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(NOTE: the phone # under “Readings” above, has been fixed. Sorry for the confusion.)
START NOTHING: 8:24 pm Sun. to 0:31 am Mon., 9:40 pm Tues. to 1:42 am Wed., and 9:24 pm Thurs. to 3:14 am Fri.
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. — Desiderata.
(More in the AFTERAMBLE, below Weekly Forecasts.)
ARIES: March 21-April 19
The accent’s still on errands, swift, easy chores, communications, contacts, “daily business” travel and paperwork, Aries. A romantic streak that started 2 weeks ago, and lasts until July 10, deepens and widens Monday onward as sweet Venus enters and joins Mars in your romance sign, Leo. This aspect (Venus/Mars together) is the prime mover of tender, loving, protective feelings. (Friends might disapprove of a new love Mon.) Usually, this would last about 4 weeks, but this year Venus is retrograding, so it will stay in your love house until well into October — over 4 months. Then, in late August, Mars enters your marriage sign for 6 weeks, into mid-October. A lot of single Aries won’t be single after Oct. (And won’t be lonely now ’til then.) Lots of talk, paper on your career front. Sunday’s for love, wisdom. Be ambitious Mon./Tues. Friends, flirts, and social joys Wednesday to pre-dawn Fri. Retreat, lie low Fri./Sat. — rest, ponder and plan.
TAURUS: April 20-May 20
This is your year, Taurus! Best in a decade. Be brave, adventurous, determined — AND listen to your intuition which is very strong until next May (24) and in many ways will be your guide to financial and intimate “riches.” So heed and follow those little nudges, even ones so small as nudging you to cross the street. An influence of domestic friction began about 2 weeks ago, and will last until July 10. This Monday, sweet Venus enters this zone, so we’ll get bitter-sweet, or blatantly lustful. Meanwhile, keep chasing $.
Sunday highlights everything I just wrote: intuition, secrets, desires. Wisdom and gentle love come Mon./Tues. All’s good, but make a decision: outside work/career, or home/family. (Long-range, the outside stuff will win — as Wednesday to pre-dawn Friday will show — an ambitious 2 days.) Friday/Saturday bring friends, boost your popularity and optimism. Friendly romance possible.
GEMINI: May 21-June 20.
You’ll be very busy, travelling back and forth, calling, texting, etc., intensely now to July 10, but significantly and lovingly, until mid-October. All this might be in the service of a romantic, creative or risk-taking goal. (A former lover might return, late July to early Sept.) Your energy and charisma are in high gear now, so start projects and relationships. Dealings with gov’t should go well for next 11 months, IF you don’t let it get political.
Sunday’s for relationships, but only a purely ambitious one will “work.” Monday/Tuesday bring secrets, research, and a potential “win” in finances or intimacy. A mellow mood, wisdom and tolerance, far travel, legal, intellectual and cultural themes fill Wednesday to pre-dawn Friday (PDT). This interval is a bot contentious — just be wise and fair, and you’ll be fine. A lover might demand something. Be ambitious Fri./Sat. — dress “upscale” and show your skills.
CANCER: June 21-July 22
Remain in the background, Cancer — rest, ponder, plan, seek advice, deal with give’s or head office. Your income picture has “heated up” lately. Now, Monday, Venus joins this money sector (until early October) giving you a nice, long run of good money luck. By late June (to May 2024) start socializing — best year in 12 to do this, and any groups you newly join will benefit you, perhaps for years to come. A major life wish could come true in the 11 months ahead.
Sunday’s for work, health concerns. Drink sensibly. Relationships, opportunities and fresh horizons appear Mon./Tues. Alienation early Monday (before 10 am PDT) but success grows then onward. Life’s “secret” side, research, riches, lust, power plays, medical and lifestyle decisions fill Wednesday to pre-dawn Fri. (PDT). Be wary of making a commitment. Wisdom, international affairs, far travel, higher education, law and culture fill Fri./Sat. — good, mostly smooth progress here.
LEO: July 23-Aug. 22
It’s wishes-come-true time, Leo! You’re popular, optimistic, cheerful, and flirty. A good week or two to envision your best future…work toward it, later. From Monday to July 10, Mars and Venus, the “lover’s planets” move through your sign. From July 10 to early October, only Venus moves through Leo. It looks like a love affair…If you’re already happily attached, chase a travel, educational, legal, media or cultural goal in these months. (And don’t forget May 23-May 24 is a great career/ambition year for you.)
Sunday’s for romance, but don’t push the sexual side. Tackle chores Mon./Tues. You’ll succeed. (Monday might show you who’s “leaving” — or entering.) Relationships fill Wednesday to pre-dawn Friday (PDT). Be diplomatic; examine opportunities twice. Life’s secret and powerful undercurrents rise to the surface Fri./Sat. A pretty good time for investments, lust/sex, research and lifestyle changes.
VIRGO: Aug. 23-Sept. 22
The accent remains on ambitions, hard work, prestige relations and worldly standing, Virgo. You love working, so no problem there. But sometimes you expect others to “see reality” — to see and honour all the work you do, without you having to suffer the humiliation of blowing your own horn. But this week and next, I advise blowing your own horn. Look at the bulletin boards, apply for positions coming up, etc. Since your intellectual talents are at a peak now to May 2024, you might go to school to enhance your credentials. Now to early July, and some degree to October, your romantic side will “retreat” to an interior dialogue. That’s okay. Same period greatly favours learning, travel. (Actually, these, travel, learning — and law — are favoured for 11 months ahead.)
Sunday’s for home; be diplomatic this night with spouse. Romance, creative urges, beauty and pleasure lure you Mon./Tues. But as noted, your romantic planets are in “retreat,” so enjoy without pressing for results. Tackle chores Wed./Thurs. — eat, dress sensibly. DON’T buy machinery, computers. Relationships arise Fri./Sat. — Dive in, co-operate, enjoy.
LIBRA: Sept. 23-Oct. 22
Far travel, social and cultural rituals (e.g., weddings, bat mitzvahs) international affairs, law, learning, insurance and gentle love fill this week and next, Libra. Realize a new phase has begun in your romantic, creative and pleasure pursuits — to last the next 20 years. These things (romance, et al) might be tied to a co-worker situation, or to money. Casual sex might intertwine with true love. You might begin selling your creative efforts. Now to October, many (well, at least 2) wishes will come true. The biggest, most fortunate one involves love, affection, sex and finances. The other (only to July 10) involves partnership, relocation, and/or opportunities. Be hopeful and active in your own regard, Libra!
Sunday’s for errands. Beware tainted food/drink. Steer toward home Mon./Tues. Hug the kids, start renos/decoration, etc. A good., successful interval. (Watch Monday morn: it contains a clue to that new, 20-year romantic influence described above.) Romance, creative surges, beauty and pleasure visit you Wednesday to pre-dawn Fri. (PDT) — but don’t expect an easy time; obstacles exist. Tackle chores Fri./Sat. — you’ll succeed!
SCORPIO: Oct. 23-Nov. 21
The emphasis remains on intriguing stuff, Scorpio: sex, finances, secrets, medical and lifestyle options. Your subconscious lies near the surface now, so trust your intuition. The 11 months ahead bring you great good fortune in relationships, opportunities, public dealings and possible relocation — esp. in any of these are connected to your income. Now to July 10, higher-ups will be impatient, temperamental. But conversely, now to October12, higher-ups will favour you and your projects. Figure that one out. For best results, work hard, be diplomatic until July 10, and let the right people know you want to advance.
Sunday’s for buying/selling — stick wth routine shopping. Errands, trips, communications and paperwork fill Mon./Tues. — successfully. Take care Wednesday to pre-dawn Friday — this is a domestic interval, but it’s also studded with little but frustrating obstacles. Romance flies high Fri./Sat. — creative, speculative, and sports or adventure forays bring joy also!
SAGITTARIUS: Nov. 22-Dec. 21
Relationships rule, Sage. Now to July 10, your romantic planet sits in your “gentle love” sector. (Same period, avoid lawsuits.) Now to October 12, your “light romance” planet sits in the same “gentle love” place. If you’re unattached, a foreign-born person, or a student, or lawyer or intellectual, could become sweetly important over the next 5 months. The 11 months ahead offer more work, but more income, too. Get a bothersome medical issue to a doctor in the year ahead (if it appears).
Sunday, your charisma and energy are good and high — launch any project except domestic (or fluid-related) ones. Monday/Tuesday, chase $, buy/sell, memorize, embrace a casual “friend.” All’s well. Dive cautiously into errands, short trips, communications and paperwork Wednesday to pre-dawn Fri. (PDT). Make a list, check details. Head for home Fri./Sat. Hug spouse, kids. All’s well!
CAPRICORN: Dec. 22-Jan. 19
Keep on working, Cap — for 17 more days. Your drudgery should be relieved by a growing romantic “atmosphere,” which could, over the next 11 months, bring true love (or a huge sparkly affair) to unattached Caps. In addition, Mars and Venus will be in your sex sector until July 10, and Venus will stay there until Oct. 12. Expect a lively sex life! This can also benefit the non-romantics among you with lucrative financial deals, debt reduction, a medical procedure, or a life change — all better AFTER July 10 than before. (One thing’s better before July 10: buying/selling real estate, incl. your home.)
Lie low, rest and leave all phones, paperwork, alone Sunday. Your energy and charismas return Mon./Tues. — get out, launch a project or give one a needed push. Success almost certain. (Monday’s event can be a major hint about money for the next 2 decades. Might be a choice: do you pursue employment or sales income, or try to run your own business/investments?) Careful with $, shopping, sex and school Wednesday to pre-dawn Friday (PDT). Friday/Saturday are for errands, trips, communications — all’s well!
AQUARIUS: Jan. 20-Feb. 18
Ah sweet romance! If you’re single, and NOT involved or on the cusp of a bond, why not? The 11 months ahead focus on your home, kids, property, the whole domestic spiel. Many of you will move to a better rental or owned place. A secondary trend occurs now: Recently, Mars entered your relationship sector, which can cause angry retorts, even violence, but can also spur lots of communications/travel with someone special, and powerful romantic moments. After July 10 Mars exits your relationship sector, but Venus lives there from this Monday (June 5) to Oct. 12, signalling a long, harmonious attraction. This might also bring closer ties to the kids, perhaps pregnancy. (Tho’ preggies not advised July 10 to Aug. 28.) For 20 years now, you will become more stubborn, more sexually oriented, and more ambitious.
Sunday’s happy, optimistic, brings friends around. Retreat, lie low, rest, ponder and plan Mon./Tues. All’s well. (Monday morn might show you the type of person who might become important over time.) Your energy and charisma climb solidly Wednesday to pre-dawn Friday (PDT). A few glitches and “eye openers” might occur, so tread lightly, be willing to laugh. Chase $ Fri./Sat. — shop, collect, sell. Casual intimacy might occur.
PISCES: Feb. 19-March 20
The focus remains on your domestic situation, Pisces, for 17 more days. This is a good time to rest and contemplate your career and status ambitions — not chase them, just envision them. Otherwise, rest, “hibernate,” and/or fix up the yard, take a nature vacation, etc. Much work faces you until July 10, and after that, into October, you’ll be dealing with a very pleasant job, perhaps due to pleasant co-workers. The most fortunate thing you can do, now to next May (2024) is to travel, learn, exercise your curiosity, communicate, ask questions, and do paperwork.
Sunday’s for ambitions, career action (or just strutting before the hoi-polloi). All’s well. Socialize Mon./Tues. Issue and accept invitations. You’ll feel optimistic, popular and flirty. But retreat to quietude Wednesday to pre-dawn Friday (PDT). Rest, contemplate and plan. Be charitable, seek spirit. Your energy and charisma rebound nicely Fri./Sat. — get out, see and be seen, start or get behind projects — people will listen when you talk.
Creatures who feast on the beauty around them, are the happiest of creatures, because they are the kindest. In nature, beauty is the “operator” of two things: security/self-protection, and attraction, of the kind that can further the species.
Conservative parents should go in all Target stores with paint bombs and detonate them in the pride section.
Modesty perched triumphantly on his shoulder.
She was taller than her friends, but probably weighed less than them.
SHORT STORY: 1969
(First of 3 parts)
By Tim Stephens
(NOTE: THIS STORY IS NOT FINISHED YET.)
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 seventeen 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. But 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, crumpled.
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 watched fights. 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 dollops from the trees. I couldn’t just stay kneeling. That painful brightness of everything drove me – I moved just to ignore it. So I ran, bent over, along a small “ditch” and across a small cut filled with ferns, right to him. From the way he fell I assumed the shooter was to my right, and I didn’t see how he or she could see me, as the whole way I was in a depression, with alders (they always grow up after logging) hiding me from the right. I looked to my right several times, but saw no one. The last six feet, I crawled to him. I felt awkward. He lay on his back. His stomach was blown out on one side, and I 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 (my) 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 turned his head to stare at me.
“Can I help?” I whispered. “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 inched 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.
“Get her,” he said almost irritably, his eyes strained and watery.
I suddenly looked around, with the thought that someone was stalking us, right now – I thought I’d turn and see some madman with a gun. In a panic, I almost jumped and ran. I was trembling with fear. But I kept flat on the ground, wondering, picturing myself jumping up and running, as fast as I could. In what direction? I 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 gone, all over.
I snuck away, crawling until I felt safe or covered enough to rise on my haunches, walking like a duck right into the deep bush, then I rose and ran and scrambled, perpendicular to 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, or in his pockets — a wallet, so I’d know who he was. But I’d just run, 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 toque was sagging from wet. But I felt hot, panicky hot.
No one came.
Not for a hour or so, 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.
So I waited until the afternoon sun. 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 on the other side, 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 fast but 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 ghost pushing me from behind. So I didn’t say it, and he looked at me with a disgusted frown and went back to studying his fishing 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 taller than me, but a lot chunkier — he’s built square. 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 ‘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, you little asshole!” 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 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. So where is this dead man? Take me to see, or I don’t believe your queer ass.”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 determinedly up the dock to the house. I hadn’t said a word.
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 all the time.) We’ve lived here about two years. 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, white women and black studs, 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.
Somehow I could never quite picture this being a warm, happy house. Maybe there never was a 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 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.
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. 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. 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 it. But when I left the road and had walked about a hundred feet into the cut with the hydro towers – 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. Along both edges, 600 feet apart, the tall black trees stood like sentinels. 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 here was a stinking mess of swamp and sharp thorns, 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 stuck to 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 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 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, twenty feet — it was Paul, loping 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?” He’d run into the dark trail, then stopped. 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 outside 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.
“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 savouring 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. 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.
“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. Dietmar Stoltz. Maybe German? 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.
“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 up the paved road so you wouldn’t hear it.
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 sweet warm honey. 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.”
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.
At times the trees cleared; 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 get 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!). I didn’t have a clue what it was.
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, down this road.
Then suddenly I “woke up,” 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 a 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 sorcery had drawn me here.
Or something. The bare truth is, these murdered trees calmed me; the urgent searching feeling disappeared.
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. (If I had a hundred thousand bucks in equipment.) 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. This high up, the mountain showed through, its flesh was rock, its skin dirt, 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 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 April 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 scarlet-lipped sluts my brother hung around, or the money-poor girls I knew. (There were both types at our school, but the healthy ones wouldn’t talk to me — I think.) Yet there was a kind of superficial 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 strange 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, “social” 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.
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 knees 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 when you squish a 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’t break a fresh fir branch without twisting and pulling and tearing for an hour. 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. I let her go, grabbed the sticky branch with both hands and swung myself awkwardly toward the other side of the rock edge. But I fell in. Two strokes and I was there. I pulled myself half out onto the rock, 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 fire, my 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. Now 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 TV, 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 TV. 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 against my shaking head. 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.