One Wife’s Search for Her Drunken Swede
Liam stumbled along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. He stopped to look at the full moon glittering off the surface of the lake, then held up his bottle in salute. “Here’s to another year,” he said softly. The shaking bottle met his lips, and Liam took a swig of…
Liam swore under his breath as he lowered his arm in defeat. When had he run out of rum? Or whiskey? Whatever it had been, it had been good.
Squealing that could only be a teenage girl chased into the water by a teenage boy filled the air, and Liam winced. He should probably get off the private beach before anyone spotted him. He didn’t need to spend the night in the Carson City jail during the summer. In the winter was an entirely different matter.
The act of putting one foot in front of the other shouldn’t have been difficult, but Liam scowled as he willed his body to obey his simple commands.
Ever since he’d given up his memories he’d had a hard time staying coordinated while drunk.
“Stupid woman took more than I asked her too.”
Then again, didn’t they all?
After only falling down twice, Liam made it to the edge of the private beach and managed to get to the main road before a light ten times the brightness of the sun hit him in the face. He threw a hand over his eyes and groaned.
“Dang it, Liam, the kids on the beach thought there was a murder down there.”
Liam started to raise his empty bottle in greeting, but thought better of it. “Down where, deputy Smith?” It probably wouldn’t help to play stupid, but he may as well try.
The deputy snorted and the light went out. Liam briefly entertained the idea of bolting, but where would he go? It’s not like he had a place to call his own.
“Come on, Liam,” the deputy said. “Someone is looking for you.”
“Looking for me?” Some of the buzz from the alcohol burned away. His mind snapped into action as the possibilities rolled through his head. “Who?”
“Don’t know. The sheriff put out an APB on you. Said we’re supposed to bring you in.” Deputy Smith walked slowly toward Liam. The man had never done more than give him a fine or take him to the holding cells before, but now the hair on Liam’s arms stood on end.
“I—I don’t want to go in,” Liam said. He took a step away. “It’s a beautiful night. Why waste it indoors?” He took a second step back.
“Come on, Liam, either you come quietly, or I can make you come.”
Liam snorted. He had at least thirty years and fifty pounds on the scrawny deputy. One didn’t grow up carving ice out of mountains and not end up nice and strong. Old man strength was nothing to scoff at.
“Please?” Deputy Smith asked, in what sounded like a sincere voice.
“No,” Liam said. “Unless you have charges I don’t have to go.” He’d seen enough cop shows on television to know that much.
Deputy Smith sighed. “I can get the charges, but that means you’ll go to jail, and no one wants that. Just come in. For questioning.”
“Questioning about what?” Liam’s eyes darted back and forth, looking for a secure escape route.
“Nothing you’re in trouble for.”
Liam narrowed his eyes. Was this kid stalling? Just as he turned to look behind him, something sharp bit his back, and a wave of pain rolled through him. The bottle shattered on the asphalt just before Liam hit the ground with a thud.
Had someone just tazed him? He could see the stars. Or was that a hallucination?
Gravel crunched as someone approached. “You were always difficult, my love.”
The voice started out garbled, but quickly cleared up.
Liam winced. He’d given up most of his memories. He thought he’d gotten rid of all the ones of her. One more thing the witch hadn’t done right.
Greta’s long, white braid fell over one shoulder, and her bright, blue eyes stared down at him. “I’ve been looking for you, my love.”
Liam didn’t have enough control over his body to speak. She had to get away from him. He’d left for a reason. A reason he couldn’t remember, but knew was dangerous enough for him to throw his whole life away and come here.
Greta squatted down—impressively stable for a seventy year old woman—and stroked his cheek. “Do you know me?”
He managed a sort of jerking nod, and got one word from his lips. “Go.”
She shook her head. “No, my love.” She reached into a bag hanging at her side and pulled out a scroll the length of a hardback book and the diameter of a tennis ball. The red parchment glistened in the moonlight.
Liam’s heart went cold. “No,” he said.
Greta smiled a sad smile. “I’m sorry, my love, I know you thought hiding would keep me safe, but it hasn’t, and now you’re not safe.”
What was she talking about?
“Forty years of marriage makes us stronger together, no matter what.” She patted him on the cheek and looked at Deputy Smith. “Can we get him in the car?”
Cold gathered in Liam’s stomach.
If Greta was here, then his sacrifice had been in vain. The scroll would return his memories—things he knew were best left forgotten.