In BURNT on January 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm


Detective Blackford studies the case file on Phoebe James.  He’s amazed.  The Saratoga police actually gave a shit about this one.  They got fingerprints off the girl’s necklace, some silver Indian thing.  They matched them to their man and even found the murder weapon on him.

It takes him a few minutes to place the killer — it’s Jessup, the undercover hippie cop.  Real name:  John Mackey.  They used to yuck it up about that show back at the Academy.  He shuffles the photo to the side of his desk, studies the arresting officer’s notes.  Looks like Mackey’s been playing a different role in real life, some sort of guru, calls himself the “Magic Man”, got a little following.  Must have been fun.  Now he’s going to prison for a long time.

He reaches for the phone.  Then he remembers he doesn’t know how to reach Jay.  “Well,” he thinks, “he’ll be relieved when he hears the news.”


My father watches Walker’s body sink below the canoe.  He pulls the kid’s corpse closer and grabs some rope.  “You alive?”

I’m basically dead.  Even hopped up on adrenaline, I can barely grunt.

“You’re next, son. ”  He methodically ties heavy rocks to the corpse.  He takes his time.  He’s always been proud of his knotting.  “It’s not because of the trouble you brought here.  These bodies will be underwater for a long time.  Marks is cleaning up the rest.  It’s because of my plans for the future.  You wouldn’t be comfortable there.”

The kid slides into the lake.  His army-issue boots are the last thing under.  Lucas starts work on my legs.

“Your friend down there, Walker, he was nuts.  But he’s just part of the natural progression of things.  That’s what the prophets of your era don’t understand.  They don’t realize that a movement based on complete freedom can only lead to one of two outcomes.  Either crime or commerce.  I choose the latter.”

I struggle but he holds me until the strength passes out of me again.  He resumes securing the heavy weights to my body and I resume watching.

“A successful prophet knows that you have to keep raising the bar.  Jesus understood this.  Escalation!  Water to wine, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead — building the miracles one after another until the big finale, his own resurrection.  Cheating death!  That is success, son.”

This sudden passion gives me the spark to speak.  “What is Blue Light?”

His eyes flash and he swings an oar.  An explosion of pain and I’m in the water.

I hear a scream and see someone on a bluff high above the lake.  It’s Josey, staring down.  Her mouth is a circle.  I sink.

The Story So Far

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