Brock stood up slowly and looked down the long checkerboard squares of beige linoleum tiles. Grey, but once white walls, seemed ocular, like lenses blurred by rain. He felt her presence, a nearness that cloaked his heart and pulled, sometimes soft, like a violin. Sometimes hard, like drum rolls. She appeared through double doors, a tiny figure, though she was nearly his height. Her expression seemed to weight her down. She looked into her lap before raising her head and attempting a half smile. As she came closer he could see around the dusky color of her eyes: red rimmed and sockets deep as sinkholes. Her sadness showed up in the mist and lingered in thoughts that traveled and landed softly. He looked away, as well. All words were a language at once forgotten and the only thing left in his mouth was a dry sorrow that tasted like chalk.
“Brock,” she said in a whisper, avoiding his eyes but needing his hand; she reached out. He held her fingers firmly and brought them to his lips as he bent down.
Language returned because it had to. “Are you all right?”
She shook her head. “I’ll be fine.”
He noticed the contradiction.
“Really, I will.” She touched his face and smiled faintly, fleetingly, before looking away.
“We won’t ever give up, Jane.” He got to his knees before her, not caring at the public whispery place that surrounded them; the benevolent, somber expressions of condolences they received as people noticed their distress.
He kissed her stomach, where the emptiness was. He felt an emotion take over his insides, rise to his chest and threaten to grip his lungs too tightly to breathe. He got to his feet before the feeling drowned him, took him under. She needed him. He smiled softly and helped her stand. He wanted to kiss her, to pass whatever strength he had left from his lips to hers.
His cell phone rang just as her perfume touched his senses. His mouth found the tip of her nose. He couldn’t help it, reflex. He caught her disappointment as he stepped back and took the cell phone from his pocket.
“Wait here,” he said, “I won’t be but a moment.”
He looked back briefly and walked away, out of hearing, his secrets conspicuously inappropriate.
“Peter is sending me to Callicoon.”
Peter had told him the whole story, about the scam, how he was going to use Glen and then discard him. Brock had wanted to confront him, even give him a good punch or two, but he had to keep his anger in and pretend he knew nothing about the FBI agent Peter had sent his way.
"Where's that?" she asked.
"New York," he said.
The light came into their bedroom through slats in the blind. The television was showing something old, black and white images against a screen of grey dots, canned laughter that sounded manically out of control.
“Yes, of course,” she said. “I assume he wants you to pull Brenda from a top hat?” she asked, not lifting her eyes to his, not seeming to care.
He bit his lip. Now would be a good time to tell her about Carelli, but on the off chance she'd notify her father, he couldn't.
“I assume he does.” He wanted to sit at the edge of the bed but his legs felt like lead. “I’m flying into New York this afternoon.”
She looked up. “Brenda is there, in New York, isn’t she?”
He nodded slowly. “Yes, she’s there, we think. We haven’t heard from her in over a week, as you know.”
“When you get back, we need to talk … this isn’t working … all this surreptitiousness … there’s too much distance between us, Brock … too much silence. Perhaps we should think about separating.”
"Separating? No, I won't think about it at all."
She looked up but didn't answer.
He paused for a moment before leaving the room, his cell phone in his hand, the canned laughter in his ears.
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