The Long Way Home

Page 117


“Suppose No Man was involved in drugs back in the days he worked at the college,” said Gamache, thinking out loud. “Suppose Massey suspected but couldn’t prove anything.”

Maybe, like Carlos Casteneda insisting peyote fueled creativity, Professor Norman had been pushing coke. To students eager to blow their minds, and put it on canvas.

“Maybe that was the tenth muse,” said Gamache. “Cocaine.”

Beside him, Beauvoir fidgeted with the hat. That made more sense to him than some flighty, prancing, embittered goddess.

The one that killed for pleasure.

Now meth. Or heroin. Or coke. The trinity of deadly drugs.

There was something that killed for pleasure.

“Could Massey have gone to Tabaquen to finally confront Norman?” Beauvoir asked. “When he found out Peter might’ve followed No Man there, he might’ve gone to protect him. He sounded like that sort of man.”

Both Clara and Myrna had said the elderly professor had reminded them of the Chief. And Gamache had gone to hell to bring back Jean-Guy. Maybe Massey was going to Tabaquen, the Sorcerer, to save Peter. To bring him back.

It was all supposition. But it fit.

Gamache’s phone rang and he took it.

“Oui, allô?”

“Armand, how’s the cruise?”

“We’re on the lido deck. The conga line just finished.” He tried to keep his voice light. “You should see our cabin. Thankfully those interminable baptisms of your ninety-seven nieces and nephews have trained me to sleep standing up. A blessing.”

“You’re going to hell,” she laughed.

He looked at the bow, heaving. And ho-ing. The inky waves had grown. The wind had picked up in the last few minutes, heading straight into their face as though trying to push them back. But the Loup de Mer kept chugging, slicing through the water, slicing through the night. Heading deeper into the darkness.

He knew where they were going and she wasn’t far wrong.

They chatted for a few minutes about the activities in Three Pines. As they spoke, Armand turned on the bench, until he was facing the stern. Looking back. To the home he’d left behind.

*   *   *

In the night the Loup de Mer stopped at a few more outports, depositing food, supplies, people, before moving on.

By morning they were well up the coast. Leaving roads and towns and most of the trees behind. The passengers awoke to a gray sky and a shoreline made of rocks worn smooth by waves.

“Strange place,” said Myrna, joining Armand on deck and handing him a strong, sweet tea.

They leaned on the railing. There was a chill in the air that belied the summer season. It was as though they’d left the calendar behind. Time had its own rules here.

Gamache sipped his tea. It was a brew he associated with the Lower North Shore. Where pots sat on woodstoves all day, and arthritic hands added more hot water and dropped more bags in, until it was like stew.

He’d drunk gallons of the stuff as he’d sat in kitchens in the remote fishing villages along this coastline.

“You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” she asked.

“A few times.”


“Yes. Always difficult in a closed community. These people are proud, self-reliant. They didn’t even have running water or electricity until recently. They never asked for help from the government. Not a single person took unemployment, until recently. It would never occur to them to take what they considered a handout. They have their own laws and rules and code of conduct.”

“You make it sound like the Wild West.”

Gamache smiled. “I suppose it is, a bit. But not so wild really. These are fishermen. They’re a different breed. They get enough ‘wild’ from the sea. When they get home they want peace. There’s a deep civility about the people here.”

“And yet they still kill.”

“Sometimes. They’re human.” He looked at Myrna. “Do you know what Jacques Cartier called this stretch of coast?”

“Cartier the explorer?”

“Yes, back in the early fifteen hundreds. When he first saw this place he called it ‘the land God gave to Cain.’”

Myrna took that in as she watched the shoreline, where the odd, malformed trees lived. But nothing else.

“Cain. The first murderer,” said Myrna.

“A coast so forbidding, so hostile it was fit only for the damned,” said Gamache. “And yet…”


He gave a small lopsided smile and stared at the far shore. “And yet I find it just about the most beautiful place on earth. I wonder what that says about me.”

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