Agnes Mallory

Agnes Mallory by Andrew Klavan Read Free Book Online

Book: Agnes Mallory by Andrew Klavan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew Klavan
don’t mind saying, to find that it was a momentary thing. When I wrapped my hand around the cold metal handle of the Caddy door and raised my eyes one last time suspiciously, I could see that the order of the sky’s distance and substantiality had been re-established, thank you very much, by the gradual appearance overhead of Vega in Lyra, the night’s first star.

For each of three Fridays thereafter you could find me, just before dusk, Shwinning down Piccadilly, clean out of my way. Not confessing it, but looking for her. Just passing by, you understand, but secretly calculating the proper hour for voodoo ghost-sister drownings – on the chance it might be a regular sort of thing with her, you see. I would lay my bike down on a lawn and wander in there, in among the trees behind the houses. Peek in at the stream, do a quick study up and down of the sun-pocked strand. Just popped in to guzzle some serenity, I’d tell myself, searching the snarled branches for her and the shade under the budding leaves. Just here for an aftertaste of the transcendental blast, nothing to do with monkey-face. Oh, but I was undeniably intrigued. Well, I had no overview of it, no perspective on that alchemic pinch of zen she’d dropped in my nine-year-old pudding. Nine years old; Jesus – I hadn’t even grasped the truths that would later crumble around me. I hadn’t seen her deflated corpse at the roiling river’s edge, or sleep-walked into corruption day by dreamy day like anyone. I didn’t know I was like anyone, like everyone. I had the strangest feeling that all this, this life business, was happening specifically to me .
    Anyhow, she never showed. I biked home each Friday, secretly disappointed, secretly relieved. And the only new wrinkle in the Harry universe I can remember was the occasional laying aside of a daydream or so during the walk to school those weeks; a stern, forced, philosophical converse or two with the heavens as I tried to recover that weird, vivid sensation that had hit me that twilight after our first talk. Then I’d drop it, start to dream again – dreaming about this purge of mine. Wondering: wouldn’t it be more interesting if when the population came before King Harry to be judged, they were naked? The women especially. If they had to parade up to me like the girls in Freddy’s father’s magazines. Naked and pink and trembling …
    Just a thought, you understand. And on I’d bounce up Bunker Hill.
    The next week I gave up the search and – wouldn’t you know it – bumped right into her. I was pedaling home from a ballgame down Plymouth Road, where she shouldn’t have been. But there, in fact, she was, walking along on the sidewalk up ahead of me. Marching behind her chin like any stuck-up schoolgirl, her braids going tick-tock behind her neck. It gave me quite a start to realize that it was she.
    Coolly, nevertheless, I continued to bike up the street. I rattled past her – then faked a double-take and put on the brakes.
    â€˜Hey, aren’t you that girl who makes figures?’ I asked as she reached me. I pretended to search my memory. ‘Agnes, right?’
    â€˜Oh yes,’ she chirped primly. ‘I remember you. You’re Harry, Mr Bernard’s son. I have to get home by sundown,’ she added, to explain why she kept on walking.
    I pedaled along beside her slowly, wrestling the handlebars as my front wheel wobbled. ‘Are you, like, religious or something?’
    â€˜No. Well, we light the candles. But then only my father goes to temple. He says I can decide for myself when I grow up.’
    I nodded – and conversation lagged. This wasn’t the sort of talk I wanted to hear from her, and I couldn’t think of anything to add to it. I considered telling her how I’d overheard my mother say religion was all hooey, but that didn’t seem very polite …
    â€˜Uh …’ I

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