Written by Shell
I've been here a month now. It's weird what starts to seem normal.
Meeting Eisen (the Holy Father) in Flagstaff, that was, well, a
unique experience. I don't know why, but I was really, truly
surprised when he smashed my cell phone, calling it ‘a device for
evil, Brother Timothy.' Wonder how Bartlett reacted to that when he
got my report. Eisen's crazier than that guy Rausch that did the
church fires. Has a lot in common with him, though--too bad he
doesn't have Rausch's heart condition.
There are no phones here. No televisions either. Thank
Holy Father Eisen finally decided to accept electricity. Phones,
television, radios, computers, all evil, but microwaves are somehow
okay. Like I said, it's weird what starts to seem normal.
We brought up my house yesterday. Drove with Brothers
and Brian Smith up to St. George to pick it up. They drove the big
rigs that hauled the two modules, and I drove the truck with the
yellow "wide load" sign and the flashing lights, all the way back,
through Hurricane, Colorado City, the speed trap by Hildale,
Kanab, and back to Church Canyon. Felt sorry for the folks behind
us--it's hard enough to pass one truck on those roads, much less
I would have utterly no idea what to do with these two
halves of a
house, but the folks here are pretty experienced. It's already
unloaded at the site near the back of town, and they're working on
putting it together like some sort of giant lego house or
Tomorrow I'll move out of this Winnie and into my new house, and
the inside it will look normal, except for the fact that there
be a tv or a phone or a stereo. Or a basement. Only building in
town with one of those is the church, and I gather it required a
amount of dynamite. I wonder how the Orioles are doing. I don't
even know when opening day is this year.
Playing the role has been easier than I feared. It's kind
of a high,
sometimes, like being in the Box all day, every day, but it's not
fun without someone else to play off on, someone who's in on the
joke, someone who knows I'm just playing bad cop, all the time now.
All the time, Timothy B. Rawls, bad cop.
I have two times when I can escape Rawls and let myself
Bayliss--early morning, and late at night. Every morning, I go for
run. The Holy Father encourages his brethren to stay physically
We have to be ready to defend our God-given rights against any and
all aggressors, after all.
So I wave to my neighbors, wave to the guards who let me
out the back
gate, and I run down the gravel road by the creek. Sometimes I run
north and west, right into Grand Staircase/Escalante, following the
creek bed so I don't get lost. There are no trails, really, because
there's not enough ground cover to need them--I just run, run on
sand and the rocks, startling mice and hawks, the occasional
once even a rattler in the sun.
It's amazingly beautiful out here, no question, but I don't
a desert person. Been here a month and I'm already starving for
something green. Nothing but red, brown, and grey out here, and the
bright blue sky, marred only by the yellow smudge from the Navajo
Generating Station. I climb up and notice the snow is almost melted
on Navajo Mountain, 40 miles away as the crow flies.
This particular ridge, across Wahweap Creek and hidden from
where I stop most days. I take a swallow of water and stretch my
legs out, then do a few yoga poses--something no member of Eisen's
Holy Brotherhood would be caught dead doing. I take a small
out of my hip pack and write down some notes, stuff that's been
on in the town.
I think there was a stoning last night, but I can't be
been fully initiated into the church yet. But my neighbor Stephanie
Peters wasn't there to wave at me this morning, and I know there's
been a rumor going around town that she's been giving the eye to
Johnson. They won't kill her for that, I think, I hope--just hurt
her, the way they hurt practically every woman in this town at one
time or another.
I'm to meet with the elders next week to discuss my
marriages, who's available, who I fancy. I'm not sure how much
choice I'll really be given--Eisen will no doubt have someone, some
ones, in mind. Since I've been here I've seen men married to women
and girls ranging from 7 years old on up to 67.
Stephanie's youngest daughter, Ruth, is being pursued by
Eisen, one of the worst of the Holy Father's 28 sons. She's eight
years old. I see her shyly peeping out at me from behind her
mother's curtain sometimes. If I get any choice, any choice at all,
I'll request her. Anything to save her from Joseph. He's been
widowed twice now, I hear, both girls in their early twenties he'd
been married to for ten years or so, and his current wives are 21,
17, 15, and 12. The twelve year old is about 6 months pregnant.
I finish up my notes for this month's report. Tomorrow I'll
east, towards Big Water, and drop it off at the post office there,
along with my subscription renewal for Guns and Ammo and my cash
contribution to the NRA. And one more envelope, addressed to
Boisy, Los Angeles, California.
This will be the first time I've contacted him. I'm pretty
a damned stupid idea, but I'm also pretty sure no one in Big Water
paying any attention to the mail. I've gotten enough letters put in
the wrong post office box to prove it--I mean, it's not like there
a lot of them, only 150, and they still can't manage to get it
So I don't think anyone will notice a letter to William Boisy in
I promised him I'd let him know I was all right. So I lied
that I was. I won't be all right until this assignment is finished,
won't be able to sleep at night until Eisen and the rest are behind
bars. Until I know that men like Joseph Eisen aren't marrying 7 or
year old girls, that women aren't getting stoned for looking
crosswise at someone.
I roll the notes and the letter up tightly and put them in
pocket in my pack. It's time to head back to the Canyon for another
day. Tonight I have guard duty. I'll spend it thinking of Bill.
Just as I do each evening, whether I'm at home or on guard. Amazing
how much he got under my skin in such a short time. Amazing how
I miss him.
I come home from rehearsal tired, wound up. The new songs
starting to work, but it's hard to get into the music. I'm yelling
at everyone, more than usual, and Kat finally takes me aside, tells
me I need to chill out, why don't I head on home. She hasn't had to
do that in years, and I realize for the first time just what a dick
I've been lately.
She asks me what's wrong, is everything okay, and for a
almost tell her, but of course I can't, so I lie, say I'm trying to
quit smoking again and it's making me irritable. She looks at me
funny for a minute, and I realize I've smoked at least half a pack
this morning during rehearsal.
"Look, Kat, okay, it's not that. It's personal, and I can't
talk about it. Do I want a drink? Yeah, I want a drink. Same as
always, no more, no less. I'm not going to go get one. Not going to
go score. I just--I've got some things on my mind is all. Some
She gives me a long look. "Billie's okay?"
"Yeah, it's not anything like that. I'd tell you if I
"Don't let him haunt you anymore, Billy."
I know she's talking about Joe. "I won't."
I turn to go, but she grabs my arm, gives me a hug.
"Bill, I don't know what's going on, but if you need
I hug her back and promise I will.
So I get home, and as usual there's a pile of mail waiting,
bills, and I leaf through it, putting most of it in a pile to throw
in the trash. Then I realize there's an envelope there, no return
address, and it's got my name on it--my real name, Mr. William
handwritten, not typed or printed like the stuff that comes from
lawyers, agents, and bill collectors.
I've gotten quite a few letters like this, hand-addressed,
over the years, but they've all been sent to Billy Tallent. Mostly
from sick fucks who tell me Joe's still alive, or that they've got
his body, or that they think I should die, too--lovely letters. But
this one--the handwriting looks familiar, and it's addressed to Mr.
William Boisy, not Billy Tallent. And the postmark--the postmark is
from Kanab, Utah.
I drop the rest of the mail on the table and head out to
my hands shaking as I rip the envelope open. There's a small sheet
of notebook paper inside, wrinkled and folded. It's just a few
Every morning I take a run along a (mostly) dry creek bed.
an old road that leads to it--the road goes behind Big Water out to
gravel pit, I think where they got gravel for the dam back in the
60s. The road's only about a mile from the back of town, the creek
I come out here every morning for some peace, some time for
The sky here is incredible, such a bright blue, like your eyes.
I'm okay. I'll try to write again.
I must sit there for an hour, looking at the sky, reading
over and over, unable to move.
Today's my wedding day--well, the first one, anyway. Thank
At four o'clock this afternoon, after the afternoon
service, I'll be
marrying Sarah Elliot, age 14. I've only spoken to her once, when
told her she would be marrying me (men don't ask in Church Canyon).
She looked scared to death, but with a little bit of defiance in
there too. Good. I think I can deal with defiance better than I
would with the absolute subservience that's the rule here.
She's Eli's half sister. He mentioned her during his
Flagstaff, said they were close. Said Sarah likes to sing.
I still don't know how I'm going to handle tonight. I don't
what she'll expect--there's certainly no sex ed taught here, and
women are kept in the dark about everything.
I'm on edge through the whole service, then the ceremony
reception. Weddings are the only time women are permitted to drink,
so I encourage Sarah, keep refilling her glass with the cheap wine.
The men around me nod knowingly, sure I'm getting her pliable for
later. I'm thinking, maybe if I get her drunk, she won't remember
that nothing happened. Or something.
There's no dancing or music at this reception--such things
are seen as
sinful. So basically all we do is have a nice dinner, nice by
Canyon standards, which means I play around with the steak on my
plate, force myself to eat a few bites of it, and devour my salad
baked potato. Sarah looks hungry, so I give her the rest of my
steak, and she smiles a shy thank-you.
I have got to find some way to keep being Timothy Rawls and
The reception ends around 8, curfew time for women and
the whole town escorts the two of us home, laughing and teasing
the way. I pick her up and carry her over the threshold easily--she
must weigh all of a ninety pounds.
Once we get inside, I close the door, then put her down by
"I thought you might like to see the house."
"Yes, please, Mr. Rawls."
"Sarah, you can call me Timothy."
She blushes. "Holy Father called me Mrs. Rawls tonight and
I wasn't sure who he was talking to."
"Getting married is a big change, something we'll both have
used to. And Sarah, I know I'm a lot older than you--please let me
know if I do or say anything that makes you uncomfortable."
She looks surprised. "Thank you, Timothy," she says
Apparently I'm not what she expected.
I show her around the house, and she's excited when she
books. I don't have many, and most are here for cover, but there
a few others I thought would pass muster--Crime and Punishment,
Kipling stories, David Copperfield, Shakespeare's plays--nothing by
woman, and nothing modern.
"Do you like to read, Sarah?"
She looks at me before she answers, then decides the truth
safe. "Yes, sir, I do."
"This is your home now, too--if you want to read any of my
may--just be careful not to let anyone see you."
"Really? Thank you, sir!"
"Would you like something to drink?"
I manage to get another glass of wine into her, and she's
feeling it. She's looking a little green around the gills. I ask
her if she'd like to take a bath or a shower.
"You have a bathtub?" She's happy about this--very happy.
"Yes, of course I do, Sarah, don't you have one at your
"No, just a shower stall. I haven't had a bath since--since
moved here, when I was 10. I used to love to take baths. Can I
"Anytime you want, Sarah." Amazing that such a simple thing
bring her such joy.
I show her the towels, tell her where she can put her
things, let her
take her pick of the two spare bedrooms. Eventually, when I have
other wives, one of them may move out to the Winnebago, but neither
of us mentions that. I tell her to take her time and enjoy her
and I close the door.
I put on some pajamas--haven't worn pajamas in years, it
funny--get under the covers, and read. When I hear the tub start to
drain, I turn off the light and lay down, feigning sleep.
I hear the door open a few minutes later.
"Timothy?" she says tentatively. I pretend to sleep. She
into bed next to me, carefully not touching me. Within moments, her
breathing deepens and slows, and I sigh in relief. She's asleep.
I get out of bed as quietly as I can and go to the couch for a few
hours' sleep. I return before dawn. She's still asleep, clutching
her pillow tightly, looking very young, very innocent.
I write her a note and go for a run, but she's still asleep
return, so I make us some breakfast. It's another fifteen minutes
before she emerges, in a nightgown and swimming in one of my robes.
"Good morning, Sarah--would you like some breakfast?"
"Good morning, sir. Yes, some breakfast would be good."
She devours the eggs, toast, and juice as I watch and eat
we're both finished, she looks at me curiously.
"You were gone when I woke up, sir."
"Yes, I go for a run every morning, early. It helps me
"Timothy--sir? Last night--that is--were you pleased with
"Yes, Sarah, very much so."
"Because--well, I fell asleep, and--"
"Sarah." I interrupt her in as firm a voice as I can
let me handle this right.
"Believe me, if I am displeased with you, in any way, you
about it." I'm leaning over the table towards her, using the most
menacing attitude I can muster. It works, dismayingly well--she
I lean back in my chair, good cop again, and add, "however,
you continue to please me, you will find me a very accommodating
husband. And I think you will find that my needs are few. I want
the house kept clean, food on the table, laundry done and folded,
without complaint. This is the last meal I will prepare for you.
And I want to be left in peace. If you do those things, Sarah, you
may read any book or magazine in the house, and at meals you may
any reasonable questions that you have. Is that clear?"
She nods. "Yes, sir."
"Good. Have you brought all of your things over from your
"Yes, sir, I have, except--"
"Except for what, Sarah?"
"It's nothing, sir."
"It's just--it's just a book, sir, and my cat, her name is
"You have a cat?"
"Yes, sir, but my mother said you might not like cats, that
to mention it, and I'm sure she'll be fine, at least I hope she
be, sometimes my mom doesn't feed her too good."
"I'm going to ask you something about the cat, and I'm
going to trust
you not to lie, Sarah."
"Is this cat well-behaved? Does she make messes where she
claw up the furniture, meow all night?"
"Oh, no, Timothy, she's very good, she's declawed, and I'll
litter box so clean, and clean up any hair, and I promise, you
even know she's here."
"All right, then, Sarah, you can have your cat. But know
hold you to your promise. Now, what is the book?"
"The Velveteen Rabbit."
"Isn't that a children's book?"
"Well, I suppose it couldn't do any harm, then."
"Oh, thank you, Timothy!" She's up and around the table and
me a hug. I hug her back, gently, then pull away.
"Go on then, go get your cat and your book. I need to take
We establish a pattern--she takes a long bath each night,
pretend to be asleep when she crawls into bed. She rivals my mother
in the cleaning department--the house is spotless. She's also an
excellent cook, and seems to have noticed my dislike for meat,
preparing a lot of pasta, beans, and fish.
She happily takes my arm when we walk to church, and I
often find her
sitting on the couch, away from the window, reading intently. At
dinner, we talk about Dickens--she's reading David Copperfield.
I haven't brought up Eli yet. I've been singing in the
atrociously, hoping she'll take the cue and realize she can sing,
so far no luck. I want her to know she can trust me, but it's such
delicate thing, because I have to be able to trust her, too, if I'm
ever going to have her help getting some kids out of here.
I can see a question in her eyes each morning when I get
back from my
run, and I'm not surprised one night, three weeks after the
when she asks me a rather pointed question during dinner.
"Timothy, can I ask you something?" At least she's gotten
calling me ‘sir' every five seconds.
"What is it, Sarah?"
"At night, you're always asleep when I come to bed, and you
before I do. I thought--you know--I thought we needed to--you
to--aren't we supposed to do something besides sleep?" She's bright
red, and I suspect I'm blushing too.
"Sarah--" I pause, start again. "Sarah, our Holy Father
it is right for us to be married, and I agree. However, the truth
is, I don't feel comfortable having a physical relationship with
someone your age, and I don't feel someone your age is ready to
become a mother, physically or emotionally."
"No, Sarah, I don't. Not yet."
I can see that she's shocked, that this idea has never
"Martha Eisen, she's only twelve, and she just had a baby."
"Martha Eisen is not my wife. You are. I am your husband;
the decisions in this house. Joseph Eisen makes the decisions in
house, for his wives."
"And Sarah--" I reach across, grasp her chin firmly, turn
her face to
look at me. "What Brother Joseph does in his house is his business,
not to be discussed. What you and I do in my house is our business,
and I will tell you this just once--it is not to be discussed with
I got another letter from Tim today.
I'm rereading Shakespeare's plays. Are you Puck, or Ariel?
feel a little like Prospero, on the island, or maybe more like
I still look at the sky every day, bright as your eyes.
I've started guard duty some nights. I hope to have a
I'm okay. I miss you.
It's been over three months now. Billie's coming for her
break in two weeks, and we've been doing some more dates in the
meantime. I've been gone for almost three weeks, fuck knows how
this letter's been sitting here.
I still think of him every day, but it's gotten a little
That night in Las Vegas is a memory I cherish, but it seems more
more unreal as time goes on. It seems impossible that it could have
been as amazing as I remember.
Reading the letter, though, it all comes back as if it were
yesterday, the sweetness of his kisses, the trust he gave me, the
feel of him in my arms. And I'm a fucking putz, a total waste,
sitting out on the patio again, looking at the sky, wondering if I
have a copy of the Tempest somewhere.
It sounds like he thinks he might be able to send me a
Guard duty--what the fuck is that? I don't like the tone of the
letter. The last one--he sounded confident, like he was taking good
care of himself. This one, he sounds a little lost.
We've been working on some new songs, and Chelle and Kat
commented the other day on the "new melancholia, the bluesy touch"
they've noticed in me. They've asked me a few rather pointed
questions about Joe, about the date coming up this fall in Vegas,
about when Billie's getting here, but they've seemed satisfied with
the answers, or at least satisfied enough not to push.
They like the songs I've been writing, seem to like them a
I'm writing, writing all the fucking time, can't seem to stop, and
it's good, because when I'm writing, I'm not as worried, not as
scared that any day now I'm going to get a call from Agent Bartlett
telling me Tim is dead.
I got a letter from Eli before we left on tour. He very
didn't say anything about Tim. He's living out near Denver now,
a foster family, relatives of Bartlett's assistant, Zoe. I sent him
tickets to the Denver show coming up next week, the last date on
spring tour, told him to bring his family by backstage after the
The letter was all about his new family, new school, the
music he was
listening to, all the way until the last paragraph. "I still have
nightmares sometimes," he wrote, "but it's getting better. I don't
know if I ever thanked you for being so kind to me that night after
the concert. I'll always remember you. And your music rocks!" He
signed it, "love, Eli."
I'm looking forward to seeing him again next week.
Last night I asked Eisen if I could marry Ruth. He looked
and Joseph looked pissed, but he said yes. I think he's pleased I
took the initiative. I've been speaking up at the Elders' Meetings,
and although I don't have a vote yet, not until I'm confirmed as an
Elder, I seem to be gaining their respect.
Tonight I went over to Rebecca Eisen's house to talk to
has been staying there for the past couple months, ever since her
mother was caught with Paul Johnson and stoned again. This time
didn't stop. I was on guard duty that night, so I didn't find out
about it until the next morning.
Paul was one of the men who stoned her to death. He's been
quiet ever since, not saying a word in meeting. If he'd refused to
stone her, they just would have killed him as well.
Rebecca has the decency to look appalled when I tell her
Ruth next week. I wish I could allay her fears, but I can't. I wish
I didn't have to do this, but I see the way Joseph's been watching
Ruth, following her when she goes out to play, and I'm afraid that
I don't do something now, it'll be too late--it might already be
late. I hope it's not too late.
Thankfully, Ruth doesn't seem scared of me. I don't follow
way Joseph does, but I gave her a hug and told her I was sorry she
had to move away after her mother was killed, and she seems to
remember me with a little affection. That might also be because
sent Sarah over to Rebecca's with cookies a few times--Rebecca's a
notoriously bad cook.
I've been talking with Sarah about her brothers and
to get her to talk about Eli without bringing him up directly. I'm
still singing in the shower, and I think it's starting to
work--yesterday I heard her singing under her breath as she folded
I walk in the house after coming back from Rebecca's.
dinner ready, and she brings it to the table with a smile as I sit
down. Tonight we have macaroni and cheese that has never seen a
broccoli, and homemade bread. She's put the crunchy peanut butter
the table next to the butter. Without one word from me, she's
managed to figure out what I like to eat, what I need to eat, and
tonight's meal is perfect, down to the fresh-squeezed orange juice
and apple pie for dessert.
"Sarah, you are an amazingly good cook. Who taught you to
"My mom taught me some of it, but my sister-mom, Charlene,
how to bake, before--"
Charlene Eisen was Eli's mother.
"Before what, Sarah?" I ask her gently.
"Before--before she died, sir."
"Before she was killed?"
"Yes, sir, before he--before they killed her, sir."
Sarah's been living with me for over two months now. I've
looking at me a lot lately, puzzled, thinking. I'm pretty sure she
knows there's more going on with me than meets the eye. If I'm
to help her, help Ruth, help the other kids in this horrible town,
think it's time to tell her at least a little of what I'm doing
"Sarah, I have to ask you a question, and it's very
you answer it completely honestly, without worrying about whether
you're giving the right answer to please me. Can you do that?"
"I think so, Timothy."
"Okay. Here's the question, Sarah--do you trust me?"
"Do I trust you?"
"Yes, Sarah--do you trust me? Do you trust me not to hurt
you trust me enough to tell me the truth about what happened to
"I'm not sure, Timothy. I think I do. I don't think you'd
"That's a very fair and honest answer, Sarah, and I
Now I have to ask you another question, okay? This one is just as
important. Actually, it's the most important question I'll ever ask
you. I promise you that I only want you to answer me honestly, and
think you know I've never broken any promises to you."
"No, you haven't."
"Okay. Here's the question. If I tell you about some
things, can I
trust you? Can I trust you not to tell anyone, not to ask me for
more information, not to in any way betray the trust I'd be putting
in you? Not to tell anyone, no matter how much you wanted to?"
"Yes. Yes, Timothy, you can trust me. You've been good to
me, and I
wouldn't do anything you didn't think was okay, I swear to holy
I grasp her hands, give them a squeeze. "Thank you, Sarah.
you. Now come on over to the couch, because I have to talk to you
about your brother, Eli."
I tell her just a little bit, and most of it's a lie, but
to the truth than anything I've said to anyone since the moment I
Eisen in Flagstaff last spring. I tell her I know Eli escaped, I
know he's okay, and that I know this because I have a wife, a legal
wife, living in St. George, and Eli is living with her. I tell her
picked Heather up hitch-hiking one night, and she told me about
went on here. I tell her that Heather and Eli are both doing well,
and that my wife and I are working with Utah Child Protective
Services to try to get more kids safely out of this town. I tell
I'll be marrying Ruth so that I can protect her from Joseph.
I can see that she wants to believe me, but she's seen a
lot in her
fourteen years, and she's scared this is some sort of trap. So she
asks me to prove I'm not lying.
I tell her that Eli's favorite band is Jenifur, and I sing
little I can remember of his mother's favorite song. I tell her
Heather and Eli used to listen to Charlene's cds. She stares at me
in shock for a minute, then starts to cry. I pull her into a hug,
and she holds on tight, crying silently, burying her face in my
That night I dream again of Billy holding me in his arms,
telling me over and over that it was okay, and for a moment, when
first wake up, I can still feel his arms around me and hear his
Billie and I have a great time over her summer holiday. We
usual--Disneyland, Universal Studios, soccer with the rich and
She's grown at least an inch since I saw her last, and we celebrate
her 11th birthday at Spago at her request. Wolfgang Puck comes over
with her birthday cake, and she's so excited, tells him she watches
him on the Food Network.
My little girl is growing up, but she still wants me to
sing her to
sleep every night. Fortunately she doesn't expect me to sing
anything from her second favorite band, the Backstreet Boys.
Although for her, fuck, I'd probably sing anything, even the Spice
The last week before she has to go back to her mom's, we
take a trip
up to Vancouver. I show her some of the places I used to hang out
when I was her age, and we go swimming, and it's wonderful, and
before I know it I'm dropping her off with Mary and Evan, hugging
like I never want to let go.
I get home from the airport late, nearly midnight. I never
on planes, so I'm tired. It's July 31st, and it's been over two
months since I heard from Tim, and I'm worried, so the first thing
do is look at the mail that's been neatly piled up by Gail, the
who looks after my place when I'm gone.
I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding when I see
There's an interesting rock formation between Big Water and
Wells, just a little west of Church Canyon, on the south side of
It's hard to miss during the day, but it's difficult to see at
unless there's a full moon and you know where to look. I like
night-time guard duty during the full moon, always try to sign up
The next full moon is August 23rd. Between 9 pm and 3 am,
pretty spectacular out here--you wouldn't believe the stars, and
can practically see well enough to read. I wish you could see it--I
think you might find some surprises out here in the desert, similar
to the surprise we found the night we met.
I'm okay. I miss you. Your eyes would be silver in the
Jesus fucking christ. He's found a way to do it, a way to
get a kid,
or maybe kids, out, and it's gonna happen in a few weeks, and he's
counting on me to be there.
So that's how I find myself flying first to Phoenix, then
prop plane to Flagstaff, then to Page, Arizona. Not much to look
the town of Page. Has a whole street with nothing but churches on
it--kinda creepy. But Tim was right about one thing--it's
spectacularly beautiful out here. Now Lake Mead is impressive and
incongruous out in the desert by Las Vegas, but it doesn't hold a
candle on either front to Lake Powell, the gorgeous monstrosity
created by the Glen Canyon Dam. Everything is red and blue.
I've decided to play the tourist, something this area gets
a lot of.
They even get their fair share of celebrities, who come out here to
film action sequences and westerns. So I do my thing in my rented
Jeep, take a raft trip down to Marble Canyon, a boat trip up to
Rainbow Bridge, hike around down by the Paria River, see the slot
canyons, drive all over the place and look stupid and awestruck,
which is not difficult.
I even drive down and spend the day at the Grand Canyon,
beyond imagining. The signs down there say, Grand Canyon--100
miles--You've come too far not to see it. I saw it, and I'm glad I
did. Someday, maybe I'll take one of those raft trips that meander
down the Colorado, stopping and camping along the Canyon.
Turning into Nature Boy, Billiam?
And what if I am?
I've driven past Church Canyon a dozen times on one trip or
and I'm very familiar with the rock formation Tim wrote about. It's
almost like a mini-arch, except it's not, and it's in the middle of
pretty flat and boring stretch, so it is hard to miss. I stop by it
one day and look around. There's some graffiti on it, broken glass
around it. I think I can park around behind it at night and not be
visible from the road.
Every time I get close to Church Canyon, I want to drive up
gate and get Tim the fuck out of there. Place looks like a fucking
prison--concrete walls around the front, barbed wire on top, and it
looks like there's a nasty chain link fence around the back.
I've been in Page for four days when I decide to do
fucking stupid. Tonight's the full moon--it's my last chance before
have to get myself and a runaway or two out of here. I drive out to
Big Water very early, around sunrise, and I find the dirt road Tim
wrote me about--at least, I think it's the one. I drive west on the
road for awhile, until I can see the fence around Church Canyon a
couple miles away. I park the jeep, and I get out, trying like fuck
to just look like an ordinary tourist. I walk off to the right,
from the road, away from the town, and finally hear the sound of
water that according to my map must be Wahweap Creek.
It's a little cool, this early in the morning, and I'm glad
my jacket. The sun's coming up to the east, and I find a nice rock,
open up my backpack, and take out an Egg McMuffin from the
in Page. Yeah, that's me, cool as a cucumber, just a tourist
enjoying some breakfast in the wilderness. I think if I actually
anything I'd just puke it right back up.
So I just sit there, feeling like every kind of fool. I
have no way
of knowing which direction or what time Tim runs every morning, or
even if he's still running. But I'm this close, and I'm not leaving
without trying to see him.
My heart's racing, my palms are sweating, and I'm about to
of my skin, because it occurs to me that Tim might have company
he runs, and it's going to be hard for either one of us to pretend
don't know each other.
Maybe I should just go. I'm supposed to be here to pick up
who need help, not to fuck up and put Tim in more danger than he's
already. I put the stupid McMuffin back in my pack. I stand up,
half-decided, and then I hear the regular crunch of gravel
approaching from the west. A few seconds later, Tim comes around
bend. He doesn't see me at first--he looks like he's thinking
hard there, not to mention running damned fast--but then he looks
and stops dead, staring. Then he frowns.
I wave, kind of weakly. He stares some more, looks around,
over to me, then past me, gesturing for me to follow. I run after
him, grateful that he's slowed down. I manage to make it through
some rocks and then we're crossing the creek--shit the water's
cold--and once we get over to the other side, Tim slows to a walk,
looks around, then grabs my hand and pulls me around a corner and
behind a row of stunted trees.
I'm startled by the sudden shade, and then I feel Tim's
me, damp with sweat, and his lips on my forehead, and I reach up to
kiss him. He tastes so good, his lips fresh and moist, a little
salty, his tongue warm and slick against mine. He doesn't say a
as he breaks the kiss, just grabs my hand and pulls me along again,
walking quickly and carefully through the sagebrush until we reach
canyon wall in front of us. He pulls me behind a ridge in the wall
hadn't even noticed, and then he pushes me against the rock and
kisses me again, long and hard and hot, hands cupping my face, cock
grinding into mine.
We finally break apart to breathe, chests heaving, and I'm
hands over his hair, so short now, so soft, and his face, no beard,
just some stubble.
"Bill--what the fuck are you doing here?" he asks in an
"You shaved," I murmur, and latch onto his lips again. He
then pulls away again, holds me at arms length, glaring at me.
"I missed you, and I was in the neighborhood--" I begin,
I don't know why we're whispering, but I'm going with whatever
now, because I've got six feet four inches of beautiful, sweaty FBI
man here, and that's all I need to be good. Better than good.
"Bill, god, it's so good to see you, you have no idea, but
be here. Eisen sends men down here all the time on patrol, oh jesus
Bill," that's in response to me grabbing his hand and sucking on
fingers, "he thinks the ATF's sending agents down here to spy on
I'm safe, they know me, but you can't be here. Bill, if they see
you, if they see us, they won't hesitate, they'll take us down."
It's hard to concentrate on what he's saying rather than on
fingers in my mouth, the feel of his body against mine, but it
"Okay, okay, I hear you. But, Tim, fuck, you send me that
and I get my ass down here to help out, and I'm so close, so close
where I know you are, and fuck, Tim, I couldn't help myself."
He takes a big breath then, lets it out in a deep sigh, and
arms around me again, and we just hold each other this time, and
every bit as amazing as I remember, just being in his arms.
"God, Bill, it's so good to see you," he whispers again.
"Good to see you, Tim. Good to know you're okay." He sighs
"Tim? You are okay, aren't you?"
"What? Yeah, yeah, of course, Bill. Of course I'm okay."
I look at him. I wait.
"It's just hard, is all, Bill. Really hard. This place--"
gestures towards the town "--it's, well, I've seen a lot of death,
lot of people you might call evil, but this place is worse, some of
these people are worse than I've ever imagined people could be."
"And you have to pretend to be one of them. Jesus, Tim.
not sorry I'm here, because I think you need to hear something, and
you need to hear it now. Are you listening?"
I hold his face between my hands, look in his eyes, make
"Tim--what you're doing here--it's got to be tearing you up
Your whole life right now is a mindfuck worse than anything Joe
could come up with, and take it from me, that's saying a lot. But
I'm telling you this--you're a good man, Tim. You're a good man
an awful fucking job, the worst kind of job, so that these evil
motherfuckers will go down. You are saving people's lives. Tomorrow
night, you will save lives when you help whoever you're helping to
get out of this hellhole. You are a good man doing the best you can
in a completely shitty situation."
I stop a minute, see if any of this is sinking in. Looks
starting to, a little.
"I know you, Tim. Not sure how or why, but I know you in my
I've seen you in action, when you put your life on the line to keep
Eli from blowing his brains out. And I'm telling you that Tim
Bayliss is kind, intelligent, warm, insightful, and dedicated, not
mention the sexiest thing on the planet. And I want you to remember
that, remember who you are. Any time you feel overwhelmed by your
evil twin, remember that there are people out there who know the
you, care about the real you. Okay?"
He nods, but I can still see doubt in his eyes.
"I've done things," he says to me, and I put my finger over
"Tim, we've all done things. We all do what we have to in
survive. I've fucked up six ways to Sunday--booze, drugs; I've lied
to people, hurt people, you know a little about that, but you still
manage to see something worthwhile in me. We're none of us perfect,
Tim. You don't expect it of other people, don't expect it of Frank,
of me. Don't expect it of yourself, Tim. Let up on yourself a
He sighs again, promises me he'll try. I grab onto him
hold on tight; he nuzzles my hair and holds me just as tightly,
stroking my shoulders. We're both hard as nails, but there's some
sort of telepathy going on that lets us both know we both need what
we're doing right now more than anything else. I know any minute
he's going to pull his disappearing act again, but I hope he waits
We probably stand like that for at least ten minutes, but
all too soon when he pulls back a little, kisses me, tells me he
to go. He insists on doing his cop thing, checking ahead of me to
make sure the coast is clear, all the way out to my jeep. He even
pulls his gun out of an ankle holster, holds it up in front of him,
just like they do on tv.
I try to steal one more kiss as he puts me into the jeep.
to glare at me again, but can't quite pull it off. He's still
hyperalert, looking and listening for any bad guys to protect me
from, but he's put his gun away.
"Take care of yourself, Secret Agent Man, okay?"
He smiles at that, pats my cheek. "Get out of here, Rock
closes my door, then leans through the open window and kisses me
quickly. "Thanks, Bill."
I nod, start the jeep, and drive off. I can see him in my
mirror for at least five minutes, watching me drive away. I miss
Sarah and I don't say much tonight at dinner. We're both on
knowing tonight's the night. I don't start guard duty until 9, and
I've been up since 6. Tried to take a nap earlier, but all I could
think about was Billy.
What a shock, seeing him sitting there this morning. I was
running, on autopilot, really, thinking through the plans for
tonight. I don't know what made me look up when I did, but I almost
fell flat on my face.
What a stupid, idiotic, wonderful thing for him to do,
fool neck like that. How incredible to touch him, kiss him, smell
and taste him. To have him remind me of who I can be when I'm with
him. Who I'll be when this is all over. Hopefully with him.
It scares me how much he's come to mean to me. I barely
him--have spent so very little time with him--and he knows so very
little of me, of the things I've done. When he said he knew me,
I was a good man, I wanted to argue with him, tell him he was
he couldn't possibly say that about me if he knew the truth.
But at the same time, I knew that everything he said was
does know me in his bones, as I know him in mine. And he knows that
his past doesn't matter to me--the drugs, the fights, the nights he
spent in jail, none of that matters, because the person he is now
everything he said I was. Kind, intelligent, warm, insightful,
dedicated, sexiest thing on the planet. Not perfect. Human.
And tonight he's going to do what he said I was doing--save
lives, help them get away from here. If anything happens to him, if
anyone hurts him, I think somebody better take my gun away from me.
"Timothy? Are you all right?" I look up, meet Sarah's
"I'm fine, sweetie--just thinking about tonight, hoping
goes okay. Where's Ruthie?" Ruth and Sarah share a room, a bed, and
Georgia the cat. The three of them sleeping together is a wonderful
sight, knowing at least they're here, they're not in danger of
raped. It makes me wish I could marry every girl in this town, just
to keep them all from harm.
"She's over at Rebecca's, playing with Beth and Lisa. She's
have dinner over there tonight."
"That's good. It's better that she--I don't want her to see
She nods. So much she's seen in 14 years.
"Listen, Sarah--you and Ruthie--I need to talk to you about
Ruthie, about how you're going to get out."
"We don't need to get out, Timothy, we have you! You won't
anything happen to us."
"Not if I can help it, Sarah, but there's always a chance--
"No! I don't want to talk about this, Timothy!"
"Sarah. Listen to me. There's always a chance that the Holy
will find out I've been helping people like Daniel and Gordon, like
you and Ruth. And if he finds that out, if anything happens, I have
to know that you and Ruth will be safe. So we have to talk about
this, Sarah. We have to talk about it so I know you'll do what I
tell you and get yourselves out of here if I can't protect you
So I tell her Bill's name, have her memorize his address,
phone number. I don't know why I don't give her Bartlett's number,
but I don't, I give her Billy's. I tell her what he looks like, so
she'll recognize him. I tell her where I've hidden some money,
the rock formation is. Tell her if we don't have much warning, I'll
try to get her and Ruth out the back, that they'll need to get to
Water to call Billy, but if we have some time, some warning, we'll
try to leave together, have Bill waiting for us.
I tell her all this, much more than I should. If Eisen gets
threatens her, it will all be over, for all of us. But I have to
tell her, so that there's a chance she and Ruth will be all right,
even if I'm not. After I'm sure she understands, sure she knows
to do, I give her a hug and head out to meet Daniel for guard duty.
That night, I drive back to the Canyon. The full moon, as
is spectacular. As I get closer, I turn off my headlights. There's
plenty enough light to drive, and no traffic. I pull off the road
few minutes before nine, park the jeep around the back, and wait.
After awhile, I dig my acoustic out of the back of the
over to the passenger side for more room, and start to work on a
song. The next time I glance at the clock on the dash, it's after
midnight. I decide to get out for a minute, stretch my legs.
Now I've been outside at night before in Western Canada, as
civilization as I am now. Unfortunately, perhaps, it was only to
take a piss by the side of the road. Usually drunk as a skunk.
Tonight I'm sober, relatively calm, maybe even a little happy,
seeing Tim this morning. So I lean back against the rock, look up
the sky--and the stars are fucking amazing. Even with that bright
moon competing for attention, I can see why they call it the milky
way, and I'm wondering why I never bothered to notice stuff like
I'm still sitting there, watching the stars, listening to
occasional truck or car go by, when I notice someone approaching me
from the road. He looks like he's about 18 or 20, tall, well-built,
and nervous. I give him a little wave, let him know I see him. I
smile at him.
He walks up to me cautiously. I keep sitting--figure I'm
threatening that way.
"Yeah, that's me, kid."
"You're a friend of--"
"I'm a friend of Tim Rawls." I stand up, offer him my hand.
shakes it, still cautious.
"The jeep's around the back. We should get going, get you
"Wait a minute, Mr. Boisy, there's--there are a couple more
I'll let them know it's safe."
"Go ahead. I'll start up the jeep, pick you guys up. I
to stick around here any longer than we have to."
"No, that wouldn't be a good idea," he says, and smiles for
time, in relief I think.
I was expecting one, maybe two. There are five of them--
Gordon, Susanna, Elizabeth, and Cassandra. The three girls are
sisters, 13, 10, and 6. I'm not sure, but I think Susanna may be in
the early stages of pregnancy. Daniel and Gordon are 19 and 20, and
when I see how they look at each other, I know why Tim got them
I don't think any hint of homosexuality would be tolerated by
The girls fall asleep right away, but Daniel and Gordon
company through the long drive. By the time we reach Flagstaff,
almost 5 am. We stop for some breakfast--the girls are asleep, and
when I wake them they look terrified for a minute. Everyone eats a
great deal of very good food at a local diner.
I've been thinking a lot on the way down here. I needed to
out what and how to tell them about Tim. How to tell them that as
soon as the Bureau office opens, I'm taking them to the FBI.
I light a cigarette and drink my coffee as they finish
Daniel's the first one to break the silence.
"Call me Bill, Daniel, okay?"
He nods. "Bill, then. We don't know how to thank you for
you've done. When Tim first approached me, told me he wanted my
getting people out, I didn't know what to think. And then, when I
realized he really meant it, when we started making plans, all I
thought about was actually leaving, not what happens after."
"And now you're wondering what's next?"
"Yeah." He looks at Gordon. "The two of us, we'll be okay,
be happy to take care of the girls, too, but I don't know how easy
that will be, how long it'll take us to find jobs, a place to live,
and Susanna needs to go to the doctor--"
"It's okay, Dan. We'll get here there, don't worry. But
some things I need to tell you first, all of you. What exactly has
Tim told you about why he's in Church Canyon?"
"He said he worked for the state of Utah," Gordon says.
Welfare. He said he got involved after Heather ran away, that he
helped her and Eli. Are we going to see them?"
Fuck. "I hope you'll be able to talk to Eli soon, guys, but
afraid I have some bad news about Heather. Tim--Tim's trying to
her, trying to help her by making sure that the people who killed
are put in jail. Tim is working with the FBI to get the evidence to
"Heather's dead?" Susanna asks, starting to cry.
"Yes, I'm afraid she is. And Tim was afraid that more girls
were going to be killed as well. That's why he wanted you kids to
get out, and why I agreed to help him after I met Eli."
The waitress comes by then with my change, and she looks at
I'm an abusive parent when she sees Susanna crying. I give her some
patented Billy Tallent charm and she lightens up a little. After
leaves, I start talking again.
"We're going to have to get going soon, kids, so I can take
the folks who are working with Tim. They're going to take care of
you, but they're also going to want to talk to you about Tim and
about what happens in Church Canyon. I promise that they won't hurt
you--they'll take care of you."
"What about you, Bill? Aren't you going to help us
are the first words Cassandra's spoken since I picked them up. I
smile at her.
"I hope I'll get the chance to help you some more,
Cassandra. I have
a little girl about your age, and I would love it if all of you
come and meet her when she visits me in California. But the most
important thing is that you're safe, and you'll be safer right now
with Agent Bartlett than you would be with me."
"What about Timothy? Will he be safe?" Gordon asked the
but they're all looking at me, waiting for the answer, and I don't
think I can lie to them.
"I hope so, Gordon, I hope so. The truth is, the longer he
that town, the more danger he's in. That's why you need to tell
Agent Bartlett everything you can about what happens in Church
Canyon. The sooner they get enough evidence against Eisen, the
sooner Tim will be safe."
I stop, suddenly realizing I'm exhausted. Exhausted, and
about Tim. I don't know whether the Bureau has anyone there before
am, but I don't care anymore. I gather the kids together and take
them over there, pausing as I get out of the car, remembering Tim
the parking lot.
I debated just dropping the kids off nearby and giving them
directions, but I believed too much of the speech I just gave them
for that. It's possible that something I know might help finish
investigation sooner. It's probably important that I tell them
the patrols Tim spoke of, and Eisen's fear of the ATF.
So I sit through hours of questions, what seem like hours
yelling at me for getting involved. I tell them I'll let them know
when Tim writes me again. I tell them I saw him, just 24 hours ago
now, and that he was doing his job, but that it's hard for him
I tell them Tim is my friend, that I will do anything I can to help
I don't tell him any more than that, but I suspect he knows, and in
weird way he seems grateful. I realize that he's just as much in
Tim's corner as I am, and after that it's a little easier to take
frustration with me for messing up his investigation.
He lets me go at last, I think because he realizes I'm
about to fall
asleep on the conference table. I get a chance to hug the girls
goodbye, give Zoe a hug too, shake Gordon and Daniel's hands. I
them all my number, tell them to get in touch when they get
Bartlett's arranged for a hotel room, return of my rental car, and
ride to the airport in the morning, so there's nothing left to do
crash. I sleep, then head back to LA via Phoenix.
I'm called before Meeting to be interrogated about the
think I manage to successfully divert their attention onto Daniel
his friend, Gordon. I admit to the elders that I've had some
questions about the way he's been acting, hint that he and Gordon
spent a little too much time together, that sort of thing. I'm
chastised for not bringing this to their attention, and I promise
to let it happen again.
I hope it's enough to get me by a while longer. Meeting
Daniel was a
stroke of luck, since we were often scheduled for guard duty
together; I couldn't have gotten so many out together without help
from another guard. From now on it will be much more difficult.
I wish I could have taken Daniel up on his offer to stay
help with more escapes, but I know I'm not the only one who's
the attraction between him and Gordon, and I couldn't risk it. For
them both to be safe, they both had to leave. Now, for all of us to
be safe, I'll need to lie low. No more letters to Billy, lots more
spouting of the party line.
It's a little easier, now. I know that I've sent five
safety, along with a lot of evidence. Not enough evidence, not yet,
to convict Eisen of murder, but enough evidence of child abuse and
rape to convict not only Eisen, but a few of the elders as well.
That's enough to keep me going. That, and the memory of Bill's
out by the creek.
Each night now, as Ruth and Sarah sleep, I remind myself of
said. I remind myself that there are people out there who care
Tim Bayliss, and that Bill Boisy is one of them.
I also remember his eyes, his talented hands, the taste of
the sounds he made when he came that night in Las Vegas. The few
minutes of pleasure and release I give myself, thinking of him,
ease the ache I feel for a short time.
I've been here six months now, six months that seem far
the six years I spent partnered with Frank in Homicide. I hope I
won't still be here in another six months. I doubt I'd be able to
keep this up that long, no matter how hard I try.
For now, I'm here, and that's what I should be
concentrating on. I
tell myself what I imagine Frank saying--"Quit whining, Bayliss,
do your damned job!" And that's enough, for now, to let me sleep.
A month later, Eisen tells me I'm to marry again, this time to one
his daughters, Jessica. She is 17, an old maid by Church Canyon
standards, and has a reputation as a trouble-maker. She's the one
that reported Stephanie to the elders the second time, the time
ended her life.
I am expected to see it as an honor to be offered one of
daughters, so I tell him it is, but I'm scrambling to figure out
way out of this. Not only is Jessica a trouble-maker, she's also
to gain her father's favor in any way she can.
I think he's decided she'll make a good spy. I've shown no
getting Sarah pregnant, after all, and I suspect she and Ruth are
just too relaxed, too happy, for people not to notice. And then
there's the fact that I was guarding with Daniel the night he
escaped. No, Eisen's definitely not convinced by the bad cop
anymore. He suspects something, and he's sending in Jessica to find
out what my secret is. And Jessica being Jessica, I don't think it
will take her long to find a way to pull me down, hoping it will
bring her up closer to dear old Dad.
I've managed, somehow, to put off the wedding until next
Jessica's in my house, I don't know how long I'll have. I've got to
start making plans to get Sarah and Ruth, and maybe some others,
I've been keeping in touch with the kids. Billie came out
Thanksgiving break, and I invited all six of them over for the
weekend. It was good to see her, especially after getting back from
Vegas, which was just as hard as I thought it would be, but for
totally different reasons. It was the end of September, not
and I was thinking of Tim, not Joe.
I told Billie the kids were foster kids I'd heard about,
who I wanted
to help out. She didn't question that, even when she saw how old
Gordon and Dan are. She didn't have any problems with the way they
were together, either, which I suppose means there are at least
things that are good about hanging out in Hollywood with her dad.
Mary and I managed to keep any information about my relationship
Joe away from her, but I've sometimes worried that Mary's
would affect her. Glad to see it hasn't.
All four girls have gone to bed now. The boys are sitting
out on the
patio with me, enjoying the breeze. The kids from Church Canyon
a little confused by having Thanksgiving dinner a month early, but
they seemed to enjoy it nonetheless.
I think Gordon and Dan are holding hands under the table,
can't see, and all of a sudden I can't get Tim out of my mind. It's
October, and I haven't heard from him since I drove away on that
road and watched him in my mirror. Bartlett's called me a couple
times to ask if I've gotten any letters. He won't say much, just
that Tim's been sending in his reports, but I can tell he's
The boys are worried, too. I think they've been waiting for
right time to ask me, and sure enough, now that we're alone out
with our testosterone, Eli speaks up.
"Billy, we were wondering--have you heard from Tim? Agent
won't tell us anything."
"No, he doesn't tell me much, either. Just that he's gotten
scheduled reports, that's all. And no, I haven't heard from him,
there have been times before when I haven't heard from him for a
"But you're worried about him too, aren't you?" asks Dan.
"I mean, I
know you guys are close--" he pauses, unsure.
"Yeah, we're close. And I am worried. I've been worried
he left for that fucking place."
"What he did for us--I know he had a plan to blame the
whole escape on
me, say he suspected something about me and Gordon, but I also know
he took a hell of a risk sending me with the others. I tried to get
him to let me stay, so I could help him, help take the heat off,
he wouldn't consider it. He insisted that people suspected how
Gordon and I felt about each other, and that we had to leave right
"That sounds like Tim. He wouldn't want to put anyone else
"Bill--he told me something that night, before we left. He
that I could trust you with my life. He told me he'd seen you that
morning, so he knew you'd be there. And he told me he understood,
about me and Gordon. He didn't say any more than that, but I could
tell what he meant. I'd never seen him like that. He was--he was
tense about that night, confident at the same time, but he was also
happy. When he told me he'd seen you, jeez, Bill, he smiled a real
smile, you know? I'd never seen that smile before. So I just
thought I should tell you that, that I could tell how much you mean
"That's--thank you for telling me that, Danny. Tim--he
means a lot to
me, too, and I really miss him, so thank you for telling me."
I have to look away from them as I'm saying this, because
remembering that smile, and I want so badly to see it again that
afraid I'm about to make a fucking fool of myself in front of these
boys. Freak. I take a big breath, let it out. The boys stand up,
one by one, and give me a hug, tell me they're off to bed. Hugs
teenage boys--we're all freaks.
Everyone leaves the next day. I spend half the day taking
LAX. I come home, call Bartlett. No news since the last time I
called him, which was three days ago. I've been doing pretty well
the whole nicotine habit, especially when Billie's around, but
tonight I go through a pack and a half in about two hours.
Things are getting bad here, getting worse every day. I'm
Jessica in three days. Last night--last night Joseph Eisen raped
Sarah. I came home from Meeting--I remember that I was relieved he
wasn't there that night, so I didn't have to look at him--and Ruth
crying in the bedroom, saying Sarah was in the bathroom and she
wouldn't come out.
I talked to her through the door for almost an hour before
out, and then she just hugged Ruthie, wouldn't let her go, and
I thought she'd be safe, married to me, but I was wrong. I've got
to get her out of here, her and Ruthie both. She was bleeding. She
wouldn't tell me much, but she said he'd been surprised by how much
she bled. He's pretty stupid, but I think he'll probably be able to
figure out why.
The next full moon is in 8 days. I sent a letter to Bill
I hope he'll get it in time. I sent the bureau report last week,
need to notify them of what's going on now, but lately Joseph and
certain other of his relatives have been in the post office when
there, watching me. I don't feel safe trying to mail anything else
for a few days, at least. I slipped the note to Bill in with the
electric bill, hoping no one noticed. If I could have gotten to the
pay phone, I would have called, but they were watching me too
He fucking followed her home from Rebecca's. Ruth was with
stopped to say hi to a friend. He took her into his house and he
held her down and he raped her. She has bruises on her wrists just
It's a couple weeks after everyone left, and I head in to
manage to lose myself in the music for a while, smoking
like back in the old days. I even have to do the bandaid routine
afterwards. It takes forever to get home, and when I get there I
can't decide if I'm more or less scared by the fact that there's a
letter waiting from Tim. Reading the letter solves that little
conundrum--definitely more scared.
Next full moon.
That's all there is. Fuck. FUCK. It's post-marked six days
When the fuck is the next full moon? I think maybe Chelle and Kat
might know--they're kind of into pagan stuff. Jesus, fuck, my hands
are shaking so badly I have to dial the number twice. Please be
please be home.
"Kat, listen, it's me. I need to know something, and I
guys might clue me in."
"What's wrong, Billy?"
"This is gonna sound weird, Kat, but I need to know when
full moon is. It's really, really important."
"You at home, Billy?" There's a definite tone of suspicion
"Yes, Kat, and I know I sound fucking crazy, but I swear to
friend is in trouble, and I know it doesn't make any sense, but I
can't help him until I know when the fucking moon is going to be
"Hold on a minute, Billy, I need to look at my calendar.
sure you're okay?"
"Yes, Kat, I'm okay, I'm just worried sick about this
"You fucking better not be lying to me, Billy. Oh, here it
the next full moon is this Wednesday."
"Wednesday? Like in two fucking days? Fuck! Listen, Kat,
gonna have to go out of town for a few days--don't know for sure
I'm gonna be back--"
"Because you have to help this friend on the full moon?"
"Well, yeah. Kat, this is something--I wish I could tell
and I will when I can, but there's some serious fucking shit going
on, and I can't tell you any more than that. Look, you want me to
stop by for a urine test, blood test, smell my breath, I'll do it,
but then I have to leave for Phoenix."
"You have to go to Phoenix because there's going to be a
Okay, Billy, I don't claim to understand any of this, but for some
fucking reason I believe you. You've been acting weird for months,
but I know you haven't been using. Go, and be careful, and help
friend. And Billy, call us, okay? Let us know you're all right?"
"I will, Kat, soon as I can. And thank you."
"You're welcome. Go, before I change my mind."
Two hours later I'm on the plane to Phoenix. Three days
I'm on a helicopter on my way back to Phoenix, accompanied by
The medics don't pay me much mind, though--they're too fucking busy
trying to save Tim's life.
Notes: Page, Big Water, Kanab, Church Wells, and Colorado
all real places, much the way I described them. There are several
direct entry (lay) midwives in Big Water, but most of them are very
dedicated and have indeed studied obstetrics textbooks. The former
mayor of Big Water did indeed have 8 or 9 wives and was the leader
a group of radical libertarian polygamists. When I left the area in
1997, he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. I don't know if
still alive. The polygamists in Big Water left me alone once they
found out I planned on midwifery school--they knew I didn't agree
their lifestyle, but they were perfectly pleasant to me.
I've tried to keep physical descriptions of the Kaibab
this and other stories) as accurate as memory and my atlas will
allow. The Glen Canyon Dam is an ecological monstrosity, but Lake
Powell is incredibly beautiful. The sky is amazing, but you can see
distinct yellow smudge from the Navajo Generating Station.
I would drive the 20 minutes from Page to Big Water each
working the 3-11 shift. When the moon was full, I occasionally
turned my headlights off to confirm that I could, indeed, see
perfectly well without them.
Church Canyon is completely fictional. But people up there
are pretty insular, despite the outward friendliness to the roughly
million visitors that come through Page every year, and there is a
lot of paranoia about government interference.
And anyone who's been within a couple hundred miles of the
Canyon really should make the trip to see it.