Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Night is a Shadow Cast By the World (Chapter 14)

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Night is a Shadow Cast By the World by Brian Panhuyzen

Toronto writer Brian Panhuyzen's ambitious new novel, Night is a Shadow Cast By the World, is a gripping literary adventure about books, aviation, travel and love. We will be serializing a portion of the book on Open Book: Toronto, with a new chapter posted every Tuesday and Thursday.

Read Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 of Night is a Shadow Cast By the World.

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Chapter 14

After some hours of travel the horizon loses its tension, bunching into foothills of the American southwest. The sun hangs at the top of the windscreen, descending slowly as the DC-3 chases it into the west, and Cordell longs for sunglasses to relieve his bleached retinas. He peers over the rim of the side window and sees brown flecks shifting on the plains below, cattle on a drive, a great hungry herd moving like an amoeba across a microscope slide. The plains run far into the north, and he watches for some time a thunderstorm supercell, a tremendous mountain of gnarled cloud, oilblack along its eastern perimeter where it casts a menacing shadow, while high above the cloud’s summit boils into the stratosphere.

Tessa is smoking a cigarette and the sunlit smoke is all the more caustic for its visibility. Cordell is antsy and nervous, the smoke adding to his irritation, and when he looks into his lap he sees his fidgeting hands, watches them tangle and squirm. What he wants, he decides, is something substantial to grip, the armrest, his thighs, these won’t do, what he needs, what he wants, is a book. He sits up, clutches his knees. It seem ludicrous, this thought, but it must be coming on twenty-four hours since he last held a book, and he is suffering withdrawal. What madness.

Tessa has been chattering into the radio. The land far ahead is rising from rhythmic hills to bluffs and cliffs and buttes.

“Where are we?” he asks, his voice hoarse from the hours of silence.

She consults the map. “Just crossed the panhandle of Texas. New Mexico now.”

Texas. New Mexico. Narnia and the Shire. He feels a stirring in his gut at these mythical placenames. He stares intently at the scrubcovered ground, knots of greenery surrounding draws and gullies, some filled with water, around which he occasionally spots drinking cattle, others dry but etched into the soil, like furrows left by a migration of giant worms.

He pulls the radio headset off and lays it in his lap, admitting into his ears the drone of the engines, and he massages the sides of his head, his ears, glad to escape the persistent clamp of the earpieces. Also relieved to be liberated from the obligation of conversation. Though Tessa seems comfortable with silence, Cordell feels a compulsion to chat. If only he had a book. Thoughts running in violent eddies. He closes his eyes and lets the roar and throb embrace him. After a few moments he climbs out of the chair and paces into the cabin, walking briskly to exercise his legs. He reaches the bathroom door, stops there. He looks at their cargo of grey crates, casts his eyes over the seats, imagining an age of air travel before jetliners, interminable crosscountry journeys conducted in luxury. Some DC-3s were sleepers, with bunkbeds concealed behind drapes. Because it took seventeen hours to cross the continent. No beds on this plane, though. As a military C-47 it carried troops and supplies. C for cargo. He wants to know more, to research, read, to absorb data in carefully typeset rows, page on page, the textured nap of the cover against his fingertips. He feels his hands closing rhythmically again, longing to pinch the margins of a rare hardcover. He jams his hands into his pockets to restrain them and goes forward, returns to the cockpit, must liberate them to maneuver into his seat. Glad for the headset now when it shuts out the punishing roar.

“How long until we land?” he asks.

“Are we there yet?” Tessa whines.

“I’m just curious.”

“Two hours. Stopping to refuel. Cross the border tonight. Might want to get some sleep.”

“I’m not tired.”

“Suit yourself. If nothing goes wrong you might be home, say, sunset tomorrow.”

Back in the basement with my books, he thinks. The idea is less comforting than he expects; it spawns a momentary claustrophobia. The terrain is descending, greening. A river ahead, and beyond it the land swells to higher peaks. The Duck passes over them with a hundred feet of clearance, and Cordell is both thrilled and fearful as he watches mountaintops flash below them so near he can almost discern needles on the stunted pines.

He squints until his eyes ache. He shuts them briefly.

He is awakened by a change in the plane’s attitude and speed. He spots a short runway aligned before them. The land is craggy and barren in all directions, speckled with sparse and bristly vegetation. A town rests on the horizon. Hangars hunch along the side of the strip, and he can tell even from this distance that they are ramshackle and crumbling, broken glass glittering in the sunlight. No control tower.

Tessa babbles into the radio, sets up for landing. She lowers the gear and drops the flaps. As they near the runway’s threshold she sits up in her chair and squints through the windscreen and states in a low, woozy voice, “What the fuck?”

Cordell looks too, sees nothing peculiar, the runway, the hangars, a cluster of cars parked adjacent the first structure, but Tessa is thumbing the radio switch, she says, “Hey Mercer, are you entertaining guests?”

They each hear the reply, three rapid clicks as if the transmit button has been thrice pressed with nothing spoken. The runway’s threshold passes beneath them and Tessa instantly runs the engines up to full power. Cordell spots among the cars one with police lights on its roof. The plane quakes against the drag of the flaps and landing gear, and as Tessa hastily retracts everything the plane surges forward, rapidly consuming the remainder of the runway. The ground beyond the strip rises gently, but Tessa does not lift the aircraft’s nose and they go flat in while the scrubcovered hill rises towards the plane’s belly. Familiar shapes resolve out of the blur of vegetation, saguaro cacti standing like tall, slender chiefs guarding the landscape, and as he gazes into the distance he sees other species: palo verde, organpipe, ocotillo. The Sonoran Desert. They’re flying over the Sonoran Desert. And he’s up here, speeding away from it. Tessa banks to the right, and Cordell clutches the armrests watching the land slant away before them.

“See what we’re up against,” Tessa says as she relaxes the turn. A moment later she pulls them into a tighter arc, and Cordell’s brain reels as blood drains from his head, and when he looks through the side window he sees the wingtip inscribing a tight circle above the ground, which seems an arm’s length away. Then she flattens them out and they fly straight on, landscape ripping past beneath them, every plant that disappears in their wake augmenting Cordell’s despair, for the greasewood and greythorn and hopbush he will never see or touch or smell. Then up ahead and to the left the airport reappears, they are approaching from the north, perpendicular to the runway, and it is only after the flashbulb instant it takes to overfly the field and leave it behind that Cordell processes what he has seen: cars scattered across the runway, a pair of police cruisers among them, men standing within open doors, shading their eyes, scanning the sky, one in a black suit with a foot propped on the doorsill, a shotgun held skyward with the butt against his thigh.

“God almighty,” Tessa says softly.

“Who are they?” Cordell asks, voice hysterical.

“Cops,” she replies. “Feds.”

“But what do they want with you?”

“With us?” she says, squinting at him. She works a cigarette from the pack, lights it. “Could be anything. Been wanting a reason to get me for awhile. Suspect I smuggle stuff for Luz. Or maybe they’re working with Viento Oscuro.”

“Oh god,” Cordell says, a rupture of dread in his gut. “Could they know about me?” Marla . . . ?

“Wouldn’t think so. Not yet.”

“What does that mean? What’s going on?”

“Easy now, Bechard. Feds are always harassing Mercer since the AVARS grounding. Been trying to throw something at me for years. Can’t land there. Not anywhere around here either. We’ll have to keep on. Which means we got another problem. Need your help. Yeah, no kidding, I’m shocked too. Can’t land, so we go straight on to Mexico for the dropoff.”

“What about fuel?” he says, hunting the dashboard for the gauges.

“We’re at forty percent. With the auxiliaries plus the supercarbs the Duck’s got double the normal DC-3 range, so in theory we’re okay, though I prefer to go with enough to get in and out. Have to arrange for refuelling there.”

“What can I do?”

“Never been to this airfield and there wasn’t time for a flight plan.” She hands him a map. “Know how to read this?”

“I do. Actually,” he replies, unfolding the chart panel by panel until it fills the cockpit. He turns and angles it towards the light, panning it past his face, seeking their point of departure.

“Fold it. Fold it, god almighty!” Tessa cries, shoving it out of her face.

He feels the twang of hurt, almost explains that he’s never experienced a space constraint while piloting computer simulations from a deskchair, instead collapses the map into a manageable rectangle.

“Where are we going?” he asks.

“Town called Casa Grande. Should be round here.” She pokes a corner of the map.

“Here,” he says, finding the dot in a quadrant of sparse landmarks and meagre roadways.

She lifts a kneeboard from beside her seat and hands it to him, then tunes the radio until they hear a recorded voice enumerating wind vectors at various altitudes. Cordell begins to scribble on a corner of the map, and Tessa says, “You just need ground level. Guess I have to teach you how to plot a course.”

“I can do it.”

“Not like planning a road trip. Got drift, landmarks, magnetic deviation.”

“I know. I can do this.”

Cordell extracts a pencil and protractor from a flap and draws a line from Arrowhead to Casa Grande. He measures the course, marks out ten miles increments, sketches drift lines. He circles and charts landmarks, pulls a sliderule from the kneeboard, records their airspeed, checks the wind speed, computes ground speed and compass heading, compensating for magnetic deviation and wind velocity. He’s done this a hundred times before, it comes easily, even if all previous attempts were for the computer. Where error wouldn’t get him hopelessly lost. Or worse. He rechecks everything, and just as he detects Tessa’s first sighs of impatience, says, “We should have departed Arrowhead at heading 101.”

“We didn’t.”

He looks at the compass. “We’ve been at heading 185 for, what do you think, five minutes?” Cordell performs calculations on the sliderule. “So to correct, bring us to 98 degrees.”

“And that puts us on course?”

He nods, but his tongue is between his teeth.

“Sure?” she asks, seeing the doubt.

“You want to check it?”

“Seem like a pretty thorough guy. So here we go.” She banks the plane and they watch the heading indicator line up with 98 degrees. She looks at him. “Just need a landmark,” she says.

He raises the map, finds a point where a railway skirts the edge of a reservoir. He touches it with his thumbnail and sits up in the seat, scanning through the window. “There!” he says as the gleam of sunlight on water appears to the left. In a few seconds they see the rails, also shining in the afternoon sun.

Tessa nudges the plane to the left so they pass over the lake, says out of the side of her mouth, “Almost looks like you know what you’re doing. How bout an ETA?”

Cordell computes, says, “Fifty-four minutes. Oh,” he says, looking through the front window, then back at the map. “That crest up ahead is 2650 feet. We’ll cross it in four minutes. You should climb to 3600 feet in three.”

Three and three quarter minutes later, the peak looming above them, Tessa ascends to 2800 feet. Cordell swallows, and takes deep breaths as rocks skim beneath the undercarriage.

Tessa twiddles the omni bearing selector, fixes on a radial from the VOR station on the lowland below.

“Why didn’t you use that before?” Cordell asks.

“Transmitter was behind that hill. We fly too low to rely on them. Not bad, Bechard. For a doctor. Hungry? Thirsty?”

As she hands him a granola bar and a bottle of mineral water, Cordell can’t help but feel like he’s being rewarded, like a horse that can add. But he’s famished, thirsty, they haven’t eaten since breakfast; he eats and drinks eagerly, watching the blur of scenery. Undercurrent of thrill at what he’s done, constructed a flight plan. At last, here’s one that won’t languish, forgotten, in a notebook in his basement.

After some minutes of watching the scenery he asks, “Tessa, what’s in the crates?”

She gives him a wary look. “What do you think?”

“I hope it’s not guns.”

“Oh no, certainly not. Quilts and long underwear.”

“Really?”

“You dunce. Russian-made Kalashnikov AK-47s.”

“It can’t be. Luz is peaceful.”

“The times they are a’changin. You can’t win a war with books and coded messages. Not when the other side starts shooting.”

“A war? I thought it was a movement. A gentle resistance.”

“It could have been. Until they started killing the resistors. And then even those who weren’t. Old people. Children.”

Her face is hard. The world “children” razor-sharp.

“But why go to Canada for guns? It doesn’t make sense!”

“Bechard, no doubt you got a A in geography. So what’s the shortest route between Russia and North America?”

“You flew to Russia? Over the pole?”

“Not quite. Grise Fjord, Northwest Territories.”

“You mean Nunavut.”

“Huh?”

“Grise Fjord, known in Inuktitut as Aujuittuq, the ‘place that never thaws out,’ is in Nunavut, formerly called the Northwest Territories.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Just trying to keep things straight. But I still don’t understand why you’d go so far. Can’t you get guns anywhere?”

“They’re a gift.”

“A gift? From whom?”

“You didn’t just say ‘whom,’ did you? Jesus. There are others in the international community joining in. Don’t you know it’s spreading?”

“What is?”

“Luz. The light of freedom. Asia. There’s a lot of negotiation with groups in Asia.”

He thinks of the recent increase in book traffic to and from Asia. China, Russia, Malaysia. Even India. Messages passing through the nexus of Bechard’s Books in Wannup, Ontario. Just books, nothing more, but they are each part of a message. He suspects that arriving concurrently at their destination for each is a page reference and an encryption key. Run the page through the key and there’s your message. Without the key and the page number all you have is a book. Utterly uncrackable. He’s tried, or thought to try, but he never once saw reference or key, knew it was fruitless.

“So they’re a gift,” he says. “From whom?”

“From the Russians, that’s whom. Neoliberalism is out of control since the fall of communism. A big counter-organization forming. Hoping to forge an alliance with Luz. They’re calling it neosocialism. In Russia, where it all started.”

“Marx and Engels were German.”

“Oh for chrissakes you know what I mean.”

“I don’t think anyone wants Russian-style communism back. I thought this was a peaceful resistance.”

“Oh, like in Seattle last year?”

“The protest against the WTO Ministerial Conference was peaceful, but for the black bloc of about forty anarchists who were probably hired by the feds to break windows and justify a violent response.”

“That had nothing to do with Luz anyway.”

“It has everything to do with Luz. With the Washington Consensus and the whole neoliberal agenda. It’s the IMF and the WTO and the OECD and the World Bank.

“It’s the raids,” Tessa says. “It’s about the siege of towns sympathetic to the cause. It’s about the antipersonnel mines they’re planting around these towns, in the fields, which end up killing or maiming kids and livestock. It’s about Maria Ana Castaneda.”

“Who?”

“Seven years old. Killed last March by a guard outside a Motorola manufacturing plant in Chihuahua.”

“Why?”

“Protesting a wage cut. Actually, it was her father who was protesting. She was sitting on his shoulders.”

Venom in her tone. Cordell pictures a girl, a seven year-old girl, exuberant as her father lifts her above a sea of shaking fists. Understanding, not understanding. What does a girl of seven know? Maria, riding her father’s rage. Diminishing funds, less to eat, maybe they had to pull her out of school. She is laughing up there, she is crying. Her fist rises with each chant. She’s holding a crucifix, a knife, a pistol. She’s holding a carved doll with cornsilk hair. She loves the thunder of voices, she repeats the chant, the demand for fair treatment. She wants to go home. There’s a blue bead in her pocket, she slips her hand inside and touches it, it is cool and smooth. A bullet halving the distance towards her, splitting the distance again and again and again.

They are both silent for a time.

“So Russians send guns,” Cordell says eventually. “As a gift.”

“Yes.”

“What went wrong? What happened to Vic?”

“To carry cargo, Luz has me. People like me. Over there they got Russian Mafia. That’s how they got the guns to Grise Fjord. Mafia came in flying some kind of DC-3 knockoff. I mean it looked like a Gooney Bird, but what was weird were these squares in a radial pattern around the prop hubs.”

“That’s an Li-2,” Cordell says excitedly. “Named after its Russian ‘inventor,’ Boris P. Lisunov. They built 6000 of them and never paid a cent to Douglas.”

Tessa begins to poke Cordell with an index finger.

He squirms and cries, “What are you doing?”

“Looking for the ‘off’ switch,” she says before she relents. Cordell probes his ribs, mutters, “I thought you’d be interested in that.”

“You thought, you thought. I’m trying to tell you what happened. We landed first, right on schedule. God almighty, this was days ago. Seems like months, years. Anyway, we landed first, at dawn. But they’re not there. So we wait. We refuel. We lunch at the terminal. Finally, here they come, in that ape of a plane, and a pretty shabby landing too. Fine, they’re late, shit happens, weather happens, mechanical problems happen. But why do they taxi to a spot on the far side of the terminal a quarter mile away? Doesn’t make sense, or it didn’t at the time. And then here they come, in some wrecked pickup truck, driven by this Eskimo named Kussuyok.

Cordell thinks about correcting Eskimo to Inuit, remembers his ribs, decides against it. Tessa sips water, consult the maps, makes an adjustment. Still very low, the desert below uneven and Tessa hugging the terrain like a cruise missile.

“So Kussuyok. Here come the Russians, Vic and I head down from the restaurant to meet with this scrawny Russian named Bilakni and two thugs, plus Kussuyok. Bilakni talks, he’s a confused tourist, a character from some Cold War comedy, innocent and thick and six English words to his vocabulary, two of them ‘shit.’” Tessa affects a Russian accent. “‘It’s shit problem. We park there. You park here. This guy Kussuyok can bring shit boxes from our shit plane in shit truck. Is okay?’ And I let him know it’s definitely not okay, but apparently body language and gestures do not translate for Bilakni, so there we have it. I mean obviously it’s a setup. Kussuyok and the thugs just bobbing their heads like happy dogs and Bilakni’s hands in the air –” Tessa shrugs with her palms spread aloft “— like he’s testing for rain.”

She seizes the yoke and the plane climbs rapidly over an approaching rise, plummets into a trough, making Cordell’s gut squirm.

“And there are other Russians too, back in their plane. Outnumbered, what choice do we have? We try to mitigate things by having Vic go to their craft, I stay with the Duck. But no one’s with Kussuyok, ferrying the crates over in his shit truck. Out of sight of both Vic and me during the journey when he crosses behind the terminal. And taking too long. As we soon figured out, Kussuyok takes on nine guns, stops behind the terminal, unloads one, delivers eight. Shuffles the cases around in the truckbed so I won’t see one’s missing. Three stacks of three, that’s how Vic would have loaded the truck. If he was one thing, he was neat. Everyone’s armed to the fuckin teeth, do I really want to start something?”

Cordell checks the course against local landmarks and panics when a radio mast on the map fails to appear. As he alternates frantically between map and scenery, Tessa mutters, “You’re looking for a 700-foot antenna.”

“How’d you know?”

“Chased it myself. It was knocked down in a windstorm two winters ago. Doesn’t happen in the flight sims, does it?” she laughs. “Anyway, Bilakni clearly didn’t expect Vic to count. Russians made a point of showing him the empty hold. Kussuyok drove him back to the Duck where a tally explained everything. Should have let it go. I was ready to let it go. We’re a few short, big deal. Supposed to be a gift, right? It’s the thought that counts. But Vic, oh Vic. He couldn’t. There was half a second I thought he would. That was him though. Had this attitude you let one thing slip and everything crashes down. Ex-smoker, you know. Wouldn’t even take a drag.”

At that she lights one herself, entirely without self-consciousness. Cordell is about to comment, lets it go. He wants the rest of the story.

“So Vic puts it to Kussuyok. Where the fuck are the crates, Skimo? That’s great, huh? Skimo. And he’s got his gun in the guy’s neck. And off they go. Back in ten minutes, truckbed stacked with the missing boxes. Vic made Kussuyok carry them up. Guy was bawling the whole time, pleading, the works. I didn’t much like that, but I know Vic wanted to teach him a lesson. That was the worst he got. Then we let him go. Told him the Russians wouldn’t be so nice, best to bug out before they showed up to collect the booty.

“That should’ve been it, but Kussuyok went and told his Russian pals. Next thing we knew there was that Russian plane rounding the terminal and taxiing straight at us.

“I got us going, screw the checklist. Seems a habit these days. I didn’t think they were serious until we got from radio chatter that they were chasing us down the runway. Now they hadn’t refuelled and we were topped up and packed to the doors with cargo, so once in the air they were all over us. I didn’t bother with altitude — the Duck’s a pig when loaded and fuelled — just got airborne and headed south scraping tundra. Then they started shooting. Look.”

She fingers a hole at knee level through which daylight streams. “Vic couldn’t stand it, had to go back and open the door and trade lead with these guys. Cowboy. But a great shot too. Aerated them pretty good before they got him. Really calm, too, just yelled ‘I’m hit.’ Me wanting to help but had to keep flying. Finally I swung the Duck underneath the Russian plane where they couldn’t shoot at us. Just hung, like their shadow, wasn’t sure what they’d do. Knew they were getting down to fumes and had to head back if they ever wanted to see Murmansk again. Hanging there, staring up at their belly, knowing they could throttle up and turn, or if they know we’re still below they could descend and force us down. Waiting, waiting, shadowing every move. My thoughts on Vic. Knowing we can’t head back to Grise because that’s where these guys are going. If they ever run out of fuel.

“I was just about to cut and run the other way, stay low, arc tight and head off northwest or east, knowing they won’t see for minutes, when suddenly they banked hard, situation desperate because they only popped off a few shots when they saw us and didn’t stick around to see the effect. Gone in a few seconds. I took a breath, climbed to a more reasonable altitude, and cut in the Sperry autopilot. And it doesn’t engage. Fading hydraulic pressure, think it was hit. Thought the Russians might refuel and get back on our six, didn’t know that pig of a plane’s top speed and if they could do it. Had no choice. Just flew for a while with the throttles wide open. Shaking, crying, dying about Vic. Waiting for him to step in the doorway with a bandage on his arm. ‘Just a nick. I’m okay.’ Hours of it, and still nothing. Wet tundra, then trees, lakes, nowhere to touch down. Considered finding a private airfield, you see them every so often, just a mowed field and a windsock like my dad’s place, but not now, when I needed one. And thinking the Russians were behind. With their reputation for persistence.”

She is silent for some moments, focused on flying, skimming the landscape.

“Then you called in,” Cordell says at last.

“Then I called in.” She points to a radio with an LCD display and a big tuning knob. “This one’s on the ham band. Use it for rare coded communiqués. I hate the damn thing, anything that can give away position, but I was desperate. So I got in a clear zone away from radar — not hard up there in the north — and climbed to the ceiling and made the call. Fuck if I didn’t have an answer from Artemio in under fifteen minutes.”

“Artemio,” Cordell cries. “I know Artemio!”

“Artemio handles all Luz’s communication on public bands. Don’t think it’s one guy. More like the general voice of Luz. Always Artemio, regardless of who’s on the mic. So Artemio comes through with everything. Coordinates. A place to stop. A doctor. What could be better? Dropped back to the deck and raced south.”

“To my house.”

“Yeah. Think you know the rest of the story.”

“Right. You land and take me away.”

“Wasn’t like that.”

“Was.”

“I was panicky. Kept thinking about the Russians. Hell, I still think about the Russians. Seems Artemio knew about your field. And your windsock.”

“Artemio called me. I have never been called before. Not since my friend Ramón asked me to help Luz.”

“Who?”

“I took a course on the economics of human rights at university. Ramón Chávez was a visiting professor from Instituto Politécnico Nacional. He introduced me to a student group at the university that was rallying against the neoliberal tide in Central and South America.”

Cordell is silent for a moment, replaying in his mind his arrival with Ramón at the Arbour Room in Hart House to meet with the six students of the group quietly opposing the Washington Consensus. His recollection of five of the members vague. The sixth brings to his chest a blow like a boxer’s punch. Her. Before Marla.

Cordell was clearly the oldest of that bunch, on the threshold of completing his Ph.D. And she was the youngest, fresh from a Chilean secondary school. How could he know she would so utterly annihilate him? And if he had known, would he have stepped more cautiously, dodged her penetrating stare, the flash of her dark eyes, or better still, never have attended that meeting at all? No, he would have welcomed the destruction she would bring.

As he feels that old wound opening, a reflex engages deep within his psyche, a bulwark to protect his emotional skeleton. Swallow it. His face is hot and he fears that Tessa has witnessed in his complexion the emotional turbulence he’s just endured. She’s busy checking the map, erasing his work, redrawing a line.

“Artemio also thinks you’re a doctor,” she says without looking up.

“I suppose.”

“Slight exaggeration of your usefulness.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. Great you have something to offer the cause.”

“Yes. Is your tone sarcastic?” He reaches for the map. “Is there a problem?”

She tugs it away. “I’ll handle it from here.”

“What is it. The wind? With these hills and mountains . . . I mean there’s no ground level winds per se.”

“Per se,” she says, clicking her tongue.

“Look, I just need a chance. I’m not useless.”

She is quiet for a time, then says as she shakes the map at him, “Problem with guys like you is everything is booklearned. Think you’re so smart, but it’s in your head, not your hands.”

He turns towards her in the seat, says, “That’s not fair. Ask me anything. Come on, I dare you!”

“Nothing you know I need.”

Cordell watches the desert speed by. He could name every plant down there. If only she would ask.

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Read Chapter 15 of Night is a Shadow Cast By the World by Brian Panhuyzen.

Night is a Shadow Cast By the World is available as an ebook priced at $2.99. To purchase it, please go to www.nightisashadow.com/acquire.php.

Brian Panhuyzen’s first book was a collection of short stories entitled The Death of the Moon, published by Cormorant Books. He has worked as a publisher, magazine editor and as a typesetter for House of Anansi. His new book, a novel entitled Night is a Shadow Cast By the World, is available exclusively as an ebook. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two boys.

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