Note: this is NEXT WEEK’S forecast. To read the present week’s column, please scroll down to “RECENT POSTS” on the right margin, and click on “August 23-29, 2015.”
ALL TIMES/DATES ARE PDT (Pacific Daylight Time Zone). PDT is 8 hours “before” Greenwich (England). (As long as Britain is also on Daylight time.) For example, when it is noon PST, it is 8 pm in England. The “World Clock” in the right margin gives you some clues. (You can also Google “time zone converter.”)
START NOTHING: 11:53 pm Sun. to 1:33 am Mon., 9:37 am Tues. to 2:02 am Wed., 3:20 am to 4:48 am Fri., and after 4:04 pm Sat.
I’ve finally written more of the novella, 1969. Chapter Five is just after Pisces in the Weekly Forecasts.
If we look at the origin of things, the environment looks more and more filled with or driven by desire. We desire so well, we do, that we outperform every other animal or creature, and subject them to our rule. Because we live with goals, future goals that are often more important to us than anything else (except life and love) we try harder and tend to be optimistic. As a species, we devote much more time to work than most species. There seem to be only two exceptions to this rule: 1) those that exert the most are the least among us (but numberless); 2) That we rule almost every species except the small, whose resilient, adaptive nature is often more cunning than ours – and perhaps “larger minded.” For instance, imagine what vast yet intricate communication must occur when an organism large enough to surround the entire human world (e.g., a flu) yet made of billions, trillions of moving parts – communicates with itself, or among its members, more efficiently than any human encampment, from its interior to its exterior — a distance comparable, on its scale, to the stretch from a galactic center, to glow on its furthest rim, billions of light years away. Can humanity do this? 3) Perhaps, during catastrophes and in the period after, a calm comes over a nation, people or the world, during which we lose much of our desire for anything except food and warmth.
Well, I was wrong about Trump. I said he’d start to deflate after Aug. 11; he actually did fall in the polls just after this, from 25 % to 18 %, but then he climbed back up again, and floats now at 24 % (of Republican primary voters). But more on this interesting guy later.
Tackle chores, and protect your health – eat, dress sensibly. Your workload is almost certain to expand over the weeks ahead. If you have any choice in this, try to steer your duties toward intellectual or international areas – e.g., join the advertising or media committee, or the import-export department, or where the job would lean toward cultural, newsletter, pr, legal zones, or involve travel. You’ll succeed best in these and similar areas. You might have an affair with a co-worker in the year ahead, might even marry. (I’m not recommending nor dissing this.) Continue to rest and contemplate Sunday. Your energy and pizzazz returns Mon./Tues. – two good days to look for work or start a work project – though Tues. morning’s best for starting a project. Don’t be fooled by a civil servant or someone promising an easy job – it will have more “grey areas” and twists than you anticipate. Chase money and pay bills, shop and sell items Wed./Thurs. – Wed. better. (Great day to buy machinery or tools.) Errands, trips, communication, paperwork, details, news and casual friends fill Fri. (confusion) and Sat. (great progress). A relationship, off the tracks the last month or more, will jump back onto its normal path.
Your luck rises, not only for the weeks ahead, but for another 12 months. Start thinking seriously about sex, finances, and lifestyle changes – and their consequences. You will be lucky in these areas, so it’s a splendid time to plunge into them – sex can lead to pregnancy and a new family life; investments can lead to new wealth. Be adventurous, be willing to take a risk – don’t merely seek sex; fall in love instead. Be a bit of a gambler when choosing an investment. Whatever you do, this month will offer romance, creative and speculative urges, beauty, pleasure and charming kids. Express yourself! Sunday’s happy, social, yet stable – a good time to deepen the “comfort” of a bond. Retreat, rest and contemplate Mon./Tues. Monday can bring illusion, difficulty, rejection; Tuesday treats you gently and well. Your energy, charisma and cloud soar Wed./Thurs. Start an important project, approach a formerly intimidating person or project. (Wed.’s better.) Chase new clients, money sources, sell items Fri./Sat. Shop cautiously Friday – if you’re buying anything “big” (I phone, computer, machinery, expensive clothes, etc.) wait until Saturday, when all’s lucky, safe. Your deep indecision this summer ends next week.
Embrace your family, home, and Mother Nature, Gemini – from these will come security, emotional comfort, a growing optimism, and simple good luck, not only this week but for 12 months ahead. It’s time to shut down one or more time-consuming but ultimately wasteful or stale involvements or projects. Be ambitious Sunday; get out, start something or “show yourself” in prestige venues. Your optimism, popularity (somewhat) and flirty side rise Mon./Tues. However, Monday can be tough – don’t invest nor seek physical intimacy. Tuesday morning’s good. You’ll be happy! But retreat, rest, contemplate and plan Wed./Thurs. – this is a perfect interval to look ahead – a year, even a decade or two, and to decide or envision where you want to be, where live, how and with whom (or with what sort of person). The plans you make now (Wed., rather than Thurs.) should work out in a pleasing, perhaps even profitable way. Wed.’s good for buying/selling real estate. Your charm, energy and conviction rise Fri./Sat. – but it would be better if the conviction part waited until Saturday, as Friday holds some illusion or indecision – except on the ambition/career front, where you get green lights. Saturday’s excellent for an investment, esp. in real estate.
You’re starting to become busy, and you’ll be busy for a year. Don’t stress about this; though you have much to do, the stakes are not high, and you can, in a way, relax into this busyness. Sunday’s great for relationships, gentle love, intellectual pursuits, international dealings, advertising, publishing, education and forming agreements. If single, you could meet someone “perfect” (and available) as a life mate. However, you might hardly notice him/her – this isn’t glamorous or “lightning strikes” – it’s quiet, easy, comfortable. Be ambitious, but not overly so, Mon./Tues. (Tues. morning, PDT, is best.) Be dutiful, but don’t start new projects before midnight Mon. (again, PDT) nor push higher-ups. Happiness, popularity, social delights, light, friendly romance, entertainment – these come like a breeze and lift your mood Wed./Thurs. Wed.’s best – love, even excellent “mate potential” drift on this breeze. Retreat Fri./Sat. – rest, day dream, meditate, plan, research – call government agencies for data. Saturday’s better – Fri. can lead you down an elusive path.
Chase money, Leo. This month, but particularly the year ahead, will be one of the most lucrative of your life. Mostly, this will come from a pay raise, more clients, selling unwanted articles, overtime at work, etc. Sunday emphasizes the other kind of money – investments, debt, mortgages – the kind of money that changes your life. It’s a good day to act or plan to apply for a mortgage, buy stocks, etc. (One proviso: watch the possibility of future deflation.) If you’re married, it’s a cozy, sexy day – or good for repairs, too. Mon./Tues. bring legal, educational, international, intellectual, publishing, cultural and similar themes. Although this interval mellows you and promotes gentle love (often for all humanity) you should be careful of taking too big a step here, especially Monday – not the best time to start a law suit or buy a ticket to another country. You could fall in love with someone who will always enchant you, yet hurt your health or job. Be ambitious Wed./Thurs. (Wed. better) – you can impress higher-ups, angle for a better job or promotion, start a successful project. Happiness enters Fri/Sat. – your popularity rises, flirtation comes naturally, you feel optimistic, social – and a wish could come true, especially about a job or your health. Saturday’s better than Fri. (DON’T invest Fri.)
Your energy, charisma, luck, clout and effectiveness remain high (and will, for a year). Sunday’s for relationships, and rewards the co-operative. If single, you could meet a viable life mate – perhaps while travelling or having a conversation. Monday/Tuesday present you with a puzzle, a mystery, which might come in the form (probably Monday) of a very sexy person (who might not be free) or a financial opportunity that might have more allure than solidity. Make your decisions, choices early Tuesday. The kind of luck that you’ll receive in the year ahead becomes a little clearer Wed. morning (PDT) when a philosophical, mellow, loving, cheerful mood steals over you – plunge into far travel, publishing/media, scholastic, legal, cultural or similar pursuits this day. A real estate or family problem might be solved early. Thursday’s the same, but not too successful. Be ambitious, chase career opportunities, show higher-ups what you can do, Fri./Sat. – but act alone, don’t bring in a partner or co-worker. (Saturday better.)
The week and month ahead emphasize rest, retreat, recuperation, charity, forgiveness, spiritual themes, contemplation and meditation. Find a sweet, relaxing spot to while away whatever time you can grab. You might also be weighed down by unfulfilled obligations (back taxes?) government demands, sick relatives, etc. – these, and “the burden of communications,” might expand in importance over the 12 months ahead. (All these areas, from retreat to spiritual themes to government dealings, will tend to benefit you – e.g., you could find a government grant for your pet project.) Tackle chores and protect your health Sunday. If you wait until Monday to start, you might find the chore has assumed bigger proportions, or the tide of life sweeps you away from completing it. Be cautious with relationships Monday, especially at work and at home. You have a sweet, romantic friend who might play a role Tues. morning (PDT). Life’s deeper side rolls in Wed./Thurs. – act Wed., as Thurs. might contain mild rebuffs. On Wed., you can solve domestic problems (esp. money ones) or pluck a financial opportunity, or become intimately involved. (If the last, make sure everyone’s free, and honest.) Fri./Sat. bring understanding, international themes, higher learning, gentle love and cultural venues. Saturday’s best – again, domestic solutions, luck, agreements are there to grab! Two months of indecision ends now.
The week, month and year ahead carry one outstanding theme: enjoyment, social delights, popularity, entertainment, light, friendly romance, optimism and a feeling that life is fresh and invigorating. A wish might come true, especially about money or a prized possession. Sunday’s for stable romance, flowers, beauty, pleasure, creativity and a “sensible gamble.” Monday brings work – and wooly thoughts, perhaps confusing directions, or perhaps your mind’s on someone you’ve met. So tackle chores cautiously – Tuesday’s better. Relationships fill Wed./Thurs. – Wednesday’s superb, could bring an exciting meeting, profit, great new friends. Be co-operative, flexible both days. Secrets, sexual desires, large finances (investments, debt, etc.) and lifestyle choices (or consequences) arise Fri./Sat. Your intuition grows briefly stronger; listen to that quiet little hunch, act on “calm impulse” rather than logically. Research, be a detective, see the doctor if you suspect something’s wrong. Saturday’s better than Friday. (Friday’s not good for romance.)
The weeks and year ahead luckily emphasize your career and ambitions, your desire for prestige and status, your parenting role and/or your dealings with parents, bosses, VIPs and authorities. Sunday, though, calls you home – rest, putter around, garden, do things with your family – all is solid and nurturing. Monday/Tuesday bring romantic notions, creative and speculative urges, beauty, pleasure and charming children. Monday’s tough for money – and worse, confusing. But romance is alive, perhaps mentally or with someone who inspires you. Best time: first 9 1/2 hours of Tuesday (PDT). Still, look to the distant future, and base your actions on your bravest thoughts. Tackle chores Wed./Thurs. Wed.’s very successful, esp. in home-oriented tasks, money earning, and government-related finances; Thurs. holds quiet, subtle barriers. Dress and eat sensibly. Relationships confront you Fri./.Sat. This isn’t the best time to deal with the opposite sex, except in practical areas. Friday erects barriers – legal, perception or domestic ones, but ends with a possible agreement or bit of blue sky. Saturday’s fine, could bring a good real estate deal, or a successful garden, landscape, home repair project, etc.
This week and the month and year ahead bring luck in scholastic, international, travel, intellectual, publishing/media, legal, cultural and love zones. Sunday’s for errands, paperwork, details, communications and casual acquaintances. You’ll get a lot accomplished, smoothly – and you could run into a good old friend. Your domestic arena calls you Mon./Tues. Take care Monday – you might unconsciously be overbearing. A clandestine lust could arise, an extra-marital attraction. This would actually succeed, but at what eventual cost? Tuesday morning’s good for investments, family times, gardening, etc. Romance, creative and speculative surges, beauty and pleasure bless you Wed./Thurs. Wednesday’s best – you might even, if single, meet a viable life mate. You’ll be a winner, particularly in sports, games. Tell someone attractive how you feel. But Thurs. accents “unethical lusts” again – careful! Tackle chores Fri./Sat. Protect your health both days; eat, dress sensibly. Friday could be as bit argumentative, or people don’t mean what they say. In chores, pay close attention to directions. Saturday’s great – you can get a lot done, and a wish could come true!
The week ahead emphasizes, and year ahead brings good fortune in, all the deepest, most mysterious areas of life: sex, and re-creation of another human being; or simply sex, and obsession with intimacy; also large finances, debt, mortgages, investments; lifestyle changes, health diagnoses, investigation and detective work, occultism and secret societies, death and rebirth (e.g., Uncle Walt dies and Mary has a baby). In sexual attractions, even though you’re favoured, make sure no one is already married, or that favour can turn to legal and moral difficulties, guilt, harm, etc. Notice that all these actions, investing, or applying for a mortgage, or having sex, can lead to important changes in your life – splendid ones, if you’re honest and good. Buy/sell, pay bills and chase money Sunday – all’s well. Errands and communications fill Monday (be careful, avoid sneaky people or tempting, unsavory motives) and Tuesday (a great morning, PDT). Your domestic situation, home, kids, spouse, garden, repairs, flows beautifully Wed., so dive in. Same theme but different results (ultimately, a barrier or quiet rebuff) Thursday, so be careful. Romance calls Fri./Sat. – so do creative surges, gambling urges, beauty and pleasure. These can confuse, or you can chase the wrong thing, person, Fri. But all goes well Saturday. Time things accordingly.
The weeks and months ahead bring you good fortune in relationships, relocation, negotiations, contracts, dealings with the public, and, for some, fame. Remember one thing: all your luck, benefits, will come from other people – so be open, forward, diplomatic, and eager to promote another’s goals. Your energy and charisma remain high Sunday – which can cause a mutual attraction with someone who can, in future, help you achieve your goals, maybe even make a wish come true. Buy/sell, chase money, seek more clients, and organize your possessions Monday/Tuesday – carefully Monday, as legal and social factors hinder rather than help you. Errands, communications, travel, paperwork and details fill Wed./Thurs. Act Wed., when your luck and efficiency are top-notch. Careful Thurs., when quiet rebuffs or sluggish barriers disappoint. Home, kids, garden, neighbourhood, rest and relaxation, nutrition, security and retirement themes fill Fri./Sat. Friday’s a bit dicey (afternoon PDT) as an argument can arise with your spouse or another, perhaps over politics or religion. It’s not serious. But Saturday is splendid. You’ll know love, and know Nature loves you. In a deep, subtle way, a wish might come true.
Then, the inevitable happened. I knew it as soon as I saw him. I knew it was all different.
Until then, I don’t know what I thought I was doing. Nursing her, I guess, would be my official answer. And keeping her from leaning right into another pool. Because she was obviously in sorrow, and the dead man was obviously her dead lover, or maybe her husband, or maybe her victim. But unofficially, I was surrounded by her.
That first night, when she let me into her paradise, in a way it was over in a flash. I couldn’t stop. Then I lay on top of 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 pulled her cloth pants down and leaned her back and slid my erection in. And so it went every day. I lost my virginity ten or twenty times.
Often, her eyes went somewhere I couldn’t go. She put the locket in a drawer and I didn’t see it again. We didn’t eat much because we didn’t have much food, and I think we were both weak with hunger. There was a loaf of bread, some peanut butter and canned sardines and canned corn and peas, so we ate these. By the third day, there was nothing. 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, maybe we were slowly dying. I noticed that I didn’t have much energy when I went walking outside. On the fourth day I set up a couple of bird and chipmunk traps from some 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 tug and the box falls. I caught two sparrows that afternoon, the third day. 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. I picked some of last year’s salal berries, because I knew they were edible, but they tasted awful. So we starved another night.
On the morning of the fifth day I could tell we were getting weak. Her movements were slow.
I said, “Should I go to the store?”
“Mmm. Not right now.”
More and more as the days passed 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. I was like a thirsty dog, lapping it up. I would watch her washing, with those strange, overly-delicate movements, patting rather than scrubbing. She was so unique yet so ordinary. That was it: everything was ordinary, yet glowed with – a soft and blonde – 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 …yes, when I think about it, horror; yes, a horror. I could not face her being horrible. In fact I don’t think it came to me, this possibility of horror, until a year later.
Then it happened, that fifth morning, about eleven o’clock.
A big man in uniform – police uniform – just opened the tent flap 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 kiwi 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 have 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, using the wash towel like a cat’s tongue, as if she feared hurting her own skin. It never occurred to me to bathe her or scrub her back.)
“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 the grey cotton sky, 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.
“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 few months 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 looked for his RCMP vehicle, probably a 4×4 pick-up, but couldn’t see it.
“I see. And the lady? Is she coming out?”
“1 don’t know.”
“Is she your sister, son?” I shook my head.
“How old are you? Fourteen? Fifteen?”
“Sixteen.” 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.”
“Have 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. 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?”
“I just have one. Bernice Mueller.”
“Mmm.” He had brought out a notebook and was writing in it. He asked me my name, and I gave it.
Then he looked up, at the tent.
“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, but then I ran, loping. Every second, she could be shamed more. 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 unknown 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. But 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 that’s ridiculous. 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. 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 slapped your ears and made your brains ring. My head boomeranged in the shock. I stumbled over to him. He lay quiet, on his back, but he wasn’t dead. He was trying to pull his arms up to aim at me. So I leaned over and shot him in the 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 lay on me like a being, something alive and thoughtful, and it said, “What?” Except it didn’t really, for it knew.
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, and let her head sink, as if the sentence was too heavy. She stared at the floor.
I knew what she meant right away. 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 now, in a sense, I had reinforced her life, or made it ugly. I had made her alive, and given her pain. 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 now 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. I 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, unescaped from 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 nothing else was worth 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 4×4 was probably on the other side of the logged chaos, 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…
It never occurred to me. I asked her that once, the first day, if she had a vehicle here. 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 with huge surprise. 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., convinced I suddenly have a solution, a stroke of genius that will solve everything, but as I totally wake it’s gone. It’s always gone, 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 it’s here but it’s not here, not in a cheerful way.
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.)
“Him,” I said. I glanced at the tent, then at Berry.
“Do you know how to drive?”
“Yes,” she said. She wasn’t hysterical.
“Ah, good. I don’t,” I said in a friendly voice. I ran to the tent, dropped to my knees inside 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 I 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 bushy 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. I slashed the tent with a knife, so bears or cougars could get at the body. 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 quietly got into the driver’s 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 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 offer, just calmly did what I said, which bugged the hell out of me.) 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. It was raining solidly now, and we were soaked hiding the vehicle. Then we walked out. We walked in silence. I wanted to talk, I wanted to talk again and again, but her face was downward against the rain and wind. And the wind blew so tremendously now that she probably wouldn’t hear me, not well. 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, the whole journey, but it seems like a dream. We hitched two rides to the ferry terminal. On the last ride, the driver suddenly turned and said, “Hey, look at that! Holy shit!” I turned, so did Berry after a moment. There, behind us, in the tremendous wind, huge trees, maybe a hundred and fifty feet long, high, were slowly, as stately as kings, falling across the highway. There must have been twenty or thirty of them. The driver sped up, laughing, and dropped us at the ferry terminal a few minutes later.
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 the apartment towers are.