and while I didn’t have enough yet, I knew it was just a matter of timeuntil I found something irrefutable, some Deep Throat gem that I couldlevel him with.
“All the science points to the fact that the Earth is hollow,” Coot told
me as we doubled back toward the condo. “Inside lie the Garden of Eden
and ten thousand Hopi Indians.”
We handed off our walkie-talkies to Godwit and Yellowlegs, who set
out for the midday shift.
“My scion!” my mom shouted as I walked through the sliding doors.The two of us ate breakfast and stared out at the water.
“Hey, check this out,” she said and cleared her throat. She made a
loud, flutey caw so forceful it bounced off the condo walls and glass
doors. “Stilt says it’s as close to royal tern as you can get without digital
My mom was an audiologist, and she prided herself on the sensitivity
of her ears, as well as her grasp of unpopular languages. In her free time,
she’d taught herself Icelandic, Catalan, and Esperanto. Birding—at least
in Stilt’s fundamentalist sect—scratched both of these itches, with its
binomial nomenclature and the value placed on recognizing the vari-
ous calls and songs of several hundred species. Her royal tern was eerily
good, and I told her so.
After we did the dishes, I stepped out and sat on one of the loungechairs to formulate my plan to undo Stilt. My quarry was nearby—hestood just twenty feet away, aiming his binoculars out at the water andjotting his observations down in a notebook no bigger than a deck ofcards. He was so preoccupied with this that he failed to notice me altogether. Soon a group of three women hobbled out past him, on their wayto the beach.
“Do you know when the Tschours will be back?” the oldest of them
asked. “I have Pam’s food processor.”
“Hang on to it. I think Pam said Christmas,” Stilt said, oozing his
bullshit. “You know how they are. Not big on planning ahead. Especially
the paterfamilias. But they make up for it in generosity, that’s for sure.
We have history, me and Tschour. History is important. We were fire-
fighters together for years, after the army.”
“I didn’t know Dale had served.”
“He doesn’t like to talk about it.”
After lunch, I found it, my missing piece: a renter’s guide shoved un-
der the pull-out couch. The family’s photo was in the front. The Tschours.