“He’s headed for the lighthouse.”
“That thought did occur to me.”
I’ll handle it.”
“Take some men.”
“I said I’ll handle it. We’ve got men there.”
I’ll handle it, I said.”
Teddy heard Cawley’s shoes bang their way back up the dock and get softer as they hit the sand.
“Lighthouse or no lighthouse,” the warden said to his men, “this boat goes nowhere. Get the engine keys from the pilot and bring them to me.”
HE SWAM MOST of the way there.
Dropped away from the ferry and swam toward shore until he was close enough to the sandy bottom to use it, clawing along until ‘he’d gone far enough to raise his head from the water and risk a glance back. He’d covered a few hundred yards and he could see the guakds forming a ring around the dock.
He slipped back under the water and continued clawing, unable to risk the splashing that freestyle or even doggie-paddling would cause, and after a while, he came to the bend in the shoreline and made his way around it and walked up onto the sand and sat in the sun and shook from the cold. He walked as much of the shore as he could before he ran into a set of outcroppings that pushed him back into the water and he tied his shoes together and hung them around his neck and went for another swim and envisioned his father’s bones somewhere on this same ocean floor and envisioned sharks and their fins and their great snapping tails and barracuda with rows Of white teeth and he knew he was getting through this because he had to and the water had numbed him and he had no choice now but to do this and he might have to do it again in a couple of days when the Betsy Ross dropped its booty off the island’s southern tip, and he knew that the only way to conquer fear was to face it, he’d learned that in the war enough, but even so, if he could manage it, he would never, ever, get in the ocean again. He could feel it watching him and touching him. He could feel the age of it, more ancient than gods and prouder of its body count.
He saw the lighthouse at about one o’clock. He couldn’t be sure because his watch was back in his suit jacket, but the sun was in roughly the right place. He came ashore just below the bluff on which it stood and he lay against a rock and took the sun on his body until the shakes stopped and his skin grew less blue.
If Chuck was up there, no matter his condition, Teddy was bringing him out. Dead or alive, he wouldn’t leave him behind. You’ll die then.
It was Dolores’s voice, and he knew she was right. If he had to wait two days for the arrival of the Betsy Ross, and he had anything but a fully alert, fully functional Chuck with him, they’d never make it. They’d be hunted down...
.. like two-legged dogs.
I can’t leave him, he told Dolores. Can’t do it. If I can’t find him, that’s one thing. But he’s my partner.
You only just met him.
Still my partner. If he’s in there, if they’re hurting him, holding him against his will, I have to bring him out. Even if you die? Even if I die. Then I hope he’s not in there.
He came down off the rock and followed a path of sand and shells that curled around the sea grass, and it occurred to him that what Cawley had thought suicidal in him was not quite that. It was more a death wish. For years he couldn’t think of a good reason to live, true. But he also couldn’t think of a good reason to die, either. By his own hand? Even in his most desolate nights, that had seemed such a pathetic option. Embarrassing. Puny.
The guard was suddenly standing there, as surprised by Teddy’s appearance as Teddy was by his, the guard’s fly still open, the rifle slung behind his back. He started to reach for his fly first, then changed his mind, but by then Teddy had driven the heel of his hand into his Adam’s apple. He grabbed his throat, and Teddy dropped to a crouch and swung his leg into the back of the guard’s and the guard flipped over on his back and Teddy straightened up and kicked him hard in the right ear and the guard’s eyes rolled back in his head and his mouth flopped open.
Teddy bent down by him and slid the rifle strap off his shoulder and pulled the rifle out from under him. He could hear the guy breathing. So he hadn’t killed him.
And now he had a gun.
HE USED IT on the next guard, the one in front of the fence. He disarmed him, a kid, a baby, really, and the guard said, “You going to kill me?”
“Jesus, kid, no,” Teddy said and snapped the butt of the rifle into the kid’s temple.
THERE WAS A small bunkhouse inside the fence perimeter, and Teddy checked that first, found a few cots and girlie magazines, a pot of old coffee, a couple of guard uniforms hanging from a hook on the door.
He went back out and crossed to the lighthouse and used the rifle to push open the door and found nothing on the first floor but a dank cement room, empty of anything but mold on the walls, and a spiral staircase made from the same stone as the walls.
He followed that up to a second room, as empty as the first, and he knew there had to be a basement here, something large, maybe connected to the rest of the hospital by those corridors, because so far, this was nothing but, well, a lighthouse.
He heard a scraping sound above him and he went back out to the stairs and followed them up another flight and came to a heavy iron door, and he pressed the tip of the rifle barrel to it and felt it give a bit. He heard that scraping sound again and he could smell cigarette smoke and hear the ocean and feel the wind up here, and he knew that if the warden had been smart enough to place guards on the other side of this door, then Teddy was dead as soon as he pushed it open. Run, baby.
Because it all comes to this.
ALl of it. Everything.
I don’t see how
You. Me. Laeddis. Chuck. Noyce, that poor fucking kid. It all comes to this. Either it stops now. Or I stop now.
It was his hands. Chuck’s hands. Don’t you see?
His hands, Teddy. They didn’t fit him.
Teddy knew what she meant. He knew something about Chuck’s hands was important, but not so important he could waste any more time in this stairwell thinking about it.
I’ve got to go through this door now, honey.
Okay. Be careful.
Teddy crouched to the left of the door. He held the rifle butt against his left rib cage and placed his right hand on the floor for balance and then he kicked out with his left foot and the door swung wide and he dropped to his knee in the swinging of it and placed the rifle to his shoulder and sighted down the barrel.