He stays in the hospital until the man opens his eyes. When the nurse leaves, he washes the man’s feet. He can see the veins spiraling across the man’s ankles, near the base of the feet, at the sides – threads of many colors, strained blood, dancing now, a red-and-blue alarm call. The skin of his limbs, thin as paper. His face is built of thicker, coarser material. Charles holds his hand for awhile, warmth pouring into his fingers. The man’s hand is cold but strong and his eyes are lit with thankfulness, as though he is looking at his own son. Charles returns to the hotel. He receives a call from Catherine. She is irate, how could he possibly ignore an urgent call. He listens. She calms down. She goes into the details of a Georgian-inspired necklace she has collaborated on with a designer friend of hers, a man who has visited their apartment for dinner once before. She talks about social media. Her tweets have atrophied, she says. Her voice fades out. Though he doesn’t mean to, his left ear presses against the surface of his iPhone and the call ends.
Scott does not want to see what is happening next to Marianne. She is not a woman or a bush but a cow at the slaughter. Her blood spills everywhere. It doesn't matter that she has been happily grass-fed. Lightning fast game processing: her body is being processed in under fifteen minutes. A tall blonde-haired man is sharpening his knives above her. She is a slab of meat on a table. There is a savagely skillful art to the swishing stabbing movements the man makes, cutting hard and fast into her body. She looks like a red closet waiting to be opened. A hook is flung deep into the flesh to secure the cuts being made on the other side of Marianne. Slash and rip. It is already dead. Marianne is dead. He can smell her, and she does not smell like lilacs.