Queen of Swords: a novel

Chapter XXVI – The Ace of Wands

As soon as I read the words she’d written about her stepfather‘s death I grabbed the book and ran the hell out of there. Once outside I realized I was trembling and I was also dripping sweat. Had I left part of myself behind? Of course I had. It was hopeless to play a game of deception with Pearleen-Charmian now. I trembled at the thought of facing her. She would torch me with her eyes; just for invading her innermost thoughts! And I might stay torched.

Yet if this was the ace I had been longing for, how was I to play it? First I must make a copy of this astounding document. The original was just too precious, and too fragile. But Hayden Lake is out in deep country. It’s a good twenty minutes to the nearest Kinko’s! But once I was spastically copying the book – some pages twice because I was shaking so hard – I began to see a flaw in my plan. How could I ever take the book back? The risk that she would destroy it was just too strong.

And what good, honestly, would a copy be? Like so many other things in life, in art, in love, in accomplishment, it’s only the real thing that possesses any value. Think of Heisenberg’s Principle. (I didn’t go to college for nothing, even if I didn’t finish.) Heisenberg says the very act of study, of measuring, of copying, of lighting an object so that you can even look at it – alters what you study. Irrevocably and forever.

Still, I forced myself to continue copying; I had to at least get a complete copy. Next door at the Starbucks – desperately needing caffeine in my system – I forced myself to finish reading it.
This Zach Tobin guy was a wild card. On the basis of this book alone, it didn’t seem that he had any idea was she was saying or thinking about him, but it was all I could do not to get dragged into her psychotic world where she could change his brain – his life – just by thinking about him. Somebody tell me that’s just not possible. Nobody has that kind of power.

I needed an ally, but who could I trust? I couldn’t imagine taking this book to any cop or detective I could think of. Wouldn’t they pull her in, ask her to explain herself? With Charmian, that’s a fatal move. But this man she wrote about, the “Knight of Swords”, he was her victim too. I know in some men’s worlds its not even rape to be seduced by some anonymous woman in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what he would think when he understand who she was and what she had done, but I decided I needed to see.

My favorite technique: play it by ear. Heck, it’s gotten me this far.

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