Authors: Charles McCarry
The Tears of Autumn
The Miernik Dossier
The Secret Lovers
The Better Angels
The Bride of the Wilderness
Copyright © 1983 by Charles McCarry
First published in the USA in 2006 by
The Overlook Press, New York
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any
information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a
review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Mobipocket 978 0 7156 4197 2
ePub: 978 0 7156 4199 6
Library PDF: 978 0 7156 4200 9
To Rod MacLeish
In his dream, Paul Christopher, thirteen years old, wore a thick woolen sweater with three bone buttons on the left shoulder. His father’s yawl
before the wind, her port rail awash in the swelling waters of the Baltic Sea. The weak northern sun was just rising astern, behind the mist that hid the coast of Germany: not the mainland, but the
island of Rügen, whose white chalk cliffs rise four hundred feet above the sea. Aboard the yawl, the man the Christophers called the Dandy scampered, quick as a rat, down the ladder into the
cabin. Paul’s mother was alarmed. “Our guest is hiding in the picnic basket,” she said. “
, every time a secret is told, an angel falls.”
Paul went below and opened the wicker picnic basket. The Dandy crouched inside among the fitted plates and food boxes and thermos bottles. He was striking their guest on the kidneys with a
rubber baton and forcing him to eat the buttons from Paul’s sweater. The Dandy wore a Gestapo badge. The guest was dressed as a rabbi; he smelled of the dust of books and of strange food. The
Dandy made a sympathetic face to show Paul that he too was disgusted by this alien stench. Then he fed the rabbi another button.
A storm came up. Paul’s father shouted, “Paul, take the helm!” The jib broke loose and they struggled with it; the canvas billowed and snapped in the howling wind. Paul’s
mother fell overboard. He dove after her. In the pewter light at the bottom of the shallow sea, among rocks bearded with seaweed, he found his mother’s body with buttons sewn to its eyes.
In a chilly room in Paris, Paul Christopher’s lover, a girl named Molly, kissed his fluttering eyelids. He woke from his dream. Molly sat up in bed. She had beautiful
breasts, with large aureoles that were the same color as her unpainted lips. Though it was January and the window was open, she sat for a long moment in the cold draft, looking into
Christopher’s eyes, before she pulled the quilt to her chin.
“You spoke in your sleep, in German,” Molly said. “What did you dream? You have such amazing dreams.”
“I was sailing with my parents.”
“Sailing? In Germany?”
“In the Baltic. My mother was drowning.”
“Oh, dear. Did you save her?”
Beneath the covers, Molly shivered. Her skin was cold to the touch. Christopher got out of bed and closed the window. It had begun to rain, the gray cold rain of northern Europe wetting the gray
stones of the city.
Molly wrapped herself in the quilt and came to the window. She put her chin on Christopher’s shoulder and spoke into his ear. She was an Australian who had been taught in an English
boarding school to speak like an Englishwoman; when she was sleepy, as she was now, her native accent was just discernible, like a thready scar concealed in a wrinkle by a plastic surgeon.
you save her?” Molly asked.
“Good. I was worried that I’d waked you at the wrong moment.”
“At the wrong moment?” Christopher smiled at Molly’s reflection in the windowpane. She dug the point of her chin into the muscle of his shoulder.
“You don’t know that dreams go on after we wake up?” Molly said. “Why should they stop just because they’re interrupted? We can only see the people in our dreams
when we’re asleep, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t always there. Perhaps they can see
when we’re awake.”
Molly saw that Christopher wasn’t listening to what she said. He was staring into the street below. Molly followed his gaze. There was little to see: the rain falling through the dim
streetlight onto the shiny cobbles, the stubby branches of a plane tree pruned for the winter. The brake lights blinked on a parked Citroën.
“Is that Tom Webster’s man in that car?” Molly asked.
“Is he really going to guard me all the time you’re gone?”
“It won’t always be the same car or the same man, but the car will always be in that parking place. They’ll blink the brake lights on the hour and the half hour to let you know
“Wonderful Tom. That will buck me up tremendously.”
Molly opened the quilt and put her arms around Christopher from behind, enclosing him in the folds of the coverlet. Her skin was warm now. She stroked his naked back with the length of her own
“You have such a sweet body,” she said.
Christopher turned inside the quilt and put his arms around her.
Later, in bed, Molly got to her knees and turned on the lamp. The Japanese, when they paint on silk, sometimes mix pulverized gold into the pigment, so that the depths of the painting will
gather light and magnify it. Molly’s auburn hair had this quality. Christopher touched her and smiled. Seeing the male pleasure in his eyes, she shook her head, impatient with her own
“No,” she said. “Just this once, don’t look at me. Listen.”
“It’s difficult,” Christopher said. The bedroom walls were mirrored and everywhere he looked he saw the reflection of Molly. The whole apartment, borrowed as a hiding place,
was mirrored. It was furnished with glass tables and cubical black leather chairs. The vast bed in which Molly and Christopher now lay was circular, like a bed in a movie about a movie star, and
the quilt Molly had wrapped around their bodies was a reproduction of a playing card, the jack of hearts. All these images, and especially Molly’s nudity, were reflected from mirror to