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WORDSWORTH AT ALA!
At the yearly gathering of booklovers held in Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center June 22 – 27, Wordsworth the Better World Bookmobile is...
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He thought, again, you're not going to kill him. It was an awakening, the idea. It was like emerging from the woods into a dusk-lit clearing in your head. It was peace coming down.
Felix caught him smiling, did a double take."What are you grinning at? You're like 'Kool-Aid' Quinn over there with that grin ..."
Martin smiled harder, kept his eyes in the grass. Not going to kill him anymore and him never even knowing the end had been coming. Felix Pasko's enchanted life continues.
They crossed toward the shed.
He was innocent, Felix. Loyal. Brutal and naive. He hadn't changed at all, in thirteen years.
Fee switching hands now with the rifle, patting his pockets for keys. Martin Quinn slowed, hung back, beside him. Don't ever underestimate him again, told himself.
Fee said, "What about dinner?"
"What's in the house?"
"I meant eat on the road --" found the keys -- "or wait till the city. There's nothing inside."
"In town, then."
"You have an appetite."
"I could eat."
"Yeah, me, too" -- walking slower, Fee. Flipping the keys for the one to the padlock. Stopped, then. Turned. Stared him in the face. Martin stopped, stared him back. Thought their shoes were making a racket, like the grass got louder as the night came. Fee said, "You know what I'm thinking, right?" -- his face like something hurt him. Pained somewhere, but just a bit. The whitewashed shed glowing softly behind him, the sky, beyond that, going purple with the sun gone. Martin took it all in, a moment. Looked back at him. Saw his reflection in Fee's lenses. "Do you know what I'm thinking, Q, or no?"
"We won't hang out enough anymore, after the deal is done. You been saying itfor weeks."
Fee turned his face away. Went quiet. Intensifying. Like an angry cartoon.
"Speak, Felix. Your glasses'll steam up."
"My fucking worry is that the deal's going to ramify. Some bizarre circumstance that we didn't foresee, then our lives are different from anything we ever expected. Unforeseen circumstances, I'm talking about. Unimagined."
"Like us not hanging out."
He looked down fast, Fee -- keeping composed. Worked through the keys. "It's not ..." -- getting beside himself. "I'm not really kidding here, you fucker."
But, when Fee looked at him, he looked away.
Because the idea suddenly got to him, too.
He saw the strangeness in that -- things so moment-to-moment sometimes they were nearly impossible to figure. A few minutes ago, he'd been picking the instant to sneak a pistol behind Fee's ear, for Christ's sake; now that madness was past. Life was back, and normal. Business as fucking usual.
"What assholes we are," he said ... Half to himself, half to the dusk.
"What'd you say?"
He didn't turn. "I said, 'No, I'm not kidding.' But you do know what I'm thinking."
"Yeah, and I don't give a shit. He's a dangerous fucking man, my father; I can sweat him all I want. You should finally learn to start."
"Big gangster you are. Made your bones but still sweating your old man ..." waited.
But got no response. Turned.
And saw that Fee just wasn't up to it.
The old man too close in his thoughts, scaring the fight out of him. Even with all he'd been up to lately, Felix. All he'd done. "Fee, he isn't going to care."
"Man, what the fuck did we come up here for, Felix?" "I did to kill you, he thought. So long ago.Minutes like weeks, now, falling away. "We're supposed to be relaxing. It's your country house. We're in the fucking Catskills, for Christ's sake. We take a break for a day. Your fucking idea. How much more shit you going to lay on me? I'm all tensed up again."
"Do I care?"
"'Do I care? 'Do I duh-duh-duh? Even if he cuts you off without a fucking kopeck, man, you won't need a thing from your father when the deal is over. Ever. You can't get your head around that? You truck with him on your own terms from then on. You're equals."
But paying attention.
Would come around, eventually -- would cool out.
So ease off him, Martin thought. Go lightly here. We been through enough shit already today. "You just got to get past this, Fee --"
Fee saying "It's not that simple" though -- waving it off. "Didn't you ever betray your father? Not once while he was alive?"
"Betray him how? I was nine when he died."
"I'm saying you feel it on some primitive, elementary level. Way back in the mind. It makes your nuts seize up and hide. Does that make sense to you?"
"Yeah, but it's for shit -- it's irrelevant. You're not betraying the man, technically. And second --"
"Technically. What the fuck does --"
"It means you took a little initiative. Decided he didn't need to know every fucking step you take as you fast approach your fucking thir ties, boy-ass. That's first off. Second, if you want to fucking worry about something, take stock of your situation here. You're in narcotics now. You worry about your business associates -- your fucking KAs." He held up his thumb, his index, his second finger -- enumerating -- "Worry about Monya, worry about Bunny, worryabout Terry fucking Hughes, man. Keep your eye on those motherfuckers. Every second you can. Do it." Aimed the finger gun at him and fired -- a little bursting "pop" noise with his lips. "Worry about them." Fee saying --
"You motherfucker, man, you're serious here? You said things were cool before we came up. I asked you specifically --"
"And I told you what was what. And that things were moving how they should. That means, with heroin, watch them close. But with this other shit? Forget your father for five fucking minutes. Realize how good things are going to be. Monya and Bunny and Terror are covered. We covered them. I did, anyway. I'm not really sure what you've been up to lately --" paused. To see if his point was made ...
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