Chapter 4.3M

Moments later, Double-J’s coupe drove out of the school parking lot, the rear of the car swerving in the snow and ice as if under separate control, like two men dressed in a pantomime horse costume, rear legs walking left while the front legs walked right.

A little over a mile later, Double-J steered his car onto an unmarked dirt road.

You’re taking the fire road? Annie said, her tone suggesting she was not asking a question but rather commenting on his most recent driving decision.

Road’s frozen Double-J replied. This will save us five minutes.

I’m in no hurry.

Double-J sighed. Well I am.

Annie turned to him, examined his face, saw the impatience and agitation with which she was all to familiar. She looked down at the speedometer. I’d like you to slow down.

Double-J shrugged, shook his head.

If someone else comes down the other way —

I’ll see his headlights Double-J said. Though I don’t think you have to worry about that, only a goddam fool would take the fire road.

Annie sighed, turned away from him, looked out the passenger window. Light from the headlights reflected off the barren gray trees along the road in front of them, the reflected light coming back into the car, allowing Annie to see herself in the window glass, the image of Double-J at the wheel behind her. She saw enough of his face to see the agitation had gone, had been replaced by a calm look she had seen earlier that afternoon.

You were great with Butch today Annie said. Double-J making no reply, she continued You were really patient with him.

He’s really trying Double-J said. That’s what I like about him, he’s sincere. He never has a hidden agenda. Not like Biscuit.

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