Devotion by Howard Norman

Book: Devotion by Howard Norman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Howard Norman
turquoise background, tucked in. Faded blue jeans, thick belt with a longhorn steer’s head on the buckle. His black hair, almost laughably to David’s mind, was swept back in a classic “duck’s ass.” Toby also sported a wisp of a mustache and goatee—halfhearted attempts, more negligence than purpose. He had handsome features. Three times in quick succession, a twitch at the edge of his mouth betrayed his nervousness. He stared at the floor.
    â€œLook at you, Tobias,” William said. “The time you spent in London with your cousin last year turned you into a thug of some sort. You used to have a nice look about you. Do you still even admit you’re from Parrsboro? You turned into
James Dean. The American movie star who always whined and complained, life’s such a bad deal.”
    â€œI’m apologizing to you, Mr. Field. Before they take me to jail.”
    â€œYou like the idea of being dragged off in handcuffs, don’t you?” William sighed. “What’s playing at the drive-in these days?”
    Toby’s entire countenance shifted with this change in subject; he straightened right up. “We’ve got a movie called
Straight Time
,” he said. “It was playing in Halifax some months ago, then it ended up on the drive-in circuit. Since the Starlight’s the only drive-in in Nova Scotia, we got it.”
    â€œWhat’s it about?” William said.
    â€œBasically, it’s about a guy who can’t stop robbing jewelry stores. He can’t seem to help himself. Or, it’s more like he helps himself to things he shouldn’t, I guess.”
    â€œDaring daylight robberies?”
    â€œBoth night and day, I think. I can’t tell you the whole plot, Mr. Field, beginning to end, because I’m occupied at the concession. I miss a lot of the movie.”
    â€œIs that where you got your big idea, Toby, from this movie? The big idea to break into my house?”
    â€œDon’t know.”
    â€œDifficult to feel inspired from your own resources these days? Your most exciting ideas coming from the movies?”
    â€œI don’t know, Mr. Field,” Toby said, looking off at the wall.
    â€œI want to see this movie,” William said. “If you take me to see it—tonight—now—get me in free of charge, I’ll pretend this botched little robbery of yours never took place. Except you’ll have to pay for the window you broke.”
    â€œYou’ve got a deal, Mr. Field.”
    â€œOh, don’t I love a solemn pact,” William said, rubbing his hands together gleefully. He looked at the bedside clock. “It’s eight twenty-five. We have to factor in the drive to Truro. What time’s the movie start?”
    â€œThere’s coming attractions and such,” Toby said. “The movie’s supposed to start at nine, but it’s usually late. I don’t run the projector, though.”
    â€œI take it you weren’t on concession duty tonight.”
    â€œLook, Mr. Field. I’m in over my head with some debts, you know? I wasn’t thinking clearly. I was going to grab what I could, try to pawn it down in Halifax.”
    â€œDidn’t you hear my opera? Didn’t you figure me to be home?”
    â€œI thought the record might drown out hearing me. I was only going to take a few items. I didn’t even know what. I didn’t think it through, Mr. Field. I was just driving by.”
    â€œLame,” David said.
    â€œWould you prefer he’d thought about it ahead of time,
David?” William said. “Premeditated robbery of the house of someone’s known him since he was born?”
    â€œThat’s not what I meant,” David said.
    â€œGive me five minutes to get ready,” William said. “I need to get out of this goddamned house, Toby, so I guess I should thank you for the opportunity.”
    David and Toby went out onto the porch.

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