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.Our flashlights probed the grounds: pale ovals revealing sumac, sundry weeds, and humps of rusted iron—old train parts by the look of them.We followed the remains of a concrete walkway.The night soared about us, painted the aural world behind the crickets and cicadas with utter silence.We paused before a battered entrance: a heavy, metal-skinned door that had been smashed from its tracks.Our flashlights chased the shadows of weeds and debris deep into the structure’s interior.“Eew,” Molly said with the bubbling beginnings of panic.“What’s that smell?”I raised my flashlight to my chin, made a campsite face.“Me.I always fart before battle.”“You eat potato chips or something?” Nolen asked without the whisper of a smile.He seemed remarkably at ease, given the circumstances.This raised my hackles once again.I much prefer weak people stay weak, if you know what I mean.The idea had occurred to me that pretty much anything could happen on this nocturnal expedition, and that the world would be captive to the facts as the survivors told them.Just where were Nolen’s patrolmen anyway?I thought of my revolver stuffed in the bottom of my bag in my room.Fawk.“Follow me,” I said, striding over the low heaps of junk and over the threshold.The factory interior was at once cavernous and cramped with ruin, like a mine shaft and an airplane hangar all in one.Another stinker slipped loose as I picked my way forward; it felt like a hot marble between my butt cheeks.The building was largely open, broken only by the ruins of stairs that led to a series of hanging offices above.Debris had been scattered like flotsam, leaving patches of floor bare.Sweeping my light back and forth, I glimpsed graffiti, stick imitations of the baroque stuff I was used to seeing in Jersey.I saw the same FUCK UP NOT DOWN as earlier.Numerous metal posts stumped the floor, the remains of long-dead workstations.The air reeked of water damage and industrial squalor.In the sea-wreck distance you could make out blackened presses, machinery that had been too ancient to auction, or so I imagined, when the factory had closed.Nolen and Molly seemed content to follow me.We creaked forward together.My memory, as always, continued to torment me.This time with a Tragically Hip tune about fingers and toes.I did a mental version of blocking my ears and singing, “Na-na-na.” If Molly was right, if we did find Dead Jennifer’s thumbs—or her corpse—I would rather attach the experience to something more emotionally appropriate, like some old Sabbath tune.My memories, remember, cling to their original emotional charge.Mashing together recollections from opposite ends of the emotional colour wheel often jars me to the point of becoming nauseous.Imagine a mouthful of shellfish and ice cream.I’m not sure what drew my eye the first time my flashlight scrolled over the work table.The relative cleanliness, perhaps.Whatever the reason, I found myself turning toward it, stepping across the wobbly backs of several smashed cinder blocks.The table was one of those old metal jobbies you used to find in high school shop classes, the kind designed to protect ducking and covering students in the event of a Commie nuclear attack.The thing was about as big as a snooker table, and probably just as heavy.The message on its back lent a whine of horror to the silence.Molly’s “Oh, God.” were the only words spoken.Several moments passed before I breathed.There it was: a cross in the plain fundamentalist style, made of some kind of wood.only turned into a swastika with two thumbs and two toes set at right angles.We just stood there dumbfounded.I found myself at once knowing they were real and thinking they looked like dollar-store fakes.The nails, especially—like something dripped from a candle.“He is insane.” Molly finally said, her face as ashen as the digits it regarded.We all knew who she was talking about.“No.” I said.“Nill didn’t do this.” I’m not sure where this insight came from, the sudden realization that I knew him—or his type anyway.Nill had taken a long haul from the crack pipe of power.Like Nolen said, the Thirds owned this town.Why remortgage with a risk like this?“Who then?” Molly cried.“Someone who thinks he’s selling out.”That’s the thing about power: it ropes in rationalizations the way shit draws flies.And Albert himself had said white supremacist types had a weakness for whacking each other.“Caleb?” I asked.Poor bastard.He was one of those guys: no matter where you aimed, you could be sure as shit that he would come stumbling into your sights.I thought of his daughter squirming and kicking in the pool.I thought of the Bonjours’ daughter doing the same in the open air.“Caleb?” I repeated.He just stood there, terror in uniform [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]