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18 West 18th Street, New York 10011
Copyright © 2012 by Brian McGreevy
All rights reserved
Distributed in Canada by D&M Publishers, Inc.
Printed in the United States of America
First edition, 2012
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
McGreevy, Brian, 1983–
Hemlock Grove : a novel / Brian McGreevy. — 1st ed.
ISBN 978-0-374-53291-8 (pbk.)
1. Paranormal fi ction. I. Title.
PS3613.C497245 H46 2012
Designed by Jonathan D. Lippincott
Frontispiece: Bessemer blow, Scientific American,
May 1924, courtesy of Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area
The lone wolf howls to rejoin the pack from which he is separated. But why does the pack howl when no wolf is lost?
Isn’t it obvious?
Because there is no other way to say it.
The night after the Harvest Moon, the body was discovered. It
was nearing October and the sun was still hot, but the leaves were
falling now with intention and every night was colder. Peter was
walking home from the bus stop when he saw the flashing light
of a fire truck up at Kilderry Park. He wondered if there had
been an accident. Peter, who was seventeen at the time of
which I’m writing, liked accidents: modern times were just so
fucking structured. He saw in addition to the fire truck a few
cop cars and an ambulance, but no signs of wreckage. He turned
his head in passing, but there was nothing more to see beyond
the norm. Two of the cops combing the area by the swings he
knew; they’d hassled him a couple of times in that kind of
obligatory cop way that, in Peter’s experience, every uniform
was an SS uniform. Probably some junkie had OD’d or something. There was that bum who hung out around here, an old
black guy with yellow and black teeth and one dead eye that
looked like a dirty marble who might not have been old, really.
Peter had given him a light once, but no change. Better that paid
for his own drugs. His interest flagged. Old black junkie kicks it
it’s no more news than chance of rain tomorrow. Then he heard
it, one sentence. No sign of a weapon, Sheriff. Peter looked again
but there was no more to see than a milling cluster of uniforms
by the tree line and he put his hands in his pockets and went on.
He had a bad feeling.
Nicolae had always told him that he had been born with an
unusually receptive Swadisthana chakra and that underneath
the surfaces of things, the illusion of the illusion, there is a secret, sacred frequency of the universe and that the Swadisthana
was the channel through which it would sing to you. And the
Swadisthana being located of course just behind the balls, he
should always always trust his balls. Peter did not know what it
was, but something about the scene in Kilderry Park had his
balls in a state of agitation.
When he got home he told his mother, “Something happened.”
“Hmm?” she said. She was smoking a joint and watching a
quiz show. The trailer was warm and smelled sweet, pot and baked
apple. “Hummingbird!” she yelled suddenly, in response to the
question What is the only bird that can fly backwards.
He told her what he saw. He told her he had a bad feeling.
“Why?” she said.
“I don’t know, I just do,” he said.
She was thoughtful. “Well, there’s cobbler,” she said.
He went to the kitchen. She asked if he’d been in town.
“Yeah,” he said.
She emptied his backpack of items so small and modest it
could hardly be considered stealing while Peter scraped the tar
of sugar at the edge of the cobbler and tried to shake this feeling. The feeling that whatever had happened in Kilderry Park
was no good. And not in some greater existential sense but no
good with his number on it. There was a coffee mug on the
counter with the comic strip character Cathy on it and a small
chip the shape of a shark’s tooth that held loose change. He
dipped his hand in the mug and went to the door and scattered
a handful of coins on the stone path out front.
“Why did you do that?” said Lynda.
Peter shrugged. He had done it because he wanted to hear
something dissonant and beautiful.
“You are one strange customer, you know that?” said Lynda.
“Yeah,” said Peter.
Nothing Weird About It
And remember: the flesh is as sacred as it is profane.
I forgot this.
The green-eyed boy sat alone in the food court and fingered the
needle in his pocket. The syringe was empty and unused, he had
no use for the syringe. He had use for the needle. The green-eyed
boy—he was called Roman, but what you will have seen first was
the eyes—wore a tailored Milanese blazer, one hand in pocket, and
blue jeans. He was pale and lean and as handsome as a hatchet,
and in egregious style and snobbery a hopeless contrast from the
suburban mall food court where he sat and looked in the middle
distance and fidgeted with the needle in his pocket. And then
he saw the girl. The blond girl at the Twist in pumps and a miniskirt, leaning in that skirt as though daring her not to, or some
taunting mystic withholding revelation. Also, he saw, alone.
Roman rose and buttoned the top button of his blazer and
waited for her to continue on with a cone of strawberry, and when
she did he followed. Maintaining a discreet distance, he followed her through the main concourse and stopped outside a
women’s apparel store as she entered, and he watched through
the window as she browsed the lingerie and finished the cone.
She looked around and stuffed a mesh chemise down her purse
and exited the store. Her tongue darted to collect crumbs from her
lips. He continued following her to the parking structure. She
got into the elevator, and seeing there were no other passengers,
he called Hold please, and jogged to the car. She asked him
what level and he told her the top, and this must have been her
floor as well because it was the only button she pressed. They
rode up and he stood behind her smelling her trampy perfume
and thinking of the underthing in her purse and silently tapping
the syringe through the fabric.
“You ever close your eyes and try real hard and trick your
brain you’re actually going down?” said Roman.
The girl didn’t answer, and when the door opened she stepped
out curtly, like he was some kind of creep when he was just trying
to make friendly conversation. But so it goes. The game as it were
He took out the syringe and palmed it, stepping out of the
elevator, and outpacing the clip of her heels he closed the distance between them. She was now aware beyond question of the
pursuit though she neither turned back nor made any attempt to
run as he came on her and jabbed in an upward thrust, the
needle puncturing skirt and panty and the flesh of her ass, and
just as quickly he withdrew as she gasped and he continued past
her and down the row to his own car.
He repocketed the syringe and entered the front seat, putting it back all the way. He unzipped his jeans, freeing his erection, and laced his hands behind his head. He waited. After a
few moments the passenger-side door opened and the girl got
in and he closed his eyes as she lowered her head to his lap.
A few minutes later she opened the door and leaned over and
spat. Roman’s hands unlaced and his arms came down and as
they did his hand fell naturally to her lower back, and just as
naturally he rubbed. Nothing weird about it, or even a thing you
think about, you rub a girl’s back because it’s there. But at the
feel of his touch she recoiled abruptly and straightened. Roman
“You don’t like that?” he said.
“Oh no, baby,” she said. “I think it’s totally hot.”
But she was lying, and lying, he realized, about the first thing,
about the needle and sucking his dick, and not what he was asking about, about her hate of the barest human-to-human gesture at the end. He was depressed suddenly and terrifically by
the defeated life of this lying whore and he wanted her to be
gone now, and to get out of the fucking mall.
“It’ll take a hose to get the smell of prole out of my nostrils,”
“Poor baby,” she said, neither knowing nor making any attempt
to care what he meant.
He reached into the blazer and took out the money in cash
and handed it to her. It looked wrong and she counted it. It was
$500 over the agreed amount. She looked at him.
“You know my name?” he said.
“Yeah,” she said. It would have been pointless to say otherwise, everyone knew his name.
He looked at her. “No you don’t,” he said.
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