Time’s Bending Sickle

This site has two previous novels: “Four-Part Dissonance” can be found in the archives beginning October 2009; “Death and the Maiden” begins in March 2010; and “Time’s Bending Sickle” begins in October 2010 (scroll down to find chapter one).

28. This Bloody Tyrant, Time

McNab sat at the table smiling, but with a hint of concern around his eyes. Mary was singing, flushed and bright-eyed, and Toby was playing Bekes’ viol, looking significantly at Mary. She sang “Fain would I change that note” to Toby’s accompaniment.
I remembered that Toby wrote the song in the throes of love for Jane. Was a recycled love-song less meaningful? Was he trying to form new associations, to clear his artistic palate, as it were? I decided not to assign him any blame, but to enjoy this expression of hope and love. I myself needed hope at this point, lying in a hospital bed, abandoned by my wife.
Toby and Mary finished the song and exchanged smiles. McNab sighed and rose. “Mary, while you see to the supper, the captain and I will take the air. I want to see how he goes wi’out his staff.”
Toby followed the doctor out to the dirt lane, limping slightly. McNab watched him a moment, nodding approvingly. They walked side by side for a while.
“So, Captain, I give you your leg, and you want to take my daughter.”
“With your good leave and blessing, sir. I know I am but a poor stranger here, but with Lord Bekes’ help, I may–”
“You are still a prisoner,” interrupted McNab.
“Surely you and Lord Bekes–”
McNab waved impatiently. “Perhaps, perhaps. You are a good man, Captain; I think you would provide for my daughter as well as you are able. But I must confess I had higher hopes for her.”
“She is worthy of better than I.”
“No doubt. But not all falls out as we would wish. I am too indulgent a father–I think I wish my daughter’s happiness more than I do her good.” He paused. “Would you be willing to serve his majesty King Sigismund against the Swedes?”
Toby looked pained. “I had hoped that my music could bring me employment.”
McNab looked grim. “Aye, a base employment, dependent on the whims of the rich. But you are an experienced soldier, a captain; moreover, one who has fought under Prince Maurice. Your release might come more readily if you offered your service to the Poles. And you might put yourself in the way of a fortune, if you are wise. Not all soldiers die poor.”
Toby shook his head, the corners of his eyes drooping sadly. “I see your reasons, but I must think on this. I have seen much evil in the wars, and would avoid more if I could.”
“I understand, and would things were otherwise. But I know the world.”

Mary, McNab, and Toby sat soberly at the table, half-heartedly eating soup of some sort. A loud knock at the door made them all jump, especially Toby. McNab opened the door to an officer and two soldiers.
“I am Captain Ingram, doctor, and have come to take custody of your prisoner.” He was English. I should have been used to all the European armies having English and Scottish soldiers, but this man surprised me. The McNab household was also surprised and frightened. Mary grasped Toby’s arm. McNab started to say something about Lord Bekes, but the officer thrust a paper at him. McNab read the commission, and turned to Toby.
“I fear there is nothing to be done noo. I’ll wait on Lord Bekes tomorrow morning early, and do what I can. Be of good hope, child.” This last sentence was aimed at Mary, who had begun to cry. Toby looked intensely mournful.
“Well, Captain,” said Ingram, “I regret that I must encumber you with these irons. But I must obey my commission.” He spoke Polish to one of the soldiers, who locked a pair of irons on Toby’s wrists. Ingram took another paper from his hat and handed it to McNab. “Here is your release. You seem to have put him to rights very well, doctor. Thank you for your pains.” He smirked slightly at Mary. “With your permission, doctor, I may at some future time call on you and your handsome daughter.” Mary turned away and Toby stiffened. “Until then, farewell. Captain, by your leave.” He took Toby by the arm and led him toward the door.
“I’ll return when I can,” Toby said to Mary. “Soon.” Mary nodded tearfully. They left.

Toby sat on a bench in a stone-walled cell. He blinked as Ingram entered with a lantern, which he hung on a hook in the wall.
“Be of good cheer, Captain. I bring you your freedom.”
Toby stood. “Lord Bekes?” he asked hopefully.
“No.” He leaned closer and spoke softly. “King Charles.” He smiled at Toby’s puzzled expression. “Although I am an officer in the Polish army, I am King Charles’s loyal servant and a good Protestant.”
“King Charles?”
“Aye, he has now accepted that title from the Swedish people. His majesty has seen fit to arrange for your escape from the papist enemy. Although he has many who could serve his turn, he thinks you would be the right man to send to Russia at this time.”
“Aye. Here’s the tale. Czar Boris, though an able man, is somewhat unsteady on his throne, for some say that Czar Ivan’s son and heir, Dimitry, died by the hand of Boris’ agents. Now a pretender, feigning himself to be that same Prince Dimitry, has arisen in Poland; the Poles find him a convenient means to trouble the Russians, and perhaps to enthrone an ally there. Duke–I should say, King–Charles would not enter an alliance with the czar at this time, given the uncertainties of the wars in Livonia, but he would prevent a Polish ruler in Russia. So he thought to send you and a few other foreigners to serve among the mercenaries in Czar Boris’ service, to help the czar avoid defeat–but not avoid trouble–and to bring the king timely information in any event.”
Toby frowned miserably. “What if I refuse? Lord Bekes may be able to obtain my release. Although I am grateful to the duke–the king–and wish him and my friends among the Swedes well, I do not wish to serve in any army.”
Ingram smiled unpleasantly. “Lord Bekes is away on King Sigismund’s service. He may be gone many months.” He looked around and sniffed. “The air here seems wholesome. Perhaps you could survive here until then, if they remember to feed you. If you are so enamored of the Polish papists, King Charles would sooner have you in their prison than in the field against him.”
Toby leaned down and clasped his hands behind his head. Ingram sat down by him. “Good Captain,” he began, changing his tone, “think of your soul, as well as your true loyalties. Would you serve the antichrist, those who sent the Armada, those who have tried to murder the Queen, God rest her soul–”
“What do you mean?” asked Toby in surprise. “Is the Queen dead?”
“Aye, tis old news. King James of Scotland is now on the throne.”
“King James.”
“Aye. A good Protestant prince, welcomed by all true Englishmen.” Impatiently, Ingram renewed his harangue, appealing to Toby’s faith, loyalty, and self-interest. “You must choose between freedom and imprisonment.”
“To me it seems that I must choose between prisons.”

My leg had healed well enough for me to be released from the hospital. Myron Fish, my viola-playing doctor friend, came by and gave me a free consult. He checked my chart and told me what the other docs told me, but he spent a little more time and was a friendly presence. Though my leg was improving, my mind was still reeling from all that had happened. I still dreamed of Abner Cross, and jumped, sweated, and panted at any sudden noise. Callie had been to see me a few more times for brief visits. I promised to leave word at the hospital when I checked out so she could get in touch with me without my having to call and possibly talk to Jean.
I hobbled out of the hospital on crutches and took a cab to the Cullen parking lot where my car had been. I drove to a K-Mart, bought a couple of cheap bags, and organized the pile of clothes I had rescued from where Jean had thrown them. They had been festering in a chaotic heap in my car. I checked into a motel, and ordered a pizza for lunch. It was the first food I had had in days that tasted good. I did a little more organizing of my stuff, then flopped on the bed and rested my leg, sore from moving around.
The phone rang. It was Callie. “They sprung you, huh? How’re you feeling?”
“Better. I just had a pizza.”
“I prescribe a Mexican dinner. I’ll pick you up and I’ll buy.”
“Are you courting me, Miss Warren?”
“Naw, you ain’t my type. But I have a soft spot for pore wounded critters. See you around six.”
“Thanks, Callie.”
I spent the afternoon dozing and trying to pull my life together. It wasn’t easy, and I didn’t get very far. I called the bank and found that Jean had moved all but three hundred dollars to a separate account. My credit cards were good for a while, but I knew I had to set up an account for my last check. I called Janelle, who was very sympathetic, and said my check was at her desk. I called Perry and found out what had been going on. He invited me to dinner the next night and offered his home computer for work on my resume.
“I’d ask you to move in for a while, but the kids take up every inch of space, and you wouldn’t get any rest. Too bad about your cello. Any insurance?”
“I hadn’t thought. It was on our renters’ policy. But I think they exclude civil war.”
Perry told me that Abner would plea bargain down from attempted murder to assault and reckless endangerment on the condition that he would get psychiatric help. I was relieved to learn that he was still in jail and would have to serve some time. I hoped the help would do him some good–but I still didn’t want to be around when he got out. I got a paper and checked the help-wanted ads. There were a couple of sales possibilities, but they clearly involved legwork, which was not very attractive to me under the circumstances. I gave up and dozed until Callie came.
I pogoed out to her rental car. “I hope you don’t mind that I’ve given up ties until a boss makes it a condition of a job.”
“Osbaldo will give you a house bolo at the door. You notice my heels.” Callie never wore high heels.
When we sat in our booth and ordered margaritas, Callie got serious. “I’m going back tomorrow. I can’t get Jean to come with me.”
“Why not?”
“Take a good slug of that drink. I’m sorry to add this to your wounds, but Jean won’t go because she’s having an affair with Howell and doesn’t want to be away from him.”
I couldn’t speak for a while.
Callie went on. “I just found out. I’m as shocked as you. It can’t be good for her.” She looked at me closely. “How are you taking this?”
“Not well.” I thought of the coyote, at the bottom of the canyon, sitting under the shadow of the falling anvil. “Did she say how long this has been going on?”
“For a while, I’m afraid. Before the buyout.”
I remembered Bonnie in the airport with her black eye. Maybe it started even before then. You grow to hate those you wrong–you beat them or throw their cellos from balconies.
“I don’t think I can eat anything right now.” I stood up, juggling the crutches.
“We can just drink and talk for a while. It might help to talk.”
“I think I’d rather get back. I’m sorry.”
“I understand. Just a sec.” Callie took another big swig of her drink and a handful of chips. I let her pay for the drinks. Neither one of us had much to say as she drove me back to the motel. I was aware that she would have listened sympathetically if I had wanted to talk.
What I wanted to do was to get the hell away. Early the next morning I drove to Cullen, picked up my check, got what was left out of our bank account, and bought two thousand dollars worth of travellers’ checks. I threw my bags in on top of the books and music and cello scraps in the car, and headed east. To hell with Dallas, to hell with Texas. I wanted trees and hills. To hell with the job, to hell with the resume. To hell with Howell. To hell with Jean.
I got as far as Texarkana. Scenes of Toby on horseback began flickering at the edge of my vision, and I had to stop before I got distracted. I found a motel near the interstate with a takeout Chinese place nearby. As I ate General Cho’s chicken I watched Captain Hume, just as other folks might watch Sergeant Bilko or Colonel Klink on the reruns.

Four men, one dressed as a Polish officer, and the other three–one of them Toby–in the round hat and thigh-length coat of Polish calvarymen, rode along at a quick walk. Toby seemed to be saddle-weary, sometimes lifting his injured leg from the stirrup and stretching it. Most of the time they seemed to follow a river; I suppose it must have been the Dvina. I did a mental fast-foward until I heard one of them point to a town ahead and identify it as Vitebsk. They tumbled wearily into a grubby wooden inn. The streets of the town were mud and boards, in some ways reminding me of something out of old western movies.
In the morning, they left the town and turned south. After riding some distance–I caught up with them one late afternoon–they stopped and changed into nondescript dark cloaks and hats, stuffing their Polish gear into a hollow tree trunk. They rode into a birch grove as the sun set, the white trunks glowing ghostlike in the fading light. After moving stealthily through forest land for a while, they emerged onto a rough road. They had not gone far, when a band of a dozen horsemen blocked their way. As the officer talked to one of the horsemen, the others unobtrusively moved to surround Toby’s group. They were a rough-looking bunch, farly large and burly, wearing sheepskin hats and coats. All had curved swords and bows and arrows, and three had lances; two had large pistols in saddle holsters, but no other firearms. The officer showed a paper to the leader, who shook his head and waved it away. He went into a vehement speech, repeating “Smolensk” several times. Then he turned his horse and headed down the road. One of the other horsemen indicated that Toby’s group should follow.
Eventually they reached a town by a river. It was surrounded by a dry moat and an old wall punctuated at frequent intervals by cone-topped towers. A tall central tower dominated the buildings within the wall. A bridge across the river led to another cluster of buildings. They rode over a drawbridge and through a tall gate in the main wall, where they dismounted and were met by a short, compact, dark-haired man. He wore his moustache, goatee, and heavy blue cloak with a touch of elegance that seemed different from the Poles and Russians. In a surprisingly deep voice, he addressed the leader of the Russian horsemen, who pointed to the officer. The Russians then mounted and trotted back out the gate. The officer introduced himself as Captain Holtz, and handed over a paper. The deep-voiced man looked it over, nodding, then looked inquiringly at Toby and the other two men.
“Capitan ‘Ume?”
“I am Tobias Hume.”
“Je suis Jacques Margeret, capitan dans l’armeé imperial. C’est une honneur.” They exchanged bows. Toby and Holtz, a German, followed Margeret into a nearby building, while the other two soldiers took care of the horses. Margeret continued to speak, but in German, which Toby seemed to understand, and which I could follow pretty well.
After a glass of what must have been vodka, judging from Toby’s coughing fit, and after some small talk about their travels, Margeret began explaining the situation. Dimitry and an army of Poles, plus a number of Russians who were either disaffected with Czar Boris or genuinely believed that Dimitry was the true prince, were besieging Novgorod Seversky, some two hundred miles to the south. Margeret did not expect them to take the fort there, for it was very strong, on a promontory over the river Desna. But several nearby towns–Putivl, Krony, and Rylsk–had defected to Dimitry, and others may have followed their lead. The commander at Novgorod Seversky, Pyotr Fyodorovich Basmanov, was strong-minded and probably loyal to Boris, and might hold Dimitry’s army for a while. Czar Boris was assembling a large army at Bryansk, about one hundred and fifty miles to the southeast; the forces under Margeret, largely foreign mercenaries, would leave the next day to join them.
Holtz asked a few questions about their route, and Toby asked about their roles, and the nature of the troops they were to command. Margeret said that most of the foreign troops were used to order and discipline, and should perform well as long as they were paid; so far, they had been paid well. The Russians were another matter. Some were brave, or at least daring, and many were skillful horsemen; but they had little discipline, and their officers were largely incompetent, having advanced more because of their birth than because of their military knowledge. The commander of the entire army, Prince Fyodor Ivanovich Mstislavsky, was not only ignorant, but stupid. On this promising note, the vision faded.

As I lay in bed, waiting for sleep, I worried for a while about what I would do in the real world. I was heading in the general direction of home and Tennessee, and part of me wanted to go home and let my mother feed me and fuss over me. But another part knew how upset she would be as I admitted that yes, I had been shot–only twice, hardly worth mentioning–and, yes, fired from that good job you were so proud of, and, well, cheated on and dumped by that pretty rich wife, who now thinks she was a victim of satanic cultists, her parents. Maybe I would postpone that visit for a while. Find a place far enough from Dallas, find a job, and then talk about the down side when some things were looking up. Maybe after I got a grip on my hallucinations.
Eventually I drifted off to sleep. Abner Cross, in his fatigues and orange hat, was there, but every time he popped up, I would fire a dream gun at him as if he were a figure in a video game. Then I had another dream, a different one, quite vivid. I was in the hospital, in a wheelchair, feeling pretty bad. A nurse came in with a kind of gurney covered with scraps of wood. It was my cello. The nurse was a new one, but somehow familiar. She told me that it might be fun to put it back together. “See,” she said, “this bit goes with this one. See how they fit?” When she put them together, they stayed together and the cracks disappeared. She guided my hands, and I put two more pieces together. She left and I continued to work. The pieces were a real jumble, but somehow it became clear how they fit. I put the pieces together and they healed. After a while the cello was all together. It glowed a rich gold.
The next day I was still sore and jumpy, but the visions stayed under control, and I covered some ground. At Little Rock I picked up interstate forty and stayed on it, passing Memphis and Nashville. Around Cookeville things began to get interesting as I started getting onto the Cumberland Plateau. I finally stopped near Oak Ridge. I managed to sit through a good dinner and do a little more sorting of my books and music before weariness threw me to the bed in my motel room, where the late show in my brain compelled my attention.

Something significant had happened. Toby was in a camp in a birch forest, looking miserable and exhausted. All around lay the bodies of men; the living were breathing, many snoring in profound weary sleep; the wounded were groaning and crying; the dead were silent and still. Horses whinnied in the distance. A few had summoned the energy to build small fires, and a few were eating what looked like lumps of raw dough. Toby sat and stared into space. A young man with a full black beard and a black fur hat stumbled toward Toby. He looked like a species of bear, with only his eyes and nose visible.
“French captain speak vit you.”
“Thank you, Jacob,” sighed Toby, and heaved to his feet, wincing. His limp was more noticeable as he followed Jacob to a tent, where Margeret, alert and unruffled, sat at a table with a candle and maps. Holtz and a few other officers, including another German named Von Rosen, soon joined them.
Margeret summed up what had happened. Dimitry’s left-wing horse had attacked, were driven off, but attacked again. Another company joined them and then another; they charged so furiously and caused so much disorder and confusion that the main army, except for the left wing, was shaken and began to retreat. If another company of Dimitry’s cavalry had made a flanking move, said Margeret, these four companies might have defeated the entire army. It was if, he said, the Russians had no arms to fight with, only legs to run with. For some reason he could not understand, all the Muscovite streltsy–the infantry with firearms–stayed in the valley and did nothing. And the general, Prince Fyodor Mstislavsky, was badly wounded and almost captured. (This news brought some ironic glances, but no grief.) The gold standard, with its image of St. Basil, was indeed captured. (This brought some mournful groans.) The Muscovite army lost many men; the count of known dead was over three thousand and was still climbing. They could confirm only a few dead on Dimitry’s side. Tomorrow the army would retreat north to Starodub, regroup, and await reinforcements and a new commander. In the meantime, Basmanov continued to hold firm in Novgorod Seversky. Toby asked if any wagons would be available to carry the wounded. One of the officers gave an incredulous snort. Margeret gravely shook his head.

The next morning was clear and crisp and the mountains drew me off the interstate. I crossed over Tellico Lake and wound around to Townsend and Gatlinburg. I stopped and got out several times, but couldn’t walk as far as I would have liked. But the land and the glimpse of the Smokies was restorative. After getting back on interstate forty, I drove only a few miles before it turned south to Asheville. For some reason I took eighty-one north and stopped near the Virginia border at Bristol.
Although the miles and the landscape had burned away some of my fear and anger, I still felt only a little guilt at running off, and couldn’t find the energy to be more responsible. I called no one. I didn’t plan where I was going the next day. I just ate dinner, found another sterile and anonymous room, and watched the show from my brain. At least my troubles were relatively minor compared to those of a Russian soldier.

Toby was drying clothes before a fire in a small, low-ceilinged log house, when a knock on the door was followed, before Toby could speak, by the entrance of a young man. He snatched off his fur cap and began speaking rapidly in Russian. Toby, holding up his hands, said “Wait. Stop. Halt.” Then he went to the door and shouted “Jacob!” The young man approached the fire and opened his coat–sheepskin, the wool on the inside–to catch the heat. Toby poured vodka in a small pewter cup, which the man drank gratefully. The black-bearded soldier who spoke some English entered. “What says he?” asked Toby.
The two conversed for some time, the messenger speaking with excitement, pointing and gesturing. After a while, Jacob waved his hand, the other bowed slightly with a jerk, and left.
“He say they catch peasants. They try make fire, burn Dobrynichi. They say many Poles come. They say before they die.”
“They die just now.”
“No, when will the Poles come?”
“Tomorrow, maybe sunrise.”
“Does the French captain know?”
Toby frowned in thought. “Where did Captain Holtz store the powder?”
“In church.”
“Did he tell them not to light candles?”
Jacob’s mouth stretched briefly. “Aye.”
“Did he find any more arquebuses in the village?”
“He find four, but one no good.”
“Every man should have something to fire.” He adjusted the clothes drying on a bench. Then he took his hat and cloak from a peg by the door. “Come show me the church.”
They walked out into a village full of low wooden houses, with snow covering the thatched roofs. The streets were covered with squared logs, the snow on them reduced to brown mud by the soldiers milling about. In the square there was a stone church with a single onion-shaped dome. Toby started towards it, but Jacob stopped him.
“No. There.” He pointed toward a more modest wooden building with a cross by the door. This cross did not have the slanting bars of the orthodox crosses.
“A Catholic church?”
“Aye. Some Poles here.” He wrinkled his nose. “Not now.”
It was dark inside, for the windows were few and small. But the moon on the snow outside reflected enough light for them–and me–to perceive a stack of barrels. And from near the altar, something metallic gleamed. Toby, staring hard in the darkness, moved toward the glint. I was an organ. It was not large, but it contained fifty or sixty pipes of various sizes. Toby sat and fingered the silent keys.
“Three score two barrels powder,” said Jacob, watching Toby with some puzzlement.
“Good.” Toby leaned back, looking up at the organ pipes. “How many cannon by the gate?”
“Maybe fifteen.”
“And fifteen thousand men with only eight thousand arquebuses.” He stood and turned to face Jacob. “Mayhap if we cannot have real cannon and muskets we can have theater cannon and muskets.”
“What is theater?” asked the frowning Jacob.
“Where players pretend to fight. Come, lend me your hand.”

I hit the road early the next morning and kept on eighty-one, past Roanoke, Staunton, Harrisonburg. Soon I saw a sign pointing to Washington. I thought of the Smithsonian, and those rooms of musical instruments. Without much further thought, I was hobbling into the Museum of American History. I stopped and stared at a group of Amish people in the lobby, wondering if they were a living exhibit, or like me, just tourists. A thoughtful guard broke into my reverie and offered me a wheelchair, and soon I was on the elevator to the third floor.
There I visited again all those curious devices men have contrived to make noises that try to sound like the human voice but please by not exactly succeeding, and by making noises that human beings can’t. As objects, some are comic, like the serpent, some clumsy, like the sousaphone, and some graceful and beautiful, like most of the violin family. Those curves in polished wood seem to be physical embodiments of the sounds they can produce in the right hands.
I saw the Stradivarius quartet with the Marylebone cello, and the violin, studded with mother of pearl, that the virtuoso Ole Bull played; I saw the quartet of instruments by Stainer, with the lion’s head on the viola scroll. I was looking at the Stradivarius cello that belonged to Adrien-François Servais, who earned the gratitude of all cellists by inventing the end pin, when it occurred to me what I had to do.
I wheeled out, got my crutches, and vaulted down the Mall to where I had parked. It was getting dark as I turned north from the beltway. After a while I was threading my way through Baltimore, and by the time I reached the familiar wedge-shaped building, it was night. I rang the bell.
“Tony!” Clio’s expression changed from pleased surprise to concern. “What’s the matter? You don’t look so good.”
“May I come in?”
“Of course. Sorry.” She stood aside and waved me in. Clio had her cooking apron on, one without paint, over a dark blue turtleneck. Her hair was pulled back to reveal that she was wearing small silver earrings. The light in the studio area was off, but the light by the dining table revealed a setting for two and the one by the sofa a man holding a drink. He started to get up.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had company. I won’t stay, but I’ve got to ask you a favor.” I was babbling and must have sounded desperate.
“Sure, what?” The man was standing by, sipping his drink.
“If I could play your cello for fifteen minutes, it would make me feel a lot better, and then I promise I’ll go.” I nodded toward the man, whose expression was becoming perplexed. Clio made a slight “It’s OK” gesture toward him.
“It’s a long story,” I said trying, in the face of all the contrary evidence, to sound normal. “I’ll tell you another time, if you’re curious. I promise I’ll call first.”
“Sure. I want to hear it all, another time. You can call tomorrow. I’ll get the cello.” Turning to the man, she said, “Brian, this is Tony Maclean. He plays music with Marina sometimes, and is in love with my cello. Tony, this is Brian Holcombe. He runs my gallery.”
Holcombe shook my hand, a little uncertainly. He was a bit taller and older than I, with a square chin and a thick moustache. He wore a denim shirt, no tie, and a suede sportcoat. “Are you a musician?” he asked, trying to make small talk. Clio was dragging the cello from the closet.
“I studied music, but I’m–I was–a computer salesman.”
“We have an Apple at the gallery.”
“Good machine.” Clio handed me the cello. I limped to a dark corner of the studio and began to play. Bach, the first suite. The notes rolled off, falling with such ease, such logic. Everything was in place, but there was feeling, there was wholeness. It was an incredible relief to find that realm again, led by that marvellous instrument. I forced myself to stop after the first movement. Clio and Brian had been sitting on the sofa. They were watching me attentively when I looked up; they could have been talking about me while I played, but I wouldn’t have noticed. I put the cello down gently, and moved toward the door, apologizing again for the interruption. Clio came to the door and stepped outside with me.
“Listen, I mean it. Call me first thing tomorrow. Where are you staying?” She held my right forearm.
“I don’t know. I think I passed a Day’s Inn near the ring road.”
“Any other time–anyway, call!” She squeezed my arm.
She stood in the door until I limped to the car and started off. I turned back north, found the ring road and the motel, and checked in. I had no visions, and slept without dreaming.


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