(There’s a problem revising this section now, and it has little to do with the text itself but with the gap between the historical incidents, about which I have really nothing to say – it is all history and someone else’s history, as I said in the beginning, and they will tell their own story. They have. There are several versions. No, my problem is that I’m writing about water and a watery land while sitting in a terrible heat wave, drought conditions, in Los Angeles, trying to imagine/remember the quality of the air, the mood, the reality of so much water that is the metaphor of this section of the book. Metaphors rely on the quality of one thing juxtaposed against another. There’s the rub. And here’s the rub. It’s so far away, the humidity, the revolution…
Enough with the excuses. I need to get on with this project.)
Vida recalls Mrs. Williams’s expression: Curiosity is a man’s curse and in a woman it’s ten times worse. No one has seen Arthur since the crisis, but those people Vida spoke with, even Claudia is said to believe that Arthur has gone up into the hills with Theodore. Some suppose Art might have been captured with Theodore. He was seriously wounded; that much is known. He was shot through the leg up there at the fort, so he couldn’t run. But he did run.
Of course, he must have been taken. Vida imagines Arthur being dragged in between two husky marines, dragged into a big white room with his legs dangling limp, head bowed so that at first when he opens his eyes he sees his feet, although he doesn’t recognize them as his own, they seem so far away and all feeling is gone. She imagines that he is virtually poured into the room, without words but again the sound of a body hitting the floor. He moans and licks the blood dripping from his nose, sees red on the back of his hand after he touches it to his chin. He examines his naked chest beneath the ripped fabric of his shirt. The wound next to his nipple has already started to fester. He doesn’t try to move. Move, Art. Be okay. She imagines his blood pooling on the grey floor, wants to cradle his head in her lap. Hey, Art, hey, bleed here. She can only imagine cradling Arthur’s head; there is nothing else she has to offer.
It is worse in her dreams. Arthur is shot, bullets through his chest cavity opening him up to daylight, like the paintings she’s seen of St. Stephan, her black man’s head hanging toward the white martyr’s, talking like his body is glass.
– I have broken through the second ground. I have climbed the second level. See, the ground lies in splinters.
– My body is all eyes. Look at it! I look in all directions.
So his name now circulates. So he is listed on the enemies’ list. Vida straightens her legs and starts into town, sees a faint sliver of moon still visible ahead. It looks like a hammock. She walks down the street toward the center of town, the buildings and walls, stone on stone and brick on brick so nearly as they have always stood, except there is smoke. Smoke fills her nostrils that flare. The spring rain should have quelled any fires by now.
She looks down the street, and her breath catches in her throat. There is nothing there, a hollow in the row of buildings and what is left of the police station is smouldering. The wing that contained the prisoners’ cells is burnt down to rubble. She closes her eyes against the fear of having lost Arthur for sure. It is a blind fear that passes with sight as she opens her eyes and her mind slowly clears.