A future that now didn’t belong to a number of people: Harvey Davis; Amanda Teller; Paul Janssen; Larry Peeples, whose body had been found buried in a remote hilly section not far from his parents’ vineyard; Haven Dietz; Ben Gold.

Although Gold disavowed the confession he’d made on tape to Hy-which wouldn’t have been legally admissable anyway-he’d made one bad mistake. A.38-caliber Smith & Wesson Night Guard revolver registered to Larry Peeples had been found in the trunk of his car; the bullet that had killed Haven Dietz had been fired from it. There was no physical evidence he’d shot me-the bullet had been too fragmented-but at least he’d go down for Haven’s murder. To my surprise, Gold had ignored his public defender’s suggestion that he press charges against Hy and John for assault and kidnapping.

Hy’s treatment of Gold had been harsh, but not as harsh as I’d feared. He hadn’t crossed the line after all. I understood why he’d gone as far as he had. When someone nearly destroys your life, you hit back. I was certain that, if Gold’s victim had been Hy, I would have done the same. And in a sense, that was what Gold had done when he lashed out and killed Larry Peeples: Larry had, after all, destroyed Ben’s life by his refusal to go away with him.

I petted Allie and leaned my head back and let the sunlight play on my closed eyelids. Visions flashed on them.

SF General. Where I had almost died-twice.

The Brandt Institute, where I’d worked hard with the therapists so I could finally come home two days ago. Where I would continue to work daily toward a full and complete rehab.

Hy came onto the deck, carrying two champagne flutes. He stood in front of me, raised one glass.

I brushed Allie off my lap and got up, holding tightly to the ebony-and-brass tripod cane he’d gifted me with that morning. Took the other glass and looked into his eyes.

He said, “A wise man recently told me, ‘Saika mukua kettae. Her spirit is strong.’ That was Elwood, and it turns out he knew what he was talking about.

“Happy birthday, warrior woman.”

Marcia Muller

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