Saturday, December 31, 2016

Death's Honesty (20)

   There’s something of the cat in you that excites me.”
Cat?”
Yes, a certain elusiveness or something. Slyness? Sly arrogance? Whatever it is I want more of it.”
Uh huh. But wouldn’t that be counterproductive? Too predictable?”
You mean if you gave it up too easily?”
Yeah, if you started taking it for granted. Wouldn’t you find me more doglike then?”
I suppose, but I couldn’t do without the dog, either. You know, the loyalty, not the clingy part. You aren’t disloyal or clingy, are you, Mr. Blow?”
Wait a minute, who’s doing the clinging here?”
Just an embrace. I thought maybe we could get another one in before—what time is it? Midnight yet?”
And here I’ve been worrying about that icepick you undoubtedly stashed under the mattress.”
Ha. So it’s the danger that turns you on, not my sultry contralto voice!”
Turned on? What gives you get that idea? Oh. Yeah.”
Got a mind of its own, huh? That’s very flattering, Blow.”
Like I told you before, I have a rule not to get personally involved with clients.”
I’d laugh if I thought you were serious.”
Oh go ahead. I might even join you.”
The olfactory siren call of grilled bacon and brewing coffee was the morning’s first reality to reach into Blow’s sleep. He was alone in his bed. Holy shit responded from some covert command post just inside his skull, near enough the bony casing it seemed conducted in part by oscillating signals from somewhere without. The words, which pulsed on his consciousness, were not uncommon to him as an everyday response to the surprise of unexpected phenomena. Now they had greater force, bespeaking a primal sense of urgency the more disturbing for its incoherence.
He saw enough yellow in the sunlight projected on his bedroom wall through the window blinds that he knew he’d overslept. Finding the spare pillow next to his face, with its newly familiar smells, enabled him to recapture for a moment with not unpleasant clarity his intimate exertions with the woman calling herself Jamie Moriarty. The feeling of well being from the physical aspects of this prolonged coupling soon gave way to implications of the answers Blow had extracted from Moriarty before succumbing to her assertive charms and his own libidinous needs. He reached across where she had lain and found the plastic clam shell containing the Gingko biloba and pterostilbene capsules he took every morning to stimulate brain and metabolism. He swallowed the capsules and lay back, his head on Moriarty’s pillow, awaiting the energy kick the pterostilbene would give him in about half an hour.
She had come into his bedroom after the church ladies were in their rooms and the house was quiet. Not yet asleep, his muscles were still ticking down from their tensions of the day, mind darting through and around the questions and intertwined notions he’d known all along Moriarty held the key to resolving. He did not hear her enter the room, just felt and smelled her presence and turned his head and saw her standing near the bed, looking down at him. She’d removed whatever had held her dyed brown hair back, and it now draped over her shoulders giving her a maternal look that gently mocked the essence of danger always around her, in person or alone in name. She glowed now in the moonlight seeping through the blinds and penetrating the nightgown she’d found in his sister’s bedroom while Callahan interviewed the church ladies downstairs. The shadow outline of her body brought him fully alert. He started to sit up, but Moriarty touched his shoulder and bent over and kissed him lightly on the lips—keeping the contact a little longer than the parting peck in the kitchen. She moved to the foot of the bed and sat, bringing a knee up in front of her and resting a hand on the blanket covering his feet.
So.” He waited an instant for more before understanding she intended it as a conclusion. A chapter ending of sorts. Her face was blank but soft in the moonglow. He felt her fingers through the blanket on his foot, caressing idly.
So who wants to kill me?” His voice sounded odd to him, saying those words.
Not sure, Boo Boo, but Gladstone has something to do with it.”
Gladstone! You mean Bart Bullshit? What the fuck?” Blow’s adrenal gland entered the discussion. He felt the pulse in his neck.
One and the same. Still the same, but no more Senator, no more FBI, no more whatever bureaucracy. Strictly private now, although he contracts mostly with 
government types. Same as us, except I like to think we’re more discriminating.”
Jeezuz, Jamie! Do you know who he’s working for now?”
That's still a mystery. We’re not sure even Gladstone knows. He just takes the money and barks.”
Ordinarily that line might have brought a chuckle or two from Blow. Bart! Call me Bart! was Gladstone’s notorious intro, delivered from his contra-basso larynx in staccato bursts that in fact brought to mind some kind of large canine or bull seal. Blow just stared at Moriarty. “Why?” He whispered.
We can get to that later. The client I told you about? He can explain it better than I
can. And, by the way, that’s an admission I rarely make.” She smiled. “Right now my main concern is keeping you safe. We will be on you, as the cops like to say, day and night.”
On me, huh?”
Oh, my! Is this a little tent pole I see before me?” She reached a finger out and tapped the blanket. “So you were a Boy Scout! Ha! So that’s where you got the nickname!”
Adrenaline and other chemicals merged into a volcanic cocktail that overwhelmed Blow’s conservative judgment of a sudden. He raised up and grabbed the nightgown with both hands, hearing it rip, hearing her gasp, and smelling the heated smells the torn fabric released as he pulled her atop him.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

TRAVELER OF WORLDS: Conversations with Robert Silverberg – Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Feeling a tad full of myself for no accountable reason of late, and beginning to worry this aberration might be so noticeable as to get me shunned or possibly punched in the nose, I took a friend’s advice and read an interview with a man who is undeniably and justifiably full of himself. It worked, returning me to my regular unassuming bookish self by means of a psychological mule kick to the ego. Thank you, Kitty, and thank you, Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg.

As a naif of the genre I had not heard of 80-something-year-old Science Fiction Grand Master Silverberg. Perhaps the best introduction to him for others like myself is this comment from his wife, Karen Haber, which is included in the afterward to Traveler of Worlds:


Traveling with Bob is like having one’s own portable database for a companion. Imagine Google with a goatee, a glass of Bordeaux in one hand and a fork in the other.
At times it can be more like vacationing with one’s own investigative news team: within the first five minutes of arriving in, say, Guadalajara, he’s taken in the air temperature, made a quick survey of the flora and fauna on the hotel grounds, speculated on the groundspeed velocity of an unladen peacock, scanned the hotel restaurant menu for tortas ahogadas, and mentioned in passing that the name Guadalajara, bestowed by the invading Spaniards, has Arabic roots, Wadi Al Hajara, meaning “river of stones.” Enlightening, yes. Tiring, occasionally.


There’s a saving grace of humor for those who otherwise might be inclined to dismiss Silverberg as an anal-retentive control freak after reading the above perhaps slight exaggeration by his wife. Here’s an example, as Silverberg tells it to his collaborative interviewer, Alvaro Zinos-Almaro:

There are in Sardinia prehistoric structures called nuraghe, which are built of massive chunks of stone, building up to several stories. They’re quite strange, and they’re not found anywhere else. They’re all over the Sardinian landscape, and they’re two or three thousand years old. We toured the nuraghe in between dining at Sardinian restaurants and one day as we were climbing one of the greatest of the nuraghe in southern Sardinia it began to drizzle. And then to rain. And then to deliver lightning. We’re out in the open, clinging to metal railings, as this electrical storm begins, and we’re at the highest point in this field. We looked at each other and thought, “What a way to go.”


Maybe explains the extraordinary interest in weather on subsequent excursions, although after experiencing a moment like that any frequent traveler might have gone on to pursue a working knowledge of meteorology.

In contrast a gentleness also comes through in these interviews. Silverberg’s admittedly strict adherence to form, to expectations of himself and others with whom he interacts, nonetheless allows a rather insouciant acceptance of the odd irregularity in certain encounters where one might expect resistance. An avid collector of ancient curios, he relates an incident where he knew a young boy in Mexico was swindling him. Silverberg was visiting a site “somewhere in Mexico, maybe Yucatán” where the child sold him a statue from country’s earliest known culture, dating back to five thousand BC. The price was five pesos, equal then to seventy-five cents.

“I couldn’t resist it, so I bought it, and here it is. I’m aware that the Olmec statue is not genuine, but it was fun buying it.”

After providing another, similar example of the small swindle, this time purchasing obviously bogus Roman coins, he observes, “We don’t only buy fakes. But when it’s an amusing enough fake we do.”

Robert Silverberg
It is admittedly churlish of me, a feeble attempt to mitigate Silverberg’s ego-vaporizing superiority (ultimately of vastly greater magnitude than necessary to affect my erstwhile need for moderate comeuppance...Don’t believe me? Here’s how SF Hall of Famer/author/editor Gardner Dozois puts it: “Robert Silverberg could without hesitation be added to the list of SF’s smartest practitioners, and even amongst this brainy bunch, his intelligence stands out as impressive...It’s not widely realized by SF readers today, who mostly know only his huge body of novels and short fiction, but in his time Silverberg has written over thirty acclaimed non-fiction books, on topics that range from El Dorado to the Mound Builders of the American West to Mesopotamia to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and from ghost towns to Sequoias to mammoths to atomic scientists to the tribesmen of prehistoric Europe.” It is, of course, to gasp.), that I highlight here his admission to having been unsurprisingly the typical brainy nerd as a youngster who had to be coached by his only friend to behave so as not to be pummeled to jelly by the ubiquitous dumb, resentful “ruffians” any of whom might well have conjured a virulent illusion of presidential timbre in later life.

The revenge part of this classic nerd-to-triumph story begins while Silverberg is still in his teens, with cash-money sales of his short stories to fantasy and science fiction magazines. No papering his study wall with rejection notices à la F. Scott Fitzgerald and virtually all other beginning fictionalists. His white-socked feet hit the ground racing and never turned back.

No question I hate him. I’ve read some of those early stories, published in the late 1950s, and they’re a damned sight better than anything I could write right now! This, when the author was 21, from a story that appeared in 1956 (the same year he won a coveted Hugo Award for “best new writer”--grrrrrr) in an issue of Amazing Stories:


It was beyond her to see that some grease monkey back at the Dome was at fault— whoever it was who had failed to fasten down the engine hood. Nothing but what had stopped us could stop a sandcat: sand in the delicate mechanism of the atomic engine.
But no; she blamed it all on me somehow: So we were out walking on the spongy sand of the Martian desert. We’d been walking a good eight hours.


See what I mean? How could he know at that callow age that women are always right? I’m rather more than a tad older and still get it wrong! Smartass punk, get off my lawn.

So how come I loved Traveler of Worlds and am trying to entice you to read it, too? Am I about to reveal some delightful, scandalous crash—drugs, gambling, plagiarism—something that brings this titan of scholarly, authorly magnificence down to only half a dozen or so tiers above my undeniably lamentable level? No. Have I discovered in myself in the reading a long-suppressed deep-seated reservoir of fetid masochism? Nah, I’m not that sorry a mess.

What saves Silverberg in my eyes, despite the information they convey, is the nature of the interviews. Billed as “conversations,” this is precisely how they come across. Zinos-Amaro, who started out similarly nerdlike as an SF aficionado, got hooked at seventeen while reading Silverberg’s 1968 multiple award-winning novella Nightwings (which I will download from Kindle soon as I finish this report). He says in the preface to Traveler of Worlds, “I was thrilled to realize that I had made first contact with a vast and cool intelligence, one that had spent decades producing enthralling stories now awaiting my discovery. I immediately hunted down as many Silverberg books as I could find, reading perhaps fifty over the next two years. It was a bibliophilic infatuation of the first order.”

Zinos-Amaro says his interest in Silverberg the man grew along with his fascination by the author’s work. They eventually became friends, collaborating on an SF novella, When the Blue Shift Comes, and, last year, holding the conversations contained in Traveler. For me the relaxed, friendly tone of Traveler lifts it far above the usual interview format pairing celebrity and questioner. Traveler of Worlds is truly an extended conversation. I felt like an eavesdropper, and I feel good about it. And I’ve been soundly, and properly, humbled.


[for more Friday's Forgotten Books check the links on Patti Abbott's unforgettable blog]









Monday, December 26, 2016

Death's Honesty (19)

Dad!” Blow blurted it to himself as he shoved the pickup door open. He whipped his head around and snapped, “Stay here!” looking at Joan Bismark and then aiming a quick glance at Loretta, who stared slack-jawed in his direction. He leaped out and ran to the intersection. His voice broke the first time he tried to shout, coming out “Da-aa” and skidding into a squeal at the end. It was enough to pivot the plainclothes deputy he didn’t recognize toward him, gun in hand.
No! I live here! We...my dad--” Blow halted so abruptly it threatened his balance but he managed to stay upright, instinctively thrusting his arms above his head, fingers splayed. His focus locked on the gun--black short-barreled, probably the same make as the one Homer carried on duty, a Glock, he remembered. Such trivial thought fragments raced through his cerebrum in counterpoint to the more primal, survival dicta that froze his movements while scanning the nuanced language of the form behind the gun: weak hand joining grip, poised crouch, set jaw, and, most urgent, hard, black, deadly eyes.
Before Blow could verbalize another word he saw a flicker of motion near the deputy. The deputy turned his head. At about the same instant Blow thought he heard Callahan’s voice. A bark. The deputy lowered his pistol, shot a glance back at Blow, and returned his attention to the car. Callahan held up his hand to stop Blow’s advance across the intersection, and met him midway.
They in the car? The ladies?”
Blow nodded. “My dad--” Callahan cut him off.
Not him.” Blow stared, looking dumbfounded. Callahan tipped his head toward the car. “No idea, Joe. Rodriguez says he looks like me.” He tried to smile. “I might have to demote her for that.” Blow tried to smile. “Your dad home?” Blow shook his head.
I don’t know. He didn’t answer his phone.”
Want me to go in with you?”
That’s okay, Carl. He’s probly not home. I think that’s Lila’s car on the pad. Got a new one. Looks like Dad’s.”
Leave the door standing open. I’ll go over there.” He nodded toward Loretta’s car at the intersection. “Gimme the all clear and I’ll bring them in.”
Blow took some comfort finding the front door locked. Pushing it open enhanced his sense of ease with the aroma of something cooking, something with cheese and onions. Ahh, they’ve left his supper in the oven, or they’d just stepped out and would soon be back. Or Lila was in the kitchen while his dad was out picking something up they needed for the meal. “Hello!” No answer. “Lila?” Still nothing.
What he saw in the kitchen swept away the relief he was feeling and replaced it with a sense of deja vu so strong it would, were it possible, have curdled his blood. As it was, the sudden intake of breath carried enough saliva into his lungs to turn the gasp into a coughing attack. Three strides across the floor brought her to him. She smacked his back a couple of times with the flat of her hand—the one that wasn’t wearing Lila’s hot-pad mitten. “Jeezuz, Blow,” she murmured in her throaty low-range voice, “we gotta stop
meeting like this.”
He got the coughing under control with a glass of water she poured from the tap. He sat on the stool she pulled out from the island. She leaned over and stared into his eyes. Hers danced as usual like a wig-wagging railroad signal on acid: the green then the hazel, then the green...as if each saw it’s own version of Blow independent of the other. One or both had something going with that damned mouth of hers, a coordination of the corners in a swaggering mien that knew it could drive anyone mad and bring any man with a fit libido to his knees. Blow yawned.
We really have to stop meeting like this, Mr. Stone. Something about the kitchen, 
I’ll bet. I remind you of your mother? Oops, sorry, Blow. I didn’t mean that.” She backed off, hoisted her tight-jeans-clad bottom onto the marble island top. Blow just stared at her. “I’m really sorry. It slipped my mind. Hey--” she tossed her ponytailed head toward the street. “I didn’t kill him. We were here to kill you. I saved your life, Boo Boo.”
We?”
He’s gone. We’re alone.”
Blow nodded.
We need to talk.”
Blow looked up, met her eyes. “No time now. The two church ladies will be in here any minute. Callahan’s out there, wants to talk to them. They’ll be spending the night here. I take it Dad and Lila are out?”
She tilted her head toward the end of the counter. Blow saw the familiar yellow legal pad, where he and his dad left messages. “They’re at Chrysler Hall with the Gormans. Swan Lake. Might get home late, might stay down there. I like your dad.”
You’ve never met him.”
Oh, yeah? You got all my bugs our yet?” She grinned. “Just kidding. I’ve met him. I was with Todd then. Congressman Paget.” Blow nodded.
Got to get you out of here, Jamie. We can talk later.”
I don’t have a car.”
I mean out of the kitchen. You know where my office is.” She smiled. “You can lock the hall door from the inside. Make sure the outer door’s locked, too. Better yet, two doors down from the office is the library. There’s a couch in there. I’ll be in soon as Callahan leaves and I’ve shown the ladies their rooms.”
What’s between your office and the library.” The wigwag twinkle was back.
You know damned well what’s there.”
I’ll bet your bed’s more comfortable than that couch.”
You’re impossible.”
Not really. Just a matter of attitude. Yours. Still my lawyer?”
Blow nodded, deadpan.
I’m going to let them in now. I’ll put them in the front room. Be gone when I get back.”
She slid off the island, gave him a quick peck on the lips, turned her back, and headed down the hall.



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Death's Honesty (18)

They were nearly a block from the Stone home when Blow’s cellphone erupted.
Tannhäuser” The voice, small and constrained and barely reaching him from the back seat, pronounced it tonnhoyser with the German inflection. It was the first intelligible sound he’d heard from Loretta since she stumbled wailing to the kitchen in an agony of grief. She’d recognized that part of the opera’s overture that fills the air with waves of heroic violins cascading over the brassy, stolid horns. Blow occasionally second-guessed selecting this passage as his live-call ringtone because something about it, something in its pulsing dynamic of motion and tone and harmonics reached deep inside him invoking from dormancy some searing, unidentifiable sorrow and bringing it into the glow of such promise that often this rousing orchestration of Wagnerian sentiment uncapped an emotional well of startling, visceral intensity. Before deciding on the passage he had weighed the risk of a weepy unsettling of others with this reaction against his desire for a distinguishing contrast to the synthesizer cover of Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar he used for message alerts. He opted for the Tannhäuser riff with the understanding he kept his phone turned off or silenced in public most of the time. At this moment his attention was too involved with more pressing exposures to worry if anyone might see tears appear over a ringtone. He glanced at the screen for caller I.D. The digital letters leaped out at him: Callahan.
Blow spoke into the phone, “Hold on a second.” He pulled to the curb and put the gears in park. “We’re on our way back.”
Who you with?”
Couple of ladies from the church. Ms. Bismark says she’s ready to talk to you.”
Well I’ll be damned. Where are you now?”
Couple of blocks.”
Wait a minute. You said you were coming back?”
That’s right. The church secretary wants to talk to you.”
Yeah, you said that. But how did you know I was here?”
We drove by a few minutes ago. Saw your car.”
The cop’s breathing sounded strained. His voice, when he spoke next, had a cautionary edge: “Stone?”
I’m here.”
Where? Where are you right now?”
Couple of blocks. I told you. Why, something the matter?”
Couple of blocks from where?”
Home. Where did you think?”
Another pause. This time rustling of something, paper maybe, overrode any breathing sounds. “Think? I’m too tired to think. What makes you think I’m at your house?”
We drove by about ten minutes ago. You were parked out front.”
Stone, I haven’t been anywhere near your house. Are you saying somebody in a car like mine is parked there now?”
That’s affirmative, Carl. Charcoal Ford. I don’t remember the make, but it sure as hell looks like yours.”
Anybody in it?”
We didn’t stop. I glanced when we went by. Didn’t see anyone. So where are you now?”
Couple of blocks. I told you. Why, something the matter?”
Couple of blocks from where?”
Home. Where did you think?”
Another pause. This time rustling of something, paper maybe, overrode any breathing sounds. “Think? I’m too tired to think. What makes you think I’m at your house?”
We drove by about ten minutes ago. You were parked out front.”
Stone, I haven’t been anywhere near your house. Are you saying somebody in a car like mine is parked there now?”
That’s affirmative, Carl. Charcoal Ford. I don’t remember the make, but it sure as hell looks like yours.”
Anybody in it?”
We didn’t stop. I glanced when we went by. Didn’t see anyone. So where are you now?”
Here at the church. Just got here. Saw your truck. Figured you were inside, in the church, but nobody seems to be home.”
didn’t send anybody. I’ll check with Dispatch. Call you right back.”
Anything wrong?” Joan Bismark sounded composed.
Probly not, Joan. Probly another deputy. That was Maj. Callahan. He’s at the church.”
Again the ringtone. Again Callahan. “It’s not one of ours, Joe. Are you moving?”
Parked. In the street. I can’t drive and chew gum at the same time.”
Ha ha. Look stay where you are. I’m sending a couple units to your house. I’m heading down there myself. The Judge home?”
I don’t know. I didn’t see his car. I’ll call now.” Blow disconnected and called the house. Got the answering machine. Tried his father’s cell. Got the recorded message. Called Callahan back. Told him to hurry. Callahan promised to let him know when he arrived. Blow, assuming the cop might “forget”, continued home and parked by an intersection with a view of the house.
The same unmarked car was there. Two county units arrived within a couple of minutes of each other. One was marked, the other plain. Blow saw Sgt. Rodriguez exit the marked unit. She started toward the unknown car and stopped abruptly, looking back at the unmarked unit, and stood as if at parade rest. No one got out of the unmarked unit. Five minutes later Callahan pulled in behind the others and climbed out. The three deputies then approached the unknown car, walking cautiously. Sgt. Rodriguez kept her right hand near her holster. She was first to reach the car. She leaned over and peered through the driver’s side window. She abruptly straightened and turned back to the others. Shock and fright contorted her face.
Major!” she shouted, and whipped her head back to the unknown vehicle. “Major!” she shouted again, alarm in her voice. Callahan and the plainclothes deputy, whom Blow didn’t recognize, rushed past Rodriguez to the car.




 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

DOUBLE – Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller


Somewhere near the end of Double the title’s relevance emerges. I’d be sharing it with you here had I read the ebook version. Alas, I’m holding the library’s hardbound copy, which has no speedy digital search function. As I recall, it sort of surprised me as clever but a tad contrived, and I have forgotten the contrivance. No harm done, my forgetting. I’d assumed from the get-go the title was a play on its double authorship, and I think that’s what I was meant to assume.

Husband/wife writers Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller team up to put their well-known protagonists—Pronzini’s “Nameless Detective” and Muller’s “Sharon McCone”--into harm’s way, themselves teaming up to investigate a complex mystery linking murders, kidnappings, sexual high jinks, and endangered species (and possibly a couple of things I’m forgetting) that had me flipping the pages so fast I sometimes had to flip back to make sure what I’d just read was what I thought I’d just read. And while I was flipping forth and back and forth thusly I pondered a growing sensation of déjà vu that eventually morphed into full-blown certainty I had read Double some years ago.
Ordinarily such recognition would bring great swatches of remembered plot and scene slashing into my vicarious involvement in kibitzing the protagonists as they faced unthinkable dangers and wrestled with maddening conundrums tossed their way by clever authors bent on keeping me rapt and flipping pages and fooling me until pretty much the grand finale. This, I am almost entirely happy to say, the spoiling by memory, did not happen. My reluctance to go all out with entire happiness stems from a niggling worm of unease that my powers of recollection are flagging a tad, a concern that would seem to contradict my 200-milligram daily regimen of the memory “miracle herb” gingko biloba. But I shall leave that worry alone for now.
Pronzini & Muller
I vaguely recall liking Double the first time around despite occasional moments of confusion over which private detective—McCone or Nameless—was narrating which of the alternating chapters. Same as this time. I like McCone and Nameless. They’re believable, engaging characters. The ending surprised me this time, as it most likely did before, assuming my cognitive powers are not flagging. I wore a smile this time closing the covers. Then again, I read to be entertained, rarely employing a critical eye. I’d read one other of the Nameless series—Boobytrap--and none of McCone’s. I’d read one other Pronzini/Muller collaboration, The Plague of Thieves, a light, humorous mystery with a mysterious character who thought he was Sherlock Holmes.
Double has its moments of humor. It also has less savory scenes, albeit well written. Only one death is described as it happens, through the eyes of Nameless:


I came around a clump of bamboo, and straight ahead there was open space and I could see most of the east side of the hotel. The tower jutting up on that corner caught my eye: it had open arches on four sides with waist-high railings in them, so that people standing up there could take in the view in all directions. I saw movement inside—one person, maybe two. I couldn’t be sure because of the angle: the inside of the tower was a blend of light and shadow.
Overhead the droning of two or three approaching Navy planes began to build in volume. I glanced up at them briefly, then looked back at the tower.
And somebody appeared at the rail, came flying over it like a person diving off a high board—a woman dressed in something pink, arms clawing at the air, screaming.
She screamed all the way down, a death cry that was barely audible above the pulsating roar of the planes. Something moved up in the tower, a suggestion of someone there in the shadows peering down. Or maybe it was just an illusion; I couldn’t be sure of that either, because I was already running by then, with that sense of shock something unexpected and frightening always instills in you. There were fifty yards separating me and the hotel when the falling woman hit and the screaming stopped. But even with the noise of the planes I swear I could hear the sound of impact—that melon-splitting sound of bones breaking and tissue ripping that you can never forget once you’ve heard it.


Or once you’ve read a well-crafted description of it. I do remember this scene from my first dance with Double. But I didn’t recall it until it reached out again and grabbed me by the throat.

[for more Friday's Forgotten Books check the links on Patti Abbott's unforgettable blog]