CHAPTER EIGHT1IT WAS THE SMALL, black hours and the streets of the Val lay deserted, except for a stray traveler or two: Lucy Dixon on her way home, coming off the late-night nurse’s shift and zipping along now while visions of her pillow-top mattress danced in her head. Phil Jenrette, the local high school football coach, cruising toward the old freight yards across town, while his wife and children slept, in search of a prostitute by the railroad tracks—and either a young girl or young boy would do at this bleak hour, since Mr. Jenrette wasn’t too choosy in that way. And the kid whose name nobody could ever remember, heading out in his broken-down cargo van, choking and stalling and sputtering all over the sleeping village to deliver his morning edition stacks of The Rock River Guardian safely to their drop-off destinations.Each of them drove past the permanently darkened Lawrie Theater at some point or other on their witching-hour excursions, and yet none of them looked up. No
CHAPTER NINE1THE GREASE-YELLOWED WALL clock above the griddle read 11:20 AM when Officers Clemency and Crider walked into the café for their order. Meg Bilobran saw them enter and retrieved their sandwiches from behind the counter, a Reuben and a turkey club on sourdough, and then met them at the cash register. With a weary smile, she handed the paper bag to the uniformed black man, the deputy chief.“Here ya go, fellas, all ready. How are things, Palm?”“Oh, same old same old. Can’t complain. Mm-hmm. You look tired, Meg.”“Morris, my cook, and Jilly Sweet both called off, so I’m runnin’ the gauntlet by myself today. Running being the key word. Nothing sweet about it, either. Ha. So how are you, Bobby? How’s that pregnant wife of yours holdin’ up?”The younger and newer of the two officers grinned. “She’s holding fine, Mrs. Bilobran. We’re just waiting and hanging on.”“How many times I told you, babes? Call me Meg. Anything else for ya?”Palm Clemency ordered a couple of lar
CHAPTER TEN1IT REALLY WAS funny, Alice thought as she sat listening to Mrs. Van Meers’s resonant Corinthian bells chiming in the light wind. Priceless. The look on Syd’s face last night, that dripping look of shock and bewilderment.Funny, how things turned out.In truth, Alice Granberg wasn’t actually a homosexual. She’d only gone along with things, certain things, for as long as it was convenient. After all, she’d had no place to stay, no one to turn to. Sydney had taken her in after Alice’s shithead excuse for a boyfriend had found someone new and kicked her without ceremony to the curb. But Syd Cholke had gotten something out of the deal, too. You better believe it. For as long as it was convenient . . . nothing more.No, Alice preferred to think of herself as an ‘Anne Heche style’ lesbian. Alice suspected there were probably a lot of girls out there like Miss Heche and herself, young ladies who for whatever reason—be it getting burned by abusive shithead boyfriends, or be i
CHAPTER ELEVEN1DEPUTY CHIEF CLEMENCY and Bobby Crider ate their lunches on the bench in front of the Public Safety Building. Crider took a bite of turkey club, watching as someone mowed the Post Office’s narrow strip of lawn across Elm Street, mulching leaves as they went. A squad car glided to the curb, blocking his view, and Chief Priewe got out.“How we doing, boys?”“Chief,” said Clemency. The younger officer could only nod, his mouth filled with sourdough bread. “You aren’t eating? Meg’s being generous today: my Reuben really got loaded up on the corned beef and Swiss here.”“I’ll grab something later. Listen, I want—”Priewe stepped back from the sidewalk, just missing Karl Kissick as he sailed by on a skateboard, student book bag slung over him like a full parachute pack, clicking away heedlessly at his Game Boy. The kid glanced up for a second before returning his attention to the handheld game as he rolled past.“Hey, stay off the walks!” Priewe barked. “Goddamn kid.
CHAPTER TWELVE1TOMMY TRUITT’S RAMSHACKLE little house had no front porch steps. They had disintegrated into nothingness over the years. This is what Richard noticed first about the place, and the way the whole structure leaned. Just a pinch to one side.“Didn’t know I’d be renting a lean-to,” joked Tom as he showed him around, “when I read the ad in the paper. Woops . . . renting with option to buy, make that.” Truitt hopped up onto the porch with the ease of someone who’d done it countless times, offering a hand back to Richard and helping hoist him up over the space where the stairs should have been. “I’ll get to that one of these days.”Richard nodded. His friend lived alone out here, so the house was sparsely furnished: an opened sofa bed in the living room surrounded by various used, thrift-store items, obligatory big-screen TV on a stand against the wall, some rickety chairs circling an old cottage drop-leaf table in the kitchen.A tattered color photograph of Kyoko was at
CHAPTER THIRTEEN1JULIAN EXCUSED HIMSELF and was at last able to slip away inside his church. He needed solitude, just a brief respite from their tedium and banalities before the commencement at hand: the setting in motion of it all—faith against doubt, and everything that would follow. Besides, William Salt would occupy them, keep them assuaged with food and drink until he returned.He made his way slowly, achingly, feeling the corrosions of his own body, the shrinking of his bones. Each day he applied the pepperwort and menthol for their deep heating attributes, but they did little good. This vessel was at its end, was breaking down and deteriorating with every step he took—twice already had the heart stopped beating, once upon the operating table during a routine knee replacement procedure and once while shoveling snow from the front walkway of Nain Trinity Lutheran. Twice he had waited patiently, hidden within, prepared to abscond and move on to another if necessary, and twice
CHAPTER FOURTEEN1“ROBERT PLANT,” began Richard, tilting his Michelob. His friend leaned, clinking his bottle to Franklin’s. “Planty,” Tom Truitt said and they took respective drinks.Katie was fine. When he called the house, George had put her on and she was doing fine. She told him of her day so far, how Granna had fixed her hair, doing it up with clips and a polka-dot bow, and of the games they’d played and the cartoons they had watched. She told of the food they were having: the grilled chicken George was fixing, and macaroni salad, and the tray of assorted vegetables and dip.A menu devised by Glee, no doubt.He talked a bit longer with her—at one point she held the receiver to Blondie’s ear so he could say hello to her, too—and, once Richard’s mind had been put at ease, he told Katie he’d be there soon. By the time he had hung up, sliding the cell phone back into his pocket, Tommy was outside again with two more Michs. Richard mentioned catching that string of Zeppelin trac
“THEY POISON THE HEART”by Michelle Brooke Deadmond(an excerpt)Those that bled out and died quickly were among the lucky, they who never knew what hit them. All up and down the Mississippi near the mouth of Bad Axe River their frantic drums sounded. No one came, though, no allies rose to the call—promises of British assistance were not kept. Even when a second white flag of surrender was hoisted in desperation, the slaughter continued unabated, insatiably. Thus had begun the~~ Fugue ~~History tells us there were numerous other skirmishes leading up to this, before the end came for them at the Battle of Bad Axe that summer. In May of 1832, appointed war chief Black Hawk and his dwindling band of followers scored a surprise victory over drunken, attacking, and then abruptly fleeing soldiers at Old Man’s Creek, in what would shamefully come to be known later as Stillman’s Run.This spark ignited the fire, and the Black Hawk War was on.It’s said that a green, 23-year-old captai