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Authors: Walter Greatshell

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BOOK: Mad Skills
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I killed them, don’t you understand? I killed them.
Ben comforted her in her grief and guilt, talking her through the long, miserable nights. They separated the single bed in two, he sleeping on the hard box spring and she on the stained mattress, but somehow by morning they always wound up huddled together.
Thank you,
Maddy told him, nestled tight against his body.
Thank you for saving me. Thank you. Thank you.
He said,
Hey, it’s you who saved me. If you hadn’t done what you did, I’d still be back there. I’d be one of them. I was down with the program, man.
But you keep on saving me, just like you tried to save Marina. Is that why you do it? Because of her?
Ben shook his head.
I don’t remember her. Marina Sweet isn’t real to me, Maddy, any more than Duane Devlin is. You and me are all I know. I only believe in us.
Maddy awoke beside him.
“Hey,” he said softly.
Without speaking, she untangled herself and went to wash up. The afternoon sun was beaming in harsh through the blinds—another new day.
When she came out, Ben was flipping channels on the TV. He said, “I was thinking about what you said before.”
“What’s that?”
“About Duane and Marina. Maybe we should do what they tried to do: go to Canada.”
Maddy sat beside him and muted the TV. “Ben,” she said, “I don’t think I’m going to be doing that.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I’m going to New York. I’m going to find my mother. My real mother—Marina’s birth mother. She’s some actress named Angela Brightly. I don’t know what I’ll do when I find her, but I’ll figure that out later.”
He nodded. “That’s cool. I understand. We’ll go together.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
“Why not?”
“You know what I am, what I can do. What I’ve already done. It’ll be safer for both of us if I’m there alone. I’m sorry.”
“And what am I supposed to do?”
“I’ve been thinking about that. Here.”
She handed him a piece of paper scribbled with an address in California and the word
DEVLINS
.
“I’ve been making some phone calls while you were out. It’s your family—your real family. They filed a missing-person’s report on you last year, but by now they probably assume you’re dead. Maybe it’s about time somebody set them straight.”
“Shit.” Ben held the paper as though it were hot. “There’s only one problem. We’re almost outta money. How am I supposed to get all the way to California from here? Hitchhike?”
Maddy laughed and got dressed. “Come on.”
Leading Ben to the motel lobby, she made him ask the desk clerk, “Has any mail arrived for Room 103?”
The clerk handed him a mailing box marked OVERNIGHT EXPRESS. The return address was a P.O. box in Omaha, Nebraska.
“What’s this?” Ben asked her.
“Like I said, I’ve made a few calls.”
Back in the room he opened the box. It contained an envelope full of birth certificates, social-security numbers, credit-card numbers, bank statements, and other identity documents, all with his picture, all with different names. A second envelope was stuffed with ATM cards and attached PIN numbers. A third envelope held fifty-thousand dollars’ worth of blank traveler’s checks.
“Don’t ask,” she said.
They went out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Walter Greatshell has lived in five countries and worked many odd jobs across America, including painting houses, writing for a local newspaper, managing a quaint old movie house, and building nuclear submarines. For now, he has settled in Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife, Cindy; son, Max; and cat, Reuben. Visit Walter’s website at
www.waltergreatshell.com
.
 
Ace Books by Walter Greatshell
 
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MAD SKILLS
BOOK: Mad Skills
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