Teddy fluttered a hand over his heart.

“I’m serious, boss.”

Teddy said, “We’re wet.”


“My point. Care if we get wetter?”

THEY LEFT THROUGH the gate and walked the shore. The rain blanketed everything. Waves the size of houses hit the rocks. They flared high and then shattered to make way for new ones.  “I don’t want to kill him,” Teddy shouted over the roar.



“Not sure I believe you.”

Teddy shrugged.

“It was my wife?” Chuck said. “I’d kill him twice.”

“I’m tired of killing,” Teddy said. “In the war? I lost track. How’s that possible, Chuck? But I did.”

“Still. Your wife, Teddy.”

They found an outcropping of sharp, black stones that rose off the beach toward the trees, and they climbed inland.

“Look,” Teddy said once they’d reached a small plateau and a circle of high trees that blocked some of the rain, “I still put the job first.

We find what happened to Rachel Solando. And if I meet up with Laeddis while I’m doing it? Great. I’ll tell him I know he killed my wife. I’ll tell him I’ll be waiting on the mainland when he gets released. I’ll tell him free air isn’t something he breathes as long as I’m alive.”

“And that’s all?” Chuck said.

“That’s all.”

Chuck wiped his eyes with his sleeve, pushed his hair off his forehead.

“I don’t believe you. I just don’t.”

Teddy looked off to the south of the ring of trees, saw the top of Ashecliffe, its watchful dormers.

“And don’t you think Cawley knows why you’re really here?”

“I’m really here for Rachel Solando.”

“But fuck, Teddy, if the guy who killed your wife was committed here, then—“ “He wasn’t convicted for it. There’s nothing to tie me and him to each other. Nothing.”

Chuck sat down on a stone jutting out of the field, lowered his head to the rain. “The graveyard, then. Why don’t we see if we can find that, now that we’re out here? We see a ‘Laeddis’ headstone, we know half the battle’s over.”

Teddy looked off at the ring of trees, the black depth of them.


Chuck stood. “What did she say to you, by the way?”


“The patient.” Chuck snapped his fingers. “Bridget. She sent me for water. She said something to you, I know it.”

“She didn’t.”

“She didn’t? You’re lying. I know she—“

“She wrote it,” Teddy said and patted the pockets of his trench coat for his notebook.

He found it eventually in his inside pocket and started to flip through it.

Chuck began to whistle and clop his feet into the soft earth in a goose step.

When he reached the page, Teddy said, “Adolf, enough.”

Chuck came over. “You find it?”

Teddy nodded, turned the notebook so that Chuck could see the page, the single word written there, tightly scrawled and already beginning to bleed in the rain:


THEY FOUND THE stones about a half mile inland as the sky rushed toward darkness under slate-bottomed clouds. They came over soggy bluffs where the sea grass was lank and slick in the rain, and they were both covered in mud from clawing and stumbling their way up.  A field lay below them, as flat as the undersides of the clouds, bald except for a stray bush or two, some heavy leaves tossed in by the storm, and a multitude of small stones that Teddy initially assumed had come with the leaves, riding the wind. He paused halfway down the far side of the bluff, though, gave them another look.  They were spread across the field in small, tight piles, each pile separated from the one closest to it by about six inches, and Teddy put his hand on Chuck’s shoulder and pointed at them.

“How many piles do you count?”

Chuck said, “What?”

Teddy said, “Those rocks. You see ‘em?”


“They’re piled separately. How many do you count?”

Chuck gave him a look like the storm had found his head. “They’re rocks.”

“I’m serious.”

Chuck gave him a bit more of that look and then turned his atten tion to the field. After a minute, he said, “I count ten.” “Me too.”

The mud gave way under Chuck’s foot and he slipped, flailed back with an arm that Teddy caught and hdd until Chuck righted himself.  “Can we go down?” Chuck said and gave Teddy a mild grimace of annoyance.

They worked their way down and Teddy went to the stone piles and saw that they formed two lines, one above the other. Some piles were much smaller than others. A few contained only three or’;four stones while others had more than ten, maybe even twenty. ., Teddy walked between the two lines and then stopped and looked over at Chuck and said, “We miscounted.”


“Between these two piles here?” Teddy waited for him to join him and then they were looking down at it. “That’s one stone right there.  Its own single pile.”

“In this wind? No. It fell from one of the other stacks.” “It’s equidistant to the other piles. Half a foot to the left of that one, half a foot to the right of that one. And in the next row, the same thing occurs again twice. Single stones.”


“So, there’re thirteen piles of rock, Chuck.”

“You think she left this. You really do.”

“I think someone did.”

“Another code.”

Teddy squatted by the rocks. He pulled his trench coat over his head and extended the flaps of it in front of his body to protect his notebook from the rain. He moved sideways like a crab and paused at each pile to count the number of stones and write it down. When he was finished, he had thirteen numbers: 18-1-4-9-5-4-23-1-12-4-19-14-5.  “Maybe it’s a combination,” Chuck said, “for the world’s biggest padlock.”

Teddy closed the notebook and placed it in his pocket. “Good one.”

“Thank you, thank you,” Chuck said. “I’ll be appearing twice nightly in the Catskills. Please come out, won’t you?”

Teddy pulled the trench coat back off his head and stood, and the rain pounded him again and the wind had found its voice.  They walked north with the cliffs off to the right and Ashecliffe shrouded to their left somewlere in the smash of wind and rain. It grew measurably worse in the next half hour, and they pressed their shoulders together in order to hear each other talk and listed like drunks.

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