sequel to The Only Gift




chapter 40 ~ She Dreams a Little and Feels the Dark 

Through rivers of veins on the nameless quest
The tide of my life goes hurriedly sweeping,
Till it reaches that curious wheel o’ the breast,
The human heart, which is never at rest …


Stuart knows a place, Kanin had reported. 

He’d known then … known where they were going, the ramble they would take, where they would meet Noah and Stuart and Mouse for the final trek, the turn-by-turn directions Kanin read out unnecessary. His feet knew the way … as did his heart.


Stuart raised his torch, illuminating a vertical cleft in the wall. At its jagged edge, shoulder-high, a ghostly message gleamed, pale under the dust of years.

NB – SA – V 1968

“Remember the day we found this place?”

“How could I forget?” Vincent traced the fine grooves nicked into the stone, brushed clear the three red handprints. The first summer without Devin.


Father had tried, as had Mary, to convince him that in time, the pain would lessen, but their eyes belied their words. His last suffered week seemed as raw a wound as the first. He was lonely and so he’d jumped at the chance when the invitation came to spend the summer with friends in the northern community, boys his age whose company he’d always welcomed … 

But … 

Not Devin. 

Yet it had helped, being there. (Here, his consciousness interjected.) Noah’s grandfather had spent hours with them, telling stories of the old country, playing games. Leo even devised a daily exercise routine for the boys, swearing  if they kept at it, they’d have ‘guns’ one day, like his old friend George, the man he called the Russian Lion.1 And the food was good, better than good. Noah’s mother – Stuart’s, too – kept the cookie jar full, and there was always a cake right out on the table, already sliced, thickly so, for the taking. Seconds at supper were presumed – as long as they’d first downed their vegetables. And on Friday nights he had a taste of wine in a tiny silver cup.


They’d been ‘gardening’ that afternoon of discovery, boomingly ordered out of chambers by Stuart’s father, home early from his job above, who claimed, with a smile for the boys and a wink aimed over their shoulders, that he desperately needed a nap. Behind them, Stuart’s mother strangled on a laugh, and when they turned to look, her face was rose-red and she flapped a brown paper bag in the air. Soon the boys were off, armed with a knapsack stuffed with snacks, a hand-drawn map and instructions to clear the stones and loose material from the winding route she’d marked. They’d strayed, of course, veering into side passages, through crawls and into fissures so confined that at their dead-ends, they’d had to back out without turning around. But one fissure passage didn’t take them to a wall of rock. One opened to a room of wonders that took their breath away.


Now Noah led the four followers – single-file and torches aloft – through the narrow rift to a stairway cut into a close-quarters shaft. Mouse, last in line, had lagged, raced, and lagged again on the journey, but once at the steps, he wedged ahead. “Neat,” he declared, squeezing past, “neat, neat, neat,” leaving Vincent to bring up the rear of the march.

The wind at his back, its whispering song a medley of children’s voices chortling with adventure, with memory, Vincent agreed. It was neat.

“What were we? Twelve? Thirteen?” Stuart stopped and turned. The flares danced light and shadows over the sharp planes of his cheeks, and his teeth, bared in a grin, gleamed white as the walls. “Crazy, wasn’t it … to discover a whole warren of rooms nobody’d never seen before. Dad swore he knew nothing about them. Still swears it.”

Vincent chuckled. For a moment, he saw the round-faced boy who, on these same steps years ago, had danced foot to foot, impatient and apprehensive at once, waiting while he’d … listened, until he’d given the all clear. “We ran home determined to gather a lifetime of supplies. It took us half a dozen trips to drag all our … necessities … this far.”

“It was great, wasn’t it? Camping out nearly the whole summer? And the next one too. I couldn’t wait for that last class of spring, knowing you guys finished school a week before we did up here.” Stuart shook his head and adjusted the strap of his toolkit. “I still say it’d make a fine home. Why nobody ever claimed it …”

“I thought perhaps you and Wren …”

“Too far from her work,” Stuart answered, as they began again to climb. “And besides, she took one look and said it was a little creepy.”


Stuart laughed over his shoulder. “I know. I don’t get it either.”


The group emerged from the stairwell to a high, domed chamber. On one side, a long table and bench were cut from a shelf of solid granite and a deep, armed chair – a throne to a young boy – was sculpted at its head. At that first sighting years ago, Noah and Stuart had set down their lanterns and raced for the seat, each determined to reign over an imaginary legion, bumping and shoving, calling out Dibs!  He’d wanted a turn himself and could have darted past them while they argued, but feigning interest in the perimeter architecture, lighting the torches he found heaped on the floor, stabbing them into gashes in the stone, he waited until his companions abandoned the chair for another amazement to settle into it, holding for a boyish moment his own sovereign sway.

Two decades later, its puzzle yet unsolved, the chamber still pulsed with myth and mystery. A stone cauldron loomed in the center of the room, dark and echoey. The walls were riddled with vents. Familiar laughter rang from a deep place, and though Mouse was nowhere to be seen, his conversation, both sides in his voice, carried to the main chamber through the funneling ducts. 

On the opposite wall, the two fat pillars still stood, reaching floor to ceiling and framing a dark, arched foyer cut with a keyhole-shaped doorway – narrow at the bottom and wider at the top – and two mirroring windows. A checkerboard design decorated the columns and the facade of the structure, the ochre-red paint only a bit less vivid than Vincent had described it – in story – to Kipper, to Geoffrey. I must bring them here. And Devin … He never saw it. 

Arms crossed, for a moment closing his eyes, he leaned against the wall near the entry.  Something nudged, a … feeling … a touch, light and warm on the back of his neck. Catherine? He listened, and though the singing wind had faded away, though the air was still, he heard her voice, a word of bright surprise … Oh!

Noah lit the torches stored now in a wooden crate, setting each again into its angled notch. Having deposited his rolled maps and crate of tools on the table, already Kanin leaned into the opening, his hands gripping the stone doorframe, a burning lantern at his feet. He groped for the wire bail and disappeared, shadows dancing on the foyer walls with each swing of his lamp. Vincent turned to his companions; they grinned and nodded. Stuart held up three fingers, then two, then one …

“Hey!” Kanin called from within the next chamber. “You gotta see this!”


* * *

“Lady? You okay in there?”

Catherine looked up, blinking. A man leaned in the open rear door of the car, his shaggy white brows knit over eyes narrowed in concern. The cabbie, it registered. Behind him, granite and limestone walls rose high overhead, and at his feet, in the gutter, a plastic cup eddied in a slow current of water, the drain clogged by a litter of leaves and styrofoam. A horn blared. She winced at the metal-to-metal squeal of brakes.

“We’re here already?”

“Lotsa people say that,” the driver agreed, offering a gallant hand over the murky water. “It’s a trance or something. You know … how ya can’t remember fixin’ dinner or mowin’ the grass, but …” He shrugged.

“Guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t driving,” Catherine said, pulling twenties from her wallet.

“You didn’t feel that pot hole? Right before the Williamsburg Bridge? I figured I’d popped a tire.” He jabbed a thumb over his shoulder. “If you know people in there, maybe you could file a complaint. There’s a pothole committee, yeah? Committee for everything these days.”

Laughing, she pocketed her receipt. “Can I pay you for the newspaper? I’d like to keep this part.”

He waved away her offer, rewarding her with a smile, tall teeth under a droopy mustache. “Yesterday’s news … or it will be. Somethin’ in it for ya, you keep it.”

“Thanks for– ” she began, her words lost to the slammed door and the restless, eager motor. Though it was her fancy, in the glare of breaking sun the cab seemed to shimmer in place, the yellow of it flaring like torch-flame.

What time is it?  A turn of her wrist confirmed her suspicions. That late! Joe. Joe will

She shook her head and closed her eyes, leaning back into the corner of the elevator.  There’s so much … so much I need to tell you, Vincent. If only Joe’s trick were truly magic, if she could but press the particular configuration of buttons that would take her down and down, if only the doors would open to candlelight and his waiting arms.

A trance, the driver called it.

She wanted it back.


In the hallway, Rita fell into step with her, reeling off updates and urgencies, oblivious to her half-smile of shammed concentration. Martin gave me the wish bite! she wanted to shout. I made a wish! It’s all that matters! Can’t you see? She reached into her pocket for the angle scope, her fingers closing on the warm polished wood. It was a talisman, her touchstone. In it secret power is hidden. Love himself has made it thine. And under the volley of words, at the battery of deadlines and roadblocks, the wonders of the last hours refused to dim.


Joe’s door was open, but at first she didn’t see him. His chair was turned and tipped forward, his weight at the edge as he hunched over a bottom drawer, his shoulders just visible above his desk. One of the interns stood nearby, a cardboard box in her arms. Without looking up, Joe deposited package after package into the carton, depleting what she knew to be his closely-guarded snack stash. Catherine sidled into the room and settled on the arm of his couch.

“That’s it.” He shoved the drawer closed and righted his chair, pulled a yellow pad to the middle of his desk, flipping the page with authority and bending studiously to it.

Umm, Mr. Maxwell?” The intern rattled the box and pointed at the drawer. “Twizzlers? Back corner?”

Joe sighed and dragged the drawer open again.

Catherine rose and closed the door after the nearly-giddy young woman’s departure. “The entire shop will be on a week-long sugar high,” she said. “Did you just make an Economy Candy run?”

Joe shrugged and drummed a gnarled pencil on his blotter.

“At least have the decency to blush,” she chided. “Did you really give her everything? The Peanut Butter Bars? The Hot Tamales? The Big Hunks too? Was it a bribe? What’s going on?” She edged around his desk. “Wait a minute,” she crowed, lifting a tented folder with her forefinger, exposing a clear plastic container, empty save for a thin round of cucumber and a smudge of dressing clinging to the side. “A salad for lunch? What’s next? Granola?” She paused and gave him an appraising look. “You know, you’re cute when you’re … interested.”

“Yeah, yeah, Radcliffe. That’s right. Make fun.” Though he grinned, the muscle of his jaw bunched and the pencil rapped faster and louder against the desk. “Just trying to, you know, improve myself.

Catherine reached out, covering his hand with hers. “Joe, you have to know … you’re perfect, just as you are. You’re smart, thoughtful …

“Don’t forget. Well-read.”

She laughed. “I haven’t. I won’t. You have a good heart, a true and generous heart. It’s what I love about you.”

Joe drew in a sharp breath, letting it out with a slow, hitching whistle. “Thanks, Cathy.” His lopsided grin widened.  “But I gotta know … am I a hunk?”

“Totally.” She nodded. “A big hunk.”

“So.” He leaned back in his chair and kicked away from his desk. “What d’ya get from Queens. Anything we can use? Any leads at all?”


Half an hour later, the burnished glow of her mood had dulled. The questioning in Queens offered little upon dissection, but side by side at Joe’s desk, they scanned a stack of interviews and statements, real estate transactions, filings of title and deeds and taxes, determined to relate the informant’s vague and meandering story to one strand of hard evidence. The last document turned in their first fruitless pass, a creased photograph greeted them, a polaroid of a younger, smiling Mr. Haas, this time standing under the green-striped awning of his flower shop, broom in hand. Catherine dragged it closer, worried the deckled edge of the paper.  Her throat burned.

“What happened to him … I can’t bear it. This store … his grandfather started it. He grew up in it. It belongs to him! He has so much to look forward to. He has grandchildren now and his daughter told me he’d just adopted a little dog. His first.”

Joe tossed down his pencil. “LeMire’s teflon-coated. He’s buying property right out in the open, in his own name. No holding companies, no partnerships. Just anonymous pressure.”

“Somebody else is doing all his dirty work.”

“Yeah, but who? Feels like we’ve missed something, you know? Like it’s right here and we–” He broke off and looked away. “Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just …”

“He’s an eel. You said it yourself.” She closed the file, rapped it against the table and opened another. “We’ll start over tomorrow. You’ll take the taxes. I’ll do the deeds. Then we’ll swap. Let’s look at this now. You think we can make Andy’s case for a wiretap?”


The office din – its white noise – had quieted. Bands of bronze-gold slatted the desk, a triumph of late afternoon sun. Her long-tested concentration wavered; her pulse sounded in her ear.  She eyed the door.

“I gotta have some coffee.” Groaning, Joe rotated his shoulders and arched his back. “How about you?”

She shuddered at the imagined bitterness of the break-room brew so long in the pot, welcoming the excuse to get up, to get away. “I could use some fresh air,” she said. “Why don’t I run out for some. The coffee shop’s still open. Or maybe the cart’s out front.” Gideon might be stationed on the street corner, his saxophone case open at his feet. Perhaps Billy would glide by, a hand outstretched for her palmed message. Father deserved some notice that she’d not be down for supper or tea after all. Work, she’d tell him. 

And …Vincent. She had to see him. 

Soon, her heart shepherded. 

She pushed away from the desk, an urgency in the propelling, but not before the littered terrain of Joe’s office swam into focus. An obstacle course of open drawers. A fortress of folders. A toppled tower of security tapes like a tripwire across the floor. Work was real. A grasping demand determined to hold her fast. The necessary hours before her rubbed at her determination, erasing her design of exodus. It might be midnight before she could leave the building and Woodlawn seemed half a world– 

“Great idea. I’ll go with you.”

She turned in the doorway, a frantic protest just contained. Joe was still at his coat rack, slowed by his struggle with a bunched jacket sleeve. When the telephone buzzed and blinked, she backed a surreptitious step away, poised to whirl and sprint for the lobby while he was occupied with the call.

“Joe Maxwell.”

She saw him pale, saw his larynx bob, his eyes close.

“What?” she whispered.

“Yeah,” Joe said into the receiver. “Yeah, I heard you. Thanks. Thanks for letting us know. No, she’s right here. Yeah, I’ll tell her.” He dumped the receiver back on its cradle and dropped into his chair. Both elbows on his desk, he buried his hands in his hair.

“What is it, Joe? Tell me.”

“Phan’s place? The restaurant? It burned.”

No! When?”

“This morning. Some kind of explosion. Gas, maybe … but they’re thinking it was torched. The fire …” Joe raised his head. “Cathy, they found … remains.”

She pressed hard at her sternum against an icy dread.

“Three–” He broke off … tried again with strangled breath. “Three … bodies. So far. Two … two kids, they think.”

“Children? Joe, are they Phan’s children?”

“They don’t know. They don’t know anything yet.”

“Are there witnesses? Has anybody come forward? Someone had to see–”

“You’re kidding, right? It’s the great wall of silence. Nobody’s gonna take the chance–”

“That Phan took.” Catherine sank to the sofa and rocked forward, her arms crossed at her stomach. “This is my fault.”

“No, Cathy.” Joe shot from his chair, barreling around his desk to crouch before her. “You begged him to take protection. I’m the one who brow-beat him into testifying.”

“He came to us, Joe. And you did just the opposite. You warned him of the danger. I was there. Before he told us anything, you insisted he think it over – the ramifications, the risks. When he didn’t show for the hearing, when we couldn’t find him, I thought maybe … I hoped he’d taken his family away for a while.”

“Maybe he did. We don’t know–”

“They’re somebody’s kids, Joe! Even if–”

The telephone burred again, a sting she felt in her clenched teeth. Joe snatched it up,

“Maxwell,” he snapped, stretching the coils from the cord. His shoulders sagged. Without another word, he returned the receiver to its base.

“That was Andy,” he said, his voice gray and graveled. “Rupert Haas died an hour ago. It’s murder now. We know who did it and we can’t prove a damn thing!” Joe swiped the phone off his desk. From the heap at the wall, the dial tone yowled. 

“I hate this job sometimes.” He seemed to wilt, slumping to the couch beside her, shaking his head no, unable … unwilling … to lift his gaze from the floor.

So do I, she thought, lacing her fingers with his. The sun pressed at the window, the slant of light bringing on shadows. High on the wall, the clock ticked; the building sighed and shifted toward evening. Hemmed in so, she could take no steps; her hands met solid brick, no finger-holds, no chinks.  The available air was dust and sadness. “I just don’t know what to do next.”

“Me either. This day has turned to crap.” He looked at his watch. “Why don’t you go on home.”

“Now? But …” She surveyed the disordered room. There seemed no fix for it. “What about you?”

“I think I’m gonna go to the gym. You know, compartmentalize this whole sack of–” His tone softened. “Go on, Cathy. Get outta here before something else happens. Tomorrow … well, we’ll see what we’ve got then.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.” He sat for a moment, his attention riveted on his hands clasped between his knees, then rose and stood at the door. She saw it in his face, that too-familiar wash of puzzlement and sadness, leeching his color, deepening the lines, dulling his eyes …

Leave me now.

Joe’s door snicked shut after his ushering. The blinds see-sawed down and behind them, the office went dark. More than a moment passed before she could even begin to leave him. 

She had just turned the corner to her desk when she heard the rattle of the doorknob and his quick step behind her.

“Cathy, wait. You forgot this.” He held a crumpled fold of newspaper in one hand, the other pulling free his loosened tie. “It was jammed between the cushions. The real estate section … You thinking of moving?”

Why couldn’t she say yes? Why couldn’t she drag him to a table, spread the page before him, point to the ad she’d found far below the fold, a two-inch square of hope, bordered in dreams. Would he read the words serpentine stone, original windows, 109 years old and see only an onslaught of masons and electricians and plumbers. Or would he understand that secret garden meant freedom, that English basement meant entry. That significant investment necessary was nothing compared to the possibilities. 

Save me, the ad read …

“Thanks.” She tucked the pages under her arm, unwilling to deny the truth. There was a beat of silence. Another …

“Oh, yeah,” Joe said, dragging his hand through his hair. “Jenny called earlier, looking for you. I told her you’d be here tonight. She said she’s taking you to dinner. Sorry, Cath. I forgot to tell you.”

“That’s okay. Maybe I can catch her before she–”

The elevator groaned to a halt and the doors opened. A draft rushed the room, the chill of it unrelieved by the peal of Jenny’s laughter or its husky counterpart.

“Cathy,” she warbled. “You still here?”

Jenny danced the aisle between the rows of desks, Ned a step behind. Her broad smile trumpeted News, but a prickly feeling crawled Catherine’s skin, half frustration – I … can’t. I need to go … and half … something else. Was it readiness? Resignation?

Things fall apart … 

The thought, unbidden, unwelcome.

“Or maybe not.” Joe backed away, an attempt at his wry smile showing on his face. “And, uhhh, Eimear called too, I told her the same thing, to come on by. I know, I know. I’m a terrible secretary. I put a message on your desk though. Or somewhere.”

The centre cannot hold …3

* * *


“We need the new place at the boundary. Not just for its entry.” Stuart stroked his chin. “Dominic and Sal say they can zone for two two-bedrooms above the shop. We’ll still be able to use that efficiency at Dix’s, you know, but we can’t put more than two names on it. Code and all. We can’t use their third-floor apartment, ‘cause when Dix and Brenda finish the renovation, they’re gonna move over from Riverdale, and there’s five of us right now needing legit addresses.”

“For cover.” Kanin nodded his understanding.

“Yeah, for work stuff … mail, taxes. And sometimes we have to be, well, home. People we work with ask where we live, wanna drop by. We all play it real low-key, but we gotta tell them something sometimes.”

“So these apartments … they’ll be empty? Couldn’t Sal and Dix rent them out? They have to need the money.”

“Not empty. Between us, now, we pay for the efficiency over the print shop and we’ll do the same for Sal once those apartments are finished, but Sal’s kids will actually move in, be there if somebody shows up unannounced at the door.” Stuart laughed. “Aniela’s thinking to move from Queens; maybe she’ll take one. Woodlawn’s a step closer to Damien anyway.”

“And several steps out from under Dom’s oversight,” Noah added. “He’ll blow a gasket.”

“And then help her move,” Vincent said.

Kanin turned to the maps spread across the stone table, the force of his concentration soon a physical tide in the room. With both arms braced, Vincent leaned in and followed Kanin’s thoughts, traveling the maze of corridors … closing, flooding, redirecting a dozen crossing paths on half as many levels. Perhaps a second before Kanin touched a finger to the map, Vincent saw the plan himself – an efficient plan, easy on the workers, on their resources and materials, a way to leave Sal’s doorway accessible – yet Martin’s would still be lost.

“There is … Might we …” he began. Beside him, Mouse shifted on his feet. A nudge would be coming next. “I … Catherine and I … have a friend with an entry in Woodlawn. He lives here.”


Once the new plans were firmed, Mouse was no less enthused to leave the mysterious rooms. “Stuff to do!” he crowed, addressing the chamber. “Be back soon!” 

At the stairwell, Stuart and Noah let Mouse dart ahead. “Neat, neat, better than neat,” they heard as the trio’s thudding tread died away.

Kanin shook his head. “That kid. Is he always so happy?”

“No,” Vincent said and smiled.

The first map rolled to a tube, Kanin tied it closed with a bit of string and started a second. “Last night … when we were waiting for you, Mouse and I, at the base of those steps … I mean, it wasn’t a Helper’s entrance. I knew that much. But I didn’t think …”

That I had friends of my own? There was a sting to the truth. Without speaking, Vincent began to douse the torches behind the table.

“Wait on that, will you?” Kanin reached out, then dropped his hand. “You should have just said something, Vincent, this morning, back at camp when I first suggested cutting out all that territory.”

“Your initial plan was … effective.”

“That didn’t make it the best plan or the only. Why didn’t you speak up?”

A long, silent moment passed before Vincent spoke. “Do you remember, once, after a game of scatterbase, you handed me a towel and said ‘you hold back’?”

Kanin shrugged. “Kinda. Scatterbase was a long time ago.”

Vincent held out his hands, palms up, fingers spread, curling then to fists. Torchlight glinted off his nails.

Kanin’s gaze rose to meet his. “I understand. But … is that really working for you? And it makes everybody else have to guess.”

Vincent’s laugh was a bark of surprise and he offered his outstretched arm. Enough, the handshake said. Accepted.

But neither made efforts to gather their packs or tools or their canteens. Kanin busied with clearing the corner of the table, turning to rest against it. The maps were rowed side by side. With his palm, Kanin idly rolled them back and forth.

“This place … does it belong to anyone?”

“Why do you ask?”

“I haven’t spent any time in the north, not since Levon left. It’s different here.”

“It’s our frontier. The ways more uncharted.” Vincent settled into the stone chair. “The community more independent.”

“Yeah. Not so …”


“Exactly.” Kanin stared at his shoes, scuffed one against the other.

“Are you thinking of moving?” He watched a storm of answers move across Kanin’s features. “Would you ask Olivia to move here?”

“Do you think she would? Not for always, but until– To see if I … if we can …”

“The rooms are magnificent, but the … privacy … would be most helpful to you both.”

“I think Olivia might need to yell at me.”

“She never once showed anger while you were away.”

Kanin rubbed the back of his neck. “You don’t believe she wasn’t, do you? That she’s not mad as hell now?” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “Trust me. There’s a thing or two she needs to say to me.”

“And you need to hear it … without everyone else hearing it.”

“When I was a kid,” Kanin said, his voice low, “my mom kept this chart on the refrigerator. If we did good in school – my sister and my brothers and I – if we did our chores or our homework without her nagging, we got a gold star. Then on Fridays, when my dad came home, we’d group in the kitchen, compare ourselves.” Kanin sighed. “I hated it when my line of stars was the shortest.” He traced a gouge in the table with his thumb. “Not sure where that came from.”

Vincent shrugged away any judgement.

“You were awfully quiet there at the end,” Kanin went on, “after we figured out how to leave your friend’s entry open. You seemed to, I don’t know, drift off.”

Vincent tipped his head, willing Kanin to meet his gaze. “You’re right. My attention divided,” he admitted. “There are times when Catherine’s emotions overwhelm my own, as if they become my feelings. Something has happened. Earlier she was … inspirited. But now she’s discouraged, troubled. She needs me …” He spread his hands again, looking from one to the other. And I cannot go to her. She is strong, but what she bears this day, she bears alone. I’m … too far away to help her.”

Kanin made a small noise, a rueful grunt. “I know that feeling.”

All the anger he’d felt at Kanin’s stubborn resistance, the incredulousness … the strange jealousy … dissipated. The long speech prepared in hours of solitude faded from memory. “I think you are too far away from yourself.”

Nodding, Kanin blew out a long breath.

He rose and stood close, his hand on Kanin’s arm. “My friend above … Martin … can help you. You can tell him all your truths, the ugly and the beautiful. He will hear you, see you. He’ll help you see you are not this man or the other, but one man.” Both hands to Kanin’s shoulders, Vincent gave him a small shake. “Olivia is losing hope. You have to do something, before there’s nothing left for either of you.”




Chapter title: Wallace Stevens. Sunday Morning. 1923.

Opening quotation: Ella Wheeler Wilcox. The Wheel of the Breast. From Poems of Passion. 1883.


  1. George Hackenschmidt – the Russian Lion
  2. Alexander Pushkin. The Talisman. 1827.
  3. William Butler Yeats. The Second Coming. 1920.


  1. “There is … Might we …” he began. Beside him, Mouse shifted on his feet. A nudge would be coming next. “I … Catherine and I … have a friend with an entry in Woodlawn. He lives here.”

    Vincent ASKS!!

    My goodness, Carole, this chapter takes us on a rollercoaster — from Catherine’s joy after her unexpected meeting with Martin and the promise of that real estate listing in the paper to the horrible reality of the case she and Joe are trying to build against LeMire, the death of Mr. Haas, and the possibility of Phan and his children having perished in a fire — from Vincent’s memories of a long-ago discovery with his friends of a hidden set of rooms Below to the reality of Kanin’s practical plan to cut off a large swath of territory that would save them lots of time and effort but close off access to Martin’s garden.

    And then — Vincent ASKS for one small thing for himself!!! (With Mouse ready to nudge him if he doesn’t. How I do LOVE Mouse!)

    And finally, the conversation with Kanin that takes quite a different direction than Vincent anticipated — a better direction and one far less confrontational that Vincent expected, I’m guessing.

    Throughout, you give us the sense of forces at work, events agreeing or conspiring, the reaching out and pulling back of thought and will. Even though nothing of note “happens,” there is still so much happening in the background with Catherine’s case and with the work going on Below. We can feel that we’re following the individual cogs in a great machine or vortex taking us to a barely glimpsed place of promise.

    MORE, please!



    • I can’t thank you enough for reading, Karen. And for finding the soul of this chapter. You’re right – nothing much happens in this one, yet, it’s a calm before a few storms and revelations and, indeed, a cog-advance of changes. I’m so grateful you’re here. Your support makes me want to keep at this story.

      big hugs!

  2. I have to disagree with the idea that nothing much happens in this chapter. There are conclusions drawn, new paths about to be taken, new perspectives and understandings established, dealing in realities rather than possibilities — and those are all in just one scene between Vincent and Kanin.

    Then there is Catherine, pushed ever closer to the brink, to the point where she must resolve the ever-escalating conflicts and fragmentation in her life. We hear her begin to express the reality of her conflict, to break it down to the essentials, and we see her move closer and closer to the inevitable.

    And Joe, trying, not unlike Vincent and Catherine and Kanin, to walk two discrete paths in life, beginning to realize choices must be made, which will involve immense changes in his life.

    So, imo, quite a lot is happening in this chapter!

    And as always, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    • Thank you, Linda! This is a bit of a transition chapter, as you put it – a lot of “closer to the brink” steps being taken/forced. Changes are afoot for all the characters. I feel so much for Joe, too, never quite the focus of the actual show, yet someone so like Vincent – as Catherine says, he has the same heart. He’s important!

      What’s about to come (for Catherine) generated, in its original posting years ago, some controversy, causing one reader to ‘strike me off her list’ forever! (I still absolutely believe the situation was told to us in canon, so I’m only imagining the spaces between the lines.) I know that’s a bit of a foretelling cliff-hanger, if such a thing exists, so I’d better get to editing on the coming chapters and get them up!

  3. God, I freakin’ love this story. The way you create lives and places, the wonderous and the horrible, is breathtaking. It’s all there for us to bask in, to immerse in. I believe every word in my bones.

    Thank you for this. It is truly a labor of love. <3

    • Ahhh, Karen, you do my writer’s heart good. I’m stunned but so encouraged. Your words make me feel like I can do this. Thank you for, well, everything.



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