I went to bed before Arthur did, but I lay awake long after he went to sleep, trying to undo the tangle thet my life had become. At any moment Paul might swoop down on me, figurative sword in hand, and perpetrate some disastrous rescue that would ruin my life. Now Fraser Buchanan would be trying to get his book back. I'd have to think of a good place to hide it; a locker in the subway station, or maybe I could keep mailing it back and forth to myself...no, that woudn't do. I might get a safe-deposit box in a bank.
Malevolence was flowing towards me, around me, someone was sending me absurd but threatening notes, phoning me up and breathing; Fraser Buchanan accounted for only some of those calls. Someone was leaving dead animals on the doorstep, and if it wasn't the Royal Porcupine it was someone who knew about him. Who could possibly have found out? Perhaps one person was doing the animals, another the notes, a third the phone calls...but I couldn't believe that. It had to be a single person, with a plan, a plot that had some end in view....
Then all at once I knew. It was Arthur. The whole thing was Arthur. He'd found out about the Royal Porcupine, he must've known for some time. He'd been watching me all along, not saying anything; it would be like him not to say anything. But he'd made a decision about me finally, a pronouncement, thumbs down. I was unworthy, I would have to go, and this was his plan to get rid of me.
I thought about how he could have done it all. The anonymous letters would be easy. I could check our Yellow Pages to see if anything had been cut out, but he wouldn't be that careless. Most of the phone calls had been made when he wasn't home, though it was true that for some of them he'd been there. But he could have got a friend to help him. (Who?) The animals, anyone could find dead animals. Planting them on the doorstep would be more difficult, especially since I'd made a point of getting up first lately. But he could have put them there at night.
He was the one, he must be; he was working up something and I didn't at all want to know what it was. The easy explanation would be that he'd gone crazy, in some very deep and undetectable way. But it didn't have to be that at all. Every man I'd ever been involved with, I realized, had had two selves: my father, healer and killer; the man in the tweed coat, my rescuer and possibly also a pervert; the Royal Porcupine and his double, Chuck Brewer; even Paul, who I'd always believed had a sinister other life I couldn't penetrate. Why should Arthur be any exception? I'd known he had phases, but I hadn't suspected this completely different side to his personality; not until now. The fact that I'd taken so long to discover it made it all the more threatening.
Arthur was someone I didn't know at all. And he was right on the bed beside me. I was afraid now, almost afraid to move; what if he woke up, eyes glittering. and reached for me...? For rest of the night I listened to him breathe. He sounded so peaceful.
I had to get away, as quickly as possible. If I simply went to the airport and got on a plane, anyone at all would be able to trace me. My life was a snarl, a rat's nest of dangling threads and loose ends. I couldn't possibly have a happy ending, but I wanted a neat one. Something terminal, like scissors. I would have to die. But for this I needed help. Who could be trusted?
Lady Oracle - Margaret Atwood
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