She was pigheaded, stubborn, irrational. She was spoiled, he could see that now, spoiled by her parents and their standard of living and the socioeconomic expectations of her class—of his class—and the promise of life as you like it, an unscrolling vista of pleasure and acquisition. He loved her. He would be there for her no matter what, but why did she have to be so stupid? Big sweats, huge sweats, sweats that drowned and engulfed her, that was her campus life, sweats and the dining hall. Everybody did. How could you shovel down all those carbohydrates, all that sugar and grease and the puddings and nachos and all the rest, without putting on ten or fifteen pounds the first semester alone?
Half the girls in the dorm were waddling around like the Doughboy, their faces bloated and blotched with acne, with crusting pimples and whiteheads fed on fat. So she was putting on weight. Big deal.
On the night her water broke—it was mid-December, almost nine months, as best as she could figure—it was raining. Raining hard. There was a long hesitation, a pause you could have poured all the affirmation of the world into. By eight, the rain had turned to ice and every branch of every tree was coated with it, the highway littered with glistening black sticks, no moon, no stars, the tires sliding out from under her, and she felt heavy, big as a sumo wrestler, heavy and loose at the same time. She was cramping.
Fidgeting with her hair. She tried the radio, but it was no help, nothing but songs she hated, singers that were worse.
Twenty-two miles to Danbury and the first of the contractions came like a seizure, like a knife blade thrust into her spine. Her world narrowed to what the headlights would show her. Jeremy was waiting for her at the door to the room, the light behind him a pale rinse of nothing, no smile on his face, no human expression at all. I mean, is it time?
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Is it coming now? Later, hours later, when nothing had happened but pain, a parade of pain with drum majors and brass bands and penitents crawling on their hands and knees till the streets were stained with their blood, she cried out and cried out again. He was useless, and he knew it.
But he was close to it, so close he could feel the room dodging away under his feet. Just get rid of it. Of the drive back to Binghamton he remembered nothing. Or practically nothing. They took towels from the motel and spread them across the seat of her car, he could remember that much. It soaked through her sweats and the towels and even the thick cotton bathmat and into the worn fabric of the seat itself.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Sara Pascoe. Get to Know Us. One reason that Adele is such a big star is because her voice is so big. Kyle Andrews wears makeup and full drag in the main street of his home town of Clermont, central Queensland. He would be there for her no matter what, but why did she have to be so stupid?
He wanted to ask her about that, if that was normal, but she was asleep the minute she slid out from under his arm and dropped into the seat. If he focussed, if he really concentrated, he could remember the way her head lolled against the doorframe while the engine whined and the car rocked and the slush threw a dark blanket over the windshield every time a truck shot past in the opposite direction.
That and the exhaustion. What then? Fifteen minutes. That was all it took. He bundled up everything, every trace, left the key in the box at the desk, and stood scraping the ice off the windshield of his car while the night opened up above him to a black glitter of sky. He never gave a thought to what lay discarded in the Dumpster out back, itself wrapped in plastic, so much meat, so much cold meat.
He was at the very pinnacle of his dream, the river dressed in its currents, the deep hole under the cut-bank, and the fish like silver bullets swarming to his bait, when they woke him—when Rob woke him, Rob Greiner, his roommate, Rob with a face of crumbling stone and two policemen there at the door behind him and the roar of the dorm falling away to a whisper. And that was strange, policemen, a real anomaly in that setting, and at first—for the first thirty seconds, at least—he had no idea what they were doing there.
Parking tickets? Could that be it? But then they asked him his name, just to confirm it, joined his hands together behind his back, and fitted two loops of naked metal over his wrists, and he began to understand. He saw McCaffrey and Tuttle from across the hall staring at him as if he were Jeffrey Dahmer or something, and the rest of them, all the rest, every head poking out of every door up and down the corridor, as the police led him away.
And then it was up the steps and into an explosion of light, more men in uniform, stand here, give me your hand, now the other one, and then the cage and the questions. Only then did he think of that thing in the garbage sack and the sound it had made—its body had made—when he flung it into the Dumpster like a sack of flour and the lid slammed down on it. He stared at the walls, and this was a movie, too.
Even as the two detectives settled in across from him at the bare wooden table in the little box of the overlit room he was telling himself just that: Deny it, deny it all. And when he spoke his voice carried no freight at all, not outrage or threat or cajolery—it was just a voice, flat and tired. And she.
She was in the community hospital, where the ambulance had deposited her after her roommate had called in a voice that was like a bone stuck in the back of her throat, and it was raining again. Her parents were there, her mother red-eyed and sniffling, her father looking like an actor who has forgotten his lines, and there was another woman there, too, a policewoman.
The policewoman sat in an orange plastic chair in the corner, dipping her head to the knitting in her lap. For a long while no one said anything—everything had already been said, over and over, one long flood of hurt and recrimination—and the antiseptic silence of the hospital held them in its grip while the rain beat at the windows and the machines at the foot of the bed counted off numbers.
From down the hall came a snatch of TV dialogue, and for a minute China opened her eyes and thought she was back in the dorm. Can I get you anything? He was up out of the chair, standing over her, his eyes like cracked porcelain. Fredman, at least. Just that. Because what really mattered was what he was thinking. She was scared twenty-four hours a day. Scared of the present, scared of the future, scared of the reporters waiting for the judge to set bail so that they could swarm all over her the minute she stepped out the door.
She was putting on more weight, and what did it matter? Jeremy was different. The room they were in—the courtroom—seemed to have grown up around them, walls, windows, benches, lights, and radiators already in place, along with the judge, the American flag, and the ready-made spectators. It was hot.
People coughed into their fists and shuffled their feet, every sound magnified. The judge presided, his arms like bones twirled in a bag, his eyes searching and opaque as he peered over the top of his reading glasses. She watched him—Jeremy, only him—as the reporters held their collective breath and the judge read off the charges and her mother bowed her head and sobbed into the bucket of her hands.
And Jeremy was watching her, too, his eyes locked on hers as if he defied them all, as if nothing mattered in the world but her, and when the judge said First-degree murder and Murder by abuse or neglect he never flinched. His voice was a rasp, almost a growl; she looked at him, inches away, and hardly recognized him.
There was no elaborate name for the place where they were keeping him. It was known as Drum Hill Prison, period. No reform-minded notions here, no verbal gestures toward rehabilitation or behavior modification, no benefactors, mayors, or role models to lend the place their family names, but then who in his right mind would want a prison named after him anyway? At least they kept him separated from the other prisoners, the gangbangers and dope dealers and sexual predators and the like.
He was no longer a freshman at Brown, not officially, but he had his books and his course notes and he tried to keep up as best he could. And what had he done to deserve it? There was no baby. There was nothing but a mistake, a mistake clothed in blood and mucus. Another unwanted child in an overpopulated world? They should have given him a medal. What did she look like?
What was her face like, her nose, her hair, her eyes and breasts and the slit between her legs? He drew a blank. There was no way to summon her the way she used to be or even the way she was in court, because all he could remember was the thing that had come out of her, four limbs and the equipment of a female, shoulders rigid and eyes shut tight, as if she were a mummy in a tomb.
He describes his road to success on the radio waves, from his early days knocking on station doors during college and working for American Forces Korea Network to his work at NPR and induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Throughout the book, his sharp observations about the people he interviewed and covered and the colleagues with whom he worked offer a window on forty years of American news and on the evolution of public journalism.
Bob Edwards is the author of Edward R. Edwards has been awarded the Alfred I. Murrow Award for outstanding contributions to public radio. With all the wit, candor, and courage that made his journalism on NPR a favorite of millions across the country and a role model for all of us in public media. Maybe not the much-romanticized golden era of the medium that preceded television, but the equally important period when radio news and public affairs reporting grew and matured into one of the most relevant American venues for information and serious discussion.
His work at NPR and later, with satellite radio, is testament to his love of good journalism, great storytelling and, most of all, people.