Page 34 - WTP Vol. XI #3
P. 34

Every Faith (continued from page 20)
 that occurred to Mark: sweetly. Her legs were still outstretched, and she was wearing shorts and crew socks, and Mark would remember, would forget only briefly, how Spencer had reached down and gripped her knee and firmly shaken her. All this he had per- formed without a moment’s hesitation. And when Amber came to, when she opened her eyes and re- tracted her legs with the sharp, startled speed of the rudely awoken, Spencer’s hand did not fly back with matching speed. He moved it slowly, without hurry, as if, Mark thought, nothing weird had even happened.
“What?” Amber said.
“Safety hazard.”
She was hugging her knees, looking groggy, confused.
“We can’t have you flat back here,” Spencer said. “What if the bus just stopped on a dime? You’d go fly- ing like a twig. And we don’t want that, do we?”
He turned to Mark and winked, as if this were some old private joke they’d long shared: a huge imagined crash, Amber flying through a window. It was the wink that made it funny, the way Spencer had looked at him.
“Okay,” Amber said. “Okay. I’ll sit up.”
“Precious cargo,” Spencer said. “Gotta make sure we’re secure.”
“Of course,” Mark said.
“There you go,” Spencer said. “I knew Unger would get it.”
“I got it,” Amber said. “I’m up. I’m up.”
“Do as Mark does, and sit upright. Be an upright citi- zen.”
Amber looked at him and smiled, cocked her chin and rudely squinted.
“Anyway,” said Spencer, “y’all excited to retreat?”
“Not since Dunkirk,” Amber said, “has a group of people ever been so happy to retreat.”
“A history buff,” said Spencer.
“A reader. That’s all.”
“A reader. Very good. Well maybe you can read the
room and sit up in your seat.”
He winked at Mark again, then swiveled on his heel and headed back toward his row, illumined by the dream-glow of the movie on the screens. Mark watched until he made it to his seat, then disap- peared.
“Christ,” Amber said.
Her legs swung to the floor.
“The man’s got a point,” Mark said. “Who are you? The Fire Marshal?” “What? No. I just think he had a point.” “Oh. I see. The Fire Marshal’s stooge.”
He decided not to answer this. He looked up at the screens, where a stiff-lipped white coach was glaring his way through America’s race problem.
“You see him grab my knee?”
“That was just to wake you up. What else could he grab? It was right there in front him.”
“Jesus. You’re dumber than I thought.” “And you, my fair lady, are paranoid.” “Hysterical, I’m sure.”
“That’s not what I said.”
“I always did enjoy this bus’s yellow wallpaper.” “What?”
“An allusion. Mind it not.”
He tried not to mind it. He sat there, on his hands, and directed his attention to the nearest glowing screen.
“Spencer’s fine,” he finally said. “He’s a pretty good guy.”
“Whatever.” She had scooted to her window, nudged her head against the glass. “Whatever you say, my fair stooge.”
Pensacola. They’d arrived at 6 p.m., when the sunset looked to Mark like a massive airbrushed t-shirt.

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