She said, “Lost?”
His turn to spin. He found himself looking down at her. She was a small woman, no more than five four in heels. Outrageously pretty. Not in a tidy way, like so many of the other women in there with perfect noses and hair and lips. There was something unkempt about her face, eyes maybe a bit too far apart, lips that were so wide they seemed messy on her small face, a chin that was uncertain.
“A bit,” he said.
“Well, what are you looking for?”
He said it before he could think to stop himself: “You.” Her eyes widened and he noticed a flaw, a speckle of bronze, in the left iris, and he felt horror sweep through his body as he realized he’d blown it, come off as a Romeo, too smooth, too full of himself. Yo.
Where the fuck did he come up with that one? What the fuck was he--? ‘
“Well,” she said...
He wanted to run. He couldn’t bear to look at her another second.
“... at least you didn’t have to walk far.”
He felt a goofy grin break across his face, felt himself reflected in her eyes. A goof. An oaf. Too happy to breathe.
“No, miss, I guess I didn’t.”
“My God,” she said, leaning back to look at him, her martini glass pressed to her upper chest.
“You’re as out of place here as I am, aren’t you, soldier?” LEANING IN THE cab window as she sat in the back with her friend Linda Cox, Linda hunching forward to give the driver an address, and Teddy said, “Dolores.”
He held up a hand. “Nothing.”
“No one calls me Edward but my mother.”
He loved hearing her say the word.
“Teddy,” she said again, trying it out.
“Hey. What’s your last name?” he said.
Teddy cocked an eyebrow at that.
She said, “I know. It doesn’t go with the rest of me at all. Sounds so highfalutin.”
“Can I call you?”
“You got a head for numbers?”
Teddy smiled. “Actually...”
“Winter Hill six-four-three-four-six,” she said.
He’d stood on the sidewalk as the cab pulled away, and the memory of her face just an inch from his—through the cab window, on the dance floor—nearly short-circuited his brain, almost drove her name and number right out of there.
He thought: so this is what it feels like to love. No logic to it—he barely knew her. But there it was just the same. He’d just met the woman he’d known, somehow, since before he was born. The measure of every dream he’d never dared indulge.
Dolores. She was thinking of him now in the dark baOkseat, feeling him as he was feeling her.
Everything he’d ever needed, and now it had a name.
TEDDY TURNED OVER on his cot and reached down to the floor, searched around until he found his notebook and a box of matches. He lit the first match off his thumb, held it above the page he’d scribbled on in the storm. He went through four matches before he’d ascribed the appropriate letters to the numbers:
Once that was done, though, it didn’t take long to unscramble the code. Another two matches, and Teddy was staring at the name as the flame winnowed its way down the wood toward his fingers:
As the match grew hotter, he looked over at Chuck, sleeping two cots over, and he hoped his creer wouldn’t suffer. It shouldn’t. Teddy would take all the blame. Chuck should be fine. He had that aura about him in general—no matter what happened, Chuck would emerge unscathed.
He looked back at the page, got one last glimpse before the match blew itself out.
Going to find you today, Andrew. If I don’t owe Dolores my life, I owe her that much, at least.
Going to find you.
Going to kill you dead.
THE TWO HOMES outside the wall—the warden’s and Cawley?s
• took direct hits. Half of Cawley’s roof was gone, the tile flung all over the hospital grounds like a lesson in humility. A tree had gone through the warden’s living room window, through the plywood nailed there for protection, roots and all in the middle of his house. The compound was strewn with shells and tree branches and an inch and a half of water. Cawley’s tile, a few dead rats, scores of soggy apples, all of it gritty with sand. The foundation of the hospital looked like someone had taken a jackhammer to it, and Ward A had lost four windows and several sections of flashing were curled back like pompadours on the roof. Two of the staff cottages had been turned into sticks, and a few others lay on their sides. The nurse and orderly dormitories had lost several windows and suffered some water damage between them. Ward B had been spared, not a mark on it. All up and down the island, Teddy could see trees with their tops snapped off, the naked wood pointing up like spears.
The air was dead again, thick and sullen. The rain fell in a tired, steady drizzle. Dead fish covered the shore. When they’d first come out into the morning, a single flounder lay flapping and puffing in the breezeway, one sad, swollen eye looking back toward the sea. Teddy and Chuck watched McPherson and a guard rock a jeep off its side. When they turned the ignition, it started on the fifth try, and they roared back out through the gates and Teddy saw them a minute later, racing up the incline behind the hospital toward Ward C. Cawley walked into the compound, paused to pick up a piece of his roof and stare at it before dropping it back to the watery ground. His gaze swept past Teddy and Chuck twice before he recognized them in their white orderly clothing and their black slickers and black ranger’s hats. He gave them an ironic smile and seemed about to approach them when a doctor with a stethoscope around his neck jogged out of the hospital and ran up to him.
“Number two’s gone. We £an’t get it back up. We’ve got those two criticals. They’ll die, John.”
“Harry’s working on it, but he can’t get a charge. What good’s a backup if it doesn’t back anything up?”
“All right. Let’s get in there.”