Authors: Blake Crouch
Tags: #locked doors, #desert places, #blake crouch, #serial, #serial uncut, #bad girl, #snow, #abandon, #luminous blue, #colorado, #snowbound, #heartbreaking, #thrilling, #ouray, #remaking, #thriller 2
a short story by
* * * * *
Blake Crouch on Smashwords
Copyright 2010 by Blake Crouch
Cover art copyright 2010 by Jeroen ten
All rights reserved.
PRAISE FOR BLAKE CROUCH
Crouch quite simply is a marvel. Highest
Blake Crouch is the most exciting new
thriller writer I've read in years.
REMAKING is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and
incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
"Remaking" originally appeared in
, edited by Clive Cussler and published by Mira Books, June
For more information about the author, please
For more information about the artist, please
Smashwords Edition License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you
share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it,
or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return
to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the author's work.
* * * * *
Mitchell stared at the page in the notebook,
covered in his messy scrawl, but he wasn’t reading. He’d seen them
walk into the coffeehouse fifteen minutes prior, the man short,
pudgy, and smoothshaven, the boy perhaps five or six and wearing a
long-sleeved Oshkoshbgosh—red with blue stripes.
Now they sat two tables away.
The boy said, “I’m hungry.”
“We’ll get something in a little while.”
“How long is a little while?”
“Until I say.”
“When are you gonna—”
“Joel, do you mind?”
The little boy’s head dropped. The man
stopped typing and looked up from his laptop.
“I’m sorry. Tell you what. Give me five
minutes so I can finish this email, and we’ll go eat
Mitchell sipped his espresso, snow falling
beyond the storefront windows into this mountain hamlet of eight
hundred souls, Miles Davis squealing through the speakers—one of
the low-key numbers off Kind of Blue.
Mitchell trailed them down the frosted
One block up, they crossed the street and
disappeared into a diner. Having already eaten in that very
establishment two hours ago, he installed himself on a bench where
he could see the boy and the man sitting at a table by the front
Mitchell fished the cell out of his jacket
and opened the phone, scrolling through ancient numbers as the snow
collected in his hair.
He pressed talk.
Two rings, then, “Mitch? Oh my God, where are
He made no answer.
“Look, I’m at the office, getting ready for a
big meeting. I can’t do this right now, but will you answer if I
call you back? Please?”
Mitchell closed the phone and shut his
They emerged from the diner an hour
Mitchell brushed the inch of snow off his
pants and stood, shivering. He crossed the street and followed the
boy and the man up the sidewalk, passing a candy shop, a grocery, a
depressing bar masquerading as an old west saloon.
They left the sidewalk after another block
and walked up the driveway to the Antlers Motel, disappeared into
113, the middle in a single-story row of nine rooms. The tarp
stretched over the small swimming pool sagged with snow. In an
alcove between the rooms and the office, vending machines hummed
against the hush of the storm.
Ten minutes of brisk walking returned
Mitchell to his motel, the Box Canyon Lodge. He climbed into his
burgundy Jetta, cranked the engine.
“Just for tonight?”
“That’ll be $69.78 with tax.”
Mitchell handed the woman his credit
Behind the front desk, a row of Hummels stood
in perfect formation atop a black and white television airing “The
Price is Right.”
Mitchell signed the receipt. “Could I have
112 or 114?”
The old woman stubbed out her cigarette in a
glass ashtray and reached for the key cabinet.
Mitchell pressed his ear to the wood
A television blared through the thin
His cell phone vibrated—Lisa calling
Flipped it open.
“Mitch? You don’t have to say anything.
Please just listen—”
He powered off the phone and continued
writing in the notebook.
Afternoon unspooled as the snow piled up in
the parking lot of the Antlers Motel. Mitchell parted the blinds
and stared through the window as the first intimation of dusk began
to blue the sky, the noise of the television next door droning
through the walls.
He lay down on top of the covers and stared
at the ceiling and whispered the Lord’s Prayer.
In the evening, he startled out of sleep to
the sound of a door slamming, sat up too fast, the blood rushing to
his head in a swarm of black spots. He hadn’t intended to
Mitchell slid off the bed and walked to the
window, split the blinds, heard the diminishing sound of
footsteps—a single set—squeaking in the snow.
He saw the boy pass through the illumination
of a streetlamp and disappear into the alcove that housed the
The snowflakes stung Mitchell’s cheeks as he
crossed the parking lot, his sneakers swallowed up in six inches of
The hum of the vending machines intensified,
and he picked out the sound of coins dropping through a slot.
He glanced once over his shoulder at the row
of rooms, the doors all closed, windows dark save slivers of
electric blue from television screens sliding through the
Too dark to tell if the man was watching.
Mitchell stepped into the alcove as the boy
pressed his selection on the drink machine.
The can banged into the open compartment, and
the boy reached down and claimed the Sprite.
The boy looked up at him, then lowered his
head like a scolded dog, as though he’d been caught vandalizing the
“No, it’s all right. You haven’t done
Mitchell squatted down on the concrete.
“Look at me, son. Who’s that man you’re
The voice so soft and high: “Daddy.”
A voice boomed across the parking lot. “Joel?
It don’t take this long to buy a can of pop! Make a decision and
get back here.”
The door slammed.
“Joel, do you want to come with me?”
“You’re a stranger.”
“No, my name’s Mitch. I’m a police officer
actually. Why don’t you come with me.”
“I think you probably should.” Mitchell
figuring he had maybe thirty seconds before the father stormed
“Where’s your badge?”
“I’m undercover right now. Come on, we don’t
have much time. You need to come with me.”
“I’ll get in trouble.”
“No, only way you’ll get in trouble is by not
obeying a police officer when he tells you to do something.”
Mitchell noticed the boy’s hands trembling. His were, too. “Come
He put his hand on the boy’s small shoulder
and guided him out of the alcove toward his car, where he opened
the front passenger door and motioned for Joel to get in.
Mitchell brushed the snow off the windows and
the windshield, and as he climbed in and started the engine, he saw
the door to 113 swing open in the rearview mirror.
“You eaten yet?”
Main Street empty and the newly-scraped
pavement already frosting again, the reflection of the high beams
blinding against the wall of pouring snow.
“Are you hungry?”
“I don’t know.”
He turned right off Main, drove slow down a
snow-packed side street that sloped past little Victorians, inns,
and motels, Joel buckled into the passenger seat, the can of Sprite
still unopened between his legs, tears rolling down his cheeks.
Mitchell unlocked the door and opened it.
“Go on in, Joel.”
The boy entered and Mitchell hit the light,
closing and locking the door after them, wondering if Joel could
reach the brass chain near the top.
It wasn’t much of a room—single bed, table,
cabinet housing a refrigerator on one side, hangers on the other.
He’d lived out of it for the last month and it smelled like stale
pizza crust and cardboard and clothes soured with sweat.
Mitchell closed the blinds.
“You wanna watch TV?”
The boy shrugged.
Mitchell picked the remote control off the
bedside table and turned it on.
“Come sit on the bed, Joel.”
As the boy climbed onto the bed, Mitchell
“You tell me to stop when you see something
you wanna watch.”
Mitchell surfed through all thirty stations
twice and the boy said nothing.
He settled on the Discovery Channel, set the
remote control down.
“I want my Dad,” the boy said, trying not to
“Calm down, Joel.”
Mitchell sat on the bed and unlaced his
sneakers. His socks were damp and cold. He balled them up and
tossed them into the open bathroom, staring now at his pale feet,
toes shriveled with moisture.
Joel had settled back into one of the
pillows, momentarily entranced by the television program where a
man caked in mud wrestled with a crocodile.
Mitchell turned up the volume.
“You like crocodiles?” he asked.
“You aren’t scared of them?”
The boy shook his head. “I got a snake.”
The boy looked up. “Uh huh.”
“It’s black and scaly and it lives in a glass
“Yeah. Daddy catches mice for it.”
“It eats them?”
“Uh huh. Slinky’s belly gets real big.”
Mitchell smiled. “I bet that’s something to
They sat watching the Discovery Channel for
twenty minutes, Joel engrossed now, Mitchell with his head tilted
back against the headboard, eyes closed, a half grin where none had
been for twelve months.
At 8:24 p.m., the cell vibrated against
Mitchell’s hip. He opened the case and pulled out the phone.
“Listen, I want you to call me back in five
minutes and do exactly what I say.”
Mitchell closed the phone and slid off the
The boy looked up, still half-watching the
program on the world’s deadliest spiders.
He said, “I’m hungry.”
“I know, sport. I know. Give me just a minute
here and I’ll order a pizza.”
Mitchell crossed the carpet, tracking through
dirty clothes he should’ve taken to the laundry a week ago.
His suitcase lay open in the space between
the dresser and the baseboard heater. He knelt down, searching
through wrinkled oxfords and blue jeans, khakis that had long since
lost their creases.
It was a tiny, wool sweater—ice-blue with a
magnified snowflake stitched across the front.
“Hey, Joel,” he said, “it’s getting cold in
here. I want you to put this on.” He tossed the sweater onto the
“I’m not cold.”
“You do like I tell you now.”
As the boy reached for the sweater, Mitchell
undid the buttons on his plaid shirt and worked his arms out of the
sleeves. He dropped the shirt on the carpet and rifled his suitcase
again until he found the badly faded T-shirt he’d bought fifteen
years ago at a U2 concert.
On the way back to the bed, he stopped at the
television and lifted the videotape from the top of the VCR, pushed
“No, I wanna watch the—”
“We’ll turn it back on in a minute.”
He climbed under the covers beside the boy
and stared at the bedside table, waiting for the phone to buzz.
“Joel, I’m gonna answer the phone. I want you
to sit here beside me and watch the television and don’t say a word
until I tell you.”
The phone vibrated itself toward the edge of
the bedside table.
“I’ll buy you anything you want if you do
this right for me.”