65. I KNOWTwo words on the paper.

Two words that made his mouth go dry and adrenal glands blast their payload into his bloodstream. Two words that were making him sweat. Two words bore into his mind.


It would have been non-sensical — a not-particularly funny joke from a friend trying to give him a mystery to ponder — if those two words hadn’t been accompanied by a date: July 23, 2003.

The words gave context to the date. The date gave weight to the words.

The letter, if it could be called that, had been typewritten. The indentions told him it was an actual typewriter, not a printer; the period at the end had left a tiny hole in the paper.

This wasn’t fair, he thought as he tore through the wastebasket, looking for the envelope the note had arrived in. He had finally — finally! — been able to move past July 23, 2003. He had replayed that night in his head for years afterwards, but time, even if it couldn’t completely heal it, had as least scabbed over the wound.

The envelope gave no clues, either. The same typewriter had addressed it, with no return address and a generic stamp. It had been postmarked from his home town, a place he left in 2003 and to which he hoped he’d never return.

They had been alone that night, and he was the only survivor. Who else could have known? And why come forward now?

The wound reopened. It bled.