ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue Three, September 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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Page 39 of 109

FICTION THE SAVAGE ANGELS TOM HOWARD HOWARD The final entry was marked with yesterday's date. It was four words long. I closed my eyes. Minutes passed, and the only sound was the hum of the car engine. And then: three taps against the passengerside window. I unlocked the door, and Lucy slipped down into the seat. Smell of perfume and cigarettes. "You got seat warmers," she said. "That's classy." She hesitated, and looked suddenly embarrassed. "I have the money." She relaxed and accepted the envelope I passed to her. "So you want to know about Rita," she said, and the envelope disappeared. I settled back in my seat. It was going to rain again soon. "Tell me," I said, "about Rita." From the time Sam was a toddler until she was in her early teens, I drove her once a week to Gravelly Point, a public park just north of the runways at National Airport. In good weather we would stretch out on the grass side by side, her fingers curled around mine, and wait for the telltale rumble of the approach. As the planes screamed past, Sam would greet them with a rising lunatic scream of her own. In bad weather we would sit in the car with our seats tilted back, talking quietly, the windows cracked open just enough to hear and feel the rumble. "I'll try not to scream this time," she would say, but she always did. After Sam and I stopped going, it was twelve years before I went back to Gravelly Point. When I finally returned, one weekend in March, the skies were gunmetal gray and rain had been falling on and off all day. It was cold and the lot was mostly empty. I sat in my car looking down now and then at a notepad filled with short, diary-like entries. ARDOR | 36 – A few days before that, I was in the city to meet an old friend for a late-afternoon lunch. Graham and I had gone to school together, and later our wives had become close. Our two families had even vacationed together at Breckenridge, way back. We hadn't seen each other in years when he called to say he'd heard through the grapevine that Maggie and I were moving out west. I agreed to meet him downtown by his office. "Colorado," he said, eyeing me over his second beer. "So why Colorado?" He looked old, I thought. In our twenties, Maggie had always said that Graham reminded her of William Holden in Sunset Boulevard. At fifty-five he still looked like William Holden, only now he looked a lot more like the Holden from Network, with thinning hair and a brilliant network of deep lines around his eyes and mouth. He seemed less physically assured, less effortlessly athletic, than I recalled. We were

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