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325 the face of war “Why Dayton?” Chad said. “Why do we live in a suburb of Dayton, instead of Dayton being a suburb of here? After all, Centerville had limestone and the highest elevation in Montgomery County. Centerville had stone sidewalks when Dayton had roads made of mud. Beavertown had a post office.” Abba whispered something to Howard. “The river?” Howard said. “Yes, the river!” Chad cried. Ridiculous; no wonder Ramsey laughed at his course. “You’re exactly right, Howard: the river is what did it. Think of what you can do with a river”—he was holding out one finger—“you can . . .” They figured out fishing right away, then transportation and commerce, and last, after a number of hints, the powering of mills. At that moment Chad, to his surprise, was struck with wave of emotion. “But any river has its dark side, doesn’t it?” he said. “It gives, it takes away. The first flood was in 1805 and D. C. Cooper wanted to move the town but people said they couldn’t afford it, and the second flood . . .” But Chad couldn’t go on. “Life can be bad, Howard,” he choked out. “Anything can turn on you. Even faith, even hope, even . . .” 326 s ha r p a n d d a n g e r ou s v i r t u e s “Good grief,” Abba said, “they let you teach this at a Catholic college?” The hit was by all reports a great success, taking out not only the munitions warehouse but establishing a pie-shaped wedge of safe airspace, and the pilot and the copilot were sent up on surveillance. They flew low. It was a gorgeous May morning and eighteen hours postevent. In the distance there were green fields and humps and, to the east, a sort of shimmer . “Is that water?” Grady asked. “Indian Lake,” the copilot said. “Been there forever.” Grady wondered at this information, because from what he’d heard all the lakes of Ohio—with the exception of Lake Erie, which made up much of the state’s northern border and was one of the five Great Lakes—were manmade. At the center the site looked like the moon, but at the edges you could see, even from the air, clumps of dirt with green on them, cinder blocks and cinder-block fragments, the charred and upended remains of vehicles. “Let’s land here,” the copilot pointed, and they came down between the remains of the munitions shed (which was pulverized) and another building of some sort, which looking at their coordinates was a possible clinic. All the buildings were possibles: who knew, with the Gridians, what uses they put their buildings to. Grady and his copilot had been asked to land and investigate. They got out. Hard to imagine this as farmland, as any land worth having. It reminded Grady of the hole gouged out of the ground for his parents’ house, but that had been only a gash in a green landscape, and this was the whole landscape. He was glad he’d seen the site first from the air, surrounded by fields and normalcy, and he knew that this was a limited desolation. The copilot shook his head. “Wild.” It was death, was what it was. Death come from the sky. Grady had heard that bombs hit before the sound of them arrived . You heard the explosion, you knew that you’d survived. 327 the face of war Grady kicked at a wad of soil, knocking it aside. There, lying in the dirt, looking up at him, was a face. He thought it was a mask at first, because it looked impossible : a woman’s face, divorced from any head or body, eyes open and staring, mouth open, forehead furrowed. The most jarring thing about it was that it looked perfectly ordinary, sheared off and unmarked except for a round spot of debris below the right eye. Of all the fluky flung debris, the clod on top of it was the thing Grady had kicked aside. The face, peculiarly enough, was not terrible to him. All the limbs and body parts he could have come across, and he had found instead a tidy triangle of skin and muscle. He bent over to brush off the piece of debris, then realized it was a mole. “What?” the copilot said, stumbling toward him. “What’re you looking at?” “The face of war,” Grady said, and it...


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MARC Record
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