"Where ARE you?" Arthur shouted, scaring himself. "I know you're here!"
He heard Harryhausen crying again, followed the sound to the living room, saw Amy's monster movie postersThe Clash of the Titans (her One Movie, her religion), The Thing, The Beast from 10,000 Fathoms and saw his own reflection in the framed glass. He tossed the cushions off the couch and found thirty- six cents and a single blue sock. There was nothing else nothing that he didn't know no clues to solve, no hints, no indication.
Nothing to see that hadn't already been seen.
Shuddering now, muscles twitching with cold and fear, Arthur returned to the bedroom. At some point he had begun to cry. He sat on the edge of the mattress and told himself to calm down, that he'd just proved he knew everything there was to know about Amy Henderson. He'd seen her. He'd seen all of her. She hadn't told him what he didn't know because there wasn't anything to tell.
She hadn't known either.
Arthur choked on nothing.
Harryhausen hissed at him and Arthur looked up, and there was Harry, in front of the closethow stupid Arthur was, not to have looked in the closet. He didn't have the strength to stand, so he crawled over to the door and pushed it open, and there were all his pants and shirts and Amy's skirts and dresses, hanging silently, companionably. Suspended. Sleeves waiting for arms that would never fill them. Collars waiting for a throat that had grown cold and still. Shoes entombed and stacked in bright paper boxes. And Arthur, exhausted, fell over on the carpet, hating himself for not being able to see.
He blinked. He breathed. The pile was rough on his cheek. He felt Harryhausen walk by his head and closed his eyes and wished he could just fall away and forget everything, could make it untrue, could make it unhappen. He tried to will himself to sleep for a long time and couldn't. He opened his eyes again.
And Arthur's eyes, which had only needed time to adjust to the dark, saw a shoebox. A huge shoebox on the floor of their closet that he'd seen a million times, that he remembered moving into the apartment, even; but a shoebox thatdespite its bright pink cardboard, the word gumballs! like a cattle brand on its side, big enough to hold a pair of black stiletto boots (pictured) that Arthur had never seen his wife wearhad always been effectively invisible, tucked neatly beneath the hems of their everyday lives. He had never opened it. He had never asked Amy what it contained. He had never even been curious until the day his wife disappeared.
It was so very pink, even in the dark.
He lifted the lid.
He saw Amy.
At eleven o'clock the next morning, Arthur Rook's apartment would be broken into by Max Morris, who, after Arthur didn't answer any of his phone calls, would worry the door open with a credit card only to find the tiny one-bedroom he'd never actually stepped inside ransacked. Gutted. The refrigerator door open, motor wheezing. Papers strewn across the hallway and the bedroom floor. A trail of empty duffel bags and packs like shed skins leading from the hall closet to the bedroom, where, on a bed littered with clothes, an empty space the size of a large case told Max that Arthur had packed and fled. Arthur Rook would never know, but Max, who was a little in love with him (he couldn't help it; he'd never met anyone so guileless), would put everything away as best he could. He would fold the clothes and place them in drawers and on hangers. He would find Arthur's cell phone on the living room floor and feel a little less hurt that Arthur hadn't answered any of his calls. He would stack the papers neatly on the kitchen table and close the refrigerator but throw out the milk (probably spoiled). He would leave the blood in the bathroom. He would see the cat food dishes on the counter and guess that Arthur had taken Amy's cat with him. Then Max would steal a lukewarm beer for his efforts, and call the police, and sit in the living room and wait for them to arrive, examining a picture of Arthur and the late Amy Rook: huddled together on a beach somewhere, the wind whipping her hair across both of their faces. And Max would hope that his strange, quiet, runaway friend, wherever he'd gone, would be able to find his way back home.
Excerpted from This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia. Copyright © 2010 by Kate Racculia. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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