CHAPTER 9

John sat in the old, overstuffed armchair near the fireplace in Evangeline's brownstone. He watched Killian make a fuss over Evangeline, though the doctor was more ill than the patient.

Killian had prepared a fine, lemon-garlic, roasted chicken with asparagus. He had laughed when he saw the fresh tips. He'd forgotten how phallic they were. And, he'd been stunned by the daffodil-yellow, chef's dream of a kitchen a real kitchen, an underused kitchen. He'd been cooped up in that cabin so long, he'd forgotten about color and the life it gives.

John had tried to convince Killian to let him cook, to let him take care of the both of them. Killian would not relent, and Evangeline had confessed to liking Killian's cooking better than John's.

"And, I certainly like it better than mine," she had said, smiling and giggling.

Killian had laughed with her not because he knew what her cooking was like but because of the way her nose crinkled with cheer.

John looked at them now Evangeline eating as though she had never tasted food, moaning and rolling her eyes with pleasure in every bite and Killian smiling and scratching his head and eating slowly because he couldn't find his appetite. He was envious of the aurulent beads of friendship that floated between them and kissed their skin, bestowing a happy glow where gray illness was trying to root itself. They had been through something he hadn't, and he still wasn't sure where his place was when they were together.

"McBain, come on and eat," Evangeline said, picking at the cold chicken on his plate.

John held his glass high and sloshed his Jameson whiskey around and around. "This is all the food I need," he said.

"Amen to that, brother," Killian said, rising slowly like a drugged phoenix.

John held up his hand and motioned for Killian to return to his seat. "I'll get it for you."

Evangeline was straddling the conscious and unconscious by the time John had poured Killian his drink. John picked her up in his arms and asked Killian to excuse him for a moment.

"Good night, Killian," Evangeline mumbled, as she nestled her head against John's shoulder.

When John returned to the living room, he found Killian leaning against the fireplace, poking at the wood, releasing red and orange embers into the air. He waited for Killian to look up, instead of announcing his presence.

"I know you," Killian said, smiling, turning back toward his seat.

"From what Evangeline said about me?" John asked, leaning over his still full plate and grabbing a plank of breast meat.

"I know you, brother, because you are me without the sense of humor," Killian said, his green eyes locking with John's blue.

The two men were quiet with their drinks for a while. Both of them were thinking of their lives and their fallen women. John unconsciously looked up and over to the right, where the master bedroom was located, when he thought of Evangeline. Killian looked at him.

"Good for you that you've got her," Killian said.

John smiled to himself hesitantly, with his head down.

"I remember love like that. You're lucky, brother. You're lucky."

John pulled his glass of whiskey from a nearby table. "The luck of the Irish," he said.

"The luck of the Irish, indeed," Killian echoed.

They both drained their glasses and drifted into idle conversations about Ireland, about Evangeline. Half a bottle of whiskey later, the two men had moved on to poetry and love and death and grief beyond reason. Killian confessed his death wish, and John told of his own.

"I settled for a half-life purgatory because I couldn't find a way to get in the line of fire. No matter how reckless I got, you know, I couldn't get myself killed," John said.

"I know you've got the same thing with your Caitlyn as I've got with my Rajani," Killian said, pouring more whiskey into their glasses.

John shook his head. "Not any more. Not for a while now. Not since Evangeline," he said.

"Well, I guess you don't need her as much now. But you know she's there when you need her," Killian said. "I never knew how true that Dylan Thomas poem was until I spoke to Rajani the first time after we'd buried her."

John felt a brush of pain in his heart when he remembered bearing Caitlyn's coffin on his shoulders with her father and cousins. He remembered watching her casket being lowered into the cold ground through a slate of tears.

"Though lovers be lost, love shall not; and death shall have no dominion," Killian said.

"I'm going to clear your name, if it's the last thing I do," John promised.

"Thank you, brother," Killian said, his body wilting with fatigue. "Thank you."

Finishing their whiskeys, the two men went upstairs. Killian retired to the guest room, and John went toward the master bedroom where his love lay sleeping. He worried when he saw light stretch out underneath the door into the hallway. He had turned off all the lights so Evangeline could rest soundly.

Rushing into the room, John didn't know what to expect. He panicked, thinking he'd find Evangeline sprawled out on the floor, as she had tried to get his help. He prepared for the worst. Instead, he found her in the bed, turned over onto her stomach, deep in the clutches of sleep. She had turned on the lamp on his side of the bed. She had left the light on for him.

John took off his clothes and slipped into bed beside her. He turned off the lamp, and in the dark, Evangeline inched closer and closer to him, until she was in his arms, her head on his chest. The next day would be an exhausting one: the rest of Llanview would learn that she was alive. And, they would meet Killian. And, he would have to arrest Killian.

Back | Next