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datatime: 2022-09-29 20:11:38 Author:JgbCgZjN

Mort Rainey stood there urinating and thought about secret windows and secret gardens; he thought about those who might own the latter and those who might look through the former. He thought about the fact that the magazine he needed to prove a certain fellow was either a lunatic or a con man had just happened to bum up on the very evening he had tried to get his hands on it. He thought about the fact that his ex-wife's lover, a man he cordially detested, had come from a town called Shooter's Knob and that Shooter happened to be the pseudonym of the aforementioned loony-or-con-man who had come into Mort Rainey's life at the exact time when the aforementioned Mort Rainey was beginning to grasp his divorce not just as an academic concept but as a simple fact of his life forever after. He even thought about the fact that 'John Shooter' claimed to have discovered Mort Rainey's act of plagiarism at about the same time Mort Rainey had separated from his wife.

Pissing and thinking have a lot in common, he thought, climbing out of the car and unzipping his fly. You can put them both off... but not forever.

They shook hands all around and left Strick and Evans to write reports. It was well past one, and Ted asked Mort if he'd like to have some lunch with him and Amy. Mort shook his head.

Ted laughed heartily. 'A long way from there, Mort. I grew up in Tennessee. A little town called Shooter's Knob, Tennessee.'

'Even the wine,' he said to Evans. 'Even that.'

Evans offered her his handkerchief. She shook her head and bent over the fist with Mort again.

Mort drove back to Tashmore Lake with his hands clamped to the steering wheel, his spine as straight as a ruler, and his eyes fixed firmly on the road. He played the radio loud and concentrated ferociously on the music each time he sensed telltale signs of mental activity behind the center of his forehead. Before he had made forty miles, he felt a pressing sensation in his bladder. He welcomed this development and did not even consider stopping at a wayside comfort-station. The need to take a whizz was another excellent distraction.

'I will.' He rose, hand outstretched. 'This is always a nasty business. I'm sorry you two had to go through it.'

He half-expected Amy to ask him to change his mind, but she didn't. 'Drive safe,' she said, and planted a chaste kiss on the corner of his mouth. 'Thanks for coming, and for being so ... so reasonable about everything.'

She shook her head, smiling a little, and took Ted's hand. If he had been looking for a message, this one was much too clear to miss.

'Is there anything else?' Mort asked Evans.

They shook hands all around and left Strick and Evans to write reports. It was well past one, and Ted asked Mort if he'd like to have some lunch with him and Amy. Mort shook his head.

'You're not,' Amy said. A single tear rolled down her cheek and she wiped it absently away.

'Yes.' He wrote it down for Evans. 'Please get in touch if I can help.'

Ten minutes later it was finished. They signed on the correct lines and Strick witnessed their signatures. Ted Milner showed up only instants later, as if he had been watching the whole thing on some private viewscreen.

'Not now. There may be. Is your number down in Tashmore unlisted, Mr Rainey?'

Answer: It was technically possible.

Mort drove back to Tashmore Lake with his hands clamped to the steering wheel, his spine as straight as a ruler, and his eyes fixed firmly on the road. He played the radio loud and concentrated ferociously on the music each time he sensed telltale signs of mental activity behind the center of his forehead. Before he had made forty miles, he felt a pressing sensation in his bladder. He welcomed this development and did not even consider stopping at a wayside comfort-station. The need to take a whizz was another excellent distraction.

'Can I do anything for you, Amy?'

'Is there anything else?' Mort asked Evans.

'Even the wine,' he said to Evans. 'Even that.'

Ten minutes later it was finished. They signed on the correct lines and Strick witnessed their signatures. Ted Milner showed up only instants later, as if he had been watching the whole thing on some private viewscreen.

Evans offered her his handkerchief. She shook her head and bent over the fist with Mort again.

'You keepin well enough down there?' Ted asked. 'Anything you need?'

She shook her head, smiling a little, and took Ted's hand. If he had been looking for a message, this one was much too clear to miss.

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