Pretty, he says.
Maury’s gaze shifts, querying between Moses Todd’s face and the object in his hand.
You want to know something? Moses Todd says. I had a girl of my own once. Her name was Lily like the flower. Her mother, she took her to Jacksonville in a caravan. I was supposed to meet them there, but they never showed up. The whole caravan, it just disappeared. I spent two years driving those roads back and forth between Orlando and Jacksonville.
He pauses in memory.
Two years of looking for somethin, you begin to see it everywhere. Lily in her mother’s arms, like ghosts. Behind every billboard. Just around every damn corner. It got so bad I had to stop lookin. The abundance of gone things, it’ll bury you.
He turns the glass orb over in his hands.
She would of been about her age now, he says, nodding in the direction of the front yard.
He gives the sphere back to Maury, who holds it in both hands close to his chest.
It is indeed a pretty plaything, he says.
Then he stands and looks at the gurkha and remembers the girl’s small, roughened hand wrapped tight and firm around the hilt.
Well, says Moses Todd, I reckon you and this are my inheritance.
He tells Maury to stand up, and the man obeys. Then he leads him out of the house to the edge of the grave in the front yard and tells him to say his goodbyes.
Maury stands before the mound of earth looking confused, and his attention is distracted by a plain, muddy-feathered bird that lands on a branch in the tree overhead.
All right, Moses Todd says finally. It’s time to light out. We’re heading north, and there ain’t any point in waitin on the dead.
They drive north.
By the side of the road, just past the Mason-Dixon Line, Moses Todd sees a woman struggling with herself on the ground. He pulls the car over. It is difficult to tell whether she is sick and heading toward death or already gone and heading back from it. The directions of ends and beginnings are polar and perfect in the way they fit together.
He waits to make sure and then puts a bullet through her forehead.
In Ohio, there are wild horses galloping over the hills.
Maury holds his crystal ball in his hands, and when he falls asleep it slips to the floor of the car and Moses Todd reaches over to pick it up and puts it in the cup holder on the center console, where it fits as though it were made to go there.
Moses Todd speaks seldom except to other travelers they meet on the road.
He decides, late one night, that he will kill anyone who threatens Maury, and his sleep comes easier after that.
In a hardware store, Moses Todd gathers a water stone and high grit sandpaper and honing oil and a buffing chamois—and in the evenings when they rest from driving, he sharpens and polishes the gurkha knife until it looks for all the world like a mirror.
They drive through seven states to go from Point Comfort, Texas, to Niagara Falls, and it takes them two weeks.
They can hear the roar of the falls two miles away.
At the end of a small overgrown path, the trees clear and they find themselves at a cliffy overlook from which they can see everything. Like the earth turned inside out and feeding its own wide gullet. So much water, you have no idea how much. There is a rusty metal rail sunk into the rock, and Moses Todd grips it tight with both of his rough heavy hands, a thin layer of mist coating the skin of his face and arms.
He was here once before but that was in a different lifetime, when wonders were rare and announced—like amusement parks or school trips.
Now they are everywhere, for the delectation of those among the survivors who might be hunters of miracles.
And the beauty he looks over is fathomable only by a girl who would have felt the measure of it as deep as to her dazzled soul.