Black Diamond Fall by Joseph Olshan

Black Diamond Fall by Joseph Olshan

Author:Joseph Olshan
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Polis Books
Published: 2018-06-25T19:49:23+00:00

May 16; Carleton, Vermont; 65 degrees, sun and high clouds, breezy

In early May with the last traces of ice still plaguing the slowly awakening land, a hay bale is found by a farmer at a place called Donner’s Field in Weybridge. Inside the bale is an entombment large enough to accommodate a person of six feet two inches who seemed to have dug themselves in with their fingernails. The arrival of spring could have allowed the body to plunge into the swollen river.

When the DNA samples are extracted from the crusty remnants of straw and matched to the DNA of Luc Flanders, a river search begins. A helicopter team from Maine flies over the Otter Creek, snapping photos with a special camera able to plumb turbulent river depths, scanning for human remains.

Then, on the sixteenth of May, a young mother with a toddler on her back is walking along the riverbank and sees a raft-like pallet protruding from a crest of the turbulent water. The wood (yellow pine) is soaked dark and gelatinous and crosshatched in a grid and, she imagines, once sustained the weight of some heavy piece of machinery. Maybe last summer the pallet had been appropriated by a wood-worker for pleasure-river-riding with family and friends but then abandoned like a boat to nowhere—perhaps at the end of September when the days cooled off and the temperature was no longer warm enough for swimming.

The tall body, hewn and muscled from years of sport, is caught in the interstices of the wood, born up from the depths, still quite intact because it had frozen solid during the winter and slowly thawed in the river that for many weeks couldn’t have been more than forty degrees. Photos have shown her that Luc Flanders always wore his hair fairly long, and she can see the strands undulating like tendrils of aqueous plants near the surface. The angelic white face angled up toward her and those remarkable arctic eyes—wide open and milky pale under water— shocks her.

Kennedy is the one who calls Sam. She listens to him break down, the gasping, the high-pitched sobbing. She thinks deeply: What can I possibly say to comfort him? And then words come. “The winter preserved him, Sam. He still looks beautiful. Like a god under water.”

Sam drives up to Carleton. To a parking place along the Otter Creek and begins walking toward the cluster of police vehicles. At one point he stops, arrested by a conviction that he’s not alone. He glances out toward the perimeter of the just greening fields that roll up to the river and can see a rash of snowdrops in the wild. There is sense of a presence, of someone or something in possession of him, and the air becomes difficult to breathe. He puts his hand on his chest and tries to calm down. He’s thinking of the afternoon back in December when Luc arrived at his house wearing a funny-looking Christmas sweater and standing nervously by the broad kitchen window.


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