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diagonal spaces along the tracks.
Every teenager in the area also appeared to be downtown, but since they
could not drink, the ones not attending the movie theatre drove, making a loop
that went north on Kansas to the Sonic Drive-In, across the tracks, south
seven blocks to the A & W, and back across the tracks to go north again,
endlessly. They drove cars, pickups, and vans, and carried on conversations by
driving alongside each other and leaning out the windows to shout across the
space between.
Toews ticketed only flagrant violations, the most flagrant being a blue van
weaving wildly through the traffic, and broke up a couple of impending fights.
They also checked businesses along Kansas. Later came drunk-and-disorderly
calls, and an accident in the parking lot outside the VFW. Taking a report
from one driver while Toews talked to the other, watching a couple pass
non-too-steadily toward their own car, Garreth shook his head. This was a dry
state?
5
Garreth had intended just to pick up the key, but Helen Schoning insisted
on coming out with him. She raised one of the garage doors. "This is your
side. If you want to work on your car, feel free to use my tools. Just ask
first and put them back afterward."
He stared around the garage. She looked as though she could open her own
auto repair shop. "You use these?"
She smiled and went over to stroke the fender of the car in the other half
of the garage. "Someone has to keep this running."
He felt his jaw drop. It was a gleaming old Rolls Royce.
"My father bought it in 1955 when his first wells came in. He was so proud
of it. It was the only car like it in Bellamy County. Still is." She paused,
chin down, looking at him through her lashes. "Mr. Mikaelian, I do have one
favor to ask. If you should come home some night and find a car in your side,
will you please park in the drive behind my side so the other car can get out?
And say nothing about it to anyone?"
He felt himself staring again and closed his mouth with a snap. "No
problem."
She smiled. "I hoped you'd understand. I enjoy my solitude-which is not the
same as loneliness despite what most people around here think-and am single by
choice, but I also like companionship from time to time. Discretely, of
course. This is a small town and some of my friends are married."
Garreth regarded her with amazement. She was not what he would have
expected to find here. "You don't miss the stability of a long-term
relationship?"
She laughed. "What stability? Nothing ever stays the same. People, either.
Each of my relationships has suited my needs at the time. What more can I ask?
Good night."
Moving in did not take long, just luggage and his pallet. Then he sat back
in the deep leather chair and sighed happily. Privacy. Better than that, a
refrigerator. He would take his thermos with him on the run tonight and fill
it.
Helen had made up the couch. Laid under the bottom sheet, the pallet would
fold conveniently, safely out of sight with the bed.
All that remained was to buy some health foods, even if he had to go to
Bellamy or Hays for them . . . stage dressing so his cupboard would not look
as oddly empty as Lane's. Then like a spider in the center of his web, he
would sit and wait for his red-haired vampire fly to appear.
6
Mrs. Bieber greeted Garreth with delight and invited him in. "How nice to
see you again. Have you found your grandmother yet?"
He shook his head. "No, but I think I've found a home." While they drank
tea he told her about the apartment and job. It was overcast outside, which
made the room enjoyably dim. After a while he asked casually, "How are you?
What do you hear from your singer daughter?"
"Mada's in Mexico. Following the herds south for the winter, is how she put
it." Mrs. Bieber looked apologetic and embarrassed. "People, she means. I'm
afraid she's not always very polite."
"Do you know which holiday she's coming home for?"
"No." The bright eyes probed him. "Why do you ask?"
Garreth shrugged. "No particular reason."
Mrs. Bieber frowned. "You don't have to lie to me, young man."
He froze. Damn. What had he done to give himself away? "I don't know what
you mean."
She leaned toward him over her teacup with a sly smile. "Deep down don't
you think she's your grandmother?"
Amazing. The cup remained steady in his hand despite a surge of relief that
left him feeling limp as low-test spaghetti. "How can I? The pictures are
nowhere alike."
"Maybe your picture is wrong. I can ask Mada a few questions the next time
she calls."
"Good god, no!" Garreth lowered his voice as her eyes widened in surprise
at his passion. "Please don't. That would be so embarrassing to both of us."
Not to mention fatal to his hopes of trapping Lane here. "Please don't say
anything about me to her."
Her eyes danced but she agreed and he changed the subject to casual
conversation about his job. What he wanted most to talk about, though, he
could not . . . his run the previous night.
He had taken the thermos with him. Filling it involved more than he
anticipated . . . biting a large hole in the cow's carotid artery, then
spending the extra time necessary holding off the place until the blood
clotted. By that time he had collected an audience of three coyotes who stayed
back at his orders but later accompanied him most of the way back to town.
Memory of the run still exhilarated him . . . the stars brilliant in the black [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]