Excerpt from Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Mystic River

by Dennis Lehane

Mystic River
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2001, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2002, 320 pages

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He saw the place where he, Jimmy, and Dave Boyle had fought by the Bel Air and he waited for the new hollow spaces formed as the adrenaline had left his body to fill back in. He waited for the plan to re-form and make sense. He waited and watched the street and felt its hum and waited some more until his father stood up and they went back inside.

JIMMY WALKED BACK to the Flats behind the old man. The old man weaved slightly and smoked his cigarettes down to pinched ends and talked to himself under his breath. When they got home, his father might give him a beating, might not, it was too close to tell. After he'd lost his job, he'd told Jimmy never to go to the Devines' house again, and Jimmy figured he'd have to pay up for breaking that rule. But maybe not today. His father had that sleepy drunkenness about him, the kind that usually meant he would sit at the kitchen table when they got home and drink until he fell asleep with his head on his arms.

Jimmy kept a few steps behind him, just in case, though, and tossed the ball up into the air, caught it in the baseball glove he'd stolen from Sean's house while the cops had been saying their good-byes to the Devines and nobody had even said a word to Jimmy and his father as they'd headed down the hallway toward the front door. Sean's bedroom door had been open, and Jimmy'd seen the glove lying on the floor, ball wrapped inside, and he'd reached in and picked it up, and then he and his father were through the front door. He had no idea why he'd stolen the glove. It wasn't for the wink of surprised pride he'd seen in the old man's eyes when he'd picked it up. Fuck that. Fuck him.

It had something to do with Sean hitting Dave Boyle and pussying out on stealing the car and some other things over the year they'd been friends, that feeling Jimmy got that whatever Sean gave him - baseball cards, half a candy bar, whatever - came in the form of a handout.

When Jimmy had first picked up the glove and walked away with it, he'd felt elated. He'd felt great. A little later, as they were crossing Buckingham Avenue, he'd felt that familiar shame and embarrassment that came whenever he stole something, an anger at whatever or whoever made him do these things. Then a little later, as they walked down Crescent and into the Flats, he felt a stab of pride as he looked at the shitty three-deckers and then the glove in his hand.

Jimmy took the glove and he felt bad about it. Sean would miss it. Jimmy took the glove and he felt good about it. Sean would miss it.

Jimmy watched his father stumble ahead of him, the old fuck looking like he'd crumple and turn into a puddle of himself any second, and he hated Sean.

He hated Sean and he'd been dumb to think they could have been friends, and he knew he'd hold onto this glove for the rest of his life, take care of it, never show it to anyone, and he'd never, not once, use the goddamn thing. He'd die before that happened.

Jimmy looked at the Flats spread out before him as he and the old man walked under the deep shade of the tracks and neared the place were Crescent bottomed out and the freight trains rumbled past the old, ratty drive-in and the Penitentiary Channel beyond, and he knew - deep, deep in his chest - that they'd never see Dave Boyle again. Where Jimmy lived, on Rester, they stole things all the time. Jimmy had had his Big Wheel stolen when he was four, his bike when he was eight. The old man had lost a car. And his mother had started hanging clothes inside to dry after so many had been ripped off the line in the backyard. You felt different when something was stolen as opposed to simply misplaced. You felt it in your chest that it was never coming back. That's how he felt about Dave. Maybe Sean, right now, was feeling that way about his baseball glove, standing over the empty space on the floor where it had been, knowing, beyond logic, that it was never, ever, coming back.

Mystic River. Copyright (c) 2001 by Dennis LaHane. Reprinted with permission from Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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