This morning I needed to hear a waitress’s breezy hello and see behinds hanging over the stools at the counter and feel the slight film on the table from repeated wipings and the sticky naugahyde bench seat. I woke up with a longing I couldn’t name and lay in bed unfocused until I thought of a $1.32 breakfast special and began to feel mobile.
I had seen the boy many times before, but never really looked. I did not actually know his name until the day he was being escorted to the front office by a smug-looking assistant principal. He had finally “gotten the goods” on this thirteen-year-old criminal; a set of school keys had been discovered in his locker. As I saw the boy go by, my impression was that he was from India. This impression, like many others to follow over the next three years, was false; it was attributable to the strange fact that when the boy was in trouble his complexion took on an ashen hue, hinting perhaps at the fires burning deeply within him.
Aunt Weezie and Aunt Pet came up on the Southern with the cousins, since Weezie’s scared to fly and Father said there’s no big rush, might as well take the train. The uncles will catch a plane soon as my mother’s body is found and the funeral set. We had another blizzard yesterday. Chief Tower said that in twenty years on the town’s police force he never knew a search to go so slow, but then he was still in school in ’39, last time they had two blizzards in one winter on Cape Cod.
The Reverend Clearwater Immler knew the Devil existed. He saw his works everywhere. He rode hard and long through his widely scattered parish, in cold sucking mud in winter and coughing dust in summer, to vanquish the sly cruelty of the Devil with the Light and the Word. That was the first problem: he was gone a lot.
A seeker approached the Lord Shantih and gave him a mirror.