Knoten by Geoffrey Budworth

By Geoffrey Budworth

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Te said, to herself, or to the man sitting on the roof. Today of all days . . She shuffled the casebook a bit to try to free a hand, failed, and just yelled upward. ” Two stories up, on one of the house’s many interlocking roofs, Kent Allard raised his head from his hands. ” Kent cast around as if he didn’t realize where he was. His eyes were wide and bulging from sunken sockets. Even from two stories down, Te could see that his perpetual dark circles and pale skin were worse than usual. ” Wringing his skeletal hands, Kent finally locked eyes with her.

Whatever. He snagged a blank piece of paper and made some notes. Nov. m. Said his barriers were breaking. Said something about temptation. Means someone’s come to him with the key for Kitsune’s cell. Geared up, drove over. Picked up Te on the way. Why the hell had he stopped to pick up Te? He could have just buzzed over on his own and maybe he’d have got there in time to—No. It was already too late when I got the phone call. Can’t think like that. Found Sanjay dying. Hemorrhaging from eyes, ears, nose.

I watch and smile as the bottom falls out of her world, and she crashes to the linoleum in an awkward heap. She doesn’t cry. She won’t for some hours. Her mother watches through the window with a lazy smile. She says two words, words only I hear because I am the only one listening. ” She turns away, turns her back on her daughter, turns her back on the meat beyond the window. She hikes up the fur collar of her coat, surrounding her face in softness. As she walks away, she looks at me, looks right at me—hits me with a wide, immaculate grin, red around white—and I get the unsettling feeling that she knows exactly who I am, and why I’m here.

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