Just Once - Page 27

“Your difficulty is two-fold,” Art said, lifting up three fingers with his palm facing toward his brother in a gesture akin to a Boy Scout salute. “One,” he began as he folded down his ring finger, “you don't wish to insult me by asking me for the proof you require, particularly as you know full well I have no proof to give.”

Caleb nodded. “So far so good.”

“And two,” Art continued, folding down his index finger this time, “you also don't wish to insult me with platitudes like 'I believe that you believe it happened,' but in the absence of the proof you can't ask for, that's the best you can say, and you can't say that any more than you can ask for proof without engendering a response from me that you are desperately hoping to avoid.” To illustrate his point Art, his middle finger still extended, reversed his hand with an upward gesture that wordlessly demonstrated said response.

“Pert near perfect breakdown of my conundrum here, big brother,” Caleb chuckled, then became serious. “So what should I say?”

Art took a deep breath. “Nothing,” he sighed. “Just keep driving and hope that by the end of the day you don't have your proof.”

Caleb started to say something, thought better of it and instead tilted his head quizzically in mute invitation for Art to elaborate.

“I'm not just going because I miss Annika terribly,” Art explained, “or even to see . . .” He shook his head sharply to interrupt that thought so he could start again. “All of that's beside the point,” he said sounding weary but resolved, then asked, “Remember when I said that even when she and I were apart, I could tell that Annika was going to die unless I was there?”

“Yeah,” Caleb answered, forgetting his intention to say nothing. “But what . . . ?” he started to asked, then trailed off as realization hit. “Oh,” he said softly, then his eyes widened. “Oh shit!” he swore. “Any way you look at it, that's bad.”

“Yep,” Art agreed. “So what are we gonna do about it, little brother?” he asked.

Page 27

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