Then Gus said something I'd never heard him say before. He said,
"Captain, you're still a son of a bitch. Always will be."
"I know, Gus."
"They're all dead because of you, Captain. Always will be."
Gus was snoring almost immediately. My father turned to where
we stood in the middle of the basement.
"Go on back to bed," he said.
"I'm going to stay and pray for a while."
"The car's full of puke," I said. "Mom'll go berserk."
"I'll take care of it."
My father went up to the sanctuary. Jake and I went out the side
door. I still wasn't ready to call it a night. I sat on the front steps of
the church and Jake sat there too. He was tired and leaned against me.
"What did Gus mean?" he said. "Dad killed them all. What did he
I was wondering about that too. I said, "I don't know."
The birds had started to chatter in the trees. Above the hills that
rimmed the valley of the Minnesota River I could see a thin line of
vermilion in the sky that was the approach of dawn. And I saw something
else. On the other side of the street a familiar figure separated
itself from the cover of the lilac bushes that edged our yard. I watched
my older sister sneak across the lawn and slip into our house through
the back door. Oh the secrets of the night.
I sat on the steps of my father's church thinking how much I loved
the dark. The taste of what it offered sweet on the tongue of my imagination.
The delicious burn of trespass on my conscience. I was a sinner.
I knew that without a doubt. But I was not alone. And the night
was the accomplice of us all.
I said, "Jake?" But he didn't answer. He was asleep.
My father would pray for a long time. It was too late for him to go
back to bed and too early to fix breakfast. He was a man with a son
who stuttered and another probably on his way to becoming a juvenile
delinquent and a daughter with a harelip who sneaked in at night
from God knew where and a wife who resented his profession. Yet I
knew it was not for himself or for any of us that he was praying. More
likely it was for the parents of Bobby Cole. And for Gus. And probably
for an asshole named Morris Engdahl. Praying on their behalf.
Praying I suppose for the awful grace of God.
Oldest romance writer in the world dies aged 105. Books #124 and #125 to be published next year(Dec 10 2013) Ida Pollock, author of more than 120 books, and believed to be the world's oldest romantic novelist, has died at the age of 105.