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
"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