A Different Blue Page 30

“What? No! Bugger, blast and bloody are fairly tame . . . like damn.”

“And bollocks? That sounds downright profane.” It really didn't, but I found I was enjoying myself. “Soon you'll be saying fiddlesticks! I don't think Principal Beckstead would approve.”

“My keys are in the ignition,” Wilson groaned, ignoring me. He straightened and looked down at me soberly. “We're walking, Blue, unless you're willing to admit you have certain skills . . . breaking and entering, perhaps?”

“I don't need skills to break and enter. I just need tools – and I don't have any of them on me,” I retorted flatly. “We could shove your big violin through your car window, though.”

“Always a smartarse,” Wilson turned and began walking toward the road.

“I live about four miles away in that direction,” I offered, hobbling along after him.

“Oh, good. I live six. That means for at least two miles, I will not have to listen to you snipe at me,” Wilson grumbled.

I burst out laughing. He really was cranky.

Chapter Ten

We walked along for several minutes with only the clickety clak of my high-heeled boots to break our silence.

“You'll never make it four miles in those shoes,” Wilson remarked pessimistically.

“I will because I have to,” I retorted calmly.

“A tough girl, eh?”

“Did you have any doubts?”

“None. Although the tears tonight had me wondering. What was that all about?”

“Redemption.” The dark made the truth easy. Wilson stopped walking. I didn't.

“You'll never make it six miles with that violin on your back,” I parrotted, smoothly changing the subject.

“I will because I have to,” he mocked. “And it's a cello, you ninny.” His long strides had him walking beside me again in seconds.

“Don't say ninny. You sound bloody ridiculous.”

“All right then. Don't say bloody. Americans sound foolish when they say bloody. The accent is all wrong.”


“What do you mean by redemption?”

I sighed. I knew he would come back to that. Four miles was far too long to evade him, so I thought for a moment, wondering how I could put it into words without telling him what I needed redemption for.

“Have you ever prayed?” I ventured.

“Sure.” Wilson nodded like it was no big deal. He probably prayed morning and night.

“Well. I never have. Not until tonight.”

“And?” Wilson prodded.

“And it felt . . . good.”

I felt Wilson's eyes on me in the dark. We walked in syncopation for several breaths.

“Usually redemption implies rescue – being saved. What were you being saved from?” he inquired, his voice carefully neutral.


Wilson's hand shot out, pulling me to a stop. He searched my face, as if trying to glean the meaning behind my words. “You are many things, Blue Echohawk, I can even name twelve.” He smiled a little. “But ugly isn't one of them.”

His words made me feel funny inside. I was surprised by them. I had assumed he had never noticed me on a physical level. I didn't know if I wanted him to. I just shook my head and shrugged him off and began walking again, answering him as I did.

“I've had a lot of ugly in my life, Wilson. Lately the ugly has gotten to be more than I can take.”

We resumed our steady march through the sleeping street. Boulder City was incredibly quiet. If Vegas was the city that never slept, then Boulder made up for it. It slept like a drunkard on a feather bed. We hadn't even been barked at.

“All right. So that's two more. We're at fourteen. You've had an ugly life, but you're not ugly. And you enjoy praying in darkened hallways in the middle of the night.”

“Yep. I'm fascinating. And that's fifteen.”

“I would think that after the shooting, the school would be the last place you would go for prayer . . . or redemption.”

“I didn't really choose the venue, Wilson. I was stranded. But if God is real, then he's just as real in the school as he is in the church. And if he's not . . . well, then maybe my tears were for Manny, and all the rest of the lost misfits who walk those halls alone and could use a little rescue.”

“From childhood's hour I have not been as others were; I have not seen as others saw; I could not bring my passions from a common spring,” Wilson murmured.

I looked at him expectantly.

“'Alone' by Edgar Allan Poe. Misfit. Loner. Poet.”

I should have known. I wished I knew the lines he quoted, that I could continue the poem where he left off. But I didn't and I couldn't, so silence reigned once more.

“So tell me why you don't know when you were born,” Wilson said, abandoning Poe.

“Do you enjoy picking scabs?” I shot back.

“What? Why?”

“Because you keep picking mine, and it kind of hurts,” I whined, hoping my pathetic pleas of “ouch” would end the questioning.

“Oh, well, then. Yes. I suppose I love picking scabs. Out with it. We've got at least three miles to go.”

I sighed heavily, letting him know I didn't think it was any of his business. But I proceeded to tell him anyway. “My mother abandoned me when I was two-ish. We don't know exactly how old I was. She just left me in Jimmy Echohawk's truck and took off. He didn't know her, and I wasn't old enough to tell him anything. He didn't know what to do with me, but he was afraid that somehow he would be implicated in some kind of crime or that someone would think he had taken me. So he split. He took me with him. He wasn't exactly conventional. He roamed around, made carvings for a living, sold them to different tourist shops and a few galleries. And that's how we lived for the next eight years. He died when I was ten or eleven. Again, I don't have any idea how old I really am, and I ended up with Cheryl, who is Jimmy's half-sister.

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