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Royce Mullins and The Case of Virtue’s Burn, A Novel Chapter 13 – The Awl – 365读赢及位置_365bet中文客服_亚洲体育365

byJeff?

Hart

Ipokedmyheadoutofaroomthatsmelledofcasualsexintoahallwaywheretheprevailingodorwascasualviolence。

Itwasthesmellofspentadrenaline,thekindofbutt-puckeringpheromonewarningthatsentsmallanimalsscurryingbackintothebrushforcover。

ThetopflooroftheUnfetteredSouls’WellnessCenterhadwitnessedthekindofprimaldischargethatChiefMotivationalistWayneMakerdedicatedbookstosuppressing。

Noneofthesemenhadpausedtotakeadeepbreathandcountbackwardsfrom?

five。

Luckily,I’dbeendowntherabbitholewhentheviolencetookplace,workingonadifferentsortofdischarge。

I’dgottentoknowDarlene,theunwittingsoulmateofmyclientPaulFennel,inwaysbothbiblicalandnot。

I’dusedthefightinthehallwaytoscareherintoagreeingtomeetFennel,andI’dluredthetwomarinesonFennel’stailintocombatwithspiritual-enforcerBoHarkinssothatmeetingcouldhappenwithoutmurderousinterruption。

Everythingwasgoingto?

plan。

Excepttherewasonebodytoofewinthe?

hallway。

“Where’stheotherone?

”I?

asked。

Bywayofreply,BoHarkinspunchedthe?

wall。

Harkinswasstillstanding,butbarely。

Heglaredatme,hisusualmaliceunderminedbyhistent-flaplowerlip。

Itshudderedwitheverywetintakeofbreath,likeascraped-kneechildexpendinggreatefforttobebraveforhisiodine-wavingmother。

“Justhim,”managedHarkins?

“Alone。



Harkins’handsclenchedandunclenched,shorttermmusclememorystuckinaloopofafewmomentsago,whenHarkinshadwrappedhishandsaroundPilgrim’sthroatandtwisted。

Themarinewasstretchedoutonthehallwayfloorinaposesimilartolastnightwhenhe’dmadehimselfcomfortableonmyfuton。

ExceptnowPilgrim’sAdam’sapplejuttedoutatanimpossibleangle,remindingmeofasnakethat’dgottentooambitiouswithitsprey。

IlookedintoPilgrim’sopen,glassyeyes,oneofthemfloodedwithblood,andbrieflyconsideredmymoralculpabilityinhisdemise。

Howresponsiblewas?

I?

Notvery,Idecided。

IwasnomoreresponsibleforPilgrimthanIwasforthecombinationofprayersandChineseindifferencethatcalleddownthetrashcometthatkilledJohntheBulldog。

Atleast,that’swhatItoldmyself。

IfeltasurgeofrelieflookingatPilgrim,temperedonlybythewishthatYossarianwascoolingonUnfetteredcarpetnexttohistitteringsidekick。

“Lookatthis,”groanedHarkins,andspunaroundtoshowmewherePilgrim’sbutterflyknifehung,buriedacoupleinchesintothemeatbetweenhisshoulderblades。

“Hestuck?

me。



Harkinshuggedhimself,hisshakinghandsineffectuallyreachingforthehandleoftheknife。

Pilgrimhadfoundjusttherightspot,inbackscratcherterritory,whereHarkins’graspingfingerswouldneverfindtheright?

angle。

“Youwantmetopullthatout?

Bo?



“WellIdon’twantyoutojustfuckingstareat,”answered?

Harkins。

Butthen,Harkinsrememberedhimself,realizedthatIwasn’texactlyafriendandcertainlynotaguyhewantedwithonehandontheknifealreadyinhisback。

Heturnedtofaceme,madeanefforttostraightenup。

Inoticedhisliphadstopped?

shaking。

“Forgetit,”saidHarkins,sizingmeup。

“You’dprobablyjusttwist?

it。



Iwassavedfromhavingtomutterahalf-heartedprotestbyDarleneemergingfromherroom。

She’dtradedtheblackrobeofaVirtueforahoodedsweatshirtandtightjeans,thefrumpycollegegirllook,farfromthetranscendentalHelenthat’dlaunchedPaulFennel’sdoomedspiritualvoyage。

Nothingscreameddestinylessthanahoodie。

Itwasagoodbreak-upoutfit,thekindofensemblethattoldaconfusedprophetthatyouweren’thissoulmate,thathe’dreadtoomuchintotherashonhischest,thattherewereothersoulsinthe?

sea。

“Holyshit,”shesaid,staringdownatPilgrim’sbody。

“IthinkIknowthis?

guy。



Harkinslungedforward,grabbingmebythearm。

Hehadthewildlookofamanthatwasn’tyetquiteclearonthespecifics,butstillsensedthathe’dbeen?

played。

“Thissomekindofsetup?

Royce?



“We’rejustgoingtotaketheair,”Ireplied。

“I’llbringherright?

back。



“Uh-uh。

Thatwasn’tthedeal,”growledHarkins。

Hisgriptightenedonmyarm,sendingpinsandneedlesthroughmyshoulder,andcausingmetoinvoluntarilyglanceatPilgrim’sbody。

“Neitherofyouisgoinganywhereuntilwesortthis?

out。



Withoutspendingmuchtimeconsideringpossiblealternatives,Ipepper-sprayedHarkins。

Havingneverbeenaspecialistinprotesterdisbursement,noradamsel-in-distressnavigatingadarkalley,I’dneverusedthestuffbefore,butknewenoughtoturnmyownheadaway,toholdmybreath。

Harkinsfelltohisknees,rubbingeyesalreadyswollen,viciouslycoughing。

Amaninmyprofessionknewthiswastheappropriatetimeforaquipbut,asIopenedmymouthtodeliveramoremetaphoricaltwistingoftheknife,aswarmofinvisiblewaspswithstingersdippedincayenneoverwhelmedme,andIstartedcoughingtoo。

Fromhisfrontrowseatintheafterlife,IimaginedJohntheBulldogaboutkeelingoverwithlaughter。

“Jesus,”saidDarlene,shieldingherface。

“Youjustgotme?

fired。



Stillcoughing,Igrabbedherbythehandandbookedittowardtheelevator。

Idraggedherthroughthelobby,outthefireexit,andintothebackalleywhereyesterdayBoHarkinshadsucker-punchedme。

Asthreatened,Harkinshadburnedthetrash。

Thealleystillstunkofit,themorelethalChineseequivalentofmeltedpolystyrenenotdoingmyrawlungsany?

favors。

Consideringthecircumstances,Iwassurprisedtofindmyselfsmiling。

IfIhadn’tbeencoughing,I’dhavebeenlaughingtoo。

Aninexplicablegiddinesshadcomeoverme?

—?

fleeingdangerwhileholdingthehandofawomanIwastemporarilygivingashitabout?

—?

itwasavictoriousfeeling,somethingIwasn’tusedto,awelcomechangeofpace。

IfeltUnfettered。

IonlyreluctantlyreleasedDarlene’shandwhenwemadeittomy?

car。

“Smellslikeshitinhere,”said?

Darlene。

Igrinnedat?

her。

IdroveusoutofMidtown。

Itookacircuitouspaththroughthebusystreets,oneeyepinnedtomyrearviewforanythingthatmightbeatail。

IfYossarianwasoutthere,following,he’dhaveneededahelicoptertokeeptrackofmyevasivemaneuvers。

Satisfiedweweren’tbeingshadowed,IpulledthecaroverablockawayfromtheQueensboroBridgeandaskedtoborrowDarlene’scell?

phone。

“Royce,”answeredDot,onthefirstring。

“Areyoualright?



“Howdidyouknow?

”Iasked,referringtomytech-savvycolleague’spreternaturalcallerID。

“Thisisanew?

phone。



“You’retheonlyonethatcallsthisnumber,”shereplied。

“So,mystery?

solved。



“Notyet,butitwillbewithinthe?

hour。



“Whereare?

you?



“Doesn’tmatter。

It’swhereIwanttobetomorrowthat’simportant。

Canyoumakearrangementstogetmeoutofthecity?

Doesn’tmatterwhere,”Ipaused,considering。

“Me,andmaybetwo?

others。



“Whoarethe?

others?



“Maybenobody,”Ireplied,glancingatDarlenewhodullystaredattheblinkinglightsoftheQueensboro。

“Ormaybetwosoulswillbondandblahblahblah。

Whoknows。

Thenightis?

young。



“Icandothat,”saidDot。

“Yousounddifferent,Royce。



“Likeachanged?

man?



“Likeyou’velost?

it。



“No,”Isaid。

“I’mwinning?

it。



Ihung?

up。

WecrossedtheQueensboroinsilence。

ItwasonlyaswecruisedthelastfewblockstowardFennel’sLongIslandCityhideoutthatitoccurredtometoaskhowDarlenehadknownPilgrim。

Sheshrugged,apparentlynotfeelingmuchsympathyforthedead?

marine。

“Idon’tknow,”shesaid,lightingaNewport。

“Ithinkheservedwithmybrother。



JeffHartlivesinBrooklyn。

HisotherwritingcanbefoundoveratCulture?

Blues。