Holly held Jim against her for a moment then let him go. He still looked through her more than at her and seemed to be in a trance.
"Jim," Henry Ironheart said beseechingly, still reaching out toward his grandson.
After a hesitation, Jim slid off the bench, onto his knees in front of the old man. He took the withered hand and kissed it.
Without looking up at either Holly or Henry, Jim said, "Grandma saw The Enemy coming out of the wall. First time it happened, first time I saw it, too." His voice sounded faraway, as if a part of him were still back in the past, reliving that dreaded moment, grateful that there had not been as much reason to dread it as he had thought.
"She saw it, and it frightened her, and she stumbled back into the stairs, tripped, fell. . ." He pressed his grandfather's hand to his cheek and said, "I didn't kill her.”
"I know you didn't, Jim," Henry Ironheart said. "My God, I know you didn't.”
The old man looked up at Holly with a thousand questions about birds and enemies and things in walls. But she knew he would have to wait for answers until another day, as she had waited-as Jim had waited, too.
During the drive over the mountains and down into Santa Barbara, Jim slumped in his seat, eyes closed. He seemed to have fallen into a deep sleep. She supposed he needed sleep as desperately as any man could need it, for he'd enjoyed almost no real rest in twenty-five years.
She was no longer afraid to let him sleep. She was certain that The Enemy was gone, with The Friend, and that only one personality inhabited his body now. Dreams were no longer doorways.
For the time being, she did not want to return to the mill, even though they had left some gear there. She'd had enough of Svenborg, too, and all it represented in Jim's life. She wanted to hole up in a new place, where neither of them had been, where new beginnings might be forged with no taint of the past.
As she drove through that parched land under the ashen sky, she put the pieces together and studied the resulting picture:. an enormously gifted boy, far more gifted than even he knows, lives through the slaughter in the Dixie Duck, but comes out of the holocaust with a shattered soul. In his desperation to feel good about himself again, he borrow's Arthur Willott's fantasy, using his special power to create The Friend, an embodiment of his most noble aspirations, and The Friend tells him he has a mission in life.
But the boy is so full of despair and rage that The Friend alone is not enough to heal him. He needs a third personality, something into which he can shove all his negative feelings, all the darkness in himself that frightens him. So he creates The Enemy, embellishing Willott's story structure.
Alone in the windmill, he has exhilarating conversations with The Friend -and works out his rage through the materialization of The Enemy.
Until, one night, Lena Ironheart walks in at the wrong moment.
Frightened, she falls backward. . . .
In shock because of what The Enemy has done, merely by its presence, Jim forces himself to forget the fantasy, both The Friend and Enemy, just as Jim Jamison forgot his alien encounter after saving the life of the future president of the United States. For twenty-five years, he struggles to keep a lid firmly on those fragmented personalities, suppressing both his very best and his very worst qualities, leading a relatively quiet and colorless life because he dares not tap his stronger feelings.
He finds purpose in teaching, which to some extent redeems him-until Larry Kakonis commits suicide. Without purpose any more, feeling that he has failed Kakonis as he failed his parents and, even more profoundly, his grandmother, he subconsciously longs to live out Jim Jamison's courageous and redeeming adventure, which means freeing The Friend.
But when he frees The Friend, he frees The Enemy as well. And after all these years of being bottled inside him, his rage has only intensified, become blacker and more bitter, utterly inhuman in its intensity. The Enemy is something even more evil now than it was twenty-five years ago, a creature of singularly murderous appearance and temperament. . . .
So Jim was like any victim of multiple-personality syndrome.
Except for one thing. One little thing. He created nonhuman entities to embody aspects of himself, not other human identities-and had the power to give them flesh of their own. He hadn't been like Sally Field playing Sybil, sixteen people in one body. He had been three beings in three bodies, and one of them had been a killer.
Holly turned on the car heater. Though it must have been seventy degrees outside, she was chilled. The heat from the dashboard vents did nothing to warm her.
The clock behind the registration desk showed 1:11 P.M. when Holly checked them into a Quality motor lodge in Santa Barbara. While she filled out the form and provided her credit card to the clerk, Jim continued to sleep in the Ford.
When she returned with their key, she was able to rouse him enough to get him out of the car and into their room. He was in a stupor and went directly to the bed, where he curled up and once more fell instantly into a deep sleep.
She got diet sodas, ice, and candy bars from the vending-machine center near the pool.
In the room again, she closed the drapes. She switched on one lamp and arranged a towel over the shade to soften the light.
She pulled a chair near the bed and sat down. She drank diet soda and ate candy while she watched him sleep.
The worst was over. The fantasy had been burned away, and he had plunged completely into cold reality.
But she did not know what the aftermath would bring. She had never known him without his delusions, and she didn't know what he would be like when he had none. She didn't know if he would be a more optimistic man-or a darker one. She didn't know if he would still have the same degree of superhuman powers that he'd had before. He had summoned those powers from within himself only because he had needed them to sustain his fantasy and cling to his precarious sanity; perhaps, now, he would be only as gifted as he had been before his parents had died-able to levitate a pie pan, flip a coin with his mind, nothing more. Worst of all, she didn't know if he would still love her.
By dinnertime he was still asleep.
She went out and got more candy bars. Another hinge. She would end up as plump as her mother if she didn't get control of herself He was still asleep at ten o'clock. Eleven. Midnight.
She considered waking him. But she realized that he was in a chrysalis, waiting to be born from his old life into a new one. A caterpillar needed time to turn itself into a butterfly. That was her hope, anyway.
Sometime between midnight and one o'clock in the morning, Holly fell asleep in her chair. She did not dream.
He woke her.
She looked up into his beautiful eyes, which were not cold in the dim light of the towel-draped lamp, but which were still mysterious.
He was leaning over her chair, shaking her gently. "Holly, come on.
We've got to go.”
Instantly casting off sleep, she sat up. "Go where?" "Scranton, Pennsylvania.”
"Why?" Grabbing up one of her uneaten candy bars, peeling off the wrapper, biting into it, he said, "Tomorrow afternoon, three-thirty, a reckless schoolbus driver is going to try to beat a train at a crossing.
Twenty-six kids are going to die if we're not there first.”
Rising from her chair, she said, "You know all that, the whole thing, not just a part of it?" "Of course," he said around a mouthful of candy bar. He grinned.
"I know these things, Holly. I'm psychic, for God's sake.”
She grinned right back at him.
"We're going to be something, Holly," he said enthusiastically.
"Super man? Why the hell did he waste so much time holding down a job newspaper when he could've been doing good?" In a voice that cracked with relief and with love for him, Holly said "I always wondered about that.”
Jim gave her a chocolaty kiss. "The world hasn't seen anything yet kid.
Of course, you're going to have to learn martial arts, how to handle a gun, a few other things. But you're gonna be good at it, I know you." She threw her arms around him and hugged him fiercely, with unadulterated joy.
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