... Speaking of which, the boys weren't actually touching the breifcases in the trunk, I hope?" Wondering how Milligan knew, Kate stuck her head out the office door and gave Reynie and Sticky a warning look. They nodded and tried to close the trunk as quietly as possible. "They aren't now anyway." "Good," Milligan said, picking up his duffel bag. "I'd hate to have to speak sternly to them again. It embarasses me to be so ineffective.
Trenton Lee Stewart
Clothes were scattered across the floor in piles, a duffel bag open on the floor as if it had exploded. Isabelle's bright silver-gold whip hung from one bedpost, a lacy white bra from another. Simon averted his eyes. The curtains were drawn, the lamps extinguished. Isabelle flopped down on the edge of the bed and looked at him with bitter amusement. "A blushing vampire. Who would have guessed.
What bug crawled up your ass?" I demanded. "If you mean, why I am upset? I should think that would be obvious!" It took me a second, but I got it. "Oh, come on. You're not still pissed about-you did the same damn thing to me!" He had the utter gall to look offended. "I did nothing of the sort-" I stared at him. "And just how do you figure that? You stripped me butt naked, diddled me over a desk and stole my duffel bag. And my clothes!" Somebody made a choking sound. I glanced up to find the door to the study open, and the old vamp looking scandalized. "Diddled?" Anthony asked, apparently delighted. Mircea closed his eyes.
Shouldering the duffel bag with the Marine Corps bulldog, Old Man knocked Jan's photo off the bed table. He turned to stone staring down at the photo. His face then splintered into hurt. Tears seeped into his eyes. He grappled for the nearest bedpost and slumped forward on extended arms. His shoulders jerked and head sagged a little while his heart broke. Old Man cried the mute cry of men of his generation.
Seconds later, the female security officer grabbed a pair of my father's shorts from the top of the duffel bag, and emptied out the contents of his pockets. A lighter, three nail files, a pocket wrench, a pair of pliers, a screwdriver, and a nectarine fell onto the folding table. I looked at the woman, looked at my father, and then looked around to see if anyone else was watching. "What's the problem?" my father asked the woman. "Sir, I'm going to have to take this lighter away from you, " she said. "The lighter?" I asked her. "What about the bomb kit he's carrying around? He could do a lot more damage to a person with that wrench." "I need the wrench!" he shrieked. "For what?" "What if something goes wrong with the plane?
The town , wrapped in red and green, greeted him, welcome him home as he drove down familiar streets. Driving his old truck filled Hunter with pleasure. He didn't have to look for IEDs on the side of the road. He grinned all the way to the apartment, enjoying the ride, the peace of the nigh, the old brick buildings on Main Street, the holiday finery, the palpable presence of town spirit. He parked his truck in front of the apartment building that Ethan owned as a side business, and suddenly couldn't wait another second. He hurried up the front stairs, down the inside styaircase, then just about ran down the hallway to his basement-level unit. He had his key in his hand, but the doorknob turned easily as he put his hand on it. Cindy had left the door open for him. He grinned like a fool as he walked in. The loose floorboard in the middle of the living room creaked a familiar welcome as he passed his army duffel bag on the floor where he'd dumped it earlier. Cindy's little pink purse sat on his brown leather couch like a cupcake on a tray. "Cindy?" He strode toward the bedroom in the back, his smile spreading as he anticipated a private party. If she was waiting for him naked in bed, the proposal would have to wait a litt. "Honey?" But she wasn't waiting for him naked. She was waiting for him dead.
One night he sits up. In cots around him are a few dozen sick or wounded. A warm September wind pours across the countryside and sets the walls of the tent rippling. Werner's head swivels lightly on his neck. The wind is strong and gusting stronger, and the corners of the tent strain against their guy ropes, and where the flaps at the two ends come up, he can see trees buck and sway. Everything rustles. Werner zips his old notebook and the little house into his duffel and the man beside him murmurs questions to himself and the rest of the ruined company sleeps. Even Werner's thirst has faded. He feels only the raw, impassive surge of the moonlight as it strikes the tent above him and scatters. Out there, through the open flaps of the tent, clouds hurtle above treetops. Toward Germany, toward home. Silver and blue, blue and silver. Sheets of paper tumble down the rows of cots, and in Werner's chest comes a quickening. He sees Frau Elena kneel beside the coal stove and bank up the fire. Children in their beds. Baby Jutta sleeps in her cradle. His father lights a lamp, steps into an elevator, and disappears. The voice of Volkheimer: What you could be. Werner's body seems to have gone weightless under his blanket, and beyond the flapping tent doors, the trees dance and the clouds keep up their huge billowing march, and he swings first one leg and then the other off the edge of the bed. 'Ernst, ' says the man beside him. 'Ernst.' But there is no Ernst; the men in the cots do not reply; the American soldier at the door of the tent sleeps. Werner walks past him into the grass. The wind moves through his undershirt. He is a kite, a balloon. Once, he and Jutta built a little sailboat from scraps of wood and carried it to the river. Jutta painted the vessel in ecstatic purples and greens, and she set it on the water with great formality. But the boat sagged as soon as the current got hold of it. It floated downstream, out of reach, and the flat black water swallowed it. Jutta blinked at Werner with wet eyes, pulling at the battered loops of yarn in her sweater. 'It's all right, ' he told her. 'Things hardly ever work on the first try. We'll make another, a better one.' Did they? He hopes they did. He seems to remember a little boat-a more seaworthy one-gliding down a river. It sailed around a bend and left them behind. Didn't it? The moonlight shines and billows; the broken clouds scud above the trees. Leaves fly everywhere. But the moonlight stays unmoved by the wind, passing through clouds, through air, in what seems to Werner like impossibly slow, imperturbable rays. They hang across the buckling grass. Why doesn't the wind move the light? Across the field, an American watches a boy leave the sick tent and move against the background of the trees. He sits up. He raises his hand. 'Stop, ' he calls. 'Halt, ' he calls. But Werner has crossed the edge of the field, where he steps on a trigger land mine set there by his own army three months before, and disappears in a fountain of earth.