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...I’m goin’ in.
Marvin left the porch and strode east to the corner at Pennsylvania Avenue, the end of the mansion property. He found it disgraceful that there were no leaves, no twigs, not even a hairline crack in the sidewalk he walked on. The grass against the concrete must have been addressed as though it were a head of hair—the governor’s hair, clipped to an evenness and accuracy reserved for work by machinists. The shrubs on the inside of the fence were the same, and the lawn beyond. He spotted a slash of cement going from the street to the garage, and to the south of it some ways, a gazebo with a domed, metal roof, sitting in a depression in the perfect lawn. There was no one in sight anywhere, but the double gates of the drive were open just slightly, and so he slipped in. Two red-breasted robins took flight from the ground a dozen feet to his right when he stepped through. He could have sworn they had their beak-noses turned up at the sight of him. But then, his eyes. Most likely just his imagination.
Somewhere inside that coliseum was at least one person, the guy with the southern exposure. Probably a hundred others, he gauged, scanning the back wall and the endless grounds to the south.
Jesus. Ain’t nobody needs a spread this fuckin’ big…
The thread dug in and twisted suddenly, forcefully, making its point. Marvin grabbed his temples and winced.
Goddamit…ouch! Goshdarn it? That hurts like hell.
What I say, huh? What…did I…say?
Lord almighty…Ouch! Gadzooks. No one needs a home this extravagant, so ostentati…what the blazes is happening?
The thread was happening. He had no idea. None. The thread of grace bore into him with the tenacity of an English schoolmaster, beating out the four-letter crap in the sewer of his grammatical memory bank. Disciplining the child who had crawled into his classroom from the gutter. Anselm sat laughing in the tree behind him, the same tree that had been occupied by the robins (who could have cared less about Marvin’s appearance—or his language). He moved a finger round and round, sending Webster’s in a painful stream of pulsing energy. Moby Dick. For Whom The Bell Tolls. Little Women. Oliver Twist. Anna Karenina. None of these condensed or abridged. In the blink of an eye. Overload.
Marvin took a faltering step or two forward and collapsed onto the edge of the lawn. His eyes remained open, turned upward until nothing but the whites showed. Lying there he witnessed a light show rivaling the inside of a nuclear reactor momentarily, and then his world went black.
“Wake up. Wake up.”
Marvin heard a small voice, indistinct at first, and then the fog began to swirl away. Tiny fingers jostled his shoulder. He blinked. In between the shutter snaps he saw two faces and two sets of shoulders leaning over him, ablaze with halos of piercing white.
Oh Christ…AAGHHH!...Oh gosh, I mean. My day for spooks? Am I nuts?
“Amy?” he asked the dazzling face hopefully.
“Yuh see, Miz Marubeth? This creechuh must buhlieve yuh someone else. Ah’ll phone for thuh uthoruhties…”
“No, Robert. Not yet. He looks hurt…he’s white as a ghost. Go get a glass of water. Hurry.”
Marvin heard all this, vaguely. Ghost especially. His eyes were open, his head beginning to clear. He wanted to reach up and touch her cheek, to see if his hand would pass through it. Where he was had not crystallized fully. What was clear to him was that she was here…maybe leaning over his body right at that moment.
(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2010