Accompanied by a uniformed cop – no further point in trying to ambush the killer or killers – Sally and I went to the Presbyterian Church. Memories.

 

- Winding up our Sunday School teacher, the hapless Mrs. Friggenbotham.

- Avoiding the young assistant minister who prowled the halls looking for boys to play basketball with.

- Endless praying on hard pews trying to connect with a remote and unknowable God.

- The same minister still holding down the pulpit, the good, but terminally boring, Reverend Hauterre.

 

I told Reverend Hauterre we wanted a memorial service and the decent folk of the church quickly took over. I didn’t tell him there might be a second departed parishioner to grieve.

 

The ceremony of innocence is drowned

 

“Mengel, got a minute?” We hadn’t talked for two days.

 

“Yeah. I did speak with my friend in anesthesiology. He looked at your dad’s chart and says any more pain medication would be hazardous. He knows your dad’s in a lot of pain, but right now they’re operating at the limits of what’s safe. That’s what he tells me.”

 

“Okay. I might need your counsel on something else.” Mengel looked unsure. Did he sense what I was going to ask him?

 

I went in to see my father. He was aware I was in the room. That deathly raspy voice came out of the bandages.

 

“Max.”

 

“I’m here Dad.”

 

“I love . . . you . . . Max.”

 

“I love you too, Dad.” Can he hear my sobbing?

 

“Pull . . . plug . . . son.”

 

“Dad.”

 

Fainter, “Pull . . . fucking . . . plug.” I had never heard him use that word before.

 

Page 27

How Ornithology Saved My Life

Max Brown is back.

 

Life doesn’t seem to get any easier for Maxwell Smythe Brown IV. He thought he could settle down with his soul mate, Sally, but the thugs who once worked for Indian intelligence are on his trail with both money and mayhem on their minds.

 

Set on a pleasant resort island off Holland’s coast, this, the second installment chronicling Brown’s travails, finds him questioning his value and his values. Drawing on rusty skills – and a trick he learned from a bird –  he tries to protect himself and those he loves from a determined and vengeful gang who torture and behead for sport.

“Strange. The phone line is dead.”

 

“The storm brought down the wire?”

 

“No. After leaving the house, all the wiring is buried. It is the same all over Holland.” We looked at each other apprehensively. Something was coming.

 

The explosion rocked the house. The bathroom door bulged inward, then collapsed back into the bathroom. There was enough light through the dust to see a three foot hole where the bathroom window had been. Three pistols were drawn and trained on the bathroom door. We looked at each other. Now what?

 

To our left the second explosion detonated at the kitchen window, knocking me off my feet and showering the room with glass splinters.

 

Choking dust and smoke swirled through the room. Dazed, I got to my feet and looked for Sally. The sofa back had shielded her from the concussive blast and flying glass. I knelt over her; she was speaking but I couldn’t hear. She pointed.

 

Bomers was crumpled in the corner, his face raw and bloody, his eyes saved by his comical glasses. Kees started to crawl across the floor to him, then turned, “Lights. Turn off all lights. They can see us as soon as the smoke and dust settle.” I’m not sure we heard him; maybe we read his lips or anticipated the logic of his command.

 

This was something Sally and I were good at. She darted in one direction, pulling lamp cords out of their sockets, throwing wall switches; I went the other direction, doing the same. Within a few seconds the house was dark.

 

Kees turned on the two police flashlights but kept their light smothered until he’d placed them on the floor in the kitchen and bathroom doorways. The two gaping holes in our cottage were illuminated. Almost immediately the wood in the floor next to the flashlight facing the bathroom jumped and splinters flew as a bullet buried itself in the floorboards. Another bullet impacted a foot away from the second flashlight. This was followed by two more shots that were wide of the mark.

 

Page 86

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