“Fuck if I know,” Teddy said. “All I got are questions. Every half an hour, it’s like there’re thirty more.”

“Agreed,” Chuck said. “Hey, here’s a question for you—who’s Andrew Laeddis?”

“You caught that, huh?” Teddy lit one of the cigarettes he’d won in poker.

“You asked every patient we talked to.”

“Didn’t ask Ken or Leonora Grant.”

“Teddy, they didn’t know what planet they were on.”


“I’m your partner, boss.”

Teddy leaned back against the stone wall and Chuck joined him.

He turned his head, looked at Chuck.

“We just met,” he said.

“Oh, you don’t trus me.”

“I trust you, Chuck. I do. But I’m breaking the rules here. I asked for this case specifically. The moment it came over the wire in the field office.”


“So my motives aren’t exactly impartial.”


Chuck nodded and lit his own cigarette, took some time to think about it. “My girl, Julie—Julie Taketomi, that’s her name—she’s as American as I am. Doesn’t speak a word of Japanese. Hell, her parents go back two generations in this country. But they put her in a camp and then...” He shook his head and then flicked his cigarette into the rain and pulled up his shirt, exposed the skin over his right hip. “Take a look, Teddy. See my other scar.”

Teddy looked. It was long and dark as jelly, thick as his thumb.

“I didn’t get this one in the war, either. Got it working for the marshals.  Went through a door in Tacoma. The guy we were after sliced me with a sword. You believe that? A fucking sword. I spent three weeks in the hospital while they sewed my intestines back together. For the U.S.  Marshals Service, Teddy. For my country. And then they run me out of my home district because I’m in love with an American woman with Oriental skin and eyes?” He tucked his shirt back in. “Fuck them.”

“If I didn’t know you better,” Teddy said after a bit, “I’d swear you really love that woman.”

“Die for her,” Chuck said. “No regrets about it, either.”

Teddy nodded. No purer feeling in the world that he knew of.

“Don’t let that go, kid.”

“I won’t, Teddy. That’s the point. But you gotta tell me why we’re here. Who the hell is Andrew Laeddis?”

Teddy dropped the butt of his cigarette to the stone walk and ground it out with his heel.

Dolores, he thought, I’ve got to tell him. I can’t do this alone.  If after all my sins—all my drinking, all the times I left you alone for too long, let you down, broke your heart—if I can ever make up for any of that, this might be the time, the last opportunity I’ll ever have.

I want to do right, honey. I want to atone. You, of all people, would understand that.

“Andrew Laeddis,” he said to Chuck, and the words clogged in his dry throat. He swallowed, got some moisture into his mouth, tried again...

“Andrew Laeddis,” he said, “was the maintenance man in the apartment building where my wife and I lived.”


“He was also a firebug.”

Chuck took that in, studied Teddy’s face.

“Andrew Laeddis,” Teddy said, “lit the match that caused the


“Holy fuck.”

“—that killed my wife.”

TEDDY WALKED OVER to the edge of the breezeway and stuckhis

head out from under the roof to douse his face and hair. He could See her in the drops. Dissolving on impact.

She hadn’t wanted him to go to work that morning. In that final year of her life, she’d grown inexplicably skittish, prone to insomnia that left her tremor-filled and addled. She’d tickled him after the alarm had gone off, then suggested they close the shutters and block out the day, never leave the bed. When she hugged him, she held on too tightly and for too long, and Teddy could feel the bones in her arms crush into his neck.

As he took his shower, she came to him, but he was too rushed, already late, and as had so often been the case in those days, hungover.  His head simultaneously soggy and filled with spikes. Her body like sandpaper when she pressed it against his. The water from the shower as hard as BBs.

“Just stay,” she said. “One day. What difference will one day make?” He tried to smile as he lifted her gently out of the way and reached for the soap. “Honey, I can’t.”

“Why not?” She ran her hand between his legs. “Here. Give me the soap. I’ll wash it for you.” Her palm sliding under his testicles, her teeth nipping his chest.

He tried not to push her. He gripped her shoulders as gently as he could and lifted her back a step or two. “Come on,” he said. “I’ve really got to go.”

She laughed some more, tried to nuzzle him again, but he could see her eyes growing hard with desperation. To be happy. To not be left alone. To have the old days back---before he worked too much, drank too much, before she woke up one morning and the world seemed too bright, too loud, too cold.

“Okay, okay.” She leaned back so he could see her face as the water bounced off his shoulders and misted her body. “I’ll make a deal with you. Not the whole day, laby. Not the whole day. Just an hour.  Just be an hour late.”

“I’m already—“

“One hour,” she said, stroking him again, her hand soapy now.  “One hour and then you can go. I want to feel you inside of me.” She raised herself up on her toes to kiss him.

He gave her a quick peck on the lips and said, “Honey, 1 can’t,” and turned his face to the shower spray.

“Will they call you back up?” she said.


“To fight.”

“That piss-ant country? Honey, that war will be over before I could lace my boots.”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t even know why we’re there. I




“Because the NKPA doesn’t get weaponry like that from nowhere, honey. They got it from Stalin. We have to prove that we learned from Munich, that we should have stopped Hitler then, so we’ll stop Stalin and Mao. Now. In Korea.”

“You’d go.”

“If they called me up? I’d have to. But they won’t, honey.”

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