Odd Interlude 3 / Page 7

Page 7

Back in Cottage 7, I take a long hot shower even though I showered earlier, between leaving Hiskott’s house and returning to burn it down.

Raphael stays the night with me, and Boo goes wherever it is he has to go. A good dog is a comfort. The golden retriever comforts me, and perhaps Boo comforts someone in a place that I can’t imagine. I leave a lamp on, but I do not dream.

When I wake near dawn, I lie listening to Raphael snore, and I find myself considering what it means to be fallen. We are fallen in a broken world, and one thing that occurs to me is that after thousands of years, when we think of fallen angels, we think of them as we always have: busy spreading misery on Earth. But the universe in its immensity is nevertheless of a piece, and what applies at one end of it applies at the other. No doubt misery, like happiness and hope, is found throughout the stars. The alien artifacts housed in Fort Wyvern are of extraterrestrial origin, but perhaps they are at the same time part of the ancient history of humanity.

I shower again on rising, and afterward take a call from Ed. We agreed earlier that he will stay in touch with Jolie and be her secret friend, but that he will not again allow her through that last pair of steel doors, into Wyvern. We say our good-byes. His last words to me are “Live long and prosper.” Mine to him are “Open the pod bay doors, HAL,” and I think he laughs.

Leaving, Annamaria drives the Mercedes we have borrowed from Hutch Hutchison in Magic Beach. Along the last length of blacktop leading to the county road, thirty-six members of the Harmony family stand side by side, waiting for us, which I wish they would not have done. Jolie stands with her mother and father and her uncle Donny at the end of the line. She waves. I wave.

The Coast Highway takes us south toward what will prove to be a place called Roseland, which will be far worse than Harmony Corner in its worst days. In Roseland, I will have to put Jolie entirely out of my mind, for to think of her, in all her vulnerability, out there in this world of corruption, would perhaps paralyze me. And I have work to do.