He stood there for several minutes, uncertain of what he should do. Finally he took a seat on the paint-splattered stool beside the little table where he had so recently been a prisoner. He ran his fingertips over the teeth of the saw blades. Looking down, he noticed a neat red sphere. It lay on the floor beside his left foot.He picked it up. A glossy marble of scarlet plastic, cool and slightly yielding. One of the restraints, either his or Skinner’s.He sat there, watching Skinner and listening to the bridge groan in the storm, a strange music emerging from the bundled cables. He wanted tc press his ear against them, but some fear he couldn’t name heli him from it.Skinner woke once, or seemed to, and struggled to sit up, calling, Yamazaki thought, for the girl.
‘She isn’t here,’ Yamazaki said, his hand on Skinner’s shoulder. ‘Don’t you remember?’
‘Swear to God,’ Nigel said, ‘this shit just moved.’Chevette, with her eyes closed, felt the blunt back of the ceramic knife press into her wrist; there was a sound like an inner-tube letting go when you’ve patched it too many times, and then that wrist was free.‘Shit. Jesus-‘ His hands rough and quick, Chevette’s eyes opening to a second pop, a red blur whanging back and forth around the stacked scrap. Nigel’s head following it, like the counterweighted head of a plaster dog that Skinner had found once and sent her down to sell.
Every wall in this narrow space racked with metal, debraised sections of old Reynolds tubing, dusty jam jars stuffed with rusting spokes. Nigel’s workshop, where he built his carts, did what shadetree fixes he could to any bike came his way. The salmon-plug that dangled from his left ear ticked in counterpoint to his swiveling head, then jingled as he snatched the thing in mid-bounce. A ball of red plastic. Where can i buy modalert?
‘Man,’ he said, impressed, ‘who put this on you?’Chevette stood up and shivered, this tremor running down through her like a live thing, the way those red bracelets had moved.How she felt, now, was just the way she’d felt that day she’d come back to the trailer and found her mother all packed up and gone. No message there hut a can of ravioli in a pot on the Stove, with the can-opener propped up beside it.She hadn’t eaten that ravioli and she hadn’t eaten any since and she knew she never would.But this feeling had come, that day, and swallowed everything up inside it, so big you couldn’t really prove it was there except by an arithmetic of absence and the memory of better days. And she’d moved around in it, whatever it was, from one point to another, ’til she’d wound up behind that wire in Beaverton, in a place so bad it was like a piece of broken glass to rub against that big empty. And thereby growing aware of the thing that had swallowed the world, though it was only just visible