He never remembered going back to the cabin. He had vague memories of walking and falling down, walking and falling down, but they were as dim as vanished dreams. When he did come out of it, he was in their own cabin. He was lying on the bed and Jill was sitting in a chair looking down at him. She was wearing a beige skirt and a dark-brown sweater. Her face was freshly scrubbed, her lipstick unmarred, her hair neatly combed. There was a moment, then, when nothing made sense — the whole thing, Carroll and the two men and the beating and the violation of his wife, none of this could have happened.
But then he felt the pain in his own body and the dull ache of his head and he saw the discoloration over her right eye, masked incompletely by makeup. It had all happened.
“Don’t try to talk yet,” she said. “Take it easy.”
“I’m all right.”
“I’m all right,” he said. He sat up. His head was perfectly clear now. The pain was still there, and strong, but his head was perfectly clear. He remembered everything up to the blow that knocked him out. The return from Carroll’s cabin to their own, that was lost, but he remembered all the rest in awful reality.
“We’ve got to get you to a doctor,” he said.
“I’m all right.”
“Both of them?”
“Both of them.”
“You’ve got to see a doctor, Jill.”
“Tomorrow, then.” She took a breath. “I think the police are over in... in the other cabin. I heard a car, someone must have called them. It took them long enough.”
“What time is it?”
“After ten. They’ll be coming over here, won’t they?”
“The police? Yes, I think so.”
“You’d better clean up. I tried to wash your face. Your head is cut a little. In two places, on top and behind your ear there.” She touched him, her hand light, cool. “How do you feel?”
“Liar,” she said. “Wash up and change your clothes, Dave.”
He went into the tiny bathroom and stripped down. There was no tub, just a shower. It was one of those showers in which you had to hold a chain down in order to keep the water running. He showered very quickly and thought about the two men and Carroll and about what they had done to Jill. At first his mind clouded with fury, but he stayed in the shower and the water rained down upon him, and he thought about it, forced himself to think about it. The fury did not go away. It stayed, but it cooled and changed its shape.
While he was drying himself off the bathroom door opened and Jill brought him clean clothes. After she had left he realized, oddly, that she had just seen him naked for the first time. He shrugged the thought away and dressed.
When he came out of the bathroom, the police were there. There were two tall thin men, state troopers, and there was one older man from the Sheriff’s Office in Pomquit. One of the troopers took their names. Then he removed his hat and said, “A man was murdered here tonight, Mr. Wade. We wondered if you knew anything about it.”
“Your neighbor. A Mr. Carroll.”
Jill drew in her breath sharply. Dave looked at her, then at the trooper. “We met Mr. Carroll just this afternoon,” he said. “What... happened?”
“He was shot four times in the head.”
Five times, he thought. He said, “Who did it?”
“We don’t know. Did you hear anything? See anything?”
“Whoever killed him must have come in a car, Mr. Wade. We found tire tracks. There was a car parked right next to yours outside. That is your car, isn’t it? The Ford?”
“Did you hear a car drive up, Mr. Wade?”
“Not that I remember.”
The man from the Sheriff’s Office said, “You would have heard it — it was right outside your window. And the shots, you would have heard them. Were you here all night?”
Jill said, “We went out for dinner.”
“We left about seven,” she said. “Seven or seven-thirty.”
“And got back when?”
“About... oh, half an hour ago, I guess. Why?”
The man from the Sheriff’s Office looked over at the troopers. “That would do it, then,” he said. “Carroll’s been dead at least an hour, the way my man figures it. Closer to two hours, probably. They must have gotten back just before we got the call, must have come right in without seeing the body. You wouldn’t see it from where the car’s parked, anyway. Just been back half an hour, Mr. Wade?”
“It may have been longer than that,” he said.
“As much as an hour?”
“I don’t think so. Maybe forty-five minutes at the outside.”
“That would do it, then. I guess you didn’t see anything, then, Mr. Wade. Mrs. Wade.”
He turned to go. The troopers hesitated, as though they wanted to say something but hadn’t figured out the phrasing yet. Dave said, “Why was he killed?”
“We don’t know yet, Mr. Wade.”
“He was a very pleasant man. Quiet, friendly. We sat outside this afternoon and had a beer with him.”
The troopers didn’t say anything.
“Well,” Dave said, “I don’t want to keep you.”
The troopers nodded shortly. They turned, then, and followed the man from the Sheriff’s Office out of the cabin.
It was midnight when the last earful of police was gone. They sat quietly for five or ten minutes. He stood up then and said, “We’re getting out of here tonight. You’d better start packing.”
“We’re leaving tonight?”
“You don’t want to stay here, do you?”
“God, no.” She reached out a hand. He gave her a cigarette, lit it for her. She blew out smoke and said, “They won’t be suspicious?”
“Of us, if we leave so quickly. Without staying the night.”
He shook his head. “We’re newlyweds,” he said. “Newlyweds wouldn’t want to spend their wedding night next door to a murder.”
“Wedding night. God, Dave, how I planned this night. All of it.”
He took her hand.
“How I would be sexy for you and everything. How I wouldn’t mind if it hurt because I love you so much.
Oh, and little tricks I read in one of those marriage manuals, I was going to try those tricks. And surprise you with my ingenuity.”
He got the suitcases and spread them open on the bed. They packed their clothes in silence. He put the clothes she had worn earlier and his own dirty clothes in the trunk and loaded the two suitcases in the back seat. She got in the car, and he went to the cabin and closed the door and locked it.
As they drove past the lodge, she said, “We didn’t pay. The old woman would want to be paid, for the one night.”
“That’s too fucking bad,” he said.
He turned left at the main road and drove to Pomquit. He passed through the town and took a road heading north. “It’s late and I don’t know the roads,” he said. “We’ll stop at the first motel that looks decent.”
“We’ll get an early start in the morning,” he went on. He was looking straight ahead at the road and he did not glance over at her. “An early start in the morning, figure out which route to take, all of that. They’re from New York, aren’t they?”
“I think so. Carroll said he was from New York. And they all had New York accents.”
He slowed the car. There was a motel off to the left, but the “No Vacancy” sign was lit He speeded up again.
“We’ll go to New York,” he said. “Well be there by tomorrow afternoon, Monday. We’ll get a room in a hotel, and we’ll find out who they are, the two of them. One of them is named Lee. I didn’t catch the other one’s name.”
“Neither did I.”
“We’ll find out who they are, and then we’ll find them and we’ll kill them, both of them. Then we’ll go back to Binghamton. We have three weeks. I think we can find them and kill them in three weeks.”
Up ahead, on the right, there was a motel. He slowed the car. As he pulled off the road he glanced at her face, quickly. Her jaw was set and her eyes were dry and clear.
“Three weeks is plenty of time,” she said.