Junior had no idea who the driver of the Buick might be, but he hated the tall lanky son of a bitch because he figured the guy was humping Celestina, who would never have humped anyone but Junior if she had met him first, because like her sister, like all women, she would find him irresistible. He felt that he had a prior claim on her because of his relationship to the family; he was the father of her sister's bastard boy, after all, which made him their blood by shared—progeny.
In his masterpiece The Beauty of Rage: Channel Your Anger and Be a Winner, Zedd explains that every fully evolved man is able to take anger at one person or thing and instantly redirect it to any new person or thing, using it to achieve dominance, control, or any goal he seeks. Anger should not be an emotion that gradually arises again at each new justifiable cause, but should be held in the heart and nurtured, under control but sustained, so that the full white-hot power of it can be instantly tapped as needed, whether or not there has been provocation.
Busily, earnestly, with great satisfaction, Junior redirected his anger at Celestina and at the man with her. These two were, after all, guardians of the true Bartholomew, and therefore Junior's enemies.
A dumpster and a dead musician had humbled him as thoroughly as he had ever been humbled before, as completely as violent nervous emesis and volcanic diarrhea had humbled him, and he had no tolerance for being humbled. Humility is for losers.
In the dark dumpster, tormented by ceaseless torrents of what-ifs, convinced that the spirit of Vanadium was going to slam the lid and lock him in with a revivified corpse, Junior had for a while been reduced to the condition of a helpless child. Paralyzed by fear, withdrawn to the corner of the dumpster farthest from the putrefying pianist, squatting in trash, he had shaken with such violence that his castanet teeth had chattered in a frenzied flamenco rhythm to which his bones seemed to knock, knock, like boot heels on a dance floor. He had heard himself whimpering but couldn't stop, had felt tears of shame burning down his cheeks but couldn't halt the flow, had felt his bladder ready to burst from the needle prick of terror but bad with heroic effort managed to refrain from wetting his pants.
For a while he thought the fear would end only when he perished from it, but eventually it faded, and in its place poured forth self-pity from a bottomless well. Self-pity, of course, is the ideal fuel for anger; which was why, pursuing the Buick through fog, climbing now toward Pacific Heights, Junior was in a murderous rage. By the time he reached Cain's bedroom, Tom Vanadium recognized that the austere decor of the apartment had probably been inspired by the minimalism that the wife killer had noted in the detective's own house in Spruce Hills. This was an uncanny discovery, troubling for reasons that Vanadium couldn't entirely define, but he remained convinced that his perception was correct.
Cain's Spruce Hills home, which he'd shared with Naomi, hadn't been furnished anything like this. The difference between there and here-and the similarity to Vanadium's digs—could be explained neither by wealth alone nor by a change of taste arising from the experience of city fife.
The barren white walls, the stark furniture starkly arranged, the rigorous exclusion of bric-a-brac and mementos: this resulted in the closest thing to a true monastic cell to be found outside of a monastery. The only quality of the apartment that identified it as a secular residence was its comfortable size, and if Industrial Woman had been replaced with a crucifix, even size might have been insufficient to rule out residence by some fortunate friar.
So. Two monks they were: one in the service of everlasting light, the other in the service of eternal darkness.
Before he searched the bedroom, Vanadium walked quickly back through the rooms that he had already inspected, suddenly remembering the three bizarre paintings of which Nolly, Kathleen, and Sparky had spoken, and wondering how he could have overlooked them. They were not here. He was able to locate, however, the places on the walls where the art works had hung, because the nails still bristled from the pocket plaster, and picture hooks dangled from the nails.
Intuition told Tom Vanadium that the removal of the paintings was significant, but he wasn't a talented enough Sherlock to leap immediately to the meaning of their absence.
In the bedroom once more, before poring through the contents of the nightstand drawers, the dresser drawers, and the closet, he looked in the adjacent bathroom, switched on the light because there was no window-and found Bartholomew on a wall, slashed and punctured, disfigured by hundreds of wounds. Wally parked the Buick at the curb in front of the house in which he lived, and when Celestina slid across the car seat to the passenger's door, he said, “No, wait here. I'll fetch Angel and drive the two of you home."
“Good grief, we can walk from here, Wally."
“It's chilly and foggy and late, and there might be villains afoot at this hour,” he intoned with mock gravity. “The two of you are Lipscomb women now, or soon will be, and Lipscomb women never go unescorted through the dangerous urban night."
“Mmmmm. I feel positively pampered."
The kiss was lovely, long and easy, full of restrained passion that boded well for nights to come in the marriage bed.
“I love you, Celie."
“I love you, Wally. I've never been happier."
Leaving the engine running and the heater on, he got out of the car, leaned back inside, said, “Better lock up while I'm gone,” and then closed his door.
Although Celestina felt a little paranoid, being so security-minded in this safe neighborhood, nevertheless she searched, out the master control button and engaged the power locks.
Lipscomb women gladly obey the wishes of Lipscomb men-unless they disagree, of course, or don't disagree but are just feeling mulish.
The floor of the spacious bathroom featured beige marble tiles with diamond-shaped inlays of black granite. The countertop and the shower stall were fabricated from matching marble, and the same marble was employed in the wainscoting.
Above the wainscoting, the walls were Sheetrock, unlike the plaster elsewhere in the apartment. On one of them, Enoch Cain had scrawled Bartholomew three times.
Great anger was apparent in the way that the uneven, red block letters had been drawn on the wall in hard slashes. But the lettering looked like the work of a calm and rational mind compared to what had been done after the three Bartholomews were printed.
With some sharp instrument, probably a knife, Cain had stabbed and gouged the red letters, working on the wall with such fury that two of the Bartholomews were barely readable anymore. The Sheetrock was marked by hundreds of scores and punctures.
Judging by the smeariness of the letters and by the fact that some had run before they dried, the writing instrument hadn't been a felt-tip marker, as Vanadium first thought. A spattering of red droplets on the closed lid of the toilet and across the beige marble floor, all dry now, gave rise to a suspicion.
He spat on his right thumb, scrubbed the thumb against one of the dried drips on the floor, rubbed thumb and forefinger together, and brought the freshened spoor to his nose. He smelled blood.
But whose blood?
Other three-year-olds, stirred from sleep after eleven o'clock at night, might be grumpy and would certainly be torpid, bleary-eyed, and uncommunicative. Angel awake was always fully awake, soaking up color texture-mood, marveling in the baroque detail of Creation, and generally lending support to the apperception—test prediction that she might be an art prodigy.
As she clambered through the open door into Celestina's lap, the girl said, “Uncle Wally gave me an Oreo."
“Did you put it in your shoe?"
“Why in my shoe?"
“Is it under your hood?"
“It's in my tummy!"
“Then you can't eat it."
“I already ate it."
“Then it's gone forever. How sad."
“It's not the only Oreo in the world, you know. Is this the most fog ever)"
“It's about the most I've ever seen."
As Wally got behind the wheel and closed his door, Angel said, “Mommy, where's fog come from? And don't say Hawaii."
“Before she rats on me,” Wally said, “I gave her an Oreo."
“Mommy thought I put it in my shoe."
“Getting her into her shoes and coat sooner than Monday required a bribe,” Wally said.
“What's fog?” Angel asked.
“Clouds,” Celestina replied.
“What're clouds doing down here?"
“They've gone to bed. They're tired,” Wally told her as he put the car in gear and released the hand brake. “Aren't you?"
Can I have another Oreo?"
“They don't grow on trees, you know,” said Wally.
“Do I have a cloud inside me now?"
Celestina asked, “Why would you think that, sugarpie?
“Cause I breathed the fog."
“Better hold on tight to her,” Wally warned Celestina, braking to a halt at the intersection. “She'll float up and away, then we'll have to call the fire department to get her down."
“What do they grow on?” Angel asked.
“Flowers,” Wally answered.
And Celestina said, “The Oreos are the petals."
“Where do they have Oreo flowers?” Angel asked suspiciously.
“Hawaii,” Wally said.
“I thought so,” Angel said, dubiosity squinching her face. “Mrs. Ornwall made me cheese."
“She's a great cheese maker, Mrs. Ornwall,” Wally said.
“In a sandwich,” Angel clarified. “Why's she live with you, Uncle Wally? “
“She's my housekeeper."
“Could Mommy be your housekeeper?"
“Your mother's an artist. Besides, you wouldn't want to put poor Mrs. Ornwall out of a job, would you?"
“Everybody needs cheese,” Angel said, which apparently meant that Mrs. Ornwall would never lack work. “Mommy, you're wrong.
“Wrong about what, sugarpie smoosh—smoosh?” Celestina asked as Wally pulled to the curb again and parked.
“The Oreo isn't gone forever."
“Is it in your shoe, after all?"
Turning in Celestina's lap, Angel said, “Smell,” and held the index finger of her right hand under her mother's nose.
“This isn't polite, but I must admit it smells nice."
“That's the Oreo. After I ate it up, the cookie went smoosh—smoosh into my finger."
“If they always go there, smoosh—smoosh, then you're going to wind up with one really fat finger.” *
Wally switched off the engine and killed the headlights. “Home, where the heart is."
“What heart?” Angel asked.
Wally opened his mouth, couldn't think of a reply.
Laughing, Celestina said to him, “You can never win, you know."
“Maybe it's not where the heart is,” Wally corrected himself. “Maybe it's where the buffalo roam."
On the counter beside the bathroom sink stood an open box of BandAids in a variety of sizes, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and a bottle of iodine.
Tom Vanadium checked the small wastebasket next to the sink and discovered a wad of bloody Kleenex. The crumpled wrappers from two Band-Aids.
Evidently, the blood was Cain's.
If the wife killer had cut himself accidentally, his writing on the wall indicated a hair-trigger temper and a deep reservoir of long-nurtured anger.
If he had cut himself intentionally for the express purpose of writing the name in blood, then the reservoir of anger was deeper still and pent up behind a formidable dam of obsession.
In either case, printing the name in blood was a ritualistic act, and ritualism of this nature was an unmistakable symptom of a seriously unbalanced mind. Evidently, the wife killer would be easier to crack than expected, because his shell was already badly fractured.
This wasn't the same Enoch Cain whom Vanadium had known three years ago in Spruce Hills. That man had been utterly ruthless but not a wild, raging animal, coldly determined but never obsessive. That Cain had been too calculating and too self-controlled to have been swept into the emotional frenzy required to produce this blood graffiti and to act out the symbolic mutilation of Bartholomew with a knife.
As Tom Vanadium studied the stained and ravaged wall again, a cold and quivery uneasiness settled insectivally onto his scalp and down the back of his neck, quickly bored into his blood, and nested in his bones. He had the terrible feeling that he was not dealing with a known quantity anymore, not with the twisted man he'd thought he understood, but with a new and even more monstrous Enoch Cain. Carrying the tote bag full of Angel's dolls and coloring books, Wally crossed the sidewalk ahead of Celestina and climbed the front steps.
She followed with Angel in her arms.
The girl sucked in deep lungsful of the weary clouds. “Better hold tight, Mommy, I'm gonna float."
“Not weighed down by cheese and Oreos, you won't."
“Why's that car following us?"
“What car?” Celestina asked, stopping at the bottom of the steps and turning to look.
Angel pointed to a Mercedes parked about forty feet behind the Buick, just as its headlights went off.
“It's not following us, sugarpie. It's probably a neighbor."
“Can I have an Oreo?"
Climbing the stairs, Celestina said, “You already had one."
“Can I have a Snickers?"
“Can I have a Mr.'Goodbar?"
“It's not a specific brand you can't have, it's the whole idea of a candy bar."
Wally opened the front door and stepped aside.
“Can I have some 'nilla wafers?"
Celestina breezed through the open door with Angel. “No vanilla wafers. You'll be up all night with a sugar rush."
As Wally followed them into the front hall, Angel said, “Can I have a car.
“You don't drive,” Celestina reminded her.
“I'll teach her,” Wally said, moving past them to the apartment door, fishing a ring of keys out of his coat pocket.
“He'll teach me,” Angel triumphantly told her mother.
“Then I guess we'll get you a car."
“I want one that flies."
“They don't make flying cars."
“Sure they do,” said Wally as he unlocked the two deadbolts. “But you gotta be twenty-one years old to get a license for one."