Showing posts with label Stories. Show all posts

A Twitter user has accused a SARS officer of extorting him and his wife for flouting the curfew placed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.



Nigerian Man Accuse SARS Officials Of Driving Him And His Wife To An ATM And Asking Them To Withdraw 500,000 Naira

A man has claimed that SARS tried to extort him and his wife of 500,000 Naira after they were seen outside past curfew.

Bruce Bateman said the incident happened 2 weeks ago. He claims the SARS officials drove him and his wife from Lekki to Marina and asked them to withdraw 500K from the ATM. He said 250K was the fine levied on him and 250K on his wife.

He made this revelation while discussing kidnapping and armed robbery. He insinuated that Nigerian policemen are kdinappers and armed robbers because of the way they arrest and extort civilians.

He wrote: "We need Nigerian police to stop kidnappers and armed robbers.

"SARS that drove my wife and I from Lekki to Marina and asked us to withdraw 500k from the ATM if we wanted to be released. Shey that one is not kidnap and armed robbery?

He added: "Ogbeni was asking me why I was talking to him with my mask on. Do I think they have Covid? Lmao.

"Couldn’t even explain how you can possibly withdraw 500k from an ATM."





The police have apprehended one of the suspects linked to the sexual assault and death of Miss Vera Uwaila in Edo state.



Miss Vera Uwaila

One of the suspects linked to the rape and murder of Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa has been arrested by police officers attached to the Edo state police command.

The 22-year-old 100-level student of the University of Benin, Edo State was raped and killed while reading in a church in Benin city.

Spokesman of Edo police command, Chidi Nwabuzor confirmed the arrest while speaking to newsmen. He said the suspect was arrested after the deceased was rushed to the hospital and the fingerprint on the fire extinguisher she was attacked with was examined. 

Nwabuzor said the suspect was apprehended after the Area Commander of Ikpoba Hill mobilized his men to take action.

Here Is The Video Below;

The rape and death of three Nigerian woman has been condemned by Nollywood actresses.


Tina, Uwa and Jennifer
The police have been called upon to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act
Nollywood A-listers, Genevieve Nnaji and Rita Dominic have taken to social media to condemn the brutal rape and killing of Nigerian  girls - Tina, Uwa and Jennifer.
Tina was killed by a stray bullet while Uwa and Jennifer died after being raped by evil men.
Reacting via her Instagram account, Rita Dominic wrote:
"There is nothing that these 3 GIRLS have done to deserve the atrocities that has befallen them.
Tina was killed by a policeman whose job was to protect her. She was 16years old

Uwa a university student went to a church to read and she was raped and murdered. She was only 22 years old.

Jennifer was raped by 11 men. She is just 12 years old. 12 years old for goodness sake!
What are we doing wrong that boys and men think that it is ok to continue violating girls and women in this manner?

Let me tell you what. We are not punishing the men who commit these atrocities in this country. We are not doing enough to hold RAPISTS accountable. We are not doing enough to check POLICE BRUTALITY.
We demand justice for these young girls! Our government and our justice system must respond to these matters PROMPTLY. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"
Genevieve Nnaji reacted via Twitter. She wrote:
"They either abuse their power, or have the power to abuse. In or out of uniform, we live in constant fear of men. Tina Ezekwe. Vera Omozuwa. Rest In Peace my darlings. We will get justice."

General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor EA Adeboye took to Instagram to react to the death of UNIBEN student who was raped and gruesomely murdered in one of his church branches.



Pastor EA Adeboye, Uwa Omozuwa

Pastor E.A. Adeboye has reacted to the rape and murder of Uwa Omozuwa in one of the branches of his church, RCCG.

Pastor Adeboye, who is the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, reacted on Instagram.

He wrote: "All I can do at this time is to pray for the family of Omozuwa and do everything possible working with relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to book. I and members of my Family condemn this act strongly and urge everyone to stay calm as we are already looking into the matter and cooperating with the police to establish the facts of the shocking situation . . #justiceforuwa"

Pastor EA Adeboye

The Redeemed Christian Church of God also released a statement. In it, they explained why Uwa was in church during the lockdown, how she was found, and the actions taken after she was found lying in the pool of her blood.

Read The Full Statement Below;

Pastor EA Adeboye

Mr Eazi's father, Captain Alexander Olukayode Ajibade has opened up about his life and his son.


Mr Eazi's father

Captain Alexander Olukayode Ajibade

Not much is known about Captain Alexander Olukayode Ajibade who retired from the Nigerian Air Force as a Squadron leader.

But his son, Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade, better known as Mr. Eazi will ring a bell in the ears of many Nigerians or lovers of Afro beat.

Even though being a celebrity parent has its perks, Captain Ajibade, as fondly called and his wife chose to remain off the scene as their first son, Mr Eazi swept through cities after cities with hit records, using his style of ‘Banku Music,’ touring and striking deals across the UK, US and other markets as one of the smartest African musicians alive.

Two days before meeting Captain Ajibade at his Lagos home, I put up his name on Google but nothing came up, nothing linked him with the singer except during one of the music star’s video shoots, where Mr Eazi disclosed that Kpalanga, a military-themed music video was inspired by his pilot father’s absence from his family life.

The video features the singer and a troupe of backing dancers dressed in camouflage fatigues, reflected the “toll” his father’s absence took on their relationship. He recalled meeting his father for the first time when he was two.

As we sit down in his plush living room, I start by asking why they were not out there despite the fact that their son is arguably one of Nigeria’s most commercially successful artistes at the moment, especially in the international market.

From sold-out concerts to making huge streaming revenue, Mr Eazi can be said to have successfully cracked the code on how effectively break into the international market. He has generated more than 900 million streams worldwide, including over 226 million plays on YouTube alone.

From his tone, his reactions, one will definitely doubt that Captain Ajibade who hails from Ayetoro, Ogun State, once worked in the military. He is calm and cool, a rare trait to see in a military man.

“I have always been a very private person, let Mr Eazi do his things and we do our things here too”,
 he replies before narrating a scenario to support why they chose to remain private as Mr Eazi’s parent.

“I think it was in the news that Mr Eazi’s father was kidnapped, people who saw the news were trying to reach me. It was on Sunday and I got back from Church early so I was sleeping at home and my phone was off. By the time my wife got back and they called her, she said my husband is here.

“So they kidnapped the wrong person,” he narrated.

Upon our arrival at his home, Mr Eazi’s parents just filled up a car with cooked meals heading to somewhere in Agege to give them out to the less privileged. A week earlier, the parent through Mr Eazi’s foundation – emPawa Foundation, had donated food items to residents in Sango Ota in Ogun State, and also visited Little Saints Orphanage in Lagos to support vulnerable children with food items.

Initially, Captain Ajibade did not plan to follow the family to Agege to distribute the food but when we arrived, he had to take us in his car and waited, and after we were done, we headed back to his home and there I told him about our mission.

“I thought you guys will want to interview Mr Eazi not me and he’s not around right now,” 
he said. I told him “we are here for you for now sir.” After we settled down, he took us back to his military and religious journey as well as other things he ventured into at the same time.

“I don’t believe in titles. People just refer to me as Captain Ajibade, simple. I remembered when I was in Liberia, people call me Chaplain rather than addressing me by my rank, I retired as from the Air Force as a Squadron leader, in some circles they call me reverend, some call me pastor. In fact, there is a renowned Bishop in this country that always addresses me as a prophet.”

After leaving service, Captain Ajibade did not stop rendering service to his country, “And to the Glory of God, I fly more or less for fun now, training Police pilots with no charge,” he says. “I fly helicopters that are rare, that when you go round the whole of West Africa, you will only see one or two people that can fly that type of helicopter. So that’s basically the person I am.

Captain Ajibade has worked with notable people in Nigeria in the aviation sector, “I retired after 19 years in service of Nigerian Air Force, since then I have worked in several places. Bristow Helicopters, Adenuga’s Southern Airlines through Chief Makanjuola who owns Caverton Helicopters because he was the one paying us.

“As I said, I still fly, my dream is that one day I have my own helicopter, not necessarily because right now I’m at the retirement age of even flying but then seeing some young ones growing, doing it and I love imparting knowledge on people, whether religious knowledge, spiritualism or knowledge as per aviation because after forty-something years in the military, you know I have something to offer.

Captain Ajibade was also in Sierra Leone for ECOMOG for three years, a West African peacekeeping force that was founded to stop the bloodshed and ethnic killing. “All those experiences shaped me and my perception about life,” he added.

Captain Ajibade and his son had a weird relationship because of absence in his life while growing up. “I think I didn’t see him for about 12 months after he was born,” he says as I asked him about his relationship with his son.

“15 months, it was 15 months,” Mr Eazi’s mother, former banker now a pastor and an entrepreneur who was sitting at the dining table observing the interview from afar chipped in. “I actually met my wife in the bank where she was working,” he had told me earlier.

“Well you know women do keep accurate date and time,’’ Captain Ajibade added as he flashed back to those struggling times to serve his nation and leave his family.

“I was to go to Liberia during the civil war, I only waited for some time to do the naming ceremony and I left. It was a tough time for me because he doesn’t know me, he won’t listen or speak to me,” he lamented, “it was after I retired from the service I finally found time to work on our father and son relationship.”

Mr Eazi’s father is from Yewa constituency in Ogun State while his mother is from the South-South region of Nigeria. The couple met in Port Harcourt where Mr Eazi was born, but how did Ghana came into the picture? I asked Captain Ajibade.

Mr Eazi’s musical root has always been traced to Ghana, the singer once told Rolling Stone Magazine that “My music started out in Ghana, moved to the U.K. and then to Nigeria. To this day, the U.K. is my Number One streaming location on Apple Music and Spotify.”

Mr Eazi had his growing up years, from 15 to 22 in Ghana for his educational endeavours, enrolling in the mechanical engineering programme at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He later proceeded to Coventry University, United Kingdom.

Helping people has always been Mr Eazi’s mission, “it was during his time at KNUST, he started doing MC, DJ and booking artistes to perform at college parties using the money to help students,” says Captain Ajibade. He did not start making music to make money.” Mr Eazi would later contribute vocals to the track “My Life”, a song that gained traction and became a popular record at KNUST.

It was during his time as show MC that he got his stage name. “When he is MCing at the party, he always cautioned people at the event to take it easy, easy easy je je which now becomes Mr Eazi,” Captain Ajibade reveals, adding that his name was Easy Easy Jeje at first.

Mr Eazi went on to pioneer Banku music, a fusion sound he describes as a mixture of Ghanaian highlife and Nigerian chord progressions and patterns. It is a sound characterized by percolating rhythms and laid-back vocal delivered in Ghanaian Pidgin English.
Expanding his community service beyond Nigeria, Mr Eazi launched a talent incubator programme ‘emPawa Africa’ in 2018, with the goal of investing in promising artists early so they could develop self-sustaining careers.

Each artiste will receive a $10,000 grant to go towards a music video, along with mentorship from professional singers, producers, and video directors.

Captain Ajibade, while reacting to that nodded in affirmation, “that’s how all my children were brought up. It is not that he is rich to sponsor all those artistes, he has sponsors, some people are also supporting him.”

“Mr Eazi always told us the story of the $1,000 investment someone made in his career and how that made a huge difference,” E Kelly, a music producer and close collaborator, told Rolling Stone in 2019.

The strategy seemed to work for singers like Joeboy, J. Derobie, and others who scored hits last year after connecting with emPawa.

I asked at what point did Mr Eazi showed interest in music, the father did not give me a specific answer but disclosed that all his children have access to many musical instruments at home and they listened to records he would play for the family while having breakfast.

Giving the fact that Military men are always strict, Captain Ajibade is far from strict, he’s actually the one we should be calling Mr Eazi. As a man of God, he believes people should do what they are passionate about and be fulfilled.

Speaking about his kind of private lifestyle, Captain Ajibade who doesn’t always attend his son’s shows and will remain in the crowd for the once he attends, said “that’s where all the fun is actually,” while his son will announce that his father is around but won’t get him noticed because he does not take life too serious because of experience while growing up.

In his words, “There are always two angles to human beings. There is spiritual and there is physical and when you have experienced both, you just know that there is nothing to it. He went on to narrate how things were hard while growing up, I say extremely rough, right from my primary school days, I even had ulcer but reading the bible and following the scripture, it impacted on my character and my way of life.”

Captain Ajibade also had a little stint in politics, he contested Federal House of Rep for three times and lost all. Prior to that, he boasted to have built more than 200 boreholes across the country as a way of giving back to the communities. While narrating how his third attempt in the National Assembly made him quit politics, he agreed that it has always been like that in Nigeria politics.

“The one that I won, those who have money bought it and that’s politics,”
 he says “At one point I was wondering that how can I win someone in his polling unit, in his ward, in his local government and yet at the end of the day, I still lose the election?

But for someone like Captain Ajibade who believes in God, took the situation as part of the training of life, “it shows how people can go into a lot of diabolical means to win elections and what I told the man was that. I said the way the animal that went to sacrifice suffered and died, that’s the way you will end up your life, and that was what happened. He was in the House of Rep three times consecutively, but he rotten to death, I was not happy about it but there is nothing you sow in life you will reap it, whether here or hereafter.”

Captain Ajibade started his political career from Alliance for Democracy, AD, and migrated to People’s Democratic Party, PDP, “and that was when Gbenga Daniel started his campaign in Ayetoro with some of my projects. I moved all my followers from AD to PDP and I have always contested under PDP, though I am not an active PDP member anymore,” he reveals.

Despite his contribution to his communities and having a good plan to represent them at the National level, Captain Ajibade’s efforts were not appreciated. “In fact I stopped been active in politics after my third-time attempt. I have come to realize that people are not ready, maybe for those who believed in divine intervention, maybe we will look for divine intervention, but the attitude of the people cannot actually bring an effective change,” he concluded.


Source: PM News

The yet- to- be named officer went berserk around 5am following a disagreement with other members of his team.


police shoots colleagues

The officer has been nabbed

Accordng to The Nation, a yet- to- be named policeman on Sunday morning allegedly opened fire on his colleagues at Onikan, killing some of them.

The yet- to- be named officer went berserk around 5am following a disagreement with other members of his team.

It was gathered that the trigger- happy cop hijacked their operational vehicle after shooting them and drove straight to Akoka in Yaba around 5am where he attempted to access a compound but couldn’t.

According to sources, the building had a metallic door and the policeman said to be attached to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) allegedly opened sporadic fire on the property to gain access.

Residents said they were frightened and took cover not knowing what was happening since it was around 5am.

The Nation gathered that no fewer than 30 bullet holes were counted in an apartment, corridor and ceiling of the premises.

It was learnt that the shooter, who spotted black outfit and rose in a white escort van with siren, might have become more frustrated after his vehicle stock in a ditch when he made to escape.

Sources said distress calls were made to the Bariga Police Division and the Rapif Response Squad (RRS) who deployed operatives to the scene and restrained the acrive shooter.

From short videos obtained by The Nation from residents, the trigger happy cop was screaming incoherent, a development suggestive of a possible mental illness.

He was heard alleging that some persons wanted to corrupt him and that he should be allowed to go home in the name of Jesus.

At the time of this report, police spokesman Bala Elkana told our correspondent that the command was investigating the matter to understand what truly happened, adding that a statement would be released later.

A young lady has been caught stealing yet again at a shop she previously stole from in Warri.


The unidentified woman

An unidentified lady got more than she bargained for after was allegedly caught stealing from a shop she stole from the previous day.

In the video which has gone viral online, the lady who was begging those who caught her in the act said "she was frustrated". She also wasn't clear on what happened to her mother and its correlation to the theft.

One of those who apprehended her was however heard asking her why she didn't go into "commercial sex like her mates".

Here is the video below;


Popular Nigerian actress has been caught on camera flaunting her bare baby bump following her pregnancy announcement.


Regina Daniels

Regina Daniels

Regina Daniels whose pregnancy news was first announced yesterday by her husband, Ned Nwoko, 59, has released more photos and videos of her baby bump.

The couple got married in May last year and are now expecting their first child together.

Politician Ned Nwoko made the pregnancy announcement on Instagram after which Regina took to her own account to release more photos and videos while explaining what it feels like being pregnant. She said it's the best feeling ever and she finds herself talking to her bump.

Friends and fellow actors have sent in congratulatory messages following her announcement.

Below are more photos and videos of her bare bump


Watch Regina Daniels in the videos below.

Joshua also opened up about the struggles he has been facing while trying to align his career with his personal life.


Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua

World heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Joshua, has opened up on his challenges in finding true love, adding that he is yet to find a partner.

Speaking with The Sun UK, Joshua also opened up about the struggles he has been facing while trying to align his career with his personal life.

According to him, he hopes to find a woman who would have to understand what it’s to be famous,

He said, “I think one can date and still be a successful sportsman but it has been very hard for me to find a balance and I would have to compromise which I have not been able to do.

“My dad never gave me advice about much. But in terms of relationships, what I have learned and what I will always tell my son is, it would be nice to find a high school sweetheart and to grow together because as you get older, you get set in your ways.

“For me to have a relationship now, it means I would have to compromise and change my ways and I don’t know how easy that would be for me.

“I date but I don’t get to the stage where I actually put anyone into that position.

“I don’t have a girlfriend and I haven’t had one for a while but as I get older I think it would be nice to have someone to grow with as well but honestly I haven’t found anyone.

”I have been thinking, maybe I need to get off the estate and start going to celebrity parties maybe do something different.

“I really hope that I will probably meet someone who understands fame, that would really make sense.

“But then it needs to be someone down to earth, someone who is family-orientated and would take my mum as their second mum.

“As I get older it would be nice to bring someone into my world but it’s dependent on who and I just haven’t found someone yet.”

Speaking on his boxing fight with British rival, Tyson Fury, Joshua said if he was to fight again this year, it would probably be in November or December.

“In my own mind, I had mentally written off most of this year but, if I am to fight this year, it would probably be in November or December.

“It’s difficult at the moment knowing how you cover the costs, and whether you could charge people in the circumstances for pay per view,”
 he added.

The man says he has been banging his head against a tree every day for the last five years to condition his body.


The man

Should you come across a man banging his head violently against a tree in the streets, what would your reaction be?

A shoe repairman from Seoul’s Sinchon neighborhood does exactly just this and his bizarre case was featured on South Korean television last month.

The man says he has been banging his head against a tree every day for the last five years to condition his body.

During his April feature on South Korean TV show X SBS WOW, he showed his forehead callus to prove that he has been doing a lot of headbanging for quite some time.

X SBS WOW visited the unnamed shoe repairman last month and managed to capture his bizarre daily conditioning regimen on camera. The man steps out of his little street-side shop and after stretching his arms a few times, he starts banging his shoulders against a nearby tree. That’s only the beginning of his routine, though, as the main part of the training involves slamming his forehead against the bark-covered tree trunk.

Of course, that must hurt a lot and at a point in the video, the reporter tries to stop the man from hurting himself by pointing out to him that he has blood on his forehead.

The daredevil shrugs off the concern by saying that this is his regular exercise routine and that the injury is just skin deep and nothing to worry about.

When he is done exercising for the day, he returns to his little shop, where he proceeds to apply some antiseptic to his forehead. He then lets the reporter touch the scar in the middle of his forehead, so he can feel the callus that has developed underneath the skin.

Apparently, the scar never has the chance to heal properly because he bangs his head against the tree every day.

Explaining why he goes through this unusual daily training, the man said that he used to be a boxer when he was young. Sadly, he had to give up the dream to be the best in the sport after starting a family.

As he hasn’t had the time or money to visit a boxing gym in decades, he came up with the unique training regimen to condition himself and convince people that he wasn’t someone they’d want to mess with.

“Maybe some will laugh at me, but most people wouldn’t harm someone that does what I do,”
 the man said.

Despite being taken to a local boxing gym by X SBS WOW in a bid to rekindle his passion for boxing and give up his dangerous daily habit, the man is unsure if he will give up his headbanging.

Asked if he would give up head-banging for boxing, the man hesitated and then said that he’ll probably keep doing his thing until he turns 65, and then stop.



Source: TheGuardian

Veteran Nigerian singer, Daddy Showkey has revealed how Wizkid showed him how to use Instagram.


Daddy Showkey

Daddy Showkey and Wizkid

Nigerian singer, Daddy Showkey has narrated how he discovered popular social media platforms, Instagram, and Twitter.

He made this known during an Instagram live chat with comedian, Woli Arole.

He said “ I dey for my house I no even know wetin them dey call Instagram, I first go Wizkid place, he con dey tell me say Baba, you no get Instagram? I say I no get, he con dey say you go tag this one and that one.

"I no wan even know wetin dem dey call tagging. I no even know ‘Twitter’, the ‘tweeter’ wey I know na base and twitter on top sound."

He said it was an award-winning singer, Wizkid, and Kcee that both taught him how to use both applications.

He continued “Then when I go Kcee house, he come dey tell me about the hashtag, hashtag this and that”.

Daddy showkey rose to fame in the 1990s with hit songs like ‘Diana’, ‘Fire Fire’, and ‘My name’.

A very young Nigerian girl who is just 10 years old has managed to write two books.


Anissa Moses-Saromi

One of the books

Anissa Moses-Saromi, a 10-year-old Nigerian girl, has debuted two short story collections titled ‘Because I Am’ and ‘Ricky’s Ridiculousness’.

In ‘Because I Am’, the young author tells the story of children who overcome difficult circumstances and find success through diligence, determination and the kindness of strangers.

‘Ricky’s Ridiculousness’, her second collection, focuses on Ricky, a naughty but lovable nine-year-old boy who gets into all kinds of mischief.

The author, while enjoining young children not to give up on their dreams, said she wrote the book to educate people of her age of the consequences inherent in engaging in mischief.

“Ricky’s Ridiculousness is a collection of stories from several recounts I wrote in school, some of which earned me prizes for creative writing. I decided to recreate the stories by making a book out of them to show the mischief children my age engage in, and the consequences that come with such acts of mischief,”
 she said.

Chido Onumah, coordinator of African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), said the books will inspire young readers.

“Young readers will feel inspired by the heartwarming stories of children who don’t simply make wishes, but use their heads, their hands and their hearts to make their wishes come true,”
 he said.

Anissa, who is also a public speaker, has won several recognition for her creative writings and has continued to inspire young readers with her message of “You can be more.”

Burna Boy reportedly arrested by police after noise complains from his neighbours   

Burna Boy is said to be arrested after complains  from neighbours  (Instagram/miesjanssen)
Burna Boy is said to be arrested after complains from neighbours (Instagram/miesjanssen)

According to the aggrieved neighbours, Burna Boy has become a nuisance in the neighbourhood.

Nigerian music star Burna Boy has reportedly been arrested by the police after neigbours complained about noises coming from his house.

A video has been circulating online which purportedly shows some of Burna Boy's neighbours complaining about the music star.

In the video, a supposed neighbour complains of the music star and compares him to Nigerian footballer Odion Ighalo who he says also stays in that same neighbourhood without disturbing anyone.

It is also alleged that Burna Boy has not made complete payment for the land he built his house on, and reportedly owing N100M. 

-The Israeli mission house in Nigeria has given out palliatives to Muslim communities in Nigeria ahead of Ramadan celebration

- Shimon Ben-Shoshan, the Israeli ambassador also made a first historical visit to the Abuja National Mosque

- The packages which contain food and hygiene products were distributed in IDPs camp, widow shelters and orphanages

The Israeli embassy in Nigeria has shown love and kindness towards the nation amid a global fierce battle with the deadly coronavirus.

As a way to make the Muslims in the country have a happy Ramadan celebration, the mission house alongside some private organisations donated food packages and hygiene products to over 3,400 children in various Muslim communities.

It should be noted that the distribution was carried out at Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, widow shelters, and orphanages.

The humanitarian gesture was carried out under the initiative tagged “Love Your Neighbour As Yourself - From the Jewish Community to the Muslim Community in Nigeria".

During his visit to the IDP camps, the ambassador expressed much hope that the Covid-19 pandemic will be over soon.

He also said that the mission house is very grateful for the opportunity to give out of the abundance they have equally received.

The initiative was among the events the embassy used to mark the 60 years anniversary of the cordial relationship between Nigeria and Israel.

The chairman of Tera Novel, the company behind the product, Keren Hazon, said the disinfectant works differently from thousands of others out there.

In talking about its production process, she said: "We also use hypochlorite, but in a very high [concentration] and we add some [additional ingredients] so that anywhere the disinfectant is sprayed, it becomes a very white film of gel which keeps the [material] on the surface for a while."

Love Birds

Mary locked herself in her room and took out some time to cry out her heart until it felt as if she had done the right thing.

Declining Uche's proposal was a very difficult decision for her to take. She however took it. This raised lots of surprises and questions from many, even her friends.

While she felt there were just enough reasons for her to have declined, on Uche's part and others there was not even a single reason for her to have done that.

Three years ago they had started dating. Seeing the two love birds hanging out together, you could almost mistake their love for each other as divine. Their bond was stronger than that of Jack and Rose or even Romeo and Juliet. They were inseparable.

"I love you the same way I learned to ride a bike. Though I was frightened yet I was still reckless." Uche said to Mary as he scooped a portion of the ice-cream moving it closer to her mouth slowly.

As Mary opened her mouth in expectation of the chilled-liquid, Uche took it back gently and gently until he drank all of it and then smiled.

Both of them laughed together as they held each other’s hand.

"Being in your warmth embrace gives me that kind of confidence that makes me feel invincible. This is all I would rather do morning, noon and night, I love you darling." Mary said to him.

Both birds continued in expressing words of love to each other as Uche sang for her too. This inherent gift of his, was one of the reasons Mary had fallen in love with him so quickly at the expense of other potential lovers.

As it got so dark, Uche said "I think we should be going home now Mary. Today’s gist is just enough for tonight. We would possibly continue tomorrow dear"

Uche then opened the door of his vehicle as he waited for Mary to walk in majestically. Soon enough they got to Mary's house and it was time for her to go.

Still in the vehicle, both birds stared at each other for about thirty seconds waiting for whom to make the first move. Guys are always faster when it comes to this. Uche gently moved closer to her as he kissed her softly. The kiss was so deep and long, that she felt like it was her last minute on planet earth.

They were just so happy together then, what could have happened? What could have made Mary to decline his proposal after all those escapades together?

The First Attempt

"For every long lost road I went, led me to where you are. Others who broke my heart, were like the northern stars, guiding me on my way, in to your loving arms. This much I know is true and I pray that God bless the broken roads that led me straight to you. Please be my bride."

These were the exact words of Uche as he bent down with a knee and brought out the diamond ring out proposing to Mary. These happened in a restaurant at around past 8pm. Uche had planned it all out in such a way that he had his best friend Kunle there and three of Mary's friend to spice up the whole scene. 

"Awnn awnn, this is so so lovely" Mary's best friend Loveth said.

"Oh My God, I never knew Uche can be this romantic oh. Mary you are very lucky." Omoye, one of Mary's friend there said. 

"Please Mary, say yes oh yes, yes" Titi, Mary's last friend said as she gesticulated with her hands and smiled. 

The atmosphere became tensed with love. Other customers who were in the restaurant had soon join them and the place became crowded and filled with expectant onlookers. A couple in the crowd even held their hands, as they blushed and prayed that she accepts.

All of these had happened within a few seconds from Uche's first statement. 

Love indeed spreads like wildfire. Everyone had become expectant of Mary's decision since the ring was still hanging in the air supported by Uche's hand. 

She then couldn't help but blush a little. "This is so so lovely Uche. The ring, the scene and everything, just beautiful. But am sorry I can't accept it." She said as her face grew from blush to straight.

"Ah, No nah. Please say yes" One of the onlookers in the crowd spoke out aloud. At this she walked away quietly from the scene putting her heads down. The onlookers started to frown as they left one at a time disappointed. 

"Why would she have declined the proposal after 3 years of relationship? Something must be wrong somewhere." Kunle finally spoke to Uche his friend. Meanwhile Uche just sat there on the bare floor devastated.

Source: Ebony Story 


How did I manage to get myself into this?. How did I ever manage to get myself entangled in the web of love with someone I had never thought I could muster feelings for? How could I have fallen in love with Felicia, my personal assistant? 

It’s been 4 good years down the drain. Felicia was one of the biggest fans of my stories. 

She never stopped to amaze me with her level of maturity and intelligence. Seriously, I get inspired to write whenever I am with her or we were having those late night chats. 

Unfortunately for me at that time, I was in love with someone who never loved nor gave any heck about me. Nevertheless, Felicia was always there for me during those bad times I needed someone to  talk to.

Months passed, I started my Master’s program while she was undergoing her 1 year compulsory NYSC program. Luck beseeched me some few months after when one of my stories “Anguish of the past” won a writing competition which earned me a publishing contract worth millions of naira. Some few months later, I also got a publishing company of my own and I never thought of it twice having my bestie, a longtime friend, Felicia to be my personal assistant. What more can I ask for? My books were the bestselling in town, the money were coming in, endorsements deals were coming from multinational companies who wants to partner with the “OLA OLOWO” brand were as well glorifying. Of all these things, I asked myself what essence is of a king without his Queen?

With all this successes I have achieved in my carreer life, I still couldn’t find that very person I could spend the rest of my life with. All of my thoughts, feelings & love all yearned for Felicia but how could I have fallen in love with my P.A?
4 months later, I summoned courage and took the bull by the horn, taking boldened steps by asking her hand on one faithful evening during dinner.

“What took you so long?” was what she could let out of her mouth before I get to meet her lips halfway with mine passionately. For which I presumed capable of sealing our love ties.

3 months later, I got her relieved her Personal assistant position as much as we would be preparing for our wedding. Our wedding day was finally here, Fel had insisted we have the church wedding at the edified headquarter of The Apostolic Church at Olorunda. However, here was I in my Denim suit with a nice haircut relishing the watch on my beautiful bride as she walked down the altar. 

Will you Ola Olowo take Felicia Jimson as your wife?……………the pastor requested. 

Yes I do and the whole congregation roared in applause. We locked our lips in a nuptial kiss before the pastor when I felt a big slap from the back of my head. 

Henry, my best man must have started his horseplay again. Why can’t he just let me enjoy the kiss moment with my bride? I mumbled.

I was still thinking about the first one until I received another bigger slap across my face this time while I opened my eyes.

Oga, e bole jooor ..Iwo road la wa yi (Boss, alight joor, we are now on Iwo road)
Mogbe! (Hands on my head). I screamed.

It got dawn on me that I was still on my way to school from Lagos yet in the bus? Chai!
The End.

Source: EbonyStory

They’ve been married for ten years and for a long time everything was O.K.—swell—but now they argue. Now they argue quite a lot. It’s really all the same argument. It has circularity. It is, Ray thinks, like a dog track. When they argue, they’re like greyhounds chasing the mechanical rabbit. You go past the same scenery time after time, but you don’t see it. You see the rabbit.

He thinks it might be different if they’d had kids, but she couldn’t. They finally got tested, and that’s what the doctor said. It was her problem. A year or so after that, he bought her a dog, a Jack Russell she named Biznezz. She’d spell it for people who asked. She loves that dog, but now they argue anyway.

They’re going to Wal-Mart for grass seed. They’ve decided to sell the house—they can’t afford to keep it—but Mary says they won’t get far until they do something about the plumbing and get the lawn fixed. She says those bald patches make it look shanty Irish. It’s because of the drought. It’s been a hot summer and there’s been no rain to speak of. Ray tells her grass seed won’t grow without rain no matter how good it is. He says they should wait.

“Then another year goes by and we’re still there,” she says. “We can’t wait another year, Ray. We’ll be bankrupts.”

When she talks, Biz looks at her from his place in the back seat. Sometimes he looks at Ray when Ray talks, but not always. Mostly he looks at Mary.

“What do you think?” he says. “It’s going to rain just so you don’t have to worry about going bankrupt?”

“We’re in it together, in case you forgot,” she says. They’re driving through Castle Rock now. It’s pretty dead. What Ray calls “the economy” has disappeared from this part of Maine. The Wal-Mart is on the other side of town, near the high school where Ray is a janitor. The Wal-Mart has its own stoplight. People joke about it.

“Penny wise and pound foolish,” he says. “You ever hear that one?”

“A million times, from you.”

He grunts. He can see the dog in the rearview mirror, watching her. He sort of hates the way Biz does that. It occurs to him that neither of them knows what they are talking about.

“And pull in at the Quik-Pik,” she says. “I want to get a kickball for Tallie’s birthday.” Tallie is her brother’s little girl. Ray supposes that makes her his niece, although he’s not sure that’s right, since all the blood is on Mary’s side.

“They have balls at Wal-Mart,” Ray says. “And everything’s cheaper at Wally World.”

“The ones at Quik-Pik are purple. Purple is her favorite color. I can’t be sure there’ll be purple at Wal-Mart.”

“If there aren’t, we’ll stop at the Quik-Pik on the way back.” He feels a great weight pressing down on his head. She’ll get her way. She always does on things like this. He sometimes thinks marriage is like a football game and he’s quarterbacking the underdog team. He has to pick his spots. Make short passes.

“It’ll be on the wrong side coming back,” she says—as if they are caught in a torrent of city traffic instead of rolling through an almost deserted little town where most of the stores are for sale. “I’ll just dash in and get the ball and dash right back out.”

At two hundred pounds, Ray thinks, your dashing days are over.

“They’re only ninety-nine cents,” she says. “Don’t be such a pinchpenny.”

Don’t be so pound foolish, he thinks, but what he says is “Buy me a pack of smokes while you’re in there. I’m out.”

“If you quit, we’d have an extra forty dollars a week. Maybe more.”

He saves up and pays a friend in South Carolina to ship him a dozen cartons at a time. They’re twenty dollars a carton cheaper in South Carolina. That’s a lot of money, even in this day and age. It’s not like he doesn’t try to economize. He has told her this before and will again, but what’s the point? In one ear, out the other.

“I used to smoke two packs a day,” he says. “Now I smoke less than half a pack.” Actually, most days he smokes more. She knows it, and Ray knows she knows it. That’s marriage after a while. The weight on his head gets a little heavier. Also, he can see Biz still looking at her. He feeds the damn dog, and he makes the money that pays for the food, but it’s her he’s looking at. And Jack Russells are supposed to be smart.

He turns into the Quik-Pik.

“You ought to buy them on Indian Island if you’ve got to have them,” she says.

“They haven’t sold tax-free smokes on the rez for ten years,” he says. “I’ve told you that, too. You don’t listen.” He pulls past the gas pumps and parks beside the store. There’s no shade. The sun is directly overhead. The car’s air-conditioner only works a little. They are both sweating. In the back seat, Biz is panting. It makes him look like he’s grinning.

“Well, you ought to quit,” Mary says.

“And you ought to quit those Little Debbies,” he says. He doesn’t want to say this—he knows how sensitive she is about her weight—but out it comes. He can’t hold it back. It’s a mystery.

“I don’t eat those no more,” she says. “Any, I mean. Anymore.”

“Mary, the box is on the top shelf. A twenty-four-pack. Behind the flour.”

“Were you snooping?” A flush rises in her cheeks, and he sees how she looked when she was still beautiful. Good-looking, anyway. Everybody said she was good-looking, even his mother, who didn’t like her otherwise.

“I was hunting for the bottle opener,” he says. “I had a bottle of cream soda. The kind with the old-fashioned cap.”

“Looking for it on the top shelf of the goddam cupboard!”

“Go in and get the ball,” he says. “And get me some smokes. Be a sport.”

“Can’t you wait until we get home? Can’t you even wait that long?”

“You can get the cheap ones,” he says. “That off-brand. Premium Harmony, they’re called.” They taste like homemade shit, but all right. If she’ll only shut up about it.

“Where are you going to smoke, anyway? In the car, I suppose, so I have to breathe it.”

“I’ll open the window. I always do.”

“I’ll get the ball. Then I’ll come back. If you still feel you have to spend four dollars and fifty cents to poison your lungs, you can go in. I’ll sit with the baby.”

Ray hates it when she calls Biz the baby. He’s a dog, and he may be as bright as Mary likes to boast when they have company, but he still shits outside and licks where his balls used to be.

“Buy a few Twinkies while you’re at it,” he tells her. “Or maybe they’re having a special on Ho Hos.”

“You’re so mean,” she says. She gets out of the car and slams the door. He’s parked too close to the concrete cube of a building and she has to sidle until she’s past the trunk of the car, and he knows she knows he’s looking at her, seeing how she’s now so big she has to sidle. He knows she thinks he parked close to the building on purpose, to make her sidle, and maybe he did.

“Well, Biz, old buddy, it’s just you and me.”

Biz lies down on the back seat and closes his eyes. He may stand up on his back paws and shuffle around for a few seconds when Mary puts on a record and tells him to dance, and if she tells him (in a jolly voice) that he’s a bad boy he may go into the corner and sit facing the wall, but he still shits outside.

You might like this: The Hunter's Wife (by Anthony Doerr)

He sits there and she doesn’t come out. Ray opens the glove compartment. He paws through the rat’s nest of papers, looking for some cigarettes he might have forgotten, but there aren’t any. He does find a Hostess Sno Ball still in its wrapper. He pokes it. It’s as stiff as a corpse. It’s got to be a thousand years old. Maybe older. Maybe it came over on the Ark.

“Everybody has his poison,” he says. He unwraps the Sno Ball and tosses it into the back seat. “Want that, Biz?”

Biz snarks the Sno Ball in two bites. Then he sets to work licking up bits of coconut off the seat. Mary would pitch a bitch, but Mary’s not here.

Ray looks at the gas gauge and sees it’s down to half. He could turn off the motor and roll down the windows, but then he’d really bake. Sitting here in the sun, waiting for her to buy a purple plastic kickball for ninety-nine cents when he knows they could get one for seventy-nine cents at Wal-Mart. Only that one might be yellow or red. Not good enough for Tallie. Only purple for the princess.

He sits there and Mary doesn’t come back. “Christ on a pony!” he says. Cool air trickles from the vents. He thinks again about turning off the engine, saving some gas, then thinks, Fuck it. She won’t weaken and bring him the smokes, either. Not even the cheap off-brand. This he knows. He had to make that remark about the Little Debbies.

He sees a young woman in the rearview mirror. She’s jogging toward the car. She’s even heavier than Mary; great big tits shuffle back and forth under her blue smock. Biz sees her coming and starts to bark.

Ray cracks the window an inch or two.

“Are you with the blond-haired woman who just came in? She your wife?” She puffs the words. Her face shines with sweat.

“Yes. She wanted a ball for our niece.”

“Well, something’s wrong with her. She fell down. She’s unconscious. Mr. Ghosh thinks she might have had a heart attack. He called 911. You better come.”

Ray locks the car and follows her into the store. It’s cold inside. Mary is lying on the floor with her legs spread and her arms at her sides. She’s next to a wire cylinder full of kickballs. The sign over the wire cylinder says “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” Her eyes are closed. She might be sleeping there on the linoleum. Three people are standing over her. One is a dark-skinned man in khaki pants and a white shirt. A nametag on the pocket of his shirt says “mr. ghosh manager.” The other two are customers. One is a thin old man without much hair. He’s in his seventies at least. The other is a fat woman. She’s fatter than Mary. Fatter than the girl in the blue smock, too. Ray thinks by rights she’s the one who should be lying on the floor.

“Sir, are you this lady’s husband?” Mr. Ghosh asks.

“Yes,” Ray says. That doesn’t seem to be enough. “Yes, I am.”

“I am sorry to say, but I think she might be dead,” Mr. Ghosh says. “I gave the artificial respiration and the mouth-to-mouth, but . . .”

Ray thinks of the dark-skinned man putting his mouth on Mary’s. French-kissing her, sort of. Breathing down her throat right next to the wire cylinder full of plastic kickballs. Then he kneels down.

“Mary,” he says. “Mary!” Like he’s trying to wake her up after a hard night.

She doesn’t appear to be breathing, but you can’t always tell. He puts his ear by her mouth and hears nothing. He feels air on his skin, but that’s probably just the air-conditioning.

“This gentleman called 911,” the fat woman says. She’s holding a bag of Bugles.

“Mary!” Ray says. Louder this time, but he can’t quite bring himself to shout, not down on his knees with people standing around. He looks up and says, apologetically, “She never gets sick. She’s healthy as a horse.”

“You never know,” the old man says. He shakes his head.

“She just fell down,” the young woman in the blue smock says. “Not a word.”

“Did she grab her chest?” the fat woman with the Bugles asks.

“I don’t know,” the young woman says. “I guess not. Not that I saw. She just fell down.”

There’s a rack of souvenir T-shirts near the kickballs. They say things like “My Parents Were Treated Like Royalty in Castle Rock and All I Got Was This Lousy Tee-Shirt.” Mr. Ghosh takes one and says, “Would you like me to cover her face, sir?”

“God, no!” Ray says, startled. “She might only be unconscious. We’re not doctors.” Past Mr. Ghosh, he sees three kids, teen-agers, looking in the window. One has a cell phone. He’s using it to take a picture.

Mr. Ghosh follows Ray’s look and rushes at the door, flapping his hands. “You kids get out of here! You kids get out!”

Laughing, the teen-agers shuffle backward, then turn and jog past the gas pumps to the sidewalk. Beyond them, the nearly deserted downtown shimmers. A car goes by pulsing rap. To Ray, the bass sounds like Mary’s stolen heartbeat.

“Where’s the ambulance?” the old man says. “How come it’s not here yet?”

Ray kneels by his wife while the time goes by. His back hurts and his knees hurt, but if he gets up he’ll look like a spectator.

The ambulance turns out to be a Chevy Suburban painted white with orange stripes. The red jackpot lights are flashing. “castle county rescue” is printed across the front, only backward, so you can read it in your rearview mirror.

The two men who come in are dressed in white. They look like waiters. One pushes an oxygen tank on a dolly. It’s a green tank with an American-flag decal on it. “Sorry,” he says. “Just cleared a car accident over in Oxford.”

The other one sees Mary lying on the floor. “Aw, gee,” he says.

Ray can’t believe it. “Is she still alive?” he asks. “Is she just unconscious? If she is, you better give her oxygen or she’ll have brain damage.”

Mr. Ghosh shakes his head. The young woman in the blue smock starts to cry. Ray wants to ask her what she’s crying about, then knows. She has made up a whole story about him from what he just said. Why, if he came back in a week or so and played his cards right, she might toss him a mercy fuck. Not that he would, but he sees that maybe he could. If he wanted to.

Mary’s eyes don’t react to the ophthalmoscope. One E.M.T. listens to her nonexistent heartbeat, and the other takes her nonexistent blood pressure. It goes on like that for a while. The teen-agers come back with some of their friends. Other people, too. Ray guesses they’re being drawn by the flashing red lights on top of the Suburban the way bugs are drawn to a porch light. Mr. Ghosh takes another run at them, flapping his arms. They back away again. Then, when Mr. Ghosh returns to the circle around Mary and Ray, they come back.

One of the E.M.T.s says to Ray, “She was your wife?”


“Well, sir, I’m sorry to say that she’s dead.”

“Mary, Mother of God,” the fat lady with the Bugles says. She crosses herself.

“Oh.” Ray stands up. His knees crack. “They told me she was.”

Mr. Ghosh offers one of the E.M.T.s the souvenir T-shirt to put over Mary’s face, but the E.M.T. shakes his head and goes outside. He tells the little crowd that there’s nothing to see, as if anyone’s going to believe a dead woman on the Quik-Pik floor isn’t interesting.

The E.M.T. yanks a gurney from the back of the rescue vehicle. He does it with a single flip of the wrist. The legs fold down all by themselves. The old man with the thinning hair holds the door open and the E.M.T. pulls his rolling deathbed inside.

“Whoo, hot,” the E.M.T. says, wiping his forehead.

“You may want to turn away for this part, sir,” the other one says, but Ray watches as they lift her onto the gurney. A sheet has been tucked down at the end of it. They pull it up all the way, until it’s over her face. Now Mary looks like a corpse in a movie. They roll her out into the heat. This time, the fat woman with the Bugles holds the door for them. The crowd has retreated to the sidewalk. There must be three dozen people standing in the unrelieved August sunshine.

When Mary is stored, the E.M.T.s come back. One is holding a clipboard. He asks Ray about twenty-five questions. Ray can answer all but the one about her age. Then he remembers she’s three years younger than he is and tells them thirty-five.

“We’re going to take her to St. Stevie’s,” the E.M.T. with the clipboard says. “You can follow us if you don’t know where that is.”

“I know,” Ray says. “What? Do you want to do an autopsy? Cut her up?”

The girl in the blue smock gives a gasp. Mr. Ghosh puts his arm around her, and she puts her face against his white shirt. Ray wonders if Mr. Ghosh is fucking her. He hopes not. Not because of Mr. Ghosh’s brown skin but because he’s got to be twice her age.

“Well, that’s not our decision,” the E.M.T. says, “but probably not. She didn’t die unattended—”

“I’ll say,” the woman with the Bugles interjects.

“—and it’s pretty clearly a heart attack. You can probably have her released to the mortuary almost immediately.”

Mortuary? An hour ago they were in the car, arguing. “I don’t have a mortuary,” Ray says. “Not a mortuary, a burial plot, nothing. What the hell? She’s thirty-five.”

The two E.M.T.s exchange a look. “Mr. Burkett, there’ll be someone to help you with all that at St. Stevie’s. Don’t worry about it.”

The E.M.T. wagon pulls out with the lights still flashing but the siren off. The crowd on the sidewalk starts to break up. The countergirl, the old man, the fat woman, and Mr. Ghosh look at Ray as though he’s someone special. A celebrity.

“She wanted a purple kickball for our niece,” he says. “She’s having a birthday. She’ll be eight. Her name is Talia. Tallie for short. She was named for an actress.”

Mr. Ghosh takes a purple kickball from the wire rack and holds it out to Ray in both hands. “On the house,” he says.

“Thank you, sir,” Ray says, trying to sound equally solemn, and the woman with the Bugles bursts into tears. “Mary, Mother of God,” she says. She likes that one.

They stand around for a while, talking. Mr. Ghosh gets sodas from the cooler. These are also on the house. They drink their sodas and Ray tells them a few things about Mary. He tells them how she made a quilt that took third prize at the Castle County fair. That was in ’02. Or maybe ’03.

“That’s so sad,” the woman with the Bugles says. She has opened them and shared them around. They eat and drink.

“My wife went in her sleep,” the old man with the thinning hair says. “She just laid down on the sofa and never woke up. We were married thirty-seven years. I always expected I’d go first, but that’s not the way the good Lord wanted it. I can still see her laying there on the sofa.”

Finally, Ray runs out of things to tell them, and they run out of things to tell him. Customers are coming in again. Mr. Ghosh waits on some, and the woman in the blue smock waits on others. Then the fat woman says she really has to go. She gives Ray a kiss on the cheek before she does.

“Now you need to see to your business, Mr. Burkett,” she tells him. Her tone is both reprimanding and flirtatious.

He looks at the clock over the counter. It’s the kind with a beer advertisement on it. Almost two hours have gone by since Mary went sidling between the car and the cinder-block side of the Quik-Pik. And for the first time he thinks of Biz.

When he opens the door, heat rushes out at him, and when he puts his hand on the steering wheel to lean in he pulls it back with a cry. It’s got to be a hundred and thirty in there. Biz is dead on his back. His eyes are milky. His tongue is protruding from the side of his mouth. Ray can see the wink of his teeth. There are little bits of coconut caught in his whiskers. That shouldn’t be funny, but it is. Not funny enough to laugh at, but funny.

“Biz, old buddy,” he says. “I’m sorry. I forgot you were in here.”

Great sadness and amusement sweep over him as he looks at the baked Jack Russell. That anything so sad should be funny is just a crying shame.

“Well, you’re with her now, ain’t you?” he says, and this is so sad that he begins to cry. It’s a hard storm. While he’s crying, it comes to him that now he can smoke all he wants, and anywhere in the house. He can smoke right there at her dining-room table.

“You’re with her now, Biz,” he says again through his tears. His voice is clogged and thick. It’s a relief to sound just right for the situation. “Poor old Mary, poor old Biz. Damn it all!”

Still crying, and with the purple kickball still tucked under his arm, he goes back into the Quik-Pik. He tells Mr. Ghosh he forgot to get cigarettes. He thinks maybe Mr. Ghosh will give him a pack of Premium Harmonys on the house as well, but Mr. Ghosh’s generosity doesn’t stretch that far. Ray smokes all the way to the hospital with the windows shut and the air-conditioning on. ♦

Published in the print edition of the November 9, 2009, issue.

Source: The New Yorker 

It was the hunter's first time outside Montana. He woke, stricken still with the hours-old vision of ascending through rose-lit cumulus, of houses and barns like specks deep in the snowed-in valleys, all the scrolling country below looking December—brown and black hills streaked with snow, flashes of iced-over lakes, the long braids of a river gleaming at the bottom of a canyon. Above the wing the sky had deepened to a blue so pure he knew it would bring tears to his eyes if he looked long enough.

Now it was dark. The airplane descended over Chicago, its galaxy of electric lights, the vast neighborhoods coming clearer as the plane glided toward the airport—streetlights, headlights, stacks of buildings, ice rinks, a truck turning at a stoplight, scraps of snow atop a warehouse and winking antennae on faraway hills, finally the long converging parallels of blue runway lights, and they were down.

He walked into the airport, past the banks of monitors. Already he felt as if he'd lost something, some beautiful perspective, some lovely dream fallen away. He had come to Chicago to see his wife, whom he had not seen in twenty years. She was there to perform her magic for a higher-up at the state university. Even universities, apparently, were interested in what she could do. Outside the terminal the sky was thick and gray and hurried by wind. Snow was coming. A woman from the university met him and escorted him to her Jeep. He kept his gaze out the window.

They were in the car for forty-five minutes, passing first the tall, lighted architecture of downtown, then naked suburban oaks, heaps of ploughed snow, gas stations, power towers, and telephone wires. The woman said, "So you regularly attend your wife's performances?"

"No," he said. "Never before."

She parked in the driveway of an elaborate modern mansion, with square balconies suspended over two garages, huge triangular windows in the façade, sleek columns, domed lights, a steep shale roof.

Inside the front door about thirty nametags were laid out on a table. His wife was not there yet. No one, apparently, was there yet. He found his tag and pinned it to his sweater. A silent girl in a tuxedo appeared and disappeared with his coat.

The granite foyer was backed with a grand staircase, which spread wide at the bottom and tapered at the top. A woman came down. She stopped four or five steps from the bottom and said, "Hello, Anne" to the woman who had driven him there and "You must be Mr. Dumas" to him. He took her hand, a pale, bony thing, weightless, like a featherless bird.

Her husband, the university's chancellor, was just knotting his bow tie, she said, and she laughed sadly to herself, as if bow ties were something she disapproved of. The hunter moved to a window, shifted aside the curtain, and peered out.

In the poor light he could see a wooden deck the length of the house, angled and stepped, its width ever changing, with a low rail. Beyond it, in the blue shadows, a small pond lay encircled by hedges, with a marble birdbath at its center. Behind the pond stood leafless trees—oaks, maples, a sycamore as white as bone. A helicopter shuttled past, its green light winking.

"It's snowing," he said.

"Is it?" the hostess asked, with an air of concern, perhaps false. It was impossible to tell what was sincere and what was not. The woman who had driven him there had moved to the bar, where she cradled a drink and stared into the carpet.

He let the curtain fall back. The chancellor came down the staircase. Other guests fluttered in. A man in gray corduroy, with "Bruce Maples" on his nametag, approached him. "Mr. Dumas," he said, "your wife isn't here yet?"

"You know her?" the hunter asked. "Oh, no," Maples said, and shook his head. "No, I don't." He spread his legs and swiveled his hips as if stretching before a footrace. "But I've read about her."

The hunter watched as a tall, remarkably thin man stepped through the front door. Hollows behind his jaw and beneath his eyes made him appear ancient and skeletal—as if he were visiting from some other, leaner world. The chancellor approached the thin man, embraced him, and held him for a moment.

"That's President O'Brien," Maples said. "A famous man, actually, to people who follow those sorts of things. So terrible, what happened to his family." Maples stabbed the ice in his drink with his straw.

For the first time the hunter began to think he should not have come.

"Have you read your wife's books?" Maples asked.

The hunter nodded.

"In her poems her husband is a hunter."

"I guide hunters." He was looking out the window to where snow was settling on the hedges.

"Does that ever bother you?"


"Killing animals. For a living, I mean."

The hunter watched snowflakes disappear as they touched the window. Was that what hunting meant to people? Killing animals? He put his fingers to the glass. "No," he said. "It doesn't bother me."

The hunter met his wife in Great Falls, Montana, in the winter of 1972. That winter arrived all at once—you could watch it come. Twin curtains of white appeared in the north, white all the way to the sky, driving south like the end of all things. Cattle galloped the fencelines, bawling. Trees toppled; a barn roof tumbled over the highway. The river changed directions. The wind flung thrushes screaming into the gorse and impaled them on the thorns in grotesque attitudes.

She was a magician's assistant, beautiful, fifteen years old, an orphan. It was not a new story: a glittery red dress, long legs, a traveling magic show performing in the meeting hall at the Central Christian Church. The hunter had been walking past with an armful of groceries when the wind stopped him in his tracks and drove him into the alley behind the church. He had never felt such wind; it had him pinned. His face was pressed against a low window, and through it he could see the show. The magician was a small man in a dirty blue cape. Above him a sagging banner read THE GREAT VESPUCCI. But the hunter watched only the girl; she was graceful, young, smiling. Like a wrestler, the wind held him against the window.

The magician was buckling the girl into a plywood coffin, which was painted garishly with red and blue bolts of lightning. Her neck and head stuck out at one end, her ankles and feet at the other. She beamed; no one had ever before smiled so broadly at being locked into a coffin. The magician started up an electric saw and brought it noisily down through the center of the box, sawing her in half. Then he wheeled her apart, her legs going one way, her torso another. Her neck fell back, her smile faded, her eyes showed only white. The lights dimmed. A child screamed. Wiggle your toes, the magician ordered, flourishing his magic wand, and she did; her disembodied toes wiggled in glittery high-heeled pumps. The audience squealed with delight.

The hunter watched her pink, fine-boned face, her hanging hair, her outstretched throat. Her eyes caught the spotlight. Was she looking at him? Did she see his face pressed against the window, the wind slashing at his neck, the groceries—onions, a sack of flour—tumbled to the ground around his feet?

She was beautiful to him in a way that nothing else had ever been beautiful. Snow blew down his collar and drifted around his boots. After some time the magician rejoined the severed box halves, unfastened the buckles, and fluttered his wand, and she was whole again. She climbed out of the box and curtsied in her glittering dress. She smiled as if it were the Resurrection itself.

Then the storm brought down a pine tree in front of the courthouse, and the power winked out, streetlight by streetlight. Before she could move, before the ushers could begin escorting the crowd out with flashlights, the hunter was slinking into the hall, making for the stage, calling for her.

He was thirty years old, twice her age. She smiled at him, leaned over from the dais in the red glow of the emergency exit lights, and shook her head. "Show's over," she said. In his pickup he trailed the magician's van through the blizzard to her next show, a library fundraiser in Butte. The next night he followed her to Missoula. He rushed to the stage after each performance. "Just eat dinner with me," he'd plead. "Just tell me your name." It was hunting by persistence. She said yes in Bozeman. Her name was plain, Mary Roberts. They had rhubarb pie in a hotel restaurant.

"I know how you do it," he said. "The feet in the box are dummies. You hold your legs against your chest and wiggle the dummy feet with a string."

She laughed. "Is that what you do? Follow a girl from town to town to tell her her magic isn't real?"

"No," he said. "I hunt."

"And when you're not hunting?"

"I dream about hunting."

She laughed again. "It's not funny," he said.

"You're right," she said, and smiled. "It's not funny. I'm that way with magic. I dream about it. Even when I'm not asleep."

He looked into his plate, thrilled. He searched for something he might say. They ate.

"But I dream bigger dreams, you know," she said afterward, after she had eaten two pieces of pie, carefully, with a spoon. Her voice was quiet and serious. "I have magic inside of me. I'm not going to get sawed in half by Tony Vespucci all my life."

"I don't doubt it," the hunter said.

"I knew you'd believe me," she said.

But the next winter Vespucci brought her back to Great Falls and sawed her in half in the same plywood coffin. And the winter after that. Both times, after the performance, the hunter took her to the Bitterroot Diner, where he watched her eat two pieces of pie. The watching was his favorite part: a hitch in her throat as she swallowed, the way the spoon slid cleanly out from her lips, the way her hair fell over her ear.

Then she was eighteen, and after pie she let him drive her to his cabin, forty miles from Great Falls, up the Missouri and then east into the Smith River valley. She brought only a small vinyl purse. The truck skidded and sheered as he steered it over the unploughed roads, fishtailing in the deep snow, but she didn't seem afraid or worried about where he might be taking her, about the possibility that the truck might sink in a drift, that she might freeze to death in her pea coat and glittery magician's-assistant dress. Her breath plumed out in front of her. It was twenty degrees below zero. Soon the roads would be snowed over, impassable until spring.

At his one-room cabin, with furs and old rifles on the walls, he unbolted the door to the crawl space and showed her his winter hoard: a hundred smoked trout, plucked pheasants and venison quarters hanging frozen from hooks. "Enough for two of me," he said. She scanned his books over the fireplace—a monograph on grouse habits, a series of journals on upland game birds, a thick tome titled simply Bear. "Are you tired?" he asked. "Would you like to see something?" He gave her a snowsuit, strapped her boots into a pair of leather snowshoes, and took her to hear the grizzly. She wasn't bad on snowshoes, a little clumsy. They went creaking over wind-scalloped snow in the nearly unbearable cold.

The bear denned every winter in the same hollow cedar, the top of which had been shorn off by a storm. Black, three-fingered, and huge, in the starlight it resembled a skeletal hand thrust up from the ground, a ghoulish visitor scrabbling its way out of the underworld. They knelt. Above them the stars were knife points, hard and white. "Put your ear here," he whispered. The breath that carried his words crystallized and blew away. They listened, face-to-face, their ears over woodpecker holes in the trunk. She heard it after a minute, tuning her ears in to something like a drowsy sigh, a long exhalation of slumber. Her eyes widened. A full minute passed. She heard it again.

"We can see him," he whispered, "but we have to be dead quiet. Grizzlies are light hibernators. Sometimes all you do is step on twigs outside their dens and they're up."

He began to dig at the snow. She stood back, her mouth open, eyes wide. Bent at the waist, the hunter bailed the snow back through his legs. He dug down three feet and then encountered a smooth, icy crust covering a large hole in the base of the tree. Gently he dislodged plates of ice and lifted them aside. From the hole the smell of bear came to her, like wet dog, like wild mushrooms. The hunter removed some leaves. Beneath was a shaggy flank, a patch of brown fur.

"He's on his back," the hunter whispered. "This is his belly. His forelegs must be up here somewhere." He pointed to a place higher on the trunk.

She put one hand on his shoulder and knelt in the snow beside the den. Her eyes were wide and unblinking. Her jaw hung open. Above her shoulder a star separated itself from a galaxy and melted through the sky. "I want to touch him," she said. Her voice sounded loud and out of place in that wood, under the naked cedars.

"Hush," he whispered. He shook his head no.

"Just for a minute."

"No," he hissed. "You're crazy." He tugged at her arm. She removed the mitten from her other hand with her teeth and reached down. He pulled at her again but lost his footing and fell back, clutching an empty mitten. As he watched, horrified, she turned and placed both hands, spread-fingered, in the thick shag of the bear's chest. Then she lowered her face, as if drinking from the snowy hollow, and pressed her lips to the bear's chest. Her entire head was inside the tree. She felt the soft silver tips of fur brush her cheeks. Against her nose one huge rib flexed slightly. She heard the lungs fill and then empty. She heard blood slug through veins.

"Want to know what he dreams?" she asked. Her voice echoed up through the tree and poured from the shorn ends of its hollowed branches. The hunter took his knife from his coat. "Summer," her voice echoed. "Blackberries. Trout. Dredging his flanks across river pebbles."

"I'd have liked," she said later, back in the cabin as he built up the fire, "to crawl all the way down there with him. Get into his arms. I'd grab him by the ears and kiss him on the eyes."

The hunter watched the fire, the flames cutting and sawing, each log a burning bridge. Three years he had waited for this. Three years he had dreamed this girl by his fire. But somehow it had ended up different from what he had imagined. He had thought it would be like a hunt—like waiting hours beside a wallow with his rifle barrel on his pack to see the huge antlered head of a bull elk loom up against the sky, to hear the whole herd behind him inhale and then scatter down the hill. If you had your opening you shot and walked the animal down and that was it. But this felt different. It was exactly as if he were still three years younger, stopped outside the Central Christian Church and driven against a low window by the wind or some other, greater force.

"Stay with me," he whispered to her, to the fire. "Stay the winter."

Bruce Maples stood beside him, jabbing the ice in his drink with his straw. "I'm in athletics," he offered. "I run the athletic department here."

"You mentioned that."

"Did I? I don't remember. I used to coach track. Hurdles."

The hunter was watching the thin, stricken man, President O'Brien, as he stood in the corner of the reception room. Every few minutes a couple of guests made their way to him and took O'Brien's hands in their own.

"You probably know," the hunter told Maples, "that wolves are hurdlers. Sometimes the people who track them will come to a snag and the prints will disappear. As if the entire pack just leaped into a tree and vanished. Eventually they'll find the tracks again, thirty or forty feet away. People used to think it was magic—flying wolves. But all they did was jump. One great coordinated leap."

Maples was looking around the room. "Huh," he said. "I wouldn't know about that."

She stayed. The first time they made love, she shouted so loudly that coyotes climbed onto the roof and howled down the chimney. He rolled off her, sweating. The coyotes coughed and chuckled all night, like children chattering in the yard, and he had nightmares. "Last night you had three dreams, and you dreamed you were a wolf each time," she whispered. "You were mad with hunger and running under the moon."

Had he dreamed that? He couldn't remember. Maybe he talked in his sleep.

In December it never got warmer than fifteen below. The river froze—something he'd never seen. On Christmas Eve he drove all the way to Helena to buy her figure skates. In the morning they wrapped themselves head-to-toe in furs and went out to skate the river. She held him by the hips and they glided through the blue dawn, skating up the frozen coils and shoals, beneath the leafless alders and cottonwoods, only the bare tips of creek willows showing above the snow. Ahead of them vast white stretches of river faded into darkness.

In a wind-polished bend they came upon a dead heron, frozen by its ankles into the ice. It had tried to hack itself out, hammering with its beak first at the ice entombing its feet and then at its own thin and scaly legs. When it finally died, it died upright, wings folded back, beak parted in some final, desperate cry, legs like twin reeds rooted in the ice.

She fell to her knees beside the bird. In its eye she saw her face flatly reflected. "It's dead," the hunter said. "Come on. You'll freeze too."

"No," she said. She slipped off her mitten and closed the heron's beak in her fist. Almost immediately her eyes rolled back in her head. "Oh, wow," she moaned. "I can feel her." She stayed like that for whole minutes, the hunter standing over her, feeling the cold come up his legs, afraid to touch her as she knelt before the bird. Her hand turned white and then blue in the wind. Finally she stood. "We have to bury it," she said.

That night she lay stiff and would not sleep. "It was just a bird," he said, unsure of what was bothering her but bothered by it himself. "We can't do anything for a dead bird. It was good that we buried it, but tomorrow something will find it and dig it out."

She turned to him. Her eyes were wide. He remembered how they had looked when she put her hands on the bear. "When I touched her," she said, "I saw where she went."


I saw where she went when she died. She was on the shore of a lake with other herons, a hundred others, all facing the same direction, and they were wading among stones. It was dawn, and they watched the sun come up over the trees on the other side of the lake. I saw it as clearly as if I were there."

He rolled onto his back and watched shadows shift across the ceiling. "Winter is getting to you," he said. He resolved to make sure she went out every day. It was something he'd long believed: go out every day in winter, or your mind will slip. Every winter the paper was full of stories about ranchers' wives, snowed in and crazed with cabin fever, who had dispatched their husbands with cleavers or awls.

Winter threw itself at the cabin. He took her out every day. He showed her a thousand ladybugs hibernating in an orange ball hung in a riverbank hollow; a pair of dormant frogs buried in frozen mud, their blood crystallized until spring. He pried a globe of honeybees from its hive, slow-buzzing, stunned from the sudden exposure, tightly packed around the queen, each bee shimmying for warmth. When he placed the globe in her hands, she fainted, her eyes rolled back. Lying there, she saw all their dreams at once, the winter reveries of scores of worker bees, each one fiercely vivid: bright trails through thorns to a clutch of wild roses, honey tidily brimming a hundred combs.

With each day she learned more about what she could do. She felt a foreign and keen sensitivity bubbling in her blood, as if a seed planted long ago were just now sprouting. The larger the animal, the more powerfully it could shake her. The recently dead were virtual mines of visions, casting them off with a slow-fading strength as if cutting a long series of tethers one by one. She pulled off her mittens and touched everything she could: bats, salamanders, a cardinal chick tumbled from its nest, still warm. Ten hibernating garter snakes coiled beneath a rock, eyelids sealed, tongues stilled. Each time she touched a frozen insect, a slumbering amphibian, anything just dead, her eyes rolled back and its visions, its heaven, went shivering through her body.

Their first winter passed like that. When he looked out the cabin window, he saw wolf tracks crossing the river, owls hunting from the trees, six feet of snow like a quilt ready to be thrown off. She saw burrowed dreamers nestled under roots against the long twilight, their dreams rippling into the sky like auroras.

With love still lodged in his heart like a splinter, he married her in the first muds of spring.

Bruce Maples gasped when the hunter's wife finally arrived. She moved through the door like a show horse, demure in the way she kept her eyes down, but assured in her step; she brought each tapered heel down and struck it against the granite. The hunter had not seen his wife for twenty years, and she had changed—become refined, less wild, and somehow, to the hunter, worse for it. Her face had wrinkled around the eyes, and she moved as if avoiding contact with anything near her, as if the hall table or the closet door might suddenly lunge forward to snatch at her lapels. She wore no jewelry, no wedding ring, only a plain black suit, double-breasted.

She found her nametag on the table and pinned it to her lapel. Everyone in the reception room looked at her and then looked away. The hunter realized that she, not President O'Brien, was the guest of honor. In a sense they were courting her. This was their way, the chancellor's way—a silent bartender, tuxedoed coat girls, big icy drinks. Give her pie, the hunter thought. Rhubarb pie. Show her a sleeping grizzly.

They sat for dinner at a narrow and very long table, fifteen or so high-backed chairs down each side and one at each end. The hunter was seated several places away from his wife. She looked over at him finally, a look of recognition, of warmth, and then looked away again. He must have seemed old to her—he must always have seemed old to her. She did not look at him again.

The kitchen staff, in starched whites, brought onion soup, scampi, poached salmon. Around the hunter guests spoke in half whispers about people he did not know. He kept his eyes on the windows and the blowing snow beyond.

The river thawed and drove huge saucers of ice toward the Missouri. The hunter felt that old stirring, that quickening in his soul, and would rise in the wide pink dawns, grab his fly rod, and hurry down to the river. Already trout were rising through the chill brown water to take the first insects of spring. Soon the telephone in the cabin was ringing with calls from clients, and his guiding season was on.

In April an occasional client wanted a mountain lion or a trip with dogs for birds, but late spring and summer were for trout. He was out every morning before dawn, driving with a thermos of coffee to pick up a lawyer, a widower, a politician with a penchant for wild cutthroat. He came home stinking of fish guts and woke her with eager stories—native trout leaping fifteen-foot cataracts, a stubborn rainbow wedged under a snag.

By June she was bored and lonely. She wandered through the forest, but never very far. The summer woods were dense and busy, not like the quiet graveyard feel of winter. Nothing slept for very long; everything was emerging from cocoons, winging about, buzzing, multiplying, having litters, gaining weight. Bear cubs splashed in the river. Chicks screamed for worms. She longed for the stillness of winter, the long slumber, the bare sky, the bone-on-bone sound of bull elk knocking their antlers against trees.

In September the big-game hunters came. Each client wanted something different: elk, antelope, a bull moose, a doe. They wanted to see grizzlies, track a wolverine, shoot sandhill cranes. They wanted the heads of seven-by-seven royal bulls for their dens. Every few days he came home smelling of blood, with stories of stupid clients, of the Texan who sat, wheezing, too out of shape to get to the top of a hill for his shot. A bloodthirsty New Yorker claimed he wanted only to photograph black bears; then he pulled a pistol from his boot and fired wildly at two cubs and their mother. Nightly she scrubbed blood out of the hunter's coveralls, watched it fade from rust to red to rose in a basin filled with river water.

She began to sleep, taking long afternoon naps, three hours or more. Sleep, she learned, was a skill like any other, like getting sawed in half and reassembled, or like divining visions from a dead robin. She taught herself to sleep despite heat, despite noise. Insects flung themselves at the screens, hornets sped down the chimney, the sun angled hot and urgent through the southern windows; still she slept. When he came home each autumn night, exhausted, forearms stained with blood, she was hours into sleep. Outside, the wind was already stripping leaves from the cottonwoods—too soon, he thought. He'd take her sleeping hand. Both of them lived in the grip of forces they had no control over—the October wind, the revolutions of the earth.

That winter was the worst he could remember: from Thanksgiving on they were snowed in, the truck buried under six-foot drifts. The phone line went down in December and stayed down until April. January began with a chinook followed by a terrible freeze. The next morning a three-inch crust of ice covered the snow. On the ranches to the south cattle crashed through and bled to death kicking their way out. Deer punched through with their tiny hooves and suffocated in the deep snow beneath. Trails of blood veined the hills.

In the mornings he would find coyote tracks written in the snow around the door to the crawl space, two inches of hardwood between them and all his winter hoard hanging frozen beneath the floorboards. He reinforced the door with baking sheets, nailing them up against the wood and over the hinges. Twice he woke to the sound of claws scrabbling against the metal and charged outside to shout the coyotes away.

Everywhere he looked something was dying: an elk keeling over, an emaciated doe clattering onto ice like a drunken skeleton. The radio reported huge cattle losses on the southern ranches. Each night he dreamt of wolves, of running with them, soaring over fences and tearing into the steaming carcasses of cattle.

In February he woke to coyotes under the cabin. He grabbed his bow and knife and dashed out into the snow barefoot, his feet going numb. They had gone in under the door, chewing and digging the frozen earth under the foundation. He unbolted what was left of the door and swung it free.

Elk arrows were all he had, aluminum shafts tipped with broadheads. He squatted in the dark entrance—their only exit—with his bow at full draw and an arrow nocked. Above him he could hear his wife's feet pad quietly over the floorboards. A coyote made a coughing sound. Others shifted and panted. Maybe there were ten. He began to fire arrows steadily into the dark. He heard some bite into the foundation blocks at the back of the crawl space, others sink into flesh. He spent his whole quiver: a dozen arrows. The yelps of speared coyotes went up. A few charged him, and he lashed at them with his knife. He felt teeth go to the bone of his arm, felt hot breath on his cheeks. He lashed with his knife at ribs, tails, skulls. His muscles screamed. The coyotes were in a frenzy. Blood bloomed from his wrist, his thigh.

She heard the otherworldly screams of wounded coyotes come up through the floorboards, his grunts and curses as he fought. It sounded as if an exit had been tunneled all the way from hell to open under their house, and what was now pouring out was the worst violence that place could send up. She knelt in front of the fireplace and felt the souls of coyotes as they came through the boards on their way skyward.

He was blood-soaked and hungry, and his thigh had been badly bitten, but he worked all day digging out the truck. If he did not get food, they would starve, and he tried to hold the thought of the truck in his mind. He lugged slate and tree bark to wedge under the tires, excavated a mountain of snow from the truck bed. Finally, after dark, he got the engine turned over and ramped the truck up onto the frozen, wind-crusted snow. For a brief, wonderful moment he had it careening over the icy crust, starlight washing through the windows, tires spinning, pistons churning, what looked to be the road unspooling in the headlights. Then he crashed through. Slowly, painfully, he began digging it out again.

It was hopeless. He would get it up, and then it would break through a few miles later. Hardly anywhere was the sheet of ice atop the snow thick enough to support the truck's weight. For twenty hours he dug and then revved and slid the truck over eight-foot drifts. Three more times it crashed through and sank to the windows. Finally he left it. He was ten miles from home, thirty miles from town.

He made a weak and smoky fire with cut boughs and lay beside it and tried to sleep, but he couldn't. The heat from the fire melted snow, and trickles ran slowly toward him but froze solid before they reached him. The stars twisting in their constellations above had never seemed farther or colder. In a state that was neither fully sleep nor fully waking, he watched wolves lope around his fire, just outside the reaches of light, slavering and lean. He thought for the first time that he might die if he did not get warmer. He managed to kneel and turn and crawl for home. Around him he could feel the wolves, smell blood on them, hear their nailed feet scrape across the ice.

He traveled all that night and all the next day, near catatonia, sometimes on his feet, more often on his elbows and knees. At times he thought he was a wolf, and at times he thought he was dead. When he finally made it to the cabin, there were no tracks on the porch, no sign that she had gone out. The crawl-space door was still flung open, and shreds of the siding and the doorframe lay scattered about.

She was kneeling on the floor, ice in her hair, lost in some kind of hypothermic torpor. With his last dregs of energy he constructed a fire and poured a mug of hot water down her throat. As he fell into sleep, he watched himself as from a distance, weeping and clutching his near-frozen wife.

They had only flour and a few crackers in the cupboards. When she could speak, her voice was quiet and far away. "I have dreamt the most amazing things," she murmured. "I have seen the places where coyotes go when they are gone. I know where spiders go, and geese ... "

Snow fell incessantly. Night was abiding; daylight passed in a breath. The hunter was beyond hungry. Whenever he stood up, his eyesight fled in slow, nauseating streaks of color. He went out with lanterns to fish, shoveled down to the river ice, chopped through it with a maul, and shivered over the hole jigging a ball of dough on a hook. Sometimes he brought back a trout; other times they ate a squirrel, a hare, once a famished deer whose bones he cracked and boiled, or only a few handfuls of rose hips. In the worst parts of March he dug out cattails to peel and steam the tubers.

She hardly ate, sleeping eighteen, twenty hours a day. When she woke, it was to scribble on notebook paper before plummeting back into sleep, clutching at the blankets as if they gave her sustenance. There was, she was learning, strength hidden at the center of weakness, ground at the bottom of the deepest pit. With her stomach empty and her body quieted, without the daily demands of living, she felt she was making important discoveries. She was only nineteen and had lost twenty pounds since marrying him. Naked, she was all rib cage and pelvis.

He read her scribbled dreams, but they seemed to be senseless poems and gave him no clues to her.

Snail: sleds down stones in the rain.

Owl: fixes his eyes on hare, drops as if from the moon.

Horse: rides across the plains with his brothers ...

In April the temperature rose above zero and then above twenty. He strapped an extra battery to his pack and went to dig out the truck. Its excavation took all day. He drove it slowly back up the slushy road in the moonlight and asked if she'd like to go to town the next morning. To his surprise, she said yes. They heated water for baths and dressed in clothes they hadn't worn in six months. She threaded twine through her belt loops to keep her trousers up.

Behind the wheel his chest filled to have her with him, to be moving out into the country, to see the sun above the trees. Spring was coming; the valley was dressing up. Look there, he wanted to say, those geese streaming over the road. The valley lives. Even after a winter like that.

She asked him to drop her off at the library. He bought food—a dozen frozen pizzas, potatoes, eggs, carrots. He nearly wept at seeing bananas. In the parking lot he drank a half gallon of milk. When he picked her up at the library, she had applied for a library card and borrowed twenty books. They stopped at the Bitterroot for hamburgers and rhubarb pie. She ate three pieces. He watched her eat, the spoon sliding out of her mouth. This was better. This was more like his dreams.

"Well, Mary," he said, "I think we made it."

"I love pie," she said.

As soon as the line was repaired, the phone began to ring. He took his fishing clients down the river. She sat on the porch, reading, reading.

Soon her sudden and ravenous appetite for books could not be met by the Great Falls Public Library. She wanted other books—essays about sorcery, primers on magic-working and conjury that had to be mail-ordered from New Hampshire, New Orleans, even Italy. Once a week the hunter drove to town to collect a parcel of books from the post office: Arcana Mundi, The Seer's Dictionary, Paragon of Wizardry, Occult Science Among the Ancients. He opened one to a random page and read "Bring water, tie a soft fillet around your altar, burn it on fresh twigs and frankincense ..."

She regained her health, took on energy, no longer lay under furs dreaming all day. She was out of bed before he was, brewing coffee, her nose already between pages. With a steady diet of meat and vegetables her body bloomed, her hair shone, her eyes and cheeks glowed. How beautiful she seemed to him in those few hours he was home. After supper he would watch her read in the firelight, blackbird feathers tied all through her hair, a heron's beak hanging between her breasts.

In November he took a Sunday off and they cross-country skied. They came across a bull elk frozen to death in a draw. Ravens shrieked at them as they skied to it. She knelt and put her palm on the leathered skull. "There," she moaned. "I feel him."

"What do you feel?" he asked, standing behind her. "What is it?"

She stood, trembling. "I feel his life flowing out," she said. "I see where he goes, what he sees."

"But that's impossible," he said. "It's like saying you know what I dream."

"I do," she said. "You dream about wolves."

"But that elk's been dead at least a day. It doesn't go anywhere. It goes into the crops of those ravens."

How could she tell him? How could she ask him to understand such a thing? How could anyone understand? More clearly than ever she could see that there was a fine line between dreams and wakefulness, between living and dying, a line so tenuous it sometimes didn't exist. It was always clearest for her in winter. In winter, in that valley, life and death were not so different. The heart of a hibernating newt was frozen solid, but she could warm and wake it in her palm. For the newt there was no line at all, no fence, no River Styx, only an area between living and dying, like a snowfield between two lakes: a place where dreams and wakefulness met, where death was only a possibility and visions rose shimmering to the stars like smoke. All that was needed was a hand, the heat of a palm, the touch of fingers.

That February the sun shone during the days and ice formed at night—slick sheets glazing the wheat fields, the roofs and roads. One day he dropped her off at the library, the chains on the tires rattling as he pulled away, heading back up the Missouri toward Fort Benton.

Around noon Marlin Spokes, a snowplough driver the hunter knew from grade school, slid off the Sun River Bridge in his plough and dropped forty feet into the river. He was dead before they could get him out of the truck. She was reading in the library, a block away, and heard the plough crash into the riverbed like a thousand dropped girders. When she got to the bridge, sprinting in her jeans and T-shirt, men were already in the water—a telephone man from Helena, a jeweler, a butcher in his apron, all of them had scrambled down the banks and were wading in the rapids, prying the door open. The men lifted Marlin from the cab, stumbling as they carried him. Steam rose from their shoulders and from the crushed hood of the plough. She careened down the snow-covered slope and splashed to them. Her hand on the jeweler's arm, her leg against the butcher's leg, she reached for Marlin's ankle.

When her finger touched Marlin's body, her eyes rolled back and a single vision leaped to her: Marlin Spokes pedaling a bicycle, a child's seat mounted over the rear tire with a helmeted boy—Marlin's own son—strapped into it. Spangles of light drifted over the riders as they rolled down a lane beneath giant, sprawling maples. The boy reached for Marlin's hair with one small fist. In the glass of a storefront window their reflection flashed past. Fallen leaves turned over in their wake. This quiet vision—like a ribbon of rich silk—ran out slowly and fluidly, with great power, and she shook beneath it. It was she who pedaled the bike. The boy's fingers pulled through her hair.

The men who were touching her or touching Marlin saw what she saw, felt what she felt. At first they spoke of it only in their basements, at night, but Great Falls was not a big town, and this was not something one could keep locked in a basement. Soon they discussed it everywhere—in the supermarket, at the gasoline pumps. People who didn't know Marlin Spokes or his son or the hunter's wife or any of the men in the river that morning soon spoke of the event like experts. "All you had to do was touch her," a barber said, "and you saw it too." "The most beautiful lane you've ever dreamed," a deli owner raved. "You didn't just pedal his son around," movie ushers whispered, "you loved him."

He could have heard anywhere. In the cabin he built up the fire, flipped idly through a stack of her books. He couldn't understand them—one of them wasn't even in English.

After dinner she took the plates to the sink.

"You read Spanish now?" he asked.

Her hands in the sink stilled. "It's Portuguese," she said. "I understand only a little."

He turned his fork in his hands. "Were you there when Marlin Spokes was killed?"

"I helped pull him out of the truck. I don't think I was much good."

He looked at the back of her head. He felt like driving his fork through the table. "What tricks did you play? Did you hypnotize people?"

Her shoulders tightened. Her voice came out furious. "Why can't you—" she began, but her voice fell off. "It wasn't tricks," she muttered. "I helped carry him."

When she started to get phone calls, he hung up on the callers. But they were relentless: a grieving widow, an orphan's lawyer, a reporter from the Great Falls Tribune. A blubbering father drove all the way to the cabin to beg her to come to the funeral parlor, and finally she went. The hunter insisted on driving her. It wasn't right, he declared, for her to go alone. He waited in the truck in the parking lot, engine rattling, radio moaning.

"I feel so alive," she said afterward, as he helped her into the cab. Her clothes were soaked through with sweat. "Like my blood is fizzing through my body." At home she lay awake, far away, all night.

She got called back and called back, and each time he drove her. He would take her after a whole day of duck hunting and pass out from exhaustion while he waited in the truck. When he woke, she would be beside him, holding his hand, her hair damp, her eyes wild. "You dreamt you were with the wolves and eating salmon," she said. "They were washed up and dying on the shoals."

He drove them home over the dark fields. He tried to soften his voice. "What do you do in there? What really?"

"I give them solace. I let them say good-bye to their loved ones. I help them know something they'd never otherwise know."

"No," he said. "I mean what kind of tricks? How do you do it?"

She turned her hands palms up. "As long as they're touching me, they see what I see. Come in with me next time. Go in there and hold hands. Then you'll know."

He said nothing. The stars above the windshield seemed fixed in their places.

Families wanted to pay her; most wouldn't let her leave until they did. She would come out to the truck with fifty, a hundred—once four hundred—dollars folded into her pocket. She began to go off for weekends, disappearing in the truck before he was up, a fearless driver. She knelt by roadkill—a crumpled porcupine, a shattered deer. She pressed her palm to the truck's grille, where the husks of insects smoked. Seasons came and went. She was gone half the winter. Each of them was alone. They never spoke. On longer drives she was sometimes tempted to keep the truck pointed away and never return.

In the first thaws he would go out to the river and try to lose himself in the rhythm of casting, in the sound of pebbles driven downstream, clacking together. But even fishing had become lonely for him. Everything, it seemed, was out of his hands—his truck, his wife, the course of his own life.

As hunting season came on, his mind wandered. He was botching kills—getting upwind of elk, or telling a client to unload and call it quits thirty seconds before a pheasant burst from cover. When a client missed his mark and pegged an antelope in the neck, the hunter berated him for being careless, knelt over its tracks, and clutched at the bloody snow. "Do you understand what you've done?" he shouted. "How the arrow shaft will knock against the trees, how the animal will run and run, how the wolves will trot behind it to keep it from resting?"

The client was red-faced, huffing. "Wolves don't hunt here," the client said. "There haven't been wolves here for twenty years."

She was in Butte or Missoula when he discovered her money in a boot: six thousand dollars and change. He canceled his trips and stewed for two days, pacing the porch, sifting through her things, rehearsing his arguments. When she saw him, the sheaf of bills jutting from his shirt pocket, she stopped halfway to the door, her bag over her shoulder, her hair pulled back.

"It's not right," he said.

She walked past him into the cabin. "I'm helping people. I'm doing what I love. Can't you see how good I feel afterward?"

"You take advantage of them. They're grieving, and you take their money."

"They want to pay me," she shrieked. "I help them see something they desperately want to see."

"It's a grift. A con."

She came back out on the porch. "No," she said. Her voice was quiet and strong. "This is real. As real as anything: the valley, the river, your trout hanging in the crawl space. I have a talent. A gift."

He snorted. "A gift for hocus-pocus. For swindling widows out of their savings." He lobbed the money into the yard. The wind caught the bills and scattered them over the snow.

She hit him, once, hard across the mouth. "How dare you?" she cried. "You, of all people, should understand. You who dreams of wolves every night."

In the months that followed, she left the cabin more frequently and for longer durations, visiting homes, accident sites, and funeral parlors all over central Montana. Finally she pointed the truck south and didn't turn back. They had been married five years.

Twenty years later, in the Bitterroot Diner, he looked up at the ceiling-mounted television and there she was, being interviewed. She lived in Manhattan, had traveled the world, had written two books. She was in demand all over the country.

"Do you commune with the dead?" the interviewer asked.

"No," she said, "I help people. I commune with the living. I give people peace."

"Well," the interviewer said, turning to speak into the camera, "I believe it."

The hunter bought her books at the bookstore and read them in one night. She had written poems about the valley, written them to the animals: you rampant coyote, you glorious buck. She had traveled to Sudan to touch the backbone of a fossilized stegosaur, and wrote of her frustration when she divined nothing from it. A TV network flew her to Kamchatka to embrace the huge, shaggy neck of a mammoth as it was air-lifted from a glacier. She'd had better luck with that one, describing an entire herd slogging big-footed through a slushy tide, tearing at sea grass and flaring their ears to catch the sun. In a handful of poems there were even vague allusions to him—a brooding, blood-soaked presence that hovered outside the margins like a storm on its way, like a killer hiding in the basement.

The hunter was fifty-eight years old. Twenty years was a long time. The valley had diminished slowly but perceptibly: roads came in, and the grizzlies left, seeking higher country. Loggers had thinned nearly every accessible stand of trees. Every spring runoff from logging roads turned the river chocolate-brown, and the soil from the old forests was being washed into the Missouri. In his cabin, bent over the table, he set aside her books, took a pencil, and wrote her a letter.

A week later a Federal Express truck drove all the way to the cabin. Inside the envelope was her response, on embossed stationery. The handwriting was hurried and efficient. I will be in Chicago, it said, day after tomorrow. Enclosed is a plane ticket. Feel free to come. Thank you for writing.

After sherbet the chancellor called his guests into the reception room. Burning candles had been distributed around the room: on the sills, the banister, the mantel, the bookshelves. The bar had been taken down; in its place three caskets had been set on the carpet. A bit of snow that had fallen on the lids—they must have been kept outside—was melting, and drops ran onto the carpet, where they left dark circles. Around the caskets cushions had been placed on the floor. The hunter leaned against the entryway and watched guests drift uncomfortably into the room, some cradling coffee cups, others gulping at gin or vodka in deep tumblers. Eventually everyone settled on the floor in a circle.

The hunter's wife came in then, elegant in her dark suit. She knelt and motioned for O'Brien to sit beside her. His face was pinched and inscrutable. Again the hunter had the impression that he was not of this world but of a slightly leaner one.

"President O'Brien," his wife said, "I know this is difficult for you. Death can seem so final, like a blade dropped through the neck. But the nature of death is not at all final. It is not some dark cliff off which we leap. I hope to show you it is merely a fog, something we can peer into and out of, something we can know and face and not necessarily fear. By each life taken from our collective lives we are diminished. But even in death we have much to celebrate. It is only a transition, like so many others."

She moved into the circle and unfastened the lids of the caskets. From where he sat the hunter could not see inside. His wife's hands fluttered around her waist like birds. "Think," she said. "Think hard about something you would like resolved, some matter, gone now, in the grips of the past, which you wish you could take back—perhaps with your daughters, a moment, a lost feeling, a desperate wish."

The hunter closed his eyes. "Think now," his wife was saying, "of some wonderful moment, some fine and sunny minute you shared, your wife and daughters, all of you together." Her voice was lulling. Behind his eyelids the glow of the candles made an even orange wash. He knew her hands were reaching for whatever—whoever—lay in those caskets. Somewhere inside him he felt her extend across the room.

His wife said more about beauty and loss being the same thing, about how they ordered the world, and he felt something happening—a strange warmth, a flitting presence, something dim and unsettling, like a feather brushed across the back of his neck. Hands on both sides of him reached for his hands. Fingers locked around his fingers. He wondered if she was hypnotizing him, but it didn't matter. He had nothing to fight off or snap out of. She was inside him now; she had reached across and was poking about.

Her voice faded, and he felt himself swept up as if rising toward the ceiling. Air washed lightly in and out of his lungs; warmth pulsed in the hands that held his. In his mind he saw a sea emerging from fog. The water was broad and flat and glittered like polished metal. He could feel dune grass moving against his shins, and wind coming over his shoulders. All around him bees shuttled over the dunes. Far out a shorebird was diving for crabs. He knew that a few hundred yards away two girls were building castles in the sand; he could hear their song, soft and lilting. Their mother was with them, reclining under an umbrella, one leg bent, the other straight. She was drinking iced tea, and he could taste it in his mouth, sweet and bitter with a trace of mint. Each cell in his body seemed to breathe. He became the girls, the diving bird, the shuttling bees; he was the mother of the girls and the father; he could feel himself flowing outward, richly dissolving, paddling into the world like the very first cell into the great blue sea ...

When he opened his eyes, he saw linen curtains, women in gowns kneeling. Tears were visible on many people's cheeks—O'Brien's and the chancellor's and Bruce Maples's. His wife's head was bowed. The hunter gently released the hands that held his, stood, and walked out into the kitchen, past the sudsy sinks, the stacks of dishes. He let himself out a side door and found himself on the wooden deck that ran the length of the house, a couple of inches of snow already settled on it.

He felt drawn toward the pond, the birdbath, the hedges. He walked to the pond and stood at its rim. The snow fell steadily, and the undersides of the clouds glowed with reflected light from the city.

Before long his wife stepped onto the deck and came down to join him. There were things he had been preparing to say: something about a final belief, an expression of gratitude for providing a reason to leave the valley, if only for a night. He wanted to tell her that although the wolves were gone, may always have been gone, they still came to him in dreams. That they could run there, fierce and unfettered, was surely enough. She would understand. She had understood long before he did.

But he was afraid to speak. He could see that speaking would be like dashing some very fragile bond to pieces, like kicking a dandelion gone to seed; the wispy, tenuous sphere of its body would scatter in the wind. So instead they stood together, the snow fluttering down from the clouds to melt into the water, where their reflected images trembled like two people trapped against the glass of a parallel world, and he reached, finally, to take her hand.
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