I saw a bull terrier the other day. It isn't the first one I've seen since then, but it is the first time that I haven't either cringed or run away. It was white with black spots and reminded me of Pete the Dog in the Our Gang comedies. I was sitting at a little round cast-iron table out in front of a café. I had been drinking pastis and writing a couple of things down in my diary.
The car had thrown a rod, but luckily there was a Citroën repair place in town: one guy in a blue beret smoking one of those yellow Gitanes cigarettes. It wasn't so bad to stop for a couple of days anyway. The trip from Strasbourg had been done in thunderstorms and I had done most of the driving. But as soon as we got to Brittany the skies cleared and the sun threw out the welcome mat.
The dog's name was Bobo and he belonged to the owner of the café. After looking at him for a while I went back to my diary. Since Galen, I've been pretty good about keeping a record of what has been happening to me.
I bought the book in Burke, Michigan. The first entry went on for pages and pages. Half-coherent, messy, paranoid. A lot of "They're coming to get me!" sort of thing. Naturally I still have that paranoia, but you get used to living with anything after three years, even that. I don't know how long it took them to figure out that I wasn't killed in the explosion, but from the very first I assumed that as soon as they knew for sure, they would come for me.
So I ran like hell, I stopped to pick up a passport in Detroit and then went right over the river to Canada. I worked in Toronto at a paperback bookstore for a while; then I got in touch with my bank in America and had them transfer all of my money up there. When it arrived I quit my job and got on a plane to Frankfurt, Germany. My itinerary since then? Frankfurt, Munich (in time for the Oktoberfest), Salzburg, Milan, Stresa, Zermatt, Grindlwald, Zurich, Strasbourg, Dinard…
My mother still doesn't know what the hell is going on, but good Joe that she is, she's never asked questions. When out of the blue she got a wire from me asking for every bit of biographical material on my father that she could find, two weeks later a nicely wrapped package arrived special delivery at the funny post office in Altensteig. It was full of books and articles and yellowed studio handouts that she must have kept over the years.
I started the book in Germany in the winter and worked con stantly on it in small mountain towns that had few tourists. Writing was the only time in the day when Saxony wasn't on my mind. I've cried, I've loathed myself for not having saved her, and I miss her more than anything else. In fact I think I might miss her more now than I ever loved her. If that phrase sounds strange, I'm sorry, but it's the best I can do now.
I also began it because I needed something solid to work on while I tried to figure out what I was going to do. The only thing I knew for sure was that someday I would turn around in Holland or Greece or someplace and see a familiar Galen face smiling evilly at me. But how long would they pursue me? Forever? Or only until they were sure that I wasn't going to get them back for Saxony's death? I started the biography of my father to take my mind off my moment-to-moment fears, and because Sax had said that it would be good for me, and because I wanted to.
There were very few long entries in my diary that year. Just brief words of excitement and depression that I would jot down when I could pull myself away from the life of Stephen Abbey, movie star.
I had just gotten him from North Carolina to New York to try out for Broadway when I went to the post office one day and happened to see a package addressed to one Richard Lee, in care of Gasthaus Steinbauer, on a table behind the window clerk. Thank God for small European post offices. Bags and notes were in my brand-new Deux Chevaux in three seconds, and I was on my way down the mountain as fast as that frogmobile would go.
I stayed in Stresa for almost three months because it was lovely and empty, and Lieutenant Henry and his Catherine had rested there before they rowed across Lake Maggiore to Switzerland.
It was so stupid to send Lee after me, but maybe it had a purpose. Maybe now that he's back, they're trying to purify Galen completely – no more real people, no more normals in Marshall France Town. At least then Anna wouldn't have to fuck Lee anymore. Yes, and maybe even Anna will be next, who knows? Her father could re-create her, better than ever, the new Anna model. She would never age, never get sick. Maybe that's why they sent Richard – if anything happened to him, the master would just make another.
It doesn't make any difference. We waited for him in Zermatt and killed him on a small side street in the middle of the night.
"Hey there, Richard!"
"Tom, Tom Abbey! What do you say!"
He had a long corrugated knife that he was trying to hold close to his side. He smiled and looked around as he walked toward me, just in case any friends of mine happened to be nearby.
When Richard was five or six feet away, Pop stepped out of the pitch dark behind me and said lightly over my shoulder, "Want me to hold your hat for you, kiddo?"
I screamed with laughter and shot right into the middle of Richard's sad, astonished face.