Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Deadworks: One More Day to Wait

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She arrived at his table, the gun still pointed squarely at his chest. “Can you hear me, Maria?” he asked gently not appearing the least bit concerned about the gun.

“Don’t call me Maria,” she said through her teeth resisting the urge to pull the trigger.

He smiled. “I am sorry, Apple. Please forgive an old man’s penchant for formalities.”

“Why should I forgive you for anything?”

“How have I offended you?” he asked honestly.

“You helped him. You helped him,” was all she could say.

“How did I help him?” He looked innocent in the flickering candle light.

Apple thought about this. “I don’t know. He said you helped him, in his journal. He said he couldn’t have done it without you.”

“He may believe that, my child, but I assure you I told him nothing he did not already know.” Max knew of course he’d played a part in all that had happened, but he did not allow himself to feel guilty for it. In his own way, he’d helped her as much as him.

Apple didn’t know whether or not to believe him. Delvin’s journal had been particularly scarce on the details of his conversations with Max.

“I assure you, Apple, I mean you no harm.” She looked up at his sad green eyes and the wrinkled lines of his face and felt the weight of the gun lowering her arm slowly. “But I may be alone here that regard,” he continued. “Again, you are a stranger here and in great danger. The Staff will be looking for you, as will Delvin. You do realize that you have not killed him?”

“Yes. No. I mean I figured he’d probably survive.” Even lowered, the gun seemed impossibly heavy in her hand as a wave of tiredness washed through her muscles and bones up to her still aching head.

“You may put the gun on my table, if you would like. I promise I will not take it.” He waved his ink-stained hands at an empty space in front of him. As she reached her hand up to the table with the gun, she stopped and looked at him.

“How did you know I shot him?”

Max debated how much to reveal to her, but decided against a full disclosure. “Because you told me.”


“Remember what I told you about ‘now’, Apple?”

“That it’s hard to keep track of.”

“Yes, and here is another example of that.” Max reached into his pocket and pulled out the small circle of gold and held it out to her in his palm. Astounded, Apple slowly picked up her missing hoop earring, lost the morning she and Delvin touched for the very first time. She looked at it and at Max.

“But how?”

“Because you will leave it here before now, just as you will tell me you shot Delvin. You did shoot him, did you not?”


“Now then, you just told me.”

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.