upward, and in Arabic softly uttered, “
—my son,” the knife slipped from the soldier’s grasp to the floor and, bursting into wrenching, wracking sobs, he fell forward into Meral’s arms, reaching around him and gripping him tightly while Meral placed both his hands on the young soldier’s head and said over and over again in Arabic, “Yes, my poor son. I know. I know.”
    “He was only amazing,” Samia rattled on as she turned to the wall again. “I mean, there’s something about him that gets you. I don’t know what it is, but you trust him. Okay? You just trust him. So what’s this?”
    She was pointing to a plaque reading “Cuba Si, Masada No!”
    “I don’t get it,” she said. “What’s—”
    The neurologist cut her off brusquely.
    “Alright, stop it, Samia! Just stop it! Come on, sit down here and tell me the whole thing again!”
    The nurse turned to him with a look of incomprehension.
    “Tell? Tell you what?”
    “You know very well what.”
    “No, I don’t.”
    “That whole thing about the clown.”
    “Oh, that.” With a limp, dismissive flip of her hand the nurse turned to examine the photos again. “You know I’m really not too sure I can—”
    “Stop it, I said! I surrender! All quiet on the paranoid front! Look, I’ve thought it all over, and I want to hear the whole thing again, every detail, every scrap you can recall. This time I’ll listen, Samia. I swear it!”
    The nurse’s mask of indifference fell away, and looking touched and grateful, she moved quickly to the Naugahyde chair and sat, this time not slumping down but instead leaning forward with a breathless eagerness to recite once again her story of how on her break at 3 A.M. two days before, Monday, March the 11th, she had sauntered into the Children’s Ward for a visit with Tzipi Tam, a good friend and the charge nurse on duty at the time, and on the way momentarily paused in wonder on observing that behind the glass partition of the ward a clown in full circus costume and makeup was adroitly juggling three orange-colored vinyl balls for an audience of the only two children in the ward who were awake: a rosy-cheeked two-year-old girl and the rabdomial cancer “miracle” child. Her recitation ended, the nurse leaned back and folded her arms across her chest. Mayo asked if she was sure of the date this had happened. She was.
    It was the day that the cancer and dysautonomia had vanished.
    “Could you tell who it was?” Mayo asked.
    The nurse shrugged.
    “You couldn’t?”
    “All that makeup and stuff. The red wig. Long and bushy and frizzy,” she said. “Frizzy curls.”
    “Surely had to be staff,” Mayo mulled.
    “I don’t know.”
    “Or someone hired by a parent?”
    The nurse’s eyebrows knitted inward.
    “What do you mean?”
    “Well, did any of those children have a birthday?”
    “That day.” Mayo was remembering his time in California and how parents on a child’s birthday would sometimes send greetings to the place of celebration by way of a clown on roller skates.
    But in the middle of the night?
he immediately questioned himself.
    “I don’t know, Mayo. Why?”
    “Never mind. And how tall was this person?”
    “Pretty tall, I think. Big. A big person.”
    “Strongly built you mean? Husky?”
    “Yeah, both.”
    “So then you’re sure it was a man.”
    “I don’t know.”
    “You don’t know?”
    “I can’t be sure is all I’m saying.”
    “But you think so.”
    “Have you ever seen a female clown?”
    “I’ve dated them, Samia. Did you talk to him?”
    “No. I was only passing by.”
    “Did he see you?”
    “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
    “He kept juggling, though?”
    “Yes. He kept juggling.”
    “Did the children seem bothered by this?”
    “They seemed happy. The little girl put her hands out in front of her and clapped them together and giggled.”
    Mayo stared at the nurse without expression. Then he lowered his gaze to his

Similar Books

Straits of Hell

Taylor Anderson

Tooth and Nail

Jennifer Safrey


Sandra Brown


Robin Mahle


Kevin J. Anderson, Doug Beason

Taming the Lion

Elizabeth Coldwell