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140 E li zabeth B loom
person booth, nursing a can of Sprite. He stood up when he saw
her approaching the table, because that was the way he d been
raised.
 Lavoie, he said.  Glad to see you re not drowned.
 You heard about that, huh?
 Front page of the Transcript, he said.  Hard to miss.
She took a seat opposite, the hard Formica booth a medieval
torture device for her aching coccyx.  Thanks for meeting me,
she said.
He nodded his You re welcome.  I figured you wanted to talk
about Danny.
 Yeah. She shifted, trying for a more comfortable position.
 Hey, I met your little girls at Sonya s. Pretty gorgeous pair.
He rolled his eyes in mock horror.  God help me when
they re sixteen.
 Maybe they ll be angels. Just like me.
He let that one pass.  You know we ve got three older girls,
too. The Good Lord s idea of a joke.
 Huh?
 Three kids would ve been plenty, but I talked my wife into
trying for a son, male chauvinist pig that I am. Wound up with
twin daughters. He smiled at the memory.  And you want to
hear the kicker? We only have one bathroom.
 Wow.
He looked at his watch.  Do you mind if we go ahead and
order? I gotta be back for practice in an hour.
Ginny consulted the menu, flirted with the idea of ordering
a salad that would doubtless turn out to be a gummy tomato
slice on iceberg, and wound up asking for another Skillet
Burger. She waited for Coach Hank to reprove her, until he or-
dered the same.
 Okay to eat it, he said to her raised eyebrow,  long as you
burn it.
T he M or ti ci an s D aughter 141
 Amen.
He popped open his second Sprite and took a long drink.
 So what can I tell you?
She leaned forward, hoping to relieve the pressure on her
tailbone.  Well . . . did you get the idea that Danny was in any
sort of trouble?
The coach thought about it, running a hand through a thick
shock of graying blond hair. He was definitely showing his age
his face had the lines of a fair-skinned person who spent too
much time in the sun but he was still a handsome guy. When
she was in school, though, he d been movie-star gorgeous: half
the girls running team started wearing their uniform tops a size
too tight, just in the hopes he d notice.
 You gotta remember, he said,  I hadn t seen much of him
since graduation. It wasn t like he was still on the team. But I gotta
say, the last couple times I saw him, he didn t seem like himself.
 How so?
 Can t put my finger on it. It was more like, you know how
sometimes kids are different with one set of friends than an-
other? Like they can be real polite around some people and lit-
tle smart alecks around some others?
 You saying you think Danny was getting in with the wrong
crowd?
 Yeah, maybe. And I don t want to come off like some old
fogy. It wasn t just that he needed a shave. It was more like an
attitude shift, you know? Like he was always on the straight and
narrow, and suddenly it was like, screw the world.
She looked him in the eye.  Did you ever think he might
have gotten mixed up with drugs?
 It crossed my mind. Town isn t the same place you and I
grew up in, believe you me. A shadow crossed his face, like the
subject was hitting close to home. She wondered whether he
was thinking of a student or one of those golden-haired
142 E li zabeth B loom
daughters.  But I don t know for sure, he continued.  I never
caught him stoned, nothing like that.
 Did he ever seem scared to you?
The question seemed to surprise him.  Scared? Danny? Nah.
Why would you ask?
 Just standard.
 Well, there was one thing. I didn t think anything of it at the
time.
 What happened?
 The last time I saw Danny was a Sunday afternoon a few
days before he died. The girls wanted subs, so I scooted down to
Angelina s to pick them up, and I saw Danny standing by his
truck in the parking lot by the overpass, looking like he d just lost
his best friend. So I pulled over, and it turned out somebody d let
the air out of all four of his tires while he was working at the Skil-
let. I asked him why didn t he get his folks to pick him up, but he
said he didn t want to bother them. I offered him a ride, but he
said he was gonna call one of his buddies who had an air pump.
 And he didn t say who he thought might have done it?
Coach Hank shook his head.  He downplayed the whole
thing, said it must be some kids having a joke, but naturally, he was
mad as hell. Like I said, I didn t think anything of it till just now.
 What about his social life? Was he dating anybody besides
Monique St. Cyr?
 I thought the two of them were practically engaged.
 I was just wondering. Anything else?
The coach seemed to debate something in his head, then come
to a conclusion.  Well, he said,  it probably doesn t matter, but a
while before he died he did ask me something out of the blue.
 What s that?
He paused to wave at the two men who were being seated at
a nearby table: Father LeGrand and Mr. Dulaine, bank president
T he M or ti ci an s D aughter 143
and church deacon. Ginny had gone to school with his kids,
whom she recalled as the sort of uptight prigs who ratted when
the teacher forgot to assign the homework.
The two men hung their overcoats on poles between the
booths and stopped by to shake hands. Mr. Dulaine his first
name, she now recalled, was Arthur praised one of Hank s
daughters for winning an ice-skating medal. Still holding his
hand in hers, Father LeGrand told Ginny he hoped to see her in
church on Sunday.
 It was good of you to attend Jack O Brien s burial, Father
LeGrand said.
 It was good of you to bury him, she said, and meant it.  I
thought suicides couldn t have a church funeral.
Arthur Dulaine opened his mouth to say something, then
apparently thought better of it.
 Jack was a very sick man, the priest replied.  As I saw it, he
wasn t capable of making any rational decisions, least of all to
end his own life. His illness killed him.
 That s one way of looking at it, Dulaine said. His voice was
even, but his jaw was clenched.
 The man s only sin was refusing help, said Father LeGrand.
 What about the sin he was in jail for? Dulaine asked
through a tight-lipped smile.  What about the Sixth Command-
ment? Thou shalt not kill?
 Danny s own mother doesn t think Jack was guilty, the
priest said.  That s good enough for me.
They said their good-byes and sat down at their own table.
Ginny s eyes widened.  Tough customer, she said.
Coach Hank shot a glance in Dulaine s direction, then leaned [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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