The raven boys, p.46

The Raven Boys, page 46

 part  #1 of  The Raven Cycle Series

 

The Raven Boys
 



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Page 46

 

  Except that Gansey would never have been a good target; the manhunt for his killer would be monumental. Really, the Parrish kid would have been a better bet. No one would miss a kid born in a trailer. He always turned his homework in on time, though.

  Whelk grimly took another bite of the dusty burger. It did nothing to lift his mood.

  Beside him, the pay phone began to ring. Until then, Whelk hadn’t even been aware that the phone was there; he thought cell phones had driven pay phones out of business years before. He eyed the only other car parked in the lot to see if anyone was awaiting a call. The other vehicle was empty, however, and the sagging right tire indicated that it had been parked in the lot for longer than a few minutes.

  He waited anxiously as the phone rang twelve times, but no one appeared to answer it. He was relieved when it stopped, but not enough to remain where he was. He wrapped up the other half of his burger and stood up.

  The phone began to ring again.

  It rang all the while that he walked to the trash can on the other side of the service station’s door (COME IN, WE ARE OPEN! lied the flip-around sign on the door), and it rang all the while he returned to the curb to retrieve one of the fries that he’d missed, and it rang the entire time that he walked back to where he’d parked his car.

  Whelk was not prone to philanthropy, but it occurred to him that whoever was on the other side of that pay phone was really trying to get ahold of someone. He returned to the pay phone, which was still ringing — such an old-fashioned ring, really, now that he thought of it, phones just didn’t sound like this anymore — and he removed the phone from its cradle.

  "Hello?"

  "Mr. Whelk," Neeve said mildly. "I hope you are having a good evening. "

  Whelk clung to the phone. "How did you know where to contact me?"

  "Numbers are a very simple thing for me, Mr. Whelk, and you aren’t difficult to find. Also I have some of your hair. " Neeve’s voice was mild and eerie. No live person, Whelk thought, should sound so much like a computerized voicemail menu.

  "Why are you calling me?"

  "I’m glad that you asked," Neeve remarked. "I am calling regarding the idea that you proposed the last time we spoke. "

  "The last time we spoke, you said you weren’t interested in helping me," Whelk replied. He was still thinking about the fact that this woman had collected one of his hairs. The image of her moving slowly and mildly through his dark abandoned apartment was not a pleasant one. He turned his back to the service station and looked out into the night. Possibly she was out there, somewhere, perhaps she had followed him and that was how she knew where to call him. But he knew that was not true. The only reason he’d contacted her in the first place was because he knew she was the real thing. Whatever that "thing" might be.

  "Yes, about helping you," Neeve said. "I’ve changed my mind. "

  Chapter 38

  "Hey, Parrish," Gansey said.

  The Camaro was parked in the shade of the walk-way just outside the glass hospital doors. As Gansey had waited for Adam to emerge, he’d watched them open and close for invisible patients. Now he sat behind the wheel as Adam lowered himself into the passenger seat. Adam was strangely unmarked; usually after encounters with his father, there were bruises or scratches, but this time, the only thing Gansey could see was a slight reddening of his ear.

  "They told me you didn’t have insurance," Gansey said. They’d also told him Adam would probably never hear out of his left ear again. This was the hardest thing to internalize, that something permanent but invisible had happened. He waited for Adam to say he’d find a way to pay for it. But Adam just turned his hospital bracelet around and around on his wrist.

  Gansey added carefully, "I took care of it. "

  This was where Adam always said something. Where he got angry. Where he snapped, No, I won’t take your damn money, Gansey. You can’t buy me. But he just turned that paper bracelet around and around and around.

  "You win," Adam said finally. He rubbed a hand through his uneven hair. He sounded tired. "Take me to get my stuff. "

  Gansey had been about to start the Camaro, but he took his hand away from the ignition. "I didn’t win anything. Do you think this is how I wanted it?"

  "Yes," Adam replied. He didn’t look at him. "Yes, I do. "

  Hurt and anger warred furiously inside Gansey. "Don’t be shitty. "

  Adam picked and picked at the uneven end where the paper bracelet sealed. "I’m telling you that you can say ‘I told you so. ’ Say ‘if you left earlier, this wouldn’t have happened. ’"

  "Did I say that before? You don’t have to act like it’s the end of the world. "

  "It is the end of the world. "

  An ambulance pulled in between them and the hospital doors; the lights weren’t on, but the paramedics leapt out of the cab and hurried to the back to attend to some silent emergency. Something behind Gansey’s breastbone felt red-hot. "Moving out of your dad’s place is the end of the world?"

  "You know what I wanted," Adam said. "You know this wasn’t it. "

  "You act like it’s my fault. "

  "Tell me you’re unhappy about how this is going down. "

  He wouldn’t lie; he wanted Adam out of that house. But there had never been a part of him that wanted him hurt to accomplish that. There had never been a part of him that wanted Adam to have to run instead of march triumphantly out. There had never been a part of him that wanted Adam to look at him like he was looking at him now. So it was the truth when he replied, "I’m unhappy about how this is going down. "

  "Whatever," Adam shot back. "You’ve wanted me to move out forever. "

  Gansey despised raising his voice (in his head, his mother said, People shout when they don’t have the vocabulary to whisper), but he heard it happening despite himself and so, with effort, he kept his voice even. "Not like this. At least you have a place to go. ‘End of the world’ … What is your problem, Adam? I mean, is there something about my place that’s too repugnant for you to imagine living there? Why is it that everything kind I do is pity to you? Everything is charity. Well, here it is: I’m sick of tiptoeing around your principles. "

  "God, I’m sick of your condescension, Gansey," Adam said. "Don’t try to make me feel stupid. Who whips out repugnant? Don’t pretend you’re not trying to make me feel stupid. "

  "This is the way I talk. I’m sorry your father never taught you the meaning of repugnant. He was too busy smashing your head against the wall of your trailer while you apologized for being alive. "

  Both of them stopped breathing.

  Gansey knew he’d gone too far. It was too far, too late, too much.

  Adam shoved open the door.

  "Fuck you, Gansey. Fuck you," he said, voice low and furious.

  Gansey closed his eyes.

  Adam slammed the door, and then he slammed it again when the latch didn’t catch. Gansey didn’t open his eyes. He didn’t want to see what Adam was doing. He didn’t want to see if people were watching some kid fight with a boy in a bright orange Camaro and an Aglionby sweater. Just then he hated his raven-breasted uniform and his loud car and every three- and four-syllable word his parents had used in casual conversation at the dinner table and he hated Adam’s hideous father and Adam’s permissive mother and most of all, most of all, he hated the sound of Adam’s last words, playing over and over.

  He couldn’t stand it, all of this inside him.

  In the end, he was nobody to Adam, he was nobody to Ronan. Adam spit his words back at him and Ronan squandered however many second chances he gave him. Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.

  They were always walking away from him. But he never seemed able to walk away from them.

  Gansey opened his eyes. The ambulance was still there, but Adam was gone.

  It took Gansey a few moments to locate him. He was already several hund
red yards away, walking across the parking lot toward the road, his shadow a small, blue thing beside him.

  Gansey leaned across the car to roll down the passenger window, and then he started the Pig. By the time he circled around the loading area to get to the lot, Adam had made it out to the manicured four-lane divided highway that ran by the hospital. There was some traffic, but Gansey pulled up along where Adam walked, making the cars in the right lane pass him, some honking.

  "Where are you going?" he shouted out. "Where do you have to go?"

  Of course Adam knew he was there — the Camaro was louder than anything — but he just kept walking.

  "Adam," Gansey repeated. "Just tell me not back there. "

  Nothing.

  "It doesn’t have to be Monmouth," Gansey tried a third time. "But let me take you wherever you’re going. "

  Please just get in the car.

  Adam stopped. Climbing in jerkily, he pulled the door shut. He didn’t do it hard enough, so he had to try two more times. They were silent as Gansey pulled back into traffic. Words pressed against his mouth, begged to be said, but he kept silent.

  Adam didn’t look at him when he said, finally, "It doesn’t matter how you say it. It’s what you wanted, in the end. All your things in one place, all under your roof. Everything you own right where you can see …"

  But then he stopped. He dropped his head into his hands. His thumbs worked through the hair above his ears, over and over, the knuckles white. When he sucked in his breath, it was the ragged sound that came from trying not to cry.

  Gansey thought of one hundred things that he could say to Adam about how it would be all right, how it was for the best, how Adam Parrish had been his own man before he’d met Gansey and there was no way he’d stop being his own man just by changing the roof over his head, how some days Gansey wished that he could be him, because Adam was so very real and true in a way that Gansey couldn’t ever seem to be. But Gansey’s words had somehow become unwitting weapons, and he didn’t trust himself to not accidentally discharge them again.

  So they drove in silence to get Adam’s things, and when they left the trailer park for the last time, his mother watching from behind the kitchen window, Adam didn’t look back.

  Chapter 39

  When Blue first arrived at Monmouth Manufacturing that afternoon, she thought it was empty. Without either car in the lot, the entire block had a disconsolate, abandoned feeling. She tried to imagine being Gansey, seeing the warehouse for the first time, deciding it would be a great place to live, but she couldn’t picture it. No more than she could imagine looking at the Pig and deciding it was a great car to drive, or Ronan and thinking he was a good friend to have. But somehow, it worked, because she loved the apartment, and Ronan was starting to grow on her, and the car …

  Well, the car she could still live without.

  Blue knocked on the door to the stairwell. "Noah! Are you here?"

  "I’m here. "

 
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