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  • How to Walk on Water
  • Rachel Swearingen (bio)

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St. Peter Walking on the Water, Alessandro Allori, 1590s, Uffizi Gallery

[End Page 10]

I’ll show you the backside of your soul. That’s what Arvel Wilkes told Nolan’s mother, Sigrid, the night of the attack. Nolan had found a manila envelope with a smeared carbon copy of the original police report inside. She had been just twenty-six when it happened, younger than Nolan now. The report didn’t note what his mother said in response to Wilkes, just that there were “minimal defensive marks on victim.” They had been living on the north side of Seattle at the time, his father away on a business trip, Nolan asleep in his crib. [End Page 11]

He was home to pull his life together, staying in his mother’s guest room, trying to keep out of her way. She couldn’t fall asleep without the radio. She left her bedroom door ajar for her cat, and Nolan crept closer to listen. Was Princess Diana’s death a setup? What about JFK Jr.? We’re going to hear from a man who claims there is a secret profession of accident staging. Later in the hour, I’ll be opening the call lines. Do you believe in evil? What led you, or someone you know, to a moment of evil?

“Too loud?” Sigrid said. She must have sensed Nolan standing outside the door. “I can turn it off.”

“I thought you called me,” he said. She tuned in to the same station every night. Aliens. The supernatural. Government conspiracies. Time travel. It wasn’t like his mother to listen to such things. “I’m going to bed now,” he said. “I’ll make sure the doors are locked.”

He went into the guest room and shut the door. His mother’s desk was there, her photo albums, her boxes of tax and financial records. He’d found the envelope, along with a recent letter from the Seattle Police Department, while rifling through the desk for her checkbook. Arvel Wilkes had died in prison. She hadn’t mentioned it.

Nolan called his father in Pensacola, where it was three hours earlier, and told him he’d been hunting for information, that he’d found a medical report and knew Sigrid could never have another child. “Is that why you divorced?” he asked. “Is that why she never dated anyone?”

His father still loved Sigrid. It hadn’t been his idea to separate, and Nolan suspected he’d finally left and remarried because there was no going back to the way it had been. “You always liked to pick at scabs,” his father said now. “Never could leave well enough alone. What kind of trouble you in this time?”

“Dad, I’m worried about Mom. She’s always talking about shadow governments and UFOs and ghosts and shit like that. She’s losing it.”

“She never says nothing to me about UFOs. I talked to her the other day. She’s worried about you. She said you just sit around on your ass all day. She thinks you’re depressed.”

“So you and Mom didn’t split up because of what happened?”

Nolan could hear his father rattle ice in a glass, looking for the perfect cube to chomp. “Your mother and I are OK,” he said, biting down. “We’re just different people, that’s all. She met someone she could talk to back then. She couldn’t talk to me.”

“Who?” [End Page 12]

“That was a long time ago. Don’t bring up Wilkes with her. You let that monster rot.”

“How did the job search go today?” Sigrid asked. She filled a watering can and fussed over a plant on the table where Nolan was paging through a newspaper. Somehow the day had gotten away from him, and he still hadn’t showered or shaved.

“Nothing yet,” Nolan said. “I’ll find something.”

He had lived in towns all over Colorado and Wyoming. Over the past few years, he had worked as a bartender, a rental manager, a warehouse supervisor and a short...


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