The office was stripped. Wilson stood in the center of the floor and he suddenly feared he was going to flash back. The room was empty, all trace of his life was gone from it now, and he knew that somewhere inside him this office was starting to ratchet into memory—a room in a village in a distance place, stripped, too, silent.
He moved to the phone coiled in a corner. He crouched beside it and picked up the receiver. It was still connected. He dialed his service and looked toward the door. The frosted glass held his name and the word, “Investigations.” A shadow rippled through the glass and passed on. Wilson was all right now as the woman answered.
“Wilson Hand,” he said.
“Just a moment,” the woman’s voice said.
Wilson focused on the backward crawl of the letters of his name through the white flare of light from the hallway.
“One message,” the woman said. “Mr. Grevey called from Royal Petroleum. He said your tickets for Anchorage will be waiting at the Northwest Orient ticket counter at JFK. Your flight is at ten o’clock tomorrow morning.”
Wilson touched the disconnect button and then dialed Beth.
“Yes?” Her voice was tight, sucked in.
“Beth. It’s Wilson.”
“Yes,” she said but there seemed to be no comprehension behind the word.
“Beth. Are you taking something?”
“It is incredibly exciting to read Butler. He is a young novelist who seems full of power and energy… Butler is showing himself to be a master stylist. He moves from the most feverish of prose to a flatness and sparseness that is reminiscent of the best of Chandler and Hammett. And most importantly, he has something to say… Butler is an intelligent novelist who cares about his characters. He is skillful enough to make the reader feel the same way. It is not often that we get the chance to witness the birth of something this important.”
— Ronald Reed, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
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