Of the curiosities Junior uncovered, Frieda's weapons interested him most. Guns were stashed throughout the apartment: revolvers, pistols, and two pistol-grip shotguns. Sixteen altogether.

Most of these firearms were loaded and ready for use, but five remained in their original boxes, in the back of her bedroom closet. Evidently, considering the original bill of sale taped to each of the five boxed handguns, she must have acquired all the weapons legally.

Junior didn't find anything to explain her paranoia-though, to his surprise, he discovered six books by Caesar Zedd in her small library. The pages were dog-eared; the text was heavily underlined.

Clearly, she had learned nothing from her reading. No sincere and thoughtful student of Zedd would be as sorely lacking in self-control as Frieda Bliss.

Junior took one of the boxed guns, a 9-mm semiautomatic. Months would probably pass before she noticed the pistol missing from the back of her closet, and by then she wouldn't know who had taken it.

A supply of ammunition lined the bottom of all the dresser and bureau drawers, concealed by underwear and other garments. Junior appropriated a box of 9-mm. cartridges.

Leaving Frieda unconscious and reeking, a condition in which her bralessness had no power to arouse him, Junior left.

Twenty minutes later, at home, he poured sherry over ice. Sipping, he stood in the living room, admiring his two paintings.

With a portion of his profits from Tammy Bean's stock picks, Junior had bought a second painting by Sklent. Titled In the Baby's Brain Lies the Parasite of Doom, Version 6, it was so exquisitely repellent that the artist's genius could not be in doubt.

Eventually Junior crossed the room to stand before Industrial Woman in all her scrap-metal glory. Her soup-pot br**sts reminded him of Frieda's equally abundant bosom, and unfortunately her mouth, open wide in a silent shriek, reminded him of Frieda retching.

His enjoyment of the art was diminished by these associations, and as Junior turned away from Industrial Woman, his attention was suddenly captured by the quarters. Three lay on the floor at her gear wheel-and-meat-cleaver feet. They had not been here earlier.

Her metal hands were still crossed defensively over her breasts. The artist had welded large hexagonal nuts to her rake-tine fingers to suggest knuckles, and balanced on one nut was a fourth quarter.

As though she had been practicing while Junior was out.

As though someone had been here this evening to teach her this coin trick.

The 9-mm pistol and the ammunition were on the foyer table. With trembling hands, Junior tore open the boxes and loaded the gun.

Trying to ignore his phantom toe, which itched furiously, he searched the apartment. He proceeded carefully, determined not to shoot himself in the foot accidentally this time.

Vanadium wasn't here, alive or dead.

Junior phoned a twenty-four-hour-a-day locksmith and paid premium post midnight rates to have the double deadbolts re-keyed.

The following morning, he canceled his German lessons. It was an impossible language. The words were enormously long.

Besides, he couldn't any longer afford to spend endless hours either learning a new language or attending the opera. His life was too full, leaving him insufficient time for the Bartholomew search.

Animal instinct told Junior that the business with the quarter in the diner and now these quarters in his living room were related to his failure to find Bartholomew, Seraphim White's bastard child. He couldn't logically explain the connection; but as Zedd teaches, animal instinct is the only unalloyed truth we will ever know.

Consequently, he scheduled more time every day with the phone books. He had obtained directories for all nine counties that, with the city itself, comprised the Bay Area.

Someone named Bartholomew had adopted Seraphim's son and named the boy after himself Junior applied the patience learned through meditation to the task at hand, and instinctively, he soon evolved a motivating mantra that continuously cycled through his mind while he studied the telephone directories: Find the father, kill the son.

Seraphim's child had been alive is long as Naomi had been dead, almost fifteen months. In fifteen months, Junior should have located the little bastard and eliminated him.

Occasionally he woke in the night and heard himself murmuring the mantra aloud, which apparently he had been repeating ceaselessly in his sleep. “Find the father, kill the son.” In April, Junior discovered three Bartholomews. Investigating these targets, prepared to commit homicide, he learned that none had a son named Bartholomew or had ever adopted a child.

In May, he found another Bartholomew. Not the right one.

Junior kept a file on each man, nevertheless, in case instinct later told him that one of them was, in fact, his mortal enemy. He could have killed all of them, just to be safe, but a multitude of dead Bartholomews, even spread over several jurisdictions, would sooner or later attract too much police attention.

On the third of June, he found another useless Bartholomew, and on Saturday, the twenty-fifth, two deeply disturbing events occurred. He switched on his kitchen radio only to discover that “Paperback Writer,” yet another Beatles song, had climbed to the top of the charts, and he received a call from a ea woman.

Tommy James and the Shondells, good American boys, had a record farther down the charts-“Hanky Panky”-that Junior felt was better than the Beatles' tune. The failure of his countrymen to support homegrown talent aggravated him. The nation seemed eager to surrender its culture to foreigners.

The phone rang at 3:20 in the afternoon, just after he switched off the radio in disgust. Sitting in the breakfast nook, the Oakland telephone directory open in front of him, he almost said, Find the father, kill the son, instead of, “Hello."

“Is Bartholomew there?” a woman asked.

Stunned, Junior had no answer.

“Please, I must speak to Bartholomew,” the caller pleaded with quiet urgency.

Her voice was soft, almost a whisper, and charged with anxiety; but under other circumstances, it would have been sexy.

“Who is this?” he demanded, although for a demand, the words came out too thin, too squeaky.

“I've got to warn Bartholomew. I've got to."

“Who is this?"

Fathoms of silence flooded the line. Still, she listened. He sensed her there, though as if at a great depth.

Recognizing the danger of saying the wrong thing, the potential for self-incrimination, Junior clenched his jaws and waited.

When at last the caller spoke again, her voice sounded a kingdom away: “Will you tell Bartholomew ... ?"

Junior pressed the receiver so tightly to his head that his ear ached.

Farther away still: “Will you tell him ... ?"

“Tell him what?"

“Tell him Victoria called to warn him."


She was gone.

He didn't believe in the restless dead. Not for a minute.

Because he hadn't heard Victoria Bressler speak in so long-and then only on two occasions-and because the woman on the phone had spoken so softly, Junior couldn't tell whether or not their voices were one and the same.

No, impossible. He had killed Victoria almost a year and a half before this phone call. When you were dead, you were gone forever.

Junior didn't believe in gods, devils, Heaven, Hell, life after death. He put his faith in one thing: himself.

Yet through the summer of 1966, following this call, he acted like a man who was haunted. A sudden draft, even if warm, chilled him and caused him to turn in circles, seeking the source. In the middle of the night, the most innocent of sounds could scramble him from bed and send him on a search of the apartment, flinching from harmless shadows and twitching at looming invisibilities that he imagined he saw at the edges of his vision.

Sometimes, while shaving or combing his hair, as he was looking in the bathroom or foyer mirror, Junior thought that he glimpsed a presence, dark and vaporous, less substantial than smoke, standing or moving behind him. At other times, this entity seemed to be within the mirror. He couldn't focus on it, study it, because the moment he became aware of the presence, it was gone.

These were stress-induced flights of the imagination, of course.

Increasingly, he used meditation to relieve stress. He was so skilled at concentrative meditation without seed-blanking his mind-that half an hour of it was as refreshing as a night's sleep.

Late Monday afternoon, September 19, Junior returned wearily to his apartment, from another fruitless investigation of a Bartholomew, this one across the bay in Corte Madera. Exhausted by his unending quest, depressed by lack of success, he sought refuge in meditation.

In his bedroom, wearing nothing but a pair of briefs, he settled onto the floor, on a silk-covered pillow filled with goose down. With a sigh “ he assumed the lotus position: spine straight, legs crossed, hands at rest with the palms up.

“One hour,” he announced, establishing a countdown. In sixty minutes, his internal clock would rouse him from a meditative state.

When he closed his eyes, he saw a bowling pin, a leftover image from his with-seed days. In less than a minute, he was able to make the pin dematerialize, filling his mind with featureless, soundless, soothing, white nothingness.

White. Nothingness.

After a while, a voice broke the vacuum-perfect silence. Bob Chicane. His instructor.

Bob gently encouraged him to return by degrees from the deep meditative state, return, return, return....

This was a memory, not a real voice. Even after you became an accomplished meditator, the mind resisted this degree of blissful oblivion and tried to sabotage it with aural and visual memories.

Using all is powers of concentration, which were formidable, Junior sought to silence the phantom Chicane. At first, the voice steadily faded, but soon it grew louder again, and more insistent.

In his smooth whiteness, Junior felt a pressure on his eyes, and then came visual hallucinations, disturbing his deep inner peace. He felt someone peel up his eyelids, and Bob Chicane's worried face-with the sharp features of a fox, curly black hair, and a walrus mustache-was inches from his.

He assumed that Chicane was not real.

Soon he realized this was a mistaken assumption, because when the instructor began trying to unknot him from his lotus position, a defensive numbness deserted Junior, and he became aware of pain. Excruciating.

His entire body throbbed from his neck to the tips of his nine toes. His legs were the worst, filled with hot twisting agony.

Chicane wasn't alone. Sparky Vox, the building superintendent, approached behind him and hovered. Seventy-two yet as spry as a monkey, Sparky didn't walk so much as scamper like a capuchin.

“I hope it was all right I let him in, Mr. Cain.” Sparky had a capuchin's overbite, too. “He told me it was an emergency."

After prying Junior out of the meditative position, Chicane pushed him onto his back and vigorously—indeed, violently—massaged his thighs and calves. “Really bad muscle spasms,” he explained.

Junior realized that thick drool oozed out of the right comer of his mouth. Shakily, he raised one hand to wipe his face.

Apparently, he'd been drooling for a long time. Where his chin and throat were not sticky, a crust of dried saliva glazed his skin.

“When you didn't answer the doorbell, man, I just knew what must have happened,” Chicane told Junior.

Then he said something to Sparky, who capered out of the room.

Junior could neither speak nor even mewl in agony. All the saliva had been draining forward, out of his open mouth, for so long that his throat was parched and raw. He felt as though he had munched on a snack of salted razor blades that were now stuck in his pharynx. His rattling wheeze sounded like scuttling scarabs.

The rough massage had only just begun to bring a little relief to Junior's legs when Sparky returned with six stoppered rubber bags full of ice. “This was all the bags they had down at the drugstore."

Chicane packed the ice against Junior's thighs. “Severe spasm causes inflammation. Twenty minutes of ice alternating with twenty minutes of massage, until the worst passes."

The worst, actually, was yet to come.

By now, Junior realized that he had been locked in a meditative trance for at least eighteen hours. He had settled into the lotus position at five o'clock Monday afternoon-and Bob Chicane had shown up or their regular instruction session at eleven Tuesday morning.

“You're better at concentrative meditation without seed than anyone I've ever known, better than me. That's why you, especially, should never undertake a long session unsupervised,” Chicane scolded. “At the very least, the very least, you should use your electronic meditation timer. I don't see it here, do I?"

Guiltily, Junior shook his head.

“No, I don't see it,” Chicane repeated. “There's no benefit to a meditation marathon. Twenty minutes is enough, man. Half an hour at the most. You relied on your internal clock, didn't you?"

Abashed, Junior nodded.

“And you set yourself for an hour, didn't you?"

Before Junior could nod, the worst arrived: paralytic bladder seizures.

He had been thankful that during the long trance, he hadn't wet himself. Now he would gladly have accepted any amount of humiliation rather than suffer these vicious cramps.

“Oh, my Lord,” Chicane groaned as he and Sparky half carried Junior into the bathroom.

The need for relief was tremendous, inexpressible, and the urge to urinate was irresistible, and yet he could not let go. For more than eighteen hours, his natural urinary process had been overridden by concentrative meditation. Now the golden vault was locked tight. Every time that he strained for release, a new and more hideous cramp savaged him. He felt as if Lake Mead filled his distended bladder, while Boulder Dam had been erected in his urethra.

In his entire life, Junior had never suffered this much pain without first having killed someone. Reluctant to depart until certain that his student was out of danger physically, emotionally, and mentally, Bob Chicane stayed until three thirty. When he left, he broke some bad news to Junior: “I can't keep you on my student list, man. I'm sorry, but you're way too intense for me. Way too intense. Everything you do. All the women you run through, this whole art thing, whatever all those phone books are about-now even meditation. Way too intense for me, too obsessive. Sorry. Have a good life, man."

Alone, Junior sat in the breakfast nook with a pot of coffee and an entire Sara Lee chocolate fudge cake.

After the paralytic bladder seizures had passed and Junior had drained Lake Mead, Chicane recommended plenty of caffeine and sugar to guard against an unlikely but not impossible spontaneous return to a trance state. “Anyway, after pumping alpha waves for as long as you just did, you shouldn't actually need to sleep anytime soon."