From Chapter 2: On Shaky Ground)
I moved to the porch
baluster..leaning closer to her. You arent ruling out the possibility that
youve gotten worked up for nothing..are you?
Good heavens. You really believe that? I
heard what I heard. And those headlights tried to keep up with me. She remained on
the rail. Even you dont believe what you just said do you?
Generous lips parted and her coffee cup went up to them.
I prefer to look at more
plausible explanations..thats all.
Really? Is that what
youre looking at?
porch overhang threw a veil of shade. I withdrew into the dimness not knowing why. I
stared at Bonnie Lee..and afterwards at the walls of the opposite bank. Then my sight rested on the encroaching forest. Snipers nest. Id never noticed this
before. A sudden rush of something cold and unnatural splashed on my back. I said:
You said he mumbled. You may have misunderstood the whole thing.
Thats bloody bull.
Condor Lake is not exactly on the main road. Anybody coming here is doing it for a
purpose. This chap had something on his mind. Something very bad. She looked
straight at me. Is somebody trying to get you..Perry?
Wow. How melodramatic. An
uncle once told me: Check it out and see
then react. Same guy got hit by a train in a tunnel. I shaped my
forefinger and thumb into a v to
smooth my mustache. Her anxiety was contagious. I
wanted the shadows to protect me. This provided little solace because in the
dark..phantoms of unknown purpose lurked.
though youll reject it..take some advice. Bonnie steered he body pass me. She
went down the steps and stood on the pathway. Before my husband..Sammie..died fives
years ago..he passed me something he knew especially well. A
snake crawls and circles his prey. She looked amused. Come to think about
it..thats how he died. One night a snake lay in wait for him. Busted two slugs
behind his ear. Perry..the guy last night was walking on his belly. If Im
wrong..would it harm you to humor me?
In silence..I watched her
disappear behind thick foliage. She took the curved trail back to her place. The specter
of her timorous face lingered. Chypre grew faint.
Birds shrieked in a clump
of trees somewhere. Just then the sky above the glacier walls became dark with crows. This
flock appeared not dissimilar to a funnel cloud..only it climbed skyward instead of coming
down. They flew into the waning vestiges of fog.
I got nowhere dialing Felicias car and
cell phones. The person answering the Felicias office telephone at Hillhaven was
Betsy..her secretary. Absent from her voice was its usual mirth. She connected me to Dr.
Edwin Kaplan..the clinic director. After babbling for two minutes praising Felicia for
being Hillhavens most dedicated and thorough psychiatric social worker and
counselor..he dispelled with the pretense of actually liking me. Doughy moon-faced with
sandy hair..I thought Kaplan was a perfunctory clown.
I wanted to know if my wife dropped
by. I know shes probably on her way up here to our cabin..but I thought Id
check. Ill talk to her then. See you around..Edwin.
Confounded..he blurted: Wait. Are
you talking about Condor Lake?
As a matter of fact..I am.
Thats strange. Felicia
didnt come in yesterday. She called me presumably from home and requested an
emergency leave of absence.
Leave of absence? Did she tell you
I didnt ask. Shes my
assistant-director..so I wouldnt dare refuse. Anyway..your wife came in this morning
before anyone arrived. A formal leave notice was on my desk. Frankly..I assumed it was
LA baked in the sun yesterday. Felicia
wasnt at the Convention Center when I came out of the lawyers exam. I made my
way over to our second meeting place at the downtown arena. Still no Felicia. When I
called home..she answered and claimed an unspecified job crisis delayed her. Kaplans
presumptive familiarity with Felicia upset me. I talked to her yesterday and this
morning. She said you needed her help with an emergency audit.
Perhaps you misunderstood. We never
had that discussion..Richards. He downplayed the whole thing before hanging up. I
was about to do likewise when Betsy quietly said my name. My words were slurred and may
have been mistaken for a response.
Calmly..Betsy offered: Mr.
Richards..Im breaking confidentiality. Forgive me. I took an unusual phone call
yesterday intended for your wife. It was a call of confirmation.
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