Online Novel by Alex Brumbaugh
2003 by Stillpoint Press
in Loving Memory to Laurie Brumbaugh, 1953-2003
information or comments, contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
Genie appeared in Claire and John Redmond's living room on a Saturday
morning in August.
of them were surprised. They were so much in love - after all the
years of unhappy marriages and broken-hearted relationships - that
life had become enchanted again. Their love made them giddy, made
them believe in magic, made such things as genies not only possible
that morning, they had made one of their rare weekend trips into
town to go to the farmers' market. On their way back they had stopped
to look at things in a small antique store. They had found an old
fashioned clock that they decided they wanted to buy. They already
had an antique table in the living room that the clock would match.
Claire knew something about antiques, and thought that the price
of $350 was a bargain. They charged it on one of their Visa cards
that still had a little credit left, feeling guilty about adding
to their bills, but also feeling that since they worked so hard
for their money, they deserved a treat.
got the clock home and took it in the living room, and Claire began
cleaning it with a cloth. That's when the Genie came.
though his coming wasn't all that shocking, the Genie himself was
sort of a surprise. He didn't conform to any of the stereotypes
they had about Genies. He wasn't translucent, for example, nor did
he arrive in a cloud of smoke.
just sort of stumbled out of nowhere, not even out of the clock,
exactly, and into their living room. He was rumpled and dusty, and
he wore a wool suit and dark shirt. He looked more like Walter Matthau
than he did the Arabian Sheik they might have expected (though as
for that, the clock was Early American, not Arabian).
didn't float in the air either, as Genies are expected to do. Instead,
he stood with both feet on the floor. He brushed himself off and
looked around the room.
it's hot!" he said.
was right. It was one of those rare August days in the coast mountain
range when the temperature was going to three digits. "Got
anything to drink?" he asked.
John went in the kitchen to get him some iced tea, the Genie sat
in the big easy chair in the corner by the stereo and started browsing
through the CD collection. He asked Claire what the CD's were, found
a Mozart album, and asked her to play it.
house," he said admiringly after John brought the iced tea.
where are we?"
California coast range," said John. "USA." John's
training in science made him rather precise, which he felt the Genie
might appreciate. "August, 1995."
The Genie tasted the tea. "Do you have anything alcoholic?"
said Claire, turning Mozart down a little. "We don't drink."
Prohibition's not back again, I hope."
said John. "We just don't drink."
fact, John had not had a drink since 1983, Claire since 1990. Both
had drunk enough alcohol and done enough drugs that, if life were
fair, they would both be dead, which was another reason that they
believed in miracles.
bad," said the Genie. "I can always use a shot when I
get out of that damned thing." He waved at the clock.
where do you come from?" John asked.
I was last out in the Caicos Islands, 1934."
I see." The Genie smiled. "A philosopher, eh? Well, there
is a lot more going on than what you see here. I suppose you knew
and John both nodded.
want some explanation. Everybody always wants an explanation. Well,
you can call it what you will - cosmic bleed-through, whatever.
We just sort of drop in and out every now and then. Guess your number
was up, so to speak. So, what's the wish?"
get a wish," John confirmed.
many?" asked Claire.
he said. "I know. Everyone always expects three." He brushed
some dust off his pants. "People only get three wishes in story
books. That's just a literary device. This is the real world. You
only get one. What the hell is that?" he asked, pointing at
the television set in the corner.
a radio with pictures," said John.
be damned," the Genie said.
don't get any stations, though," Claire said.
wasn't very good reception because they were down in the furrow
of the mountains, and there was no cable this far from town. They
had thought about getting a satellite dish when they had moved into
this rustic mountain home a few months before, but kept putting
it off because they didn't want to waste what little free time they
had watching television. They both worked very hard at their jobs,
and coveted their evenings and weekends together.
a waste of time, anyway," said John. "We watch movies
on it once in awhile." They liked watching old movies because
they were both very nostalgic about earlier times.
saw one of those once," the Genie said.
we get you something to eat?" John asked.
that's very nice of you to offer. Sure. A sandwich or something
is fine. It's been awhile since I ate."
Genie gulped the rest of his ice tea and belched and handed the
empty glass to John. "Yeah, you don't get that hungry, though.
It's the air that gives you an appetite. Speaking of air, it's sure
as hell hot in here." He stood up and took off his suit coat,
then began unbuttoning his shirt. It looked like he was intending
to get undressed.
know," said Claire, getting up to go in the kitchen. "I
wish..." She was going to say, I wish there weren't so many
bugs outside, but she caught herself. She didn't like the bugs,
but definitely didn't want to waste their one wish destroying them.
"There are too many bugs to open the French doors," she
were nice French doors, leading out to a patio, but Claire and John
had found neither the doors nor the patio of much use, because when
it was warm enough to have the doors open, or to be out on the patio,
the bugs were everywhere. They didn't have an air conditioner because
- except for a few days in August and September - the coastal climate
didn't warrant one. They didn't have screen doors either. There
were some stored in the shed, but they had never found the time
to put them on. Most of the bugs went away in the winter, but even
so, though it seldom snowed, it was usually too cold in those months
to be outside on the patio, or to open the French doors.
wonder where all the bugs go for the winter," John was often
fond of asking. As a scientist, he had some passing knowledge about
the dormancy cycles of insects, but he liked asking the question
Florida," Claire would respond.
excused himself and followed Claire into the kitchen with the Genie's
Claire whispered when they were alone.
know!" John whispered back.
what should we wish for? Money?"
was certainly high up on the wish list. They both had good jobs,
but they were demanding and complicated jobs. Claire was an editor
and an occasion illustrator for the children's division of a book
publishing company, and John worked for a company that developed
medical technology. The jobs took all of the time and energy that
the two of them had, so there was never anything left for themselves.
And while they made quite a lot of money, there was only enough
to cover their basic expenses after they paid all their monthly
bills. They had moved into this nice but reasonably priced rental
house soon after they had met. It was secluded and rustic, and rents
were cheaper on the top of the mountain than in the town below.
But they didn't get to spend very much time in the house because
their outside lives were consuming them so much. Early each morning
they would drive their cars down the secondary road that ran along
the mountain top across Walker Creek to the two-lane mountain pass
road that took them to the town below. And each night they would
return home, exhausted. The evenings flew by. The weekends flew
by, too, even on the rare occasions when one of them didn't have
to work on Saturday.
they had been fantasizing about a windfall. Claire entered all of
the magazine sweepstakes that came to their house, and they joked
about the "prize patrol" coming any day, or about winning
the super lotto, or about at least winning the progressive slot
machine jackpot at the Indian Casino up the road so they could pay
off their bills. They had each brought to their new marriage pretty
big credit card and automobile debts. All their credit lines were
right at the limit, and there was no surplus at the end of the month
to get them from where they were to somewhere else.
many of the people they knew, they felt stuck. If they had the time
and money, they would go on long trips. They loved to travel. They
especially liked old roads. They were both nostalgic about earlier
times, and one of the things they fantasized about was driving across
the country on old roads. Claire loved taking photographs, and they
wanted to take pictures of broken down farm equipment rusting in
fields. They were afraid that the day might come when there wouldn't
be any more broken farm equipment rusting in fields, and so they
wanted to get the pictures taken while it was still there, and maybe
turn the photos into a nice coffee table book so the next generations
could see what that looked like.
we could wish for our beach house," said John, reaching into
the freezer for ice.
though they loved their mountain home, they had fantasized about
having another house at the seashore. They wanted their own house,
not a rented one, and one with fewer bugs. Their bedroom would overlook
the sea, and they would make love and sleep with the windows open
wide, listening to the waves. Claire would plant flowers. The mountain
soil was rocky and unforgiving, and yielded little but the native
oak, manzanita, and chaparral.
Claire said, staring into the refrigerator. "Money is best.
Let's wish for a couple million dollars. Then we can stop working
and build the beach house."
wish for ten million," said John.
taxes, that's only six. Let's wish for twenty."
have to pay taxes on money from Genies? How could he report it?"
don't know. Maybe he can advise us."
not an accountant. He's a Genie."
get smart," she giggled. "This is serious."
know." John poured more iced tea. "We probably shouldn't
be selfish with this, anyway. We should wish for something for the
Claire and John had children from former marriages. John's were
grown up, but Claire's fourteen-year-old daughter, Marie, lived
with them during the week and spent weekends in the town below with
her father. John had gotten a vasectomy right after they met. They
had each already decided that they had had all of the babies they
were going to have. They were, however, having lots of what they
called spirit babies. That was because their lovemaking was
so spectacular, extraordinary, and, for both of them, absolutely
you're right," said Claire. "We shouldn't be selfish about
this. Maybe we should wish for world peace or something. I've got
to get his sandwich. There's some tuna fish." She reached for
a bowl in the refrigerator.
about an end to terrorism," said John. "Or poverty?"
talk radio, or phone solicitors?"
think we need some time to figure this out."
he doesn't seem to be in a hurry." John walked over to her
and kissed and hugged her. "This is really exciting!"
know!" She giggled and kissed him back.
put a tuna sandwich and a pickle on a plate, and they went back
into the living room. John brought the iced tea. The Genie had taken
off his shirt and tie. They were in a clump on the floor beside
his suit coat. He was still wearing an old fashioned sleeveless
undershirt. Claire handed him the sandwich, and John put the iced
tea next to him on the stereo table.
we would like some time to think this over," said Claire.
idea," said the Genie, taking a bite of the sandwich. "Give
it some thought."
their any limitations or anything?"
Sky's the limit. Say, that's not a bad sandwich," he said with
his mouth full, pointing at it.
said Claire. "Why don't you just make yourself at home, help
yourself to anything in the refrigerator. We'll just go off for
a little while if that's okay."
mind if I do," said the Genie. He drank some iced tea. "But
look here, you two sit down a minute first. I want to tell you something.
Just a little tip."
sat obediently on the couch across from him. "You're a nice
couple," he said. "Good people. I can see that."
He set the sandwich aside and leaned forward in the chair with his
elbows on his knees. He held the pickle, and waved it around as
he talked. "Now, you're going to go off and start feeling guilty
unless you wish for world peace or an end to poverty or something
like that. I just want to tell you, don't be too noble about this
thing. This is your day in the sun, so to speak. World peace and
so on ... that's a different department, in a way. It's not that
you can't be responsible, or shouldn't be, for the big picture,
but I just want you to know, as I said, there's a lot more going
on than what you see here, if you get my drift. There are other
forces at work. This is your deal. Give it some thought." He
leaned back, ate the pickle, and grabbed the other half of the sandwich.
"Is this chicken or tuna fish?"
he said, taking a bite. "Hard to tell the difference sometimes.
You kids run along." He waved at them. "I'll just make
myself at home."
took Claire's Nissan and drove down the mountain and then thirty
miles up the coast to the bluff where they had written their wedding
ceremony a year before. It was the place where they felt most in
touch with things, most in touch with each other. They walked, holding
hands, through the pine and eucalyptus trees to their special spot
overlooking the ocean, and sat quietly for a while.
finally broke the long silence. "I don't want to feel stuck
work so hard," John said. "It seems like we never get
keep talking about that. It's like we keep falling behind no matter
what we do. There's never enough time."
we wish for a lot of money."
is money. But it's more than that. I mean, that's a big part of
so much commercialism," John said. He had no idea what that
had to do with figuring out a wish, but he just felt like pointing
is so commercial. There's so much cynicism and negativity in the
are so mean. I feel like we need some fresh air or something. Do
you know what I'm talking about?"
do. We've talked about that before."
get really tired sometimes."
were quiet for a few moments.
a thought," said Claire. "Remember on our honeymoon when
we stopped and spent the morning in that old ghost town?"
Remember how we tried to imagine exactly what it must have been
like back then, with real people living there, not just Park Rangers?"
want to wish for that."
want to wish for a trip?"
but a big trip. I mean I want to go back there. Other
places, too. Other times."
made a low whistle.
things were cheaper in the old days," she said. "We can
invest. Property, or stocks, or gold. The Genie said there weren't
any limitations. All we need to be able to do is move back and forth
a little bit. We can take a bunch of information with us."
back and forth in time. We can make a fortune and then come home
gambling! We can gamble. We'll know how everything comes out! I
saw that in a movie once."
would be a great vacation, besides. We haven't had a vacation since
could sure use a vacation," John said.
sat in silence for a few more minutes, watching the birds, listening
to the waves.
said John "it sounds right to me. A little scary, maybe, but
certainly a very cool wish."
gets better the more I think about it. We get to see the good old
days, have a vacation, and get lots of money at the same time. Not
a bad wish. Three wishes in one, actually. Four, if you add the
fresh air. We can go back to when there was no smog."
tossed a smooth stone over the cliff into the sea. "Let's do
it," she said.
smiled, looked out to the horizon, and nodded. Several seagulls
followed Claire's stone down to the sea, thinking it was something
here to visit Claire and John's Special Place)
they got back to their house, the Genie was sitting at the dining
table in the kitchen playing solitaire. He was wearing only his
shorts. All the doors in the house were wide open. He was still
drinking iced tea. Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks blared
in the living room. To Claire and John's amazement, their cat Poppy,
who was normally so antisocial that she would disappear beneath
Claire and John's bed when strangers came, sat on the table purring
and watching him. Their other cat, Thomas - a young stray who had
moved in through the cat door while they were away on their honeymoon
- sat outside on the patio. He was watching Gus, Marie's new puppy,
digging holes in what had been an unsuccessful flower garden.
started closing doors. "The bugs..."
got rid of them," the Genie interrupted.
wished them away?" asked John.
I found some bug spray in the cupboard."
was John's bug spray. Claire did not like bug spray. Her father
had been a farmer and had died of cancer, and it was Claire's theory
that he had been killed by seasons of bug spray from the crop dusters.
She quickly closed the doors.
sat down at the table and told the Genie they had figured out their
you sure?" he asked.
they said in unison.
let's hear it."
want to go back in time," Claire said.
around," John added. "Invest, make a fortune, come back
Christ," said the genie. "That's a terrible wish."
Claire asked, surprised. "We thought it was a perfect wish."
it's terrible. It's what we call a real pain-in-the-ass wish. Very
complicated. I'll have to go get some help."
asked John. "From where?"
we got a board of Genies, you might call it. I got to call in some
is it so complicated?" Claire asked.
Because it is, that's why. Time is complicated. Life is complicated.
Destiny. History. Fate. There's
the web, you know?"
mosaic," Claire affirmed.
that, there's a sort of material integrity about things. You have
to be very careful moving stuff around." He shuffled the cards
a few times. "There are a few different ways to do this,"
he reflected. "You won't be able to take anything back there
with you, though. That's for sure. You can count on that. Where'd
I leave my pants?" He got up and started for the living room.
"I'll be back in the morning some time," he said on his
way out of the kitchen.
and John stared at each other for a moment and then got up and followed
the genie into the living room, but he had disappeared.
I hope he comes back," said Claire.
do I! This wasn't a dream, was it?"
don't think so. I think we better go down to the library and do
some research. He said we can't take anything back with us. We'll
have to memorize everything."
glad you have such a great memory," said John. "We only
have a couple of hours. It's late."
know. Where did the day go?" she asked.
was one of their favorite questions.
drove back down to the town and stayed in the library until it closed,
browsing through old newspapers on microfilm. Claire did memory
tricks she had learned when studying for graduate school.
next morning they sat with the Genie around the kitchen table. John
had fixed iced cappuccinos.
Italians invented this?" the Genie asked, tasting the coffee,
pointing at the glass.
think so," said John.
Genie nodded appreciatively. "Well, so here's what it looks
like. First, like I said, you can't take anything back there with
you. Except these." He handed them each what looked like cheap
wrist watches. "These are special. Don't lose them. One's for
backup. You can get home with one, but if you lose them both, you're
stuck. The twelve numbers are months. You set the day and year by
pushing these buttons on the side." He took one to show them.
"These things aren't calibrated real close, so you can't set
not?" John asked. His work gave him a special appreciation
problems you wouldn't understand," the Genie said.
me," said John.
The Genie gave him an exasperated look. "Solar variants,"
he said. "How's that? Latitudinal and longitudinal deviations,
okay? It's a seasonal deal. The earth spins and moves around the
sun. Get it?" He turned his attention to Claire as the more
reasonable of the two. "The way it works, you'll end up at
about the same time of day you leave. Give or take."
Claire nodded. John nodded too, but he was brooding, trying to solve
complex problems in his head.
see," the Genie continued, "if you adjust this little
thing on the side here like this, and then adjust this button here,
and then press the lever, that's home. That brings you back.
Once you're back, it's over. Your wish. These gismos will disintegrate.
first you set this like I told you, then you turn this little red
lever on the side. See it? That does it. Hold hands, and you're
out of here. Always hold hands so your energy is connected. And
remember, one of these is for back up. Don't ever try to use both
of them at the same time to go someplace. You might get separated.
That could be tricky."
pretty impressive technology," John conceded. "So, we
can go backwards or forwards?"
there, yeah, but you can't go forwards from here. That's a different
wish. You don't want to see the future anyway, believe me."
said the Genie, "there are going to be some other restrictions."
sorry," said John, "but you said yesterday there weren't
any restrictions. 'The sky's the limit,' you said."
kid," said the Genie, "don't be a smart ass. There aren't
any restrictions on the wish. These restrictions are in
the wish. Get it?"
John said again.
I say, you can't move stuff around with these gismos. They'll only
move you. They're set up to make minor altitude adjustments, but
I don't recommend transporting yourselves from more than one story
in the air. The building you leave might not be there when you arrive."
the money we make," said Claire. "How do we get it back
your problem," said the Genie.
not an accountant," John smiled.
smirked at him.
when we come back," said John, "we come back right here?
From wherever we are?"
here, right now?" asked Claire.
here, right now," the Genie said. "That's it. That's the
deal." He handed them the other time watch and stood up. "Thanks
for the hospitality. You folks have a nice trip."
their eyes, he disappeared.
and John left their kitchen that Sunday morning in August at 11:30,
Claire with her head full of information she had memorized. They
set one of the time watches for a Monday, the 19th of August, 1946.
They picked 1946 because it was the year John had been born, and
also because World War II had ended the year before, and they wanted
to be around happy people.
held hands very tightly. John pushed the little red lever as the
Genie had instructed. They didn't know if they were supposed to
hold their breaths, but they did. They couldn't help it.
sensation of time travel, using the Genie's watch, was a brief instant
of deep and total darkness, like a momentary loss of consciousness,
and a feeling that all of their cells were shifting, sort of a tingling
ripple like a huge case of the butterflies.
darkness passed quickly, and then they were outside, standing in
the furrow where their house had been, or, rather, one day would
be. There were none of the plum, apple, cedar, or pine trees that
had been planted by the original owners - people who happened to
have been botanists and could figure out what would grow in the
unforgiving soil; there was only oak and manzanita and dense chaparral.
Genie had been serious about not transporting things besides themselves.
That included clothes. They were naked. The only things on their
bodies were the two time watches the Genie had given them. Even
their wedding rings were gone.
gave a low whistle. "You can say that again."
began making their way through the brush toward the secondary road.
They could see how the hill had been excavated and cut back to build
their house. The brush scratched and tore at their naked bodies,
and the bugs were all around them, especially little gnats swarming
and zooming in hungrily at their faces, biting everywhere. The hot,
rocky soil and fallen oak leaves hurt their feet.
made it down to where the road would have been, but there was no
road, only a trail. At least the walking was easier here. John broke
manzanita branches, and they fanned each other to try to keep the
bugs off. The trail, like the road that would later replace it,
switched back and forth down to Walker Creek at the bottom of a
gully. All of the houses they had driven past every day on their
way down to the highway were gone.
they approached the creek, they heard the sound of a motor turning
over again and again. Someone was trying to start a car, and the
engine wouldn't fire. As they drew nearer, they realized that the
sound was coming from the driveway of the Dos Perros Ranch.
The DOS Perros Ranch wasn't really a ranch. It was just a
house on a small patch of rocky land behind a wooden gate in the
narrow ravine formed by Walker Creek. Claire and John were used
to seeing a big handmade sign on the gate saying "DOS Perros
Ranch." They had been very amused by the sign, because in Spanish
it meant "Two Dog Ranch." Having a cat, Claire and John
had wanted to make a sign for their own driveway that read "Uno
Gato Ranch," but that was among the many things they had
never found the time to do.
they crept through the bushes, they saw that what would later be
the DOS Perros Ranch wasn't there yet. Instead, there was
an old, weathered, board-and-bat cabin. There was the familiar road
leading out to the highway, but now it was only a dirt road, not
paved, and it ended at the cabin.
was everywhere around the cabin - bed springs, car parts, buggy
parts, wooden boxes filled with empty bottles and cans. At least
two dozen chickens pecked around and through the junk. Junk was
also piled high in the paneled bed of a dilapidated black Model
A Ford pickup, and an old man in overalls and a hat sat in the driver's
seat with the door open, puffing on a pipe, trying to start the
truck. He was losing the battery. Claire and John peeked through
the bushes as the old man got out, lifted the side of the engine
hood and propped it up. He pulled a pair of pliers from somewhere
in his overalls and started tinkering with the engine. Then he started
banging on the engine with the pliers. He pulled a hammer out of
somewhere else in the overalls and hit the engine with that. He
finally threw the pliers and the hammer at the engine and started
walking around the truck, kicking it. He took his pipe out of his
mouth and cursed loudly, and then took off his hat and beat his
side with it while he kicked the tires, the running boards, the
fenders, the doors. This was awkward for him since he had quite
a severe limp, and kicking the truck required that he lean against
it. Still cursing, he started limping out toward the highway, waving
his hat around.
wonder if that's Mr. Walker," said John, as the man disappeared
around the bend in the road.
Mr. Walker of Walker Creek?"
Walker Road. Look. There isn't any Walker Road yet."
had sometimes driven up Walker Road along the creek at the bottom
of the ravine, taken walks up past the several mountain cabins that
lay along it, but none of that was there yet.
if he lives alone," said Claire.
said John. "This may be a clothes stop."
check it out."
bugs, they crept self-consciously out of the bushes to the cabin,
tiptoeing to avoid chicken droppings. They peered in through a screen
door. No one seemed to be there. The door was unlocked. Claire opened
it gingerly and they stepped into the cabin.
was like stepping into a movie set, or even into a dream. They stood
silently in the middle of the large main room, absorbing the smells,
the atmosphere, the texture. For all the junk that was outside,
the cabin inside was relatively neat and orderly. There was a wood
cook stove, a nice wooden table and two chairs, open cupboards and
a sink, an armoire, a chest of drawers, a little ice box, and a
cot in the corner.
antiques," whispered Claire. "What is that smell? It's
smoke, pipe smoke?"
else. It's so familiar. I can't place it."
and familiar. Something from childhood."
think it's just what places like this always used to smell like.
Check out the stove." She walked to the unembellished, cast
iron cook stove and ran her fingers over raised letters on the back
indicating it had been manufactured in St. Louis. "Let's go
to St. Louis," she said.
good to me," said John. "You are so cute naked, but I
want to find some clothes. That looks like a bedroom over there."
There was a partially closed door to another room. They creaked
it open and walked into a bedroom that smelled musty and close.
The two windows in the room were shuttered, and it was dark. A cord
hung from a light bulb in the ceiling. Claire pulled it, and the
musty room was filled with dim light. There was a sudden shrieking
howl from the bed. Claire grabbed John and screamed, nearly knocking
him over. John gasped as they watched a large gray cat bolt from
the bed and disappear into the front room.
cat doesn't like strangers either," John said. "Maybe
one of Poppy's ancestors."
double bed had iron rails, and beside it was a large, handmade,
mahogany chest of drawers. There was a closet behind a curtain where
both a man's and woman's clothes hung. John found gabardine suit
pants and a long-sleeved striped dress shirt, and Claire found a
cotton dress. The clothes they put on were a little short and baggy
for them, but adequate. John found suspenders to hold up the pants.
They also found shoes, a bit snug, but better than no shoes until
they could get to town and figure out a way to get some that fit.
hope Mr. Walker doesn't come back and catch us," said Claire.
"I have a feeling that his wife died in here, and these are
her clothes. I'll bet he would be pretty upset."
said John. "Well, I think he'll be gone for awhile. It's ten
miles to town, and he needs a part for that truck."
he went to some neighbor's house nearby. I'm feeling creepy. Let's
get out of here."
a minute," said John. He walked to the dresser and began rummaging.
"We need some capital. A stake."
we have to steal?"
pay him back."
looked through the drawers for money. There wasn't any, but Claire
found a box in the back of the bottom drawer. It was made of some
kind of hard wood, very old, and hand carved. The lid had been fashioned
in the odd shape of an elephant's head, with its trunk tucked flush
around the rim of the box. Claire lifted the lid. It was a music
box, and the sudden sound of an unfamiliar melody startled them.
The things inside the box weren't very valuable, except for a beautiful
ruby ring. "Wow," she whispered, taking it out.
that an expensive ring?" John asked.
a really nice stone. Big, too."
let's borrow it."
handed it to John and he put it in his pants pocket. Claire carefully
replaced the box, and they turned out the light and left the cabin.
walked along the dirt road toward the highway, staying close to
the side so they could hide in the bushes in case they ran into
Mr. Walker coming back.
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