Authors: T.C. Boyle
Table of Contents
ALSO BY T. CORAGHESSAN BOYLE
The Inner Circle
A Friend of the Earth
The Tortilla Curtain
The Road to Wellville
East Is East
Tooth and Claw
The Human Fly
After the Plague
T. C. Boyle Stories
Without a Hero
If the River Was Whiskey
Descent of Man
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First published in 2011 by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © T. Coraghessan Boyle, 2011
All rights reserved
Map by Jeffrey L. Ward
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
Boyle, T. Coraghessan.
When the killing’s done / T. Coraghessan Boyle.
eISBN : 978-1-101-47588-1
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For Kerrie, who tramped the ridges and braved the ghosts
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth
I would like to thank Lotus Vermeer, Marla Daily, Kate Faulkner, Rachel Wolstenholme, Marie Alex, Jim Perry, Jay Brennan, Stephanie Mutz and Mike DeGruy for their kind assistance with the research for this book. In addition, I would like to express my debt of gratitude to the historians and memoirists of the Channel Islands, whose accounts proved invaluable to the unfolding of this narrative, particularly those of Michel Peterson, Marla Daily, John Gherini, Tom Kendrick, Clifford McElrath, Margaret Eaton and Helen Caire.
Portions of this book appeared previously, in slightly different form, in
The Iowa Review
The Northern Channel Islands
The Wreck of the
icture her there in the pinched little galley where you could barely stand up without cracking your head, her right hand raw and stinging still from the scald of the coffee she’d dutifully—and foolishly—tried to make so they could have something to keep them going, a good sport, always a good sport, though she’d woken up vomiting in her berth not half an hour ago. She was wearing an oversized cable-knit sweater she’d fished out of her husband’s locker because the cabin was so cold, and every fiber of it seemed to chafe her skin as if she’d been flayed raw while she slept. She hadn’t brushed her hair. Or her teeth. She was having trouble keeping her balance, wondering if it was always this rough out here, but she was afraid to ask Till about it, or Warren either. She didn’t know the first thing about handling a boat or riding out a heavy sea or even reading a chart, as the two of them had been more than happy to remind her every chance they got, and Till told her she should just settle in and enjoy the ride. Her place was in the kitchen. Or rather, the galley. She was going to clean the fish and fry them and when the sun came out—if it came out—she would spread a towel on top of the cabin and rub a mixture of baby oil and iodine on her legs, lie back, shut her eyes and bask till they were a nice uniform brown.
It was only now, the boat pitching and rolling and her right hand vibrant with pain, that she realized her feet were wet, her socks clammy and clinging and her new white tennis shoes gone a dark saturate gray. And why were her feet wet? Because there was water on the galley deck. Not coffee—she’d swabbed that up as best she could with a rag—but water. Salt water. A thin bellying sheet of it riding toward her and then jerking back as the boat pitched into another trough. She would have had to sit heavily then, the bench rising up to meet her while she clung to the tabletop with both hands, as helpless in that moment as if she were strapped into one of those lurching rides at the amusement park Till seemed to love so much but that only made her feel as if her stomach had swallowed itself up like in that cartoon of the snake feeding its tail into its own jaws.
The cuffs of her blue jeans were wet, instantly wet, the boat riding up again and the water shooting back at her, more of it now, a shock of cold up to her ankles. She tried to call out, but her throat squeezed shut. The water fled down the length of the deck and came back again, deeper, colder.
she told herself.
Get up. Move!
Fighting down her nausea, she pulled herself around the table hand over hand so she could peer up the three steps to where Till sat at the helm, his bad arm rigid as a stick, while Warren, his brother Warren, the ex-Marine, bossy, know-it-all, shoved savagely at him, fighting him for the wheel. She wanted to warn them, wanted to betray the water in the galley so they could do something about it, so they could stop it, fix it, put things to right, but Warren was shouting, every vein standing out in his neck and the spray exploding over the stern behind him like the whipping tail of an underwater comet. “Goddamn you, goddamn you to hell! Keep the bow to the fucking waves!” The ship lurched sideways, shuddering down the length of it. “You want to see the whole goddamn shitbox go down . . . ?”