He heard the ferry blow its horn and came up on a rise in time to see it finish its turn in the harbor and begin to steam backward toward the dock. He picked up his pace, and ten minutes later he could see the back of Cawley’s Tudor through the woods.
He turned off the road into the woods, and he heard men unloading the ferry, the thump of boxes tossed to the dock, the clang of metal dollies, footfalls on wooden planks. He reached the final stand of trees and saw several orderlies down on the dock, and the two ferry pilots leaning back against the stern, and he saw guards, lots of guards,’rifle butts resting on hips, bodies turned toward the woods, eyes scanning the trees and the grounds that led up to Ashecliffe.
When the orderlies had finished unloading the cargo, they pulled their dollies with them back up the dock, but the guards remained, and Teddy knew that their only job this morning was to make damn sure he didn’t reach that boat.
He crept back through the woods and came out by Cawley’s house. He could hear men upstairs in the house, saw one out on the roof where it pitched, his back to Teddy. He found the car in the carport on the western side of the house. A ‘47 Buick Roadmaster. Maroon with white leather interior. Waxed and shiny the day after a hurricane. A beloved vehicle.
Teddy opened the driver’s door and he could smell the leather, as if it were a day old. He opened the glove compartment and found several packs of matches, and he took them all.
He pulled his tie from his pocket, found a small stone on the ground, and knotted the narrow end of the tie around it. He lifted the license plate and unscrewed the gas tank cap, and then he threaded the tie and the stone down the pipe and into the tank until all that hung out of the pipe was the fat, floral front of the tie, as if it hung from a man’s neck.
Teddy remembered Dolores giving him this tie, draping it across his eyes, sitting in his lap.
“I’m sorry, honey,” he whispered. “I love it because you gave it to me. But truth is, it is one ugly fucking tie.”
And he smiled up at the sky in apology to her and used one match to light the entire book and then used the book to light the tie. And then he ran like hell.
He was halfway through the woods when the car exploded. He heard men yell and he looked back, and through the trees he could see the flames vaulting upward in balls, and then there was a set of smaller explosions, like firecrackers, as the windows blew out. He reached the edge of the woods and he balled up his suit coat and placed it under a few rocks. He saw the guards and the ferrymen running up the path toward Cawley’s house, and he knew if he was going to do this, he had to do it right now, no time to second-guess the idea, and that was good because if he gave any thought at all to what he was about to do, he’d never do it.
He came out of the woods and ran along the shore, and just before he reached the dock and would’ve left himself exposed to anyone running back to the ferry, he cut hard to his left and ran into the water.
Jesus, it was ice. Teddy had hoped the heat of the day might have warmed it up a bit, but the cold tore up through his body like electric current and punched the air out of his chest. But Teddy kept plowing forward, trying not to think about what was in that water with him— eels and jellyfish and crabs and sharks too, maybe. Seemed ridiculous but Teddy knew that sharks attacked humans, on average, in three feet of water, and that’s about where he was now, the water at his waist and
getting higher, and Teddy heard shouts coming from up by Cawley’s house, and he ignored the sledgehammer strokes of his heart and dove under the water.
He saw the girl from his dreams, floating just below him, her eyes open and resigned.
He shook his head and she vanished and he could see the keel ahead of him, a thick black stripe that undulated in the green water, and he swam to it and got his hands on it. He moved along it to the front and came around the other side, and forced himself to come up out of the water slowly, just his head. He felt the sun on his face as he exhaled and then sucked in oxygen and tried to ignore a vision of his legs dangling down there in the depths, some creature swimming along and seeing them, wondering what they were, coming close for a sniff...
The ladder was where he remembered it. Right in front of hirfi and he got a hand on the third rung and hung there. He could hear.,the men running back to the dock now, hear their heavy footsteps on the planks, and then he heard the warden:
“Search that boat.”
“Sir, we were only gone—“
“You left your post, and now you wish to argue?”
“No, sir. Sorry, sir.”
The ladder dipped in his hand as several men placed their weight on the ferry, and Teddy heard them going through the boat, heard doors opening and furniture shifting.
Something slid between his thighs like a hand, and Teddy gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on the ladder and forced his mind to go completely blank because he did not want to imagine what it looked like. Whatever it was kept moving, and Teddy let out a breath. “My car. He blew up my fucking car.” Cawley, sounding ragged and out of breath.
The warden said, “This has gone far enough, Doctor.”
“We agreed that it’s my decision to make.”
“If this man gets off the island—“
“He’s not going to get off the island.”
“I’m sure you didn’t think he was going to turn your buggy into an inferno, either. We have to break this operation down now and cut our losses.”
“I’ve worked too hard to throw in the towel.”
The warden’s voice rose. “If that man gets off this island, we’ll he destroyed.”
Cawley’s voice rose to match the warden’s. “He’s not going to get off the fucking island!”
Neither spoke for a full minute. Teddy could hear their weight shifting on the dock.
“Fine, Doctor. But that ferry stays. It does not leave this dock until that man is found.”
Teddy hung there, the cold finding his feet and burning them.
Cawley said, “They’ll want answers for that in Boston.”
Teddy closed his mouth before his teeth could chatter.
“Then give them answers. But that ferry stays.”
Something nudged the back of Teddy’s left leg. “M1 right, Warden.” Another nudge against his leg, and Teddy kicked back, heard the splash he made hit the air like a gunshot.
Footsteps on the stern.
“He’s not in there, sir. We checked everywhere.”
“So where did he go?” the warden said. “Anyone?”