To change the subject, she said: "So what did Dick Artemus want?"
"A new bridge." Stoat took a sideways bite from a sourdough roll. "No big deal."
"A bridge to what?"
"Some nowhere bird island over on the Gulf. How about passing the butter?"
Desie said, "Why would the governor want a bridge to nowhere?"
Her husband chuckled, spraying crumbs. "Why does the governor want anything? It's not for me to question, darling. I just take the calls and work my magic."
"A day in the life," said Desie.
"You got it."
Once, as a condition of a probation, Twilly Spree had been ordered to attend a course on "anger management." The class was made up of men and women who had been arrested for outbursts of violence, mostly in domestic situations. There were husbands who'd clobbered their wives, wives who'd clobbered their husbands, and even one grandmother who had clobbered her sixty-two-year-old son for blaspheming during Thanksgiving supper. Others of Twilly's classmates had been in bar fights, gambling frays and bleacher brawls at Miami Dolphins games. Three had shot guns at strangers during traffic altercations and, of those, two had been wounded by return fire. Then there was Twilly.
The instructor of the anger-management course presented himself as a trained psychotherapist. Dr. Boston was his name. On the first day he asked everyone in class to compose a short essay titled "What Makes Me Really, Really Mad." While the students wrote, Dr. Boston went through the stack of manila file folders that had been sent to him by the court. After reading the file of Twilly Spree, Dr. Boston set it aside on a corner of the desk. "Mr. Spree," he said in a level tone. "We're going to take turns sharing our stories. Would you mind going first?"
Twilly stood up and said: "I'm not done with my assignment."
"You may finish it later."
"It's a question of focus, sir. I'm in the middle of a sentence."
Dr. Boston paused. Inadvertently he flicked his eyes to Twilly's folder. "All right, let's compromise. You go ahead and finish the sentence, and then you can address the class."
Twilly sat down and ended the passage with the words ankle-deep in the blood of fools! After a moment's thought, he changed it to ankle-deep in the evanescing blood of fools!
He stuck the pencil behind one ear and rose.
Dr. Boston said: "Done? Good. Now please share your story with the rest of us."
"That'll take some time, the whole story will."
"Mr. Spree, just tell us why you're here."
"I blew up my uncle's bank."
Twilly's classmates straightened and turned in their seats.
"A branch," Twilly added, "not the main office."
Dr. Boston said, "Why do you think you did it?"
"Well, I'd found out some things."
"About your uncle."
"About a loan he'd made. A very large loan to some very rotten people."
"Did you try discussing it with your uncle?" asked Dr. Boston.
"About the loan? Several times. He wasn't particularly interested."
"And that made you angry?"
"No, discouraged." Twilly squinted his eyes and locked his hands around the back of his neck. "Disappointed, frustrated, insulted, ashamed -- "
"But isn't it fair to say you were angry, too? Wouldn't a person need to be pretty angry to blow up a bank building?"
"No. A person would need to be resolved. That I was."
Dr. Boston felt the amused gaze of the other students, who were awaiting his reaction. He said, "I believe what I'm hearing is some denial. What do the rest of you think?"
Twilly cut in: "I'm not denying anything. I purchased the dynamite. I cut the fuses. I take full responsibility."
Excerpted from Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen. Copyright© 1999 by Carl Hiaasen. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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