1969 – Novella

NOTE: THIS STORY IS NOT FINISHED YET.

1969:

The man jerked down the trail in a jolting run, dripping wet, his hair pasted against his white face and a look of unending surprise in his eyes. A young man, but way older than me. I was sixteen then. I’m eighteen now, and a lot wiser, but some things puzzle me. His mouth was open like an “O.” He stopped, but he didn’t see me. I was standing near a big mossy cedar log. I come up here to be alone. The wood cutting’s just an excuse. As anyone can see who looks, because I’ve just got an axe, and these trees are so damn big it would take me ten days to chop one down.

It looked like he stopped in some sort of perplexity, as if he wondered why he was running. You never see anybody local in the woods unless they’re with a harvester, a skid truck, or a backhoe or excavator, or maybe yahoos with a 4×4.

I felt sorry for him, because he looked perplexed. And I knew right away something was wrong because he wasn’t with any other men. And he was soaked. Woods workers don’t get soaked like that; they wear rain clothes. This man wore a leather jacket and jeans. City stuff, or town stuff. He was totally soaked, as if he’d just climbed out of a pool. I stood a little straighter. He saw me, his eyes opened wider and he put out his hand, his arm. I’m certain he was about to speak, but he seemed to be searching for words. Then a rifle shot cracked the hugeness of the woods, water dropped off the maple leaves onto my nose, and the man dropped dead.

Actually, he wasn’t dead, because after a moment he squirmed. But he sure had dropped. I dropped too, to my knees, to hide beside that big old cedar log. I froze, listening. But there was no more sound except the blood pounding in my ears. I rose slow as a caterpillar, to peek over the log. I looked up the trail. I couldn’t see anyone.

I wasn’t sure what to do. If I ran up to where he lay on the grit and pebbles and roots of the trail, I might get shot too, because obviously someone was in the mood to shoot people out here, and I didn’t know who or where such a violent madman was. On the other hand, I had to go see that man on the ground. It was almost as if he had a message for me. Maybe he’d whisper, if he weren’t dead yet. And obviously I was the only one in the world able to get that message right now. Or he’d just die and we’d never know anything. For instance, why somebody shot him. It was the most shocking thing I’d ever seen. I’d seen an animal or two shot. I’d killed a duck once with my slingshot.

But I’d never seen a man, a person, shot and drop like that. The whole woods became clear, wet and fresh, brighter. But there was something bad, too, like the smell of old ashtrays someone poured water in – though all I could really smell was the rain, the sweet moldy dirt and the green, unripe smell of wet trees. I felt a sharp, unhappy danger. Not that delicious danger of sneaking out the bedroom window on a summer night. Or that clanging danger when you might talk to a girl and your whole body swarms with a hot red feeling. It was just clear, frightening danger; it made the whole woods excruciatingly bright and clear.

I heard the man groan or sigh. He was about fifty feet from me. The rain dropped in big drops from the treetops. I couldn’t just stay kneeling. That painful brightness of everything drove me – I moved just to ignore it. So I ran, bent over, across a small cut, right to him. I knelt over him. I felt awkward. He lay on his back. His stomach was blown out on one side, and you could see what looked like a bone, a rib or something, with a tatter of plaid shirt draped over it. His cheek and forehead was splotched from the mud of the trail where he’d wiped his face after falling. He looked at me silently, his eyes still questioning, surprised. There’s something about a man, from a boy’s view, a man of about twenty, as I guess he was –  they look all raw and strange and too powerful and dangerous and you can’t relate to them. I didn’t know what to do with this dangerous guy who was at my feet. I suddenly remembered someone had a gun, and I shrunk smaller to be mostly hidden.

“Can I help?” I said. “Do you want me to – ?” His face was skinny, the cheekbones stuck out. He kept looking at me. His lips moved.

“What?” I said. I leaned slightly closer. I didn’t want to get too close.

His voice was so normal and loud I jerked back, surprised.

“Give her,” he said in this loud voice.

“Give? Who?”

“Get her,” he said almost irritably, his eyes strained and watery. I suddenly looked around, spooked, with the sudden thought that someone was stalking us, right now – I thought I’d turn and see some madman with a gun – or a mad woman. I almost  jumped and ran. But low here, kneeling, I was better hidden than if I rose and ran, so I subsided and looked back at him. He was dead, gone. I knew it. I learned right there that that’s what you notice in a dead person. That they’re gone. He was very quiet, all over.

I snuck away on my haunches, walking like a duck right into the deep bush, then I rose and ran and scrambled, off the trail about a hundred yards, off into the cedars and up a soft steep hill that was tangled with salal, cedar roots and moss and I sat there on my haunches with my back against a stone drop, and a dead fall in front of me, so no one could see me. But I could see anyone who came down there to that man’s body.

Give her Get her. Is that what he said? Did he say give, or get? Save her? Arrest her? It made no sense. Maybe he meant give her the news: he was shot. Or maybe he held some clue in his hand, to give some female, and I hadn’t even looked! Damn!

A bit of puke had come up and was burning my throat. I was sure someone big or evil or terrifying would be showing up soon, and they’d look around. My legs were soaked from running through the brush, and my back was soaked, and my wool hat was sagging from wet. But I felt hot, panicky hot.

No one came.

Not for a hour, no one. I know you can’t shoot so far that you can’t walk that distance in fifteen or twenty minutes. So probably no one was coming. Or they were hiding too, waiting for me to show up by the dead man’s body again.

Finally, I went home, creeping first, skirting the body by a good hundred, two hundred yards. I think if I was there with Dave and Ger, or some other guys, we would have gone back to the body and seen what we could and maybe investigated his pockets. But not alone. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked through these kind of woods we have here. In places it’s more like climbing, since the floor keeps falling in, and the deadfalls and roots and salal and all the vegetation are like a jungle gym that you have to keep climbing through and up over and under. That’s why they have trails, or nobody’d ever get anywhere. I plowed through this stuff for about half a hour, just to skirt that body and get into the open along the hydro lines and then I ran across the hydro clearing and into the woods, so I’d be hidden again. Finally I reached a logging road I knew and hustled home, in some spurts half-running, then walking fast, keeping my back straight to show I wasn’t running, but walking, with my hands in my pockets and forming my lips into a whistle, so if the shooter saw me he’d figure I was just an innocent person whistling and walking home innocently in the rain, and he’d rather pass me over than shoot me and cause possibly more trouble and uproar for himself. Half an hour later I was on the paved road, then I was near home.

I got home but nobody was in, so I went out back, down to the dock. My brother was sitting on his back legs, his yellow rain gear on, pants, coat and rain hat, fishing off the side near the end.

“I saw a dead guy.”

“You queer asshole. You didn’t see any dead guy.” He didn’t look up, he stared at the water where his line was, his eyes glinting and fierce.

Then he looked up and squinted at me. It’s half that he’s short-sighted, and half that he thinks it looks tough. “Where?”

I started to answer, but for some strange reason I went silent. A silence came over me like something I’d never known, it was big – not heavy, but strong, like a push from behind. So I didn’t say it, and he looked at me with a disgusted frown and went back to studying his line. He’s sixteen months older than me.

Then he squinted at me again and rose up to stand. He liked to stand in front of me as if he was a big punk. He was only an inch bigger than me, but a lot chunkier. He said, slowly, through his teeth, grinning, he liked to grin at me as if he was going to attack me. “What do you mean, you saw a dead man. What do you mean by ‘dead’?”

I love my brother, but sometimes I don’t love him. Half of me wanted to tell him about it, and we’d go off on a hunt and see the body and be amazed and share this and talk about what to do, and he’d be grudgingly amazed and we’d soak in the satisfaction of it all for days, maybe even weeks. But the other half of me, something that was new and felt unfamiliar to me, wanted to not have anything to do with him, or the dead man, or anything. It wanted to walk away and have a coffee and stare out the back window at the ocean and be silent. This part drew me, to something unknown.

“Sucker,” I said, to deny my whole story.

“Fuck you, little asshole brother!” he shouted. He leapt to chase me and usually I’d run, laughing, and usually I’d get away. But that strange silent feeling made me forget to run. And so he stopped and hesitated and looked at me intently, studying me right into my eyes.

“Yeah, you really saw something, didn’t you?” The question began right at the first part of that sentence. His frown turned slowly to a wide grin. His fists stood on his hips. “My queer little brother saw a dead man. Hmmn.” And with a satisfied air, he bent and drew up his line, holding it above his head like a child would, let it and bait circle down into a bucket, pushed his head and chin into forward gear, and marched pompously up the dock to the house. I’m skinny, but he’s built square.

It wasn’t six yet so our mother wasn’t home. It was cold in the house. I changed my wet clothes, made a coffee, took it into my room and closed the door. My brother left me alone, which I didn’t even notice at the time.

I guess I should mention that my brother and I live with our Mother in this grey rented house beside the ocean, near nowhere on the Sunshine Coast. (The name’s a joke; it rains almost every day.) Our mother doesn’t say much, she mostly comes home from work and curls up on the couch, eats a candy bar and reads. Frank Yerby books – slave plantation adventures, that sort of stuff. Cheap books.

My brother and I mostly do the cooking. I don’t know who lived here before us, but they were likely a biker gang or something, because there were Nazi swastikas painted in black over all the pink walls, and we had to paint the walls. I sometimes wondered who originally built this house. They must have had a family, and parents and kids. But why did they live here? What did they think about this place? Were they happy? What did they say and think and feel? Was the house nice then and warm and with carpets and nicely painted and warm lights in the rooms and bookcases and gentle voices? Rather than, I mean, the god awful pink walls with the black swastikas all over. Maybe there never was a warm, peaceful, happy, loving, calm and secure and gentle family ever living here, ever – maybe it was just built by a hermit trucker who filled the living room with his b.o. and lumber shirts and beer cans and cigarettes and lousy tv and sat on the docks and spit into the water until he coughed into a fit and died. Maybe it was always a cold, lonesome, empty place. We haven’t lived here always, just a few years.

I lay in bed long after supper and after the television went silent and Paul and Mom’s lights went out.

I had to go. There was something there I had to see. I don’t know what. I didn’t blame myself for running and hiding earlier that day. That was just prudent. I made some preparations, then snuck out the dock-side door. It slapped lightly closed. I don’t know why I didn’t call Dave or Gerald to share this, to have an adventure. It was something more private, like the silence I’d felt on the dock, that surrounded me with something unknown. Plus, I wanted to see if that dead man had anything – maybe in his pockets or in his hand, like that guy in the old film who dies and has “Rosebud” in his hand, and I didn’t want anyone wrecking what I’d find, or laying some claim to it, just  by being there. (I never actually saw the film.) I wondered, on the periphery of my mind, why my brother had given up so easily and left me alone. But it didn’t become a whole thought. Sometimes, without warning, he did something understanding.

I had a flashlight and a cube of cheese and wore my jeans and runners, even though they’d get soaked in the brush. I didn’t want to be trying to run from a murderer in my clunking rubber boots and a huge old pair of rain pants. I’d be worse than a girl on sports day. I took a pack of matches too, and about twenty feet of light nylon rope, I don’t know why. And a scaling knife with its sheath – that wicked thing would gut anyone. The sky had cleared a bit and the moon was out, so some clouds glowed white in the light. I felt fine and brave on the paved road down to the hydro cut. I was going more directly to the body’s place than when I’d run away from t. But when I left the road and had walked about a hundred feet into the cut – it’s a swath they cut through the woods, from one eternity to another, and it’s about 200 yards wide, and usually has a crooked, muddy dirt road winding through it and along both edges, 200 feet apart, the tall black trees like a thousand sentinels on either side. That was spooky.  Walking down the hard path in the middle of the cut, and exposed to everything from bears to owls to the eyes of murderers, despite the knife and being in my running gear, I started to feel not only exposed but foolish, as anyone who saw me, even a murderer, would say to himself, that kid has no sense walking out there in the open under the moon. Even worse, the brush, mostly fireweed and  bushes about man-high, could hide anyone until they were only feet away. So I was open to all the night, and to every murderer who could sneak up on me without a moment’s notice. So I was afraid, and angry that I was. I’d stop and punch the air, to feel more courageous. But I wasn’t about to move over to the edge of the cut, where I would blend with the forest, because the edge was a stinking mess of swamp and sharp bushes, and occasionally a stinging clump of devil’s club. Or on the dry spots you could trip and fall into a mess of brambles and slice yourself to ribbons getting out.

So I stomped along the dirt road. I didn’t want to run, because I knew running could start the panic. Finally the ground rose to rock, a long rock run where the road pretty well disappeared because there was no dirt to form it in and the hydro jeeps just drove over the rock, and shortly along this was the trail where I’d been in the woods. I almost missed it, it shrank from the weak moonlight, a half-formed darkness like a round dark mouth.

I knew I had to do two things: find out if he was still there – or his body – and if so, what was in his pockets. Give her – that was like a command to check his pockets. Setting this goal clearly in my mind – check those pockets then get out, fast – was the only way I could enter that darkness and stumble cautiously along the trail. My heart pounded like a trumpet as I entered the mouth of the trail and it kept pounding for too long and even harder the more steps I took into that darkness. Something rose like a horrible silence, a hulking beast around me. After twenty or thirty steps I turned and ran out of that trail into the open of the hydro lines, just to catch my breath. I stood there, panting, exhausted.

Then suddenly I saw someone in the moonlight, almost close enough to whisper. I felt no fear. Then I knew why – it was Paul, loping along like a stumpy behemoth.

He ran right up to me and stood chest-out, sneering, eyes shining: “Couldn’t go in alone, eh little brother?” I said nothing. Still, I was very glad he was there. This guy who constantly mocked me also made me feel a lot safer.

“Well, where’s the body?” I could never figure Paul out. Either he was full of bravado because he was my older brother and not having a father he figured he was the man of the house and had to push all this bravado out  his chest, or he really was brave. I now figure it was a fusion of the two. His bravado was so necessary that it became part of him, for real. Once I watched him stand in a circle of punks and get beat by a bigger guy with railroad gloves just because he refused to back down. Railroad gloves have ridges of stiff leather sewn along the upside of every finger, so they cut your face when they hit you. I didn’t even think of helping him. But now I realize I should have, at least tried.

“In there.”

“How far?”

“A couple hundred yards maybe.”

He leaned back, his fists on his hips and grinned: “Well, little brother, are we going in?”

“There might be someone waiting.”

“Who’s going to sit up all fucking night in these shitty woods with a dead man – that they’ve  fuckin killed? Jesus, little brother! Let’s go!” (Whenever he called me “little brother” I knew he was pleased with me.) And he marched into the trail’s big dark tunnel, double-time. I caught up.

My brother is short-sighted, so he stumbled more on the roots and pock-holes than I did, but he kept his chin high. The body, when we reached it, lay in a dappled pocket of moonlight. Paul stood and gazed at it for a full minute, his fists on his hips, chest out, as if savoring the moment. Then he knelt down, waved his forearm at me, and we rolled the body over. Now Paul was struggling to get the man’s wallet from his back pocket, and while he wasn’t looking, I took both the dead hands. I had that Rosebud thing in my mind. The right hand was a fist, and as I pried his big finger up I knew something hard and cold was in it. I pried the fingers open and it dropped into his jacket  sleeve, so I dug there carefully, and closed my fist around it. I knew, or I suspected, this was the mystery I was looking for, a clue to “Give her.”

It was hard, smooth and cold, and I slotted it into my back jeans pocket. Paul levered the wallet out, then rolled him again and went through every pocket, found a penknife and some change, which, after considering awhile, he poured back onto the dead chest, and stood up.

“Any notes?” I said.

“No. No.”

“Well, we got his wallet,” I said. “In the light, we can see who he is.”

“No, we can’t,” he said. He threw the wallet down on the body. He spoke through clenched teeth, thinking. “If we have the wallet – .” Then he went quiet for a moment, bent and picked it up.

We looked around. It was spooky. We left, hardly fast enough, my heart said. When we made the road and a streetlight, we examined the wallet. There were a few cards, Visa and a driver’s license. Paul wanted to keep the license, but I said that would really pin him if he was ever stopped by the cops. So after some argument we decided to tell the police and hand them the dead man’s wallet. I didn’t tell Paul what I’d found in the man’s fist. For some reason, I kept it in my pocket, and never told anyone – well, almost no one. Because a week later I did try to give it to someone, and for good reason. It was a silver locket – is that what they call them? Those heart-shaped things that open and have a picture of someone inside. Except this one didn’t open. It was very plain, just plain silver both sides, and on one side, “Berry.” That was all.

So we phoned the police from home and they came to interview us, and we were secretly pleased and satisfied that we could wake our Mom up and have the cops there and it wasn’t us who were in trouble. The cops told us we shouldn’t have taken the wallet and dug around, but fuck them. So after awhile they took us up there in a little convoy of 4x4s, shone their searchlights into the round mouth of that trail, and walked the trail with us with flashlights, and laid yellow tape around and rolled the bloating body into a black plastic bag, and did all the police things in the dark night, working with flashlights. They were big, bright lights, they made the trail a bright tunnel rather than the dark mouth that had swallowed our pitiful flashlight. We were only allowed to stay long enough for two cops to ask me where I was when I saw it, what I did, what direction did I hear the shot from, and after about half an hour they took us home, so I didn’t see what they did after that.

When we saw our Mom at home – it was almost dawn now – Paul acted superior, like she couldn’t possibly appreciate what we knew. The murder was Wednesday afternoon, and the whole thing with Paul and the dark trail and the cops went into Thursday morning. Our Mom let us stay home from school Thursday. But Friday I said nothing at school, I don’t know why. Something silenced me, just like it had on the dock with Paul. Paul strutted around school like he knew a big secret: I knew he’d tell soon. Then Friday night I called my only two friends, Dave and Ger, and said let’s meet at the cut near Crowe Road. I told them why, to see a crime scene, and that I’d seen the guy die. Saturday morning we met and walked up to the spot. They were pretty skeptical, until I showed them the newspaper report, and they became complete believers when they saw the yellow police tape.

Partly I took them there because I wanted to show off. But partly I just kept wondering what it was, so I had to see it again, and for some reason it spooked me, I had to be with friends, or I’d feel crazy. The report I showed them was a small article in the Friday paper (it only came out twice a week) but it had no mention of Paul or me. Maybe that’s because we were minors. The article said virtually nothing except a body had been found, and if anyone had any information about a Dietmar Stoltz, please contact the RCMP. Still, I read the article about ten times, searching for clues. Then I cut it out and put it in my pocket to show Dave and Ger.

I should have been elated. One, I was showing my friends how special I was, and two, in the couple of days since the dead body, Paul was treating me a little better, I felt a silent acceptance and he didn’t speak so down to me.

But the fly in the ointment of my elation was – well, I think my mother was, for some reason, puzzled about me. I noticed the half hidden, timid but subtle looks she cast me several times, which she didn’t cast over Paul, as if she wondered what I was doing out alone in the woods, or she suspected something about me – not like I was the prime suspect or anything like that, but that she suspected something about me, something that I myself had no clue about. As if I puzzled her. That was new. It kept me thoughtful, underneath my new brave self.

But maybe it was nothing, because that Saturday changed my life. And is maybe why I just want to die.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

 

“His name was Dietmar Stoltz. Dietmar,” I said. “We saw that from his wallet, Paul and me. Maybe he was German,” I hinted darkly.

“You took your brother?” Ger asked. He wasn’t surprised, it was more a blunt little dig at me, because they all knew how Paul treated me.

“As far as I know there’s no Stoltz in town, or even on the coast. I looked in the phone book – not one on the whole Sunshine Coast,” I said. I was explaining everything, I was like a tour guide, excited by what had happened.

Then we reached the yellow tape.

“See?” I said. “I wasn’t lying, man.”

“Holy Cow,” Ger said.

“Holy shit,” Dave said quietly. “— Hey, you can’t go in there.”

“Bullshit,” I said, “It’s my crime scene.” And with my young bravado(pleased they could see it) I didn’t bother to duck under the tape, I broke it in two, and stepped in. “See? The body was here,” and I gestured lengthwise, to indicate his whole body. They cautiously ventured in.

Then they both knelt, to examine the bits of dark spots on the dirt. Ger found a stick and poked at them.

“His guts were lying out here,” I said, pointing.

“Have they caught the guy?”

“Not that I know.”

 

First, maybe I should explain my mother. I don’t know why. She has nothing to do with what happened to me. No, I’ll just describe her. Who could explain her? She was about late thirties or just forty. No grey hair yet, and she still dressed for men, you could tell that. There were the little touches, perfume and a nice scarf. But there wasn’t a man around that I could see. At least not permanently. Once in awhile some man came home with her after a date, and usually spent the night. I didn’t mind these guys, but they never stayed. Except one guy I hated, because he teased me. At about the time of the dead man I was going through a period where my mother for some reason repulsed me; I recoiled at the sight of her almost ferociously. I’m shy and quiet and I never let on, but inside me it was like a huge cat leapt away from the sight of her. Her glasses seemed to cut into me like sharp shards, her voice had a cutting edge, and you could see her going to pot a little bit, getting fat around the butt, and that really repulsed me. I don’t know why that was. But now, being older and remembering it, I find my mom was quite attractive looking, and I can’t picture her in any way except soft, gentle and pretty. Maybe that’s the truth. People have told me – women have told me — that she was a beauty. She had dark thick hair and large brown eyes. She was usually quiet, but sometimes in her bedroom she would break out in large, loud sobs that filled the house so you had to run outside and run up the paved road so you wouldn’t hear it, and probably get soaked. The damn rain. It’s always fucking raining here. God can just fuck me, sometimes I hate the rain and everything about Him so much. That’s how sometimes I feel now when I remember my mother weeping those loud, forsaken, musical sobs. Now, when I’m telling this. I forgot to tell you, I’m eighteen now. But at the time I was sixteen, and nothing angered me. I just fled to get away, and then walked quietly. I’ve never found sadness to be a very repulsive thing. I enjoy it sometimes.

I guess she was sobbing, in particular, because some man had not come back, or they’d had a fight. But I felt she was sobbing, in general, over the whole state of things. In her worst moods she would threaten to get rid of us, Paul and me. She’d declare us “incorrigible” in court, she said, and we’d be put in juvie – juvenile detention home. I can remember having specifically no reaction to that.

So I’d tell you what she said and what she asked about the murder and finding the body and the RCMP’s questions and etcetera, but it seems rather superfluous. All you have to know about is her sobs, and that tells you everything.

 

 

 

“Hey,” Dave said. “Look!” On a knob way up a wooded rise,  we could see more yellow tape. We scrambled up. Mostly we could follow an old skid road. (They aren’t really roads, just paths the machines had made by dragging logs through the woods.) It was infested with young alders so thick you had to push through them, so we were soaked by the time we got there. It was April, so the weather was still cold, the rain chilled you, but there’s some sun too, and it’s light to about seven. When we reached the spot, the sun came out and shone down like sweetness. But otherwise, we were disappointed.

“There’s nothing here.”

“This is where he stood, to shoot. See the broken ferns?”

“Hey, watch out – there’s footprints!”

There they were, partial indents in the soggy ground. We stared at them for a whole minute.

“They seem pretty small for a man.”

“Yeah.”

We stared at them a little longer, but no one said anything.

“Well, the cops got everything. No shells. No torn clothes. No condoms! HA, HA!” That was Ger. He often made embarrassing remarks, then laughed really loudly. In class, he sat, knees crossed, bent over his desk, twirling his compass, ignoring the teacher. Every day. Every hour.

Then, silently, Ger, began poking around in the area, lifting ferns, etc. By now, we just ignored the yellow tape.

After a few minutes of hopeful searching, of pretending we were the rifleman, gazing down along our outstretched hands to the dead spot, I could see Dave and Ger were a bit bored.

“Let’s go back.”

But I was still listening to that soft, private feeling inside.

“Aren’t you coming?”

I shook my head.

“You’ll get cold, man!”

They waited, already ten feet down the slope.

I waved them off, and watched them go.

I stood around awhile, looking in a circle at everything, but seeing nothing. I thought I’d give it one last shot, so I heaved up the hill a little more, then more, then more, thinking I might find something – footprints, maybe. Maybe even another dead body. (I knew that was too much to hope for, but, you know, I was sixteen. Anything was possible.) Finally, I thought if I reached the top of the hill, I could see further. If the shooter had shot west toward this Dietmar, then I could look east from the top, maybe see something.

But as usual in the woods, the top was just an introduction to another hill, and its top to another, and so on. I knew the real top was still in snow, and there wouldn’t be anything east of that summit anyway, but a wilderness of summits. So, disheartened, I started to wander back down. A bit of curiosity made me turn right (that’s north-west) into an overgrown skid road I hadn’t noticed before.

At times the trees cleared, and you could see the land below was all misted and grey. Suddenly, pushing through some particularly strong alders, I fell into a ditch and scraped my hands on sharp gravel. There was a real road here, a gravel thing about twelve feet across. I began walking in the direction I assumed led down, back home. I was tired and wet, the adventure was over. If I’d only gone with Ger and Dave, we’d be sitting in the café with hot coffee right now, and I envied them.

Who knew where this road went? I’d heard there was a long, looping road from Gibsons right over to Sechelt. Maybe this was it. But there weren’t any of those yellow metal forestry signs that show every mile. That was strange. After an hour I was befuddled. I didn’t seem to be any closer to anything. I wasn’t really scared, because I was far away from the dead stuff. If the murderer saw me here, I’d just be another pedestrian. But the road grew more and more lonesome as I walked, and I began to feel unsettled. I’d look around me slowly, then go on. I thought I’d probably get stranded if I went a lot further, say another hour, because night would come before I could then turn and take the whole afternoon to get back to the skid roads I’d followed, back to some terrain I’d recognize, much less home. But maybe I should have gone the other way. There were stories about people being found dead on these logging roads, after they wandered for days, lost.

Yet something drove me on, rather than turn back. Maybe there was a community at the end of this road. With a store or café so I could eat. Or maybe there wasn’t. And what would I do anyway, stuck overnight in some strange community? I should go back. But I knew if I turned back, I would never come here again, down this road. And why should I? What a futile stupid ass thing to do, to be here! Fuck me. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there could be something down this road, something I wanted to find. Not the murderer (who I definitely didn’t want to find!). But I didn’t have a clue what it was. It was very lonesome now, but the world, the round tunnel of the road in the trees, seemed almost to lay around me in a protective way, as if it embraced me, and subtly nudged me on. I wasn’t wet and cold anymore, I was in a rhythm, jerking along with tired, warm legs. I didn’t notice anything beside me. It was so comforting, so easy, and …there was some promise, something delicious waited for me, I couldn’t quite grasp it, but it called me almost as if someone was singing with a soft, beautiful soundless voice. It was like that time last Wednesday on the dock, when something had pulled me away from Paul, made me go private, except now it was pulling me on.

Then suddenly I “woke up,” I kept walking, didn’t break stride but suddenly fear struck through me like unseen lightning, I was alert, my heart pounded in my ears. I started to run, but not away, I ran further down the narrow road. Because the fearsome thing wasn’t ahead of me, it was around me, in the trees and the earth and the sky and the ferns and the leaves and in the damp clear air between the trees.

I ran until the road rose and leveled and ran directly beside a large cut, maybe a few acres, between the rocky hillsides. Four or five black ponds lay like mysteries out there in the expanse of the cut, surrounded by salal and ferns and brush. Logs, some bucked (that means the branches are cut off, in case you live in the desert) ) but most still branched, lay helter-skelter everywhere, including half their lengths in the black ponds. Maybe five hundred trees, big ones, bucked into logs, laying everywhere. It looked like a massacre. I was still feeling the fear, but I stopped and watched. Mostly, I was out of breath. There were no machinery tracks anywhere. It was cut in the last six months, maybe, because none of the branches had turned orange. Someone had come in with a chainsaw, and worked a long time, maybe weeks, and hadn’t hauled anything away. Maybe it was the dead man. He was shot for hacking down someone else’s trees. But I knew that was a stupid idea – the dead man was no logger. (No logging clothes, no sawdust on him, no chainsaw oil on his jeans.) For just a minute, I felt that a strange compulsion had drawn me here.

Or something. The bare truth is, as soon as I saw this massacred place, all the fear and all the urgent searching feeling disappeared, so silently I hardly noticed.

But that was my story if the RCMP asked me, a log poacher was murdered, and I stuck to it in my mind, mainly I guess so I could just turn that part off, like an irritating radio station, as I bandy walked over and along the logs, trying to keep from falling between them. You could fall in this kind of mess and break a leg or get stuck ten feet below, or be belly-gutted on a sharp dead branch. It was such a wealth of logs I felt like stealing it myself. But it was also the slaughter, the chaos, lying like sticks thrown from a giant’s hand, not felled in any care or order. They were handsome logs, straight and thick, you could just wrap your arms around one, with healthy firm bark like black turtle skin, and red and yellow where the round butts were cut off. The carelessness, the pell-mell slaughter, and just left here… It was one of those strange, inexplicable things with motives you can’t understand.

I slowly made my way to the nearest pool, hoping it had no beaver disease in it. That gives you the runs. I had a huge thirst. The pool was really just a big hollow in the granite, maybe where long ago the stone had cracked deep; I knew that before I got there. On this part of the mountain, the mountain showed through, its flesh and skin were rock and the trees were hairs. The deeper hollows stayed filled all year from rainwater. Through the logs and salal below me I could see glimpses of the pool as I all-foured along a big log that hung in the air near the pool. I jumped down, onto the rock face, and clung to some cedar branches, went to my knees, and gazed into the huge crack. The water was black. I couldn’t see the bottom. It could be four feet deep, or sixteen. I just wanted to take a deep drink, then head home. The sky was light yellow on my jacket sleeve, but I turned to see that some gold on a strip of cloud showed the sun was in or near its last glow.

And there she was. Sitting on a log, her butt on her ankles, over this pool, staring into its black depths. How had I missed her? My whole body clenched with surprise. She didn’t even seem to hear me. How could she not have, me scrambling over the log, huffing and puffing, dropping to the rock’s cheek, sucking in the water?

 

 

 

I’ll tell you. In March here, if a woman’s sitting down outside you can’t tell if she’s got a good body or not. The clothes are just too thick. But there was something about this woman. You could see she was tall. I guess she was about  mid-twenties – I can’t tell ages of people older than me. Her hair was like a huge yellow mane, curling and bending and tossed about around her head and shoulders. She was bundled up in a yellow “space age” jacket with matching puffy yellow pants and expensive hiking boots, so she must have money or be from the city. She was warm enough, you could tell. I could see the blue sky and a cloud now, reflected sharper than a photograph on the pond, on the water between her and me.

“Hey!” I yelled, kind of hopeful, more a greeting than anything.

She looked up at me, She had brown eyes and blonde eyebrows, set on one of those regular, soft yet solid, handsome faces that some women have, it makes you think they’re beautiful and wise and reliable and the most valuable woman you could ever share your life with, even if they weren’t particularly your type. A healthy woman, not like the sluts my brother hung around, or the poor (I mean money-wise) girls I knew. (There were both types at our school, but the healthy ones wouldn’t talk to me.) Yet there was a kind of superficial – empty? – look in those large dark eyes and her mouth was twisted just the tiniest bit, like Mona Lisa’s, but into a senseless smile.

“Have you come to get me?” she said. There was a kind of fool’s glint in her eyes, which was out of synch with the handsome solidness of her face. I wondered if she was crazy, yet the thought didn’t bother me, which should have been the first warning.

“No.” I shrugged. “What do you mean?”

She watched me for a moment, then looked back in the pool, the smile still on her face. I liked being there, so I just stayed, standing.

“Do you live around here?” I said. She didn’t answer.

“I mean, shouldn’t you be getting home soon? It’s going to get dark. Do you want me to show you the way out? These logs can be dangerous.” I wanted to talk to her, which was odd. I’m usually shy and uncertain, especially with girls. Words can mean so many things, and your tone of voice multiplies that, so you never know exactly what you’ll end up saying, much less meaning. So this was the first time I’d talked so many sentences to a stranger, and/or to a woman, or any female, since probably I was a child.

She looked up at me and smiled, it was partly the same superficial, foolish smile, but partly healthy and friendly.

I didn’t know what that meant, so I stared at her face. She had brown eyes, with blonde eyebrows, like I told you. The brown eyes were like, endless. She was about fifteen feet from me. Then her gaze left me again.

“Have you come to tell me something?” she asked the water. I thought and frowned at that.

“No.”

We were quiet again. Then, as I watched, she slowly leaned over and dropped off the log, splashing head first into the cold black pool without even changing her sitting position. I reacted slowly. At first her legs shot straight up and kicked, then they sank and only her boots were left at the surface by the time I reacted. I scrambled across the rock and to my knees, slamming them on the pool’s stone edge. I almost went in myself.

I could just see her boot under the water, maybe a foot down. I grabbed. The water was freezing. My fingers slicked off the boot. I reached into the water with both arms, two feet down, to grab her boot above the ankle with both hands. I just got it. I pulled. How slowly that body, that weight, moved! I’d always considered myself a sort of semi-superman, like you do when you’re sixteen, and this was one of the few times in my life so far when I was shocked by how puny my strength was against something bigger. The other time was when I was six or so, and my uncle tied me to a telephone pole and went away and I couldn’t bust the rope with my chest or arms. I remember the fear and panic that climbed in me. It was the same now, I was pulling with all my might, and she was only coming inches closer to me. I kept tugging. I yelled at her, swearing. I huffed and pulled again, my stomach clenching in a knot tighter than a mattress’s wire coils, my thighs pressing with all their might against the rock to keep me anchored, my head bursting with effort. She kicked at me, slowly, but hard enough to send pain through my fingers where her boot heel caught them. That angered me. In a stupid senseless fit of frustration, I jumped into the pool to grab her and somehow haul her out. But there was no “purchase,” as they call it, nowhere for my feet to grab and stand. The water was freezing. My testicles felt like a hammer had smashed them, and my belly screamed with cold. I was shaking, gasping, clutching, trying to grab her, I was thrashing around wildly. I’m pretty sure I got her, I felt material slip into my hands and out, that space jacket  or ski pant material, and I’m pretty sure 1 felt a breast, full and squishy, and other things my hands and hips bumped into, but I couldn’t seem to grab a firm hold on her, I was too busy thrashing. Now I knew the pool was one of the deeper ones. I had no idea how far down it went, but there was no bottom I could feel. I started to cry, not from fear, but – for God’s sakes, do you know what love is? In that minute I loved her and was crying because she was dying. Because I couldn’t get her out. I couldn’t do it. In a minute I’d have to save myself or I’d drown. The cold takes all your strength away, it seeps out of you like juice from a cut ripe peach. By some miracle, my hand swept across a branch that hadn’t been cut from the log above me, and in case you don’t know, there’s no better hold than a fresh sappy branch from a hemlock or spruce or fir, the sap literally glues your hand to it, and you can’ break a fresh fir branch without twisting and pulling and tearing. I grabbed and my spirit soared, like an exclamation mark. I grabbed and somehow had the cuff of her pant leg in my hand, in a strong hold, and I pulled her a bit and then grabbed higher, and pulled and grabbed again, until I had worked my free hand right up to her waist, and she was starting to curve in the water from this pulling, I could see her back starting to appear out on the water away from me, out of reach. I pulled again, and made a grab for her jacket, and got it. Jesus, I was cold. Her jacket was looser, easier to grab. I pulled and grabbed again, and again, slowly pulling her upper back, then her shoulders closer – then, I had her collar. I pulled her toward me. I yanked her up to my chest. She wasn’t moving. She must have blacked out. I got the same strange dead feeling as from the shot man. But different. That was a dangerous, sharp, frightened dead feeling. This was a – almost a beautiful dead feeling, not that it felt good, but that the dead thing was beautiful and serene and cold in a strange way. But I yanked my arm around her throat and caught her in the crook of my arm, like a chokehold, except I was trying to keep her from floating away. Jesus it was cold. I was almost senseless now. The cold takes away your thoughts, so you just don’t, can’t think. I was just cold. But I was angry, too, or somehow fired up. Not exactly angry, but fired up.

I didn’t have a clue how to get her and me up on the rock and out of the pool. I couldn’t think. I just pulled her up tighter, turned both of us toward the rock about four feet away, and then shoved her as hard as I could toward the rock. This didn’t create much motion. I shoved for ten or twenty seconds, or a minute, and slowly, slowly her bulk drifted toward the rock, closer and closer. Then her head was going under, and I let her go. I grabbed the branch with both hands and propelled myself awkwardly toward the rock. Two strokes and I was there. I pulled myself half out, then reached around and grabbed her hair. It was floating on the water. I pulled now, and for some reason it was easier. I was fired up. I wasn’t cold any longer. My skin burned with a roaring pain, my whole chest burned and my legs burned as hot as matches. I yanked on that golden hair and her head came up, her face, I had her shoulders level with the rock edge, a smooth flat bit of rock, I was standing, knees bent, her hair wrapped in my hands, pulling with all my body. Slowly, I brought her shoulders onto the rock. I kept pulling and she rolled over somehow in the water, and I thought that was dangerous so I dropped her hair and grabbed at her armpits and got a hold somehow and pulled again. Now I was sitting or lying on the rock, and bit by bit, pulling her on her back, I got her shoulder blades over, then the small of her back, then I grabbed between her legs and pulled her around, which was easier than pulling her straight out, and now I had her all out except one arm. I threw myself on her and grabbed that damn arm and jerked it up so it went oddly, almost gracefully, rising into the air, hovering, then smashed down on my face. I pulled her now totally clear onto the rock, on her back. She was a sodden mess. I was a sodden mess. But the burning kept up. My arms and hands were shaking uncontrollably, but I only felt the burning. I tried to pump her chest like you see on teevee, but I didn’t think it was working, and my hands would not stay on her chest, they were so weak, and my muscles didn’t work. Even my chest and legs were shaking violently. I tried using the stumps that my wrists were, but I suspected I was too weak. I threw myself on her, grabbed her face and head as best I could, I was shaking so bad I had to press myself against her and grind her face into mine, to try that breathing thing you see on teevee. I couldn’t keep our mouths together and get a seal with our lips because I was shaking. So I pressed my mouth as hard as I could against her neck to stop my shaking, it worked a bit, then slid my face up to hers, cutting her chin and lips with my teeth, cruel and hard until I felt her mouth, and now I clamped it on, grabbing her hair to hold my shaking head against her. I breathed in my nose and expelled into her mouth. It wasn’t working. I don’t know how, but I got a shaking finger into her mouth, pried it open, then breathed in. I just kept doing that for a few times. Not a lot of times, just a few, because the warmth, the burning had started to fade and a deep cold was setting into me, a deep tired cold, and I lay half on her and half off, I slowly let my head lay down on hers, without breathing into her any more, I just lay, staring horizontally at the cold bright air, over the pond, at the logs, the air was so bright and the sky was gold above and turning pink, and I just watched. I felt peaceful, and the shivering didn’t stop, but it didn’t bother me anymore, and there were long queer stretches where  I wasn’t shivering any more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

 

 

One part of me was fading, almost sleeping, but in another part there was an anger – no, not anger but a sort of weeping rage. I began to cry, tears ran down my face. But my body wanted to just lie there, and I couldn’t find the thought to make it move, or the muscles. Somehow, it had gone beyond my control. I dreamed I saw Paul, my brother, and I knew, or dreamed, what Paul would do. Paul stood over me, he said “fuck!” between clenched teeth and he started to smash and bully his way into some – thing. I was laughing in my sleep, or my dream – at the same time I had not closed my eyes and I saw the pond and the beautiful sky, blue, gold and pink and clear light over the pond and on the rocks, turning the granite pink. I laughed and muttered weakly, “fuck,” and I ….

It wasn’t that I wanted to die, or for her to die, just that I wanted not to move… somehow I moved. I lifted myself up on my elbows, then heaved to my knees, grabbed a branch and pulled myself to stand. I shook like a leaf, but I was on my feet. She looked beautiful, dead and pale like that. I fell to my knees and put a weak hand on her face. I pulled the skin of her forehead up so her eyes half opened. Maybe she wasn’t dead. Those eyes seemed to look directly into me. It shocked me. But my hands were too cold to tell if she was breathing. I couldn’t tell if she was dead from cold or drowning or quite alive and sleeping, or what. And if you’re sleeping, I said in my head, why don’t you wake up?

“How can I bring you back?” I asked. Then I lost it; I  started crying, and I yelled, almost like I was singing, it rolled around me, my voice, “You fucking cockfuck bitch! Get awake! Fuck you! Wake up! Fuck you! Fuck! Fucking fucking fucking – fuck you! Fuck you!” Then I wailed, “How can I save you?”  I wouldn’t usually speak like that, of course, but it’s funny how you’ll say things when you’re alone in the freezing damn woods and it looks like someone’s dying.

I had a brainwave. I thought to expel the water from her lungs. So I threw myself on her chest, so hard we both bounced. I pulled her away from the pool’s edge, and threw myself on her again, so my chest whomped against her, and her head jerked from the impact. I dragged myself up, and did it again. I did it a few times. The last time I hit my forehead on the rock, and the pain outraged me but also made me alive, woke me up with those bright little gnats of light swirling around.

At least that’s what I thought it did. But actually, maybe I knocked myself out.

Because the next thing I knew, someone was handling me, tossing me around with their arms, I was sore all over. I opened my eyes. The day had bent over. Her eyes shone in the blue dark. She was shaking me.

I thought she said, “Who are you?” or “Where is Disneyland,” but I couldn’t be sure she’d even spoken.

I felt very comfortable, and I smiled like a happy fool. I started weeping again

She stared at me with an oddly, subtly foolish smile, or with a puzzled look, or a worried look, I couldn’t tell. I smiled again, tears flowing down my face.

I felt her slap me and it hurt. I opened my eyes and she slapped me again. “Okay,” I whispered. “Okay.” It really hurt. I felt all the cold now, the freezing cold, and my throbbing hands and a terrible ache in my testicles. Then I began to feel warm and I smiled. At this, she

grabbed my jacket and pulled me up against her and it was her eyes, staring at mine, and the cold shock of having my wet clothes pressed against me again, against my chest – something woke me up and somehow I eased over that edge, came into a wakefulness that wasn’t going to go away. My head throbbed. But I was awake.

I rose up, to a sitting position. Then I got to all fours.

She turned away and began to climb out of the low area of the pool, up onto the jumbled logs. I followed her, because somehow she had taken charge. Our progress was slow, groping with our feet at every step, and searching for handholds before we took another step. At some point I noticed we weren’t going in the direction of the road, but toward a narrow V at the far end of the cut.

“The road’s that way,” I said, so quietly I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t hear it. I tried again. This time I think she heard me, but if she answered at all it was with a nod, which I wasn’t sure wasn’t just a movement of our climbing over the logs. So I just followed her. To tell you the absolute truth, I would have followed her no matter where she was going. I had no strength to go anywhere on my own. The only strength I got was from her, following her. Our sodden clothes snagged a few times. I fell at times, and I’m sure she did too. Finally, maybe a half hour or ten days later, we swished loudly through some salal (it sounds like walking through aluminum foil leaves) and stood on a large slab of granite. Not one felled log stood before us, just some puny trees here and there growing up from small pockets of dirt or out of cracks in the rock. I noticed now how tall she stood, with good posture. I felt like a weak and shivering rat beside her. Don’t women shiver? But something, something that was still just dull in me, made me stand tall too, some dull, dim sense of triumph. She looked at me blankly. It wasn’t a dismissing look, but a judging one. That somehow made me feel strong, though I don’t think that was her intent. I looked at her. She looked worried, then turned without a word and walked on

In a few minutes of easier stumbling we turned slightly around the camber of a rock hill and came to one of those semi-permanent tent-cabin structures, with wooden lower walls and canvas upper walls and roof. The day had faded, so it stood almost white in the blue twilight. The moon was starting to throw more light than the sun’s afterglow.

 

I followed her inside. She turned to look at me as if to say, “You’re coming in too?” Maybe it was rude of me, to just come in, and I felt a little guilty in a numb, fuzzy way, because everything in my mind was in cotton batting.  But I stayed; I was too cold and numb to voluntarily move out into the cold night again.

She quit looking at me, turned, and slowly began peeling her clothes off and dropping them onto the canvas floor. They splatted. Her motions were mechanical. When she was naked, she looked at me.

I just stood there. Of course. Yes, take off my own cold clothes. I tried. But my hands were useless. I couldn’t undo anything. I tried to grab my jacket sleeve, but couldn’t grasp it. Her clothes were easy, all vecro’d, even her boots. She was obviously from some upper class, but I wasn’t. She hesitated a moment, then came to me, and with a lot of tugging and pulling from various angles, she managed to peel off my jacket. She started to undo the buttons on my shirt, but her hands were numbed, too, I guess. Finally, she grabbed my shirt in the front, and ripped it open halfway, then peeled it up over my head. I watched her body, her arms blue and pale in the darkening air, her shining knees and thighs, her stomach and breasts. And of course I saw her cunt patch down there, it was blonde and the hairs curled and dripping, but I only glimpsed it, I was too shy, and hoped she didn’t see me looking. And her breasts weren’t big, in fact they were small, no bigger than hardballs, or fists. But they stood there, like two weasels that both saw you at once, and elevated their heads and stared at you with that unmoving stare. They didn’t really swing when she moved, they were more solid and “attached” than that. I always thought breasts swung, but I guess not on young women. I have to admit my experience was limited. Her nipples were stiff from the cold, and goose bumps covered her blue skin. I had never seen a woman totally naked, at least not up close, and I was amazed, I was floored by her beauty. It’s a strange thing, it’s like you fall into this pool of beauty, and it surrounds you. But I stopped looking, partly I felt guilty, and tried to help her undo my pants and boots, but I couldn’t undo my boots and I couldn’t get my pants down. They were jeans, so they clung. She motioned, so I lay down as she indicated. I just wanted to sleep. I curled up, but she slapped me and pulled me straight out. That was really cold, having to straighten out. I started shivering crazily again. She got a fork and undid the knots, then pulled my boots and socks off and pulled my jeans off. I kept my underpants on as best I could by hooking my stiff fingers into them while she pulled my jeans. Plus I had an erection, and I was trying to hide it. Even in that damn cold.

She turned on a kerosene lamp and a propane stove. I looked on them hungrily but I couldn’t move. She moved the lamp closer to me, and hung a towel over my shoulders, then she dried my hair and shoulders and face, and watched my face. I had a huge erection. She made me stand and lifted my wet underpants up and off my erection, and pulled them down. I kicked them off. Suddenly, I wondered: is she going to – want to – do me? But she yanked a blanket off the bed and put it over my shoulders. I smiled, happy and ridiculous, my whanger standing up against my stomach. She looked at me, in a way that was both scolding and amused. I will never forget that amusement. Even now. It is one of the few great pleasures of my life, remembering that half Cheshire Cat, half Mona Lisa smile.

“Put that away,” she said. “Sit down.”

“Oh yes,” I said, eager to please. Of course it wouldn’t go away, so I grabbed the blanket off my shoulders and bunched it up over my crotch.

“Here.” She put another blanket over my shoulders, and gestured at me, to sit closer to the stove on a folding wooden chair. I rose and sat on the chair, sat on my feet, feet against my bum, hunched up so the towels would cover my back and my privates and my legs. My balls stayed wet and cold, because I couldn’t figure out how to dry them without being shamefully ridiculous. In this rubbery, shivering state, I continued to watch her.

I watched her, every little movement. She was still naked, all over. But in some odd way she was almost like a boy, tall and slender and with the small tight breasts. Except her hips were wide. I could feel the heat of the lamp and the propane stove. They both burned me, but I began to like the heat. She pulled another towel from an overstuffed locker under the camp bed, then another. She gave me one, then crossed the tent, turned her back to me, and began to dry herself. I watched and watched. Totally naked, she dabbed herself dry. I was surprised and oddly both repulsed and fascinated by that – that she dabbed herself dry. Why not just rub? It seemed false and over-delicate, yet real too. For some reason it seemed selfish and precious and yet it fascinated me too. I stared at her blonde vagina hairs showing beneath and between her legs, from the back. I stared at her round bum, and her long back and shoulders and her soft neck and wet blonde masses of hair and everything else as I watched her. Slowly, I grew warmer.

I had watched her earlier, too, in the dark tent before she turned the light on, as she’d moved in, undressing herself, and moved to come toward me, and moved undressing me, every single little and big movement, all these very ordinary movements, I saw different angles of her buttocks in the dark blue light, and her elbows, and her face and cheeks, and her hips, the way women’s hips go different than men’s, and her legs and thighs and breasts, the way the legs at the top curve inward, and the swell of her stomach down there, the bulb with the hair on it – though I could hardly see this in the darkness before she lit the lamp — each of these hundred little ordinary movements, each was different to me, and it was – each time was like seeing a new world a different way. Like the ocean changes under the shifting clouds and sunlight.

And now as I watched her dabbing and patting herself dry in the bright yellow light of the kerosene lamp, and I gazed totally silently on her beauty, I also kept watching her in the dark blue light as she had been a some minutes before, because that had not faded either. It’s hard to explain. Nothing she was, “disappeared.” Everything about her lingered and stayed in my mind, and overlaid what she was now. I had never seen a more beautiful person. She had a thousand ways to appear; I knew that already.

I was absorbed in her; she was like someone had thrown a book at me, and every word in that book, as the pages fluttered, every separate word pressed itself onto my eyes, softly but with a pressure you couldn’t measure, like the pressure of the atmosphere around us. I noticed now that her wrists were small. Nor did I feel embarrassed, which was the strangest part. No, that wasn’t the strangest part. The strangest was, she was not doing any of this naked dabbing for my benefit. I knew that, absolutely. I don’t know if I even questioned it. There was something about the dabbing with the towel, how carefully she looked at herself as she did it, how self-concerned it was, that I knew it wasn’t done for me at all. I mean, it wasn’t what you’d think. And yet now that  I’m eighteen and look back, I’m starting to think she did do it for my benefit, I mean to attract me – no, not really to attract me, but a strange thing, to make a statement, to impress a kind of stamp on me, my mind, my eyes, like she was posing as a sort of art work for me to remember, but not that blatant. I don’t know. It was strange. She handled every single one of her movements carefully, and I’ll bet she had been like that since she first cried in a crib.

There was a listlessness, too, in her movements – this somehow signaled to me that I should keep to myself. But this was only a tenth as clear and strong as that careful dabbing. Yet I didn’t resent it, though as I said I found it strangely repulsive and fascinating. I didn’t want more, didn’t want less. I was just contentedly overpowered. She put a dry sweater, jacket and pants on, but left her feet bare. She seemed to notice me then and gave me a sleeping bag, held it out to me. I gave her my damp towel and wrapped the bag around my shoulders and sat down again, hunching. I watched her every move. It was like a neat puzzle, seeing how her clothes fit around her in various ways. I watched her bare feet.

“Shouldn’t you put on some shoes?” I said. She looked up at me, at this, and her eyes were now so sunk and wretched, or tired, I don’t know, so blue and purple and dark underneath, that I stared and a small, quiet fear and sorrow came into me.

I stared at her hands. I watched her face and her eyes. She moved in and out of the tent-cabin affair, collecting the sodden clothes and taking them outside. I guess she was hanging them up. When she came back in she gave me a power bar. I sucked on it. I was too exhausted, to tell you the truth, to grind my jaws. She made tea. I noticed she didn’t eat. While she made tea I noticed a man’s boots in one corner, beside a tin cooler. And standing beside it, leaning into the canvas corner, a rifle. I don’t know much about rifles, but it was bigger than a .22. I remembered something I’d seen on teevee, so I thought I would go over and smell the end of the barrel sometime, to see if it smelled of whatever a fired gun smelled of. I had no reason whatsoever to do this. Yet I didn’t want her to see me, so I pretended to take a little tour of the tent-cabin, and tried to smell as I passed it, but I couldn’t smell anything.

There were lots of other things inside, too – even an eating table, and a rigged up sink affair. It was a pretty big tent, built on a semi-permanent wood bottom, about three feet high, then with some wood skeleton frame, going up and forming a roof, with the canvas stretched over this. There were a few chairs, a rack of books, a guitar, various camping stuff and clothes.

“Is there someone here?” I asked. She looked at me, as if studying me.

“Just us.”

“What about the boots?”

She ignored me, or hadn’t heard. Now that it was all over and I was warming, I began shaking again, shivering. The burning sensation came back, milder this time. It was very pleasant. I still had my erection, and it just stayed there, under the sleeping bag. It was starting to ache.

“Please don’t watch me,” she said.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yes, I’ll bet you are,” she said with that teasing smile. Then, with a suddenly aloof, almost contemptuous tone she said, “You can sleep here.”

“Where?” There was only one bed – a large air mattress on a raised bench. She nodded toward that. “But it’s your only -” It seemed selfish to take her bed.

She looked at me and her eyes were tired. A moment ago they had twinkled. They didn’t seem endless now, like they had when she dropped into the pool. They seemed like jelly over fear. And she seemed puzzled, too – by me? I wanted to stop that puzzled look. For some reason now I wasn’t sleepy. I wanted to talk to her.

“Are you doing the logging?” I asked.

She looked puzzled and afraid. “No.”

“Was someone else?” Now I wanted to mention the shot dead man because I suspected something, but I didn’t want to reveal my suspicions.

“No.”

“I mean who cut down all the trees? I was just wondering,” I said, as she watched me, “Because whoever cut them will be back soon, probably; to skid them out.”

She looked at me. “Please don’t stare at me,” she said. Now the tiredness was coming back, quite fast. So I lay on her bed and pulled the sleeping bag around me, quiet and sad. But the erection wouldn’t go away. I lay curled, hiding it. I had stopped shivering. It’s partly a matter of will power.

“Is this okay?” I said.

“What?”

“Well, I’m looking at the wall, and not staring.”

What she did then surprised me, considering how exhausted, afraid and puzzled she’d looked – she laughed, it was a tinkling laugh. I smiled, contented. Then I had a severe, terrible thought: I imagined when I slept she would get the rifle, and would approach my back, and blow my head off. Just as I rolled over to face the room to make sure she wasn’t, I fell asleep. I was in the ocean. I was drowned. I was looking up, and everyone normal, my brother and mother and the RCMP and teachers and the kids at school, they were up there in a boat, and I would never be able to speak to them again, I had become a fish. And then I was sinking, slowly, unable to stop, sinking.

When I woke, she was bent over the small camp table, still in the same pants and jacket, her feet still bare. The kerosene lamp still burned, though it was daylight. The sun shone bright on the white tent wall. I must have slept a long time, because I was fully awake. You know, when you just haven’t got an ounce of sleep left in you, and even being in bed is immediately boring. I was eager to get up. I was happy as a new groom the morning after the wedding, and the whole world was filled with flowers and sun and green grass and birds and the huge new fresh future.

So I bounced up, the sleeping bag wrapped around me. My erection had just come back. My testicles ached powerfully. When I saw her eyes, I knew she’d sat at that table all night. I sat down in the other chair at the table, a lump in my throat, not knowing what to say. I felt sad again. Then I saw the pair of boots again, in the corner, large men’s boots, and now in the clear light of morning. They weren’t mine, and they sure weren’t hers.

I remembered the strange compulsion that had sent me down the road to this cut of massacred logs, and the shot man who was somehow the trigger of all this. I studied her.

“Do you have a 4×4?” I asked, conversationally.

“I don’t know!” she said with sudden exasperation. I was a little sleepy and clumsy, so I didn’t pick up on how she was acting.

“I mean, I just wondered how you got here, and what – are you here for long?”

“I don’t know!” she said, as if the question had bothered her, too, and she felt hopeless about it.

“Is there a road that comes into this cut from behind? I – were you here with a guy who died? I mean that man” (I pointed, offhand, at the boots) “did he die?”

Her head snapped up swift as a bird’s. She stared at me, her eyes were wide and round and sharp as a bird’s.

“I’ll do anything for you,” I said. I said it so easily. And, damn it, I started crying again, tears flowed down. Damn it! I couldn’t understand! I’d never said anything like that to anyone, much less meant it. But now I said it so easily and I meant it. I would cook her breakfast, or hold her. I’d rescue her. Anything.

We sat in silence. I wiped my eyes dry and felt hungry. Her eyes slowly filled with tears. That made me feel uncomfortable, but I thought it would be mean or rude to ask why she was crying. I just felt reluctant. That’s more like me than when I said “I’ll do anything for you.” That was a new me that said I’d do anything for her. I didn’t understand it, this new me, but I didn’t mind it at all, I liked it. It was an entirely new world, to say that. It made freedom and freshness and a wide, wide feeling come into me, not rushing but almost unnoticeably. But now, to ignore her tears, I said, sort of innocently, “Can I make some tea?” She nodded. I got up and searched for teabags. “Can I make eggs or toast or something too?” I was now in a bright, hungry, optimistic mood. She nodded, distracted.

“I… Do you mind if I just say what I want to say?” I asked cheerfully as I searched through the cooler.

Finally she said, “No.”

“I never do that, just say everything right out,” I said. “I can’t find the tea bags.”

She stared at the lamp, though the flame was barely visible in the canvas-bright sunlight.

I wasn’t looking for the tea bags, I was walking around in a circle in the small space of the tent-cabin. “But I feel like it now. You are extremely …well, you’re just, beautiful. But you’re healthy and… well, strong, I can tell that. You’re strong, and somehow you’ve… got into an `awkward state.’ I mean, is it mental, or is it – I mean, I’ll do anything for you.” I began to weep again. I paused and breathed in a huge breath and sighed it out again.

“Now I don’t know what I’m saying.” I sat down at the table again. “I can’t find the tea or anything.” I looked at her. “You are so beautiful,” I said, in a quieter or maybe huskier voice. I sat and gaped at her. I was looking at her cheeks, and it was absolutely true, and I was somewhere where reality is different, because she was so beautiful.

I imagined she smiled, slightly. At least that superficial, foolish glint in her eyes, that was there yesterday, that I now knew was a kind of sorrow, was gone. But her eyes were still wet with tears, and that bit of fear was still in them, at the back. And they were eyes that I guessed had stayed up all night.

“Did you sleep?” I asked softly.

She looked at me, and her wide stare absorbed and forgave me.

I stood up again, and started searching for the tea bags. Suddenly I was elated. I had told this beautiful woman that she was beautiful. She had accepted that, sort of. I was elated, strong, cheerful and hungry. “We need to eat!” I said, grinning and bouncing around and peeking down into the cardboard boxes on the floor, the sleeping bag still around my shoulders. “Where’s the food?”

“Oh!” she said quietly.

I sat down. “I can’t find anything,” I said. I burst into tears again. I didn’t know why. I left the tent. I flung myself down on the ground, on the wood chips and cool grass and roots around the campsite. For some reason I knew my life, from that minute onward, would never be what it would have been otherwise. I lay on the ground, knowing this, lying here, meant I wasn’t leaving. It meant I’d decided not to walk away from this – her – it. It probably meant I was going to go somewhere strange.

An hour passed. I didn’t know what to do. She didn’t send me away, but she didn’t indicate I could or should stay, either. In fact, she didn’t come out of the tent. I’d gotten tired of lying on the ground, and the sleeping bag was twisted so twigs and chips dug into my chest and legs, and my erection had scraped my penis very painfully, and finally I’d gone soft. I was bored. So I rose and wandered around the campsite a little, unsure what to do. I still didn’t have any clothes on, but the sun was shining so I felt warm, especially with the sleeping bag over my shoulders. It was as if I was in a bit of a dream, a fog, and as I slowly came out, as the sun burned brighter, I wondered what she had done with our wet clothes, and I looked around. There they were, on a log but otherwise not cared for. There were her pants and jacket and underpants, my jeans and torn shirt and jacket, our socks, in lumpen wet piles on the log, steaming in the sun. As soon as I saw them I remembered: The locket in my front pocket. The dead man’s locket.

I grabbed my jeans and felt the pocket. Empty! I’d lost the locket! I shuffled through the other clothes, flicked them out, looked on the ground – nowhere. I got to my knees and shuffled through the dirt. Nowhere! I’d completely forgotten I had it, but now was like I’d lost a key to a wonderful new world, or maybe an escape from her, because now I wanted to escape her – but just in a moment, as if God had finger-flicked me, I lost it. I lost, period. I started looking everywhere over the ground between the drying clothes and the tent. Maybe it had dropped out. Maybe she had searched in my pockets and found it. Of course. But how could I accuse her?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

 

 

BELOW,WHEN MENTION THEY , RCMP, ALREADY HAD THE SHOOTER – HAVE HIM HEAR THIS ON THE HER RADIO. THEN SHE RUSHES TO TURN IT OFF. SAYS, “I JJUST DON’T LIKE TO HEAR UNPLEASANT THINGS.”

 

 

 

 

I decided the best thing was to go back to the pool – if I’d lost it, it was most likely in the water, when I was trying to rescue her. At least I would eliminate that possibility before I accused her. I sensed that if I accused her, it would be the end of – our – there was no word for it. Our love.

I can’t tell you how weird yet pleasing it was to travel across the cut, jumping from log to log in your bare feet, naked, the day cold but the sun warm on your back, your penis erect and bouncing up and down, your balls cold so they don’t bounce, the breeze hitting your ass, smelling the cut wood and the green and the salal and the occasional gnat or wood bug waking up, and dancing, bouncing, jumping through this – it’s good. I actually didn’t go that fast. I looked as I went, stopping here and there to peer down between the logs and debris. I didn’t really even remember our path from the pool to the tent, but I tried to duplicate it backwards.

I reached the pool. I wasn’t sure at first, then I was. Things look different from different angles outside. But it was the same pool. I peered into its depths, but saw no silver glint. I looked around, at the rock, anywhere where I’d been, under the log I’d first climbed, everywhere. No locket. It was silver, so it should be easy to see in the greenery, but it just wasn’t there. For a moment I gave up, accepted the fact I’d lost it, and relaxed. I gave the pool another, cursory look.

Now it seemed some sort of spell had lifted. Everything was sunny and benevolent and clear, easy and logical, solid and right. Just a sunny day in the woods. The only thing that puzzled and fascinated me now was the woman, and that made everything else lift into health and good feeling. But I took another peek into the pool. I gazed into its depths. The water was crystal clear, yet brown, like really weak tea, so finally it disappeared into darkness. I thought I could just see the bottom, a cleft in the rocks deep below, two smooth curved rocks coming together in a cleft. Now I thought I saw a silver gleam, and perhaps even a curve to it, like the breast of a heart-shape would have. But then I couldn’t see it. Waves never let you see, and there’s never water so still it has no wave. There seemed to be a lot of muck deep below, I thought I could see a pile of dead, rotted leaves and rocks. Then it looked like sticks, dead branches. Then I realized I couldn’t see anything, and what I saw could be anything. I straightened up and looked again at the massacred woods, lying all sawn and broken everywhere. I gazed over to where the road was, where I’d come at first yesterday and could have easily passed on, and never entered this jumble of pools and broken trees. I imagined myself going on, and for a moment I envied that person who could have gone on, who could have been safe and warm and relaxed and normal and not here. And for a moment, I almost was that person who would have gone out to the road, and on, and back to school, and grown up to be a doctor or lawyer and all that.

But, partly because I had no clothes on, I went back to the tent. First, I looked longingly into the pool again, calmly and almost lovingly, for several minutes: perhaps God would make the locket appear for me.

 

 

 

 

Back at the clearing, I picked up our clothes and laid them out carefully on the bushes nearby, and on the spaces of rock, to dry. Her clothes I lay on the rock, smoothing every wrinkle, the jacket above the pants, as if she were wearing them, and I gazed at them. They carried the same pleasant mystery as she did. They were her.

Wrapped again in the sleeping bad, I went into the tent and sat down at the small camp table. She was still there, hadn’t moved, I guess.

And there on the table in front of her, was the locket.

 

 

 

She looked at me. They were wide eyes, but sunken, and they seemed to sink even as she stared, and she stood suddenly, tall and rigid, and she stared madly at me.

I didn’t know what to say. She caught me by surprise. I sat with my mouth open. Then I shot to my feet.

“Oh – no – not me,” I stumbled. “No, I found – then it is yours, and so he –”

Her face collapsed, like a gold plum had suddenly become a scarlet prune. Her smooth forehead turned into a hundred deep wrinkles, wrinkles filled her cheeks and corrugated her nose and tears wet the whole thing. She threw her hands over her face. I pitied her. I had never seen anything like this silent destruction, even my mother’s sobbing. I felt stupid and awkward and frustrated. I sat down and stared at her.

Her straight and tall body seemed to shrink as she turned away. She snuck out of the tent. I sat there awhile, not knowing what to do. Then, frightened, I ran outside, fearing she was going to the pool again to throw herself in. The sky was crystal clear, warm and blue, and the campsite and wood and bushes all around shone in the light, but a small cloud had come across and the light was peculiar, as if it was silently echoing something you can’t quite grasp. Something half a dream, half awake. At least now it was warmer out. She was just beyond the campsite, walking slowly, very slowly and hesitantly. It was like a dream. There was something about that hesitancy which made me go over, but only to within a few feet of her. Her arms seemed thin, her wrists small. But her neck was soft and thick.

“Can’t I -”

“Please leave me.” She wouldn’t look at me.

“You mean – forever? I mean, totally, away?”

She shook her head vigorously, as if she was saying no, but I knew it was not a no, it was a dismissal, an urging me to leave her alone. She turned away from me, face in her hands.

I hesitated, then walked away. I got my jeans and jacket down outside and began to pull them on. They were still wet, painfully cold and hard to pull over my limbs. I went into the tent-cabin and put my boots on. My socks and underpants, still wet, I shoved in my back pockets.

She slipped in the tent flap.

“No,” she said quietly, looking at me, “Don’t leave. I’m sorry. Don’t leave.”

I exhaled loudly. I wasn’t going to leave. I’d already decided that, when I threw myself on the ground earlier.

She smiled wanly at me. I stayed. She walked absently to the camp table and sat down, as if still stunned a little. I felt trapped. Not by her, and not in an unpleasant way. I enjoyed being trapped like this, but still, it was a trap, I sensed that. I groped around, wondering what the trap was, where it was. It was as if I couldn’t walk out of this small valley, this cut of massacred trees, all jumbled.

I went to the camp table and sat down. She sat as if utterly defeated, her arms hanging by her sides, her hands in her lap. We must have sat there five minutes. Then she flung her head up and looked at me and smiled and reached out and took my left hand. She clutched it so tightly it was painful, and her knuckles stood out, white and boned.

“How old are you?” she said softly but with a kind of terrible happy force, staring at me with a different kind of false smile. That almost made me run out of there, whether I’d passed the point of no return or not.

“Sixteen.”

“Ah. You -” she stared into me, then laughed.

“You couldn’t kill anybody, could you?” she said lightly and brightly.

“No,” I said.

“No, of course not.” She laughed. “Of course not! You silly thing! You… poor silly boy, you silly boy… what? Do you want me? Do you want me?”

She stared sharply at me with shining eyes and now a smile that wasn’t false, but wasn’t really warm either. I thought in some ways I was seeing the real her for a moment. But I didn’t know how that made me feel. I felt lost, confused.

“You saved my life. So you can have me. Have me, anytime. Here I am! Sixteen! Well, you’re brave and intelligent and” – she peered – “yes, you’re good hearted too.” She waited, peered intently at me.

“Well, are you? Good hearted? Are you gentle and kind and wouldn’t hurt a woman, any woman, and you’d always cherish her and respect and never ever hurt or hit her.”

I could only stare. I couldn’t leave her.

“Isn’t that right?” she said impatiently now. “You’re as brave and strong as any man, aren’t you? I’ll bet you are!” She laughed. Then she turned away swiftly, her face red.

She looked at me fiercely, as if accusing me, her eyes steady and piercing.

“You… you love me, or think you do.”

She got up with a fierce sort of speed, and stood there, and then, I imagine from embarrassment, she stomped out of the tent flap. I sat, not knowing what to do. I was getting very hungry. I saw the food box. I went to it and opened the Styrofoam lid. Inside were a lot of things floating in water, some pop cans, some lettuce that had started to rot and had a green slime on it, a loaf of bread in a steamy plastic bag, and a large chunk of cheese in saran wrap. I picked up the cheese. It was soft and had started to go a bit bad. I peeled the wrap and took a huge bite. My mouth smarted from the sudden taste of food, as if my taste buds had sprouted acid. But God, it felt good, filling my stomach. I bit off another big chunk, then went outside with it.

She was sitting at the cold fire circle. I sat near her. I held out the cheese. “Eat something.”

She stared at the cheese. “Oh, yes,” she said, her hand fluttering about her cheek. “We’ll go shopping. We’ll go shopping soon,” she said. “We need lots of food.” She stared at me. It was one of those stares that has nothing to it. “Where is he?” she asked.

“Who?” I said stupidly. Her changing of moods and tones, lickety-split like that, had caught me off guard.

She said nothing.

“Him,” I said, slowly. It was embarrassing to say it.

 

EDITED TO HERE, JULY 22, 2015.

 

 

 

Insert in the scene (ABOVE?? – NO, BELONGS MORE DOWN A BIT, ABOUT PAGE 23 BELOW) where they are first eating, in the woods, near the cabin, shortly after he’s discovered her, where she is talking, but none of it really makes sense:

 

 

 

None of what she said really made sense to me. The words didn’t seem to refer to anything. But I didn’t care. The sunlight, her magic flesh, the beauty of her blonde eyes, her shoulders, her neck, the freshness of the woods and the sunlight, it was all like a subtly strange, alluring fairy tale I’d wandered into and was content to stay in for the rest of my life, in a sort of amused, mildly fascinated way. Had the fascination been any stronger, I would have been afraid – of madness, I guess – and I would have recoiled. I know that now, because I did reach a point of madness later. But those few hours were strange and absorbing in such a numbed, joyful way, that I didn’t care if I couldn’t understand her words, for that was part of the fascination, if her words had been clear and understandable I would have thought about what she said, I guess, and that would have broken the spell. I didn’t even care that her words spoke about pain, that she was talking about something that distressed her. It was the lilt, the music of her words, which spun part of the magic spell.

She seemed to be reassured by the end of our meal, our time of conversation, as if she drew some comfort merely because I hadn’t walked away.

I called our time together that day “our picnic.” Ad later that night and even a week later, I said, “I really liked our picnic,” and she nodded with sad smiling eyes.

(END OF INSERT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She just kept staring at me, the same mild, unspeaking stare.

“Yes.”

“Was he your husband?”

Her eyes said no, I think. Because they were pretty blank. “Your boyfriend?”

She looked away quietly, refusing to answer, or let me into her confidence, I guessed.

“Well, they caught his murderer,” I said a bit cruelly, for her quietly dismissing me like that angered me.

She stared at me, wide eyed. I stared back. I wasn’t giving her anything. I was angry, and a bit tired of all this – this day. And my cold, wet clothes.

“They… caught somebody?” she fell thoughtful. Then she stared at me, that same meaningless stare. “Of course, of course, it couldn’t just …the body. Of course.” She looked at me with a horrified, intense, seizing look. “Did you see him die?”

“Yes.”

“Was he dead? All dead? Was everyone dead?”

“Everyone? No, just him. He was dead alright. Dead. He said to go find the girl. So I figured it was you. I mean now. I mean, you know, now that I’ve found you.”

“The girl? The girl? Just… `the girl’?” she asked me anxiously, in a close, intimate and wondering voice, taking my arm in her hands and leaning close to me, looking in my eyes with her round, wondering ones, almost childlike, and it made me feel a strange sad fear. I think she was a little insane.

I rose straight on my knees. She had stopped looking at me. She looked at the sky and there seemed to be huge, hanging bags under her eyes. Her face seemed to flow blue and green shades. I walked restlessly around the cold fire pit awhile. I stopped and looked at her, direct.

“Can I sit beside you?” I said. It meant a lot more than when a few minutes ago I’d just been sitting beside her.

She looked at me, like a horse looks at a snake, but softer. If she’d kept looking at me, I’d never have moved, but she looked away in a way that let me. I shuffled over and sat beside her right leg. She was still sitting on the log, but I sat on my knees on the

ground and I stayed there a second, frozen. Then I laid my left arm on her leg and leaned my side into her thigh. I knew what I was doing, but also I just wanted to get warm. I was still shivery. But at first, at least, it only burned the cold wet shirt into me even more. A major erection pushed up against my wet jeans, and hurt. I hunched forward a bit to hide it and it lifted straight up against my belly, so at least it didn’t hurt so much any more. I crooked my legs and leaned my left leg against hers. She was quiet and I was quiet, just staring at the bushes. Before I knew it some stuff gushed out and wet my stomach and my erection and made it all sticky. Thank God I had my jeans on. I hoped she hadn’t noticed. I pretended nothing had happened, and I stared at the bushes.

She grabbed my hair and pulled my face up so she could see me, and she frowned. I felt like you do when you’ve told a lie and you know they know.

“You’ll never know what he was or where I am,” she said contemptuously. “I’m somewhere you can never be. I’ve done things you can never do – no one can ever do to me again. So you can’t affect me. Don’t get your hopes up. You think you can want me, but I can’t be affected. I’m free… of that.” She stared softly, yet her eyes were wild. “That’s… just the way it is. Leave me. Go away.” She smiled gently and said softly, “Don’t worry, I’ll just disappear.”

“You’re talking crazy,” I said. The earth seemed to change character around us, as if we were both bound in a strange bubble, and around us the sunlight could race or the trees talk or angels could shimmer, outside the bubble.

“What kind of things?” I said. “No things.”

“I mean, what kind of things do you mean you did that I can’t ever do? I can do anything.”

“Bad. Very bad things,” she said softly. “With Dieter?”

She looked at me. Her eyes widened. “How do you know? Who told you?”

THIS IS ALL TOO OBVIOUS AND MELODRAMATIC…??

“You will never reach where I am,” she said, proud again, staring at me.

“So go kill yourself,” I said. “I don’t give a damn. I saved you and you’re mine. But I don’t care, so go kill yourself.”

“You’re right,” she said. “You saved me. You saved me.” She went quiet and all the strength and arrogance seemed to flee out of her.

NOTE: HERE SHE HAS THE LOCKET IN HER HANDS – BUT IN ANOTHER PLACE – EARLIER? I HAVE HIM LOOKING AROUND THE POOL FOR IT AND NEVER FINDING IT!! BETTER CHECK!

I only now realized she still had the locket pressed in her hands. She opened her hand slightly to let it appear, then grasped it even more tightly.

We fell into a silence. She’s crazy, I thought. I could smell the alder saplings and the ferns. I looked up at her and thought how beautiful she was, how softly and solidly beautiful. She watched me gazing at her. I turned away, content. I could feel her beauty whether I looked or not. That kind of beauty, it didn’t lay on a face or body, it surrounded you, it was there in her, but also it hovered around her, invisible.

She pulled my hair again and looked down at me. “You mustn’t.”

The women on the coast said, “you can’t” or “don’t you,” not “mustn’t.” I could tell she was upper class, from that.

“Yes,” I said. I shrugged the tiniest bit.

She slowly got up, so I had to lean away to take my weight off her. I felt awkward and abandoned; I blushed at the bushes. But she reached down and squeezed my arm, then went inside the tent. When I followed she was on the sleeping platform, lying facing the tent wall. I got the sleeping bag from outside and lay it over her. Then I lay down beside her. After all, we’d already been intimate outside. I left the sleeping bag between us because my clothes were so wet. I had another erection. The nape of her neck was soft and covered with almost invisible blonde fuzz. I touched it, cupped it in my hand for a

 

 

 

Leave me. Go away.” She smiled gently and said softly, “Don’t worry, I’ll just disappear.”

“You’re talking crazy,” I said. The earth seemed to change character around us, as if we were both bound in a strange bubble, and around us the sunlight could race or the trees talk or angels could shimmer, outside the bubble.

“What kind of things?” I said. “No things.”

“I mean, what kind of things do you mean you did that I can’t ever do? I can do anything.”

“Bad. Very bad things,” she said softly. “With Dieter?”

She looked at me. Her eyes widened. “How do you know? Who told you?”

THIS IS ALL TOO OBVIOUS AND MELODRAMATIC…??

“You will never reach where I am,” she said, proud again, staring at me.

“So go kill yourself,” I said. “I don’t give a damn. I saved you and you’re mine. But I don’t care, so go kill yourself.”

“You’re right,” she said. “You saved me. You saved me.” She went quiet and all the strength and arrogance seemed to flee out of her.

NOTE: HERE SHE HAS THE LOCKET IN HER HANDS – BUT IN ANOTHER PLACE – EARLIER? I HAVE HIM LOOKING AROUND THE POOL FOR IT AND NEVER FINDING IT!! BETTER CHECK!

I only now realized she still had the locket pressed in her hands. She opened her hand slightly to let it appear, then grasped it even more tightly.

We fell into a silence. She’s crazy, I thought. I could smell the alder saplings and the ferns. I looked up at her and thought how beautiful she was, how softly and solidly beautiful. She watched me gazing at her. I turned away, content. I could feel her beauty whether I looked or not. That kind of beauty, it didn’t lay on a face or body, it surrounded you, it was there in her, but also it hovered around her, invisible.

She pulled my hair again and looked down at me. “You mustn’t.”

The women on the coast said, “you can’t” or “don’t you,” not “mustn’t.” I could tell she was upper class, from that.

“Yes,” I said. I shrugged the tiniest bit.

She slowly got up, so I had to lean away to take my weight off her. I felt awkward and abandoned; I blushed at the bushes. But she reached down and squeezed my arm, then went inside the tent. When I followed she was on the sleeping platform, lying facing the tent wall. I got the sleeping bag from outside and lay it over her. Then I lay down beside her. After all, we’d already been intimate outside. I left the sleeping bag between us because my clothes were so wet. I had another erection. The nape of her neck was soft and covered with almost invisible blonde fuzz. I touched it, cupped it in my hand for a few moments. 1 don’t know if she wanted to sleep or not, or if she did sleep. But I couldn’t. I lay there all noon and into the afternoon, with that erection pressed against her back, holding her, suspended in ecstasy. If I’d been older, maybe, I would have tried something more. But this was enough. This was total and prolonged — and different. 1 wanted to hug her but my clothes were wet. I lay for awhile. Then I stood up, ripped off my jacket, and lay down again, this time sliding my upper half under the sleeping bag. T pressed my chest against her back, I wrapped my arm around her_ I felt her breast on the other side. I held it. I stared at the light as it progressed over the noon and afternoon, i saw her hair, and the top of the sleeping bag and a bit of the canvas wall and some dirt, and how they all slowly glowed in different ways as the sunlight changed. i didn’t think to move my eyes. I was content. I just watched what i could see.

1 heard her softly snoring, like you hear a bear in the woods sometimes, that soft snuff, snuff as it blows through its chest.

(NOTE: MAYBE TURNS OUT SHE IS THE ONE WHO SHOT DIETMAR STOI,T7? WAS DROWNING HERSELF OUT OF GUILT? Man arrested was innocent? Now she faces dilemma of giving herself up to save the innocent man?)

Things continued like this for about a week. I don’t mean her snoring, but that I stayed there and she stayed there. She continued to be inward and preoccupied with her thoughts, which probably would have bugged me if I was older, or a man. But I felt suspended in her beauty, I guess just the sheer raw physical radiance. I didn’t need a mind or a big conversation: just watching her soft downy forearm on the camp table was enough, or watching how she washed her hair (I fetched a bucket of water from the nearest pool, for I didn’t want her going near any pools) and the delicate movements she went through as she lifted the hair off her neck, the unusual and (I thought) overly delicate way she dabbed soap on her hair before scrubbing it, the way she extended her chin upward to rinse her face and hair, movements that I would never have been able to invent or copy, they were so unique yet so ordinary. That was it: everything was ordinary, yet glowed with – not a mystery – not like the dark type in books, or even the awesome type like the ocean, or the scary, dread type like being totally alone in the forest, and suddenly realizing it. This mystery was soft and blonde, yellow and filled with interest – a comforting mystery. Though, I have to admit, there was a scary thing about it, hovering on the edge, a fear I didn’t exactly face nor want to, because it would be horrible, a horror, a yes, a horror.

So we fell into a routine, despite her staying pretty inward. I didn’t go to school, nor even leave her campsite except once, at night, when I walked the entire trail back to the hydro cut, down the cut to the paved road, and home. I did it that night, because she’d mentioned that there must be a store nearby. I took that as an instruction that we needed food, and that was my contribution. So as she lay on the sleeping platform, and the afternoon sighed deliciously into twilight, then cooled into night, then got really cold, she didn’t wake. I napped a moment at twilight, then woke cold. I extricated myself carefully from the sleeping platform, laying the sleeping bag back up on her shoulder. I sneaked

 

 

 

 

Leave me. Go away.” She smiled gently and said softly, “Don’t worry, I’ll just disappear.”

“You’re talking crazy,” I said. The earth seemed to change character around us, as if we were both bound in a strange bubble, and around us the sunlight could race or the trees talk or angels could shimmer, outside the bubble.

“What kind of things?” I said. “No things.”

“I mean, what kind of things do you mean you did that I can’t ever do? I can do anything.”

“Bad. Bad things,” she said softly.

“With Dieter?”

She looked at me. Her eyes widened.

“You will never reach where I am,” she said, proud again, staring at me.

“Never?”

“Never.”

“Oh come on. Never? Isn’t that a bit…conceited?”

She shook her head, but it was more like trembling, as her cheeks reddened and she looked down at me, stiff and hard. Still, a morsel of question sat in her eyes, ready for my soul to eat.

“So go kill yourself,” I said. “I don’t give a damn. I saved you and you’re mine. But I don’t care, so go kill yourself.”

“You’re right,” she said. “You saved me. You saved me.” She went quiet and all the arrogance seemed to slowly ebb from her, until I could sense she was calm from the bend of her shoulders.

NOTE: HERE SHE HAS THE LOCKET IN HER HANDS – BUT IN ANOTHER PLACE – EARLIER? I HAVE HIM LOOKING AROUND THE POOL FOR IT AND NEVER FINDING IT!! BETTER CHECK!

I only now realized she still had the locket pressed in her hands. She opened her hand slightly to let it appear, then grasped it even more tightly.

We fell into a silence. She’s crazy, I thought. I could smell the alder saplings and the ferns. I looked up at her and thought how beautiful she was, how softly and solidly beautiful. She watched me gazing at her. I turned away, content. I could feel her beauty whether I looked or not. That kind of beauty, it didn’t lay on a face or body, it surrounded you, it was there in her, but also it hovered around her and around me, invisible.

She pulled my hair again and looked down at me. “You mustn’t.”

The women on the coast said, “you can’t” or “don’t you,” not “mustn’t.” I could tell she was from somewhere else, from that. Somewhere softer or with a clean, gentle childhood, because the “mustn’t” was soft, not hard like can’t or don’t.

“Yes,” I said. I shrugged the tiniest bit.

She slowly got up, so I had to lean away to take my weight off her. I felt awkward and abandoned; I blushed at the bushes. But she reached down and squeezed my arm, then went inside the tent. When I followed she was on the sleeping platform, lying facing the tent wall. I got the sleeping bag from outside and lay it over her. Then I lay down beside her. After all, we’d already been intimate outside. I left the sleeping bag between us because my clothes were so wet. I had another erection. The nape of her neck was soft and covered with almost invisible blonde fuzz. I touched it, cupped it in my hand for a few moments. 1 don’t know if she wanted to sleep or not, or if she did sleep. But I couldn’t. I lay there all noon and into the afternoon, with that erection pressed against her back, holding her, suspended in ecstasy. If I’d been older, maybe, I would have tried something more. But this was enough. This was total and prolonged — and different. 1 wanted to hug her but my clothes were wet. I lay for awhile. Then I stood up, ripped off my jacket, and lay down again, this time sliding my upper half under the sleeping bag. T pressed my chest against her back, I wrapped my arm around her_ I felt her breast on the other side. I held it. I stared at the light as it progressed over the noon and afternoon, i saw her hair, and the top of the sleeping bag and a bit of the canvas wall and some dirt, and how they all slowly glowed in different ways as the sunlight changed. i didn’t think to move my eyes. I was content. I just watched what i could see.

1 heard her softly snoring, like you hear a bear in the woods sometimes, that soft snuff, snuff as it blows through its chest.

(NOTE: MAYBE TURNS OUT SHE IS THE ONE WHO SHOT DIETMAR STOI,T7? WAS DROWNING HERSELF OUT OF GUILT? Man arrested was innocent? Now she faces dilemma of giving herself up to save the innocent man?)

Things continued like this for about a week. I don’t mean her snoring, but that I stayed there and she stayed there. She continued to be inward and preoccupied with her thoughts, which probably would have bugged me if I was older, or a man. But I felt suspended in her beauty, I guess just the sheer raw physical radiance. I didn’t need a mind or a big conversation: just watching her soft downy forearm on the camp table was enough, or watching how she washed her hair (I fetched a bucket of water from the nearest pool, for I didn’t want her going near any pools) and the delicate movements she went through as she lifted the hair off her neck, the unusual and (I thought) overly delicate way she dabbed soap on her hair before scrubbing it, the way she extended her chin upward to rinse her face and hair, movements that I would never have been able to invent or copy, they were so unique yet so ordinary. That was it: everything was ordinary, yet glowed with – not a mystery – not like the dark type in books, or even the awesome type like the ocean, or the scary, dread type like being totally alone in the forest, and suddenly realizing it. This mystery was soft and blonde, yellow and filled with interest – a comforting mystery. Though, I have to admit, there was a scary thing about it, hovering on the edge, a fear I didn’t exactly face nor want to, because it would be horrible, a horror, a yes, a horror.

So we fell into a routine, despite her staying pretty inward. I didn’t go to school, nor even leave her campsite except once, at night, when I walked the entire trail back to the hydro cut, down the cut to the paved road, and home. I did it that night, because she’d mentioned that there must be a store nearby. I took that as an instruction that we needed food, and that was my contribution. So as she lay on the sleeping platform, and the afternoon sighed deliciously into twilight, then cooled into night, then got really cold, she didn’t wake. I napped a moment at twilight, then woke cold. I extricated myself carefully from the sleeping platform, laying the sleeping bag back up on her shoulder. I sneaked out of the tent, across the campsite, then crossed the treacherous logging massacre, and you know the rest.

I climbed into the house through my bedroom window and closed it. I shucked off my damp clothes and quietly put on a dry pair of wool socks and dry clothes, and took a sweater too. I shoved some extra socks and underpants in my back pockets. Then I took my pillow case and filled it with most of my mother’s fridge and cupboards, then crept quietly out the door, quietly making sure it was locked behind. I really cleaned them out, except for things like flour and eggs, because 1 couldn’t carry them. I got cheese and crackers, a bit of roasted meat, some potatoes, half a plastic jug of milk, half a box of cookies, crackers, a box of cereal, two handfuls of tea bags, a bunch of sweet potatoes, a loaf and a half of sliced bread, a jam jar and the peanut butter jar. There wasn’t any other vegetables or fruit because they were too expensive. But I got other things, too. Then I lugged it all back to our “camp.” The whole journey took a good four hours. I have to say, I was not scared once. Even in the pitch dark parts of the old road. I guess her beauty still surrounded me like a shield, or I lived in her eyes, and I knew that, at least for now, those eyes didn’t want me dead. I didn’t even notice the contrast between my paralyzing fear on that same trail a week or so ago, and my complete absence of it now. I didn’t notice it, I mean, until now, as I’m telling you this.

Nor did I feel any emotions as I ransacked my mom’s food. I didn’t feel anything, I just did it. But on the paved road, after I’d hurried up it a few hundred steps in case they woke or that perpetually watching Paul was somehow once again watching me, when I turned around and saw just the side of the decrepit old house as it crowded the road, I felt sad. As if I were leaving them behind, or leaving a hole in their lives, or in mine; I wasn’t quite sure which.

HERE PUT IN THE MAGNIFICENT `KING TREES’ FALLING OVER SLOWLY IN THE WINDSTORM? As if they were silent kings, falling, neither cruel nor kind, slow and soft and dignified as they slowly tumbled over, one by one, with

uneven intervals in between – each one fell quietly, a long, slow whoosh, it took about a whole four or five seconds, that long fall as the tip, about a hundred or hundred fifty feet up slowly waved to the ground. Here and there you’d hear a muffled snapping of the branches, and sometimes a whole tree trunk ripped in two about a man’s height from the ground with a loud crash-buckling sound. But mostly the whole tree fell over, roots and all. The roots were as shallow as tea saucers. Such huge mighty magnificent things, with such shallow roots. That’s why they fell. But it was magic watching them. They must have filled the road for miles, in some spots they were just feet apart, sometimes there was not one for five or ten bus lengths. I didn’t see them all fall, of course. And for some reason I wasn’t scared. I just stood in the road there and watched them quietly and sadly thunk down around me. I figured they fell so slow you could run out of one’s way anyway, though I don’t know that’s true, for I didn’t move at all, except to turn to watch another one. There’s also something, when you see nature so huge, it calms you – like a lightning and thunderstorm calms you. Or it does me, anyway. The whole thing lasted about five minutes. Maybe a hundred fell, that I could see, up and down the hill. Their trunks were from about my waist to my head in thickness.

 

 

 

 

Then once I was back at the camp, I didn’t think of them again – I mean my family, Paul and Mom – except once or twice in a fleeting way. I put all the food carefully on the camp table, so she would see it. Then I lay back down, carefully and silently as I could, exactly where I was before, with the back of her thighs on the front of mine. I fell asleep with an erection and woke with one. I don’t know when it ever went away, but it became a major problem by morning, as my balls throbbed fiercely, and I couldn’t walk without an ache of pain pounding from them up into my crotch. But more of that later.

I don’t know what I thought I was doing. Nursing her, I guess, would be my official answer. Because she was obviously in sorrow, and the dead man was obviously her dead lover, or maybe her husband. And keeping her from leaning right into another pool. But unofficially, I guess, I was just immersing myself in a pleasure I had never known before, never even suspected. It was longer and wider and deeper than I’d ever expected anything could be. It was just being with her, because it made my whole mind glow with this beauty. Even if we didn’t talk much, it was as though her body was intelligent, a mind itself, for its every move, even its every posture, gave a whole story to me, a story without words, but a story, something on the gut level, that I’d never put into words and never figure out. It was as if the ocean had grown lips and spoke: and its word was her body. It was a body that shifted and changed with the moments, with the light breeze that came, the touch of sunlight on your back, the quiet notion of this or that, the light cat-pad of a mood or dream or nuance. I don’t know. I was lost in it, and begging for more.

As I mentioned, she didn’t talk much. You probably noticed how erratic her talk was that first day. Well, that slowly eased off. Her face grew more normal, less and less did that glinty, sort of semi-foolish look appear, and more and more her eyes seemed to fill with a kind of nectar of comprehension, as though she were beginning to see the world as a normal place. That nectar fascinated me. It was like I was a thirsty dog in July, and that nectar was a puddle of water. I had to keep returning to it. She didn’t like me staring at her, so I kept sneaking peeks all day long, maybe a hundred an hour.

Oh, yes, how I got rid of my erection pain. I rose from the bed (the sleeping platform, but I hate saying the whole words all the time) and snuck outside, because I thought the only way I’d make it go away was to be away from her, and relax and let the hardness go away. So I stood for a long time in the cold morning, watching the few alders in the breeze and the grey granite cliff walls. Well, the hardness went away. But the ache didn’t. In fact, when the hardness subsided, the ache pounded so hard and sudden that it bent me over. Walking like this, bent, only moving my legs from the knees down, I walked across the campsite to sit on the log that lay beside the fire circle. But before I got there, I saw her watching me from the tent’s door. Embarrassed, I fixed my gaze solely on the log and kept going. It was only a few steps. There, on the log, was the bucket of margarine I’d brought from my house. Just that, without the lid on. Puzzled, I turned and looked at her. She was still at the tent door. She returned my gaze for about five seconds, then crossed her arms, turned, and went inside. I looked at the margarine again. Well, that’s how I got rid of the pain. I knee-walked into the nearest bush cover with the margarine.

“I didn’t spoil it,” I said when I returned.

 

“And just in case you’re interested, I don’t feel a bit ashamed.” Which wasn’t even near true, because I felt worse than shamed. I felt unmanned. I had taken the easy way out, and I’d somehow let her lead me to it. My face was red with anger and black with a frown. She turned at my words, looked at me, and burst into laughter. It was a long, high laugh. When I kept frowning, disgusted, she made a sound like a little “wwooo” her eyes widened, and she burst into another symphony of laughter. Seeing my anger wasn’t going away, she pouted to hold the laugh in, she put her hand across her mouth and her face went red and her eyes apologized and she tried to turn the laughter into a smile but it crinkled right across her wide jaw, and her eyes teared and a “wwooooo” came out again. It was the first really normal thing I’d seen her do.

But I wasn’t having any of it. I turned and walked out of the tent. I went away and sat down on a rotted cedar stump, after I bashed a flat spot out of the crumbling wood. I didn’t go far, nor where she couldn’t find me.

I was angry, but I couldn’t make the anger burn away my shame. Instead, the shame came back stronger, now that I’d made a display of everything. Why did I ever do what she’d led me to? She’d virtually got me to sign a declaration that I couldn’t, wouldn’t – by destiny couldn’t, for God’s sakes – be anyone serious to her now. She’d managed to reduce me to this. The more I thought of it the more I seethed, and yet the stronger my shame became, until it turned into a – a kind of cringing, a self-hatred, a fear, even. For some reason I saw myself throwing myself down on the ground yesterday, a sharp, clear image, then it was gone.

T expected her, even so, to come out and apologize to me. But as the minutes passed and she didn’t, I began to feel trapped. The only thing I had left to offer, to keep me level with her, was my anger, and that meant she had to come out and recognize it, but she didn’t. At first, all sorts of images went through my head. I imagined going in there and throwing her to the ground, even though I was fourteen and she was, maybe twenty-four or something. {This was somewhat how I imagined men and women made love. I’d never seen it, so I had some idea from movies or something – this was the 1970’s, when people weren’t civilized yet – that men just stood over the woman and forced them to have sex just by the force of their desire or their willpower or something. And that the women somehow agreed to this, that they liked the “forcing” or the hot willpower or whatever. But thinking about this just made me more miserable, because I knew I couldn’t go in there and act like that. I didn’t even know where that kind of heat and determination came from, and she’d just laugh at me again. No, she wouldn’t laugh. It would be even worse.

Because she would know, she would know that 1 was unmanned, that even my anger was weak and impotent, and the worst thing of all was that it was her unspoken suggestion that had led me here, it all made me less, and her more, but not more in a good way. I couldn’t stand it. I got up and my body did a kind of weird dance around itself, as if it would go one way, and then the other, and on each pendulum it hesitated, slowed, and then finally it broke, I ran, I ran into the scramble of salal and scattered logs and ferns and cut branches. I ran until I smashed my shin and kept running until I stumbled over a log and went down. My face scraped against a broken stub and my arms were caked with wet slime. But I didn’t hit my head, so I got up and ran again and I fell again, ripping something off my hip, and again and again, stumbling and running and falling, but I scrambled up and ran again, until I smacked my face but good, and my right eye

 

 

 

 

Then once I was back at the camp, I didn’t think of them again – I mean my family, Paul and Mom – except once or twice in a fleeting way. I put all the food carefully on the camp table, so she would see it. Then I lay back down, carefully and silently as I could, exactly where I was before, with the back of her thighs on the front of mine. I fell asleep with an erection and woke with one. I don’t know when it ever went away, but it became a major problem by morning, as my balls throbbed fiercely, and I couldn’t walk without an ache of pain pounding from them up into my crotch. But more of that later.

I don’t know what I thought I was doing. Nursing her, I guess, would be my official answer. Because she was obviously in sorrow, and the dead man was obviously her dead lover, or maybe her husband. And keeping her from leaning right into another pool. But unofficially, I guess, I was just immersing myself in a pleasure I had never known before, never even suspected. It was longer and wider and deeper than I’d ever expected anything could be. It was just being with her, because it made my whole mind glow with this beauty. Even if we didn’t talk much, it was as though her body was intelligent, a mind itself, for its every move, even its every posture, gave a whole story to me, a story without words, but a story, something on the gut level, that I’d never put into words and never figure out. It was as if the ocean had grown lips and spoke: and its word was her body. It was a body that shifted and changed with the moments, with the light breeze that came, the touch of sunlight on your back, the quiet notion of this or that, the light cat-pad of a mood or dream or nuance. I don’t know. I was lost in it, and begging for more.

As I mentioned, she didn’t talk much. You probably noticed how erratic her talk was that first day. Well, that slowly eased off Her face grew more normal, less and less did that glinty, sort of semi-foolish look appear, and more and more her eyes seemed to fill with a kind of nectar of comprehension, as though she were beginning to see the world as a normal place. That nectar fascinated me. It was like I was a thirsty dog in July, and that nectar was a puddle of water. I had to keep returning to it. She didn’t like me staring at her, so I kept sneaking peeks all day long, maybe a hundred an hour.

Oh, yes, how I got rid of my erection pain. I rose from the bed (the sleeping platform, but I hate saying the whole words all the time) and snuck outside, because I thought the only way I’d make it go away was to be away from her, and relax and let the hardness go away. So I stood for a long time in the cold morning, watching the few alders in the breeze and the grey granite cliff walls. Well, the hardness went away. But the ache didn’t. In fact, when the hardness subsided, the ache pounded so hard and sudden that it bent me over. Walking like this, bent, only moving my legs from the knees down, I walked across the campsite to sit on the log that lay beside the fire circle. But before I got there, I saw her watching me from the tent’s door. Embarrassed, I fixed my gaze solely on the log and kept going. It was only a few steps. There, on the log, was the bucket of margarine I’d brought from my house. Just that, without the lid on. Puzzled, I turned and looked at her. She was still at the tent door. She returned my gaze for about five seconds, then crossed her arms, turned, and went inside. I looked at the margarine again. Well, that’s how I got rid of the pain. I knee-walked into the nearest bush cover with the margarine.

“I didn’t spoil it,” I said when I returned.

“And just in case you’re interested, I don’t feel a bit ashamed.” Which wasn’t even near true, because I felt worse than shamed. I felt unmanned. I had taken the easy way out, and I’d somehow let her lead me to it. My face was red with anger and black with a frown. She turned at my words, looked at me, and burst into laughter. It was a long, high laugh. When I kept frowning, disgusted, she made a sound like a little “wwooo” her eyes widened, and she burst into another symphony of laughter. Seeing my anger wasn’t going away, she pouted to hold the laugh in, she put her hand across her mouth and her face went red and her eyes apologized and she tried to turn the laughter into a smile but it crinkled right across her wide jaw, and her eyes teared and a “wwooooo” came out again. It was the first really normal thing I’d seen her do.

But I wasn’t having any of it. I turned and walked out of the tent. I went away and sat down on a rotted cedar stump, after I bashed a flat spot out of the crumbling wood. I didn’t go far, nor where she couldn’t find me.

I was angry, but I couldn’t make the anger burn away my shame. Instead, the shame came back stronger, now that I’d made a display of everything. Why did I ever do what she’d led me to? She’d virtually got me to sign a declaration that I couldn’t,

wouldn’t – by destiny couldn’t, for God’s sakes – be anyone serious to her now. She’d managed to reduce me to this. The more I thought of it the more I seethed, and yet the stronger my shame became, until it turned into a – a kind of cringing, a self-hatred, a fear, even. For some reason I saw myself throwing myself down on the ground yesterday, a sharp, clear image, then it was gone.

T expected her, even so, to come out and apologize to me. But as the minutes passed and she didn’t, I began to feel trapped. The only thing I had left to offer, to keep me level with her, was my anger, and that meant she had to come out and recognize it, but she didn’t. At first, all sorts of images went through my head. I imagined going in there and throwing her to the ground, even though I was fourteen and she was, maybe twenty-four or something. {This was somewhat how I imagined men and women made love. I’d never seen it, so I had some idea from movies or something – this was the 1970’s, when people weren’t civilized yet – that men just stood over the woman and forced them to have sex just by the force of their desire or their willpower or something. And that the women somehow agreed to this, that they liked the “forcing” or the hot willpower or whatever. But thinking about this just made me more miserable, because I knew I couldn’t go in there and act like that. I didn’t even know where that kind of heat and determination came from, and she’d just laugh at me again. No, she wouldn’t laugh. It would be even worse.

Because she would know, she would know that 1 was unmanned, that even my anger was weak and impotent, and the worst thing of all was that it was her unspoken suggestion that had led me here, it all made me less, and her more, but not more in a good way. I couldn’t stand it. I got up and my body did a kind of weird dance around itself, as if it would go one way, and then the other, and on each pendulum it hesitated, slowed, and then finally it broke, I ran, I ran into the scramble of salal and scattered logs and ferns and cut branches. I ran until I smashed my shin and kept running until I stumbled over a log and went down. My face scraped against a broken stub and my arms were caked with wet slime. But I didn’t hit my head, so I got up and ran again and I fell again, ripping something off my hip, and again and again, stumbling and running and falling, but I scrambled up and ran again, until I smacked my face but good, and my right eye

exploded into red and white fireworks and I fell. My mouth watered and a kind of weakness crawled down my face, my chest, and my legs buckled. I was in the dirt, and finally I thought I was at peace, though it was a painful and throbbing peace.

Slowly, though, I began to hear the screaming. I pulled myself up and half lay over the log. With my good eye I could see she was making her way across the mess of logs. She wasn’t screaming now. “Oh, fuck you!” I yelled, standing up. “Fuck you! 1 know you probably killed him! So fuck you!” I turned and tried to run away again, but I tripped in weariness and to tell the truth I was through with this running and bashing myself, and after only a few paces and I went down again, into a dark, earthy, clayey place, wet and smelling good, actually, of green something. And i just put my head in my hands and lay there. And I wondered why I had said that, I know you probably killed him. Why did 1 even think that?

I knew she was there. She tried grabbing my arm and pulling. Then she sat silent for a long time. Then she tried pulling me up again. This embarrassed me, so I got up quickly, without her help, and leaned my butt against a log.

She was crying, silent tears — of frustration, it looked like. I felt sorry for that frustration, I felt sorry for her. Why should she have to cry? But I couldn’t make myself say anything. I crossed my arms and stared at her knees.

“Oh my God,” she said, “You’re a mess.” She reached out and put her fingers on my cheek. I would have brushed her hand away, except she did it with such a combination of doctor-like professional no-nonsense manner, and tearful, frustrated worry – no, it was a question in her eyes, it was a surprised question that she was in a way biting on and refusing to let it speak, it was – the same look as on the dead man when he came running down the road and stopped, bewildered or a question. As if the whole world was a question. When I saw this in her my eyes must have totally widened, so she looked at me with a new surprise.

“What wrong?” Her voice was quiet, as if something snaked around her senses. “Nothing.” But I was feeling this strange “point of no return” thing again, as if I was stepping into her magic, her beauty, her spell, and I would never get out again. She was so extremely beautiful at that moment, and yet she was almost ugly, and one part of me was terrified, another part thought I was experiencing some sort of strange, mad hallucination – where all the world is the same, the leaves and granite rocks and sky and her cheeks and eyes haven’t changed a bit, and yet they all had taken on a strangeness, potent and powerful, more powerful than anything human, anything so puny – and the third part of me was rejoicing at all this, rejoicing that I was falling deeper in, that I was entering some strange land, and an even another part of me heart-achingly just wanted to be with her, to hold her and say don’t cry, and then of course there would be the erection. At my “nothing,” she tightened her lips and looked away. Her eyes were crying, but I sensed some huge, deep frustration which she wouldn’t share.

“Are you scared too?” I asked.

“Why? Why do you say that?” she said, looking at me intently. The wind rifled against her blouse, making waves. Here she stood, we stood, still, facing each other, as if frozen. It was weird.

“Because. It’s – it’s scary.” “What’s scary?”

“This feeling.” I saw her chest subside, and something went quiet in her face.

 

 

 

Then once I was back at the camp, I didn’t think of them again – I mean my family, Paul and Mom – except once or twice in a fleeting way. I put all the food carefully on the camp table, so she would see it. Then I lay back down, carefully and silently as I could, exactly where I was before, with the back of her thighs on the front of mine. I fell asleep with an erection and woke with one. I don’t know when it ever went away, but it became a major problem by morning, as my balls throbbed fiercely, and I couldn’t walk without an ache of pain pounding from them up into my crotch. But more of that later.

I don’t know what I thought I was doing. Nursing her, I guess, would be my official answer. Because she was obviously in sorrow, and the dead man was obviously her dead lover, or maybe her husband. And keeping her from leaning right into another pool. But unofficially, I guess, I was just immersing myself in a pleasure I had never known before, never even suspected. It was longer and wider and deeper than I’d ever expected anything could be. It was just being with her, because it made my whole mind glow with this beauty. Even if we didn’t talk much, it was as though her body was intelligent, a mind itself, for its every move, even its every posture, gave a whole story to me, a story without words, but a story, something on the gut level, that I’d never put into words and never figure out. It was as if the ocean had grown lips and spoke: and its word was her body. It was a body that shifted and changed with the moments, with the light breeze that came, the touch of sunlight on your back, the quiet notion of this or that, the light cat-pad of a mood or dream or nuance. I don’t know. I was lost in it, and begging for more.

As I mentioned, she didn’t talk much. You probably noticed how erratic her talk was that first day. Well, that slowly eased off Her face grew more normal, less and less did that glinty, sort of semi-foolish look appear, and more and more her eyes seemed to fill with a kind of nectar of comprehension, as though she were beginning to see the world as a normal place. That nectar fascinated me. It was like I was a thirsty dog in July, and that nectar was a puddle of water. I had to keep returning to it. She didn’t like me staring at her, so I kept sneaking peeks all day long, maybe a hundred an hour.

Oh, yes, how I got rid of my erection pain. I rose from the bed (the sleeping platform, but I hate saying the whole words all the time) and snuck outside, because I thought the only way I’d make it go away was to be away from her, and relax and let the hardness go away. So I stood for a long time in the cold morning, watching the few alders in the breeze and the grey granite cliff walls. Well, the hardness went away. But the ache didn’t. In fact, when the hardness subsided, the ache pounded so hard and sudden that it bent me over. Walking like this, bent, only moving my legs from the knees down, I walked across the campsite to sit on the log that lay beside the fire circle. But before I got there, I saw her watching me from the tent’s door. Embarrassed, I fixed my gaze solely on the log and kept going. It was only a few steps. There, on the log, was the bucket of margarine I’d brought from my house. Just that, without the lid on. Puzzled, I turned and looked at her. She was still at the tent door. She returned my gaze for about five seconds, then crossed her arms, turned, and went inside. I looked at the margarine again. Well, that’s how I got rid of the pain. I knee-walked into the nearest bush cover with the margarine.

“I didn’t spoil it,” I said when I returned.

“And just in case you’re interested, I don’t feel a bit ashamed.” Which wasn’t even near true, because I felt worse than shamed. I felt unmanned. I had taken the easy way out, and I’d somehow let her lead me to it. My face was red with anger and black with a frown. She turned at my words, looked at me, and burst into laughter. It was a long, high laugh. When I kept frowning, disgusted, she made a sound like a little “wwooo” her eyes widened, and she burst into another symphony of laughter. Seeing my anger wasn’t going away, she pouted to hold the laugh in, she put her hand across her mouth and her face went red and her eyes apologized and she tried to turn the laughter into a smile but it crinkled right across her wide jaw, and her eyes teared and a “wwooooo” came out again. It was the first really normal thing I’d seen her do.

But I wasn’t having any of it. I turned and walked out of the tent. I went away and sat down on a rotted cedar stump, after I bashed a flat spot out of the crumbling wood. I didn’t go far, nor where she couldn’t find me.

I was angry, but I couldn’t make the anger burn away my shame. Instead, the shame came back stronger, now that I’d made a display of everything. Why did I ever do what she’d led me to? She’d virtually got me to sign a declaration that I couldn’t,

wouldn’t – by destiny couldn’t, for God’s sakes – be anyone serious to her now. She’d managed to reduce me to this. The more I thought of it the more I seethed, and yet the stronger my shame became, until it turned into a – a kind of cringing, a self-hatred, a fear, even. For some reason I saw myself throwing myself down on the ground yesterday, a sharp, clear image, then it was gone.

T expected her, even so, to come out and apologize to me. But as the minutes passed and she didn’t, I began to feel trapped. The only thing I had left to offer, to keep me level with her, was my anger, and that meant she had to come out and recognize it, but she didn’t. At first, all sorts of images went through my head. I imagined going in there and throwing her to the ground, even though I was fourteen and she was, maybe twenty-four or something. {This was somewhat how I imagined men and women made love. I’d never seen it, so I had some idea from movies or something – this was the 1970’s, when people weren’t civilized yet – that men just stood over the woman and forced them to have sex just by the force of their desire or their willpower or something. And that the women somehow agreed to this, that they liked the “forcing” or the hot willpower or whatever. But thinking about this just made me more miserable, because I knew I couldn’t go in there and act like that. I didn’t even know where that kind of heat and determination came from, and she’d just laugh at me again. No, she wouldn’t laugh. It would be even worse.

Because she would know, she would know that 1 was unmanned, that even my anger was weak and impotent, and the worst thing of all was that it was her unspoken suggestion that had led me here, it all made me less, and her more, but not more in a good way. I couldn’t stand it. I got up and my body did a kind of weird dance around itself, as if it would go one way, and then the other, and on each pendulum it hesitated, slowed, and then finally it broke, I ran, I ran into the scramble of salal and scattered logs and ferns and cut branches. I ran until I smashed my shin and kept running until I stumbled over a log and went down. My face scraped against a broken stub and my arms were caked with wet slime. But I didn’t hit my head, so I got up and ran again and I fell again, ripping something off my hip, and again and again, stumbling and running and falling, but I scrambled up and ran again, until I smacked my face but good, and my right eye

exploded into red and white fireworks and I fell. My mouth watered and a kind of weakness crawled down my face, my chest, and my legs buckled. I was in the dirt, and finally I thought I was at peace, though it was a painful and throbbing peace.

Slowly, though, I began to hear the screaming. I pulled myself up and half lay over the log. With my good eye I could see she was making her way across the mess of logs. She wasn’t screaming now. “Oh, fuck you!” I yelled, standing up. “Fuck you! 1 know you probably killed him! So fuck you!” I turned and tried to run away again, but I tripped in weariness and to tell the truth I was through with this running and bashing myself, and after only a few paces and I went down again, into a dark, earthy, clayey place, wet and smelling good, actually, of green something. And i just put my head in my hands and lay there. And I wondered why I had said that, I know you probably killed him. Why did 1 even think that?

I knew she was there. She tried grabbing my arm and pulling. Then she sat silent for a long time. Then she tried pulling me up again. This embarrassed me, so I got up quickly, without her help, and leaned my butt against a log.

She was crying, silent tears — of frustration, it looked like. I felt sorry for that frustration, I felt sorry for her. Why should she have to cry? But I couldn’t make myself say anything. I crossed my arms and stared at her knees.

“Oh my God,” she said, “You’re a mess.” She reached out and put her fingers on my cheek. I would have brushed her hand away, except she did it with such a combination of doctor-like professional no-nonsense manner, and tearful, frustrated worry – no, it was a question in her eyes, it was a surprised question that she was in a way biting on and refusing to let it speak, it was – the same look as on the dead man when he came running down the road and stopped, bewildered or a question. As if the whole world was a question. When I saw this in her my eyes must have totally widened, so she looked at me with a new surprise.

“What wrong?” Her voice was quiet, as if something snaked around her senses. “Nothing.” But I was feeling this strange “point of no return” thing again, as if I was stepping into her magic, her beauty, her spell, and I would never get out again. She was so extremely beautiful at that moment, and yet she was almost ugly, and one part of me was terrified, another part thought I was experiencing some sort of strange, mad hallucination – where all the world is the same, the leaves and granite rocks and sky and her cheeks and eyes haven’t changed a bit, and yet they all had taken on a strangeness, potent and powerful, more powerful than anything human, anything so puny – and the third part of me was rejoicing at all this, rejoicing that I was falling deeper in, that I was entering some strange land, and an even another part of me heart-achingly just wanted to be with her, to hold her and say don’t cry, and then of course there would be the erection. At my “nothing,” she tightened her lips and looked away. Her eyes were crying, but I sensed some huge, deep frustration which she wouldn’t share.

“Are you scared too?” I asked.

“Why? Why do you say that?” she said, looking at me intently. The wind rifled against her blouse, making waves. Here she stood, we stood, still, facing each other, as if frozen. It was weird.

“Because. It’s – it’s scary.” “What’s scary?”

“This feeling.” I saw her chest subside, and something went quiet in her face.

“What I’m doing,” I tried to explain. I waved my hand impatiently at the ground in front of me. “I mean, what’s going on?” I looked up at the sky and we were in that strange bluish cool shadow, and I felt like crying again. She saw my face and when I saw the look that came over hers, tears rolled down my cheeks, not a lot, just one or two. I had forgotten completely about the shame and being unmanned. Bashing my face and everything had done its job, I guess. T mean I just wasn’t aware of that anymore. I stared at her and the spell came again, and I shook my head and looked away.

I felt her take my hand and gather my fingers into her hand, and she walked me back to the cabin. Not that I needed help, but I mean she was sort of a moral support, silent and comforting.

Once we were back at the tent my mood picked up, in fact I started to feel elated, I joked and teased her. She bent her head and curved her chest inward at this, sort of rolling her shoulders forward and together, watching me with round full eyes, so I went up to her and pressed my crotch against her and pawed her breasts, and she pushed my hands away and pulled her legs together, retreating, and then she let me paw again; and finally, you know, I was sucking on her nipples and her flesh was coming out all over, out of the shirt and out of her pants and 1 smelled her and – well, in a way it was over in a flash. I couldn’t stop. Then I lay beside her and she held me in and when finally it shrank so much it slid out of its own accord, there was wet all over and more poured out of her, and I lay in bliss, and then I fell asleep. The next morning she laughed a little at my bruised face and black eye and cleaned it up with a damp cloth a bit, and I undid her pants and leaned her back and slid my erection in. She had such a smooth, slightly outward-curved belly. And so it went every day. She didn’t do anything to attract me, but her movements had a kind of powerful suggestion to them, so that she just had to sit a certain way, or stand a certain way, and it drew me, she would just turn her head a certain way, or be doing anything, reading, or making sandwiches, or just thinking, and I would stare, fascinated; or as I said it would draw me, I could not think of anything else – well I didn’t even think – I just went, I had to touch her and feel the weight of her breast in my hand, and lick her down there in the soft swell, and slide it in, and if she was doing something like making sandwiches or talking to me, I would draw her back and to me and bend her gently back and cup her in my hand onto the floor or outside onto the dirt and slide it in.

And for the whole week, too, I sat with her. Wherever she went, I sat on the floor at her feet, and sometimes I would rise to my knees and gaze at her, and stroke her legs or lightly touch her breast through the blouse, or just rise on my knees and let my erection bounce away, or just sit with my head and shoulders leaning against her thigh. Despite the fact that she looked strong and healthy and outdoorsy, she didn’t seem to be a walker, not even a hiker. She didn’t seem to want to go anywhere. So I would go out in the morning and afternoon for a climb or a walk. For some reason the sun shone that entire week, it only rained sometimes at night, you could hear it on the canvas. T slid it in her beautiful curve in the dark, too, and lay in the dark watching her breasts and her eyes reflecting the blue-black light. They were medium breasts but pretty round. The bears were starting to wake, so I spent an hour outside on morning rigging a food cache from some rope and two trees. But then I’d go inside and see her and want to slide it in. But afterward, I would lie beside her or sit at her feet. Often, that week, her eyes went somewhere I couldn’t go. We didn’t eat much because we didn’t have much food, and I think we were both weak with hunger. But I didn’t want to leave, and she never mentioned it. It was kind of sick, when you think about it. In a way, we were slowly dying. I noticed that I didn’t have much energy when I went walking outside. T set up a couple of bird and chipmunk traps from same cardboard boxes she had. These are ridiculously simple. You just prop a cardboard box up with a stick about six inches long. There’s a string tied around the stick, and you lie down about thirty feet away. You throw some seed or bread in there and wait. When some creature hops in there, you yank and the box falls. I caught two sparrows one afternoon. I yanked their heads off, then waited for the big prey: a crow. For this, you have to put some bits of bread in a row about five feet, leading to the box. Inside the box, you can put a bit of cheese or a beer can tab. You have to use a slightly longer stick, because the crow’s wary of a low space.

I guess I been gone awhile because she came out to see, and I’d just happened to yank the string on a big black crow. She saw the two sparrow corpses beside me and made a face of wary disgust. But when she found I had a crow in the box, she made me let it go. She was very upset and insistent. She made me promise never to hurt a crow again, in my life. I said okay. I tried to boil the sparrows, but I gave up. I’d never actually eaten something like this before. They were just all feather and bone and no flesh at all. So we slowly starved.

“Did you?” I said one afternoon. “What?”

“Kill him.”

She looked at me calmly and thoughtfully, as if contemplating something about my nature. “You are a strange one,” she said.

“Why?”

But she didn’t answer. She smiled and put her hand absently on my shoulder.

I didn’t even care at this point. For some reason, the dead man didn’t mean a thing to me. Neither did my mother and brother, nor school, nor the kids at school, nor my friend Gerry, no one, nothing. But, in a logical sense, I thought that if she had shot him,

then that man I saw the RCMP take away should be let go. Someone had to tell them. There was no question in my mind about that. But I felt no urgency about it. I would do so, within days. As soon as I returned… And that was the strange thing. I couldn’t somehow return. I mean, I had to, sometime. But did I? Maybe we could go away somewhere? She must live somewhere. Berry. I asked her name and she said, Berry. Yes, I had to go back to tell the cops that man …but that wasn’t so. There was no indication whatsoever that she had killed him. And why should she?

And then the inevitable happened. The RCMP came. A man in uniform just opened the tent flap one morning and peered in. It had been raining and drops spotted his hat, which had a transparent plastic protector on it, like one of those hokey women’s shower caps. His uniform smelled of damp wool.

“Hello,” he said. Berry’s breasts were bare, hanging there like fruit, and she grabbed a towel or a shirt and turned away from him, and then I saw her handsome back, bent, each of the peas running up it, and the small black pores. (We didn’t get a shower,

so bathing was by hand. I slapped water around me, but Berry would sit for long sessions like a cat, deftly but with a strange delicacy, as if she feared hurting her own skin, using the wash towel like a tongue. Still, her back was getting some blackheads, and I’m sure mine was full of them too. I had some pimples, too, but I tried to hide them by ignoring them.)

“Hi,” I said.

“How are you folks doing?”

“Okay,” I said, As he’d asked I saw his eyes going around the entire tent cabin, he wasn’t going to miss much. He did it in a quick, businesslike way that almost made you feel insulted, but not quite. You couldn’t really feel you’d been pegged with suspicion;

the “look around” was too routine or calm. He wasn’t going to see the man’s boots nor the rifle, though. Nor anything about a man, except my stuff. I’d carefully removed everything like that days ago, either on some hunch, or because it was my tent now, and my Berry and her curved stomach was mine and I didn’t want his stuff around peeking at me. At the time I didn’t think why I removed it, I just did. Berry didn’t say anything. She just watched me. She had watched me wrap the rifle and carry it outside. I had felt her watching me, and that was the one time that I didn’t feel sexual desire toward her. I didn’t feel animosity or anything, nothing really, 1 just remarked that she was watching me and I don’t suppose she felt desire either. It was just like grey cotton, a colorless look. “Can I come in? Or would you like to come out here,” the RCMP said. “Me?” I said.

“Okay,” he said, and retreated to let me step through the flap to the outside. I looked at Berry, wondering about her. I wouldn’t let her be threatened. She stared at me blankly, not giving me a clue. I had socks on, so I peeled them off before I went outside. “What’s going on, son?” he said as I stepped outside and stood. “Pardon?”

“Is this your family’s?” He indicated the small valley. I shook my head, no. “Do you know who’s logging up here?”

“No, It’s been there a long time, a month maybe.”

I didn’t recognize him from the time Paul and I told the RCMP about the dead man, nor when we were at the site of the shooting. But maybe he knew who I was. I didn’t know.

“I see. And the lady? Is she coming out?” “1 don’t know.”

“Is she your sister, son?” T shook my head.

“How old are you? Fourteen? Fifteen?”

“Fifteen.” I never lie. It just never occurs to me. I always see things “flat,” sort of “And where do you live?”

I could see this was not going anywhere that would let me breeze out of it. “On Coast Highway.”

“You been up here awhile?” I knew what he meant. At the time, I knew he could tell, but I wondered how, 1 wondered what gave me away. Now of course I know: I must have looked half wild and smelled even ranker, no shoes on and standing in the April

cold, face unwashed, hair not brushed for a week or more, filthy fingernails. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. His manner wasn’t pushy, and his questions in a way didn’t even seem prying. He asked them with such assurance and casualness that you felt you were trying to hide something and would look guilty if you didn’t answer. I watched  him. It was a pretty clever trick he had, I admired that a little bit. But I didn’t answer. I shrugged.

“Who’s boy are you?”

“You mean my parents?”

“U-huh.”

“I just have one. Bernice Micawber.”

“Mmm. Is the lady going to come out?”

“I don’t know,” I said, and that was the truth.

“Will she mind if I go in?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Why don’t you wait here,” he said.

1 didn’t want to leave Berry alone with that policeman. It wasn’t whether he was good or bad. It was if Berry was frightened or not. 1 didn’t want her to be frightened. Because fright is a harm, just like anything else. I didn’t want her to be frightened. I

didn’t want her to be shamed. I didn’t want her to be handcuffed or pushed or handled roughly or made to do anything. I didn’t want her to be soiled or destroyed with indignity. I couldn’t stand that.

I left the campsite in a businesslike way. I was calm and quiet, and in some ways I just felt like I was out for a stroll. I got there, about a hundred paces away up behind the tent where the ground rises into the rock. I rolled an old crumbly log from a crevice, then reached down and pulled the rifle out. I’d wrapped it in the man’s rain slickers, and I’d wrapped the box of ammunition in the slickers too. The box fell out, onto the rock. I picked it up and opened it. I took a bullet in my hand. It felt solid and cold. I fiddled with the sliding bar. I don’t know anything about guns, or cars, or anything, not having a father to teach me.

The bullet seemed to fit easily into a sliding groove. It pushed down and forward and almost disappeared. Obviously, you could put more in. So I tried another, and another. It was starting to feel urgent. I had to finish this. I’d started, never mind nor know why, but now I had to finish it quick, or everything would be wrong. There was a cop here and I was loading a rifle.

That told me I’d better not get caught. I knew there were such things as safeties, so I slid that bar back down the slot, and I had five bullets in there, and I hoped I’d done something right. There was a little sliding knob without any purpose, so I pushed and it clicked forward. Now, either the safety was on, or it was off. Such was life.

I put the rest of the ammunition box in my back pocket and walked down the rocks to the tent. I stayed about thirty feet back, over to the side where I could see the front flap, and I sat down on my haunches. But that didn’t satisfy me. What if she was being frightened right now, or shamed? I imagined her in there, intimidated, her arms crossed, trying to be brave. I rose and walked through the wet grass to the tent and stepped inside. The officer was sitting at the table, a pad and pen out, and Berry was sitting on the edge of the sleeping platform, her arms crossed. I saw her, she saw me, and I couldn’t read her. Of course now I couldn’t act in any way I wanted to. I had come in with a rifle, and he saw the rifle, and he was looking at me very intently and I was backing over in front of Berry and everything was over the cliff. Nothing could be changed now because I’d walked in with the rifle and he’d seen me. I half pointed it at him, so as not to be too adamant about it. I didn’t want to shoot him. But I knew it was all over. I didn’t regret anything, there wasn’t time. I just shot him. I said “Hi,” to him and then I shot him. Maybe I wouldn’t have shot him if I could have told him what to do, but I’m not good at that, telling people what to do. I think, they either do it, or you do what you do So I shot him, because I wasn’t used to asking for anything. Maybe, I think now, if I’d had a father 1 would have known how to tell people what to do, and I wouldn’t have shot him. But I shot him.

His hand was scrabbling for his holster, and he was launching himself out of the chair sideways. I wasn’t prepared for his speed. I hadn’t thought he would react so fast. So he was lying on the ground and yelling at me to drop the rifle, his hands were holding a gun pointed at me and his uniform jacket was all pushed up on his chest, against his shoulders and neck. But I had already shot him, and I could see it. I didn’t try to dodge or protect myself. I just fired again, jumping over to where he was and firing down at him. He fired at me too, but I had already fired, and I was firing again and again, and his guts and chest jerked and I didn’t feel anything. The shots rang in my ears like a crack in the world. Have you ever heard a gunshot indoors? It was like a giant had slapped your ears and made your brains ring. Like a train’s screeching wheels compressed into a half second and exploding beside your ears. My head rang in the shock. The RCMP lay quiet, on his back, but he wasn’t dead. He was trying to pull his arms up to aim at me. So I walked over to him and shot him in face. Half his nose and his eye caved in. His hands dropped away from his chest. He looked at me; his good eye filled with a sorrowful surprise, yet he was uninterested, too. I could see he was far away. Then the odd deadness came to him. He was gone. Poor bastard. I turned and saw the afternoon, rainy light on the canvas wall. I went outside and looked out across the cut, the mess of jumbled ponds and salal and massacred logs; it all was quiet and serene and wet with rain and the afternoon light bathed me.

I went inside. I looked at her, unsure what I’d see. She stared at me, round-eyed. Her hands shot out, palm upward, crooked in disbelief and question. They pumped in the RCMP’s direction and, generally, at the whole scene

I tightened my lips. There was no answer. The obvious one, that I’d wanted to protect her, was too obvious to say. To say it would reduce it.

I just stared at her.

“You pulled me out,” she said, “to give me – this?”

1 knew what she meant right away. As if “pulled” had been a secret code word between us, even though I’d never heard it spoken between us. I remembered her cold leather boot in the water, the only part of her I saw at one point. Now it seemed, in my mind’s eye, that I’d simply pulled easily on the boot heel and pulled her wholesale from the water, sloop, as easy as that. So in that moment, now, looking at her in the strange light that filled the tent on account of the shooting and the horrible loud noise of the guns, looking at her now she seemed small and perfect and I yearned to possess her like maybe an art collector yearns for his Mona Lisa. She was perfect and she, or maybe the situation, I wasn’t sure, was fragile, and I didn’t want anything to break. My mind hopped back and forth between realizing she was probably horrified and was blaming me, and seeing she was small and perfect and that I’d saved her life and so, in a sense, she was my creation. And now, in a sense, I had reinforced that creation. I stared, wondering what and who she was. Her brown eyes looked sunken, soft and scared yet lustrous with mystery; she had a mousy appearance that drew me, and my heart started beating in my chest with desire and my ears burned with a kind of excited embarrassment.

“What do we do now?” I asked. It seemed almost silly to ask, and I didn’t want to get silly. 1 definitely did not want to grin, but I was in danger of it. I could feel it coming. “I don’t know!” she said. She was half accusing me, but half with me, and seeing that half that was with me, empathic, warm to me, supported and was, well, in me, I

loved her, I felt the value of that, I appreciated it, and I knew I would never leave her no matter what she did in future or what happened, because I saw that half, and it was there, and I had never felt anything I appreciated so much.

I didn’t even need to look at the corpse. We could never clean up the mess, the blood and bullets and bullet holes probably in the tent, and the man’s body and uniform – we’d never get it cleaned up to the point that there wouldn’t be any evidence. I knew that. It was useless to try. And others would be here. His cruiser or 4×4 must be on the other side of the cut, on the old road. So the evidence was everywhere. We could only run. Or make a stand here. I considered that. Build a quick fort of small logs up on the rocks. But that would eventually…

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE?  FOUR?

 

 

 

It never occurred to me. I asked her that once, the first day, if she had a vehicle, a 4×4. She didn’t answer me And for days later, the whole week later I both forgot to ask her again, and forgot to even look for it. Actually, there was no way to get even a 4×4 near the tent location, so it would have had to be out on the trail I’d come in by, and I hadn’t seen anything there when I came. So maybe deep down I knew it wasn’t around, that there wasn’t one, and so that’s why I never asked again about it, nor looked for it. I remember I walked down to the Coast Highway and home, that night, to steal some food from home. But even then I didn’t ask about her vehicle, because I wanted to surprise her, to bring her a gift, and show her I could feed us.

 

I looked at Berry and said, “We’ve got to get out of here.”

To her credit, and I would only find out later how vastly and totally it was to her credit, and how hugely generous an action it was, she said yes.

“Where’s your car – your 4×4,” I said, looking around as if I’d find it in the tent. “I don’t have one,” she said, staring at me as if surprised that I should think she did. I didn’t want to argue at that point, and the real meaning of that escaped me at the time, or half escaped me.

 

Ever since that day, whenever I think about it, I get immediately tired. Well, I’m really tired all the time now. I can’t sleep at night, I wake up at like, 2 or 3 a.m., and then I wander tired all through the day. Every day is coated with a kind of fuzz, like morning breath or your tongue when you waken, except it’s the air. Even the sun’s fuzzy and its here but it’s not here, not in a cheerful way.

Because her not having a vehicle meant a whole bunch of things, but it especially meant something that pretty well ruined my entire life, I mean even beyond being a murderer. That was just action, that was just a choice I had to make in the moment, and I didn’t mean anything by it. But her not having a vehicle, never having an escape route, not having planned one – it began to dawn, really dimly, on me, that maybe she had not planned to murder this Dietmar, and maybe, because of that, actually, she hadn’t , actually hadn’t… but before I could even think more (because I didn’t want to think about it at the time, but I think, looking back, that my mouth might have dropped open in a little “O” just like Dietmar’s did when he was shot, but it was only a little slice of a second, then I had to get back to action. I didn’t want to think about anything.

(And what did it mean, too, that she didn’t have a vehicle? Who brought her to that clearing with the smashed and felled trees, and who was she waiting for there? Why had she been sitting there so helpless, like a bait goat, or a sacrifice, or a pervert’s jewel? These thoughts came to me oh much later, maybe weeks, even months later. Though some of them came to me only a day or two later, but I wouldn’t believe them, kind of.)

“Him,” I said. I glanced at him, then at Berry. “Do you know how to drive?” “Yes.”

“Ah, good. I don’t,” I said in a friendly voice. I dropped to my knees and began patting the RCMP’s pockets. I found the keys. We gathered up some hasty things: I had nothing to gather up, but she had things, things – “Just take anything that would identify you,” I said. I took the rifle and a towel and wiped it as best I could, all over. Then T went out of the tent and half ran to the cleft between the granite hills and a hundred or two hundred feet beyond, and it turned to forest and dropped off, down a steep slope. I whirled the rifle around my head by the barrel and let it fly. It swung out in a long, slowly turning arc over the valley’s side, then disappeared into the brush with a scratchy sound and a plonk, like it hit wood.

She was waiting on a log outside the tent. I went around quickly and pulled up every plug so the tent collapsed partway – not completely, and I couldn’t easily pull it off the roof beam, so I left it. From the road, you wouldn’t see it anyway, and if you came closer you’d think it was just left, maybe. I left the body inside – we left the body inside. What else would you do? We hurried as quickly as we could across the cut, past the pools and clambered over the scattered logs, and made our way to the main trail. The police “cruiser” was there. It was actually a pick up. I looked at Berry and raised my eyebrows. 1 wished I could drive. She put her small backpack in the bed, and matter of factly got into the drivers seat. I was impressed by her calm. I went around the other side and got in. No, I wasn’t exactly impressed by her calm. I was – absorbed by it. I mean, here she was, it seemed to me and had seemed to me for all the days I’d known her, that she was in need of some help, that in all her mystery there was something fragile, that I was afraid to break, and yet she matter of factly settled in and started the truck and began to drive down the trail, a serious, concentrating look on her face, but calm.

Halfway down, we decided to ditch the truck (I say we, but I mean I, it was all the way through here, I, I, me, she didn’t help one damn bit, which  didn’t mind, because I would have carried her on a pillow all the way to Vancouver and feared at this point to jar her in any way, even, especially physically – which had nothing to do with the dead cop, it was just where my adoration of her had gotten to) –  so we drove the police cruiser off the main trail up a skid road, which if you know what skid roads are like you know we were lucky to get it even fifty feet, but maybe we got it a hundred feet. It was pretty hidden in there. If you looked you’d see white, but not if you just walked quickly by. Then we walked out. We walked in silence. We walked across the Hydro cut, down to the highway, and hitchhiked on the highway. Perhaps I had picked up on her mood. Anyway, I was as calm as could be, and she seemed calm also, except that the frown of concentration that she’d shown driving the truck – and in fact that she’d shown since I blasted the RCMP – never left her brow. Now it seems like a dream. It must have taken hours, but it seems like a dream. We hitched two rides to the ferry terminal. Passengers walk on free, so we waited at the cement picnic tables the government provided, then the huge ferry came and we went on board, and the ferry went through the wind over the black deep water through the islands to Vancouver, and there she furrowed her brow some more, and concentrated, then she walked to a phone booth and called a taxi, and we rode the taxi into town – into Vancouver, into the West End, where all the apartment towers are.

That’s the whole story of our escape.

 

 

 

CHAPTER – FOUR? (GOOD BREAK POINT)

 

I hate this apartment. Everything is stark and hard. It’s on the tenth floor. I mean it’s a nice apartment. And it’s not hard at all. The carpet’s grey and thick, so you can’t feel the floor underneath. The place must have cost money. There’s modern furniture, and wine glasses, and paintings on the wall. It’s quite a splendid, luxurious place. The view looks out over English Bay, a wide semi-circle of ocean, and the trees and stores and cars and people and streets beneath. I love that view, as if you could sail out over the ocean, glistening in the sun. But I don’t like it here, its all stark and hard. Nothing’s moist or soft. Except Berry. Berry’s soft and plump, and she curls up on the couch or reads on the bed and I watch her. She wears an old semi-see through pink nightie, so you can see her breasts all round and full underneath. When you slide the nightie back her nipples are pink, pink as double-bubble gum. Her vagina is a bright pink inside, too, almost scarlet. And the little round part of her bum is pink, too. I’ve never seen other women to any degree, but this seems all awfully pink to me. She just lets me take her. She doesn’t protest, and she doesn’t make me flirt or anything, which I couldn’t do. I’m too tired. I’m so tired, of people, of everything. The trouble is, I_ I’m so angry. I’m more angry than I’ve ever been in my life. I never imagined such anger could exist. I am seething with anger, and guess who this anger burns at? At her. At this woman who I cannot leave, who is everything beautiful, her beauty hypnotizes me, who T would not harm, not let even a bug land on her because it would offend her, and anything that would offend her causes me almost a strange fear. One of the main things I think I now live for is this fear that something will offend her, a smell, the sight of someone, a rude word from someone, an insult, I keep constantly on the alert to fend off anything which could possibly offend her, hurt her feelings, or disturb her delicate, silent, brooding beauty.

Because she broods all the time now. At least I think she does. At least, she’s always thoughtful. Oh god how I miss the woods! There I could breathe and feel the wet and get lost in the smells and run if I had to, run and run until I could escape this anger, escape this hatred. You’ll think I’m a pansy, but she came in the other day and found me crying, not bawling or anything, just sitting on the couch trying to watch tv and my eyes were filled with tears, and I couldn’t stop them.

“Oh, no, no,” she said, bending onto her knees and making herself busy wiping my eyes with her fingertips. “No, don’t cry. You saved me. You rescued me. I wouldn’t live if you hadn’t rescued me.” Her eyes were deep and dark behind the blonde eyebrows and lashes, and I wondered what she really thought, deep in there.

“Yes, no,” I said. That wasn’t it. T didn’t yet, exactly, know what it was. She looked at me concerned, more seriously. “What is it?”

“Nothing.”

She nodded and left me. I watched her round bum and the cant of her back as she walked away. She had an almost businesslike way of placing her thighs ahead as she walked. Always, I knew that moist thing was beneath and between, that I could slide my erection into. Even on the street, when we walked, the hardness would often come, and I’d turn and press sideways against her, against the hardness of her thigh or hip, to press the erection and make it give that gold rush that stopped the bother for awhile. I did walk on the streets, and go to the restaurants and stores. I cared that I might get caught, but I didn’t care, too. What connection they might make to me, from the murdered RCMP, was kind of confused and vague for me. I tried to sit down many times and think it through, figure it out logically, but my mind kept drifting away from it. It was like a swirling mini tornado like you sometimes see on the street, picking up bits of paper and garbage, or like a swirl in the sea you sometimes see, all slick and sliding smoothly into itself Like these, but not fast, just slow. My mind had become so slow, when I tried to think about these things. Sometimes I would put my whole head in my hands, so my heels were over my ears and my fingers almost met on top of my hair, and hold it like this, trying to figure it out, trying to face it and make the slow swirling stop, or congeal into facts and logic and things that go from one thing to another, step-by-step, but I couldn’t. I’m so tired.

Soon after we arrived, she took me out and bought me some clothes, jeans and things. And a leather jacket, which I’ve never had. I look like a real city punk now, a clean fresh-dressed one. I loved the erections, and especially the pressing them against her, partly because when that was happening, I wasn’t concentrating on the way the sun’s gone fuzzy or the stark hard thing about her apartment, or the . . . none of it’s absolutely clear, but the anger, the anger that’s burning clearer and clearer. Clearer why, I mean. But now I was just watching her neutrally, no erection, just suspended in her beauty. I heard her pour a glass of water, then she came back and sat on the couch beside me. She said, in that calm, undisturbed voice that must be her regular voice, since it has become more and more the voice she speaks in since we left the coast and the woods and the tent and all that death. It must have been hard for her, she seemed half crazy up there, that’s why I assumed she was guilty of shooting Dietmar, but now she seems to have returned to health in an almost amazing way. Or perhaps it was false, all a show. A show for what? A show for me? I still haven’t talked it through with her. She still hasn’t said anything to me about it one way or the other, she hasn’t said she did it or someone else did, or that she even knows Dietmar is dead, except in those indirect ways, like when she looked at me in shock up at the tent. Heck, for all I knew she didn’t even know who the shot man was! This could all be my doing, my imagination, and she was living some completely different life than I thought, and had thrown herself into the pool for some entirely other reason, and I had killed a policeman for absolutely no real reason, for no reason other than my wrong assumptions.

The thing is, when I cry like I did just then, and she wiped my eyes, when I felt the crying like that, I knew all the answers, I had a feeling that everything was known, it was a glorious feeling, in a way, or at least a sweet, release kind of feeling; there was no puzzle, the crying wiped out all the puzzle. I felt almost incandescent, like a sun shone inside me, and the tears, and – but I never had any thoughts at these times, and though I felt I knew the answers, I didn’t know the answers in any way that I could express, or even that my own mind to express to itself.

But at other times, when the tears aren’t there, the sun is fuzzy and everything’s stark, and I don’ know answers but I want to know them, and slowly they creep closer and closer, and as they come I grow angrier and angrier. I can feel this hatred building in me, it’s small, and hard and solid and it grows a little bit, like a black fire burning with black smoke, every time I sense the real, knowable answers coming closer.

“I don’t blame you, Geoff”MARK THIS – NEW NAME????

I looked at her. She looked directly at me. She has this way, no one else has it, of looking directly, softly and fully at me. It’s not a compassionate look, more a studying one. It only makes me more in love, though that’s not its intent. I think it’s her way of knowing me without thinking thoughts or speaking. I mean it that way, more in love, because this is like being in something, with her presence, her being, all around me, her being is what I live for, I suck on it, I stare at it, I breathe it, even when I go to stand at the window, 1 feel it all over my back, like a pleasant pressure. Maybe she feels me the same way, for I certainly stare at her. She doesn’t like me doing it all the time, so I don’t. I look secretly, sometimes. It doesn’t feel secret. It’s just my eyes go that way.

But this was what was happening: suddenly, this love was replaced by an anger. It, the love, went away instantly, as if it never existed. I said, “What were you doing up there?”

“Where?” she said.

“There,” I said, angered at her refusal to know what I was talking about. “What are you trying to hide?” I said.’

“Nothing.” She frowned intently at me, in a worried way. Suddenly, I was afraid her “nervous breakdown,” was going to come back. (For that’s what I called it in my thoughts, the way she’d acted, been distant and “fragile” up in the woods.)

“Nothing. No. No, not nothing.” I stood up, sighed and sighed and walked to the balcony window, the sliding glass doors. Why are even the soft drapes hard and stark? “You’ve got to tell me. I’ve got to know. Tell me!” I said it between clenched teeth at

her, I almost hissed it like a snake. I’d never seen myself like this. “I don’t know,” she said, her head falling quietly.

“You stupid woman! You don’t know what? Were you – okay, okay, 1 need to put this clearly. I need every piece logically. In order. In order, fucking order…” I suddenly realized I was talking like my brother, showing the same abrupt, rude, oath-fucked speech as him. So this was how he felt. This was why he talked that way. I’d always thought it was a kind of arrogance and low-IQ pompousness. But it was this, it was anger and emotions all mixed up and confusion. I understood in an intense way now, and also I felt demeaned, reduced, that I was like my brother, whom I’d always considered inferior. And now I was being him. In shock, I sat down wide-eyed and ran my hand through my hair.

“I can’t = ` I stopped again, in frustration. This had happened already, three or four times I’d tried to have this conversation with her, ask these questions, and each time I stopped in frustration, confused about what I really wanted to ask. The words, even the actual questions, just escaped me. At first, it was just a bit frustrating, and at first, I was rather calm and curious. But each time I tried to start the conversation again, in these two weeks or so since we’d fled on the ferry, each time I grew a bit more excited and angry and confused, until now I was like this.

“Okay, WHAT were you doing up there with Dietmar?” I finally said, in a lordly, demanding, thick-voiced way. It made me feel sick with shame. I don’t know why. Now I had another flash: I felt like I was like my mother was, that time she tried to befriend or “seduce” that man to have him show us engines and cars and teach Paul to drive and stuff, and the way she demeaned herself and later how she tried to wash the ugly thing off herself by putting him down after he’d gone, how she was extremely proud on the outside  and I sense very shamed on the inside that was how I felt now. And worse so, because just as I had sensed the shame underneath it all in my mother that time, now I knew Berry could sense the shame clear as day sitting on my face when I made that demand. I sat up stiff and watched her with a red face, though I wished I was outside the door, slinking away down the streets, far away from knowing she knew I felt sick with shame. I didn’t even know why I felt that way, except I had a powerful fear, at the same time, that she would not love me.

She put her left hand over her eyes, as if shading them from the sun, although there was no sun – no direct sunlight — in the room.

“You have to give me SOME SORT of answer,” I said, angered now. God, I hated her! Posing and oh so delicate! Holding her hand over her brow like that! Yet it fascinated me, too, that little hand.

“Just tell me,” I said, stiffening even more. (I was sitting up like the school kids do in one of those films about the old days, stiff and straight.) “Did you LOVE Dietmar?” The shame was being replaced in me now by a sort of passion, a heat OW I was actually beginning to like.

“How do you know his name?” she said in a hopeless-sounding voice.

“It was in his wallet. I saw him! I saw him die!” Believe it or apt, this was the first time in the two or three weeks we had been together – I’d lost track, – that I’d actually revealed this directly. That we’d even talked using the name Dietmar. That’s how reluctant, I guess, she was to discuss anything like this, and how hesitant or afraid I was to push it. I felt a bit cruel, saying these things, but I enjoyed it now, I wanted to be even crueler. But I couldn’t find anything to say that way.

“Did you LOVE him?”

“L . .” She pulled her hand down and put her hands in her lap and looked at me across the room. Her face had collapsed into that wrinkled red plum. Tears were brimming in her eyes and her mouth was turned down and crinkled, to hold herself back,

I guess. “I can’t, I just can’t talk about … it… right now,” She said “it” as if she was handling the word with two fingers, at arm’s length, like you pick up a smelly thing. Then she raised that bird’s wing hand again, stiff yet bent, to shade her eyes.

“Do you love ME?”

 

POSSIBLE ADD-ON SOMEWHERE HERE:

 

“Why won’t you TALK to me?” I demanded. I didn’t even give her time to answer, because if I had, I would have hated her. “You never say anything. What’s inside you? Anything? Maybe nothing, nothing!”

She looked surprised at me.

“It means you don’t love me,” I said.

She looked away sadly. It had depths that I couldn’t plunge, and that made me feel sorry, and superficial.

“Do you remember our picnic?” I asked. I was trying to raise a nice picture, something we could both like and share, so I could bring us together, or get over that huge silence between us. But then I remembered how crazy I had thought she was then, in that clearing, when we shared that meal – you probably don’t remember. But maybe she remembered how crazy it was, because (she pulled even more into the shelter…)

She pulled even more into the shelter beneath that hand. I could see her literally shrink. She seemed small and ugly, hunched over like that on the edge of the couch. As if she would shrink totally from my sight. Or as if she became less and less worthy of me, and I grew bigger and bigger or more important. I leaped up from my chair and walked quickly to the kitchen and back, and then around the room, and then I stopped. I was suddenly sorry. I looked at her and wished I hadn’t hurt her, but I was too proud to go over there. She could come and wipe my eyes but I couldn’t do the same for her. I couldn’t because – because she was guilty. She was guilty, or at least she was ungenerous. She was refusing, withholding, and it wasn’t fair. I felt this and I felt sorry too, and finally I went and threw myself down on my knees on the carpet in front of her and wrapped my arms around her legs and threw my head on her thighs.

 

Of course they’ll come someday. At least, I suppose they will. I don’t regret throwing the rifle away. I’m glad, relieved that I did. If I was standing on this balcony like now, ten stories up, and I had the rifle in my hands, I’d throw it just like I did down that hillside, out and away, probably to land on that black roof of the Laundromat down

there. Or maybe it’d clatter over the roof and drop into the street. It’s a busy street, people walk back and forth on it all day and night, often four abreast, and cars never stop here, except of course at the lights, which are at every second block. Sometimes I can’t stand the constant whoosh of noise, it’s like a sandpaper wall rubbing against your ears.

Here’s the thing: she didn’t have a vehicle. That means there was someone else. That means there was her, and Dietmar — the man I watched die on the trail — and someone else. Someone else drove the vehicle away. Because there had to be a vehicle, but there wasn’t any vehicle. Dietmar wasn’t driving a vehicle. And they didn’t haul that tent-cabin affair up there on their backs. So there was a third person.

That means she was innocent. That means I killed the RCMP for nothing. That means I am forever fucked, blasted, my soul is gone and the sun has gone fuzzy. I’m a murderer. Caught or not, I’m guilty. And I did it for her. And yet, she is not guilty. She is clean. She can live a whole, bright, free, luxurious life ahead with her money. (I found out – she told me – that she has parents in Switzerland, her dad took her mom and sister to Switzerland and bought her this apartment and put a “sufficient” – her word — bunch of money in the bank for her.) She is free and clean and I am caught and bound and totally marked by this killing I can never escape, this thing I did. So I love her, but she is free of me. Deep down, in the core, I know, and I suspect she knows, she is free of me. I ruined my life, from here until death, for her, but she is not bound at all, she has no guilt. That makes me hate her, I hate her so intensely sometimes I want to strangle her.

 

BOOK TWO – A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT VIEW

 

 

 

My life is ruined, because I tried to save hers. That makes me hate her. And yet, I still cannot think of her being taken, being overtaken by some force greater than her – that’s how I saw the policeman, and the police. I could not bear the thought of the sorrow, that’s why I killed him. Is that why? My head’s confused, and I can only think one or two thoughts along, and then it falls into this dreamy confusion Sometimes I think, God, why did you make the earth so beautiful, the sky and ocean so mysterious, majestic, and then let us walk into such traps as this? Then at other times, of course, it just doesn’t matter, and I just sit there and nothing has any color or emotions or anything, and absolutely nothing matters. Sometimes this lasts for hours, and I could sit in a cafe here in this bright city and not move for hours, it would be a great bother to move.

Goddamn that policeman! Why did he have to be a cop, what made him choose that line of work and meet me? Why did he have to come to that clearing and ask questions? Of course I was going to kill him. I see it now. If he came, I would kill him. I can’t help that. Will they send anyone else? Last night, in the sunset, I mean it was sunset outside, orange in the sky, with the blue deepening over the apartment balcony and the street below and the roofs and the tree’s deep branches, hidden in the many hands of leaves, and into the apartment onto the carpet and furniture, deepening the shadows and

lying softly blue over everything like the light touch of a girl’s cool hand – I noticed all this in one supreme, stark moment of beauty, one very quick moment, it was almost like a picture, and then it was whisked away – not the color or anything, not the sunset, but the beauty of it was whisked away: whap. But that one moment of beauty, as if to tantalize me. It made a thrill run up and down spine, and 1 said to her, slowly, softly, because I felt half like I was posing or acting, and yet I felt it truly, also, I said it was like a song, killing was like a song. I sang a death song, the murderer’s song. I was the song. I. . .

She stared at me in horror. Then I felt I had that choice – to stay in the beauty, to sing that song, or to step back to doing nothing, Everything went flat. The beauty was whisked away – actually, it had already gone, full moments before. It was only a memory

I had, that I was thinking I was losing, because the moment was gone before I even spoke.

I blushed. “1 only wanted you to understand,” That was what I wanted to say. But I couldn’t say anything. I fell silent.

Then today I grew angry again, because she had said nothing last night, because she’d stared at me in horror.

“Are you so innocent?” I said.

She shook her head slowly, without stopping, as if it were a slow pendulum. “No,” she said quietly.

“You aren’t?” I was surprised. I had expected her to protest, to abandon me even if only in the slightest way, the smallest inflection of her voice. And why hadn’t she? “But you can go,” I said. “You can go! Or at least, you can throw me out. You did nothing wrong.” (I didn’t believe that.) “I’ll go away.”

“If you want,” she said coolly.

“I’ll go away. You owe me nothing.”

“If you want.”

“Why are you acting as if I’m hurting you? Why are you hurting me?”

“You’re the one who’s leaving,” she said.

“Then I’m not leaving.”

She said nothing.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “I don’t know why you act this way or that. I don’t know if you love me or hate me.”

She lifted her eyes and stared at me, but it wasn’t a hard or judging stare. That made me soften. “I don’t know if you love me or hate me,” I said again. “I love you. Can’t you tell me which?”

“I don’t know if I love you,” she said.

“Do I repel you?”

“You scare me.”

“Why? Because I killed someone?” No.

“Why?”

“Your face is so … terrible,”

“Terrible? Terrible horrible? Terrible angry?”

She burst into laughter. “You really don’t see it!” she said.

“What? How terrible I look?”

“Yes! It’s – a frown. And your eyes bore into me.”

I knelt on the floor. “I’m just…looking at your beauty,” I said after a moment. It was the truth.

She looked away. She drew a ragged breath. “I don’t leave you because you saved me,” she said, embarrassed to reveal even this much.

“I’ve ruined both our lives. I’ve ruined my life, anyway. You can be free of this. You can go away and make a good life. You can be clean, and sweet and free. I’m ruined, I’m fucked forever.”

“No,” she said. “I have no life elsewhere. I mean, without you. You saved me. You created – I had no life to begin with.”

“You mean, from the pool?”

“Yes.”

“Were you mad?”

“Insane?”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

“Because he left you?”

“Partly.”

“Was he your boyfriend?”

“Yes.”

“Who killed him’?”

“Our father.”

I let this sink into me, but it sank in almost instantly, without effect. I felt it was inconsiderate to ask, “Your father and his father too?”

“Was that who the police arrested, your father?” “No.”

“So where is your father now?”

“I don’t know. – Yes I do know. I know. And he knows where we are. I – he knows you’re here with me. He knows. That’s why you have to stay with me. So he won’t come.”

“Who, your father?” She didn’t answer.

“Well don’t be afraid. I’ll kill him. You know that. I’ll kill anybody.” I said this in a flat, dispirited way. It was the truth.

“I don’t WANT you to kill anybody!”

“Okay, I won’t. But you know what I mean. I’m not afraid.”

“I know you’re not afraid.”

“I mean I’m already a murderer.” It was my way of accusing her. She didn’t react. “But this man they arrested” – this still bothered me – “it was the wrong man?”

“Yes.”

I looked at her. “So you – how do you know?”

She was looking between her knees. “I telephoned the police. I asked. I saw the news. I told them it was the wrong man.”

“There was news?”

“It was in the papers, last week, after we got back.” “But I didn’t see.”

“I told you.”

“But I don’t remember.”

“For long periods you’re like that.”

“Like what?”

“You don’t see or hear. You’re gone away somewhere.”

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry,” I said, suddenly anguished for no reason. Then I realized the reason: for her, for her cowardice. I had seen it a minute ago. [WHAT COWARDICE?????]

“But did they let him go?” She shrugged.

I stared, astounded by the ugliness of her cowardice. For the first time, there was something I feared in her. I feared her cowardice because it could eat away whatever I loved. That way, down that road, was crazy thinking. She looked at me.

“So you – oh God,” I said. “You haven’t – released him.” “No,” she said quietly.

“You must. If you know, you must.”

“And if I do you’ll be arrested – you with your stupid damn songs of death!”

A huge quiet blossomed in me. Maybe she wasn’t a coward: she had been doing it to save me. The same way I’d killed the RCMP guy to protect her.

“I’ll go away,” I said, though it was really just an offer, presenting an option. I didn’t want to go.

“I don’t want to be left alone,” she said stiffly and insistently, exasperated, as if shuddering at a fear, and angry that I wouldn’t understand, wouldn’t see. “I don’t WANT you to go away.”

I let my head fall. I fell into thoughtless thought.

“I think I.- might kill myself if you go away. … And I can take care of you,” she said in a lilting, baby-song voice. “I can take good care of you.”

i looked up and she was smiling and I smiled.

We sat for a long time like that, facing each other. It had grown into night. I saw her eyes shining at me in the dark, staring wide and round.

She said nothing, just stared with those wide, appealing eyes. She looked so bare and bald now, where before she had looked so healthy and natural and beautiful. I was a little afraid of her. T was afraid that she was mad, and that I would never be able to leave her and that we would marry and live together forever, and I would go completely mad too. I was horrified by the image of us living together in the far future, say, a year or two in the future, and of being completely submerged in her madness. It made me pull back, as if from a hot stove. Then I don’t remember the rest of the night exactly. She was restless and wanted to go out, so we went out, walked down to one of the trendy but slightly dirty, tawdry cafes that litter Denman Street. I know we began talking, we talked as we walked. She had become a real chatterbox, just this night, and so had I. I had begun to say everything that was pent up in me since – since I first saw her, I guess, much of it. But I don’t remember what we talked about. It was gibberish, garbage, ideas, ifs and what ifs and maybes and strangeness. Even accusations and pleas and more gibberish and protests. I remember sitting on the street curb, as crowds of night walkers streamed by, talking and talking until she sat on the sidewalk curb with me, both of us talking. I even began yelling at some points, I remember yelling at her a different time, when we were walking down the sidewalk. “Well, FUCK YOU!” I yelled, and I turned and walked away from her. But she yelled something back that I couldn’t leave, I just couldn’t leave that voice, and then I found myself ranting on the sidewalk — or was I speaking reasonably? I don’t know.

This isn’t so horrible, I remember thinking, It’s just strange, and there’s no time

 

 

 

 

“You’ve stolen time from me,” I said. “Don’t you see? I can’t feel time anymore. It’s unfair!” And at that she smiled a satisfied smile, and her eyes shone.

“Where are you?” I said. “Are you trapped in – this – in this – ecstasy?”

“Oh. I’m trapped with you,” she said with a big smile. “1’m trapped as much as you, but you’re my hero, my prince, you’ll never leave me, because we’re somewhere you can’t leave me, we are somewhere scary, aren’t we?”

Gibberish like that. Yet I wasn’t horrified of this. I was horrified of something else. Something this wasn’t, something more mad, or of her screaming or something. 1 couldn’t place it. But the horror stayed with me long past that night.

This lasted all night, the morning came on us and I saw her face in the light, all blue and sunken eyes and pale skin shading green and blue. The light coming made the talk end, we both became quieter, and we got up from the curb and stood for awhile, maybe half an hour or minutes, talking in a quiet way, as if we were parting, gentle and kind talking. I couldn’t tell her, in the gibberish of the night, that she had to go to the police to rescue that innocent man. But now, in the aftermath, looking on her delicate and strange and yet healthy in a bare, bald, strong, removed, strange, alien way, as if she shimmered in another world, separated from me by an angel’s acetate wing, or an angel’s consciousness, like that, I couldn’t tell her to go do something so practical and mundane and real as go to the police and actually talk to them, actually talk to anyone in the “outside world” – which was all the world that was outside our two-ness.

“Am I mad now?” I asked.

“Are we?” she said, alarmed. It had gotten to the point now that I couldn’t tell if she was acting, histrionic, or just saying what was real to her. That had been one thing that changed this night of the curb talk.

“No, we aren’t,” I said. I don’t know what brought this sudden confidence. I took her arm and steered us toward a coffee shop. “Let’s go have a coffee.”

“No – no,” she said. “Let’s not. Let’s just go home. I want to go home.” “Me too. Let’s go home.”

We hovered at the bedroom door, as if uncertain whether we should sleep or not, or even be together, physically sleep or not. As if we had become mental lovers, fused mentally, and the physical world was a strange one now. I paused, left the decision to her.  (Continues on next page below, if don’t use add-in below)

 

POSSIBLE ADD-IN

THE NIGHT OF CRAZY TALKING, IN VANCOUVER, ON THE SIDEWALK CURB:

 

 

 

All I can remember is, in all that crazy talking, she did spill everything about Deiter’s (Dietmar’s?) murder, about her father, and how her father came to her bed, and how Dietmar, years ago, seeing this, came too, and how they fought, wrestling matches and punching matches in the living room and hallways and in the door leading inside.

 

…Strangely enough, after learning all this about Beryl, I became insulting toward her.  I couldn’t help it. Here and there, as we were doing this or that, an insult would come, before I had any idea it was even lurking, and it would fly out and degrade her. Or I would just look at her with a disgusted look that I really felt, for some reason I really felt disgusted, and it hurt her – oh, I could see how it hurt her.

I had thought of killing her father, the man in the restaurant and the man I’d later seen on the street, and now, just now, in the hallway. I had thought of killing him, because already, partly due to him (and partly due to Beryl, and one-third due to my stupidity and my – I don’t know what, but something) I had already killed the policeman, so I was condemned anyway, to burn in hell. So I thought about killing him quite a lot, mulling it over, I guess like a rich man – someone in Beryl’s social level – would mull over buying a house. (NOTE: DID HE SEE THE FATHER IN THE HALLWAY FIRST, OR IN THE CAFÉ FIRST??? If in the café, this okay. If in the hallway, need to tweak this.)

 

And I knew, even then, that if I killed him I would abuse Beryl even more. It wouldn’t just be insults.

She grew smaller to me, as if her height shrunk and she became more round, more roly-poly – and yet more alluring. I wanted to fuck that roly-poly-ness, that smaller woman, as if curiosity drove me. So I did. I fucked her more and more, but without words, and without endearments or kisses or even, now, caresses.

 

 

 

She raised her eyebrows at me, then swooped theatrically into the room, and pulled back the bedspread. I got into bed beside her, slowly. I was zonked, buzzing. I spooned in behind her. I didn’t even want sex. THE FOLLOWING IS TOO QUICK, TOO EASY, TOO SUPERFICIAL????  (INSTEAD, LOOK DOWN 2-3 PAGES AT THE FRAGMENT, THE “POSSIBLE ADD-IN” FOR A SLOWER DEVELOPMENT.  Yet for some reason, a kind of meanness came over me, and poked my finger firmly, without speed or slowness, up her asshole. I felt a bunch of hard little shit pellets at the end of my wiggling finger. She didn’t protest. I pulled my finger out and reared up and spit in my hand and wet her and then I lay down and slid my erection in her asshole. It went in, way easier than into her vagina. But inside it was all soft, not gripping like her vagina. “Yes, yes! Fuck me,” she said loudly, in an aggressive way that surprised me, I’d never heard. “Fuck me!” she said, once. That was it, she said nothing else. I didn’t know if she was being brave and risking it for my sake, or if she wanted it, or felt guilty and wanted me to fuck her bum as punishment. There was only those two words, said in a kind of high, strident way so I couldn’t guess what they meant. It was like fucking an empty space, fucking air, so I had to pump really hard and for a long time, and the whole time she was silent, and finally I did come.

I don’t know why I did that. I felt ashamed. And I felt like I had degraded her. I felt, for a good long while, that it had cured me of her spell. I no longer felt fear of falling into madness with her, or of that future horror. I just felt disgusted and ashamed. And, I felt no compunction to make her go to the police to free that innocent man they thought had killed Dieter, who she said was her brother. She was just a piece of fruit for me now, or a dirty picture I could jack off into – better than a picture, because she had real flesh. But you know what I mean. I had saved her from many things: she didn’t have to turn her father in; she didn’t have to face the police, and her nerves and sanity weren’t the greatest; she didn’t have to lose me, because even approaching the police would lead them to know she was at the place where the policeman was shot, and that would mean I would have to flee or be arrested, or shoot someone else, and either way she would lose me, and all that was someone what her being pulled out of the cold pool in the woods had blossomed into: and I had, for the moment, saved her by degrading her and making her a bumhole. And I realized that she had wanted me to, she saw what I was doing, She sensed it was the solution.

The sadness was, and it grew an me more and more in the week that followed, that it was only temporary. I couldn’t save her forever by that one act of bumholing. Her cowardice would return, and I’d have to degrade her more, more each time. This was the strange thing: I began to see what that horror that lay in the future was: this was it, this degrading. The horror was that I would continue it, and I sensed I couldn’t continue it. I had to deepen it, somehow that was part of it. She wandered around the apartment that afternoon – we had slept until then. She gave no hint that anything was different. But I knew she knew it had been the solution. I think that was good enough for her. But I knew it wouldn’t be the end. That it had to go further and further or once it stopped, the need to go to the police would slowly rise up again. And maybe that would make her mad.

At least, now I knew why she had said so little, all those days, at her clearing in the woods, and on the ferry ride, even after I’d killed the RCMP, and here at the apartment. And it wasn’t until I knew the arrested man was innocent and confronted her with the fact that she had to go to the police, that she became so talkative, and “mad.” And when she was mad, I was infected immediately.

But to keep this all at bay, there was the bum holing. But I knew I would hate her. For letting me, and for her cowardice in not going to the police, for not being the angel I wanted her to be. I would have to degrade her more. Maybe hit her. I feared – I felt, I saw myself – I saw I would kill her. I saw it. I took a deep breath and went outside alone. I walked along the streets for hours. I went to Stanley Park, a big famous park in Vancouver, only a half mile from where we lived – I mean Georgina’s (RIGHT NAME??? BERRY’S) ) apartment. But I couldn’t stay near all that nature. Or maybe it was the tourists, the crowds having a relaxing time or fun or whatever they have – it seemed strange to me. So I walked out of the park and down the streets again. I walked and walked.

The solution was simple. I’d have to go to the police. Tell them the man was innocent. Of course! Now everything seemed clear. I felt light, and clean and free. I’d had a good life. I’d known love, these past weeks. I’d seen the deep ocean and the sky and the beauty. I could – I had to find a gun, so I could tell them and then end it all. I couldn’t go to jail and have to see Berry the rest of my life. I couldn’t face that. I couldn’t see her ashamed or poor or biting her knuckles. I wouldn’t see that. I’d make up some story that I killed Dieter, and then I killed the RCMP. I knew enough details, and the rifle I’d shot the RCMP with, that would be enough to free whoever they’d arrested.

 

 

 

 

I’d walk in and tell them that, then pull the gun out and shoot myself before they could stop me.

Then I felt a bit fuddled. No, maybe they’d stop me easily. Maybe as soon as I told them they’d search me, pin my arms and take the gun. Maybe I’d try to shoot myself and lose the nerve, or miss. Maybe I’d shoot them, just like the RCMP. Anyway, I knew I couldn’t kill myself. If I’m going to hell for killing that policeman, eternal hell, then I’d be stupid to commit suicide and just go there earlier. And I wasn’t stupid. I knew suicide was a sin too, a mortal sin.

I walked more, the May sun went down, leaving only the cool evening, and I felt the cold on my back as I walked, my sweat was cooling. I had to think it out. I looked up. 1 thought I saw Berry. It wasn’t her. I was way over on the far side of town. I didn’t recognize where I was. It was beaten down. I walked some more and found myself in another neighborhood. And again. I would sink into my thoughts – which weren’t really thoughts now, because it was all so simple – and then I would look up – mostly because I thought I’d just seen Georgia out of the corner of my eye, or that she had just spoken to me. A passing word, a perfectly natural comment, but one I didn’t hear the words of.

It must have been almost midnight by the time I found her apartment again. I went up the elevator and used my key. Georgia stood in the middle of the living room. Her face looked gaunt and sunken. She wasn’t dressed well. I don’t know what fashion is, but her pants didn’t fit right and her blouse was the wrong color, a gaudy green. Her hair was stringy and dirty.

“Where have you been?” she said fiercely.

I didn’t answer. I didn’t know what to say. For the moment, I’d forgotten my resolution to go to the police.

thought of falling helplessly in love with her. Horrified now – strange, since I’d already made that choice somehow, back at the camp on the coast.

“That man they arrested. The wrong one,” I said.

“I know, I know,” I said. “That’s why you haven’t left me, you haven’t deserted me or turned me in. — Not because you’re guilty, no, I mean because you’re – because you feel responsible for what I did?”

“Yes.”

“I have ruined both our lives.”

“But I had no life to begin with,” she said.

Next sentence is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOLLOWING ARE ALL FRAGMENTS, TO BE MAYBE USED WHEREVER;

 

FRAG. ONE:

 

NOVEL FRAGMENT  NOV 26 07 ADD TO LATE CHAPTER:

Approx 5:20-5:30 am

 

“You weren’t a virgin – then.”

I watched her eyes. I knew, if I had said that, back there in the clearing, in the tent, a sort of fear would have swum up into her eyes; but now just a kind of weariness floated there. I also knew that if I had said it back there, in the tent, in the first magic afternoons, my face would have been angry, with good, simple, pure (though maybe not justified) anger; maybe even with anger I would have regretted later. But now I could only say it as a petty, resentful, unsure-of-myself question,

“No.”

“I was,” I said, as if that gave me some sort of odd authority over her. Even as I said it, I knew how shameful this “authority” was, how hollow and petty. But I remembered, first going into Beryl’s soft belly, into her, what a surprise it was for me, my cock was everything, t was all of me, it drew my stomach and legs and chest and even my head down into it, for it traveled up a tunnel of joy and instantly, it called to the rest of me immediately, seized the rest of me and eagerly drew me down there, for I had never experienced such joy – such joy – such joy – and I wanted it – now, that is, because beck in the tent I wouldn’t have cared either way. I didn’t even think of it, and I know it wouldn’t have been important. And with this insight, I realized that jealousy is a mark of old love, of tired love. I wanted it, now, to be only Beryl and I, I didn’t want to think that she had experienced the same thing with someone else. That my huge, naïve joy, the huge joy of my cock, of experiencing this huge newness, this woman – had been less for her; that I was just one of two or more.

But I could see as she turned from me, how overbearing I was being, and how I was oppressing, suffocating her, pressuring her to – to what? I didn’t know. To surrender, complete surrender – maybe – because that was the only thing that could make up for what I had done, for what I had become for her. Whether she had wanted me to or not, deep down something in me knew she was just as responsible for that murder, even though she was innocent – in law and probably in God’s eyes – and the only way it could possibly be even is she would surrender totally to me. I’m saying this now, but I didn’t know it exactly then – what was this? Two days ago? – I didn’t know it consciously, but I knew deeper down, my guys were operating and compelling me; they knew.

 

 

 

 

FRAG. TWO:

 

 

 

9:20 AM June 18, 2005:

 

NOVEL FRAGMENT:

 

 

 

Describing Berry’s apt:

 

 

 

Almost every room was covered with thick grey carpet. It was soft and warm. It was beautiful, not like the horrible bare floors I was used to. I lay down and rubbed my body against it. I rubbed my face against it. It made you feel that everything would be good, secure and warm and comfy.

 

 

 

‘NUTHER FRAGMENT:

 

 

 

Berry’s front was just like the name makes you think: warm, tanned and blonde, healthy, thick lips, wide, observant eyes, a good posture in the neck – her head stays level and flat like she’s always facing the horizon. She has a bit of a pose in her, like cats do, a deep quiet unruffled thing, as they look at you. Everything is healthy. Her hips, when she’s naked, curve down to a blonde mat over her thingy – that’s healthy, too. But behind, it’s a mess. Or at least I think it’s a mess. I haven’t had much experience. (She’s explaining father/incest, and puts her butt up in the air for him to see the evidence of sodomy.) (Etc.)

 

‘NUTHER:

 

Paul (my brother) defended me vociferously, or voraciously, whatever. He huffed and puffed and threatened and called the cops cowards and said I was a little “queer” who would never have the guts to hurt anyone. I was a Momma’s boy, a weakling, etc. But he was completely defending me. He even said he was sure I was with him every day and night, all day and all night, for the whole month of the killing, that I stayed home almost all the time. “I’m his bloody alibi, you’d better believe that,” he said through clenched teeth, his eyes closed to slits. “I’m his fuckin’ alibi and I’ll never change my fucking mind, so you pigs better go find some other sucker to pin your fucking crimes on.” I was grateful to my brother for this, I felt a gush of gratitude and even pride, even though I suspected that if it were me versus him, he would do everything he could to implicate me in every major crime he could think of.

 

 

 

CHAPTER:

 

 

 

I forgot. The police came. And someone else came, too. (note; this will b e the Hal figure, he meets in the hallway that day – so the description above, about Berry’s “healthy front” should follow the Hal sighting, when hero’s in the bedroom talking to berry about the stranger in the hall – ie, hal.)

I was in the bedroom, a few days after we fled the Sunshine Coast and came to the city, to Berry’s apartment. I was in bed. For some reason I had been sleeping late every morning. I found it hard to get up. I could lie in bed for hours after I woke, and I wouldn’t be really asleep or really awake. I could steer myself easily into a kind of semi-sleep in which the time would pass. It wasn’t uncomfortable; I wasn’t bored.

I heard voices in the living room. You know how you can hear the voices, even quite loud and clearly, but you just can’t make out the words? It was that way. There were deep, male voices, two of them. I didn’t realize at first it was the police, but I must have suspected someone. I got out of bed and pulled my jeans on, but left my feet bare. For some reason I was guarded, and thought if there was a fight I wanted bare feet – they have the best traction. In a fight, you never want to be down on the floor. I stepped closer to the doorway.

“I’m sorry.” Male voice.

It was quiet.

“Were you up on the coast with your brother?” The voice was relaxed, easy, not penetrating – a bureaucrat’s voice. I realized it was some form of police.

“Yes.” Her voice was shakey, small.

The rifle was under the bed, but I had not brought any ammunition to the city. Not that I was thinking of killing them, it just occurred to me as a possibility.

“Were you together when he died?”

“No.”

“Did you know what had happened to him?”

“No.”

“Miss Mechosin, why did you come back without him?”

“I – other things happened.”

“What happened?”

“I wasn’t sure what to do.”

“What to do about what?”

“I was alone, and I almost drowned, and someone rescued me, and so I came home.”

“Did you know he was shot?”

“I was afraid he was shot. Or the other.”

“The other?”

“My dad. My father was up there too.”

“Was your father hurt?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did he come back to Vancouver with you?”

“No.”

“Were you three up there together?”

“Yes, sort of.”

“How do you mean?”

There was a long silence.

“Miss?”

“He came up later.”

“Who came up later?”

“Diet-mar. My brother.”

“So you were up there with your father.”

“No.”

“You were — ?”

“He followed me! Then he followed! I just wanted to be alone! Why can’t a person just be alone?”

There was a silence.

“Why can’t you all just leave me alone?”

I heard some more muttering, lower voices that I couldn’t make out. Then the front door clicked. I went into the living room. Berry sat, erect, on the edge of the sofa. Her hands were flat, praying-style, spaded between her thighs. She looked at me with wide, startled eyes. Her face was collapsed around those wide, staring eyes. Her cheeks were collapsed, her forehead collapsed, her lips collapsed. She went red. She looked like a red onion, shriveled in the fridge. Her eyes were red and filled with tears. I could see why the police had bowed and left (I imagined them bowing, genuflecting politely, then closing the door behind them.) Her whole face was wet, even her forehead looked wet. My universe went oddly to a point and out the other side. I was shocked more than sorry, though I was sorry too.

Her grief made me feel awkward, but I wasn’t going to leave her. So I knelt quietly at her feet and put my temple on her thigh.

Then there was the other visitor. I saw him in the hallway, so I’ll never be certain what was said or done on his visit. I was on the elevator…. (HERE THE SEEING HAL IN THE HALLWAY, THEN “grilling” BERRY, Then he descrip above of her heal;thy front and her backside.)