Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Night Shift: in which Kelly’s phonograph plays until it can’t.

Kelly carefully Scotch-taped a nickel to the top of the cheap plastic stylus of a 20-year-old turntable. 

There. Play now.

Without the added ounces of weight, the stylus drifted free of the grooves of the 33⅓  Firestone Christmas album, its diamond needle randomly floating from song to song. Perry Como suddenly joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer jumped gracelessly into the midst of The Hallelujah Chorus.

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Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The Morning After: in which Elmore lets his twins play in a wonderland.

Bang! Bangbangbang!

Morning.

Loud morning.

The fisted blows on the thin front door cruelly woke Elmore. Startled, he suddenly relived for the hundredth time a rooftop tumble, a long fall, and a moment his body slammed hard against the ground. All night long, he’d fallen from a roof and broken, over and over and over. The bad re-runs and his throbbing rib had left him mostly sleepless.

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Mr. Wood: in which a rich man entertains a well-dressed guest.

The desk phone rang once.  

Mr. Wood knew the signal. He’d waited for hours, working very late in his office, passing the time.  

The fringed arm of his jacket stretched across a vast executive desk, its surface a polished mirror. The reflection of a gold-nugget button on his sleeve flashed somewhere deep in the dark walnut.  

The glint of a firefly.

His huge right hand pressed a button.  

Her voice sounded odd, distant, on this snowy night. A wasp trapped in a bottle.

“Why, Mr. Wood. What a nice surprise on this cold, snowy evening…”

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Kelly: in which the Black Warrior River sirens a song

Kelly Rogers – she had kept his name – guided the green Volkswagen Beetle foot by slippery foot up the driveway. What a ragged noise the engine made on such a still, strange night. Like a giant sewing machine under a turtle shell.

The VW wheels slurred in the snow and lost purchase at the very top of the unpaved steep place that crested out onto the county road. She pressed the accelerator sharply. After a moment, the little vehicle valiantly eased ahead, tires catching on what should have been blacktop. Tonight, it was whitetop. An unblemished carpet of snow completely covered County Road 11.

It crossed Kelly’s mind to turn back, just reverse down the drive, kill the engine, yank the parking brake, retrace her path to the concrete-block steps, and reenter the cheap metal mobile home. That would be easy, safe. She could put something in the toaster. She could listen to the record player. She could take a pill and go to sleep. 

Again. 

But tonight she wanted to see the river. 
 

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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Will and Mary: in which twins watch Alabama turn white

The twins pressed almost identical faces to the icy windowpanes of Mrs. Mock’s imprisoning house. 

Snow would be general all over Alabama tonight. But to Will and Mary the only snow that existed in all the world fell just there, almost within reach – on the distant side of a cold window glass.  

The storm hit hard and fast, a shock to Alabama towns and people that only witnessed the white miracle every five years or so. 

Who knew what to do?

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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

THE BLACK FOREST: In Which We Meet Ultimate Evil... 

A pretty postcard.  The dark trees stand still to put on robes, arms raised like obedient children.  Their green sleeves slowly whiten.  Snow settles over the Black Forest.  Here’s a stone cottage, hidden from any traveler.  In its derelict, frost-clumped front garden, a weathered wooden statue of a boy greets visitors....

 

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