Crack-Up by Eric Christopherson

Book: Crack-Up by Eric Christopherson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eric Christopherson
John Helms.”
    “There isn’t a trace of it in your system,” she said, shaking the print-out at me.   “You hadn’t been taking it.   Not at all.   Not for weeks at least.”
    “That’s impossible!” I said, snatching the print-out from her hand to see for myself.   “Impossible!”
    “Mister Ward,” she said.   “Do you know the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie?”
    Chapter 14
    “I’m sorry,” I said to Sarah.   An involuntary gulp forced me to pause.   “Sorry to put you—”   She hushed me, kissed me.   Her lips planted on my own felt life-giving, something like emotional CPR, and I felt too the psychic power granted me every so often—not by madness, but by deep and abiding intimacy—to read my wife’s thoughts.   I’d worried that she would see a stranger in me this day—a vile murderer, in fact—but she saw only the same old me, the man she loved, and who loved her, it mattered not what the future would bring, all worries cast aside for now. (Okay, that last part might've been my own wishful thinking.)
    Our kissing continued.   People in the visitor’s room teased us with a chorus of “Wooo!” until we stopped.
    We took adjacent seats on the bench at our round orange table.   We held hands and gazed at each other.   Sarah was dressing her age in a button down lavender blouse with a string of white pearls, her honey-blonde hair pulled back in a bun.   Somehow, the makeup merely highlighted the ebbing of her youth.   I could see new lines embedded in her pretty baby face, wrinkles that looked as if they’d been there for years, not days.   I thought, I could be Rip Van Psycho.   She could be about to tell me Ellie just graduated from Yale .   Instead, she said, “We’re going to get through this, Argus.”
    “Of course we are.”   Suicide was a mad notion to me by now.   Ever since my blood test results.   Now I had the Prozac a mission in life provides—or the rankling desire for revenge.
    We moved to another table to get closer to a television, perched high in a corner of the visitor’s room, and showing CNN’s live coverage of the funeral of John Helms.
    John had been proud of his lengthy American roots, which traced back almost four centuries, so I wasn’t surprised that he’d elected to be buried near his family’s ancestral home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia .
    Among the famous mourners in attendance was the vice president of the United States , James Sinclair, standing in for the president, who, the broadcaster whispered, was overseas at an international summit meeting.   I caught glimpses of Sinclair’s Secret Service team, but didn’t recognize any of them.
    I’d left the Service ten years earlier, and not many agents last a full decade on protection detail.   It’s the stress of being hyper-alert all day, listening to the constant flow of worry in your earpiece, eyes forever moving, scanning the high vantage points, sweeping endless faces in crowds, fretting about hands in pockets or the sight of a bulky overcoat on a mild autumn day.   It’s the unspoken fear of dying.
    I estimated with my crowd-practiced eye that about two hundred guests were at the funeral.   Along with the vice president and other high-ranking government officials stood business titans from around the globe and scores of John’s relatives, friends, and employees.   The media came from all over too, quarantined in the distance behind a rope barrier, their cameras whirring, steady as the cicadas.   At the sight of the casket, I thanked God that I couldn’t remember my horrible deed, or the moments surrounding it, except in scrambled shards of bloody phantasmagoria.
    Sarah squeezed my hand while I prayed for John’s forgiveness and for peace within his soul.   As the casket lowered into the ground, I couldn’t help but think, We’re all wealthier than John Helms now.   We all have breath .
    I turned to

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