Triadic Tales - The Hand - Short Story (Part Two)



Going up the hill in Arizona, Oswald could not get Bill out of his mind. The sheer size of the man and the high voice. He wondered about differences in the species. Not the mega-differences that led to wars and hatred. No. The massive differences that exist between one and another at the closest range. God. He thought of his ex. We are different and similar, he thought.

It was late at night when he got to Seligman. It was cold. A frigid wind cut through his Good Will jacket. 

Back in the eighties, coin phones were more common than now. He found  a glassed-in booth at the end of the main drag. He called his ex collect.     

"What in god's name are you calling me collect for," came the censorious voice of his once-beloved spouse. "Are you broke again?"

"I was just wondering about our differences," Oswald said. "And how we could have gotten along for many years and then fallen apart so precipitously."

"You ought to know the answer to that," said the ex.

"What?" said Oswald.

"It was you fault. You're to blame. Why are you calling me? It's over."

"You wanted it to be over," Oswald said.

"Who wouldn't?" the ex said. "Driving all over the country. With that woman."

"There's no woman," Oswald said.

"Well, there was."  Oswald heard the phone click. He wondered if it would be as cold in the car as in this booth. She was right, Still, it wasn't his fault, They were both to blame.

He tried to figure out at what point either of them could have prevented the outcome. The car was visible from the booth. There was already a crust of snow on the hood. And there on the other side, unmistakably, was the hulk of the man he thought he had left in Tucumcari. He walked out. 

"Bill," he said.

"You're not gonna sleep in this up here," he said.

"Nope, I'm going to Kingman and turning right. With luck I'll make Boulder City by sunrise."

All of this was Oswald's effort to avoid discussion of what explained Bill's apparent pursuit of him. One does not leave I-40 and go to Seligman at random. Bill must have followed the green Mercedes.

Oswald felt a trace of fear. But he agreed to meet Bill at a truck stop at the Kingman junction where he would be turning north. 

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