Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Night is a Shadow Cast By the World (Chapter 5)

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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 and Chapter 4 of Night is a Shadow Cast By the World.

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Chapter 5

The house casts a cool shadow and Marla and Pippa stand close to the barbecue’s warmth, watching the sizzling burgers, each silent, pensive. The phone rings and Marla glances into Pippa’s face until the second ring, at which she bolts into the house and snaps up the handset.

“Ms. Bechard? It’s Constable Pelham. I have information. I had Lemmox Airport check their logs. No DC-3 aircraft landed there for refuelling yesterday. Lemmox did report brief radar contact with an unidentified object on a southbound vector around the time of Mr. Bechard’s disappearance. The craft did not respond to radio inquiries, nor did it broadcast transponder replies.”

“Can you explain what that means?”

“As I understand it, a plane’s transponder answers radar beams with an identification beacon, unless the transponder is damaged or disabled. A pilot might turn off the transponder to evade detection.”

“As kidnappers might.”

“That’s my thought. Have you had any calls, any message in your mailbox? Anything unusual?”

“No. Wait, there was a phone call around two. Just some noise and then silence.”

“I see. Could be nothing, but I’ll look into it. Bring us a photo as soon as you can.”

“Okay. Thanks for keeping me informed.”

Shadows elongate into the field as the sun drops behind the house. Marla and Pippa eat their burgers and watch the windsock stirring in the breeze. Seagulls populate the grass in motionless clusters, breasts tinted gold by the setting sun. Pippa watches Marla raise her eyes to study a contrail, distinct where it issues from the silver delta of a jet, increasingly chaotic as it stretches towards the horizon.

The windsock falls against its post.

Marla sets her plate on the chair’s armrest and stands. Pippa watches her turn away from the field, her head panning across the rooftops as if tracking a fastmoving object. Then she pushes through the gate and stands on the field’s edge, facing south, watching the imagined craft come about, lining up with the field, descending. She is slowly pivoting, following until her back is to the house, the sun warm across her shoulderblades. She turns and looks at the kitchen window and imagines the sight of herself, of Marla, his wife, standing at the sink, hands submerged in dishwater. Turns back to watch it arrive. The door opens. Words exchanged. Now she stumbles forward, imagining the clatter of his shoes on the metal steps. Imagines fear-eagerness-terror-joy-desperation-relief. Dimness inside. Something happens then, something she cannot know. He is told or ordered or by his own volition grabs the chains, and without a glance at the window where his shocked wife watches he pulls until the door slams shut.

She rotates towards the north, then east, watching it go. This DC-3. The Lucky Duck. And Cordell.

The sun is gone. She clamps her arms around her body, trembling, and turns to see Pippa watching this dumb show, smoking, arms draped over the fencerail. The tortured squeal of Galina, her snout boring through the gate’s chainlink.

“Let her out,” Marla calls. Pippa opens the gate and Galina races into the field, galloping towards Marla then veering north, feet a blur beneath her black and white body. She stops and begins to howl, long, woeful wails which set other dogs in the neighbourhood yodelling.

“I know,” Marla whispers. “Me too.”

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Read Chapter 6 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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