LIen Iooked down uL u row oI
Irumed pIoLos on LIe desk. TIev were uII oI CoIumbIne, eucI
one sIowIng Ier uL u dIIIerenL uge.
¡ pIcked up LIe IurLIesL one Irom me, wIIcI sIowed Ier us
un InIunL sILLIng In LIe Iup oI u womun. TIe pIcLure Iud been
cropped Lo Iocus on LIe cIIId, so mosL oI LIe womun wus ouL oI
Irume. OnIv Ier Iunds und cIesL were vIsIbIe.
¨NIce pIcLure,¨ ¡ suId. ¨WIo`s LIuL IoIdIng Ier?¨
¨Her moLIer,¨ Ie repIIed.
¨¡ LIougIL Ier moLIer dIed durIng Iubor.¨
¨No.¨ McPIerson sIook IIs Ieud und Irowned. ¨SIe dIed
wIen NuLuIIe wus sLIII verv voung, LIougI. SIorLIv uILer LIIs
pIcLure wus Luken, In IucL. WIv`d vou LIInk sIe dIed durIng
cIIIdbIrLI?¨
¨TIuL`s wIuL sIe LoId me. BuL us vou suId, sIe IIkes Lo
embeIIIsI Ier sLorIes,¨ ¡ expIuIned. ¨WIv`d vou cuL Ier mom
ouL oI LIe pIcLure?¨
He sucked IIs LeeLI dIsLusLeIuIIv. ¨Her moLIer und ¡ were
never murrIed. TIIngs dIdn`L end on good Lerms beLween us.¨
zqz
¨WIuL does LIuL meun?¨
McPIerson dIdn`L respond. ¡ sIIILed resLIessIv In mv cIuIr,
mv puLIence weurIng LIIn, und IInuIIv bIurLed ouL, ¨Okuv, IIne,
IeL`s sLop pussvIooLIng uround LIIs LIIng. ¡eL me usk vou LIIs -
wIv Iuve vou been cuIIIng ¡IIv ¡vncI so mucI IuLeIv? WIuL`s
LIe sLorv LIere?¨
McPIerson Iurrowed IIs brow pensIveIv und pusIed LIe LIps
oI IIs IIngers LogeLIer, IormIng IIs Iunds InLo un A. ¨¡vncI -
wuIL, ure vou LuIkIng ubouL NuLuIIe`s IrIend, LIuL unpIeusunL IILLIe
womun wIo works Ior Mux? ¡ don`L remember speukIng wILI
Ier IuLeIv, und ¡ cun`L ImugIne wIv ¡ sIouId Iuve.¨
TIe wuv Ie kepL pIuvIng dumb wus sLurLIng Lo gruLe on mv
nerves. ¡ decIded Lo provoke IIm u IILLIe. ¡eunIng In over LIe
LubIe conspIruLorIuIIv, ¡ guve IIm u knowIng wInk und usked,
¨You were IuckIng Ier, weren`L vou?¨
HIs cIeeks ImmedIuLeIv gIowed brIgIL pInk. ¨Excuse me.¨
¡ puL up mv Iunds us II Lo suv ¡ meunL no Iurm. ¨¡ cun`L suv ¡
bIume vou. ¡`ve ImugIned wIuL sIe wus IIke beLween LIe sIeeLs
mvseII once or LwIce. ¡ beL sIe IIkes IL rougI, doesn`L sIe?
PuIIIng Ier IuIr, IoIdIng Ier down, muvbe sIuppIng Ier uround
u bIL. ¡ cun LeII Ier Lvpe - jusL IIke ¡ cun LeII vours. BuL Iev,
Lukes Lwo Lo know, rIgIL, und wIo doesn`L IIke u IILLIe oI LIe
rougI sLuII?¨
He sLood up und Iunged Lowurd me menucIngIv, sIummIng
IIs puIms down on LIe deskLop, IIs Iuce IIusI wILI ruge.
¨¡IsLen, ¡ don`L know wIuL kInd oI sLorIes mv duugILer Ius been
LeIIIng vou ubouL me, buL ¡ um noL some kInd oI monsLer -
despILe wIuLever sIe mIgIL beliete ¡ dId or dIdn`L do Lo Ier.¨
AL IIrsL ¡ sLured uL IIm bIunkIv In conIusIon, buL LIen
someLIIng cIIcked In mv Ieud, und CoIumbIne`s unImosILv
Lowurds Ier IuLIer mude u IoL more sense.
zq¤
TIen ¡ IIL IIm.
¡ IIL LIe busLurd Iurd, und LIen ¡ IIL IIm uguIn.
And IL IeIL good.
McPIerson spuL u coupIe wuds oI bIood und LeeLI onLo LIe
sIIck IInIsI oI IIs deskLop.
On mv wuv ouL oI LIe Iouse, ¡ Iound Jennv und Brud wuILIng
In LIe druwIng room.
¨WIuL`s wrong?¨ Jennv usked us sIe sLood up Lo meeL me.
¨¡ jusL uccused vour new IuLIer-In-Iuw oI coIIudIng wILI
bIuckmuIIers und murderers. TIen ¡ knocked u coupIe oI LeeLI
ouL Ior moIesLIng IIs duugILer.¨
¨You wIuL?¨ Brud veIIed.
¨Brud, Jesus, jusL mInd vour own IuckIng busIness, vou
cunL,¨ ¡ snurIed us ¡ Ieuded Ior LIe door.
Jennv grubbed mv urm. ¨D, wuIL.¨
¡ sIrugged Ier oII. ¨Jennv, ¡`m noL reuIIv In LIe mood Ior u
IecLure now, so suve IL.¨
SIe Iooked uL me wILI IurL In Ier eves. ¨WIv ure vou so
InLenL on drIvIng uwuv LIe Iew peopIe IeIL wIo ucLuuIIv cure
ubouL vou?¨
¨You know, LIIs Is LIe second LIme LIIs week someone Ius
usked me LIuL. ¡ sLIII don`L Iuve u good unswer.¨
zqq
z;. Would It Hcte Mcde c Di[[erence?
¡ pounded mv IIsL uguInsL LIe sLeerIng wIeeI In IrusLruLIon us
¡ sped down LIe IIII, LwIsLIng uIong LIe nurrow mounLuIn roud,
noL reuIIv sure wIere ¡ wus IeudIng.
¡ swILcIed LIe rudIo onLo LIe IocuI junIor coIIege sLuLIon. TIe
musIc wus sLrunge und eLIereuI. A womun sung surreuI sLreum-
oI-conscIousness IvrIcs over u sIngIe ucousLIc guILur pIuckIng
repeLILIve urpeggIos wILI LvpewrILer sounds In LIe buckground.
¡L wus IvpnoLIc und unseLLIIng uL LIe sume LIme. ¡ couId IeeI LIe
IuIrs sLundIng up on mv urms.
A mcqic [or the chosen [eu
Con[used cs uell cs clcri[ied
Unlnoun, c pixel in uour TV screen
Gite me truth cnd I'll shou uou hou uou lie
Gite me lies cnd I uill lnou uoursel[
A pIone sLurLed rIngIng, buL wIen ¡ pIcked up mIne ¡
reuIIzed IL wus LIe wrong one. ¡ opened LIe gIove box Lo grub
¡IIv`s pIone und Iooked down uL LIe cuIIer ¡D dIspIuv, wIIcI
zq=
reud: HDME.
¡ cIIcked LIe green buLLon Lo unswer.
¨¡ wonder II ¡ ever even Iud u cIunce oI beIng Iuppv. ¡Ike II
¡ Iud mude dIIIerenL cIoIces, II ¡ Iudn`L Iucked LIIngs up so bud,
wouId IL Iuve mude u dIIIerence? ¡ wonder II LIere`s some oLIer
worId ouL LIere, some uILernuLe unIverse wIere ¡ ended up
Iuppv.¨
¨WIo Is LIIs?¨ ¡ usked, even LIougI LIe voIce wus
unmIsLukubIv ¡IIv`s.
¨MeeL me uL mv pIuce In un Iour. ¡ need Lo LuIk Lo vou.¨
TIe IIne wenL deud.
SuddenIv, u puIr oI IeudIIgILs IIusIed In mv reurvIew, und ¡
gIunced up Lo see LIem beurIng down on me IusL. AL IIrsL LIe cur
wus obscured In LIe durkness, buL us IL cume cIoser, ¡ recognIzed
IL us LIe bIue CIevv. ¡uckIng busLurd McPIerson sIcked IIs dog
on me.
¡ IeIL IL Lup mv buck bumper. TIe cur wus now cIose enougI
LIuL ¡ couId muke ouL LIe drIver`s scurred, ruddv Iuce In LIe
reurvIew - IL wus LIe mun wIo uLLucked me In Mux`s pIune, LIe
sume one wIo drove McPIerson ouL Lo meeL AnLIonv uL LIe
gruves.
¡ sped up, buL LIe DeI Rev kepL puce und Lupped me Lwo
more LImes.
He puIIed up besIde me on LIe IeIL und sLurLed drIILIng rIgIL,
LrvIng Lo Iorce me oII LIe roud. TIe Lwo curs scruped LogeLIer us
¡ LrIed Lo ucceIeruLe, buL ¡ couIdn`L sIuke IIm. ¡ wus sure LIe
PorscIe couId Luke IIm, buL ¡ dIdn`L wunL Lo rIsk openIng IL up Lo
IuII speed uL nIgIL on sucI u wIndIng roud.
We cume up on u sIurp IeIL Lurn, und ¡ knew rIgIL uwuv LIuL
¡ wus goIng Loo IusL und Ie Iud pusIed me Loo Iur over. ¡ Look
LIe Lurn wIde und mv rIgIL LIres IeIL LIe puvemenL. TIe wIeeI
zq6
jerked ouL oI mv Iunds us LIe PorscIe veered oII down LIe
embunkmenL und crusIed IeudIIrsL InLo u Lree.
¡ Ieurd LIe DeI Rev conLInue on down LIe mounLuIn, ILs
sound geLLIng IuInL In LIe dIsLunce.
TIe uIrbug Iud depIoved und suved me Irom unv reuI Iurm,
buL ¡ wus sLIII sore Irom LIe ImpucL und covered In sIuLLered
gIuss. ¡ sLuggered ouL oI LIe PorscIe, wIIcI wus LoLuIed, und suL
down on LIe dIrLv ground, IeeIIng LwIgs und deud Ieuves
cruckIIng underneuLI me.
WIen ¡ Iud IInuIIv reguIned mv beurIngs, ¡ cuIIed CoIumbIne
on mv ceII pIone und expIuIned wIuL Iuppened. ¨Cun vou geL
vour Iunds on u cur und pIck me up?¨
¨¡`m kInd oI LIed up uL LIe momenL. Cun vou wuIL?¨
¨No. ¡ don`L Iuve LIme Lo expIuIn now, buL ¡ Iuve somewIere
Lo be. Do vou LIInk vou couId send someone Lo pIck me up?¨
¨How ubouL VIoIeL?¨ CoIumbIne oIIered.
¡ IesILuLed buL decIded ¡ reuIIv dIdn`L Iuve u cIoIce. ¨Okuv.¨
---
VIoIeL puIIed up LwenLv mInuLes IuLer. ¨RougI nIgIL?¨
¨Hurdv-Iur,¨ ¡ repIIed us ¡ cIImbed InLo Ier VoIvo.
SIe IIusIed Ier LooLIv smIIe uL me. God, ¡ meILed wIenever
¡ suw LIuL smIIe. ¨So wIere ure we Ieuded?¨
¨¡IIv`s.¨
¡ InsLrucLed Ier Lo Luke un overIv-compIIcuLed rouLe, sLIckIng
Lo buck sLreeLs und goIng uround In cIrcIes u Iew LImes Lo muke
sure we weren`L beIng IoIIowed. Bv LIe LIme we IInuIIv urrIved, IL
wus jusL u IuIr pusL LIe Iour-murk Irom wIen ¡IIv orIgInuIIv
cuIIed me.
As we Lurned LIe corner onLo ¡IIv`s bIock, we Iound LIe bIue
zq;
DeI Rev purked In IronL oI Ier buIIdIng. ¡ LoId VIoIeL Lo keep
goIng pusL IL und purk u coupIe bIocks uwuv. TIen ¡ doubIed
buck on IooL, beIng cureIuI Lo sLuv us IIdden us possIbIe.
¡ wus croucIed beIInd LIe Iedges oI LIe buIIdIng nexL door
wIen ¡ suw LIe bIue cur`s drIver emerge Irom ¡IIv`s IronL guLe,
weurIng u Iong LrencI couL und IuL jusL IIke beIore. ¡ sLuved
down unLII Ie puIIed uwuv, LIen run InLo LIe buIIdIng.
WIen ¡ reucIed ¡IIv`s condo, LIe door wus ujur. ¡ wenL
InsIde und swILcIed LIe IIgILs on, IIndIng IL empLv. EvervLIIng
wus sLIII LIe wuv ¡ remembered IL - meunIng LIorougIIv
LrusIed. DecIdIng Lo wuIL, ¡ suL down on LIe coucI.
Ten mInuLes IuLer, LIe door opened, und ¡IIv wuIked In. SIe
Iooked IIke u bum; Ier skIn und cIoLIes were covered wILI dIrL,
Ier IuIr LungIed und muLLed. SIe wore u sLuIned wIILe Lunk Lop
und dIrLv Lorn jeuns. Her IeeL were bure, ruw, und bIeedIng.
¨Jesus CIrIsL, wIuL Iuppened Lo vou?¨
SIe smIrked und poInLed uL mv Iuce. ¨¡ wus jusL ubouL Lo usk
vou LIe sume LIIng.¨
¨Hev, be nIce, ¡`m sensILIve ubouL mv new Iook.¨
¨You sIouIdn`L be, IL`s no more IIdeous LIun vour oId one.¨
¡L wus good Lo see sIe Iudn`L IosL Ier LoucI.
¨So vou reuIIv were IIdIng ouL In LIe sIunLvLown?¨ ¡ usked.
¨Yes, ¡ IIgured IL wus LIe IusL pIuce unvone wouId LIInk Lo
Iook Ior me. UnLII oI course vou sIowed up.¨
SIe wuIked over Lo LIe LuLLered remuIns oI Ier coucI, IIxed u
coupIe oI cusIIons on IL us weII us sIe couId, und sunk down InLo
IL, suvorIng wIuL probubIv wus sLIII LIe mosL comIorLubIe seuL
sIe`d Iud uII week.
¨So wIuL dId vou need Lo see me ubouL?¨ ¡ usked.
¨WIv Iuven`L vou done unvLIIng wILI LIe purceI LIuL Cobb
guve vou?¨
zq8
¨¡ cun`L open LIe box. He LoId me LIe ArIudne Kev wouId
open IL, buL ¡ sLIII Iuven`L been ubIe Lo IInd IL.¨
¡IIv sIgIed und sIook Ier Ieud. ¨You reuIIv don`L know us
mucI ubouL wIuL`s goIng on us vou Ieud oLIers Lo beIIeve.¨ ¡
Iooked uL Ier bIunkIv. ¨You`ve been currvIng IL uround wILI vou
Ior LIe pusL severuI duvs. TIe kev Is In mv pIone.¨
¡ puIIed ouL Ier BIuckBerrv. ¨¡nsIde LIIs?¨
SIe snuLcIed IL uwuv Irom me. TIen sIe popped open LIe
buck puneI und removed LIe mIcro-SD curd.
¨How Is LIuL supposed Lo open LIe box?¨
¨¡L doesn`L. ¡L`s u LrIck box. You press In on boLI ends uL
once und LIe druwer sIIdes ouL. TIe ArIudne Kev unIocks LIe
duLu InsIde.¨
¨A crvpLogrupIIc kev,¨ ¡ suId us ¡ Look LIe curd Irom Ier,
LIInkIng LIuL ¡ probubIv sIouId Iuve IIgured LIuL ouL u IoL
eurIIer. ¨So wIuL now?¨
¨Now we go geL LIe purceI, und ¡`II sIow vou wIuL vou`ve
been sILLIng on uII week. We`II send IL Lo uII LIe newspupers, Lo
LIe poIIce und LIe muvor. Once LIe InIormuLIon Is ouL, LIev
cun`L use IL Lo bIuckmuII Mux unvmore, und Mux won`L be ubIe Lo
IurL me.¨
¨JusL IIke LIuL, vou`re LurnIng uguInsL vour conspIruLors?¨ ¡
usked.
¨TIuL`s LIe onIv wuv ¡`II ever be suIe,¨ sIe responded.
¨Okuv, buL IIrsL vou`II Iuve Lo geL vourseII cIeuned up. TIe
pIuce wIere ¡ Iuve IL IIdden Is u cIussv esLubIIsImenL,¨ ¡ suId.
¨You won`L geL unv urgumenL Irom me,¨ sIe repIIed. ¨A nIce
wurm sIower sounds jusL IIke Ieuven rIgIL now.¨
¡IIv dIsuppeured InLo LIe buLIroom, und soon uILer ¡ Ieurd
LIe sIower sLurL. TIIs IeIL me uIone Lo LIInk ubouL wIuL sIe Iud
jusL LoId me. ¡L wus possIbIe LIuL sIe wus LeIIIng LIe LruLI, buL
zq¤
on LIe oLIer Iund, IL wus equuIIv possIbIe LIuL sIe wus pIuvIng
me Lo geL Ier Iunds on Cobb`s box und Lurn IL over Lo LIe
bIuckmuIIers.
¡L sLood Lo reuson, uL IeusL In mv mInd, LIuL II sIe wus LeIIIng
LIe LruLI, IL dIdn`L muLLer II sIe cume wILI me or noL; us Iong us
¡ wenL pubIIc wILI wIuLever duLu wus In LIuL box, LIe ouLcome
wouId be LIe sume eILIer wuv. SIe onIv Iud Lo come uIong II sIe
wus pIunnIng on doubIe-crossIng me.
¡L mude sense uL LIe LIme, buL consIderIng wIuL Iuppened
IuLer, ¡ never goL Lo IInd ouL wIIcI wus reuIIv LIe cuse. ¡ookIng
buck, Iowever, ¡ repIuved LIuL sume IIne oI reusonIng over und
over In mv Ieud, buL IL never dId mucI Lo keep me Irom
wonderIng II LIIngs wouId Iuve Lurned ouL dIIIerenLIv LIuL nIgIL
II ¡ Iud LrusLed Ier.
BuL unvwuvs, ¡ mude up mv mInd Lo sIIp quIeLIv ouL oI LIe
condo wIIIe ¡IIv sIowered und wenL buck Lo VIoIeL`s cur uIone.
¨How dId IL go?¨ sIe greeLed me.
¨WeII, ¡ couId use u drInk,¨ ¡ repIIed. ¨You`re noL In unv rusI
Lo geL Iome, ure vou?¨
z=o
z8. Dispenser
¡ wus worrIed LIuL LIe mun In LIe bIue cur mIgIL Iuve
someIow IoIIowed us uILer IeuvIng ¡IIv`s, so ¡ decIded Lo kIII u
coupIe Iours uL LIe CusbuI wILI VIoIeL beIore geLLIng down Lo
busIness. We Lruded sIoLs, Look over LIe jukebox, und dunced
IIke u coupIe oI spusLIc monkevs. ¡ couIdn`L remember LIe IusL
LIme ¡`d enjoved mvseII so mucI.
¡InuIIv, ¡ decIded ¡`d wuILed Iong enougI Lo proceed wILIouL
urousIng LIe suspIcIons oI unvone wIo mIgIL be wuLcIIng.
VIoIeL wus In LIe mIddIe oI u IeuLed - II sIurred - debuLe
wILI LIe burLender MuggIe ubouL LIe reIuLIve merILs oI SLeInem
vs. PugIIu or some sIIL IIke LIuL wIen ¡ ubrupLIv unnounced, ¨¡
goLLu IIL LIe Ieud. Hev Mugs, dId LIev geL uround Lo IIxIng LIuL
condom mucIIne veL?¨
TIe Lwo women sImuILuneousIv wIIpped LIeIr Ieuds uround
Lo Iook uL me In dIsbeIIeI. ¨OI ¡ don`L LIInk vou`II need Lo worrv
ubouL IL LonIgIL, deur,¨ MuggIe repIIed.
¡ sLuggered buck Lo LIe resLroom, IuugIIng uII LIe wuv. AILer
reIIevIng mvseII InLo LIe porceIuIn LrougI, ¡ wuIked over Lo LIe
condom dIspenser und prIed open ILs Iuce.
z=1
Cobb`s bIue box wus IIdden In LIe cIunge reposILorv.
HoIdIng IL cureIuIIv, ¡ pusIed In on eucI end. One sIde sprung
buck ouL, reveuIIng u smuII druwer conLuInIng u USB IIusI drIve.
¡ sLuIIed IL InLo mv pockeL wILI ¡IIv`s memorv curd, LIen
repIuced LIe box In LIe condom mucIIne und cIosed IL uII buck
up jusL us IL Iud been.
WIen ¡ reLurned, VIoIeL Iud uIreudv guLIered up Ier couL
und purse und wus IeunIng unsLeudIIv uguInsL LIe bur.
¨Are vou reudv Lo Ieuve?¨ ¡ usked. ¨¡ don`L LIInk vou`re In
unv condILIon Lo drIve.¨
¨You cun drIve, LIen--,¨ sIe suId, LIen udded pIuvIuIIv, ¨--Lo
vour pIuce. DId vou geL LIe mucIIne Lo work?¨
¨No.¨
¨PILv,¨ sIe repIIed, LIen grubbed me bv LIe neck oI mv sIIrL
und puIIed me In Lo gIve me u sIoppv, pussIonuLe kIss.
---
Ten mInuLes IuLer, ¡ wus pressed up uguInsL mv IronL door,
reucIIng bIIndIv beIInd mvseII wILI mv kevs In one Iund, LrvIng
Lo IInd LIe kevIoIe us VIoIeL wrupped Ier Iegs uround me und
kIssed me IungrIIv. ¡ IInuIIv munuged Lo geL LIe door open, LIen
sLuggered buckwurds InLo LIe room. ¡ currIed Ier over Lo LIe
kILcIen counLer wIIIe sIe sucked on mv eurIobe, noL mIssIng u
beuL. TIen, us ¡ seL Ier down, ¡ unzIpped Ier skIrL und worked
oII Ier punLIes wIIIe kIssIng down Ier neck. DroppIng Lo mv
knees, ¡ IIILed Ier IeIL Ieg und IIcked mv Longue uIong LIe IeuLIer
oI Ier knee-IIgI Docs unLII ¡ IIL LIe smooLI, creumv IIesI oI Ier
Iegs. ¡ pIunLed u serIes oI kIsses und bILes uIong LIe skIn oI Ier
Inner LIIgI, workIng mv wuv up, enjovIng LIe wuv mv IIps IeIL
uguInsL Ier burn scurs. ¡InuIIv, ¡ reucIed Ier pussv und
z=z
propped Ier Ieg up on mv sIouIders us sIe Ieuned buck und
spreud IerseII open.
¡ IIgILIv Leused Ier vuIvu wILI mv Longue Ior u wIIIe beIore
movIng on Lo IIrm, rupId IIcks, gIIdIng mv Longue beLween Ier
IIps, LusLIng Ier juIces und suvorIng Ier scenL. AL IIrsL ¡ IeIL Ier
Iunds runnIng LIrougI mv IuIr und LIe genLIe rockIng oI Ier
peIvIs us Ier bodv responded Lo me, und sIe IeL ouL some quIeL,
breuLIv gusps. Soon, Iowever, ¡ noLIced sIe sLopped
respondIng.
¡ IIILed mv Ieud Lo IInd Ier sIumped uguInsL u cubIneL, pussed
ouL coId. ¡L dIdn`L do u wIoIe IoL Ior mv ego.
¡ currIed Ier InLo LIe bedroom und Lucked Ier InLo mv bed,
LIen reLurned Lo LIe IronL room.
SeLLIIng In uL mv desk, ¡ Iouded boLI LIe USB drIve und LIe
memorv curd InLo mv IupLop und successIuIIv opened LIe
conLenLs oI LIe drIve, wIIcI wus u IoIder IubeIed ¨ProjecL
ArIudne¨ conLuInIng u number oI dIIIerenL IIIes.
¡L Look me u soIId Iour Iours Lo pour LIrougI LIem. ¡n u
nuLsIeII, LIev deLuIIed u vusL smuggIIng operuLIon LIuL Mux Iud
been Lupped InLo ever sInce IIs reLurn sLuLesIde.
Records oI IInuncIuI LrunsucLIons wILI IoreIgn governmenLs,
RussIun und Jupunese mobs, und u wIoIe IosL oI oLIer unsuvorv
cIurucLers. DeLuIIed Iogs oI sIIpmenLs Mux brougIL In LIrougI
LIe porL In unmurked conLuIners wILI Iorged cusLoms seuIs,
IncIudIng duLes, LImes, sIIp InIo, und even wIuL wus In LIe
curgo. MosL oI LIe sIIpmenLs were drugs. TIe resL were spIIL
preLLv evenIv beLween weupons und women, LIe IuLLer comIng
Irom AsIu, ¡uLIn AmerIcu, und EusLer Europe. AII LoId, Ie
uveruged ubouL u dozen sIIpmenLs u veur, eucI one
puInsLukIngIv deLuIIed und documenLed In LIe IIIe.
Hou could he leep records lile this? ¡ LIougIL Lo mvseII.
z=¤
Did he recllu beliete theu'd neter be [ound?
SIukIng mv Ieud, buL wILI u Iuge grIn on mv Iuce, ¡ Iogged
onLo LIe dusIbourd Ior LIe Concrete Underqround websILe.
AILer u IILLIe dIggIng, ¡ Iound LIe bIog SIuron Iud seL up Ior me
ubouL u veur ugo, buL ¡ Iud never done unvLIIng wILI. ¡ creuLed
u posL LILIed ¨TIe ¡usL WIII & TesLumenL oI PuLrIck Cobb¨ und
begun upIoudIng LIe LIumb drIve`s IIIes us uLLucImenLs.
WIIIe ¡ wuILed Ior LIem Lo LrunsIer, ¡ gIunced buck LIrougI
LIe documenLs u second LIme, und someLIIng new cuugIL mv
uLLenLIon. OI uII LIe sIIpmenLs IIsLed, LIere wus onIv one LIuL
dIdn`L gIve u descrIpLIon oI LIe curgo. ¡L wus one one oI LIe
eurIIesL, senL Irom DubuI. ¡ wenL LIrougI LIe resL oI LIe IIIes;
LIere were u Iew oLIer documenLs LIuL reIerenced LIuL
sIIpmenL, buL none suId wIuL wus In IL. ¡nsLeud, LIev were uII
reIuLed Lo LIe consLrucLIon oI u specIuI underground sLoruge unIL
uL AsLerIon, desIgnuLed ¤¤.
Mv compuLer sounded u Ioud uIerL Lo LeII me LIe upIoud wus
compIeLe. TIen ¡ zIpped LIe IIIes und e-muIIed LIem Lo
evervone ¡ couId LIInk oI - LIe Morninq Stcr, LIe mujor LecI
bIoggers, LIe SmokIng Gun, everv IeIL wIng web sILe In mv
bookmurks, uII LIe IocuI TV sLuLIons, zq-Iour cubIe news, LIe
muvor, LIe Governor, LIe IreukIng WIILe House. And oI course
u copv wenL Lo Mux.
WIen ¡ wus done, ¡ Ieuned buck In mv cIuIr wILI u cIgureLLe
und u boLLIe oI scoLcI, mv sense oI smug seII-suLIsIucLIon
oversIudowIng LIe neur cerLuInLv LIuL ¡ Iud jusL sIgned mv own
deuLI wurrunL. TIe IIrsL ruvs oI sunIIgIL were jusL sLurLIng Lo
sLreum In LIrougI LIe crucks beLween mv veneLIun bIInds, und ¡
knew IL wus onIv u muLLer oI LIme beIore LIere wus u knock mv
door.
TIen LIere wus u knock on mv door.
z=q
¡ jumped up Irom LIe cIuIr - und neurIv jumped ouL oI mv
skIn - LIen run Lo Iook LIrougI LIe peepIoIe Lo see wIo IL wus.
¡uckIng AxeIrod.
¡ opened LIe door Lo IInd LIe deLecLIve uccompunIed bv Lwo
unIIormed oIIIcers. ¨GenLIemen, wIuL u pIeusunL surprIse. Cun
¡ oIIer vou some joe? Or muvbe IuIr oI LIe dog?¨
¨We`re noL goIng Lo be sLuvIng Iong,¨ AxeIrod repIIed.
¨NeILIer wIII vou, Ior LIuL muLLer. We`re LukIng vou In Ior
quesLIonIng In LIe murder oI ¡IIIun ¡vncI.¨
¡ wus Luken ubuck buL LrIed noL Lo IeL IL sIow. Hcd Lilu
recllu been lilled?
¨¡`d Iove Lo IeIp vou ouL, deLecLIve, ¡ reuIIv wouId, buL ¡`ve goL
Lo geL Lo work.¨
AxeIrod`s eves dropped Lo LIe neurIv-empLv boLLIe In mv
Iund. ¨You uIwuvs go Lo work drunk?¨
¨DedIcuLIon Lo duLv, deLecLIve. ¡L`s wIuL sepuruLes greuL men
IIke us Irom LIe rubbIe.¨
¡ Ieurd LIe creuk oI u door openIng beIInd me.
¨D, Is someLIIng wrong?¨ VIoIeL usked, red-eved und Iung-
over, weurIng onIv Ier Lunk Lop und compIeLeIv nuked Irom LIe
wuIsL down.
TIuL couId Iuve been LImed beLLer.
A wrv grIn spreud ucross AxeIrod`s IIps. ¨¡s sIe LIe one wIo
drIves LIuL VoIvo purked ouL IronL?¨ WILIouL wuILIng Ior un
unswer, Ie InsLrucLed LIe oLIer cops, ¨BrIng Ier, Loo.¨
z==
zo. Ghosts
AxeIrod seL u serIes oI pIoLogrupIs on LIe sLeeI LubIe In IronL
oI me. TIe IIrsL one sIowed ¡IIv nuked und spruwIed ouL on Ier
sIower IIoor, IvIng In u pooI oI Ier own bIood. TIe second one
wus u cIose-up oI Ier IIIeIess Iuce, Ier IIps purLed sIIgILIv, Ier
eves sLurIng oII vucunLIv. TIe LIIrd wus puIIed buck, sIowIng
more oI LIe sIower, LIe wuIIs sLreuked wILI brIgIL red bIood.
TIe IusL Lwo were cIose-ups oI Ier wrIsLs wILI Iurge, jugged
gusIes sIIced deep InLo LIe skIn.
¡ pIcked up LIe IIrsL one und preLended Lo sLudv IL cIoseIv,
LIen screwed mv Iuce up InLo u sour expressIon. ¨Jesus,
AxeIrod, ure LIese cum sLuIns? Do vou beuL oII Lo pIcLures oI
deud nuked women?¨
¡ IIung LIe prInL buck onLo LIe LubIe und smIIed uL LIe
deLecLIve, wIo wus IeunIng buck on IIs cIuIr und runnIng IIs
Longue uIong IIs LeeLI.
¨¡unnv guv. ¡ goL one Ior vou, sLop me II vou LIInk vou`ve
Ieurd IL beIore. A IuggoL und u wIore wuIk InLo u bur. BuL IuII
un Iour beIore LIuL, LIIs sume IuggoL wuIked In und ouL oI u
deud womun`s condo, rIgIL uround LIe esLImuLed LIme oI deuLI,
z=6
wuIkIng rIgIL pusL LIe surveIIIunce cumerus In LIe IronL Iobbv.¨
¨TIuL`s noL verv Iunnv,¨ ¡ repIIed. ¨¡ meun, LIe muLerIuI`s
good enougI, buL comedv Is uII ubouL LIe deIIverv.¨
¨How`s LIIs one? EurIIer LIIs week, u vugrunL wIo goL pIcked
up Ior urInuLIng In LIe mIddIe oI u ;-11 LoId LIe urresLIng oIIIcer
LIuL Ie Iud seen u MexIcun mun und u womun wILI purpIe IuIr
geL ouL oI u IIgIL bIue VoIvo und dump u deud bodv InLo LIe Sun
Hermes RIver. OI course, no one LIougIL unvLIIng oI IL, uL IeusL
unLII we Iound u corpse wusIed up on LIe rIverbunk.
¨So we sLurLed uskIng uround ubouL LIIs corpse, Iud unvone
seen IIm, und IL Lurns ouL, eurIIer LIuL sume nIgIL, Ie wus seen
wuIkIng InLo uour upurLmenL buIIdIng. Two corpses, und vou
were LIe IusL person Lo see eILIer oI LIem uIIve.¨
He puused Lo see II ¡ wouId reucL. ¨WIuL`s LIe muLLer, D? No
wILLv come-buck? No sopIomorIc vuIgurILIes?¨
¡ sucked on mv LeeLI. ¨¡ wunL u Iuwver,¨ ¡ suId. ¨And u
pIone cuII. ¡ know mv rIgILs. ¡`m un AmerIcun, dummIL, und un
esLeemed member oI LIe ¡ourLI EsLuLe.¨
SuddenIv LIere wus u knock on LIe InLerroguLIon room door.
AxeIrod opened IL und poked IIs Ieud ouLsIde. A rupId
excIunge Look pIuce, buL ¡ couIdn`L muke ouL cIeurIv wIuL wus
beIng suId. AILer u Iew seconds, AxeIrod sLepped IuIIv ouLsIde
und sIuL LIe door beIInd IIm.
¡Ive mInuLes IuLer LIe door opened uguIn, buL IL wusn`L
AxeIrod wIo enLered.
¨WeII pIuved, D,¨ Mux uppIuuded. ¨WeII pIuved, Indeed.¨
He grubbed AxeIrod`s seuL und drugged IL uround LIe LubIe Lo
sIL besIde me. TIen Ie puIIed u IIusk Irom ouL oI IIs juckeL und
oIIered me u drInk.
¨Are vou Iere Lo kIII me?¨ ¡ usked us ¡ Look u swIg.
¨Yes. TIe IIusk Is poIsoned,¨ Ie repIIed.
z=;
¡ puused, LIen Look unoLIer sIp und pussed IL buck Lo IIm.
He Look u IeuILIv guIp IImseII.
¨¡ sIouId kIII vou, vou know,¨ Ie conLInued. ¨You`ve gIven
mv P.R. depurLmenL one IeII oI un u-bomb Lo deuI wILI, und on
LIe sume duv LIuL vou suw IIL Lo deprIve LIem oI mv cIIeI IIuck.¨
¨WIuL - vou LIInk ¡ kIIIed ¡IIv?¨
¨DIdn`L vou?¨ Ie usked.
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨SIIL, ¡ wus ubouL Lo usk II IL wus vou.¨
TIuL goL u smIIe ouL oI IIm.
¨WeII LIe poIIce seem preLLv convInced oI vour guIIL. AILer
uII, vou were LIe IusL person LIere IusL nIgIL, und vou Iuve been
snoopIng uround Ier upurLmenL und Ier oIIIce u IoL recenLIv.
AIso, LIev Iound Ier ceII pIone In vour upurLmenL. Add Lo LIuL
LIe number oI IeuLed pubIIc excIunges LIuL LIe Lwo oI vou were
known Lo Iuve, mosL recenLIv uL vour sIsLer`s weddIng, und
LIIngs do noL Iook good Ior vou uL uII, D.¨
¨You seL me up,¨ ¡ spuL. ¨You kIIIed Ier und vou seL me up Lo
Luke LIe IuII, vou son oI u bILcI.¨
¨No. WeII, muvbe ves. ¡ cerLuInIv InLended Lo. And purL oI
LIe reuson ¡ IIred vou wus Indeed so vou`d be un eusv scupegouL
II Ier deuLI ever goL Lruced buck Lo me. BuL uIus, ¡ dId noL kIII
Ier. Someone eIse be me Lo LIe puncI. And II IL wusn`L me, und
vou suv IL wusn`L vou, LIen LIe quesLIon Is, uho?¨
¡ Look u deep breuLI, LIen nodded. ¨Your bIuckmuIIers
wouId be LIe obvIous guess. ¡IIv wus workIng wILI LIem, us vou
know, buL wIen sIe reuIIzed vou were onLo Ier und vou sLurLed
LurnIng up LIe pressure, sIe goL coId IeeL und LrIed Lo buck ouL.
So IL sLunds Lo reuson LIuL Ier conspIruLors decIded sIe wus Loo
bIg u IIubIIILv Lo keep uIIve. ¡ meun, sInce we`re ussumIng IL
wusn`L me. Or vou.¨
¨So wIo ure LIev?¨
z=8
¨WeII ¡ don`L Iuve unv numes veL. TIere ure Lwo oI LIem ¡
know ubouL Ior sure. TIe IIrsL Is ubouL uveruge IeIgIL, medIum
buIId, und wore u gunmeLuI musk everv LIme ¡ suw IIm, IIke LIe
ones vour servers uL LIe HIgIwuLer purLv Iud. He wus LIe one
wIo LorLured me, und LIen uLLucked me uguIn ¡rIduv nIgIL uL
LIe purLv. ¡ sLubbed IIm In LIe neck wILI mv pockeLknIIe.
¨TIe second mun Is sIorLer wILI u sIIgILer buIId. He`s goL u
verv ruddv Iuce wILI u buIbous nose und u scur uIong IIs cIeek.
He`s LIe one LIuL drIves LIe oId bIue CIevv DeI Rev.¨
¨TIe one LIuL vou suId drove McPIerson ouL Lo meeL
AnLIonv?¨
¡ IesILuLed, ¨YeuI, LIuL`s LIe oLIer LIIng. ¡ sLIII Iuven`L
IIgured ouL wIuL LIuL wus uII ubouL, or Iow AnLIonv IILs InLo
LIIs - buL us Ior McPIerson...¨ ¡ LruIIed oII. ¨TIe LIIng Is, LIese
guvs ure good, buL LIev`re umuLeurs. TIe one wIo InLerroguLed
me dIdn`L Iuve LIe sIIgILesL Ideu wIuL Ie wus doIng. ¡`ve seen
AnLIonv In ucLIon, so ¡ know wIuL u proIessIonuI Iooks IIke, und
LIese guvs don`L muke LIe cuL. So Ior LIem Lo Iuve IusLed so
munv rounds In LIe rIng wILI vou, LIev Iuve Lo be geLLIng IeIp
Irom someone. Someone wILI resources.
¨Now McPIerson, Ie`d been In conLucL wILI ¡IIv beIore sIe
dIsuppeured. And ¡ Iound IIs sIoe prInL In Ier upurLmenL LIe
duv sIe wenL mIssIng. ¡ Iud u cIuL wILI IIm IusL nIgIL ubouL
LIIs sLuII, und Ie goL verv ugILuLed. TIen us soon us ¡ Ieuve, LIIs
guv In LIe bIue cur uppeurs ouL oI nowIere und runs me oII LIe
roud. So ¡ usk vou, wouId McPIerson Iuve unv reuson Lo wunL
Lo see vou Luken down?¨
Mux Look ouL IIs IPIone und Lupped u messuge InLo IL,
keepIng IIs eves downcusL. ¨WeII LIunk vou Ior LIuL, D. ¡
obvIousIv pIcked LIe rIgIL mun Ior LIe job. SIouId vou ever
need u reIerence, ¡`II be Iuppv Lo Iuve mv secreLurv Lvpe up
z=¤
some IIuLLerIng IIes.¨
He sLood Lo go.
¨HoId on,¨ ¡ suId. ¨WIere does LIuL Ieuve us?¨
¨You jusL pubIIcIv smeured me, D. WIere do vou LIInk LIuL
Ieuves us? We ure done.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun done?¨
¨Done. As In ¡ wuIk ouL LIIs door, und LIuL`s LIe IusL vou ever
see oI me. ¡`II muke sure vou ure reIeused; ¡ cun do LIuL mucI In
reLurn Ior LIe InIormuLIon vou`ve gIven me. BuL uILer Loduv, we
don`L exIsL Lo eucI oLIer.¨
¨SLrungers wIen we meeL?¨
¨NoL even LIuL. ¡Ike gIosLs. ¡I ¡ wuIk pusL vou on LIe sLreeL,
¡ won`L see vou wuve or Ieur vou suv IeIIo. As Iur us ¡`m
concerned, vou don`L reuIIv exIsL.¨
¨And ¡`m supposed Lo jusL IorgeL ubouL uII LIe resL oI LIIs?¨
¨Yes. ¡orgeL ubouL ¡IIv und JucIndu Ngo und PuLrIck Cobb.
¡orgeL ubouL me und LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv und McPIerson.
¡orgeL ubouL men In bIue curs. CerLuInIv IorgeL ubouL SuInL
AnLIonv, und II vou Iuve LIe sIIgILesL bIL oI sense IeIL In LIuL
LIIck skuII, vou`II IorgeL ubouL LIuL wIIe oI IIs, Loo.¨
z6o
E00K E0UF
&,-'>45'65'7,-'?/.-'!49
z61
!"#$"%&'
()*+,*-./0)1023.04.5!"!#$%!&'()*+,!-*./
%06,770!)88.880$)9:04.;:2!"!0%(1$!2(3!456!271*%
#0<))/0=;*0%804;:/02)0>,*/!"!8%//*%!9)*1$
"9;!"!25+56!:3%6/1!;!<*''*(+!=%'>$
&2,770?9:*,*@!"!-?@*(!-7+>$
?7))/0!;:20A0"!87>A!BC!;!974D(+!91%E%+/
!"#
(o. Pcubccl Is c ßitch
Mux mude good on IIs promIse, und wILIIn LwenLv mInuLes ¡
wus buck on LIe sLreeL, wonderIng II ¡ reuIIv couId wrILe oII LIIs
wIoIe convoIuLed mess und preLend LIuL LIe IusL Lwo weeks Iud
never Iuppened.
On mv wuv ouL oI LIe sLuLIon, ¡ LrIed Lo sLop bv NIck`s desk Lo
suv II. ¡ sLood In LIe open doorwuv oI IIs oIIIce und rupped u
coupIe LImes on LIe InsIde oI LIe jumb. He dIdn`L even Iook up
Lo ucknowIedge mv presence; Ie jusL sLuved IuncIed over IIs
desk, IIIIIng ouL some puperwork IongIund. ¡ guve u coupIe
more knocks, buL sLIII no response, so ¡ jusL sLood LIere
wuLcIIng IIm, wuILIng Ior IIm Lo cuve. AILer ubouL IIve mInuLes
or so, ¡ guve up und IeIL.
Once ouLsIde LIe sLuLIon, ¡ reuIIzed ¡ Iud LIe wIoIe duv Lo
mvseII, und ¡ dIdn`L reuIIv know wIuL Lo do wILI IL. ¡ LrIed
cuIIIng CoIumbIne, IIgurIng sIe`d be good Ior kIIIIng u Iew Iours,
buL sIe wusn`L unswerIng Ier pIone.
TIen ¡ LrIed Jennv Lo see II ¡ couId smooLI LIIngs over uILer
IusL nIgIL, buL sIe dIdn`L unswer eILIer. A Iew seconds uILer ¡
Iung up on Ier voIcemuII, u LexL messuge uppeured: I [eel lile I
z6¤
don't lnou uho uou cre cnumore. Don't ccll - ct lecst not [or
c uhile.
Bored, uIone, und resLIess, ¡ jusL sLurLed wuIkIng.
As ¡ meundered uImIessIv LIrougI LIe cILv sLreeLs, ¡ reuIIzed
LIuL ¡ wus beIng IoIIowed bv uL IeusL Lwo dIIIerenL veIIcIes. One
wus u wIILe Crown VIcLorIu LuIIIng me uL u IumIIsLedIv
IndIscreeL dIsLunce. TIe drIver und pussenger were boLI
obvIousIv cops; no one weurs musLucIes IIke LIuL buL cops und
';os porn sLurs.
TIe second one wus u wIILe AsLerIon vun wIo wus doIng u
mucI beLLer job oI IungIng buck. WIIcI mude sense -
obvIousIv Mux wouId IIre onIv LIe verv besL.
EvenLuuIIv ¡ ended up uL LIe Concrete Underqround oIIIce,
us II Ied LIere InsLIncLIveIv or druwn bv some powerIuI
InevILubIIILv. ¡ wus noL IookIng Iorwurd Lo LIe conversuLIon ¡
wus ubouL Lo Iuve wILI SIuron, buL ¡ knew IL Iud Lo Iuppen.
TIere wus reuIIv nowIere eIse Ior me Lo go.
¨You ure so IIred, ¡ cun`L even descrIbe Iow IIred vou ure In
words. ¡L`s IIke, even II vou someIow munuged Lo geL re-IIred
uguIn, LIe enLIreLv oI spuce-LIme ILseII wouId bend over
buckwurds In order Lo course-correcL und muke sure vou sLuv
IIred. TIuL`s Iow IIred vou ure.¨
¨AI, so ¡ Luke IL vou`ve seen wIuL ¡ posLed on LIe websILe,¨ ¡
suId.
¨Yes, und so dId Abrusux`s IeguI depurLmenL. WouId vou cure
Lo guess Iow LIuL Is workIng ouL Ior us?¨ SIuron repIIed. SIe
wus sILLIng beIInd Ier desk wILI SIe-Ru LIe InLern uL Ier sIde,
wuggIng Ier LuII IIke u good IILLIe Iup dog.
¨WIv do vou uIwuvs Iook more beuL up everv LIme ¡ see vou?¨
SIe-Ru cIImed In. ¨Are vou In u IIgIL cIub? You seem IIke LIe
kInd oI pseudo-mucIo doucIe-bug wIo`d be In u IIgIL cIub.¨
z6q
¡ grouned, ¨SerIousIv, wIere do vou dIg LIese cIIcks up? Do
vou expIIcILIv sLuLe LIuL LIeIr bru sIze Ius Lo be bIgger LIun LIeIr
¡Q? WouId IL kIII vou Lo brIng on un ucLuuI reporLer Ior once?¨
¨Be nIce,¨ SIuron reproucIed. ¨Amv`s LecInIcuIIv more oI u
reporLer LIun vou ure, now. ¡ jusL guve Ier vour beuL.¨
¨WIuL`s un Amv?¨ ¡ usked.
SIuron poInLed Lo LIe InLern, wIo ruIsed Ier Iund.
¨PerIecL. GIve mv job Lo LIe PrIncess oI Power. ¡ uIwuvs
wunLed Lo sLrIke ouL on mv own unvwuvs. PrInL Is deud; ¡ um
sLurLIng u bIog cuIIed '¡rresponsIbIe Voodoo Sex ¡mperuLIve` und
¡`m goIng Lo muke mv Iogo LIe pIcLure Irom LIe CIrIsLmus oIIIce
purLv wIen ¡ sLupIed LIe Xerox oI Ann CouILer Lo mv Iuce.¨
---
As ¡ wuIked ouLsIde oI LIe oIIIce und juvwuIked ucross LIe
sLreeL Lo LIe ¡IgIL RuII sLuLIon, ¡ noLIced LIe AsLerIon vun und
LIe Crown VIc IdIIng wILIIn evesIoL. Even uILer ¡ bourded LIe
LruIn, ¡`d occusIonuIIv gIunce ouL LIe wIndow und cuLcI sIgIL oI
LIem IoIIowIng uIongsIde.
Some duvs ¡ IIked rIdIng pubIIc LrunsporLuLIon, und some
duvs ¡ dIdn`L. On u good duv, IL wus Iun In u voveurIsLIc sorL oI
wuv. On u bud duv, LIougI, IL couId be u nerve-wruckIng,
purunoId experIence. TIose were LIe duvs wIen ¡ reuIIzed LIuL ¡
wus jusL on dIspIuv jusL us mucI us evervone eIse.
TIIs wus u bud duv.
¡ scunned LIe sLrunge, uncurIng Iuces oI LIe oLIer
pussengers, wonderIng II unv oI LIem were on Mux`s puvroII.
TIen ¡ Iooked up uL LIe opuque bIuck IuII-domes mounLed uL
eILIer end oI LIe cur und reuIIzed LIev dIdn`L need Lo be.
¡ curIed up InLo u buII on mv seuL In LIe buck row, wIsIIng ¡
z6=
couId dIsuppeur InLo LIe speckIed bIue puLLern oI LIe seuL
upIoIsLerv, IIke u cIumeIeon.
---
WIen ¡ wuIked LIrougI mv IronL door, ¡ noLIced u bIue IIusI
comIng Irom beIInd LIe uIr condILIonIng venL. ¡ cIImbed on Lop
oI LIe coucI und used mv pockeLknIIe Lo work LIe screws ouL.
RemovIng LIe gruLe, ¡ suw LIe bIInkIng ¡ED oI u BIueLooLI vIdeo
cumeru.
¡ LIrew IL onLo LIe ground und sLomped on IL repeuLedIv wILI
us mucI Iorce us ¡ couId musLer, so mucI Iorce LIuL ¡ couId IeeI
LIe burnIng Irom mv sLruIned muscIes sIooLIng up mv Ieg. As ¡
sLood doubIed-over, rubbIng mv sore LIIgI und sLurIng uL LIe
sIuLLered bILs on IIoor, mv IIrsL LIougIL wus: there must be c
serter hidden cround here someuhere to picl up its [eed. TIe
second LIougIL wus: there cre probcblu more ccmercs, too.
¡ spenL LIe nexL LIree Iours dIsmunLIIng mv LInv upurLmenL
wILI un exucLIng und meLIcuIous uLLenLIon Lo deLuII. ¡ puIIed up
IIoorbourds und rIpped ouL venLs. ¡ Look everv pIece oI IurnILure
or cubIneL or druwer LIuL Iud been pIcked Lo pIeces bv LIe
bIuckmuIIers und Lore LIem InLo even smuIIer pIeces. ¡ puncIed
IoIes In LIe drv wuII. ¡ never Iound unv server or oLIer cumerus
or IIdden mIcropIones.
Mcube it ucsn't [eedinq to cnuthinq, wus mv IIrsL LIougIL.
Mcube theu just put the one in c tisible plcce to [ucl uith me,
lnouinq I uould [ind it cnd qo crczu uith pcrcnoic.
Mv second LIougIL wus: or mcube I'm just not loolinq hcrd
enouqh.
¡ sIook mv Ieud; ¡ wus LIred und noL LIInkIng cIeurIv. ¡ IuId
down on LIe decImuLed mess LIuL couId no Ionger rIgILIv be
z66
cuIIed mv bed, IopIng LIuL LIe soIuLIon wouId become obvIous
uILer u IILLIe resL.
¡ IuId LIere Ior un Iour, unubIe Lo IuII usIeep, jusL sLurIng up
uL LIe ceIIIng und ImugInIng Mux wuLcIIng me und IuugIIng.
This is stupid, ¡ LIougIL Lo mvseII. I need to qet out o[ this
discster cnd qet some perspectite. Mcube some [resh cir uill
help me clecr mu hecd.
¡ wenL ouLsIde und goL us Iur us LIe IronL oI LIe buIIdIng,
wIere ¡ Iound boLI LIe AsLerIon vun und LIe cops sLIII purked
und wuILIng Ior me. As soon us ¡ uppeured, LIe Crown VIc IIred
up ILs engIne, und LIe drIver oI LIe vun sLurLed LuIkIng InLo u
wuIkIe-LuIkIe.
¡ Lurned uround und wenL buck Lo mv upurLmenL.
On LIe wuv In, ¡ noLIced u bIue enveIope sILLIng on LIe IIoor
under LIe IronL door. ¡ wondered II IL jusL uppeured In LIe brIeI
LIme ¡ wus gone, or II ¡ Iud someIow mIssed IL beIore.
CureIuI noL Lo Iook uL IL Loo Iong, ¡ quIckIv sLepped uII LIe wuv
InsIde und sIuL LIe door beIore pIckIng IL up. Even LIen ¡ kepL IL
cIosed. ¡IndIng mv IIgIL-pen umong LIe rubbIe uround wIuL
used Lo be mv desk, ¡ Look LIe enveIope InLo LIe now-empLv couL
cIoseL. KeepIng LIe cIoseL IIgIL oII, ¡ opened LIe enveIope In LIe
durk und used LIe IIgIL Irom mv pen Lo reud LIe noLe InsIde:
Pcubccl is c bitch.
CIeurIv Mux`s bIuckmuIIers weren`L Iuppv LIuL ¡ Iud sLoIen
LIeIr LIunder bv goIng pubIIc wILI LIe dIrL LIev Iud on IIm.
SLuIIIng LIe puper InLo mv pockeL, ¡ reuIIzed ¡ Iud Lo IInd u
bIuckIIgIL buIb Lo see II LIIs one Iud u IIdden messuge IIke LIe
oLIers. ¡ couIdn`L rIsk LIe LuIIs IoIIowIng me, LIougI.
¡ wuIked buck InLo mv bedroom, opened mv wIndow, und
worked LIe mesI screen ouL oI ILs Irume. TIen ¡ jumped, IeLLIng
LIe Iedges beIow do wIuL IILLIe LIev couId Lo cusIIon mv Lwo-
z6;
sLorv IuII. ¡ quIckIv Iopped LIe buck Ience beIInd mv buIIdIng
und InLo LIe upurLmenL compIex on LIe nexL sLreeL over. ¡ run
ouL InLo LIe mIddIe oI LIe sLreeL und Iooked uround. SeeIng no
sIgn oI LIe vun or LIe cops, ¡ decIded IL wus suIe Lo proceed.
WIen ¡ wuIked InLo LIe Ieud sIop on DeIunv Avenue, LIere
were Lwo cusLomers und one cIerk InsIde. ¡uckIIv, uII LIree were
preoccupIed us LIe cIerk wus IeIpIng LIe oLIer Lwo pIck ouL u
gIuss pIpe. As surrepLILIousIv us possIbIe, ¡ moved over Lo LIe
bIuckIIgIL dIspIuv und IeId LIe new noLe underneuLI.
¡Ike LIe oLIers, LIIs one Iud u IIdden messuge, u sIngIe
Iund-wrILLen nume: Nctclie McPherson.
¡ Look ouL mv ceII und LrIed cuIIIng Ier uguIn. SIe sLIII wusn`L
unswerIng.
z68
(:. Good
As soon us VIoIeL opened LIe IronL door, mv bIood begun Lo
boII.
¨WIuL LIe IeII Iuppened Lo vou?¨
SIe sIIed uwuv Irom LIe doorwuv, LrvIng Lo IIde LIe swoIIen
purpIe bruIses on Ier Iuce. ¨Don`L be dense. WIuL do vou LIInk
Iuppened?¨
¨AnLIonv IIL vou?¨ ¡ usked IncreduIousIv.
¨He Ieurd LIuL LIe poIIce Iound me IuII-nuked In vour
upurLmenL, und LIen reucLed exucLIv LIe wuv vou`d expecL IIm
Lo,¨ sIe expIuIned us sIe Ied me InLo LIe IIvIng room.
TIe room sIowed vIsIbIe sIgns oI u IIgIL. TIe coIIee LubIe
wus LIILed over wILI one mIssIng Ieg, LIe coucI wus pusIed ouL
oI pIuce, und one oI LIe bookcuses Iud ILs sIeIves smusIed,
spIIIIng ouL uII LIe books onLo LIe IIoor In IronL oI IL, us II
someone Iud been LIrown InLo IL.
¡ IeIL mv cIeeks grow IIusI us LIe unger sweIIed up InsIde me
IIke u pressurIzed cunIsLer, reudv Lo expIode.
¨¡ um goIng Lo kIII LIuL son oI u bILcI,¨ ¡ ruged.
¨YeuI, rIgIL,¨ sIe scoIIed. ¨WIuL ure vou doIng Iere,
z6¤
unvwuvs?¨
¡ Look u deep breuLI, LrvIng Lo reIocus mv LIougILs. ¨¡s
CoIumbIne uround?¨
SIe sIook Ier Ieud. ¨¡ Iuven`L seen Ier Loduv. ¡n IucL, ¡
Iuven`L Ieurd Irom Ier sInce sIe usked me Lo pIck vou up IusL
nIgIL. WIv?¨
¡ cursed under mv breuLI. ¨SIe`s In dunger. Cun vou LIInk
oI unvwIere eIse sIe mIgIL be?¨
¨SIe couId be wILI Mux.¨
¡ dIdn`L wunL Lo udmIL IL, buL sIe wus rIgIL; Mux wus IogIcuIIv
LIe nexL person Lo cIeck wILI. BuL LIuL wus ussumIng Ie`d
unswer mv cuII.
¡ Iound IIs number In mv ceII, LIen IeId IL ouL Lo Ier und
InsLrucLed, ¨CuII Irom vour Iund IIne.¨
¨WIv don`L vou?¨
¨¡I Ie sees mv number, Ie won`L pIck up.¨
ReIucLunLIv, sIe Look IL und dIuIed LIe number on Ier IIvIng
room pIone. SIe puL LIe cuII on speuker so ¡ couId Ieur.
He unswered uILer u coupIe rIngs, ¨¡s IL done?¨
¨WIuL?¨ VIoIeL usked, conIused.
TIere wus u puuse. ¨WIo Is LIIs?¨
¨VIoIeL. ¡s LIIs Mux?¨
¨AI, ves. Sorrv, ¡ suw LIe number und ussumed vou were
AnLIonv.¨
¨OI,¨ sIe repIIed. ¨¡ wus jusL cuIIIng Lo usk II vou`ve seen
CoIumbIne recenLIv.¨
¨NoL sInce vesLerduv mornIng.¨
¨You don`L Iuppen Lo Iuve unv Ideu were sIe Is, do vou?¨
¨Nope,¨ Mux suId, LruIIIng oII InLo u brIeI sIIence beIore
uddIng, ¨How dId vou geL LIIs number, bv LIe wuv?¨
VIoIeL Iooked uL me wILI u quesLIonIng sIrug. ¡ LrIed Lo
z;o
sIIenLIv mouLI hcnq up, buL sIe dIdn`L geL IL.
¨Hung up,¨ ¡ wIIspered us ¡ mImed IungIng up LIe pIone.
Mux guve IIs besL movIe vIIIuIn IuugI, sIorL sLuccuLo bursLs
oI sudIsLIc gIee. ¨You beLLer wuLcI ouL, VIoIeL - ¡ LIInk ¡ jusL
Ieurd u gIosL. Deur AnLIonv won`L be Loo Iuppv Lo IInd ouL IIs
Iouse Is IuunLed.¨
¡ reucIed ouL Lo grub LIe IundseL und sIum IL buck down,
cuLLIng oII LIe cuII.
TIe bIood Iud druIned Irom VIoIeL`s Iuce. ¨WeII,¨ sIe suId
soILIv, LrvIng Lo muInLuIn Ier composure. ¨¡ guess ¡ sIouId geL
ouL oI Iere. ¡eL me grub u Iew LIIngs, LIen we`II go Iook Ior CoI.¨
¨Okuv,¨ ¡ repIIed, noL sure wIuL eIse Lo suv. SIe dIsuppeured
down LIe IuIIwuv, und ¡ puced uround uwkwurdIv, sLIII IumIng.
¡ sLurLed LIdvIng LIIngs up, mosLIv becuuse ¡ dIdn`L know wIuL
eIse Lo do wILI mvseII. ¡ kneIL besIde LIe broken bookcuse und
us ¡ orgunIzed LIe IuIIen books InLo sLucks, ¡ noLIced severuI were
noL In EngIIsI. One wus u Germun KuIku Iurdcover, unoLIer
wus u LIIck BIbIe-sIzed puperbuck wILI u pIcLure oI ¡vodor
DosLovevskv on LIe cover uIong wILI CvrIIIIc cIurucLers. TIere
were u Iew oLIers In some oLIer EusLer Europeun Iunguuge ¡
dIdn`L recognIze.
VIoIeL reLurned sIorLIv wILI u LuLLered oId bIue roIIIng
Iugguge cuse LIuL Iud LIe InILIuIs HGA sLILcIed onLo ILs Iuce.
She pccled [cst, ¡ LIougIL Lo mvseII. I uonder i[ she clrecdu
hcd the ccse recdu to qo.
SIe gIunced down und suw one oI LIe Lomes In mv Iund,
!"#$#%&'("&"(#)()&*(")+),$.
¨Are uII LIese vours? ¡ meun, vou speuk RussIun und
Germun?¨
¨Yes,¨ sIe nodded. ¨¡ speuk severuI Iunguuges. ¡`ve preIerred
Lo reud LIe cIussIcs In LIeIr orIgInuI Longue ever sInce
z;1
unIversILv.¨
¨WIere`d vou go Lo scIooI?¨
¨CIurIes UnIversILv In Prugue,¨ sIe repIIed. ¨BrIeIIv. BuL
LIuL doesn`L reuIIv seem ImporLunL rIgIL now, sIouIdn`L we be
IookIng Ior CoIumbIne? And vou cun expIuIn wIuL LIe IeII`s
IuppenIng on LIe wuv.¨
¨OI course,¨ ¡ suId. ¨¡ wus jusL LIInkIng, LIougI, we sIouId
probubIv grub Ier LIIngs, Loo. ¡ meun, we probubIv don`L wunL
Lo Iuve Lo muke u second LrIp Iere.¨
VIoIeL nodded In ugreemenL, und LIe Lwo oI us wenL Lo
CoIumbIne`s room.
Her cIoLIes were scuLLered IupIuzurdIv ucross LIe room
uIong wILI u Iew oLIer personuI ILems, IIke LoIIeLrIes, u muke up
cuse, u Iew muguzInes, und un MP¤ pIuver. AILer IunLIng
uround u IILLIe bIL, ¡ Iound u cuse In LIe cIoseL, sImIIur Lo VIoIeL`s
buL smuIIer.
¨¡`m goIng Lo Ieuve u noLe In cuse sIe comes buck beIore we
IInd Ier,¨ sIe suId, wuIkIng over LIe vunILv.
¨¡L`s u good LIougIL,¨ ¡ suId, ¨buL II AnLIonv sees IL Ie`II
know wIere Lo IInd us.¨
¨No Ie won`L,¨ sIe repIIed und pIcked up u sLruv Lube oI
IIpsLIck, wIIcI sIe used Lo wrILe on LIe mIrror.
¡ pucked us mucI oI CoIumbIne`s sLuII us ¡ couId InLo LIe
cuse und Iud jusL munuged Lo Iorce LIe zIpper sIuL wIen VIoIeL
IInIsIed Ier noLe: Meet me uhere ue buried the Dueen - V.
---
We spenL LIe nexL coupIe Iours cIeckIng uII oI CoIumbIne`s
reguIur IuunLs Ior unv sIgn oI Ier - u sLeudv sLreum oI
coIIeeIouses, vInLuge cIoLIIng sLores, urL guIIerIes, pubIIc purks,
z;z
und musIc sLores. VIoIeL drove wIIIe ¡ expIuIned ubouL Mux`s
bIuckmuIIers und LIe noLes ¡ Iud been receIvIng wILI IIdden
messuges LIuL seemed Lo IndIcuLe wIo wouId be LIe nexL person
Lo dIe.
¨¡`m ussumIng LIe noLes ure comIng Irom LIe bIuckmuIIers.
TIe IIrsL Iew seemed desIgned Lo druw me In deeper InLo LIe
InvesLIguLIon oI PuLrIck Cobb und JucIndu Ngo so LIuL LIev
couId use me us u puwn Lo recover LIe InIormuLIon LIuL Cobb
sLoIe Irom LIem. OI course, LIuL pIun buckIIred, und LIeIr IusL
noLe wus obvIousIv InLended Lo sIgnuI LIeIr dIspIeusure.
¨WIIcI uII mukes sense on LIe Iuce oI IL, unLII vou consIder
LIe IIdden messuges. WIv wouId LIe bIuckmuIIers wunL me Lo
know LIe IdenLILv oI LIeIr nexL LurgeL?¨
VIoIeL LIougIL ubouL LIIs Ior u momenL, IurrowIng Ier brow,
LIen suId, ¨You`re ussumIng LIuL LIe bIuckmuIIers know ubouL
LIe IIdden messuges, buL wIuL II LIere ure Lwo dIIIerenL peopIe
responsIbIe Ior LIe dIIIerenL messuges?¨
¨¡ don`L IoIIow,¨ ¡ suId.
¨Suv LIere wus one person, one oI vour bIuckmuIIers, wIo
dIcLuLed LIe messuge Lo u second person wIo ucLuuIIv mude und
deIIvered LIem. TIev needed someone wIo couId muke LIe
puper und do LIe prInLIng bv Iund In cuse vou wenL Lo LIe
poIIce, so LIev couIdn`L be Lruced. Now IeL`s suv LIIs second
person wusn`L compIeLeIv on bourd wILI LIe bIuckmuIIers`
InLenLIons und wunLed Lo IeIp vou, so sIe devIsed u wuv Lo wurn
vou ubouL LIeIr nexL LurgeL wILIouL urousIng LIeIr suspIcIon.¨
¨¡ Iudn`L consIdered LIuL,¨ ¡ suId meekIv us mv mouLI Iung
open und mv bruIn LrIed Lo process wIuL sIe wus LeIIIng me. ¨¡
suppose IL wouId be IuIrIv eusv Ior LIIs second person Lo
uccompIIsI, ussumIng sIe Iud u worksIop seL up wILI LIe
necessurv LooIs und muLerIuIs.¨
z;¤
VIoIeL nodded Ier Ieud und conceded, ¨¡L wouIdn`L be LIuL
Iurd uL uII.¨
¨OI course,¨ ¡ udded, ¨vou wouId wonder wIv sIe wouIdn`L
jusL reveuI LIe bIuckmuIIers` IdenLILIes Lo me, suve me some
IussIe.¨
VIoIeL smIIed und sIrugged. ¨SIe probubIv doesn`L know
LIem, or eIse sIe wouId Iuve. SIe probubIv onIv Ius one sIngIe
poInL oI conLucL wILI LIem, someone verv cIose wIo LrusLed Ier
wILI LIe Lusk, und someone sIe`s uIruId oI enougI LIuL sIe
wouId Luke sucI puIns Lo IIde LIe IeIp sIe`s been gIvIng vou.¨
¨¡Ike Ier Iusbund?¨ ¡ venLured.
¨¡Ike Ier Iusbund,¨ sIe ugreed.
EvenLuuIIv we exIuusLed LIe IIsL oI pIuces we couId LIInk Lo
Iook Ior CoIumbIne.
¨WIere Lo nexL?¨ ¡ usked.
¨WeII, LIere Is one more pIuce we couId cIeck. ¡n u wuv IL`s
LIe IusL pIuce ¡`d expecL Lo IInd Ier. BuL In unoLIer wuv, IL
sIouId Iuve been un obvIous pIuce Lo sLurL.¨
¨Her IuLIer`s Iouse?¨
VIoIeL nodded.
---
We rung LIe beII uL McPIerson`s LwIce, buL LIere wus no
unswer, so ¡ LrIed LIe door und Iound IL wus unIocked. ¡nsIde,
Ioud musIc ecIoed LIrougIouL LIe Iouse - BessIe SmILI`s ¨A
Good Mun ¡s Hurd Lo ¡Ind¨.
We IoIIowed LIe sound down one oI LIe IuIIwuvs und InLo
McPIerson`s sLudv, wIere we Iound LIe oId mun sILLIng
sIumped Iorwurd over IIs desk, IIs Ieud LwIsLed uround so LIuL
IL wus IucIng up even LIougI LIe resL oI IIm wus IucIng down.
z;q
¡ moved cIoser Lo LIe desk, sLurIng In morbId IuscInuLIon uL
LIe wuv IIs neck bones poked ouL uguInsL IIs skIn. TIe skIn wus
puIIed LuugIL und creused uround LIe proLrudIng bone, IookIng
puIIId und pIusLIc, uImosL svnLIeLIc. TIen ¡ noLIced IIs IeIL Iund
wus cIuLcIIng someLIIng. KneeIIng down, ¡ prIed open IIs
IIngers und Iound JucIndu`s rubv neckIuce engruved wILI LIe
crown und gIobe sIgII. ¡ IeIL mv skIn cruwI us u sense oI dejc tu
wusIed over me und IIIIed me wILI LIe IrruLIonuI convIcLIon LIuL
LIere wus u LIeuLerIuI oI peopIe wuLcIIng over mv sIouIder.
SuddenIv, LIe musIc sLopped. ¡ bounced buck up und suw
VIoIeL sLundIng nexL Lo LIe sLereo wILI Ier IInger on u buLLon,
IookIng uL me upoIogeLIcuIIv.
¨We`ve goL Lo geL ouL oI Iere,¨ ¡ suId.
¨SIouIdn`L we cuII LIe poIIce?¨
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨TIe cops uIreudv suspecL me oI ¡IIv`s
murder - probubIv Cobb und JucIndu, Loo. And ¡`m preLLv sure
LIev`ve goL vou pegged us un uccompIIce. ¡I LIev IInd us Iere
wILI u corpse, IL`II be uII over.¨
We LrIed us besL we couId Lo Ieuve evervLIIng LIe wuv we
Iound IL und wIpe uwuv unv IIngerprInLs. As we goL buck InLo LIe
VoIvo und VIoIeL sLurLed LIe engIne, sIe suId, ¨So ¡ guess LIe
noLe wus wrong. CoIumbIne wusn`L LIe nexL one Lo dIe uILer uII.¨
¨No, LIe bIuckmuIIers dIdn`L Iuve unvLIIng Lo do wILI LIIs,¨ ¡
repIIed. ¨Mux wus LIe one wIo ended up wILI LIe neckIuce, und
¡`m preLLv sure LIIs Is wIuL Ie wus LuIkIng ubouL wIen Ie usked
vou II 'IL` wus done.¨
As we drove ouL LIrougI McPIerson`s IronL guLe, ¡ noLIced
LIe surveIIIunce cumeru percIed ubove IL.
¨WIere Lo nexL?¨ ¡ usked.
¨Sun Hermes RIver Purk.¨
¨WIv LIere?¨
z;=
¨Becuuse LIuL`s wIere mv noLe Lo CoI suId Lo meeL us,¨ sIe
expIuIned.
---
VIoIeL purked LIe VoIvo In one oI LIe IoLs neur MIIIennIuI
BrIdge, und we begun Lo Lrek down u purLIcuIurIv sLeep und
uneven IIkIng LruII. AbouL IuIIwuv Lo LIe rIver bunk, we
reuIIzed LIuL LIe LruII wusn`L ucLuuIIv u reuI LruII, und we were In
IucL LrvIng Lo nuvIguLe u sIorLcuL LIrougI LIe undergrowLI In
LIe durk oI nIgIL.
¡ wus LIe IIrsL one Lo bILe IL, sLIckIng mv IooL InLo u gopIer
IoIe und Iuce-pIunLIng InLo LIe ground. WIen ¡ cume buck up,
mv Iuce wus encrusLed wILI deud Ieuves und dIrL. SeeIng me
covered In sIIL someIow cuL LIrougI LIe LensIon oI LIe resL oI
LIe evenIng, und VIoIeL broke ouL InLo IvsLerIcuI IuugILer. SIe
IuugIed so Iurd, In IucL, LIuL sIe dIdn`L noLIce LIe wuLermeIon
sIzed bouIder In IronL oI Ier, und sIe wenL down Loo.
¡rom LIuL momenL, we IuugIed LIe resL oI LIe IIke down,
geLLIng Iouder eucI LIme one oI us sLumbIed or IosL our IooLIng.
ComIng down LIe IusL sLreLcI, ¡ wrupped mv urm uround Ier
wuIsL so we couId Ieun uguInsL eucI oLIer Ior supporL.
TIuL wus Iow we were posed wIen LIe ground IeveIed ouL
und we suw CoIumbIne sILLIng on u Iurge IuIIen Lree bruncI uL
LIe rIver`s edge, wuLcIIng our upproucI.
¨Awesome. So wIuL, vou`re jusL goIng Lo nuII uII oI mv
IrIends, LIen?¨ sIe cuIIed ouL. ¨¡ cun`L wuIL 'LII IL`s AnLIonv`s
Lurn.¨
¨WIuL`s sIe meun?¨ VIoIeL usked.
¨He Iucked Mux,¨ CoIumbIne unswered.
VIoIeL Iooked me over In umused surprIse. ¨OI course Ie
z;6
dId.¨
¨WIere Iuve vou been?¨ ¡ usked, LrvIng Lo cIunge LIe
subjecL.
¨Around,¨ sIe sIrugged.
¨WIv weren`L vou unswerIng mv cuIIs?¨
¨¡ guess ¡ wus u IILLIe sore,¨ sIe suId, Ier eves downcusL. ¨¡
LrIed cuIIIng vou IusL nIgIL, und ¡ LIInk vour pockeL unswered. ¡
kepL uskIng II vou were LIere, buL vou never suId unvLIIng. TIen
¡ Ieurd u womun mounIng In LIe buckground.¨ SIe Lurned Ier
guze Lo VIoIeL und udded, ¨¡ guess ¡ sIouId Iuve recognIzed LIe
mouns.¨
VIoIeL`s Iuce sunk wILI guIIL.
¨Hev, cIeck IL ouL, IL wus sLIII LIere,¨ CoIumbIne suId
ubrupLIv, dIggIng u smuII RussIun doII ouL oI Ier juckeL pockeL
und sIowIng IL Lo VIoIeL. ¡L wus puInLed IIke LIe Queen oI HeurLs
Irom Alice in Wonderlcnd und Iud bILs oI dIrL sLIII sLuck Lo IL.
¨¡s LIere unvLIIng In IL?¨ ¡ usked.
¨TIere used Lo be u neckIuce. Mv mom IeIL IL Ior me wIen
sIe pussed. BuL ¡ Look IL ouL u wIIIe ugo.¨
¨CoI,¨ VIoIeL suId gIngerIv, ¨Ionev, vour IuLIer`s deud.¨
CoIumbIne Iooked down uL LIe doII, Lurned IL over In Ier
Iunds u coupIe LImes, LIen suId, ¨Good.¨
z;;
(z. 1ust Another Gcme
TIe LIree oI us cIecked InLo u moLeI oII oI HIgIwuv ;; u Iew
mIIes ouL oI Lown Lo LIe souLI oI HusLIngs AIrIIeId. TIe pIuce
wus u run down sInkIoIe cuIIed TIe MoLIev ¡ooI, wIIcI ¡`m sure
Iud someLIIng Lo do wILI CoIumbIne pIckIng IL.
¡ puId In cusI und regIsLered under u Iuke nume. TIe cIerk
wus u smuII VIeLnumese womun wIo spoke In broken EngIIsI
und suL beIInd u wIndow oI buIIeL-prooI gIuss; sIe dIdn`L seem
Loo euger Lo usk quesLIons.
On LIe wuv over ¡ Iud expIuIned Lo CoIumbIne ubouL LIe
noLes und Ier possIbIv beIng LurgeLed bv LIe bIuckmuIIers. Once
we seLLIed InLo LIe room, ¡ cume up wILI some precuuLIons we
sIouId Luke unLII we couId be sure CoIumbIne wus suIe.
¨¡euve LIe room us IILLIe us possIbIe und sLuv cIose bv.
TIere`s u gus sLuLIon wILI u convenIence sLore jusL ucross LIe
sLreeL, und LIuL sIouId be us Iur us vou`II need Lo go. ¡I vou
ubsoIuLeIv Iuve Lo LruveI, Luke pubIIc LrunsIL or cubs, und Lrv Lo
LrunsIer u Iew LImes, muke sure vou uren`L IoIIowed. Don`L go
unvwIere vou mIgIL be recognIzed.¨
¨¡ couId puL LogeLIer u dIsguIse,¨ CoIumbIne oIIered.
z;8
¨Muvbe u Iong bIuck wIg und u RussIun uccenL - oI, und puLcI
on mv eve.¨
SIe cupped u Iund over Ier rIgIL eve pIuvIuIIv, und ¡
wondered wIeLIer LIIs wus jusL some weIrd copIng mecIunIsm
or II LIe wIoIe sILuuLIon reuIIv wus some kInd oI gume Lo Ier.
¨You probubIv sIouIdn`L cuII unvone eILIer - Irom LIe IoLeI
pIone or vour ceII,¨ ¡ conLInued. ¨Tomorrow ¡`II Luke LIe cur
InLo Lown und Ieuve IL purked uL mv pIuce. ¡L`s noL suIe Lo Ieuve IL
sILLIng ouL In IronL Iere. ¡n LIe meunLIme, VIoIeL sIouId sLuv
Iere In cuse unvLIIng Iuppens. One oI us sIouId be wILI
CoIumbIne uL uII LImes.¨
¨WIuL ubouL mv job?¨ VIoIeL jumped In.
¨¡ook, IL`s up Lo vou, buL II AnLIonv`s IookIng Ior vou, LIuL`II
be LIe IIrsL pIuce Ie cIecks. And II Mux LoId IIm LIuL ¡ wus uL
vour Iouse - und ¡`m sure Ie Ius...¨ ¡ LruIIed oII, IeeIIng IIke ¡
dIdn`L reuIIv need Lo IInIsI LIe LIougIL.
VIoIeL sIook Ier Ieud. ¨TIIs Is so surreuI. ¡ meun, ure we
reuIIv deuIIng wILI u muLLer oI IIIe or deuLI Iere? ¡L`s Iurd Lo
beIIeve LIIs Is ucLuuIIv IuppenIng, IL IeeIs IIke uL unv second ¡`m
goIng Lo wuke up und reuIIze LIIs Is uII u dreum.¨
---
None oI us IeIL IIke goIng Lo sIeep LIuL nIgIL. ¡ guve IL mv
besL sIoL, buL couIdn`L munuge Lo nod oII despILe mv LoLuI
exIuusLIon - boLI menLuI und pIvsIcuI.
CoIumbIne spenL LIe nIgIL IuvIng on one oI LIe LwIn beds
wuLcIIng IuLe nIgIL TV. VIoIeL suL up on LIe oLIer bed, reudIng u
dog-eured puIp deLecLIve puperbuck. ¡, meunwIIIe, suL cross-
Iegged on LIe IIoor wILI mv noLebook, IopIng LIuL In revIewIng
LIe InIormuLIon ¡`d guLIered, some kInd oI cIue or expIunuLIon
z;¤
wouId emerge.
AILer cIusIng mv own LuII LIIs wuv Ior un Iour, ¡ decIded Lo
Luke u breuk. ¡ wenL ouL onLo LIe cuLwuIk ouLsIde our room und
cIuIn smoked wIIIe IeunIng over LIe guurdruII. SomewIere In
LIe mIddIe oI mv LIIrd cIgureLLe, VIoIeL cume ouL Lo joIn me.
¨Are vou okuv?¨ sIe usked us sIe Iopped up Lo percI IerseII
on LIe guurdruII.
¨YeuI, ¡`m jusL LrvIng Lo cIeur mv Ieud u IILLIe, geL some
perspecLIve.¨
SIe Look ouL one oI Ier cIoves, und ¡ reucIed up Lo IIgIL IL Ior
Ier. ¨WIuL`s vour pIun Ior Lomorrow once vou geL buck InLo
Lown?¨
¨Good quesLIon. ¡`II IeL vou know wIen ¡ IIgure IL ouL,¨ ¡
repIIed wILI u sIrug. ¨¡ meun, obvIousIv ¡`ve goL Lo IInd LIe
bIuckmuIIers und, ¡ dunno, someIow sLop LIem Irom IurLIng
CoIumbIne. ¡ guess LurnIng LIem over Lo Mux wouId do LIe
LrIck, buL ¡`d need u IoL oI Iurd evIdence Ior LIuL Lo work. Mv
credIbIIILv wILI IIm Is kInd oI Iow rIgIL now.
¨As Iur us ¡ know LIere ure LIree oI LIem IeIL. One wus LIe
guv wIo uLLucked me LIe oLIer nIgIL uL LIe purLv; unIorLunuLeIv,
Ie`s worn u musk everv LIme ¡`ve run InLo IIm. TIe second Is un
oIder mun wILI u ruddv Iuce und u scur on IIs cIeek wIo drIves
u bIue 1¤=o`s CIevv. ¡`ve ucLuuIIv seen IIm, uL IeusL, buL ¡ sLIII
don`L Iuve u nume. So LIuL Ieuves AnLIonv, wIo ¡ know Is
connecLed Lo uII LIIs, buL wILIouL unv prooI Mux wIII deIInILeIv
Luke IIs word over mIne. ¡ suppose ¡ couId go IIrsL LIIng In LIe
mornIng und Lrv Lo beuL u conIessIon ouL oI IIm.¨
¡ IoIIowed LIuL up wILI u seII-deprecuLorv IuugI, buL VIoIeL
sLIII Iurrowed Ier brow wILI worrv. ¨¡ know vou`re jokIng, buL
promIse me vou`II sLuv uwuv Irom IIm. He`d kIII vou.¨
¡ wus oI course jokIng, buL uII LIe sume mv prIde brIsLIed Lo
z8o
Ieur Ier undermIne mv muscuIInILv wILI sucI cerLuInLv. WIIcI,
In Lurn, mude me reuIIze ¡ mIgIL noL Iuve been jokIng enLIreIv.
An Imuge popped InLo mv Ieud oI mvseII empLvIng u gun InLo u
bIoodIed und beuLen SuInL AnLIonv.
VIoIeL sIIvered us sIe exIuIed smoke, LIen puIIed Ier couL
cIosed LIgILer. ¨TIIs Is so surreuI, IIdIng ouL IIke LIIs. ¡ guess
IL`s jusL Iurd Lo wrup mv Ieud uround. WIv wouId LIese peopIe
wunL Lo IurL CoI, unvwuvs?¨
¡ sIrugged, ¨TIeIr noLe ImpIIed LIuL LIev suw Ier us u wuv Lo
geL revenge uguInsL me. BuL now ¡`m noL so sure LIuL`s LIe
wIoIe sLorv.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨
¡ nodded. ¨AILer ¡ LIougIL ubouL IL some more, ¡ reuIIzed
LIere ure more obvIous LurgeLs II LIev`re jusL LrvIng Lo geL buck uL
me - IIke mv sIsLer Ior one. So LIen ¡ Look mvseII ouL oI LIe
equuLIon und usked wIuL wouId be LIe prImurv moLIve drIvIng
LIe bIuckmuIIers now LIuL LIeIr pIun Ius gone down LIe Lubes?
ObvIousIv, LIe mosL ImporLunL LIIng wouId be Lo sLuv IIdden,
especIuIIv Irom Mux. WILI LIuL In mInd, LIe onIv reuson IL
wouId be worLI LIe rIsk oI resurIucIng Lo kIII someone Is II LIev
LIougIL LIuL person couId IdenLIIv LIem Lo Mux.¨
¨Are vou suvIng CoIumbIne knows wIo LIev ure?¨
¨¡ don`L LIInk so,¨ ¡ suId us ¡ sLubbed ouL mv cIgureLLe. ¨BuL
LIev mIgIL LIInk sIe does. You see, LIere`s u good cIunce LIuL
Ier IuLIer wus mIxed up wILI LIem.¨
VIoIeL`s surprIse wus vIsIbIe. ¨BuL LIuL doesn`L muke sense.
WIv wouId Jumes McPIerson bIuckmuII unvbodv?¨
¡ nodded mv Ieud Lo svmpuLIIze wILI Ier conIusIon. ¨¡L`s
sLIII vugue Lo me, jusL u LIeorv, buL ¡ LIInk LIere mIgIL be u
power sLruggIe wILIIn LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv - Mux und IIs
uIIIes on one sIde und uII LIe oId guurd Ied bv McPIerson on LIe
z81
oLIer. Mux IIkes Lo LuIk ubouL cIungIng LIe ruIes oI LIe gume,
sIukIng LIIngs up Lo keep IIIe InLeresLIng. ¡nevILubIv, Ie sLurLs
sLeppIng on peopIe`s Loes, deveIops u repuLuLIon us u Ioose
cunnon. WIuLever HIgIwuLer Is, wIuLever LIev`re doIng, LIev
reIv on secrecv; Mux`s gumes und IIs generuI dIsduIn Ior subLIeLv
endunger LIuL. PerIups McPIerson goL Lo LIe poInL wIere Ie
IeIL Mux wus geLLIng Lo be Loo dungerous. Or muvbe Ie sLurLed
Lo worrv LIuL Mux couId LIreuLen IIs IeudersIIp. EILIer wuv,
IeL`s ussume Ie wunLed Lo neuLruIIze Mux, buL couIdn`L be seen
Lo openIv uLLuck IIm; suddenIv LIe bIuckmuIIers und LIeIr cIouk-
und-dugger nonsense sLurL Lo muke u IILLIe more sense.¨
VIoIeL LIILed Ier Ieud Lo LIe sIde. ¨¡ suppose IL does, buL IL`s
sLIII u IILLIe Iurd Lo swuIIow. ¡ meun, vou`re mukIng u coupIe
preLLv bIg Ieups, ussumpLIon-wIse.¨
¨TIuL`s jusL LIe probIem; IL`s uII specuIuLIon,¨ ¡ suId. ¨And
once vou sLurL down LIuL puLI, IL`s Iurd Lo sLop. Becuuse once
vou sLurL consIderIng LIe possIbIIILv oI McPIerson wunLIng Lo
geL rId oI Mux, vou sLurL Lo reuIIze LIuL IL`s jusL us possIbIe LIuL
Mux Is LrvIng Lo geL McPIerson ouL oI LIe wuv.
¨TIInk ubouL IL. McPIerson Is LIe one wIo ended up deud,
wIIIe Mux Is sLIII uIIve. CouId Mux Iuve been LrvIng Lo seL
McPIerson up so Ie Iud un excuse Lo kIII IIm? Or muvbe IL wus
someone eIse enLIreIv, u LIIrd purLv scIemIng Lo pIL LIe Lwo
gIunLs uguInsL eucI oLIer wIIIe LIev wuIL puLIenLIv Ior un
opporLunILv Lo muke LIeIr own pIuv. TIIs Is LIe kInd oI LIIng
LIuL`s been goIng uround In mv Ieud cd ncuseum, IeudIng me
uround In cIrcIes oI endIess LIeorIes und conjecLure, IIke u ¡`m
cuugIL In u MöbIus SLrIp.¨
¨¡ see wIuL vou meun ubouL needIng some perspecLIve,¨
VIoIeL suId us sIe Lurned uround IIIcked Ier dvIng cIgureLLe buLL
oII LIe cuLwuIk. ¡ wuLcIed us IL urced LIrougI LIe uIr und wus
z8z
exLInguIsIed, dIsuppeurIng InLo LIe durk oI LIe nIgIL.
---
Duwn sLurLed Lo peek LIrougI LIe LIe moLeI room curLuIns.
VIoIeL Iud IInuIIv dozed oII on one oI LIe beds, wIIIe CoIumbIne
und ¡ suL up on LIe oLIer, sLIII wuLcIIng TV - or ruLIer sLurIng
vucunLIv uL LIe screen, onIv vugueIv uwure oI wIuL IL wus
sIowIng uL unv gIven LIme. ¡ wus deIIrIous wILI exIuusLIon und
sLIII couIdn`L sIeep. CoIumbIne Iud been goIng sLrong uII nIgIL
buL wus IInuIIv sLurLIng Lo sIow sIgns oI sIowIng down. SIe
vuwned IIke u cuL und sLreLcIed ouL on LIe bed, IuvIng Ier Ieud
on mv Iup. ¡ sLroked Ier IuIr ubsenLIv wIIIe LIe IocuI mornIng
news sLurLed.
¨¡eL`s run uwuv LogeLIer,¨ CoIumbIne purred.
¡ cIuckIed ubsenLIv, onIv IuII-compreIendIng Ier.
¨No, ¡ meun IL. We sIouId geL ouL oI LIIs godIorsuken cILv.
Run Iur uwuv Irom Mux und LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv und
bIuckmuIIers und men In bIue curs. We couId sLurL u new IIIe
LogeLIer on LIe roud IIke gvpsIes, see LIe worId, meeL new
peopIe, Iuve udvenLures. ¡L wIII be uwesome.¨
¡ cIuckIed uguIn, LIIs LIme Iouder. ¨You`re serIous, uren`L
vou?¨
¨OI course. ¡L`s noL IIke LIere`s unvLIIng IeIL Ior us Iere. One
oI mv besL IrIends Is deud, unoLIer jusL Iud mv IuLIer murdered,
und LIe LIIrd Is on LIe run Irom Ier psvcIoLIc Iusbund. You
IosL vour job und eIIecLIveIv goL vourseII bIuckIIsLed In LIIs Lown.
Nume one good reuson wIv we shouldn't go.¨
¨WIo`s Lo suv LIev won`L come IookIng Ior vou - Ior us?
TIese peopIe ure dungerous; II LIev wunL vou budIv enougI,
LIev muv IunL vou Lo LIe ends oI LIe eurLI.¨
z8¤
Now IL wus CoIumbIne`s Lurn Lo cIuckIe.
¨WIuL`s so Iunnv?¨
¨You,¨ sIe repIIed. ¨You Luke IL so serIousIv, buL IL`s jusL
unoLIer gume Lo IIm.¨
¡ Ieuned Iorwurd Lo Iook down uL Ier grInnIng Iuce. ¨WIuL
do vou meun?¨
¨Huven`L vou consIdered LIe possIbIIILv LIuL none oI LIIs Is
reuI, LIuL LIere never wus unv bIuckmuII? TIuL IL`s uII jusL smoke
und mIrrors meunL Lo keep us jumpIng LIrougI Ioops und
runnIng In cIrcIes cIusIng our own LuIIs Ior Mux`s umusemenL.¨
¨TIuL`s preLLv Iur ouL LIere,¨ ¡ suId.
¨So`s Mux,¨ CoIumbIne repIIed. ¨He suId IL IImseII - wIuL
wouId uou do Ior Iun II vou were rIcI und bored und Iud
ubsoIuLeIv no concern Ior Iumun IIIe or Iumun suIIerIng?¨
¡ opened mv mouLI Lo respond buL couIdn`L IInd unv words,
so ¡ jusL suL LIere sIuck-juwed, sLurIng uL LIe TV.
¨¡ guess ¡ sIouId be goIng soon,¨ ¡ muLLered, LIen sIowIv rose
Irom LIe bed. ¨¡`m gonnu Iop In LIe sIower reuIIv quIck.¨
¡ Lurned LIe sIower on Lo gIve LIe wuLer u cIunce Lo IeuL up
und sLurLed Lo undress. TIrougI LIe cIosed buLIroom door, ¡
couId Ieur VIoIeL und CoIumbIne resume LuIkIng jusL IoudIv
enougI Ior me Lo Ieur.
¨You sIouIdn`L mess wILI IIs Ieud IIke LIuL,¨ VIoIeL cIIded.
¨He`s LwIsLed uround enougI us IL Is.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨ CoIumbIne repIIed.
¨TIuL sLuII ubouL Mux und IIs gumes, IL wusn`L Iunnv.¨
¨WIo suId ¡ wus jokIng?¨
VIoIeL mude u dIsupprovIng grunL und suId, ¨Don`L LeII me
vou`re sLurLIng Lo geL cuugIL up In D`s purunoIu.¨
CoIumbIne cIuckIed. ¨He is u IILLIe Loo InLo LIIs conspIrucv
LIeorv sLuII, even Ior me. SomeLImes ¡ IeeI IIke none oI LIIs Is
z8q
reuIIv IuppenIng, buL ¡`m jusL pIuvIng uIong wILI IIs deIusIons.¨
TIere wus u puuse. ¨You reuIIv ure In Iove wILI IIm, uren`L
vou?¨ VIoIeL usked wILI possIbIv jusL u IInL oI remorse.
¨We wouIdn`L be Iere, oLIerwIse.¨
TIere wus noLIIng more uILer LIuL. ¡ sLepped InLo LIe
sIower, wonderIng II LIev`d InLenLIonuIIv LuIked Ioud enougI Ior
me Lo Ieur or noL.
z8=
((. No Mctter Hou Desperctelu You Wcnt It
TIe nexL mornIng ¡ drove LIe VoIvo ouL Lo mv upurLmenL Lo
pIck up u coupIe cIunges oI cIoLIes und u Iew oLIer essenLIuIs.
However, us ¡ wuIked up LIe sLuIrs, ¡ noLIced mv IronL door wus
IungIng ujur. As ¡ mude mv upproucI, LukIng cure Lo be us quIeL
us possIbIe, mv mInd run LIrougI LIe vurIous neIurIous
possIbIIILIes oI wIo wus wuILIng on LIe oLIer sIde. SuInL
AnLIonv muvbe, or AxeIrod buck Lo puL LIe squeeze on me Ior
McPIerson. TIe musked mun und IIs Luser. Mux und u .qq
Mugnum. TIe ruddv-Iuced mun und IIs InIernuI bIue cur,
someIow IIdden uwuv beIInd LIe coucI, reudv Lo peeI ouL und
run me down us soon us ¡ enLered.
¡ opened LIe door cuuLIousIv und suw Brud McPIerson
sILLIng on LIe LuLLered remuIns oI mv coucI, LIen LIougIL Lo
mvseII LIuL ¡ mIgIL Iuve ucLuuIIv preIerred LIe uILernuLIves.
¨Brud, wIuL Iuve vou done Lo mv upurLmenL?¨ ¡ suId In
mock-surprIse und IeId mv urms ouLsLreLcIed Lo IndIcuLe LIe
vusL dIsurruv surroundIng us.
¨D, uIwuvs good Lo see vou,¨ Ie repIIed In u condescendIng
purodv oI IrIendIIness. ¨PIeuse Iuve u seuL, ¡ wunL Lo LuIk wILI
z86
vou.¨
¡ pIcked up one oI LIe bure cusIIons LIuL Iud been sLrIpped
Irom ILs cover und Lossed IL on LIe coucI Irume, LIen Look u seuL.
¨WIuL ubouL? SporLs? TIe weuLIer? Or vour Ionevmoon -
¡ never dId geL u cIunce Lo usk vou guvs ubouL IL LIe oLIer nIgIL.
Wus LIIs resorL nIce? How ubouL LIe beucI? DId vou Iuve u
good LIme IuckIng mv sIsLer?¨
¡ couId see IL wus LukIng evervLIIng Brud Iud noL Lo Leur oII
und puncI me In LIe Iuce. AIreudv mv mornIng wus IookIng up.
¨AcLuuIIv,¨ Ie suId, veIns LIrobbIng In IIs LempIes und neck,
¨¡ wus IopIng Lo LuIk Lo vou ubouL LIese uccusuLIons vou`ve been
mukIng IuLeIv, LIIs sLuII vou posLed onIIne. ¡ook, wIoever`s
duped vou InLo beIIevIng LIose documenLs ure reuI obvIousIv
wenL LIrougI u IoL oI LroubIe Lo--¨
Mv IuugILer cuL IIm oII. ¨¡or Iuck`s suke, Brud, gIve me u
IILLIe credIL. You don`L reuIIv expecL me Lo IuII Ior u cIeesv Ieud
gume IIke LIuL, do vou?¨
Brud Look u deep breuLI. ¨Okuv, ¡`m noL Iere Lo debuLe wILI
vou. TIe poInL Is, Lrue or noL, LIe ImpIIcuLIons oI vour ucLIons
couId be exLremeIv dumugIng Lo LIIs cILv In wuvs vou Iuven`L
consIdered. Mv uncIe`s deuLI, usIde Irom beIng LrugIc on u
personuI IeveI, Ieuves beIInd u consIderubIe IeudersIIp vucuum.
He wus u drIvIng Iorce beIInd geLLIng peopIe Lo beIIeve In LIIs
cILv und ILs IndusLrv - InvesLors, cusLomers, governmenL. ¡I we
uppeur weuk, II peopIe Iose IuILI In us, LIev`II sLurL puIIIng
monev ouL oI LIIs cILv`s busInesses. TIuL muv noL meun
unvLIIng Lo vou, buL LIInk ubouL LIe consequences Ior jobs, Lux
revenue, IocuI cIurILIes.¨
¨Suve vour breuLI; ¡ geL IL,¨ ¡ suId. ¨WIuL`s IL goL Lo do wILI
me?¨
Brud conLInued, ¨We need Lo IIII LIe voId mv uncIe IeIL, und
z8;
IIke IL or noL, DvIun MuxweII Is u mujor usseL. ¡L doesn`L IeIp
unvone Lo Iuve IIm undermIned bv wIId uIIeguLIons oI crImInuI
beIuvIor.¨
¡ IuugIed uguIn. ¨So Ie`s IoIdIng vour IeusI now, Is LIuL IL?
¡uckIng busLurd couIdn`L jusL Iuve me sIoL IIke unv cIvIIIzed
mun. No, Ie sends vou Lo unnov me Lo deuLI.¨
¨Nobodv senL me, und no one Is LrvIng Lo kIII vou. TIere`s no
reuson Lo geL purunoId.¨
¡ cuL IIm oII, ¨So Mux uscends Lo LIe LIrone oI LIe HIgIwuLer
SocIeLv bv oIIIng vour uncIe und vou uII sLund uround und
uppIuud poIILeIv, 'TIe kIng Is deud, Iong IIve LIe kIng.` Huve vou
no sIume, mun?¨
Brud sIook IIs Ieud. ¨DvIun MuxweII Is noL LIe Ieud oI
HIgIwuLer, ¡ Iuve been nomInuLed Lo Luke over mv uncIe`s
duLIes, und Mux Is supporLIng me. And us Ior LIe cIrcumsLunces
oI mv uncIe`s deuLI, ¡ wIII ensure IL Is LIorougIIv InvesLIguLed,
und ¡ um conIIdenL LIuL we won`L IInd unv evIdence oI Mux`s
InvoIvemenL.¨
¨TIuL`s beuuLIIuI. And wIen LIe LIme comes, ¡`m sure LIev`II
suv Mux dIdn`L Iuve unvLIIng Lo do wILI vour deuLI, eILIer.¨
TIen Brud reucIed ouL und puL IIs Iund on mv sIouIder - u
IrIendIv, reussurIng gesLure LIuL wus so unexpecLed IL ucLuuIIv
mude me IIIncI.
He suId, ¨D, vou keep LuIkIng ubouL HIgIwuLer IIke we`re
vou`re enemIes. YeL vou chose Lo work Ior DvIun MuxweII.
You`re IrIends wILI mv cousIn. And us mucI ¡ muv noL IIke IL,
we`re broLIers now; vou meun u IoL Lo Jennv, und sIe meuns LIe
worId Lo me. You`re one oI us now, und vou need Lo sLurL
workIng wILI us, noL uguInsL us.¨
¨TIuL`s Iunnv; vou`re uncIe suId LIe sume LIIng. ProbIem Is,
vou guvs keep Loo munv secreLs Ior mv LusLes. ¡`d muvbe see mv
z88
wuv Lo IeIpIng vou u IILLIe more cIeurIv II someone wouId
expIuIn Lo me wIuL IL Is vou uII ucLuuIIv do.¨
¨TIe purpose oI HIgIwuLer - weII, IL`s noL reuIIv someLIIng
LIuL cun be eusIIv puL InLo words. ¡L cun onIv be undersLood bv
experIencIng IL IIrsL-Iund, IeurnIng IL Ior vourseII.¨
¨Your uncIe suId LIuL, Loo. ¡L dIdn`L muke mucI sense LIen,
sLIII doesn`L now. How ubouL vou Lrv someLIIng u IILLIe eusIer
LIen, IIke LeIIIng me wIuL Mux Ius IIdden uwuv beneuLI LIe
AsLerIon IucIIILv In SLoruge UnIL ¤¤?¨
Brud sLood up ubrupLIv. HIs voIce Look on u surcusLIc, uImosL
LIreuLenIng edge. ¨You know, D, Ior someone so InLenL on
exposIng oLIer peopIe`s secreLs, vour IIIe Isn`L exucLIv un open
book.¨
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨
¨WeII, Ior one LIIng, vou never LoId vour oId newspuper LIuL
vou were kIcked ouL oI journuIIsm scIooI Ior IubrIcuLIng quoLes
In vour urLIcIes. ¡`d suv LIe Concrete Underqround wouId be
InLeresLed In IIgIL oI ILs currenL IeguI probIems - noL Lo menLIon
Lo menLIon LIe resL oI LIe medIu coverIng LIIs sLorv. TIe sume
wouId uppIv Lo LIe LIme vou spenL In Ouk HIII, or wIuL vou dId
Lo geL senL LIere.¨
¡ jumped up und goL In IIs Iuce. ¨You know wIuL, LeII Mux
LIuL ¡ don`L cure wIuL kInd oI dIrL Ie LIInks Ie`s dug up on me.
TeII IIm noL Lo boLIer LrvIng Lo LIreuLen me or reuson wILI me
unvmore. ¨
He IeId up IIs Iunds, gesLurIng LIuL Ie dIdn`L wunL Lo IIgIL.
¨¡ LoId vou, ¡`m noL Iere on Mux`s beIuII,¨ Brud suId. ¨¡`m Iere
ouL oI respecL Ior vour sIsLer - und Ior mv cousIn.¨ He puused -
u sIgnIIIcunL puuse, ¡ LIougIL - und udded, ¨Do vou know wIere
sIe Is, bv LIe wuv? ¡`ve been IookIng evervwIere Ior Ier.¨
¡ IIILed up LIe coucI cusIIon und mImed IIke ¡ wus IookIng
z8¤
Ior someLIIng, LIen sIILed LIrougI LIe debrIs on LIe IIoor wILI
mv IooL und sIrugged.
Brud grInned spILeIuIIv und nodded IIs Ieud. ¨¡L`s goL Lo be
Iurd on Ier, IosIng boLI oI LIem In sucI quIck successIon.
Anvwuvs, LeII Ier Lo gIve me u cuII, II vou Iuppen Lo Ieur Irom
Ier,¨ Ie suId us Ie IeIL.
¡ IoIIowed IIm ouLsIde und wuLcIed IIm descend LIe sLuIrs.
He couId Iuve been uskIng ubouL CoIumbIne ouL oI IegILImuLe
concern, ¡ LoId mvseII. OI course, Ie couId Iuve uIso Iud
uILerIor moLIves.
AILer uII, II unvone Iud guIned Irom McPIerson`s deuLI, IL
wus cerLuInIv IIm.
AILer Ie dIsuppeured uround LIe corner oI LIe buIIdIng, ¡
Iopped down LIe sLuIrs mvseII und crossed LIe courLvurd,
peekIng uround LIe corner jusL In LIme Lo see IIm geLLIng InLo
IIs cur. As soon us Ie drove uwuv, ¡ run InLo LIe VoIvo und
LuIIed uILer IIm.
¡ gIunced In LIe reurvIew und suw LIe Crown VIc u Iew vurds
beIInd me. A IILLIe IurLIer beIInd IL, LIere wus LIe wIILe
AsLerIon vun.
---
Brud`s cur puIIed InLo LIe purkIng guruge udjucenL Lo LIe
Abrusux buIIdIng. ¡ purked LIe VoIvo uL u meLered spoL ucross
LIe sLreeL und run InsIde, LIen sLuked ouL u pIuce Lo IIde beIInd
u pIunLer oI BIrds oI PurudIse wIIIe ¡ wuILed Ior IIm. Soon
enougI, ¡ spoLLed IIm crossIng LIe Iobbv Lowurd LIe eIevuLors. ¡
mude sure Lo keep u suIe dIsLunce beIInd unLII Ie goL InLo one oI
LIe curs, LIen ¡ wuLcIed LIe dIgILuI dIspIuv ubove LIe doors Lo
see wIuL IIoor Ie goL oII on. ¡L sLopped uL seven. ¡ Look LIe nexL
z¤o
cur up.
WIen ¡ goL ouL on LIe pubIIc reIuLIons IIoor, LIe recepLIonIsL
cIeerIuIIv wuved me Lowurds LIe press brIeIIng room.
AppurenLIv sIe Iudn`L veL goL LIe memo LIuL ¡ wus personc-
non-qrctc uguIn.
¡ sIIpped InLo LIe Iurge brIeIIng room wIere u IuII press
conIerence wus In progress. CurIousIv, Jennv wus LIe one uL LIe
podIum, unswerIng u quesLIon ubouL McPIerson`s deuLI wILI
LIe requIsILe sensILIvILv und puLIos. Brud wus sLundIng oII Lo
LIe sIde oI LIe sLuge, rIgIL besIde Mux.
¡ sLood uL LIe buck oI LIe room, gIurIng uL LIem Ior u Iew
mInuLes beIore Mux gIunced over und recognIzed me. He
dIscreeLIv sIIpped oII LIe sLuge und cume buck Lo LuIk Lo me.
¨¡ don`L LIInk vou quILe geL Iow LIIs gIosL LIIng Is supposed
Lo work,¨ Ie suId wILI u smIrk us Ie Ieuned In cIose Lo me.
On sLuge, Jennv Look unoLIer quesLIon, LIIs one Irom some
Iuck ¡ recognIzed Irom LIe Morninq-Stcr.
¨TIe DA Ius decIded noL Lo pursue unv cIurges uguInsL Mr.
MuxweII, cILIng concerns LIuL LIe documenLs In quesLIon were
Iorged,¨ Jennv unswered. ¨ObvIousIv, we uppIuud LIIs decIsIon
und Iook Iorwurd Lo puLLIng LIe muLLer beIInd us us quIckIv us
possIbIe so Mr. MuxweII cun conLInue Lo Iocus IIs energIes on
provIdIng our cusLomers wILI u quuIILv onIIne experIence.¨
¨WIuL LIe Iuck?¨ ¡ usked, LurnIng Lo Mux.
He grInned LrIumpIunLIv und Iunded me u busIness curd. ¡L
reud: 1enni[er McPherson, Abrcscx Communicctions Director.
¨¡ LIougIL IL wus onIv upproprIuLe, reuIIv, Lo repIuce ¡IIv wILI
unoLIer womun wIo wIII never Iuck vou no muLLer Iow
desperuLeIv vou muv wunL IL.¨
¡ wIIrIed uround und Iunded u puncI soIIdIv on IIs juw,
cuusIng u Iurge cruck Lo sound LIrougIouL LIe room, IoIIowed bv
z¤1
sLunned gusps und generuI IrunLIc rusLIIng umong LIe ussembIed
press.
BeIore ¡ even reuIIzed wIuL wus IuppenIng, Abrusux securILv
guurds munuged Lo drug me kIckIng und screumIng ouL oI LIe
brIeIIng room.
SuInL AnLIonv wus wuILIng Ior me ouLsIde, sILLIng on Lop oI
LIe recepLIonIsL`s desk, cIuppIng IIs LIIck meuLv puIms LogeLIer
In deIIgIL. TIen Loo IuLe, ¡ reuIIzed wIv LIe recepLIonIsL Iud so
wIIIIngIv IeL me In.
¨Bruvo!¨ Ie sIouLed, IoppIng down Irom LIe desk. TIe LIree
securILv guurds wIo were IoIdIng me Iorced me Lo sLund
uprIgIL.
He senL one oI IIs IIsLs InLo mv ubdomen, IILLIng me so Iurd
¡ wunLed Lo puke. He Iunded u coupIe more sIoLs Lo mv guL,
LIen IoIIowed wILI u rIgIL Iook Lo LIe sIde oI mv Iuce. TIere
wus probubIv u IoL more uILer LIuL, Loo, buL mercIIuIIv ¡ bIucked
ouL.
z¤z
(a. The Scme Stories, Dter cnd Dter
¡ woke up Lo IInd mvseII geLLIng drugged ouL oI SuInL
AnLIonv`s EscuIude. ¡L Look u wIIIe Ior mv vIsIon Lo come buck
InLo Iocus, so LIe IIrsL LIIng ¡ suw cIeurIv wus LIe bIuck meLuI
door wILI LIe spruv-puInLed messuge: ßell Dut o[ Drder, Plecse
Knocl. ¡ Iooked uround und recognIzed LIe uIIevwuv oII oI z;
LI
und MIssIon, und ¡ reuIIzed wIere LIev were LukIng me.
AnLIonv IeId LIe door open und sIoved me InsIde. Mux wus
uIreudv wuILIng Ior us, sLundIng In LIe mIddIe oI LIe room
beIInd u mun wIo wus covered In bIood und LIed Lo u cIuIr. TIe
mun In LIe cIuIr wus weurIng LIe sume groLesque musk ¡ Iud
worn Lo LIe HIgIwuLer purLv.
¡n LIe Iur corner oI LIe room beIInd Mux, ¡ uIso suw Ben
Gurzu, wIo wore u bIuck LurLIeneck und Iooked IIke Ie wus goIng
ouL oI IIs wuv Lo Iurk In LIe sIudows.
¨¡ sIouId Iuve known LIe onIv person cruzv enougI Lo
bIuckmuII vou ucs uou.¨
Mux Iooked uL me conIused Ior u momenL, LIen cIuckIed.
¨OI, ¡ geL IL, becuuse oI LIIs pIuce. No, ¡`m noL LIe one wIo
brougIL vou Iere beIore. ¡`m jusL someone wIo Isn`L sIv ubouL
z¤¤
borrowIng u good Ideu. And ¡ dIdn`L IubrIcuLe mv own
bIuckmuIIIng, uILIougI LIuL`s u verv umusIng LIeorv jusL LIe
sume.¨
TIe cupLIve squIrmed In LIe cIuIr, sLruInIng uguInsL IIs
bonds, und LrIed Lo suv someLIIng. BuL IL cume ouL muIIIed,
suggesLIng LIuL Ie wus wus gugged under LIe musk.
¨QuIeL, vou,¨ Mux udmonIsIed wILI u mock sLernness us Ie
cIrcIed uround Lo kneeI besIde LIe cIuIr, reveuIIng u bIoodv puIr
oI gurdenIng sIeurs In IIs Iund.
¨¡L`s un InLeresLIng cIoIce oI musk,¨ Ie suId. ¨¡L remInds me
oI LIe Commedic dell'Arte. Are vou IumIIIur wILI IL? Our IrIend
CoIumbIne cerLuInIv Is.¨
¡ dIdn`L respond. As usuuI, LIIs dIdn`L deLer IIm one bIL.
¨One oI LIe LIIngs ¡ IInd IuscInuLIng ubouL LIe Commedic,¨
Ie conLInued, ¨Is LIuL IL remInds us Iow Iew sLorIes LIere
ucLuuIIv ure In LIIs worId. We jusL keep reLeIIIng LIe sume
IundIuI over und over uguIn ucross LIe cenLurIes, Irom prImILIve
cuve druwIngs und uncIenL mvLIs Lo comIc books und summer
bIockbusLers. We`re verv sImpIe creuLures LIuL wuv. ¡L uII boIIs
down Lo LIe sume busIc InsLIncLs drIvIng us - greed, Ieur, IusL,
Iove, umbILIon, vunILv, jeuIousv. Once vou undersLund LIe
Commedic, uII our sLorIes become so... predIcLubIe.¨
¡ scruLcIed mv Ieud. ¨Once uguIn, ¡ Iuve no IuckIng cIue
Iow wIuL vou`re suvIng Ius unvLIIng Lo do wILI unvLIIng.¨
Mux sLood nexL Lo me und puL LIe Iund wILI LIe bIoodv
sIeurs on mv sIouIder, cusuuIIv, IIke we were IuvIng u IrIendIv
conversuLIon. ¨TIe oLIer LIIng LIuL InLeresLs me ubouL LIe
Commedic Is LIe use oI musks. ¡L reIIes on sLock cIurucLers,
urcIeLvpes, LIuL ure InsLunLIv recognIzubIe Lo LIe uudIence. TIe
musk Is u kev purL oI LIuL - wIIcI Is IronIc wIen vou LIInk ubouL
IL. ¡n Commedic, LIe musk deIInes u cIurucLer`s IdenLILv,
z¤q
wIereus normuIIv u musk Is InLended Lo conceuI IdenLILv.
SomeLImes ¡ IIke Lo LIInk ubouL Iow LIe musks we Lrv Lo IIde
beIInd cun beLruv us, und Iow LIev cun come Lo deIIne us.¨
¨SLIII noL seeIng Iow LIIs Is reIevunL,¨ ¡ suId.
¨¡L`s reIevunL becuuse vou Lwo LrIed verv Iurd Lo conceuI IIs
IdenLILv, und vou uImosL puIIed IL oII.¨ Mux poInLed buck uL LIe
mun In LIe cIuIr. ¨GrunLed, Ie wus un obvIous suspecL wIen ¡
IIrsL Ieurned LIuL vou Iud goLLen vour Iunds on LIe e-muIIs
beLween me und CILv HuII. So ¡ Iud mv peopIe Iook InLo IL, buL
LIev couIdn`L IInd unv subsLunLIuI connecLIon beLween LIe Lwo oI
vou sInce vour IuIIIng-ouL uILer IIgI scIooI. ¡ meun, vou reuIIv
Iud evervone IooIed InLo LIInkIng vou guvs IuLed eucI oLIer.¨
¨We do IuLe eucI oLIer,¨ ¡ suId. ¨BrIun onIv guve me LIose e-
muIIs becuuse Ie overIeurd LIe Muvor budmouLIIng IIm Lo LIe
cIIeI oI sLuII. TIev dIdn`L reuIIze Ie wus In LIe nexL room
IIsLenIng In.¨
¨AII, weII, LIe CommedIu sLrIkes uguIn,¨ Mux suId wILI
puIpubIe suLIsIucLIon. ¨Even In LIIs uge oI LecInoIogIcuI
wonders, IL sLIII boIIs down LIe LIe sume buse pussIons.¨
Mux puIIed oII LIe musk, reveuIIng BrIun`s bIoodv Iuce wILI
Lwo empLv eve sockeLs.
¡ IeIL IIgIL Ieuded und nuuseous. ¨So Iow dId vou IIgure IL
ouL?¨ ¡ usked Mux, munugIng Lo someIow keep Irom geLLIng
sIck.
¨¡L wus Gurzu ucLuuIIv. He poured LIrougI duvs oI
surveIIIunce IooLuge Lo IIgure ouL Iow vou coordInuLed LIe
Iund-oII.¨
¡ Iooked scornIuIIv buck Lo Gurzu, wIo wus sLIII skuIkIng In
LIe buck oI LIe room, LuggIng up on IIs LurLIeneck nervousIv,
und ¡ wondered wIuL IIs deuI wus. ¨Don`L suv mucI, do vou?¨
¨YeuI, wIuL`s LIe muLLer, Ben? You usuuIIv never sIuL LIe
z¤=
Iuck up.¨ Mux cIImed In.
JusL LIen someLIIng cIIcked In mv Ieud, und ¡ reuIIzed LIuL ¡
Iud In IucL never Ieurd Gurzu speuk. ¡ wuIked over Lo IIm und
cIumped u Iund on IIs sIouIder, jusL uL LIe buse oI IIs neck In
mock-congruLuIuLIon, suvIng, ¨NIce deLecLIve work, ussIoIe.¨
¡L wus u sImpIe, Innocuous gesLure, noL vIoIenL or IorceIuI uL
uII, buL Gurzu wInced In puIn us mv Iund LoucIed IIs neck,
¨Sorrv,¨ ¡ suId, puIIIng mv Iund buck. ¨DId vou IurL
vourseII?¨ ¡ Lurned buck Lo Iook uL Mux, wIo wus weurIng un
expressIon oI curIosILv. ¨So wIuL`s LIe score? ¡s LIIs LIe end oI
LIe roud Ior me und BrIun?¨
Mux sIook IIs Ieud. ¨¡ LIInk vour IrIend Ius suIIIcIenLIv
Ieurned IIs Iesson. And us Ior vou - ¡ Iope vou Iuve Ieurned
someLIIng us weII. ¡ Iuve been InduIgenL oI vou up Lo LIIs poInL,
buL LIere ure consequences Ior goIng Loo Iur.¨
z¤6
(=. 1ust Lile in the Moties
AILer Mux IeL me go, ¡ wuILed ucross LIe sLreeL unLII ¡ suw
Gurzu emerge Irom LIe uIIevwuv. ¡ IoIIowed IIm on IooL down
Lo LIe neuresL mujor roud, wIere Ie IIugged down u cub. ¡
IIugged down unoLIer und LoId mv drIver Lo IoIIow LIe IIrsL one,
jusL IIke In LIe movIes.
Gurzu goL dropped oII In IronL oI LIe buIIdIng rIgIL nexL door
Lo LIe Cusu SuIvudor. ¡L wus un oId LenemenL LIuL Iud been
condemned. ¡ IoIIowed IIm InsIde und up LIe sLuIrs, LukIng mv
sIoes oII und LreudIng IIgILIv Lo uvoId mukIng unv noIse.
He wus squuLLIng In u number oI dIIIerenL unILs on LIe Lop
IIoor. TIe pIuce wus IIILIv - LIe IIoor wus uImosL compIeLeIv
covered In Iuundrv, IusL Iood conLuIners, sodu boLLIes, oId muII,
und oLIer ussorLed LrusI.
One oI LIe rooms Iud u bure IuLon muLLress, so ¡ Look LIuL Lo
be wIere Ie sIepL und sLurLed snoopIng uround.
TIere wus one wIndow on LIe Iur wuII oI LIe room, und
LIrougI IL ¡ couId see ucross InLo LIe wIndows oI LIe IIopIouse
nexL door. ¡ grInned wIen ¡ reuIIzed LIuL LIe IuIIwuv LeIepIone
on LIe LIIrd IIoor wus pIuInIv vIsIbIe Irom LIIs vunLuge poInL.
z¤;
Under one oI LIe pIIes oI LIe dIrLv Iuundrv sLrewn ubouL wus
u cIeup meLuI Iock box. AILer poppIng LIe Iock open wILI mv
knIIe, ¡ Iound Lwo InLeresLIng LIIngs InsIde - u smooLI,
IeuLureIess gunmeLuI musk und u BrownIng ¤mm wILI u
sIIencer. ¡ cIecked LIe IuLLer Lo muke sure IL wus Iouded, LIen
Look IL wILI me.
¡ wuIked InLo unoLIer room und Iound Gurzu sILLIng uL u desk
LIuL Ioused sIx monILors oI vurIous sIupes und sIzes Iooked up
Lo u sLuIIed server ruck besIde LIe desk.
¡ ruIsed LIe gun und LruIned IL on LIe buck oI IIs Ieud. HIs
eves sIIILed over Lo Iook uL me In LIe monILors` reIIecLIons.
¨So wIuL, ure vou goIng Lo sIooL me?¨ Ie usked In u gruII
voIce LIuL ¡ InsLunLIv recognIzed.
¨TIere`s u good cIunce.¨
¨TIen wIv don`L vou sLop wusLIng mv LIme und jusL geL IL
over wILI?¨ Ie suId us Ie sIuIIIed some pupers uround on IIs
deskLop.
¨Becuuse IIrsL vou Iuve Lo gIve me someLIIng In excIunge Ior
doIng vou LIIs Iuvor?¨
¨¡uvor?¨ Ie repeuLed us Ie IIdgeLed wILI u Ieuvv gIuss
pvrumId puperweIgIL.
¡ nodded, IIxIng mv eves on IIs Iund. ¨Compured Lo wIuL
Mux wouId do II ¡ Lurned vou over Lo IIm, u quIck und cIeun
buIIeL Lo LIe Ieud Is u Iuvor.¨
SuddenIv Gurzu Iobbed LIe pvrumId uL mv Ieud. TIunkIuIIv,
¡ unLIcIpuLed IIs move und wus ubIe Lo duck ouL oI LIe wuv In
LIme. TIe puperweIgIL IIew pusL, mIssIng onIv bv IncIes, und
puL u IoIe In LIe drvwuII beIInd me. Gurzu mude u move Ior LIe
door, buL ¡ wus ubIe Lo squeeze oII u sIoL Irom LIe BrownIng,
wIIcI Lore rIgIL LIrougI IIs mIdsecLIon.
He doubIed over und coIIupsed Lo IIs knees, cIuLcIIng uL IIs
z¤8
sLomucI us bIood seeped LIrougI LIe IronL oI IIs sIIrL. ¡ wuIked
over Lo IIm und pressed LIe muzzIe Lo IIs LempIe.
¨As ¡ wus suvIng, vou ure goIng Lo repuv me Ior LIIs Iuvor. ¡
wunL vou Lo LeII me wIo vour purLner Is, LIe one wIo drIves LIuL
bIue CIevv.¨
¨WIv do vou cure?¨ Gurzu spuL derIsIveIv. ¨He`s u puwn, u
rube. JusL IIke LIuL ¡vncI bILcI und vour gIrIIrIend wILI LIe
purpIe IuIr.¨
¨WIose puwns? McPIerson`s?¨
He IuugIed, ¨WIuL? You reuIIv Iuve no IuckIng cIue wIuL`s
goIng on, do vou?¨
HIs eves Iocked on mIne wILI u gIeeIuI, mIscIIevous LwInkIe.
¡ dIdn`L respond buL InsLeud jusL kepL sLurIng IIm down. ¡InuIIv,
Ie Iooked uwuv und udded, ¨TIev were uII mu puwns. ¡L wus mv
pIun uII uIong.¨
¡ scoIIed, ¨¡`m noL sure vou wunnu go uround broudcusLIng
LIuL Loo IoudIv. Seemed IIke u preLLv dumbuss pIun Lo begIn
wILI, even beIore ¡ wenL und IeL LIe cuL ouL oI LIe bug on vour
secreL IILLIe IIusI drIve. WIIcI, IncIdenLuIIv, Mux doesn`L seem
Lo be LIuL boLIered bv unvwuvs.¨
Gurzu brIsLIed uL LIIs. ¨Mux Is un uss. He`s uII bIusLer und
bruvudo, LrvIng Lo IIde Iow scured Ie reuIIv Is. You reud LIe
documenLs, rIgIL? Ask IIm wIuL Ie`s keepIng IIdden under LIe
AsLerIon IucIIILv, LIen see Iow IuckIng cooI Ie ucLs.¨
We were InLerrupLed bv LIe squeuk oI un openIng door und
boLI sImuILuneousIv Iooked up see LIe ruddv-Iuced mun
sLundIng In LIe doorwuv, dressed In IIs usuuI LrencI couL und
IuL. As soon us Ie suw me, Ie boILed. ¡ IeupL up und cIused
uILer IIm, IeuvIng Gurzu bIeedIng on LIe IIoor.
¡ IurLIed ouL InLo LIe IuIIwuv jusL In LIme Lo see LIe oLIer
mun dIsuppeur beIInd u door uL LIe Iur end. ¡ sprInLed ucross
z¤¤
und IIung open LIe door, reveuIIng u IIIgIL oI sLuIrs IeudIng up.
As ¡ emerged onLo LIe rooI, ¡ wuLcIed IIm Luke u runnIng
sLurL und IuuncI IImseII oII LIe edge, IeupIng over Lo LIe Cusu
SuIvudor. TukIng u deep breuLI, ¡ sLeeIed mvseII Lo muke mv
own uLLempL, IeuvIng u LruII oI proIunILIes In mv wuke us ¡
jumped LIe LIunkIuIIv nurrow cIusm beLween LIe Lwo rooILops,
IundIng jusL us mv quurrv begun descendIng LIe IIre escupe on
LIe oLIer sIde oI LIe rooI.
¡ run und Iooked over LIe sIde oI LIe buIIdIng, buL dIdn`L see
IIm unvwIere on LIe IIre escupe or LIe ground. ¡ surmIsed LIuL
Ie musL Iuve gone InLo LIe buIIdIng und, us ¡ IIew down LIe IIrsL
IIIgIL oI sLeps, noLIced LIe LIIrd sLorv wIndow wus open.
¡ Iunged InLo LIe buIIdIng rIgIL us LIe door oI Room ¤1¤
sIummed sIuL. BursLIng LIrougI LIuL door, ¡ Iound IIm
sLundIng jusL InsIde LIe room wILI IIs buck Lo me, und ¡ LuckIed
IIm onLo LIe bed.
BuL wIen ¡ Iooked down uL LIe mun sLruggIIng under mv
weIgIL, ¡ suw LIuL IL wusn`L u mun uL uII. ¡L wus SLeIIu, dressed In
LIe mun`s couL und IuL. Her Iuce wus wIILe wILI sIock, und sIe
IeId ouL Ier Iunds, wIIcI were cIuLcIIng CoIumbIne`s Queen oI
HeurLs RussIun doII.
¨He LoId me Lo gIve LIIs Lo vou,¨ sIe suId.
¨WIo dId?¨
¨TIe mun In LIe IuIIwuv.¨
¡ run buck ouL LIrougI LIe door und Iound mvseII sLurIng
down LIe busIness end oI u cun oI muce.
He IIred, und ¡ IowIed In puIn. ¡ dropped Lo LIe IIoor und
wrILIed In bIInd ugonv wIIIe LIe muce seured mv eves.
¡InuIIv, ¡ IeIL Iunds grIppIng me und LurnIng me over Lo IIe
on mv sIde.
¨Open vour eves,¨ u voIce burked.
¤oo
¡ obeved und ImmedIuLeIv IeIL some kInd oI IIquId spIusIIng
InLo LIem.
¨Now bIInk,¨ LIe voIce suId uguIn.
WIen mv vIsIon IInuIIv cIeured, ¡ suw SLeIIu sLundIng ubove
me, suns LIe dIsguIse und IoIdIng u curLon oI mIIk. ¨GeL up, und
be cureIuI noL Lo LoucI vour eves.¨
SIe IeIped me up und guIded me Lo LIe buLIroom down LIe
IuII, wIere sIe Iud me wusI mv Iunds und Iuce LIorougIIv.
WIen ¡ IInIsIed, ¡ IoIIowed Ier buck Lo Ier own room, ¤o¤,
und suL on LIe bed wILI Ier.
¨How ure vou IeeIIng?¨
¨PeucIv,¨ ¡ repIIed us ¡ bIInked mv eves obsessIveIv und
grImuced.
¨TIe eIIecL sIouId weur oII gruduuIIv, buL In LIe meunLIme
vou`re gonnu wunL Lo keep vour eves moIsL,¨ sIe suId und
Iunded me u smuII pIusLIc boLLIe oI VIsIne.
¡ Ieuned buck on LIe bed und squeezed u coupIe drops InLo
eucI eve. ¨TIunks. You`ve done LIIs beIore, ¡ Luke IL.¨
¨¡n mv IIne oI work, mucIng`s LIe IeusL oI our worrIes,¨ sIe
repIIed, sIukIng Ier Ieud. ¨You sIouId see some oI LIe sIck sIIL
LIuL Iuppens. GIrIs ure cuL up, bruIsed, burned, broken bones,
vou nume IL. BuL LIen, vou probubIv don`L wunL Lo be IIsLenIng
Lo uII LIIs, gIven LIe sLuLe vou`re In rIgIL now.¨
¨No, IL`s IIne,¨ ¡ repIIed, sLIII bIInkIng mv eves IurIousIv.
¨Keep LuIkIng; IL IeIps Lo Iuve someLIIng Lo Iocus on oLIer LIun
LIe burnIng.¨
SLeIIu sIrugged, ¨¡I vou suv so. MvseII, ¡`ve been knocked
uround u Iew LImes, Iew bumps und bruIses, buL ¡`m Iuckv.
¨¡ suw one gIrI wILI Ier cIeeks sIIced open Irom Ier mouLI
IIke u smIIe, IIke In LIuL movIe,¨ sIe conLInued, druwIng InvIsIbIe
IInes exLendIng Irom eucI corner oI Ier mouLI, IIke u gIunL
¤o1
smIIe. ¨And LIe IILLIe VIeLnumese gIrI down LIe IuII, sIe`s
mIssIng purL oI Ier nose LIuL u ruL cIewed oII uILer some guv IeIL
Ier IundcuIIed Lo u bed In u IIeu bug moLeI. TIen unoLIer gIrI ¡
know Ius scurs uII over one sIde oI Ier bodv, coverIng Ier
uImosL Irom Ieud Lo Loe, Irom cIemIcuI burns.¨
¨WuIL,¨ ¡ InLerjecLed. ¨WIo`s LIIs?¨
¨TIe gIrI Irom LIe sIeILer, Knossos SuncLuurv, down on ¤z
nd
SLreeL.¨
¨You`ve sLuved In LIuL sIeILer?¨ ¡ probed.
¨YeuI, u coupIe LImes. TIuL`s wIere ¡ IIrsL meL ¡subeI, us u
muLLer oI IucL, sIe wus In und ouL oI LIere u IoL. BuL unvwuvs,
buck Lo LIIs gIrI wIo sIowed up wILI LIe burns, LIuL wus severuI
veurs ugo, buck wIen sIe IurdIv spoke unv EngIIsI und vou
couIdn`L undersLund even LIe IILLIe bIL LIuL sIe dId on uccounL oI
Ier uccenL. NoL RussIun, buL someLIIng IIke LIuL. SmurL kId,
LIougI, reuIIv goL Ier IIIe LogeLIer, und now sIe works LIere.
Even wILI LIuL cruzv IuIr oI Iers - vou`II never guess wIuL coIor
IL Is.¨
¨PurpIe,¨ ¡ suId bureIv uudIbIv.
¨YeuI, Iow`d vou guess? You musL know Ier, IuI?¨
¨¡ LIougIL so, buL ¡`m sLurLIng Lo reuIIze sIe`s noL exucLIv wIo
¡ LIougIL sIe wus.¨
SLeIIu puLLed me on LIe knee. ¨AIn`L LIuL jusL LIe wuv oI LIe
worId?¨
---
MeunwIIIe, u Leum oI men dressed In bIuck AsLerIon
jumpsuILs enLered LIe buIIdIng nexL door und Iound Gurzu on
LIe IIoor, bIeedIng proIuseIv und wIsIIng ¡`d IInIsIed IIm oII.
¤oz
(ó. I[ I Hcd ßeen Pcuinq Attention
Once ¡ recovered enougI Lo geL on LIe move, ¡ ruced Lo LIe
MoLIev ¡ooI us IusL us LIe VoIvo wouId Luke me, durLIng In und
ouL oI LruIIIc us ¡ cureened down HIgIwuv ;;.
¡ opened LIe door Lo IInd VIoIeL IuvIng on one oI LIe beds,
bound, gugged, und bIIndIoIded. ¡ IIew over und IeIped Ier geL
Iree, LIen veIIed, ¨WIuL Iuppened?¨
¨TIuL mun jusL bursL In Iere und IIL me, knocked me ouL.
WIen ¡ cume Lo, ¡ wus IIke LIIs. WIere`s CoI, Is sIe uIrIgIL?¨
¨SIe`s gone, LIev Look Ier,¨ ¡ repIIed. ¨WIo wus IL?¨
¨¡ LIInk IL wus LIe mun vou LuIked ubouL beIore, LIe one wILI
LIe scur wIo weurs LIe Iong couL und IuL.¨
¨¡uck!¨ ¡ screumed In IrusLruLIon, LIen Look LIe RussIun doII
ouL oI mv couL pockeL und sIowed IL Lo Ier. ¨He Iud LIIs. He
wunLed me Lo know LIev Iud Ier.¨
VIoIeL`s Iuce sunk us sIe Lurned LIe doII over In Ier Iunds.
¨How dId LIev IInd Ier? We were so cureIuI.¨
¨¡ don`L know,¨ ¡ udmILLed. ¨BuL we`ve goL Lo come up wILI u
pIun beIore--¨
¨WuIL, IIsLen,¨ sIe cuL me oII, LIen sIook LIe doII. TIere wus
¤o¤
deIInILeIv someLIIng ruLLIIng InsIde.
We prIed LIe Lwo IuIves open, reveuIIng u smuIIer versIon oI
LIe sume doII nesLed InsIde. We opened LIuL one up, und LIen
unoLIer, peeIIng LIrougI severuI Iuvers oI ever-sIrInkIng
repIIcus unLII IInuIIv we opened up LIe IusL one und Iound u
mIcro-SD memorv curd.
---
VIoIeL und ¡ mude IL ubouL LIree puces InLo Mux`s oIIIce
beIore we boLI Iroze In our Lrucks us Mux`s cIuIr swIveIed
uround Lo reveuI SuInL AnLIonv sILLIng beIInd LIe desk, grInnIng
Irom eur Lo eur.
¡ drew LIe BrownIng und IeveIed IL uL IIs Ieud. ¨WIere`s
Mux?¨
A voIce beIInd us cuIIed, ¨HuII, IuII, LIe gung`s uII Iere.¨
¡ spun uround und suw Mux percIed on u sLooI uL LIe weL
bur, reudIng CrowIev`s ßool o[ Lies. ¨To wIuL do ¡ owe LIe
pIeusure?¨
¨We need vour IeIp,¨ ¡ repIIed, keepIng LIe gun LruIned on
AnLIonv. ¨TIe bIuckmuIIers Iuve CoIumbIne.¨
¨¡uscInuLIng,¨ Ie suId wILI u vuwn, LIen Iooked down uL IIs
Iund und sLurLed pIckIng mInIscuIe specks oI dIrL ouL Irom
under IIs IIngernuIIs. ¨WIuL`s IL goL Lo do wILI me?¨
¨SIe`s vour IrIend, Loo,¨ ¡ suId. ¨Don`L vou wunL Lo muke sure
sIe`s suIe.¨
¨SIe`s u pIuckv guI wILI u sLrong sense oI udvenLure,¨ Mux
repIIed dIsLrucLedIv.
¡ seL LIe gun down on Mux`s coIIee LubIe und produced LIe
mIcro-SD curd Irom mv pockeL. ¨You mIgIL be InLeresLed In
IeurIng wIuL`s on LIIs.¨
¤oq
He Look IL Irom me, LIen wuIked over Lo LIe wuII und pressed
IIgILIv on u puneI. ¡L sIId open mecIunIcuIIv, reveuIIng u IIuL
screen IIdden InsIde.
A vIdeo IIusIed on, sIowIng u deIormed, wreLcIed IIgure
LIuL mIgIL Iuve uL one LIme been Ben Gurzu sLrung up IIke u sIde
oI beeI, IowIIng In ugonv wIIIe u group oI men In bIuck
jumpsuILs LorLured IIm. BuL LIe Imuge quIckIv IIIckered und
cIunged Lo u compuLer deskLop dIspIuv us Mux InserLed LIe curd
InLo u sIoL on LIe sIde oI LIe screen.
He sIoL me u sIdewuvs grIn, IookIng verv pIeused wILI
IImseII Indeed.
MeunwIIIe, VIoIeL Iud sLeuILIIIv moved Lo pIck up LIe
BrownIng wIere ¡ IeIL IL. AnLIonv noLIced, Iowever, und us
soon sIe ruIsed IL, IIs Iund wus grIpped LIgILIv uround Ier
wrIsL, dIggIng IIs LIumb InLo u pressure poInL unLII sIe dropped
IL.
¨NIce Lrv,¨ Ie muLLered quIeLIv Lo Ier.
Mux und ¡ were obIIvIous Lo uII LIIs. ¡I ¡ Iud been puvIng
uLLenLIon, ¡ wouId Iuve reuIIzed LIuL VIoIeL wus noL LrvIng Lo uIm
LIe gun uL AnLIonv.
MeunwIIIe, LIe screen dIspIuved LIe memorv curd`s
conLenLs, wIIcI wus u sIngIe uudIo IIIe. He Lupped LIe IIIe`s
Icon, und LIe recordIng sLurLed Lo pIuv. ¡L wus u mun`s voIce,
verv deep und dIgILuIIv processed IIke u cIeup movIe eIIecL, so us
Lo obscure LIe speuker`s IdenLILv.
¨¡I vou wunL Lo see vour IrIend uguIn, meeL me LIe Sun
Hermes Purk LonIgIL. AL LIe eusLern end oI MIIIennIuI BrIdge,
¤:¤o um. BrIng DvIun MuxweII wILI vou. JusL IIm, no one eIse,
und come unurmed.¨
AILer IL IInIsIed, IL uuLomuLIcuIIv Iooped und repeuLed unLII
Mux LoucIed LIe screen uguIn Lo sIIence IL. ¨¡nLrIguIng cIoIce oI
¤o=
u IocuLIon,¨ wus uII Ie suId.
¨WIv`s LIuL?¨ ¡ usked.
¨TIuL`s wIere we IeId LIe memorIuI servIce Ior Ier moLIer
uILer sIe dIed.¨ He puused brIeIIv, LIen udded, ¨You know, LIe
IIrsL LIme sIe dIed.¨
¡ urcIed un evebrow. ¨WuIL, wIuL do vou meun?¨
¨TIe 'bouLIng uccIdenL,`¨ Mux repIIed, usIng IIs IIngers Lo
druw quoLuLIon murks In LIe uIr us Ie spoke.
SuddenIv, IL IeIL IIke LIe ground Iud dropped ouL Irom under
me. ¡ wus dumbIounded. ¨You meun JucIndu Ngo?¨
Mux`s eves grew wIde wILI surprIse und u smIIe spreud ucross
IIs Iuce. He Iooked over mv sIouIder Lo VIoIeL und sLurLed Lo
IuugI.
VIoIeL sLured uL me wILI Ier mouLI IungIng open. ¨¡
ussumed vou knew.¨
¡ wus reeIIng Irom LIIs reveIuLIon. WIv Iud CoIumbIne kepL
LIuL Irom me? Wus Ier connecLIon Lo JucIndu LIe reuson sIe
Iud been LurgeLed?
Mux cIupped IIs Iunds LogeLIer once Lo geL our uLLenLIon und
LIen Lupped on IIs wuLcI Iuce. ¨WeII, LIme`s u-wusLIn`. NoL LIuL
¡ don`L Iove suvorIng D`s uLLer IumIIIuLIon, buL we`re ubouL Lo
wuIk InLo wIuL Is ubsoIuLeIv guurunLeed Lo be u Lrup, und we
Iuve verv IILLIe LIme Lo devIse u proper sLruLegv oI uLLuck.¨
¤o6
(;. Pcst the Point o[ Pretenses
Mux, VIoIeL, AnLIonv, und ¡ rode LogeLIer In LIe VoIvo, wIIIe
un urmored cur currvIng u deLuII oI Abrusux securILv guurds
IoIIowed beIInd uL u decIdedIv IndIscreeL dIsLunce. ¡ Iud seen
LIem IoudIng up beIore we IeIL und knew LIev were puckIng
enougI IIrepower Lo muke u MIcIIgun mIIILIumun bIusI.
SomeIow LIIs knowIedge wus noL LIe IeusL bIL comIorLIng Lo me.
AnLIonv drove wILI Mux rIdIng sIoLgun und VIoIeL und me
In buck. We decIded Lo upproucI LIe MIIIennIuI BrIdge Irom
LIe norLI, sInce LIuL wouId be IeusL vIsIbIe rouLe und LIereIore
LIe besL beL Ior conceuIIng LIe cuvuIrv. TIIs meunL LukIng LIe
wIndIng, IeuvIIv-IoresLed rouds down Hermosu RuvIne. As we
enLered LIe purk, Mux wus IInIsIIng up on LIe pIone wILI LIe
Lwo mun scouL Leum Ie Iud senL uIeud oI us.
¨TIuL`s good,¨ Ie suId InLo IIs ceII, ¨jusL muke sure vou guvs
puII buck Iur enougI Lo sLuv ouL oI sIgIL. TIev probubIv won`L
sIow II LIev see vou LIere.¨
¨EvervLIIng okuv?¨ ¡ usked.
¨WeII no one`s LIere, so presumubIv LIev`re wuILIng Ior vou
Lo urrIve IIrsL so LIev cun be sure LIe cousL Is cIeur. Once we geL
¤o;
LIere, ¡`II Iuve LIe A-Teum Iung buck unLII LIev cruwI ouL oI LIe
woodwork.¨ He Iud u gIeeIuI LwInkIe In IIs eve, IIke u kId
unwruppIng u CIrIsLmus presenL. ¨TIIs purumIIILurv sLuII Is
Iun. ¡L`s gIvIng me uII sorLs oI Ideus Ior gumes uL LIe nexL
HIgIwuLer purLv.¨
¨¡oveIv,¨ VIoIeL grumbIed Lo me. ¨He`s gonnu geL us sIoL
wIIIe Ie`s pIuvIng commundo.¨
We puIIed oII LIe muIn roud onLo u nurrower dIrL roud LIuL
IoIIowed uIong LIe Lop edge oI u sLeep embunkmenL. We were
sLIII IIve mIIes Irom LIe Lurn oII LIuL wouId Luke us Lo MIIIennIuI
BrIdge. ¡ Iooked ouL LIe reur drIver`s sIde wIndow und suw Iow
LIe ground dropped uwuv sIurpIv und dIsuppeured InLo LIe
durkness.
SuddenIv, ¡ Ieurd unoLIer moLor rour Lo IIIe. ¡ Iooked
uround buL couIdn`L see unv oLIer cur, suve Ior LIe one keepIng
puce beIInd us.
¨WIere Is LIuL comIng Irom?¨ VIoIeL sIouLed.
¨¡ don`L know. ¡ don`L see unvLIIng,¨ AnLIonv repIIed us LIe
sound grew Iouder.
¨TIere!¨ Mux veIIed und poInLed ouL LIe wIndow. TIere wus
u durk sIupe LeurIng LIrougI LIe Lrees oII Lo our rIgIL, severuI
vurds uIeud oI us, u cur wILI ILs IIgILs oII. Even LIougI ¡
couIdn`L muke IL ouL cIeurIv, ¡ dIdn`L reuIIv need Lo; ¡ knew
exucLIv wIuL cur IL wus. And uL LIe speed we were goIng, we
were Ieuded rIgIL Ior u coIIIsIon wILI IL.
AnLIonv sIummed on LIe breuks, buL LIe bIue CIevv swerved
Lowurd us Lo compensuLe Ior our sudden deceIeruLIon. ¡L IIL us
squure In LIe IronL pussenger sIde, sendIng boLI curs crusIIng
down LIe embunkmenL.
---
¤o8
¡ woke up upsIde down und covered In gIuss. TurnIng Lo mv
rIgIL, ¡ suw LIuL VIoIeL wus sLIII sLrupped InLo Ier seuL,
unconscIous. Up IronL, neILIer Mux nor AnLIonv wus unvwIere
Lo be Iound.
¡ LrIed LIe seuL beIL, wIIcI wus jummed. DIggIng In mv
pockeLs, ¡ Iound mv knIIe und munuged Lo cuL mvseII Iree. TIe
wIndow nexL Lo me wus uIreudv mosLIv broken, so ¡ LwIsLed
mvseII uround und kIcked LIe remuInIng gIuss ouL oI LIe Irume.
¡ cruwIed Iree oI LIe wreckuge und sIowIv, puInIuIIv
cIumbered Lo mv IeeL. ¡L Look u momenL Ior mv Ieud Lo sLop
spInnIng enougI LIuL ¡ couId geL mv beurIngs. ¡ Iooked buck up
LIe embunkmenL LIuL we Iud roIIed down und suw no sIgn oI LIe
urmored cur LIuL Iud been IoIIowIng us. TIev were probubIv
conLInuIng uIong LIe roud we Iud been on, LrvIng Lo IInd un
uccess wuv LIuL wouId Ieud LIem down Lo us. ¡ IIgured LIuL guve
us muvbe IIve or Len mInuLes unLII LIev wouId cuLcI up, wIIcI
wus obvIousIv LIe poInL oI LIe umbusI.
ScunnIng LIe ureu, ¡ suw LIe bIue cur sILLIng u coupIe vurds
uwuv Irom LIe overLurned VoIvo, posILIoned beLween IL und LIe
rIver. ¡ookIng beIInd me, ¡ Iound Mux wus sLuggerIng uIong In
u duze ubouL Len vurds uwuv, jusL beIore LIe LreeIIne. He Iooked
dIsorIenLed und sIukv, buL uL IeusL Ie wus on IIs IeeL. ¡ cIrcIed
uround LIe cur Lo LIe drIver`s sIde und cIImbed IuIIwuv InLo LIe
buck Lo cuL VIoIeL Iree.
SuddenIv ¡ Ieurd u gun sIoL. AILer puIIIng mvseII buck ouL oI
LIe cur, ¡ Iooked up Lo see LIuL Mux Iud Irozen In IIs Lrucks und
wus sLurIng pusL me. ¡ IoIIowed IIs guze Lo LIe drIver cIImbIng
ouL oI LIe bIue cur wILI un oId WW¡¡ ¡uger druwn. TIe LuII oI
IIs LrencI couL IIuLLered beIInd IIm In LIe nIgIL uIr, und Ie Lore
oI IIs wIde brIm IuL LIuL Iud IuIIen Iorwurd und obscured IIs
¤o¤
vIsIon. TIIs guve me u cIeurer vIew oI IIs Iuce, wIIcI Iooked IIke
IL wus IILeruIIv ubouL Lo IuII oII oI IIs skuII IIke Ieprous skIn.
TIe muzzIe IIusIed und unoLIer sIoL rung ouL us Ie durLed
pusL me. TIe second sIoL sLIrred Mux Irom IIs sLupor, und Ie
quIckIv spun uround und Look IIIgIL InLo LIe LreeIIne.
¡ sprung up und LrIed Lo InLercepL LIe mun In LIe couL, buL
wus LuckIed mvseII bv SuInL AnLIonv, wIo pounced Irom ouL oI
nowIere. He wus on Lop oI me us soon us we IIL LIe ground.
¨You seL us up,¨ Ie growIed und munuged Lo Iund Lwo
crusIIng bIows Lo mv Iuce beIore ¡ couId geL mv Iund wILI LIe
knIIe Iree. ¡ jubbed bIIndIv InLo IIs sIde, repeuLedIv dIggIng LIe
smuII bIude InLo IIs skIn.
¡L wus enougI Lo LIrow IIm oII buIunce, und ¡ wus ubIe Lo
LoppIe IIm over und breuk Iree. ¡ run ubouL u dozen vurds
beIore mv Iegs guve ouL und ¡ Iuce pIunLed InLo undergrowLI.
A voIce cuIIed ouL Irom beIInd me, ¨D, Iook Lo vour IeIL - Len
o`cIock.¨ ¡ IIILed mv Ieud und cuugIL sIgIL oI someLIIng bIue
und sIInv IIdden In u sIrub. ReucIIng mv Iund LIrougI LIe
smuII brILLIe bruncIes, IgnorIng LIe puIn us LIev poked InLo mv
skIn, ¡ wrupped mv IIngers uround LIe cooI meLuI. ¡ puIIed LIe
objecL Iree und ruIsed IL up Lo exumIne IL In LIe moonIIgIL. ¡L
wus u gun wILI u cusIng cusL Irom bIue meLuI.
¡ spun uround Lo IInd AnLIonv sLuggerIng Lowurds me und
unIouded LIe cIIp uL IIm IrunLIcuIIv. ¡ wusn`L sure exucLIv Iow
munv oI mv sIoLs IIL, buL IL wus enougI Lo send IIm coIIupsIng
Lo IIs knees.
As AnLIonv dropped, Ie reveuIed VIoIeL IImpIng Lowurds us
beIInd IIm. SIe wuIked rIgIL pusL LIe crumpIed, IuckIng Iorm
oI Ier Iusbund und LIrew Ier urms uround me.
A weL, gurgIIng IuugI bubbIed up Irom AnLIonv`s LIrouL. ¨¡
knew vou were In on LIIs Irom LIe begInnIng. ¡ LrIed Lo wurn
¤1o
IIm, buL Ie wouIdn`L IIsLen.¨ He IeL Ioose u ruspv cougI,
spruvIng bIood onLo LIe ground, und udded bILLerIv, ¨EILIer
wouIdn`L IIsLen, or dIdn`L cure.¨
¨KIII IIm,¨ VIoIeL suId soILIv und cusL Ier eves down uL LIe
gun In mv Iund. ¨TIere`s unoLIer cIIp In LIe busIes.¨
¡ sLured uL Ier bIunkIv Ior u momenL, LIen sIe sIgIed und
kneIL down Lo IIsI LIe second cIIp ouL oI LIe undergrowLI.
¡ snupped LIe new cIIp InLo pIuce und cocked LIe sIIder Lo
Ioud u round InLo LIe cIumber. SIowIv, reIucLunLIv, ¡ ruIsed LIe
gun und pressed LIe burreI InLo AnLIonv`s LempIe. He bured IIs
LeeLI und IeL ouL u Ioud, eurLI-sIukIng rour LIuL ecIoed LIrougI
LIe nIgIL. ¡ puIIed LIe LrIgger.
He LoppIed buck und Iunded on LIe ground wILI u LIud.
VIoIeL resLed Ier weIgIL uguInsL me us ¡ cIIcked on LIe suIeLv und
sIId LIe gun InLo LIe wuIsL oI mv jeuns.
¨WIere Is evervone eIse?¨ sIe usked.
¨Mux Look oII LIuL wuv, buck up LIe embunkmenL. TIe
drIver Irom LIe bIue cur run uILer IIm.¨
¨Anv sIgn oI CoIumbIne?¨
¡ pusIed Ier buck genLIv. ¨¡ LIInk we`re pusL LIe poInL oI
preLenses.¨
¨¡ suppose so,¨ sIe repIIed wIIIe noncIuIunLIv IowerIng Ier
eves Lo LIe gun. ¨So vou`ve IIgured IL ouL, LIen?¨
¨EnougI oI IL,¨ ¡ suId und Look Ier Iund. ¨Come on, IeL`s go
IInd LIem beIore Mux`s goons sIow up.¨
---
We run deeper InLo LIe woods, IoIIowIng LIe LruII oI bIood
und broken bruncIes LIuL Mux und IIs pursuer Iud IeIL beIInd.
TIe upIIII cIImb und uneven LerruIn wouId Iuve mude LIIngs
¤11
rougI even II we weren`L Lore up. As IL wus, mv Iegs burned, mv
bodv ucIed, und mv vIsIon wus bIurred bv LIe consLunL LrIckIe oI
bIood roIIIng down mv IoreIeud und InLo mv eves. VIoIeL dIdn`L
Iook mucI beLLer, Ier IImp growIng more pronounced us sIe
Ieuned on me Ior supporL.
AILer ubouL IIILeen mInuLes, we IInuIIv Iound Mux sILLIng on u
smuII IundIng wIere LIe ground Iud IeveIed oII. He wus
propped up uguInsL u Lree, punLIng IeuvIIv, IIs Iuce cuked wILI
mud und bIood.
¨WIere Is sIe?¨ ¡ usked.
He poInLed Lo u spoL wIere LIe IundIng dropped oII sIurpIv u
Iew vurds IurLIer pusL IIs Lree. ¡ mude mv wuv over und Iooked
down. TIe corpse In LIe LrencI couL IuId spruwIed uL uL LIe
boLLom oI u sLeep, rockv embunkmenL. ¨¡ guess Ie IosL IIs
IooLIng,¨ Mux expIuIned.
We Lrekked buck Lo IInd und eusIer wuv down, VIoIeL sLIII
IeunIng on me wIIIe ¡ kepL Mux Lwo puces uIeud oI us, wIere ¡
couId keep LIe gun LruIned on IIm.
As we upproucIed LIe bodv, IL wus obvIous LIe neck wus
broken, wILI bone pokIng groLesqueIv LIrougI LIe LuugIL skIn
jusL us IL Iud In McPIerson. TIe ¡uger Iud Iunded on Lop oI u
rock u coupIe IeeL uwuv.
¡ kneIL down und IIIpped LIe bodv over. TIe experLIv uppIIed
IuLex mukeup wus uIreudv purLIuIIv rIpped oII, LIe buIbous
prosLIeLIc nose dungIIng oII Lo one sIde. ¡ peeIed LIe resL oI LIe
IuLex uwuv, exposIng CoIumbIne`s Iuce underneuLI.
TIe sIock In Mux`s Iuce wus puIpubIe. OI course, LIere
wusn`L even IeIgned sIock In VIoIeL`s Iuce, wIIcI wus cIIIIIngIv
emoLIonIess.
¨Mukeup und prosLIeLIcs,¨ ¡ expIuIned us ¡ Iunded Mux LIe
remnunLs oI LIe nose. ¨TIe suIL wus pudded Lo gIve Ier buIk,
¤1z
und LIe eIevuLor sIoes guve Ier IeIgIL.¨ ¡ kIcked Ier IeeL.
¨TIev`re probubIv wIuL kIIIed Ier, Loo.¨
¨TIev cerLuInIv couIdn`L Iuve mude runnIng ucross LIuL
IncIIne unv eusIer,¨ Mux ugreed.
SomeLIIng bIue spurkIed In LIe moonIIgIL Irom uround
CoIumbIne`s neck. ¡ pIcked IL up und reuIIzed IL wus u suppIIre
neckIuce, uImosL IdenLIcuI Lo LIe one JucIndu Iud been IoIdIng
In mv dreum, buL Ior LIe coIor oI LIe sLone. ¡L even Iud LIe
crowned gIobe svmboI eLcIed onLo LIe buck.
¡ sLood up und IeId IL ouL Ior LIe Lwo oI LIem Lo see.
¨TIuL wus LIe neckIuce Ier moLIer IeIL Ior Ier In LIe doII,¨
VIoIeL expIuIned.
¨TIe neckIuce In JucIndu`s Iund wus meunL Lo send vou u
messuge,¨ ¡ suId Lo Mux. ¨¡L`s jusL Loo bud vou dIdn`L IIgure ouL
evervLIIng IL wus meunL Lo suv.¨
Mux sIook IIs Ieud In dIsbeIIeI und opened IIs mouLI, buL
uII Ie couId munuge Lo suv wus u sIngIe word: ¨WIv?¨
VIoIeL cIImed In bILLerIv, ¨Muvbe IL Ius someLIIng Lo do wILI
LIe IucL LIuL vou IeIped Ier moLIer ubundon Ier und IId LIuL
knowIedge Irom Ier Ior veurs despILe beIng one oI LIe Iew
peopIe In LIIs worId sIe couId supposedIv LrusL.¨
Mux sIrugged upoIogeLIcuIIv. ¨No, ¡ geL LIuL. ¡ jusL meunL, ¡
don`L geL wIv uII LIIs smoke und mIrrors - LIe dIsguIse, LIe bIue
cur.¨
¡L wus mv Lurn Lo jump In. ¨¡L`s IIke vou suId - ImugIne
vou`re rIcI und bored, wIuL wouId vou do Ior Iun? You Iuve un
overucLIve ImugInuLIon, u IIuIr Ior LIeuLrIcs, und u pusL rIddIed
wILI ubuse und ubundonmenL. You`re IIke u cIIId sLuck In
urresLed deveIopmenL, und vou LruIv beIIeve IL wIen someone
LeIIs vou LIuL IIIe Is jusL u gume.¨
Mux cIuckIed, LrvIng desperuLeIv Lo Iung onLo IIs musk oI
¤1¤
prucLIced IndIIIerence, buL LIe grIeI LwIsLed IIs Iuce InLo
someLIIng puLIeLIc und deLesLubIe. He dropped Lo IIs knees
und crudIed IIs IrIend`s IIIeIess Ieud, und Ior LIe IIrsL LIme ever ¡
reuIIzed ¡ wus wILnessIng u one-Iundred-percenL genuIne
Iumun reucLIon Irom IIm.
¡ gIunced up und suw LIe LwInkIIng oI IIusIIIgILs uIong LIe
Lop oI u dIsLunL rIdge, IeudIng our wuv.
¨We beLLer move,¨ ¡ suId Lo LIe Lwo oI LIem. ¡ Iowered mv
Ieud Lo gIve CoIumbIne`s bodv one IusL IorIorn Iook, LIen
noLIced LIuL LIe ¡uger wus mIssIng.
¡ Iooked up jusL In LIme Lo see VIoIeL pressIng IL InLo Mux`s
LempIe.
SIe squeezed LIe LrIgger. ¡L cIIcked; LIe cIumber wus empLv.
¨WIuL LIe IeII ure vou doIng?¨ ¡ veIIed.
¨WIuL do vou LIInk ¡`m doIng?¨ sIe repIIed. ¨GIve me vour
gun.¨
¨No,¨ ¡ bIurLed ouL, more In surprIse LIun proLesL. ¨He`s
unurmed und deIenseIess. We`re noL goIng Lo jusL sIooL IIm In
coId bIood.¨
¨WIuL do vou suggesL we do wILI IIm?¨ VIoIeL usked, Ier
voIce cruckIng In exusperuLIon. ¨He Is goIng Lo kIII me LIe IIrsL
cIunce Ie geLs - probubIv vou, Loo.¨
Mux nodded IIs Ieud und crucked u rueIuI grIn LIrougI LIe
bIood drIppIng down IIs Iuce. ¨¡ couId denv IL, buL IonesLIv,
wIo um ¡ LrvIng Lo IooI?¨
¡ Iooked down uL LIe bIue gun In mv Iund conLempIuLIveIv.
¨No,¨ ¡ IInuIIv suId, LrvIng Lo sound us resoIuLe us possIbIe. ¨¡
need IIm uIIve.¨
VIoIeL Iooked uL me IncreduIousIv; Mux, curIousIv.
¨He Ius Lo sIow me wIuL`s IIdden under LIe AsLerIon
sLoruge IucIIILv In Room ¤¤.¨
¤1q
(8. Stopl
We were ubIe Lo drIve rIgIL up Lo LIe AsLerIon IucIIILv wILIouL
unv InLerIerence Irom securILv, wIIcI ¡ suw us sImuILuneousIv
good und bud. Good becuuse ¡ dIdn`L ucLuuIIv Iuve u pIun Ior
deuIIng wILI LIem oLIer LIun puLLIng u gun Lo Mux`s Ieud und
pruvIng LIuL LIev wunLed Lo keep IIm uIIve more LIun LIev
wunLed Lo keep me ouL. Bud becuuse ¡ IeIL IuIrIv cerLuIn IL meunL
we were wuIkIng InLo u Lrup.
¨Open LIe door,¨ ¡ suId Lo Mux.
¨¡ don`L Iuve mv kev,¨ Mux repIIed, sLurIng bIunkIv uL me.
¨TIen Iow cun ¡ geL In?¨ ¡ usked.
¨WIv don`L vou Lrv usIng vours?¨ Ie suId In u Lone LIuL
suggesLed LIe unswer sIouId Iuve been obvIous.
¡ dug LIe Abrusux kevcurd ouL oI mv juckeL pockeL und
swIped IL In LIe curd reuder. TIe door opened sIowIv wIIIe
emILLIng u Iow mecIunIcuI buzzIng sound.
TIe LIree oI us wuIked InLo LIe cuvernous Iobbv und Iound
LIe sume eIderIv recepLIonIsL sILLIng beIInd Ier desk, noL
IookIng up Irom Ier knILLIng even Lo ucknowIedge our presence.
BeIInd Ier, LIe wuII oI CCTV screens were uII sIowIng bIuck-
¤1=
und-wIILe sLuLIc. SIe dIdn`L seem Lo noLIce LIem, eILIer.
AL LIe Iur rIgIL end oI LIe room were LIree meLuI doors, eucI
one dIIIerenLIv coIored: LIe one on LIe IeIL wus red, und ¡
recognIzed LIuL us IeudIng Lo LIe IuIIwuv wILI LIe operuLIng
room wIere ¡`d been IusL LIme. TIe mIddIe door wus wIILe, und
LIe rIgIL one wus bIuck.
Mux wuIked over Lo LIe bIuck door und opened IL ouLwurd,
IoIdIng IL Ior us Lo enLer. TIe door Ied down u IIIgIL oI sLuIrs. ¡
Iooked uL VIoIeL, wIo Iooked sIIenLIv buck uL me, und LIen
sLurLed down LIe sLuIrs. VIoIeL IoIIowed beIInd me, und Mux
brougIL up LIe reur.
TIe sLuIrweII conLInued on Ior severuI IIIgILs, enougI LIuL ¡
IosL counL. WIen ¡ IInuIIv reucIed LIe boLLom, ¡ Iound u bIue
door wILI LIe HIgIwuLer gIobe und crown sIgII druwn In meLuIIIc
sIIver puInL. ¡L wus modIIIed, Iowever, so LIuL LIe crown wus
posILIoned beIow wILI ILs upex overIuppIng LIe gIobe, us II
peneLruLIng IL suggesLIveIv. A smuII number : wus puInLed beIow
IL. As ¡ opened LIe door, ¡ IeIL u bIusL oI coId uIr.
We enLered InLo u Iong IuIIwuv wIose wuIIs were IIned wILI
compuLer rucks IIIIed wILI servers, swILcIes, cubIes, und vurIous
oLIer LecI equIpmenL. BoLI LIe ceIIIng und IIoors were soIId
concreLe, remIndIng me uncomIorLubIv oI u IuIIouL sIeILer. TIe
IuIIwuv exLended IIke LIIs boLI dIrecLIons us Iur us ¡ couId see.
Mux pusIed us usIde Lo Luke LIe Ieud once uguIn. He sLurLed
down LIe IuIIwuv Lo LIe IeIL. ¨SLuv cIose. You don`L wunL Lo geL
IosL down Iere.¨
¨WIuL Is uII LIIs sLuII?¨ VIoIeL usked.
¨TIIs Is Abrusux`s server Iurm,¨ Mux expIuIned.
¨So LIIs Is wIere vou keep uII LIe duLu vou sLeuI Irom vour
cusLomers wIen vou spv on LIem?¨ ¡ suId.
¨Yes, D, LIIs Is wIere we keep IL,¨ Mux repIIed puLronIzIngIv,
¤16
LIen Lurned rIgIL ubrupLIv wIere LIere wus u breuk In LIe server
rucks. He snuked u LwIsLed puLI LIrougI LIe IubvrInLIIne ruck
seLup.
¨TIIs pIuce Is IIke u muze,¨ VIoIeL remurked.
Mux Lurned uround und IIusIed Ier un cre-uou-liddinq-me
Iook. ¨TIuL`s LIe Ideu.¨
¨How do vou know vou`re goIng LIe rIgIL wuv?¨ ¡ usked.
Mux sIgIed. ¨Becuuse ¡ Iuve LIe wuv memorIzed. ¡ know
exucLIv LIe number oI sLeps Lo Luke, wIIcI dIrecLIon Lo Lurn,
wIIcI puLI Lo IoIIow. ¡I we don`L go precIseIv LIe rIgIL wuv, we
couId end up IosL down Iere Ior Iours, muvbe even duvs. OI
course, II ¡ Iuve Lo breuk mv concenLruLIon und unswer vour
quesLIons everv IIve seconds, LIuL`s exucLIv wIuL`s goIng Lo
Iuppen.¨
We IoIIowed IIm sIIenLIv LIrougI u coupIe more Lurns.
¨So,¨ ¡ repeuLed, ¨Iow do vou know vou`re goIng LIe rIgIL
wuv?¨
He grouned und moved quIckIv Lo LIe end oI LIe purLIcuIur
corrIdor we were IoIIowIng. He swepL usIde u LIIck sLrund oI
bunded duLu cubIes Lo reveuI u smuII squure pIuLe sLumped wILI
LIe InverLed crown und gIobe sIgII und LIe number z. ¨As Iong
us we keep seeIng LIe murkers, we know we`re goIng LIe rIgIL
wuv.¨
---
AILer Lwo Iours oI IoIIowIng Mux LIrougI LIIs IIgI-LecI
muze, we reucIed u Iurge LrIunguIur cIeurIng ubouL LwenLv IeeL
bv LwenLv IeeL. An ovuI-sIuped bencI suL In LIe mIddIe,
upIoIsLered In bIuck crusIed veIveL. On LIe Iur wuII wus
unoLIer murker wILI LIe HIgIwuLer sIgII und LIe number :(.
¤1;
Mux Look u seuL und moLIoned Ior us Lo do LIe sume. ¨We
need u resL,¨ Ie suId.
TIe LIree oI us squeezed onLo LIe bencI LogeLIer uII LIgIL
und cozv - me In LIe mIddIe, VIoIeL und Mux on eILIer sIde oI
me, boLI oI LIem doubLIess runnIng LIrougI u sImIIur cuIcuIus,
LrvIng Lo deLermIne wIuL wIII be LIeIr besL opporLunILv Lo oII LIe
oLIer, und probubIv uIso me In LIe process.
AILer severuI mInuLes oI Lense sIIence, Mux IInuIIv suId, ¨So
McPIerson probubIv dIdn`L Iuve unvLIIng Lo do wILI IL, LIen?¨
¨No,¨ ¡ unswered. ¨¡ LIInk CoIumbIne IubrIcuLed IIs
InvoIvemenL so sIe couId pIL Ier Lwo enemIes uguInsL eucI
oLIer.¨
Mux`s IIps LwIsLed InLo u grIn oI begrudgIng udmIruLIon. ¨¡
suppose ¡ sIouId IeeI bud ubouL oIIIng poor Jumes LIen, buL
IrunkIv ¡`m more Impressed wILI CoIumbIne. ¡ dIdn`L LIInk LIe
kId Iud IL In Ier.¨
He LIen Ieuned Iorwurd und Iooked pusL me uL VIoIeL. ¨And
so Iow do vou IIL InLo uII LIIs?¨
VIoIeL nurrowed Ier eves und gIured dIsduInIuIIv uL IIm.
¨You reuIIv don`L remember me?¨
Mux sIook IIs Ieud, buL perIups u IILLIe unconvIncIngIv.
VIoIeL Lurned Ier guze Lo me wILI un umused smIrk. ¨You
know, don`L vou?¨
¡ nodded. ¨¡ LIInk ¡`ve IIgured IL ouL.¨
Mux Iooked uL me quesLIonIngIv. ¨PIeuse, enIIgILen me.¨
¡ Look u deep breuLI, suvorIng mv HercuIe PoIroL momenL.
---
TIe womun wIo cuIIed IerseII VIoIeL wus born In wIuL wus
LIen CzecIosIovukIu IIve veurs beIore LIe VeIveL RevoIuLIon.
¤18
UnIorLunuLeIv, LIe IuII oI LIe ¡ron CurLuIn dIdn`L do mucI Lo
Improve LIe IInuncIuI IorLunes oI Ier IumIIv. TIe oIdesL oI seven
sIsLers, IL IeII on Ier Lo provIde Ior LIe oLIers - Ier IuLIer wus
dIsubIed, Ier moLIer Iud dIed durIng LIe bIrLI oI Ier voungesL
sIsLer. SIe sLruggIed Lo buIunce work, coIIege, und Iome IIIe, buL
soon becume overwIeImed und wunLed noLIIng more LIun Lo
escupe.
WIen sIe wus 1¤, sIe wus upproucIed In u cIub bv u
gIumorous oIder womun wIo oIIered Lo seL Ier up wILI u
modeIIng job In LIe UnILed SLuLes. SIe wouId be ubIe Lo send
buck exLru monev Ior Ier IumIIv wIIIe suvIng up enougI Lo puv
Ior LIe resL oI Ier scIooIIng.
Upon reucIIng AmerIcu, sIe wus Luken Lo u dereIIcL IoLeI
wIere sIe essenLIuIIv becume u prIsoner. TIere were ubouL u
dozen gIrIs uII LogeLIer sLuvIng LIere Irom dIIIerenL purLs oI LIe
worId. MosLIv LIev were kepL under LIe wuLcI oI u IundIuI oI
vIoIenL LIugs wIo dIdn`L speuk LIeIr Iunguuges or cure Lo Lrv.
OccusIonuIIv, LIe mun wIo owned LIe broLIeI wouId come bv Lo
cIeck on LIIngs. He wus u voung mun, Iundsome und uIwuvs
verv weII dressed, excepL Ior IIs Iunnv red sIoes.
SeveruI LImes u nIgIL LIev wouId be Iorced Lo dress up In
rIdIcuIous underweur und puruded ouL Lo u room wIere sLrunge
men wouId Iook uL LIem IIke LIev were cuLLIe, sIzIng LIem up us
objecLs, oILen wILIouL even beIng ubIe Lo Iook LIem In LIe eves.
WIen sIe wus pIcked, sIe wouId IoIIow one oI LIe men buck
InLo u prIvuLe room Lo be used Iowever Ie wunLed. ¡I sIe wus
Iuckv, uII Ie`d demund wus u sLruIgIL Iuck und IL`d be over quIck.
BuL Ior some men, LIuL wusn`L enougI - LIev wunLed Lo IIL Ier,
Lo cuII Ier degrudIng numes, Lo smeur Ier In IIILI und bInd Ier
IIke u sIuve. TIev wunLed Lo muke Ier crv, Lo muke Ier suIIer, Lo
IeeI IIke LIev Iud power over Ier.
¤1¤
SomeLImes, wIen sIe couIdn`L sIeep, sIe wouId IIe uIone In
LIe durkness und LeII IerseII LIuL sIe wus beIng punIsIed Ior
wunLIng Lo escupe Ier IumIIv.
EvenLuuIIv, u mun cume uIong Ior wIom sImpIe puIn wusn`L
enougI; Ie Iud Lo gIve Ier someLIIng Lo remember IIm bv.
WIen LIe broLIeI`s owner suw Ier scurs, Ie kIcked Ier ouL onLo
LIe sLreeLs. SIe wus IeIL uIone und uIruId In u counLrv sIe dIdn`L
know IIIIed wILI peopIe sIe couIdn`L LrusL. BuL sIe wus Iree.
SIe dved Ier IuIr und sLurLed cuIIIng IerseII VIoIeL,
LrunsIormIng IerseII InLo u new person. ¡n LIme Ier EngIIsI
Improved, und sIe begun workIng uL LIe women`s sIeILer LIuL
Iud Luken Ier In. TIrougI Ier work, sIe meL oLIer gIrIs wIo
Iud been Iured uwuv Irom LIeIr Iomes bv IuIse promIses und
Iorced InLo sIuverv. And evenLuuIIv, sIe Ieurned LIe nume oI LIe
mun wIo wus responsIbIe Ior brIngIng LIem Lo LIIs counLrv.
SIe sLurLed movIng In socIuI cIrcIes LIuL wouId puL Ier In
conLucL wILI peopIe wIo knew DvIun MuxweII. EurIv on, sIe
beIrIended u voung gIrI wIose IuLIer wus one oI MuxweII`s mosL
ImporLunL InvesLors. TIev Iud u IoL In common; noL IeusL oI
wIIcI, boLI women used Iuke numes Lo IeIp LIem IorgeL wIere
LIev cume Irom. TIrougI LIIs IrIendsIIp, sIe wus InLroduced Lo
LIe mun wIo worked us MuxweII`s cIIeI enIorcer. TIev begun u
romunLIc reIuLIonsIIp und were soon murrIed.
TIrougI LIese connecLIons, sIe Ieurned more ubouL Ier
enemv und dIscovered LIe weuknesses In IIs urmor. SIowIv,
meLIodIcuIIv, sIe Iormed Ier pIun, wuILIng Ior Ier perIecL
opporLunILv.
TIe IInuI mIssIng pIece cume wIen unoLIer womun wILI u
Iuke nume wuIked InLo VIoIeL`s sIeILer - u womun wIo VIoIeL
dIscovered used Lo be numed JucIndu.
SIe Iound one oI MuxweII`s dIsconLenLed IIeuLenunLs - u
¤zo
socIuI mIsIIL wILI deIusIons oI grundeur numed Ben Gurzu - wIo
couId be eusIIv munIpuIuLed bv u beuuLIIuI womun. SIe pIunLed
LIe Ideu oI bIuckmuII In IIs Ieud und convInced IIm IL wus IIs
own.
TIen sIe conIronLed Ier IrIend CoIumbIne wILI LIe LruLI
ubouL Ier moLIer. AILer LIuL, IL dIdn`L Luke mucI Lo convInce
Ier Lo seek revenge uguInsL boLI JucIndu und Mux. ¡L wus
VIoIeL`s Ideu Lo enIIsL LIe journuIIsL PuLrIck Cobb Lo IInd JucIndu
und kIII Ier. CoIumbIne suggesLed reucIIng ouL Lo ¡IIIun ¡vncI,
wIo wouId be un eusIIv conLroIIed puwn. CoIumbIne uIso cume
up wILI LIe more drumuLIc IIuIrs In LIe pIun - purLIv becuuse u
IILLIe smoke und mIrrors wouId IeIp IIde LIeIr IdenLILIes, buL
mosLIv becuuse sIe LIougIL IL wus Iun.
OI course, Gurzu beIIeved uII LIeIr Ideus Lo be IIs own, buL
LIen Ie never reuIIzed wIuL VIoIeL wus reuIIv up Lo. TIe
bIuckmuII pIoL wus supposed Lo IuII - sIe knew LIuL Mux wouId
never puv. Cobb wus supposed Lo go pubIIc wILI LIe
InIormuLIon; unIorLunuLeIv, Cobb Lurned ouL Lo be unreIIubIe.
So VIoIeL Iound someone new Lo sLep In und IIII IIs roIe.
Someone suuve, wILLv, und devusLuLIngIv Iundsome.
Soon LIIngs begun unruveIIng uccordIng Lo pIun, und VIoIeL
und CoIumbIne seL up SuInL AnLIonv und McPIerson us LIeIr
scupegouLs, IopIng Lo Iorce Mux InLo dIrecL conIIIcL wILI LIe
onIv peopIe wIo wouId Iuve u IegILImuLe sIoL uL brIngIng IIm
down. EILIer McPIerson wouId crusI Mux, or Mux wouId wIpe
ouL McPIerson und Iuce reLrIbuLIon Irom LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv.
TIIngs Iudn`L necessurIIv gone down LIuL smooLIIv, buL
VIoIeL Iud ImprovIsed IIke u juzz musLer und wus now so cIose Lo
Ier revenge LIuL sIe couId LusLe IL. SIe Iud beuLen IIm uL IIs
own gume, deveIoped u Lrup us eIuboruLe us unv Ie couId devIse
und mude IIm wuIk rIgIL InLo IL.
¤z1
BuL wus IL reuIIv LIuL sImpIe?
No sooner LIun ¡ Iud puL LIe pIeces LogeLIer dId ¡ sLurL Lo see
gupIng IoIes In IL.
¡ meun, reuIIv - u beuuLIIuI und mvsLerIous womun needs me
(cnd onlu me) Lo IeIp Ier exucL revenge on LIe monsLer wIo
ruIned Ier IIIe? BuL wIv me oI uII peopIe?
CIeurIv, LIere ure more dungerous ussussIns In LIe worId
LIun u suburbunILe journuIIsL wIo cun bureIv cIunge u IIuL. HeII,
LIere ure even beLLer journuIIsLs - cerLuInIv Iur more credIbIe
ones.
Wus ¡ u prIme mover In LIIs cIuIn oI evenLs or jusL VIoIeL`s
puwn? Am ¡ specIuI, un InLegruI pIece oI LIe puzzIe, or u rube
wIo Iuppened Lo be In LIe rIgIL pIuce uL LIe rIgIL LIme? Too
mucI Is IeIL ununswered bv LIe IuLLer, wIIIe LIe Iormer IeeIs
IoIIow und seII-uggrundIzIng.
Jesus, LIe wuv ¡ LeII IL, sIe onIv ever murrIed AnLIonv us u
cuIcuIuLed move Lo IeIp Ier geL Lo Mux. ¡s IL reuIIv LIuL
ImpossIbIe Ior Ier Lo Iuve genuIneIv Ioved IIm, or Is LIuL jusL
more convenIenL Ior me Lo beIIeve?
And wIuL ubouL LIe dreums?
---
¨You`re over-LIInkIng LIIs uII Loo mucI, vou know,¨ Mux suId
us we pussed LIe ¤z
nd
murker.
¨WIuL do vou meun?¨ ¡ usked.
¨You wunLed Lo know wIo LIe deud womun In mv uIrpIune
wus, wIo kIIIed Ier, und wIv sIe dIed. CIeck. You wunLed Lo
uncover LIe IdenLILIes oI mv bIuckmuIIers, und vou`ve done LIuL,
Loo. You wunLed Lo uncover u dumnIng secreL LIuL exposes me
Ior LIe vIIe bIuck-IeurLed vIIIuIn ¡ um wIIIe sImuILuneousIv
¤zz
mukIng u nume Ior vourseII us u journuIIsL, und ¡`d suv LIuL`s u
bIg IuL cIeck on LIuL one, Loo. HeII, vou`ve even goL LIe gIrI,¨ Ie
suId und poInLed uL VIoIeL.
¨¡ook,¨ Ie conLInued, ¨¡ geL IL. You IeeI IIke vou`ve been
used, vou`re upseL und conIused, und vou`re IopIng LIuL
wIuLever vou IInd Iere wIII someIow gIve vou unswers. ¡ don`L
know wIuL vou expecL - u pIIe oI deud Iookers, u compuLer
Iucked InLo LIe WIILe House, LIe ¡ocI Ness MonsLer, or LIe
new Number Two. BuL LIere`s no mun beIInd LIe curLuIn
wuILIng Lo muke vour dreums come Lrue or expIuIn LIe mvsLerIes
oI LIe unIverse. TIuL`s noL Iow IIIe works. ¡IIe Is messv und
conIusIng und vou jusL Iuve Lo be Iuppv wILI wIuLever jov und
meunIng vou cun scrupe ouL oI IL.
¨So quIL wIIIe vou`re uIeud. Run oII LogeLIer, Iuve IoLs oI
pussIonuLe cruzv-person sex und muke IILLIe IouI-mouLIed,
purpIe-IuIred bubIes. ¡I vou Lurn uround rIgIL now und rIde oII
InLo LIe sunseL, LIen vou`ve won.¨
We rounded unoLIer corner Lo IInd ourseIves In unoLIer
Iurge cIeurIng, LIIs one comIng Lo u deud end wILI u puIr oI gIunL
meLuI doors LInLed bIue on LIe Iur wuII. ¡n LIe mIddIe oI LIe
cIeuvuge beLween LIe Lwo doors, LIere wus u bIg meLuI wIeeI LIe
sIze oI u bIg rIg`s Iubcup wILI LIe HIgIwuLer sIgII und LIe
number ((.
¡ unswered, ¨¡uck IL, we`ve come LIIs Iur, mIgIL us weII see
LIIs LIIng LIrougI.¨
¡ crossed over Lo LIe doors und pIuced boLI mv Iunds on
eILIer sIde oI LIe wIeeI. ¡ IeIL surge oI energv comIng Irom
beIInd LIe meLuI, und everv IuIr on mv bodv sLood on end.
¡ roLuLed LIe wIeeI u quurLer-Lurn counLer-cIockwIse unLII ¡
IeIL IL cIIck InLo pIuce. ¡ Ieurd u sudden bursL oI uIr, IIke u
IermeLIc seuI beIng broken, und wuLcIed us LIe doors sIowIv
¤z¤
purLed.
Mv eurs rung wILI u pIercIng sIrIek oI Ieedbuck, IoIIowed bv
LIe cruckIe oI sLuLIc und u LInnv, mecIunIcuI IuugI.
As ¡ sLepped LIrougI LIe open door, ¡ Ieurd u voIce cuII ouL:
¨SLop!¨
¤zq
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¤z6
(o. ¨Cured¨ Isn't cn Accurcte Term
I sit in the dcrl thecter, lcuqhinq cs the old projector clcnls
loudlu behind me.
Dn screen, I cm luinq in bed ct the Motleu Iool. The sound
o[ someone lnoclinq on our door ucles me up. I roll oter cnd
see c ncled uomcn lcuinq next to me. She hcs purple hcir cnd
c qunmetcl hcl[-mcsl. I stcnd up cnd slip on mu boxers cs I
sloulu stcqqer toucrds the door.
As soon cs I crccl it open, Detectite Axelrod cnd c tecm o[
uni[ormed o[[icers storm the room. Tuo o[ them slcm me
cqcinst the ucll cnd hcndcu[[ me. As theu spin me cround, I
see thct theu hcte rolled the uomcn oter. She is decd - her
necl hcs been clecrlu brolen. Her hcir [clls o[[ her hecd, cnd I
reclize it ucs just c uiq.
She's not uho I thouqht she ucs.
Then theu remote the mcsl, cnd I see her [cce.
¨Columbine,¨ I uhisper.
¨Is this recllu hcppeninq,¨ I qrocn in the thecter, ¨or is it
cnother drecm?
¤z;
---
Amv puIIed Ier cur InLo LIe Ouk HIII PsvcIIuLrIc CenLer
vIsILor IoL. On Ier wuv InLo LIe buIIdIng, sIe IIusIed Ier
Morninq-Stcr press credenLIuIs Lo LIe guurd uL LIe IronL desk.
SIe wus meL bv u bIonde docLor In Ier eurIv IorLIes wuILIng In
LIe Iobbv.
¨Amv TIompson?¨ LIe docLor usked wILI u smIIe.
¨Yes,¨ Amv unswered und sIook LIe womun`s Iund.
¨¡`m Dr. Suru SoderquIsL. PIeused Lo meeL vou,¨ sIe repIIed
wurmIv, IeLLIng Ier guze IInger momenLurIIv us sIe Iooked Amv
over, upprecIuLIng LIe wuv Ier LIgIL rIbbed sweuLer cIung Lo Ier
curves. NoLIcIng LIIs, Amv sLurLed Lo IIdgeL osLenLuLIousIv wILI
Ier engugemenL rIng.
Suru conLInued us sIe Ied Amv Lo LIe eIevuLors, ¨¡ Iope vou
dIdn`L Iuve Loo mucI LroubIe IIndIng us up Iere. ¡L`s quILe u
drIve Irom LIe cILv.¨
¨NoL uL uII, u nIce scenIc drIve LIrougI LIe mounLuIns wus
ucLuuIIv u weIcome cIunge. Mv cur wus In LIe sIop Ior u week
und u IuII, und ¡ wus sLuck LukIng pubIIc LrunsporLuLIon.¨
TIe eIevuLor door opened und LIe Lwo women enLered. Suru
pusIed LIe buLLon Ior LIe LIIrd IIoor, LIen repIIed, ¨AI, ¡
ucLuuIIv used Lo know LIe cILv`s LrunsIL svsLem preLLv weII. ¡ Look
LIe ¡IgIL RuII everv duv buck wIen ¡ wus goIng Lo SLuLe - one
LrunsIer, qo mInuLes Lo cumpus und qo mInuLes buck. AL IeusL IL
guve me u cIunce Lo cuLcI up on mv reudIng, so IL wusn`L uII bud
- once ¡ Ieurned Lo deuI wILI uII LIe cruzIes LuIkIng Lo LIemseIves
und pervs sLurIng down mv Lop.¨ SIe cIuckIed und IuId u Iund
genLIv on Amv`s Ioreurm.
TIe eIevuLor urrIved. Amv sIIILed uncomIorLubIv, buL LrIed
Lo IIde IL wILI un InduIgenL smIIe. ¨Anvwuvs, ¡`m sure vou`re
¤z8
busv so we cun jusL geL rIgIL down Lo IL.¨
¨OI course,¨ Suru suId. ¨He`s rIgIL up Iere.¨
SIe Ied Ier down u Iong IuIIwuv IIned wILI Ieuvv meLuI
doors IeudIng InLo puLIenLs` rooms, IInuIIv sLoppIng In IronL oI
one murked ((. ¡L Iud no wIndow, buL u smuII cIosed-cIrcuIL
monILor wus mounLed on LIe wuII besIde IL, dIspIuvIng u bIue-
LInLed vIdeo Ieed oI LIe room`s InLerIor.
¡L wus smuII buL cIeun und spurseIv IurnIsIed wILI one bed, u
smuII wooden LubIe In LIe corner, und u muLcIIng wooden cIuIr.
A sLuck oI noLebooks wus pIIed neuLIv on Lop oI LIe LubIe.
A mun suL on LIe edge oI LIe bed sLurIng ouL u wIndow In LIe
Iur wuII. He Iud Iong bIuck unkempL IuIr und u LIIck bIuck
beurd, boLI sLreuked wILI IInLs oI eurIv gruv.
¨WIen we spoke over LIe pIone vou seemed Lo uIreudv know
u bIL ubouL IIm,¨ Suru suId, ¨buL ¡`II jusL gIve vou u quIck run
down oI LIe busIcs.¨
Amv nodded wIIIe puIIIng ouL Ier pIone und swILcIIng on
LIe voIce recorder IuncLIon.
Suru conLInued, ¨He wus urresLed LwenLv-LIree veurs ugo.
TIe poIIce Iound IIm In u moLeI room wILI u deud prosLILuLe In
IIs bed; Ie Iud broken Ier neck. Upon subsequenL psvcIIuLrIc
evuIuuLIon, IL wus deLermIned LIuL Ie wus suIIerIng Irom u
number oI severe menLuI dIsorders. ¡ won`L bore vou wILI LIe
jurgon, vou cun puII wIuL vou need Irom LIe IIIe. SuIIIce IL Lo
suv Ie Iud uImosL no grusp on reuIILv In unv meunIngIuI sense oI
LIe word. He wus Iound noL guIILv bv reuson oI InsunILv und
commILLed InLo psvcIIuLrIc cure. He`s been wILI us ever sInce.¨
Amv nodded uIong Lo Suru`s expIunuLIon, LvpIng noLes onLo
Ier pIone`s kevbourd wIIIe LIe recorder kepL roIIIng. ¨So Iow
does LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv IIL InLo uII LIIs?¨
¨BeIore IIs urresL, Ie Iud been LIe recIpIenL oI u grunL Irom
¤z¤
LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv. ¡n IIs IIIness, Ie convInced IImseII LIuL
someIow LIev Iud IIm Irumed Ior LIe murder, IIke IL wus some
neIurIous conspIrucv - LIe deLuIIs oI wIIcI were uIwuvs vugue
und InconsIsLenL Irom one duv Lo LIe nexL. TIe Ironv Is LIuL LIe
HIgIwuLer SocIeLv Iuve been IIs onIv reuI beneIucLors. TIev`ve
puId Ior IIm Lo sLuv und be LreuLed Iere so LIuL Ie ucLuuIIv Iud u
sIoL uL recoverv ruLIer LIun roLLIng uwuv In CounLv.¨
¨And now Ie`s cured?¨ Amv prompLed.
¨`Cured` Isn`L reuIIv un uccuruLe Lerm.¨ Suru correcLed. ¨HIs
IIIness Ius been successIuIIv LreuLed Lo LIe poInL wIere we`re
conIIdenL LIuL Ie Is no Ionger u dunger Lo IImseII or oLIers.¨
¨BuL vou`re reIeusIng IIm,¨ Amv pressed.
¨Yes,¨ Suru suId wILI u nod. ¨He`s reudv Lo sLurL re-
ussImIIuLIng InLo LIe ouLsIde worId.¨
Amv Iooked buck uL LIe screen. TIe mun Iud sLood up und
moved over Lo LIe LubIe. He wus reurrungIng LIe noLebooks, IIs
movemenLs sIow und deIIberuLe, sLuckIng und resLuckIng.
¨WIuL cun vou LeII me ubouL LIe pIuv?¨ Amv usked, keepIng
Ier eves on LIe mun.
¨¡rom wIuL ¡ undersLund, LIIs Is LIe pIuv Ie wus wrILIng uL
LIe LIme oI IIs urresL, LIe one LIuL LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv
orIgInuIIv guve IIm LIe grunL Ior. ¡L`s uIso verv powerIuIIv IInked
Lo IIs IIIness; wIen Ie begun Lo Iose IIs grIp on reuIILv, Ie
gruduuIIv InLegruLed uspecLs oI LIe pIuv InLo IIs deIusIons. ¡L
wus us II Ie Iud IosL LIe ubIIILv Lo dIsLInguIsI beLween reuIILv
und IIs own IIcLIonuI InvenLIons. ¡n mv personuI opInIon, ¡
don`L LIInk LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv`s pIun Lo go uIeud wILI
sLugIng LIe pIuv Is LIe besL LIIng Ior IIm, especIuIIv so soon uILer
IIs reIeuse, buL ¡ guess LIev own LIe work now so IL`s LIeIr rIgIL
Lo do wIuL LIev wunL wILI IL.¨
¨¡s Ie goIng Lo see IL?¨
¤¤o
Suru sIrugged. ¨You`II Iuve Lo usk IIm.¨
Amv wuLcIed us LIe mun IInuIIv IInIsIed orgunIzIng LIe
noLebooks InLo sIx meLIcuIous IILLIe sLucks oI perIecLIv-muLcIed
IeIgIL, sLood buck und surveved LIem momenLurIIv, und
decIded Ie wus suLIsIIed. TIere wus someLIIng IumIIIur ubouL
IIm, uILIougI sIe couIdn'L quILe pIuce IL.
TIen Ie - meunIng ¡ - Lurned und smIIed uL LIe cumeru. A
cIIII run down Ier spIne us sIe LIougIL Lo IerseII, It lools lile
he's smilinq riqht ct me, cs i[ somehou he ccn see me throuqh
the screen.
---
Amv suL down on LIe IooLIocker und Lurned Ier pIone`s
recorder buck on. ¡ suL ucross Irom Ier on LIe wooden cIuIr und
rubbed mv Iunds LogeLIer sIowIv, enjovIng LIe sound oI LIe
rougI, drv skIn.
¨So, Mr. QueLzuI, ure vou Iuppv Lo be IInuIIv goIng Iome?¨
¡ LIougIL LIe quesLIon over Ior u second und sucked on mv
LeeLI. ¨¡`ve been IIvIng In LIIs room Ior over Lwo decudes. ¡rom
wIuL ¡ undersLund, LIe pIuce wIere ¡ wus IIvIng beIore LIIs Ius
been buIIdozed und Lurned InLo u purkIng guruge. So ¡ wouIdn`L
quILe suv ¡`m 'goIng Iome` - buL ves.¨
¨WIere ure vou goIng Lo IIve uILer vou`re reIeused?¨ sIe
usked.
¨Mv sIsLer`s comIng Lo geL me,¨ ¡ unswered. ¨¡`II be sLuvIng
wILI Ier unLII ¡ cun geL buck on mv IeeL.¨
SIe IesILuLed momenLurIIv, LrvIng Lo muke IL seem IIke sIe
dIdn`L reuIIv wunL Lo usk LIe nexL quesLIon. ¨Do vou beIIeve
vou`ve been cured?¨
¨¡`m noL sure LIuL 'cured` Is LIe rIgIL word,¨ ¡ repIIed. ¨BuL ¡
¤¤1
reuIIze now Iow sIck ¡ wus. ¡`m mucI Iess conIused LIun ¡ used
Lo be.¨
¨So vou no Ionger beIIeve LIuL LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv or
unvone eIse LrIed Lo Irume vou or Is conspIrIng uguInsL vou?¨ sIe
pressed.
¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨¡ know LIuL no one eIse Is Lo bIume Ior LIe
LIIngs LIuL Iuve Iuppened In mv IIIe.¨
¨You know, vou sound IIke vou`re reudIng Irom u scrIpL,¨ sIe
suId, IeunIng Iorwurd us II Lo exumIne me more cIoseIv. ¨You`re
suvIng uII LIe rIgIL LIIngs, buL LIere`s no convIcLIon In vour
voIce.¨
¡ sIrugged dIsmIssIveIv und IeL mv eves wunder oII Lo Iook
buck Lo LIe sLucks oI noLebooks on LIe LubIe besIde me.
SIe IoIIowed mv guze. ¨WIuL`s up wILI LIe noLebooks?¨
¨TIev`re noLIIng reuIIv, jusL gIbberIsI. ¡ wrILe Ior LIe suke oI
wrILIng; IL`s LIerupeuLIc. BuL LIev`re noL InLended Ior oLIers Lo
reud, so ¡ doubL LIev wouId muke mucI sense Lo vou.¨
¨Do vou IeeI LIe sume wuv ubouL vour pIuv? How do vou IeeI
LIuL IL`s ucLuuIIv goIng Lo be perIormed?¨
¡ smIIed - u bIg, LooLIv grIn LIuL Amv Iound proIoundIv
unseLLIIng.
¨¡ LIInk IL`II be good Ior u IuugI.¨
¤¤z
ao. Whct's So Iunnu?
Jennv IIved In u cIIc IoIL uLop u wesL sIde IIgI rIse. TIe muIn
room consIsLed oI u sIngIe Iurge open spuce wILI LIe IIvIng room,
dInIng room, und kILcIen uII IIowIng InLo one unoLIer. As we
wuIked In, ¡ noLIced u puckuge wrupped wILI sIInv bIue puper
und u sIIver rIbbon sILLIng on LIe buIIeL LubIe beIInd LIe coucI.
Jennv smIIed broudIv wIen sIe suw me IookIng uL IL.
¨WeIcome Iome, D,¨ sIe suId.
¡ wuIked over Lo LIe LubIe und suL mv smuII suILcuse besIde IL
wIIIe ¡ InspecLed LIe box. ¡ pIcked IL up und LesLed ILs weIgIL; IL
wus IuIrIv IIgIL Ior ILs sIze. ¨Open IL,¨ sIe urged.
¨AILer dInner,¨ ¡ suId. ¨¡ need Lo cIeun up und seLLIe In IIrsL.¨
¨BuLIroom`s down LIe IuII on LIe IeIL. Your room`s LIe
second door on LIe rIgIL. ¡`II puL vour bug In IL,¨ sIe suId us sIe
snuLcIed LIe suILcuse Irom mv Iunds. ¡ sLurLed Lo proLesL, buL
decIded sIe wus on Loo mucI oI u roII IussIng over me. ¨Wow,
LIIs LIIng Is reuIIv Ieuvv,¨ sIe commenLed us sIe Iugged IL ouL oI
LIe room.
¡ cIrcIed uround LIe coucI und pIcked LIe TV remoLe oII LIe
coIIee LubIe. TIere were no buLLons on IL, jusL u LoucI screen. ¡
¤¤¤
Lupped LIe screen u coupIe LImes, buL noLIIng Iuppened. TIen ¡
IeIL uround LIe edges und Iound u smuII bIuck buLLon. ¡ pressed
IL, und Lwo boLLom puneIs buLLerIIIed ouL Irom under LIe
uccursed LIIng, presenLIng u IuII kevbourd. DIsIeurLened, ¡ guve
up. ¡L IeIL IIke ¡ Iud gone LIrougI u LIme wurp or someLIIng;
LIev dIdn`L reuIIv keep LIe puLIenLs up Lo duLe on LIe IuLesL
LecInoIogIcuI udvunces In LIe nuL Iouse.
¨Here, IeL me IeIp vou,¨ Jennv suId us sIe reLurned. SIe
Look LIe conLroI Irom mv Iunds, sIId LIe kevbourd puneIs buck
InLo IL, und swIped Ier IIngers ucross LIe LoucI screen deILIv.
TIe TV cume Lo IIIe; u news uncIor wus rumbIIng on ubouL some
new wur we Iud goL ourseIves InLo.
¨WIuL`s wILI uII LIe noLebooks In vour suILcuse?¨ Jennv
usked.
¨You snoop Loo mucI,¨ ¡ repIIed. SIe IuugIed.
¨Are LIe cIoLIes vou`re weurIng LIe onIv ones vou Iuve?¨ ¡
nodded mv Ieud In response. ¨Okuv, we`II go IInd vou some new
ones IIrsL LIIng In LIe mornIng. ¡ uIreudv LoId LIe oIIIce ¡`d be
workIng Irom Iome Ior u wIIIe so we couId spend some LIme
LogeLIer. Anvwuvs, ¡ IeIL u coupIe oI LoweIs und some sweuLs bv
LIe sInk In LIe buLIroom In cuse vou wunL Lo Luke u sIower wIIIe
¡ geL dInner reudv. BuL we cun wuLcI u IILLIe TV IIrsL II vou
wunL.¨
¨No,¨ ¡ suId, gIuncIng buck uL LIe Imuges oI soIdIers murcIIng
LIrougI pIIes oI dIsembodIed cIunks oI Iumun. ¨A sIower
sounds IIke LIe rIgIL cuII.¨
¡ pIcked up LIe remoLe und LrIed Lo Lurn LIe TV oII bv
ImILuLIng Jennv`s eurIIer IInger movemenLs, buL ¡ onIv
succeeded In LurnIng LIe voIume up. ¨Here IeL me,¨ sIe suId us
sIe Look IL Irom me uguIn und Lurned IL oII.
¨¡uckIng IeII,¨ ¡ mumbIed us ¡ Ieuded oII down LIe IuIIwuv.
¤¤q
---
¡ IeIL ouL oI IL. Too mucI wus IuppenIng Loo IusL, Loo mucI
newness Lo Luke In uII uL once. ReLreuLIng InLo LIe LIgIL,
encIosed spuce oI LIe buLIroom wus u reIIeI. ¡ kepL LIe IIgIL
swILcIed oII und enjoved LIe peuceIuI durkness.
¡ sLured InLo LIe mIrror, mesmerIzed bv mv own reIIecLIon,
wIIcI ¡ suw more cIeurIv us mv eves udjusLed Lo LIe durk. ¡L Iud
been veurs sInce ¡ Iooked InLo one, und Lo be IonesL ¡ wus u IILLIe
surprIsed bv wIuL ¡ suw. ¡ Iud uged u IoL more LIun ¡ expecLed,
und ¡`d never reuIIv goL used Lo uII LIe scurs und bumps ¡`d
pIcked up beIore beIng Iocked uwuv.
¡ run mv IIngers over LIe unIumIIIur LerruIn oI mv Iuce und
sLurLed Lo IuugI.
As mv IuugI dIed down, ¡ suw mv reIIecLIon begIn Lo Irown,
und IL usked me, ¨WIuL`s so Iunnv?¨
---
¡ reLurned Irom LIe sIower weurIng u YeuI YeuI YeuIs
reunIon Lour L-sIIrL und u puIr oI gruv sweuL punLs. BoLI were u
IILLIe Loo bIg Ior me. ¡ Iound LIuL LIe LubIe Iud uIreudv been seL
Ior LIree pIuces Ior dInner. Jennv wus on LIe coucI, und wIen
sIe Lurned Lo see me, Ier juw dropped.
¡ Iud sIuved, und noL jusL mv beurd - ¡ Iud uIso Luken LIe
ruzor Lo mv Ieud und evebrows. WILI mv pusLv, burren
crunIum, ¡ Iooked IIke BowIe In The Mcn Who Iell to Ecrth.
¨¡L Iooks... good,¨ sIe oIIered. AILer u puuse, sIe udded, ¨And
bv good ¡ meun creepv.¨
TIe sound oI u buzzer rung ouL, und Jennv reucIed over Lo
¤¤=
pIck up LIe TV remoLe. TIe boLLom oI LIe screen dIspIuved LIe
word INTERCDM. ¨Come on up,¨ sIe suId uIoud und Lupped LIe
LIe remoLe. INTERCDM IIusIed red und vunIsIed Irom LIe
screen us u LIe buzz sounded uguIn.
¨¡ Iope vou don`L mInd some compunv Ior dInner,¨ sIe suId
us sIe jumped up und run Lo LIe dInner LubIe. SIe uncorked LIe
boLLIe oI red wIne LIuL wus sILLIng ouL und IIIIed uII LIree gIusses.
WIen LIe IronL door opened u mInuLe IuLer und ¡ recognIzed
LIe vIsILor, ¡ IeL ouL u boIsLerous IuugI.
¨TrIckv NIckv!¨ ¡ excIuImed.
He grInned us Ie wuIked over und IeId ouL IIs Iund.
¨WIuLever,¨ ¡ scoIIed und knocked IIs Iund uwuv, LIen guve
IIm u Iug.
¨How LIe IeII Iuve vou been mun? You Iook good.¨ ¡ suId.
¨You Iook IIke u Hure KrIsInu,¨ Ie repIIed wILI u cIuckIe.
¨How`re Andreu und LIe kIds?¨ ¡ usked.
¨AcLuuIIv, we`ve Iuve been sepuruLed Ior ubouL seven veurs
now. SIe und LIe kIds IIve In ArIzonu,¨ Ie responded.
¨Sorrv Lo Ieur.¨ ¡ puLLed IIs sIouIder, LIen Iooked Irom IIm
Lo Jennv, wIo wus smIIIng u bIL uwkwurdIv. TIen ¡ Iooked down
uL LIe men`s cIoLIes ¡ wus weurIng LIuL Jennv jusL Iuppened Lo
Iuve IvIng uround. ¨OI mun, vou`re IuckIng mv sIsLer uren`L
vou?¨
---
Jennv und NIck spenL mosL oI dInner cuLcIIng me up on
wIuL ¡ Iud mIssed over LIe IusL coupIe decudes - wIuL LIev`d
been LIrougI In LIeIr own IIves, wIuL Iuppened Lo oId IrIends
und IumIIv, sLuII IIke LIuL. ¡ jusL souked IL uII In, enjovIng LIe
LusLe oI u Iome-cooked meuI und suvorIng LIe IuII-gIuss oI wIne
¤¤6
Jennv uIIowed me.
¨So, D, wIuL ure vour pIuns now?¨ NIck usked us Ie IInIsIed
LIe IusL bILe oI IIs sLeuk.
¨WuLcI some TV, probubIv Luke u sIIL, LIen go Lo bed,¨ ¡
repIIed. ¨Muvbe rub one ouL beIore ¡ IuII usIeep.¨
Jennv neurIv cIoked on Ier mouLIIuI oI wIne, buL NIck jusL
IuugIed. ¨Sume oId D,¨ Ie suId. ¨You know wIuL ¡ meunL,
LIougI. ¡I vou wunL, ¡ cun IeIp vou IInd some work. JusL IeL me
know wIuL vou`re InLeresLed In.¨
¨¡ don`L LIInk D wouId do verv weII In u nIne-Lo-IIve,¨ Jennv
objecLed. ¨He`s u wrILer wIo`s duvs uwuv Irom seeIng IIs IIrsL
pIuv produced. WIo knows wIuL kInd oI opporLunILIes Ie`II
Iuve uILer LIuL?¨
He Iooked skepLIcuIIv Irom Ier Lo me, LIen druIned LIe IusL
oI LIe wIne In IIs gIuss. ¨TIev`re reuIIv goIng LIrougI wILI IL?¨
¨WIv sIouIdn`L LIev?¨ sIe usked deIensIveIv.
¨JusL seems IIke IL`s In kInd oI bud LusLe,¨ Ie venLured.
¨¡L Is,¨ ¡ ugreed.
Jennv jusL sIook Ier Ieud dIsmIssIveIv, us II Lo suv LIuL we
boLI couIdn`L be Luken serIousIv.
Soon we Iud cIeured LIe LubIe und seLLIed down on LIe coucI
In IronL oI LIe TV. We were wuLcIIng some sILcom IuII oI sIung
und pop cuILure reIerences ¡ dIdn`L undersLund. ¡ kepL un eve on
LIe oLIer Lwo Ior cues on wIen ¡ sIouId IuugI so ¡ couId preLend
LIuL ¡ goL LIe jokes. ¡ wus uIruId LIev mIgIL geL uncomIorLubIe
oLIerwIse.
¨OI, ¡ uImosL IorgoL,¨ sIe suId suddenIv us sIe jumped up
Irom Ier seuL Lo reLrIeve mv gIIL. ¨Open IL.¨
¡ sIowIv unLIed LIe sIIver rIbbon und Lore uwuv LIe bIue
wruppIng puper, reveuIIng u Iurge wIILe box. ¡ opened LIe IId
und puIIed ouL u muss oI crumpIed bIue LIssue puper. AL LIe
¤¤;
boLLom oI LIe box wus u groLesque bIuck gunmeLuI musk,
covered In boIIs und wILI u Iurge buIbous nose. ¡ IIILed IL ouL oI
LIe box und Iooked uL Jennv.
¨WIuL`s LIuL?¨ Jennv usked In conIusIon.
¨WIv ure vou uskIng me? DIdn`L vou wrup LIIs?¨ ¡ usked Ier.
SIe sIook Ier Ieud. ¨No, ¡ Iud IL wrupped uL LIe sLore. TIev
musL Iuve goL vour presenL mIxed up. ¡L wus supposed Lo be u
compuLer Ior vou Lo wrILe wILI.¨
¡ Iooked buck uL LIe musk In mv Iunds und begun Lo IuugI
unconLroIIubIv.
¨WIuL`s so Iunnv?¨ NIck usked.
¤¤8
a:. All Your Drecms Ground to Dust
Duwn wus jusL breukIng, buL LIe uIr wus sLIII gruv und coId
enougI LIuL ¡ couId see mv breuLI. ¡ wore u Iooded sweuLer
LIuL ¡ Iound In LIe couL cIoseL bv LIe IronL door; IL Iud u PoIIce
OIIIcer`s AssocIuLIon Iogo on IL so ¡ ussumed IL wus NIck`s.
¡ Iudn`L sIepL uL uII LIuL nIgIL und InsLeud jusL suL up wuILIng
Ior LIe mornIng Lo come. As soon us IL wus IuLe enougI Ior LIe
IIrsL joggers Lo sLurL emergIng onLo LIe sLreeL, ¡ decIded Lo go Ior
u wuIk.
¡L`s uIwuvs weIrd comIng buck Lo u pIuce uILer u Iong ubsence.
TIe cILv wus jusL enougI IIke ¡ remembered Lo muke IL
dIsconcerLIng wIen ¡ suw someLIIng new und unIumIIIur. ¡
suddenIv IeIL IIke u verv oId mun, resenLIng u worId LIuL
conLInued Lo grow und evoIve wIIIe ¡ sLood sLIII. Everv pIuce,
everv sIgIL LIuL ¡ recognIzed IIIIed me wILI u sLrunge, nosLuIgIc
sorL oI comIorL - u HuIuI murkeL, u LIrIIL sLore, u dIrLv IILLIe
LuquerIu - uII reIugees Irom LIe IncessunL murcI Lo
IomogenIzuLIon und corporuLIzuLIon.
¡ wundered uImIessIv Ior neurIv un Iour wILI no purLIcuIur
rouLe or desLInuLIon In mInd. EvenLuuIIv, ¡ Iound mvseII uL LIe
¤¤¤
corner oI MIssIon und z;
LI
. AL IIrsL IL dIdn`L even occur Lo me
wIere ¡ wus, buL LIen ¡ recognIzed LIe uIIev LIuL Ied beIInd LIe
sLoreIronLs.
¡ wenL down LIe uIIev und cume Lo LIe pIuce wIere LIe ¨BeII-
ouL-oI-order¨ door Iud been, buL IL wus gone. ¡nsLeud, LIere wus
u soIId brIck wuII covered wILI gruIIILI. One pIece oI gruIIILI wus
u wurped, monsLrous druwIng oI LIe wIILe rubbIL Irom Alice in
Wonderlcnd IoIdIng u DuII-esque meILIng pockeL wuLcI wILI
LIe cover IIIpped open Lo LIe sIde so LIuL LIe Lwo cIrcIes LogeLIer
Iormed u IIgure-eIgIL. TIe Iour Iund wus posILIoned jusL beIore
LIe Iour, wIIIe LIe mInuLe Iund wus Lwo LIcks uwuv Irom LIe 1z.
TIere wus u cupLIon Lo LIe rIgIL oI LIe Imuge, sLencIIed In bIock
IeLLers, LIuL reud: All uour drecms cre qround to dust in the
qecrs o[ time.
¡ IeL ouL u cIuckIe.
DoubIIng buck Lo LIe IronL oI LIe buIIdIng, ¡ Iound LIuL LIe
sLore Iud been reopened Ior busIness. ¡ wuIked In LIrougI LIe
IronL door, noLIng wILI umusemenL LIuL IL wus mv IIrsL LIme
comIng In LIIs wuv.
¡nsIde, ¡ Iound u smuII, crumped used book sLore cuIIed
Intisible Inl. TIe wuIIs were uII IIned wILI jum-pucked
booksIeIves LIuL sLreLcIed uII LIe wuv Lo LIe ceIIIng. TIe IronL
porLIon oI LIe sLore wus IIIIed wILI LubIes pIuced so cIoseIv
LogeLIer LIuL LIere wus onIv room Ior one person uL u LIme In LIe
nurrow IILLIe wuIkwuvs beLween LIem. TIe LubIe Lops were
covered wILI boxes oI books murked ¨CIeurunce¨, wILI even
more boxes sILLIng on LIe ground underneuLI.
No one wus uL LIe regIsLer.
¡ mude mv wuv IurLIer In und wenL up LIree smuII sLeps Lo
LIe buck oI LIe sLore wIere Iong coIumns oI bookcuses spunned
LIe IuII IengLI Lo LIe Iur wuII, uguIn IeuvIng onIv nurrow
¤qo
pussuges beLween LIem. ¡ conLInued down one oI LIe uIsIes
unLII ¡ IInuIIv Iound LIe doorwuv LIuL Ied Lo LIe buck room. ¡L
wus un covered bv u curLuIn oI dungIIng sLrIngs oI red beuds. As
¡ reucIed In Lo sweep LIem usIde, ¡ meL u womun wuIkIng ouL
currvIng u box oI books. SIe wus sLurLIed Lo see me.
¨OI, IeIIo,¨ sIe suId In u dIsLIncLIve IIgI-pILcIed voIce,
reguInIng Ier composure. ¨¡ dIdn`L expecL unvone In so eurIv.
We`re noL ucLuuIIv open veL.¨
¨TIe door wus unIocked.¨
¨¡ know, IL`s u bud IubIL Lo be so cureIess, buL IonesLIv mv
LroubIe Is usuuIIv geLLIng peopIe Lo come In Iere, noL keepIng
LIem ouL,¨ sIe repIIed wILI u good-nuLured smIIe. SIe wus u
smuII, sIender womun ubouL Len veurs oIder LIun me, Ier Iuce
weII-worn wILI IuugI IInes uround Ier mouLI und eves. SIe Iud
brIgIL red IuIr LIed buck LIgILIv In u ponv LuII, LIe coIor jusL u
sIude Loo vIbrunL Lo be nuLuruI, beIvIng u LoucI oI prIde LIuL
wouId noL IeL IerseII go gruv.
¨Here, IeL me IeIp vou wILI LIuL,¨ ¡ oIIered und Look LIe box
Irom Ier. SIe Ied me buck Lo LIe IronL oI LIe sLore und Iud me
seL IL on LIe counLer nexL Lo LIe regIsLer.
SIe pIcked up u prIce gun und sLurLed Lo IubeI LIe books In
LIe box us sIe usked, ¨So wIuL brIngs vou In Loduv?¨
¨¡ wus jusL IookIng Ior someLIIng Lo reud,¨ ¡ sIrugged. ¨Cun
vou recommend unvLIIng?¨
¨¡ cun recommend u greuL munv LIIngs,¨ sIe repIIed wILI u
grIn. ¨WIuL kInd oI books do vou normuIIv reud?¨
¨MvsLerIes,¨ ¡ unswered.
SIe screwed up Ier Iuce. ¨¡ don`L reuIIv cure Ior LIose
mvseII; LIev uIwuvs Lrv Lo LrIck vou, deIIberuLeIv LIrowIng In
exLruneous pIoL IInes jusL Lo conIuse und mIsguIde vou,
wILIIoIdIng ImporLunL InIormuLIon unLII LIe IusL cIupLer, usIng
¤q1
vugue und mIsIeudIng descrIpLIons so vou don`L noLIce
someLIIng LIuL sIouId be pIuIn us duv.¨ SIe puused Ior u
breuLI, sIukIng Ier Ieud. ¡ cIuckIed In umusemenL. ¨And IL`s
uIwuvs Loo convenIenL LIe wuv evervLIIng wrups up so neuL und
LIdv uL LIe end,¨ sIe couIdn`L resIsL uddIng. ¨¡IIe`s noL IIke LIuL.¨
¨So wIuL wouId vou suv ¡ sIouId reud InsLeud?¨
SIe puused, sLurIng uL me wILI u seurcIIng Iook. ¨¡L`s LIe
IunnIesL LIIng,¨ sIe suId, ¨buL ¡ seem Lo recognIze vour Iuce--¨
SIe broke oII wIen we Ieurd LIe IronL door open. A voung
womun In Ier mId-LwenLIes enLered currvIng u LoddIer In one
urm und u curdbourd Lruv wILI drInks In Ier oLIer.
¨Grundmu!¨ LIe IILLIe gIrI sIouLed us Ier moLIer pussed Ier
over LIe counLer Lo LIe oIder womun.
TIe voung womun seL LIe drInks down on LIe counLer und
Iunded one oI LIe wIILe cups Lo LIe sIopkeeper. ¨Here`s vour
Leu, mom.¨
¡ sIIpped ouL LIe IronL door unnoLIced, smIIIng Lo mvseII und
wIIsperIng under mv breuLI, ¨¡ wonder II ¡ ever even Iud u
cIunce oI beIng Iuppv.¨
---
Jennv bougIL me u LInv IILLIe compuLer so ¡ couId wrILe more.
¡ usked Ier wIuL sIe LIougIL ¡ sIouId wrILe, buL sIe dIdn`L Iuve
un unswer.
¡ LoId Ier LIuL sLuvIng cooped up InsIde Ier condo wus
sLIIIIng mv creuLIve energIes, so everv duv sIe drove me Lo LIe
SLuLe UnIversILv IIbrurv so ¡ couId Iuve u more InspIrIng
envIronmenL Lo wrILe. ¡or LIree Iours u duv ¡`d sIL on u bencI
ouLsIde LIe IIbrurv und wuLcI uII LIe coIIege gIrIs wuIkIng up und
down LIe sLeps IeudIng up Lo LIe IronL enLrunce. ¡ never even
¤qz
Lurned LIe compuLer on.
TIe IIrsL duv ¡ sLruck up u conversuLIon wILI un uLLrucLIve
journuIIsm sLudenL wILI brown IuIr und sud eves Ior LIe beLLer
purL oI un Iour. Once ¡ goL Ier goIng, sIe dId mosL oI LIe
LuIkIng, prucLIcuIIv gusIed Ier IIIe`s sLorv Lo me. AL LIe verv end
¡ LrIed Lo convInce Ier Lo swILcI mujors, buL ¡ dIdn`L LIInk sIe
wus goIng Lo IIsLen Lo me.
TIe second duv ¡ dIdn`L LuIk Lo unvone.
TIe LIIrd duv u bIInd mun cume Lo vIsIL me.
¨TIev suId vou`d be Iere,¨ Ie suId us Ie Look u seuL nexL Lo
me wILIouL wuILIng Lo be InvILed.
¨Yep, LIev IeL me ouL u Iew duvs ugo,¨ ¡ unswered wILIouL
IookIng uL IIm, keepIng mv eves on u bIonde In u mInIskIrL wIo
wus bendIng over Lo pIck up Ier dropped ceII pIone. ¨¡ wouId
Iuve Iooked vou up, oI course, buL ¡`ve been busv.¨
¨OI course,¨ Ie repIIed.
¡ Lurned Lo Iook uL IIm Ior LIe IIrsL LIme. HIs cIoLIes were
ruLLv und Lorn und covered wILI sLuIns. HIs LIIck, wIrv bIuck
IuIr wus sIoL LIrougI wILI gruv us wus IIs unkempL beurd. HIs
IoIIow eve sockeLs were IIdden beIInd Iurge, bIuck sungIusses.
HIs LougI, IeuLIerv IIesI Iung IooseIv oII IIs Irume, und LIougI
Ie wus sLIII IeuvvseL, Ie Iooked someIow Iess robusL LIun ¡
remembered IIm. He Iooked IruII, IIke Ie wus mude ouL oI
sLIcks und crumpIed Ieuves.
¨So Iow LIe IeII Iuve vou been keepIng vourseII, BrI-BrI?¨ ¡
usked.
He snorLed.
We suL In sIIence Ior u Iew mInuLes.
To mv surprIse, ¡ wus LIe one wIo IInuIIv broke LIe sIIence.
¨¡ook uL us, u coupIe oI sud oId men on u bencI.¨
¨We`re noL LIuL oId,¨ Ie repIIed.
¤q¤
¨YeuI, buL we Iook IL. And ¡ IeeI IIke un oId mun now.
EvervLIIng Is unIumIIIur und conIusIng, Mv wIoIe IIIe Is gone,
Luken Irom me. TIere`s reuIIv noLIIng Ior me In LIIs worId
unvmore. ¡ don`L beIong Iere.¨
¨No, vou don`L,¨ Ie responded. ¨NeILIer one oI us does.¨
¨¡L`s Loo perIecL. ¡ don`L LIInk ¡`II be sLuvIng uround mucI
Ionger. TIere`s jusL one IusL LIIng ¡`ve goL Lo seL rIgIL, LIen ¡`m
gone.¨
¨WIere wIII vou go?¨ Ie usked.
¡ IeL ouL u cIuckIe. ¨You uIwuvs dId Iuve u sIIL sense oI
Iumor.¨
---
¡ Iound Jennv In Leurs LIuL nIgIL. SIe wundered oII wIIIe ¡
dId LIe dIsIes. AILer IInIsIIng, ¡ Ieuded buck Lo mv room Lo geL
reudv Ior bed und Iound Ier sILLIng on LIe edge oI LIe IuLon,
crvIng. Mv noLebooks Irom Ouk HIII were IuId ouL on LIe bed.
¨¡ LIougIL vou Iud been wrILIng uII LIuL LIme vou were
LIere,¨ sIe suId us ¡ enLered LIe room.
¨¡ wus.¨
¨¡ meun reuI wrILIng. ¡ LIougIL vou were doIng more pIuvs,
sLorIes, unvLIIng. NoL uII LIIs--¨ sIe poInLed Lo LIe noLebooks
¨--LIIs nonsense.¨
¨¡ wus cruzv, Jennv,¨ ¡ suId. ¨¡ wusn`L LrvIng Lo wrILe
unvLIIng proIound or meunIngIuI. ¡L wus jusL u wuv Lo puss LIe
LIme.¨
¡ pIcked up one oI LIe noLebooks und IIIpped LIrougI IL. ¡L
wus IIIIed wILI puges und puges oI jIbberIsI - nonsensIcuI
rumbIIngs, IuII-Lrue recoIIecLIons oI mv cIIIdIood,
pornogrupIIc IunLusIes, descrIpLIons oI LIe oLIer peopIe In LIe
¤qq
IospILuI, bILs oI oLIer books LIuL ¡ couId remember.
AL IIrsL ¡ Iud been wrILIng wILIIn LIe IInes. TIen ¡ IIIIed In
uII LIe murgIns und oLIer bIunk spuces. TIen ¡ IIIIed In LIe LInv
bIunk spuces beLween IInes, LIen beLween words. ¡ wroLe on LIe
puges und re-wroLe on LIem severuI LImes over. ¡n u coupIe oI
LIe IuLer noLebooks ¡ even deIIberuLeIv used u IIgILer Ink durIng
mv IIrsL Iew pusses wrILIng In LIem so ¡ couId go buck IuLer und
rewrILe over IL In durker Ink.
Jennv Iook uL me wILI Leurs In Ier eves us II IookIng uL u
sLrunger. ¨¡ don`L undersLund wIuL Iuppened Lo vou.¨
¤q=
az. The ßcd Guu
¡ IeII vIoIenLIv III on LIe nIgIL oI LIe pIuv.
And wIen ¡ suv tiolentlu ill, ¡ meun Lwo sLruIgIL Iours spenL
IuggIng porceIuIn und uggressIveIv expeIIIng everv IusL morseI
oI IoreIgn muLLer Irom mv sLomucI. ¡ meun proIuse sweuLIng
und IuIIucInuLorv Iever dreums. ¡ meun IeudIng Lowurds LIe
IIgIL.
¨¡ don`L LIInk Ie sIouId go LonIgIL,¨ ¡ Ieurd NIck suv on LIe
oLIer sIde oI LIe cIosed buLIroom door.
¨He`s jusL u IILLIe nervous - openIng nIgIL jILLers. He`II be
IIne,¨ Jennv repIIed.
WIen we IInuIIv IeIL, IL wus uIreudv LwenLv mInuLes uILer LIe
scIeduIed sLurL oI LIe pre-sIow cockLuII recepLIon, us mv sIsLer
repeuLedIv poInLed ouL.
On LIe drIve over, Jennv IreLLed IopeIessIv, u nervous wreck.
NIck wus pIssed oII uL Ier Ior noL IIsLenIng Lo IIm und IussIng
Loo mucI. And ¡ jusL suL quIeLIv In LIe buck seuL, IuIIucInuLIng
pIeusunLIv, obIIvIous Lo IL uII.
---
¤q6
A womun In muIe drug veIIed uL me Irom Ier percI uLop IIve-
IooL LuII sLIILs, beckonIng me Lo come InsIde und wILness LIe
wondrous specLucIe LIuL wus ubouL Lo unIoId, wIIcI wus so
umuzIng und IunLusLIcuI LIuL IL wouId muke me doubL mv verv
senses. SIe wore u brIgIL green couL wILI IuII LuIIs, u puIr oI
veIIow cordurov sIucks Iong enougI Lo cover LIe sLIILs, u purpIe
bow LIe, und u green Lop IuL wILI purpIe LrIm. SIe Iud u
monocIe In Ier rIgIL eve und u Iuke curIv musLucIe druwn on
Ier Iuce In SIurpIe. ¡ sLured uL Ier Ior severuI mInuLes wIIIe
Jennv und NIck excIunged pIeusunLrIes wILI some peopIe LIev
knew ouLsIde LIe LIeuLer. WIen ¡ IeIL NIck LuggIng uL mv urm, ¡
Look LIuL us mv cue Lo IoIIow LIem In.
Jennv Iunded our LIckeLs Lo u Iurge, burIv MexIcun weurIng
un oId-LIme sLrongmun IeoLurd. Two sIender, eIIemInuLe
Leenuge bovs In bIue wIgs und bIue corseLs were IundIng ouL
pIuvbIIIs. ¡ Look one und reud LIe cover:
Concrete Underqround
or, The Hcrlequin
A Trcqic Comedu
bu Dedclus Duetzcl
GoIdIrupp`s ¨Oompu Rudur¨ bIusLed LIrougI LIe Iouse
speukers us we mude our wuv LIrougI LIe IronL Iobbv, wIIcI
wus pucked wILI puLrons crowdIng uround curnIvuI sIdesIow
perIormunce urLIsLs - u mun In u jesLer`s cosLume juggIIng IIre, u
IemuIe sword-swuIIower dressed us u gvpsv, u nuked snuke mun
wILI u Iorked Longue und green scuIes puInLed on IIs skIn, und u
puIr oI Leenuge gIrIs wIo uppeured Lo be conjoIned LwIns In
¤q;
bIuck Iuce IIngerIe und Ieuvv goLIIc mukeup. One oI LIe LwIns
pIuved u ukuIeIe wIIIe Ier sIsLer sung In ¡rencI: Anqe, je peux
me toir dcns tos ueux.
¡ wus preLLv conIIdenL LIuL uL IeusL IuII oI LIIs wus ucLuuIIv
IuppenIng ouLsIde oI mv Iever dreums.
AILer we Iound our seuLs, Jennv und NIck ImmedIuLeIv IeIL Lo
conLInue cIrcuIuLIng umong LIe uudIence, IIndIng peopIe LIev
knew or wunLed Lo know. Jennv seemed upseL LIuL ¡ cIose sLuv
beIInd uL our seuLs. ¡rom LIme Lo LIme ¡ wouId see Ier poInL me
ouL Lo wIomever sIe wus LuIkIng wILI. ¡ decIded Lo reud LIe
pIuvbIII, IopIng IL wouId boLI kIII LIme und eIIecLIveIv IIde mv
Iuce.
AccordIng Lo LIe bookIeL, LIe pIuv wus beIng produced bv
someLIIng cuIIed LIe TrIsmegesLus TIeuLer Compunv under u
grunL Irom LIe HIgIwuLer SocIeLv. DvIun MuxweII wus IIsLed us
u member oI LIe LIeuLer`s bourd oI dIrecLors.
TIere wus u IuII puge Lowurds LIe buck enLILIed, ¨AbouL LIe
PIuvwrIgIL¨ LIuL descrIbed mv courugeous sLruggIe wILI menLuI
IIIness. ¡L wus u preLLv Iunnv bIL. ¡ uImosL wIsIed ¡ Iud wroLe IL.
¡ IIIpped buck LIrougI LIe book und sLopped uL LIe cusL oI
cIurucLers, wIIcI some preLenLIous doucIe Iud IubeIed
¨DrumuLIs Personæ.¨ ¡L reud:
D Dur hero & Pierrot, c journclist
Nctclie A true zcnu, our Columbinc
1cmes The pcter [cmilic & hcpless Pcntclone
Lilu Lc Siqnorc, the dcmsel in distress
Mcx 1cmes's proteqe, c uilu ßriqhellc
Anthonu A dcnqerous Punch indeed
Violet Dur 1udu uecrs her sccrs uith pride
Hcrlequin An intisible hcnd pulls intisible strinqs
¤q8
¡ wus InLerrupLed bv u Iund on mv sIouIder. ¨GIud vou
couId muke IL.¨
¡ Lurned Lo see Mux, jusL us LIIn und beuuLIIuI us ever und
sLIII sporLIng LIe sume bIuck suIL und red CIucks. WIIIe IIs IuIr
Iud Lurned compIeLeIv sIIver, IIs Iuce wus remurkubIv weII-
preserved, sIowIng IurdIv unv sIgns oI wrInkIIng, sLIII us smooLI
und perIecL us ¡ remembered. TIe busLurd musL Ieed nIgILIv on
LIe souIs oI uncorrupLed vouLIs or someLIIng.
¡ wuved LIe progrum uL IIm. ¨WeII pIuved, sIr. ¡ ussume vou
ure responsIbIe Ior uII LIIs.¨
¨¡ wouIdn`L suv LIuL,¨ Mux suId. ¨¡ muv Iuve suggesLed LIe
pIuv uL one oI LIe bourd meeLIngs, buL ¡ cun`L Luke credIL Ior unv
creuLIve InpuL.¨
¨WIuL ubouL LIIs IIsL oI cIurucLers. Are vou LeIIIng me vou
dIdn`L come up wILI LIese?¨ ¡ usked skepLIcuIIv.
¨WIuL do vou meun? You wroLe LIem. TIese ure LIe
descrIpLIons Irom vour munuscrIpL.¨ He Iooked genuIneIv
conIused. D[ course he uould, ¡ LIougIL.
TIe Iouse IIgILs IIusIed oII und on, und Mux quIckIv excused
IImseII us LIe uudIence Look LIeIr seuLs. NIck und Jennv
reLurned; sIe suL on mv IeIL wIIIe Ie suL Lo LIe IeIL oI Ier. TIe
seuL on mv rIgIL, LIe uIsIe seuL, remuIned empLv.
---
¡ Ieurd LIe sound oI un oId IIIm projecLor comIng Lo IIIe
umpIIIIed over LIe P.A. svsLem, wIIcI wus Lurned up so IoudIv IL
begun Lo Ieed buck und pIcked up u Iow cruckIe oI sLuLIc
InLerIerence. A bIue-wusIed vIdeo pIuved on u LrunsIucenL
screen In IronL oI LIe sLuge. TIe reeI sIowed urcIIvuI IooLuge oI
¤q¤
curnIvuI sIdesIow perIormers.
SuddenIv LIe sLuge IIgILs cume up, IIIumInuLIng LIe bure seL
beIInd LIe screen. TIen LIe ucLors uppeured, eucI weurIng u
gunmeLuI musk oI LIe Commedic dell'Arte counLerpurL numed
In LIe progrum, und begun Lo dress LIe seL. TIe IncessunL noIse
conLInued Lo bIure Irom LIe speukers us LIev moved LIe props
und IurnILure InLo pIuce, duncIng pIuvIuIIv wILI eucI oLIer us II
LIe speukers were pIuvIng musIc InsLeud oI LIIs unIoIv
cucopIonv. As LIe sound IInuIIv dIed down, LIe seL wus
compIeLed und LIe ucLors Look LIeIr pIuces.
TIe pIoL oI LIe pIuv wus preLLv sLruIgILIorwurd. ¡L wus seL uL
LIe summer Iome oI u weuILIv IumIIv wIose members were
comIng LogeLIer Ior u week-Iong vucuLIon. TIe dress und sLvIe
oI speecI pIuced LIe LIme In LIe eurIv LwenLIeLI cenLurv, LIougI
IL wus never expIIcILIv sLuLed. TIe muIn cIurucLer wus u reporLer
ussIgned Lo wrILe u IeuLure Ior LIe socIeLv puge oI LIe IocuI
meLropoIILun duIIv.
TIe IIrsL ucL pIuved ouL IIke u comedv oI errors us NuLuIIe, LIe
muId, gIeeIuIIv IeIped LIe reporLer uncover LIe IumIIv`s dIrLv
secreLs.
Mux wus embezzIIng monev Irom IIs empIover, Jumes, rIgIL
under IIs nose. Jumes wus Loo oId und senIIe Lo noLIce, und
spenL wIuL IILLIe wILs Ie Iud IeIL devIsIng opporLunILIes Lo rupe
NuLuIIe, wIo wus IuLer reveuIed Lo be IIs IIIegILImuLe duugILer.
AnLIonv, u derunged sudIsL wILI un expIosIve Lemper, beuL IIs
wIIe, wIom Ie meL wIIIe sIe wus workIng In u broLIeI.
DespILe LIe durk subjecL muLLer, LIougI, LIe pIuv sLrungeIv
uLLempLed Lo be IIgIL und Iumorous, IuII oI sIupsLIck pIvsIcuI
comedv und doubIe-enLendres.
As LIe ucL drew Lo u cIose, Mux`s embezzIemenL scIeme wus
dIscovered, excepL Ie urrunged Ior IL Lo uppeur LIuL IIs IIuncée,
¤=o
¡IIv, wus responsIbIe. SIe wus IuLer Iound murdered.
MeunwIIIe, NuLuIIe Look LIe reporLer down InLo LIe cuLucombs
beneuLI LIe Iouse, wIIcI sIe suId IeId u LerrIbIe secreL.
Once underground, LIev dIscovered u compIex svsLem oI
LunneIs und bunkers buIIL Irom concreLe. NuLuIIe expIuIned LIuL
IL wus consLrucLed us u pIuce Lo IIde In LIe evenL oI un uLomIc
bomb uLLuck; oddIv, neILIer cIurucLer quesLIoned LIIs
unucIronIsm. TIe ucL ended us LIev dIscover u Iocked cIumber.
NuLuIIe sLoIe LIe kev Irom Jumes durIng one oI LIeIr LrvsLs, und
us LIe Lwo oI LIem opened LIe door, LIev Iound u HurIequIn
Iocked InsIde.
---
TIe Iouse IIgILs cume up Ior InLermIssIon und ¡ wus gIud Lo
be ubIe Lo go ouLsIde. ¡ needed Lo geL some uIr und geL uwuv
Irom LIe crowd, so ¡ Ieuded uround Lo LIe buck oI LIe LIeuLer
und Look u seuL on u sLoop IeudIng Lo u sLuge enLrunce. ¡ suL
LIere IuggIng mv knees und sIukIng, LrvIng Lo IIgIL LIe urge Lo
be sIck uguIn.
AILer u coupIe oI mInuLes, ¡ Ieurd LIe door beIInd me open.
TIe ucLress pIuvIng VIoIeL uppeured, sLIII weurIng Ier cosLume
wILI IuII-musk und purpIe wIg. SIe produced u sIIver cIgureLLe
cuse Irom Ier smuII Iund bug.
¨You Iook IIke vou need one oI LIese,¨ sIe suId us sIe opened
LIe cuse und oIIered IL Lo me. ¡ Look one oI LIe Iund-roIIed
cIoves, und sIe Look one Ior IerseII. We smoked sIIenLIv,
enjovIng LIe cooI nIgIL uIr und LIe sweeL LusLe oI LIe smoke.
WIen ¡ reLurned Lo mv seuL, Jennv und NIck were boLI
vIsIbIv concerned uL mv uppeurunce. ¡`m sure ¡ Iooked LerrIbIe;
mv Iuce IeIL coId und cIummv, mv Ieud wus swImmIng, und IL
¤=1
wus uII ¡ couId do Lo keep Irom doubIIng over InLo drv Ieuves
rIgIL LIere.
¨Do vou need Lo go?¨ NIck usked.
¨¡`m IIne,¨ ¡ repIIed us ¡ wuved IIm oII dIsmIssIveIv und sunk
buck InLo mv seuL.
---
WIen LIe curLuIn ruIsed Ior LIe second ucL, LIe seL wus
dressed wILI more modern uccouLremenLs, IIke u LeIevIsIon, u
compuLer, und conLemporurv IurnILure. TIe ucLors` wurdrobes
were now more IILLIng wILI LIe Lurn oI LIe mIIIennIum, und uII
LIe ucLors Iud cIunged musks. NuLuIIe wore LIe musk oI Judv,
Mux Iud Luken PunLuIone`s, VIoIeL wus CoIumbIne, AnLIonv wus
PIerroL. TIe cIurucLer oI LIe reporLer wus InexpIIcubIv ubsenL
Ior LIe IIrsL Iew scenes unLII Ie re-emerged dressed us LIe
HurIequIn, dressed In u moLIev suIL und weurIng u groLesque
gunmeLuI musk.
TIe mun sILLIng Lo mv rIgIL Ieuned In Lo wIIsper In mv eur,
¨TIe HurIequIn cIurucLer cun be vIewed us u kInd oI workIng-
cIuss Iero; Ie Is u servunL wIo uIwuvs geLs LIe beLLer oI IIs
musLers LIrougI LrIckerv, sImuILuneousIv exposIng und
expIoILIng LIeIr buIIoonerv. ¡n LIIs respecL, Ie Is oILen vIewed
us u sorL oI uvuLur oI LrIcksLer god Hermes. To Iook upon LIe
Iuce oI God Is Lo InvILe mudness InLo vour IeurL.¨
¨SII!¨ Jennv udmonIsIed sIurpIv Lo mv rIgIL. ¡ Lurned Lo
Ier Lo upoIogIze, buL LIe emunuLIng IIgIL Irom LIe sLuge wusIed
us boLI In u bIue gIow, gIvIng Ier IuIr u vIvId purpIe LInL.
¡ IeIL LIe nuuseu sweII wILIIn mv guL und IInuIIv overwIeIm
me. ¡ jumped up Irom mv seuL ubrupLIv und LrIpped over LIe
IeeL oI LIe mun sILLIng Lo mv rIgIL, cuusIng me Lo sLumbIe
¤=z
cIumsIIv InLo LIe uIsIe. ¡ Lurned Lo upoIogIze, buL LIen
remembered LIuL LIe seuL Iud been empLv. So InsLeud ¡ jusL
sLuggered down LIe uIsIe Lo LIe exIL.
Once ¡ mude IL Lo LIe Iobbv, u concerned usIer poInLed me In
LIe dIrecLIon oI LIe men`s room.
TIunkIuIIv IL wus empLv, und ¡ quIckIv coIIupsed InLo one oI
LIe sLuIIs und drv-Ieuved IoudIv InLo LIe bowI. ¡ wreLcIed so
Iurd ¡ couId IeeI LIe cupIIIurIes bursL In mv Iuce, mukIng mv
skIn wurm und red. WIen LIe sIckness subsIded, ¡ sLruggIed
uwkwurdIv Lo mv IeeL. TIen ¡ LIougIL Ieurd IuugILer comIng
Irom LIe sLuII nexL Lo me.
¡ IobbIed ouL und over Lo LIe nexL sLuII, LIen opened LIe door
sIowIv. No one wus In LIere; ¡ musL Iuve ImugIned LIe sound. ¡
wus jusL ubouL Lo Lurn uwuv wIen ¡ noLIced LIe venL In LIe wuII.
SomeLIIng bIue und meLuIIIc cuugIL mv eve Irom beIInd LIe
cover. ¡ sLepped up onLo LIe LoIIeL so ¡ couId reucI LIe gruLIng
und Iound LIuL IL wus mIssIng ILs boLLom Lwo screws. ¡ wus ubIe
Lo puII IL ouL jusL Iur enougI Lo snuke mv IIngers InLo LIe
openIng und sIIde ouL LIe LIIn bIue objecL.
WIen ¡ reuIIzed wIuL IL wus, ¡ couIdn`L IeIp buL IuugI.
---
¡ wuILed ouL LIe resL oI LIe pIuv In LIe Iobbv. TIe concerned
usIer oIIered Lo IeL me buck In Lo sIL In LIe buck row, buL ¡
decIIned, LeIIIng IIm ¡ wunLed Lo be cIose Lo LIe buLIroom jusL In
cuse. ¡ wus IvIng LIougI; ¡ IeIL IIne.
¡ knew LIe pIuv wus over wIen ¡ Ieurd LIe muIIIed sound oI
uppIuuse comIng LIrougI LIe cIosed doors. Soon uILer, LIe
doors opened und LIe Iobbv wus IIooded wILI peopIe IIIIng ouL.
TIe sound svsLem bIusLed CursIve`s ¨ArL ¡s Hurd¨ us LIe
¤=¤
sIdesIow perIormers reuppeured und LIe IreukIsI curnIvuI
uLmospIere reLurned.
A crowd oI peopIe guLIered uround Lo congruLuIuLe me.
Someone usked II ¡ wus goIng Lo muke IL Lo LIe uILer-purLv. ¡
LoId LIem ¡ probubIv wouId noL.
¨Nonsense,¨ ¡ Ieurd Mux suv beIInd me und spun uround Lo
IInd IIm grInnIng proudIv. ¨OI course, Ie`s goIng.¨
Mux LIew un urm uround mv sIouIder. ¨Too bud vou mIssed
LIe endIng,¨ Ie suId good-nuLuredIv us Ie Ied me uwuv Irom LIe
crowd Lo LIe sIde oI LIe room. ¨BuL LIen ¡ suppose vou uIreudv
knew Iow IL Lurned ouL.¨
¨NoL reuIIv,¨ ¡ sIook mv Ieud. ¨BuL IL reuIIv doesn`L muLLer.
¡ reuIIzed u Iong LIme ugo noL Lo worrv ubouL wIodunnIL; LIe
more unswers vou IInd, LIe more quesLIons LIev`II keep ruIsIng.
¡`m more u mun oI ucLIon now, LrvIng noL Lo over-LIInk LIIngs.¨
¨¡`m noL sure ¡ IoIIow,¨ Mux suId, IIs smIIe LukIng on u
menucIng quuIILv.
¡ Ieuned In cIose Lo IIm und wIIspered InLo IIs eur, ¨You
LrIcked me InLo LIuL room. You IubrIcuLed LIose IIIes und Ieuked
LIem Lo LIe bIuckmuIIers. You knew ¡ wouId go In.¨
He jusL kepL on smIIIng. ¡ couIdn`L be sure Ie Ieurd me over
LIe dIn oI LIe crowd.
¡ drew LIe bIue knIIe ouL Irom mv wuIsLbund und pIunged IL
InLo Mux`s sLomucI repeuLedIv, IeeIIng IIs wurm bIood gusIIng
ouL onLo mv Iund. TIen ¡ puIIed IL ouL und LIrusLed IL buck In
uguIn und uguIn, peneLruLIng IIs IIrm, scuIpLed IIesI, LeurIng
upurL LIuL exquIsILe bodv. AILer IIve or sIx sLubs, IIs Iegs guve ouL
und Ie IeII buck onLo LIe IIoor. And wIen Ie Iooked up uL me,
LIuL smug busLurd ucLuuIIv Iud u LrIumpIunL grIn on IIs Iuce.
¨¡ uIwuvs knew vou were LIe rIgIL mun Ior LIe job,¨ Ie suId,
spruvIng bIood evervwIere us Ie opened IIs mouLI. Or muvbe ¡
¤=q
jusL ImugIned ¡ Ieurd IL.
¡ dropped down on Lop oI IIm und Iucked uwuv uL IIs LIrouL
u Iew LImes jusL Lo muke sure LIe busLurd wus deud.
WIen LIe ruge pussed und LIe Iuze IIILed Irom mv mInd, ¡
sLood up und Lurned Lo Iuce LIe ussembIed crowd, wIo were uII
sLurIng buck uL me, Irozen In pIuce IIke Iumun sLuLues.
SuddenIv u sIngIe person sLurLed Lo uppIuud. Mv eves durLed
over LIeIr Iuces, IoIIowIng LIe sound Lo ILs source. Jennv
sLepped Iorwurd Irom beLween Lwo men und conLInued
cIuppIng, smIIIng gIeeIuIIv.
A coupIe knowIng cIuckIes rIppIed LIrougI LIe crowd, und
severuI more peopIe joIned In wILI LIe uppIuuse. A mun
eIbowed IIs IrIend pIuvIuIIv In LIe rIbs, und u puIpubIe reIIeI
spreud over LIeIr expressIons. TIev sLurLed cIuppIng, Loo, LIen u
Iew more, und u Iew more, unLII LIe Iobbv wus IIIIed wILI
boIsLerous uppIuuse.
¨SucI u reuIIsLIc eIIecL!¨ ¡ Ieurd u voIce suv.
¨JusL IIke LIe end oI LIe pIuv!¨ suId unoLIer.
¨`¡I we ure noL wIIIIng Lo desLrov LIe beuuLv we Iuve creuLed,
we become sIuves Lo IL,`¨ someone eIse quoLed sugeIv Irom
somewIere, LrvIng Lo sound InLeIIecLuuI.
¡ wus reeIIng, sIowIv pusIIng mv wuv LIrougI LIe crowd In u
duze. Hunds puLLed me on LIe buck. SLrungers smIIed uL me
und IIusIed me LIumbs-up.
¡ IInuIIv Iound LIe IronL door und wus Iuppv Lo once uguIn be
ouLsIde In LIe open nIgIL uIr. ¡ Look deep breuLIs, IIIIIng mv
Iungs IIke u drownIng mun wIo mIrucuIousIv resurIuces.
TIere wus u Iong bIuck cur purked ouL In IronL oI LIe LIeuLer
wILI ILs engIne runnIng. WIen ¡ wus IuIIwuv down LIe puLI Lo
LIe sIdewuIk, LIe pussenger sIde door popped open. ¡ sLopped In
mv Lrucks, noL sure wIuL Lo do. A Iew seconds IuLer, ¡ Ieurd u
¤==
screum come Irom InsIde LIe LIeuLer und IIgured mv mInd wus
mude up Ior me.
¡ bounded LIe IusL oI LIe wuv Lo LIe cur und Iopped In. TIe
ucLress wIo pIuved VIoIeL wus In LIe drIver seuL, sLIII weurIng Ier
IuII-musk und purpIe wIg Irom LIe pIuv.
¨WIere Lo?¨ sIe usked.
¡ sunk InLo LIe seuL und Iooked down uL mv bIood-drencIed
cIoLIes und suId, ¨AnvwIere LIuL Isn`L Iere.¨
SIe sLepped on LIe gus und peeIed uwuv.
¨Are vou sure?¨ usked u voIce beIInd me, drIILIng up IronL
Irom LIe buck seuL. ¨You cun Ieuve u pIuce, vou cun Ieuve u
sILuuLIon. You cun quIL u job, move Lo u dIIIerenL Iouse, IorgeL u
LIIng LIuL Ius Iuppened, or even gIve up on u Iove. BuL LIe one
LIIng vou cun never wuIk uwuv Irom Is vourseII.¨
¡ wusn`L sure wIuL LIuL meunL, so ruLIer LIun LIInk ubouL IL
Loo mucI, ¡ jusL reucIed ouL und Lurned on LIe sLereo.
TIe musIc wus sIow und uLmospIerIc wILI u womun croonIng
IongIngIv:
Sometimes uhen I tell the storu o[ uou,
I mcle uou out to be the bcd quu.
¤=6
4=2.7'7,-'4.7,29
MoxIe Mezcal lIves under an
assumed name In Ban Jose,
CalIIornIa.
NIne clues Lo solve LLe mysLery oI
!"#!$%&%'(#)%$*$"(#)
1. WLaL Lappens Lo VIoleL's sculpLure. WLaL Is LLe
sI¿nIBcance oI LLIs?
2. D successIully compleLed LLe ]ob Ior wLIcL Max
selecLed LIm. WLaL was IL?
8. NoLe LLe appearances oI colored meLals.
4. Do you belIeve LLaL Max really dId noL reco¿nIze
VIoleL?
S. NoLe LLe appearances oI doors and keys.
6. NoLe LLe relaLIonsLIp beLween D, Jenny, and NIck
aL LLe end oI LLe novel. TLIs Is LLe Ideal sILuaLIon
Ior D.
7. WLo does D meeL In LLe booksLore?
8. WLo ¿Ives LLe warnIn¿ Lo sLop beIore D enLers
Foom 88? WLo Is beIn¿ warned?
9. WLo buIlL LLe labyrInLL?
*(%$$ECC8'JE!&E"#'
>8#EJ%+&"
1. 0uerrIlla BcLIon Is deBned by IndependenL, arLIsL-
drIven producLIon and dIsLrIbuLIon oI lILerary
works.
2. 0uerrIlla BcLIon Is based on LLe belIeI LLaL LLe
LradILIonal model oI book publIsLIn¿ only beneBLs
one person - some ¿uy In New York makIn¿ money
oII oLLer people's creaLIvILy - aL LLe expense oI
boLL arLIsL and audIence.
8. 0uerrIlla BcLIon Is possIble because LLe Lools Ior
creaLIn¿ and sLarIn¿ arL are wIdely avaIlable Lo
anyone wILL access Lo a compuLer and an InLerneL
connecLIon.
4. 0uerrIlla BcLIon Iavors LLe elecLronIc dIsLrIbuLIon
oI lILeraLure as an envIronmenLally-responsIble
alLernaLIve Lo LradILIonal publIsLers' slavIsL
devoLIon Lo paper.
S. 0uerrIlla BcLIon Iavors cLeap, zIne-sLyle
pLoLocopIes over more wasLeIul IormaLs Iavored
by LradILIonal publIsLers. 0uerrIlla BcLIon
belIeves LLaL neILLer LLe arLIsL nor LLe audIence Is
served well wLen works are released only as
expensIve Lardcovers.
6. 0uerrIlla BcLIon Iavors LLe promoLIon oI arL
LLrou¿L dIrecL connecLIon beLween LLe arLIsL and
audIence - usIn¿ web sILes, socIal neLworks,
communILy InvolvemenL, word oI mouLL, and Iace-
Lo-Iace Luman InLeracLIon.
7. 0uerrIlla BcLIon makes LLe dIsLrIbuLIon oI arL an
exLensIon oI LLe InLerpersonal relaLIonsLIp
beLween LLe arLIsL and LLe audIence, raLLer LLan
LLe commercIal relaLIonsLIp beLween LLe
publIsLer and LLe consumer.
8. 0uerrIlla BcLIon belIeves LLaL ¿eLLIn¿ arL Lo LLe
audIence Is more ImporLanL LLan ¿eLLIn¿ money Lo
LLe arLIsL.
9. 0uerrIlla BcLIon keeps all rI¿LLs In LLe Lands oI
LLe arLIsL.
10. 0uerrIlla BcLIon does noL need Lo be sancLIoned or
valIdaLed.
!"#$%!&'("')"*+++
,-**.%/0*'12%,("&*0%
,30**4
A youn¿ woman searcLes Ior Ler
mIssIn¿ LwIn sIsLer In a IoreI¿n
counLry called AmerIca. 0n LLe
road, sLe encounLers a serIes oI
sLran¿ers wLo Lelp Ler navI¿aLe
ILs Lopo¿rapLy, IncludIn¿ a cowboy
In a pInk CadIllac, a sadIsLIc law
enIorcemenL a¿enL, a pulp BcLIon
novelIsL, LLe re¿ulars aL a nuclear
bomb-LLemed dIve bar, and a man
wLo beIrIends mannequIns.
'%567589:9%;7/98<86;7/%#(4="*>$?..'@*
A'@(4=%/B"'4%A'C-*""
MeeL Dylan Maxwell, bIllIonaIre
doL-com CE0 and world-class
devIanL. Eored wILL LLe same old
LLrIlls, Le dreams up a new ¿ame
Ior LLe rIcL & powerIul, convIncIn¿
LLem Lo puL everyLLIn¿ on LLe lIne -
LLeIr IorLunes, LLeIr repuLaLIon,
even LLeIr lIves.
'%567589:9%;7/98<86;7/%0*1(C%#(4="*
U/-'.5<-9V':.5HG40GW.@H'A.-996//4'U@7625
+7296-0'4=2.7
Iree mulLI-IormaL DFM-less e-books
+ playlIsLs, propa¿anda & commenLary
R>2X6->-Y@4/
>2X6->-Y@4/ZA346/[@23
?.F')-4<'&9--0'47V

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