F is for Fugitive Page 84


Ann was lying on her back by then, one arm flung across her face. Royce clung to her right hand, rocking back and forth. She was weeping like a five-year-old. "You were never there for me… you were never there…"

I thought about my papa. I was five when he left me… five when he went away. An image came to me, a memory repressed for years. In the car, just after the wreck, when I was trapped in the backseat, wedged in tight, with the sound of my mother's weeping going on and on and on, I had reached around the edge of the front seat, where I found my father's hand, unresisting, passive, and soft. I tucked my fingers around his, not understanding he was dead, simply thinking everything would be all right as long as I had him. When had it dawned on me that he was gone for good? When had it dawned on Ann that Royce was never going to come through? And what of Jean Timberlake? None of us had survived the wounds our fathers inflicted all those years ago. Did he love us? How would we ever know? He was gone and he'd never again be what he was to us in all his haunting perfection. If love is what injures us, how can we heal?

Epilogue

The case against Bailey Fowler has been dismissed. He turned himself in when he heard news of Ann's arrest. She was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Ori Fowler and Shana Timberlake. The DA's office may never be able to assemble sufficient evidence to prosecute her for the death of Jean Timberlake.

Two weeks have passed. I'm now back in my office in Santa Teresa, where I've itemized expenses. With the hours I put in, my mileage, and meals, I'm billing Royce Fowler for $1,832 against the two grand he advanced. We chatted about it by phone and he's told me to keep the change. He's still hanging on to life with all the stubbornness he can muster and at least Bailey will be with him during his last weeks.

I find that I'm looking at Henry Pitts differently these days. He may be the closest thing to a father I'll ever have. Instead of viewing him with suspicion, I think I'll enjoy him for the time we have left, whatever that may be. He's only eighty-two, and God knows, my life is more hazardous than his.

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