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Timothy Taylor

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Silent Cruise
Excerpt

DOVES OF TOWNSEND

“Doves of Townsend, good morning.”

This is me, answering the phone at the shop. After which I frequently end up explaining the inherited family name. Sometimes (I admit) tired of telling the real story, I’ll make something up. “There’s a flock of doves found in Townsend, my Dad’s hometown,” I’ll start. Then I finish the story by saying the birds hunt as a pack and kill cats, or that they bring good luck if you catch one and pull out a tail feather. The mood of the story rides up and down on the sine wave of my menstrual cycle.

The truth is plain. My father came from Townsend and he was a fanatical collector. Knives, as it happens, but it could have been anything. Magpie, hoarder, packrat, whatever you want to call him, I had long understood him to be obsessive-compulsive within certain categories. His suicide note read: I fear I have covered the full length of this blade. But at auctions, where he lived the happy parts of his life, he held up his wooden paddle and said his last name so the auctioneer would know who was bidding. “Dove,” he’d say, eyes never leaving whatever dagger, cleaver, oiseau or machete had captivated him. And then -- in case there was another Dove in the room -- he’d say it again, louder: “Doves of Townsend.”

So, here I am: “Doves of Townsend?”

It was two months ago, Alexander Galbraithe calling. He wanted a set of chrome 1940s ashtrays, the ones with the DC-3 doing the flypast over the cigar butts. I’ve known Mr Galbraithe since I was a child. When my father started Doves of Townsend as an extension of his own collecting (a very bad idea I came to think), Mr Galbraithe was one of his first steady buyers. I assume he stayed with me out of allegiance or sympathy, since after Dad’s death I sold off the knife collection quickly and resolved never to replace it.

“Clare?” he said. “Are you familiar with the airplane ones?”

I knew he was talking about the famous deco ashtray since none of the other things he collects – coach clocks, cigar cutters, Iranian block-print textiles, even knives as far as I know – come in an aeroplane model.

“Pedestal or tabletop?” I asked him. “Illuminated?”

We began to work out the specs.

“Real?” I asked, breathing a little into the phone. “Or fake?”

Mr Galbraithe didn’t laugh often, although he found many things funny. What he did, instead, was roll his massive balding head back an inch or two, squint slightly and crinkle his cheeks. When he was done, he’d roll his head back to its normal position and resume where he left off.

This is what he did now. I could tell over the phone. And when he had returned he said, “Clare. My dear. Really.”

It pays to be straight on this real-fake question. There’s no point looking for something real, something authentic and old and possibly rare, if the client has no preference. My former-sometimes-boyfriend Tiko used to send art directors my way from time to time, and all they cared about was that an object look good on camera. Some collectors, on the other hand, collect fakes. So go figure.

What’s bad, clearly, is to get fake when you’re after real. Most dealers will learn this the hard way even if they resist being obsessive collectors themselves. Me, for example. I was just starting out. Dad had been gone a year, and I overcame all the good sense I had and bought a set of les Freres locking steak knifes. I literally saw them in a shop window, stopped on the sidewalk – reconsidering everything I had resolved after my father slipped somewhere beyond reach, after he did what he did – then went in and bought them. Of course, I knew the famous French maker produced knives that were rare and beautiful, knives with a four-inch hand-forged blade folding into black pear-wood handle with silver inlay and locking in place with a tiny gold clasp in the shape of a dove. I knew the les Freres dove had meant something special to my father, among all his knives. These were the first I had seen since his death and, for that instant, I was host to a perfectly synchronous collector’s impulse.

What this lapse taught me was never to buy a thing merely because it is rare and beautiful and you are able to construe some tangled family significance. What I didn’t know then was the number of les Freres reproduction steak knives that had been made over the years by Spanish, Korean and other manufacturers. When I learned this, which was soon enough, I sold my Taiwanese fakes for about one-twentieth what I paid for them. To Mr Galbraithe, in fact, who rescued me. Tried to pay much more than they were worth, but I wouldn’t let him.

“You see the clasp here, Clare?” he explained very kindly. “The reproduction clasps are stamped flat from stainless steel, then gold-plated. A real les Freres has a hammered dove figurine, sculpted in three dimensions, in 18-karat gold.”

“Fake,” I said, shaking my head. “I should have known.”

“But now you have seen it,” he said, putting a large hand weightlessly on my shoulder. “I am quite sure you won’t miss it again.”

He was a huge presence, six-and-a-half feet tall; God knows how many pounds. In his other hand, the knife looked like an antique folding toothpick I’d once seen at auction. Mr Galbraithe always leaned a little forward when we spoke, canted just so, careful to hear and understand everything that I said. He wore dark, heavy double-breasted suits and two-tone black and white shoes. Tiko met him once and referred to him thereafter as Sidney Greenstreet, although he looked nothing like that. He brought to mind the force of gravity, yes, but not the crushing pressure of it. Instead, he made me think of the way some large things elegantly defy it. I’ve looked at suspension bridges the way I looked at Mr Galbraithe.

He folded the fake les Freres into his palm, first popping the gold-plated clasp with his thumb, then clicking shut the blade with his fingers. Then he wrote me a cheque using a large black fountain pen. In the nineteenth century, I thought on occasion, with my father gone and no family remaining, I would have married the widowed Mr Galbraithe, friend of my father and life long presence. The thirty-year age difference would have seemed, I think, to be much less.

“You have an eye for the fine line,” Mr Galbraithe said to me another time, admiring a more successful purchase. I thought the words left unsaid were something like: but be careful, so did your father.

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Stanley Park

Stanley Park

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Excerpt

The Canvasback

They arranged to meet at Lost Lagoon. It was an in-between place, the city on one side, Stanley Park on the other. Ten years of rare contact, and they had sought each other out. Surprised each other, created expectations.

Now the Professor was late.

Jeremy Papier found a bench up the hill from the lagoon and opened a section of newspaper across the wet boards. The bench was between two cherry trees, the pink blossoms of which met high over his head forming an arch, a doorway. It wasn’t precisely the spot they’d discussed–the Professor had suggested the boathouse–but it was within eyesight, within shouting distance. It was close enough. If he had to wait, Jeremy thought, settling onto the paper and blowing out a long breath, he was going to sit. He crossed one long, aching leg over the other. He fingered the tooling on a favourite pair of cowboy boots, ran long fingers through tangled black hair.

He sat because he was tired, certainly. Jeremy accepted that being a chef, even a young chef, meant being exhausted most of the time. But there had also been a family portrait taken here, on this bench, years before. Also early spring, he remembered; the three of them had sat here under the cherry blossoms.

Jeremy on the one side, seven years old. His mother, Hélène, on the other. The Professor had his arms around them both, feet flat on the grass. He looked extremely pleased. Jeremy’s mother was less obviously so, her expression typically guarded, although she made dozens of copies of the photo and sent these off to relatives spread across Europe from Ireland to Spain, from the Czech Republic to as far east as Bulgaria. Documenting settlement. He wondered if his father, who had no relations other than those in the photo, would remember this detail.

Now Jeremy lit a cigarette and watched an erratic stream of homeless people making their way into the forest for the night. When he arrived there had been seawall walkers and hotdog eaters, birdwatchers, rollerbladers, chess players returning from the picnic tables over by bowling greens. Then lagoon traffic changed direction like a freak tide. The flow of those heading back to their warm apartments in the West End tapered to nothing, and the paths were filled with the delusional, the alcoholic, the paranoid, the bipolar. The Professor’s subjects, his obsession. The inbound. Four hundred hectares of Stanley Park offering its bleak, anonymous shelter to those without other options.

Of course, Jeremy didn’t have to remind himself, the Professor had other options.

They had discussed meeting on the phone earlier in the week. When Jeremy picked up–expecting a late reservation, maybe his black-cod supplier, who was due into Vancouver the next morning–he heard wind and trees rustling at the other end of the line. Normally reticent, the Professor was animated about his most recent research.

“… following on from everything that I have done,” he said, “culminating with this work.” From his end, standing at a pay phone on the far side of the lagoon, the Professor could hear the dishwasher hammering away in the background
behind his son’s tired response.

“Participatory anthropology. Is that what you call it now?” Jeremy was saying. “I thought it was immersive.”

“Like everything,” the Professor answered, “my work has evolved.”

He needed help with something, the Professor said. He wanted to meet.

“How unusual,” Jeremy said.

“And what advice can I give on running a restaurant?” the Professor shot back.

“None,” Jeremy answered. “I just said there was something I wanted to talk to you about. Something that had to do with the restaurant.”

“Strange times,” the Professor said, looking into the darkness around the pay phone. Checking instinctively.

Very strange. The stream of those inbound had slowed to a trickle. A trio of men passed, bent behind shopping carts that were draped and hung with plastic, heaped to the height of pack horses, bags full of other bags. Jeremy could only wonder at the purpose of them all, although the Professor could have told him that the bag itself captured the imagination. It held emblematic power. For its ability to hold, certainly. To secure contents, to carry belongings from place to place. But even the smell of the plastic, its oily permanence, suggested the resilience of things discarded.

Jeremy watched the three men make their way around the lagoon and disappear into the trails. He glanced at his watch, sighed. Lifted his chin and breathed in the saline breeze. It brought to mind the ocean beyond the park, sockeye salmon schooling in the deep, waiting for the DNA-encoded signal to turn in their millions and rush the mouth of the Fraser, the tributary offshoot, the rivulet of water and the gravel-bed spawning grounds beyond. Mate, complete the cycle, die. And then, punctuating this thought, the rhododendron bushes across the lawn boiled briefly and disgorged Caruzo, the Professor’s manic vanguard.

“Hey, hey,” Caruzo said, approaching the bench. “Chef Papier.” He exhaled the words in a blast.

He dressed for the mobile outdoor life, Caruzo. Three or four sweaters, a torn corduroy jacket, a heavy coat, then a raincoat over all of that. It made the big man even bigger, the size of a lineman, six foot five, although stooped a little with the years. Those being of an indeterminate number; Jeremy imagined only that it must be between fifty and ninety. Caruzo had a white garbage bag tied on over one shoe, although it was only threatening to rain, and pants wrapped at the knees in electrical tape. His ageless, wind-beaten face was protected by a blunt beard that fell to his chest. Exposed skin had darkened, blackened as a chameleon might against the same forest backdrop.

“The Professor,” Caruzo announced, “is waiting.”

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Story House
Excerpt

17 years before the ­beginning

Pogey remembered them appearing from nowhere. Ghosting into view. He remembered them like a punch he hadn’t seen coming: only later, when consciousness had ­returned.

He didn’t hear the car arrive on the street above, didn’t hear the gym door open up top, or feet on the stairs. He was working target mitts with one of the neighbourhood kids. ­One-­two. ­One-­two-­hook. ­One-­two-­hook with an uppercut. Again. Gloves slapping home in the basement air. The bell marked the round. Pogey turned. And there they ­were.

“Hey,” said the blond one. Chunky, with the colouring of indulgence, of a life spent on pleasure boats: light tan, ­sun-­bleached crewcut. Easy on the feet too, as if he’d been in the room before. As if he knew its dimensions and ­possibilities.

Pogey crossed over to the ropes. “Lessons are five an hour. ­Drop-­in fee is a buck.”

“We’re here to fight,” the kid said. “Each other.”

Fourteen, fifteen years old. Not train, not spar. ­Fight.

“You got a name, killer?” Pogey asked ­him.

Graham ­Gordon.

“And you?” Pogey said to the other. A different sort altogether, this one. Asian maybe. Lean, ­bony-­shouldered with long dark hair and hard eyes. With insolence etched in the smirk lines, in the bad posture. And yet that same quality, unhurried possession of his particular space such that Pogey found he did not dispute the ­claim.

“Elliot,” Graham said. “My brother.”

Which elicited a snort from the ­dark-­haired one as he dropped his gym bag and squinted around the room like a dubious matchmaker. “­Half-­brother,” he ­said.

Pogey took the stairs in twos. He found the third party to this transaction leaning against the front fender of a ­late-­model Lincoln Town Car, scanning the facade of the building. A ­six-­footer. Older than Pogey expected, maybe seventy, with a faintly squandered feel about him. Houndstooth jacket, ascot, white shirt, cufflinks like Scrabble tiles: one G, one E. ­Cigarette-­stained fingers and ­all-­concealing sunglasses intended for the unforgiving light of glaciers. These lenses lowered heavily on Pogey as he emerged, affording him the special discomfort of seeing, in reflection, precisely what was under hard ­appraisal.

“You’re Nealon,” the man ­said.

Pogey nodded. ­Squinted.

“Packer Gordon,” he said finally, lifting himself from the car and extending a hand. “I take it you’ve met my boys.”

First thing Gordon wanted to know was why there were clamshells littering the front steps and sidewalk in front of the building. The detail seemed to annoy ­him.

Crows, Pogey said. Crows that for reasons he couldn’t explain favoured 55 East Mary Street over all other buildings in the neighbourhood. For strutting and making a racket, yes. But also for the killing of dozens of razor clams daily, which they dropped from the eaves to shatter on the steps below. “But are we talking birds here, or about your two warriors downstairs?”

They had boxing experience, apparently. The younger one, Graham, boxed intramural at some fancy boys’ school in the hills. “Elliot,” Packer Gordon volunteered, “takes a more or less ­self-­taught approach to life.”

Decisive first instincts came naturally to Pogey. Still a ­flint-­hard welter in these his middle years, with 117 amateur fights behind him, he knew how to assess incoming risk. He knew about pulling the trigger. “Sorry, but I’m full up with kids,” he said. “We’re busy in the summer.”

Gordon motioned him close, dropping his voice. And Pogey, leaning forward, now caught sight of himself again, this time in the car’s side mirror, the white front of his own building, where he lived, where he’d run his gym for thirty years, sweeping upward and into the blue sky behind him like a temple, serene and attendant. Taut with ­judgment.

“They box,” Gordon said. “The problem is they prefer fighting.”

“Everyone prefers fighting,” Pogey said, still leaning in, voice low. “It’s easier.”

Which provoked a laugh. Packer Gordon liked that. “I’m an architect,” he said. “I’m aware of how much easier it is to release force than restrain it.”

Pogey straightened up, blinking. He remembered losing himself in the resumption of gym noise below. Someone rang the bell to start another round. Shoes shuffled on the concrete floors. The heavy bags began to groan on their turnbuckles. The speedbag winding out. All the machinery of fight school reeling again into motion. And, missing the moment for escape cleanly, he heard himself say only, “How’d you ever hear of Nealon’s Gym?”

Gordon blew past that question, on to terms, money and others. He wanted a closed gym. He wanted Pogey’s undivided attention paid to just these two. He wanted to set up a camera and film three rounds, the outcome of which would apparently settle all matters between the ­boys.

“I’m not letting a couple kids in my ring I’ve never even seen before.”

So they would train. So Pogey could assess them for however long he needed. So they would prove ­themselves.
Now a money clip was out. Bills peeled off in a way that suggested impulsive spending, often beyond available means. And Pogey was nodding as the cash whispered into his palm, nodding until Gordon had forked over more than Pogey could have hoped to collect in two months ­running.

“You’re telling me you want to rent my gym for the entire summer?”

––

Thursdays. Eight Thursdays. Pogey remembered they trained hard. He had them skip five rounds, do callisthenics five more, stretch, go for a jog. They didn’t pull on bag gloves until the second week, by which point he’d withheld the true business of boxing for long enough that they wanted nothing more than to curl their hands into fists, to feel canvas under the balls of their feet. All this while hardly a word of argument passed between them, no revealed schism. Only opposing energy that polarized everything within their ­field

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The Blue Light Project

The Blue Light Project

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
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She’s beautiful. Let me just say that at the outset. A person could pretend they didn’t notice, but that person would probably be lying. I’ve lied before. I’ve lied notably, some might even say infamously. But this is the truth: she’s a classic willowy, green-eyed beauty. And she carries it in a way that might surprise if you’ve based your impression on the ads and the television spots. In person, there is nothing endorsement, nothing podium about her. No flashing of the winning smile. No casual glancing around for the nearest camera. In person, it’s all about health and natural athleticism, straw-blond hair and a perfect dusting of freckles over tanned cheekbones. I’ve heard her described as having “Midwestern” looks, but that doesn’t quite get to the essence of it either. The essence is that she seems beyond regions and sources. As if she came from everywhere and so belonged to everyone. As if, and this is related, she came from nowhere and belonged to no one.

I know how this sounds coming from a person like me, who has worked for years too long inside the machinery of fame, leaned in close against the grind and squelch of it. The fan is always the mark. Celebrity is a con. Who wrote that, years ago, as if it were a great insight? Me, of course. I wrote that years ago as if it were a great insight. Still, when I first saw her, I was hit by the whole suite of symptoms: the adrenal spike, the sense of brightening, of possibilities opening wide. And like the strike of a crystal bell in my inner ear, like a breath whispering through my body at the cellular level, I heard her name: Eve Latour.

Of course, everybody up in the Heights that morning seemed to be slightly lost. I’d been wandering the city myself since first light, a dread chill in the air, flinty breeze off the river, the skies above me all smoky and heaving. The pale October sun leaked only briefly through bruised and purple clouds before slouching away. I stood just a few blocks from the plaza, which had been the epicenter of the troubles, and evidence was still everywhere. Broken glass glittering in the street. Sirens scoring the air. Smoke rising. I saw the remains of a car that rioters had burned earlier, the interior gutted and blackened, soaked by fire hoses and steaming in the watery light. Police and troops wandering around. The recent events continuing to dominate every news broadcast. The Meme Media Hostage Crisis, as we were all calling it. On the hour and the half hour, they laid it out again and again, from inception to climax, and made no further sense of anything. You could see it in the anchors’ faces. Incomprehension in the furrows between plucked eyebrows even as they tried to explain how events unfolded. The Meme studio theater stormed in ghostly silence. A strange pulse of energy felt on the skin by everyone in a six-block radius. And then the strange agitations of a stricken crowd: a vigil turned riot in the predawn blue.

We stumbled. We reeled. We looked into each other’s faces for clues. Eve Latour stood holding a newspaper in one hand. A fingernail of her other hand traced across her cheek as she read. Mill-town sky, the clouds sagging low behind her. She stood against this backdrop, tall and lean, with an easy grace and natural strength. While reflected in the broken front window of a dog grooming salon, I saw myself: addled, disarranged. My expression confused, smudged with lack of sleep.

I looked as creased and untucked as my clothes. As lost as the one shirt collar point popping free of my jacket.
Police cars and fire trucks crisscrossed the hillside. Helicopters hovered watchfully, dipping down out of sight behind rooflines, or pivoting in place and angling off to other quadrants of the city. I could hear the city’s landmark waterfall down at the river, the never-ending white keen of it. Eve stood calmly in the midst of this, reading, thinking.
I’d walked from the north side, from my hotel downtown across the river where the streets were almost untouched by what had happened here. I’d crossed one of the bridges and made my way through the inner-city area of Stofton, then on up into the gentrified Slopes. I knew these neighborhoods, having been born and raised here, long ago. Yet as I covered the ground, I’d slowly become aware of my own uncertainty about where I was exactly or where I was going as I pushed on, going block by block, turning down a street or cutting through a park. And everywhere I saw people who looked to be in a similar condition, heads turning, faces slack, drifting through the strange familiar.
There were no birds anywhere. No pigeons, crows, no geese or grebes. When I crossed the boulevard that marked the boundary of the Heights, a man stopped his car and rolled down the window to tell me that hundreds of people had been arrested and were being held in temporary detention centers down by the east side rail yards. I judged from his face—from his suit jacket, his car, his wristwatch with many dials—that he wasn’t the sort of person who believed rumors easily, but that something had changed. Belief was now very close. Belief that some hidden badness had been flushed into the open and exposed. A hidden badness in us. A plague of ourselves upon ourselves.

I climbed up the streets and into the Heights. Traffic clotted and broke out of its patterns. The main routes up into the plaza were cordoned off, yellow tape shimmering in the light and wind. Armored cars were parked next to the fountains, between the park benches, in front of cafés. Troops wore gray-mottled city camo fatigues with black knee pads and throat mikes, helmet-mounted cameras. I took a random turn into a narrow avenue lined with high-end clothiers and boutique law firms, a cosmetic surgeon. Broken glass in the street. The air smelled of rubber, burnt sugar, nylon. Eve Latour didn’t belong in the scene at all, I thought. She lived in my memory as a heroic figure on alpine landscapes with crisp air and wide sight lines. Yet as I stood staring, I felt that our arrival there had somehow been planned: place and persons, trembling moment. She sensed me standing there. People who spend their lives in the public eye develop a kind of radar. They feel the eyes, the longing, the volatile desire. Some love it, thrive on it. Others are smartly wary. Eve Latour was wary, I think, but also kind. So she didn’t ignore me or pretend to be distracted with something else. She looked up instead and inventoried me in a single glance. The clothes. That shirt collar point sticking up. Shoes, hands, face. History and disappointments. The fear and the fatigue.

Then she closed the distance. She stepped towards me and extended her hand.

Strange thing, that. They don’t normally touch you, in my experience. I mean the really big stars. The name brands. The people of iconic wealth and wellness. The people who could surely envy only God. It’s less a germ issue than it is a matter of observing the sacred separation between you and them. But Eve was going to surprise me in various ways, and the handshake was only the first instance. She took my hand, applied the faintest pressure. The nod, the rounded eyebrows to signal that we both understood at least one part of what the other was feeling. And then we had the same conversation that thousands of strangers were having that morning. We worked our way back in time together to where we’d been when the crisis began.

I told her that I’d been on the West Coast, where I lived. That I’d been on a date, at dinner. I told her about the unexpected phone call, the shock, the terrible dawning, the rush to the airport to fly here. But past that point, past liftoff—I remembered a cream leather cabin—my memory frayed and sputtered. My forehead twitching, my cheeks flushing with effort as the details jammed. She said: Journalist. You’re a journalist. We’ve met. Which sounded familiar, so I told her: Yes, I remember. Although I wasn’t at all sure that I did.

And here she nodded and turned away, not coming back with her own story immediately, but waiting in silence for several seconds instead, the air textured all around us with radio squelch, rotor wash, the sound of the falls, all those uncountable sirens. I recognized in her pause the long habit of self concealment around journalists. Forget about all those interviews and profiles after her gold-medal win in Geneva eight years before. The tide of curiosity as her athletic fame so quickly morphed into something bigger. The celebrity engagement to the French film director. The paparazzi outside her Paris hotel after he left her for the tennis player. Her high profile term as a UNICEF Global Ambassador. She’d faced them all squarely, the photographers and the networks. She’d accommodated the local press on her return home from Europe, their loved daughter. Always gracious, never minding that they called her Evey like she wasn’t thirty-two years old but still a kid. It was true that she had lived in the media, lived in our gaze. But none of it would have prepared her for this occasion, as we stood together in the post-normal. This lean, unwavering beauty. The slumped and damaged hack opposite.

Something blinked to life in my memory. Eve Latour had given an interview to a men’s magazine several years before. One of those cleavage and six-pack catalogs. Eve Latour sitting in an old Ukrainian deli, a famous place in this city. In the Heights, I thought. Not too far from where we were standing. In the photograph, she was wearing an impressively ugly cable knit sweater, her head cracked back laughing, mid-conversation with the old guy who ran the place. She told the interviewer that she planned never to leave the city again. She didn’t want to. More importantly, she didn’t need to. She’d seen the world and seen what it had to give. She knew now that everything required in life was right there close at hand, at home. And if it wasn’t—whatever thing or experience—then she could certainly learn to live without it.

I loved that detail, then and now. That Eve Latour was the kind of person who didn’t let herself be tormented by those desires that could not be satisfied.

Eve Latour continued to think of something else, a long loop of thought that took her away from me, her eyes drifting to the buildings opposite, to the sky, to a jet passing overhead. Military. Heading east. It made a sound like a God-scale fabric being torn down the length of its seam.

Then she surprised me again. She motioned we should walk. She took my arm. Again, the physical contact. Again the willing, familiar touch. This time with a new authority. So it was that I crossed the broken Heights, over to the shoulder of the hill, walking arm in arm with Eve Latour. And right at the crest—where the whole downtown delta was revealed, those high and magical spires, each one shimmering in its individual haze of sorrow and money, poised to carry on—right there, she started talking.

She’d been at home, she said. As for so many others, the first images of the Meme Media Hostage Crisis had flickered to consciousness in the upholstered safety of a living room. She remembered the fire, the first gunshots. All of which had been terrible, but not nearly as terrible as what followed. That spilling of events from the inside to the outside, that sense of contagion, violence spreading from one to so many and with such seeming ease. She wondered if it had happened that way, if people had lost themselves in these events, because so many of the hostages had been children.

I didn’t say anything. I just kept walking as she steered us into the street, dead intersection lights overhead, swaying in the breeze off the river. Her foot crunched broken glass and pieces of brick. We crossed to the opposite sidewalk and she asked my name. And when I told her she repeated it quickly, as if it had been there, right on the tip of her tongue.

Thom Pegg, she said. And she turned to look at me, her eyebrows raised. She seemed, incredibly, to be finding some upside in the moment, to be tapping some secret source of hope. But she didn’t tell me what it was, just then. She only nodded again and tightened her grip on my arm, pulling me along. Towards something. That much seemed clear. But what was it? Where was it? I didn’t ask, and she offered no answers. And while I might have pressed on another day, in another frame of mind, on that day, in that frame of mind—shifting gaps in my memory and a pervasive sense of being lost—I let myself be pulled down the street by this famous and mysterious person, this angel. I let her lead me, walking briskly now, dropping down the hill towards the river, the sound of the falls growing and growing. The wind unseasonably high.
 

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