The RedeemerHarry Hole investigates a mistaken assassination
THE NEXT QUEEN OF HEAVEN
To Tabitha’s remark that the town’s first speed-trap camera was totally unfair and kind of kinky, Mrs. Scales replied, after a prayerful silence, “Why don’t you think of it as the Eye of God?”
“God doesn’t do three strikes you’re out, last I heard,” said Tabitha. “Or give tickets. Big Brother’s more like it. I bet Jack Reeves sits in his mayor’s spy room somewhere taking notes and feeling himself.”
“I doubt it,” said her mother. “But Big Brother, that’s good. You’re doing some reading.”
“Don’t count on it. It’s just the forensic club is going Big Brother this, Big Brother that, at the No More Columbines pep rally.”
“Well, you can relax about surveillance from anyone but me. Besides, they say the camera isn’t hooked up yet. It doesn’t see anything. So it can’t do anything.”
Tabitha inhaled around the gum she had tongued against the back of her front teeth. “Maybe you’re right about it being, like, the Eye of God.”
Praise you Jesus, thought her mother, she’s coming around at last.
“Totally f***ing blind.”
They coasted past the hapless aperture, a heady four miles per hour over the limit. A little frostiness of mood, not so bad in itself. Union Street curved north into downtown Thebes—what passed for downtown—and the silence locked mother and daughter together. Better than the usual smackdown session, thought Mrs. Scales.
She took advantage of the time out to practice her Inner Breathing. Breathe east. She imagined, miles out of sight, the softwood heart of the Northeast, the Adirondacks.
Breathe west. In the slant light of dusk—daylight savings time taking its bite again—she glimpsed the first iteration of America’s liquid prairie. It looked like chemical water on fire in the gloaming. The Lakes, the Lakes. Ontario, Huron, Superior, Erie. That other one. Not for the first time did Erie seem the word to cover them all.
Breathe north. Montreal (more or less). Breathe south. Syracuse. Compass rose breathing. Center yourself, for Christ’s sake.
Mrs. Scales considered her dilemmas. Maybe this very moment, in the car hurrying past nasturtium-edged clouds, Tabitha was undergoing a conversion. Evolving from potty mouth to docile daughter. It could happen. Leontina was praying for it hard enough, wasn’t she? Or did this mean that her prayer, like her backhand and also according to the dental technician the care of her gums, was sadly lacking?
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