Why This One of Many (Ginger Man 12H)

Charlie demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt that he was not very good at responding to surprise questions. As he stammered out his wells and you sees and uhs, Rune looked down at the notebook, and began flipping through its pages.

“There’s a lot of different stories in here.” Rune rested his hand on a page, and read. “‘The Newlywed.’ Looks like it starts with  . . . a guy watching his girlfriend sleep.” Rune looked up, wiping his wavy red hair from his brow. “There’s more here, lots more. Was this the only notebook of Mike’s that you found?”

Charlie shook his head, silent and quiet, like a reluctant defendant responding to a prosecutor’s questioning.

Rune flipped back in the notebook until he found the page with the Ginger Man description, then leaned forward across the table. “So out of all the stories you found that Mike had written — you found this one page, in the middle of this notebook, a page that’s not marked in any special way. Seems to me it’s more likely you were looking for this page.”

“It was a good story,” Charlie blurted. “One of Mike’s best — ”

“So good, you felt compelled to buy me dinner and show it to me?”

“I thought you’d — ”

“There’s something you’re not telling me.” Charlie was surprised by the resolve he saw in the face across the table. Rune was several years younger, in school, still a kid really. But it didn’t seem like he was talking to a child now. “Look, I’m not mad or anything. I just — ” Rune’s face softened — “Mike was my friend, too. Wasn’t as close as you too were, but when he . . . the accident, it bothered me too. And I gotta feeling that the only reason your paying for this pizza here tonight, is that there’s something really bothering you about what happened to Mike.” Rune tapped the notebook page. “And that something has to do with this story about the Ginger Man.”

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