"I found it the old-fashioned way," I tell him. "By accident."
He starts moving down the hall. "Well, I knew it would turn up
eventually," he says. "Everything always does. You have time for a cup of
"Not really," I say, but I follow him to the little kitchenette
anyway and let him pour me a mug, then trail him into his office. When I was a
little girl, he'd bring me here and keep me entertained while he was on the
phone by doing sleight-of-hand with binder clips and handkerchiefs. I pick up a
paperweight on his desk. It is a rock painted to look like a ladybug, a gift I
made for him when I was about Sophie's age. "You could probably get rid of this,
"But it's my favorite." He takes it out of my hand, puts it back
in the center of his desk.
"Dad?" I ask. "Did we ever plant a lemon tree?"
"They were hers," my father says, and he guides me to the mirror
that hangs on the back of his office door. I have a vague recollection of the
wedding photo from last night. He fastens the clasp behind me, so that we are
both looking in the mirror, seeing someone who isn't there. .
I navigate through the ocean of clothes he's left discarded on
the floor and the stacks of books that seem to reproduce like rabbits. Fitz is
sitting in front of his computer. "Hey," I say. "You promised to lay a trail for
The dog bounds into the office and nearly climbs up onto Fitz's
lap. He rubs her hard behind the ears, and she snuggles closer to him, knocking
several photos off his desk.
I bend down to pick them up. One is of a man with a hole in the
middle of his head, in which he has stuck a lit candle. The second picture is of
a grinning boy with double pupils dancing in each of his eyes. I hand the
snapshots back to Fitz. "Relatives?"
"The Gazette's paying me to do an article on the Strange But
True." He holds up the picture of the man with the votive in his skull. "This
amazingly resourceful fellow apparently used to give tours around town at night.
And I got to read a whole 1911 medical treatise from a doctor who had an
eleven-year-old patient with a molar growing out of the bottom of his foot." ;
"Oh, come on," I say. "Everyone's got something that's strange
about them. Like the way Eric can fold his tongue into a clover, and that
disgusting thing you do with your eyes."
"You mean this?" he says, but I turn away before I have to
watch. "Or how you go ballistic if there's a spider web within a mile of you?"
I turn to him, thinking. "Have I always been afraid of spiders?"
"What if I were?" I say.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...