Read from the beginning

As interesting and provocative as Ringo’s story was, Dimity and I had come from a long road trip and we were yawning heavily. We tried to go on. Dimity said amid one of those long, full, open-mouthed yawns,

“Did y-, y- [YA-A-A-A-A-AWN]…sorry. Did you and Tanaquil break up? I still don’t understand why. I bet you made a cute couple. Did she cry?”

“I’m afraid the rest of my story will have to wait for now. We are all too tired to go on. Suffice it for now to say that after war broke out across all of Europe, I fought for a few merchant platoons loosely aligned with the Allies, and she was my personal physician several times. After two years of combat, I was discharged. We traveled wherever our fancy took us, largely around the Mediterranean Sea. In those years, she taught me the principles of her chemical arts. We had some fun and drew the attention of some very wealthy and influential people interested in our concoctions. We amply funded our livelihoods this way.

“But the necessity of parting ways came when she saw that I was getting of an age—my late twenties—at which I should have a companion who could give herself more fully to me, and me to her. She never explained what made us incompatible. I can only assume her preternatural essence would have been a violation of a sort of barrier dividing the mortal and the ageless. I don’t understand it very well. And yes, we both cried when we parted.”

I might have missed some other details because I could not keep my eyes open. Tom Nightingale led us out of Ringo’s one-room house to a steel Quonset across the street where some army cots were set up. It smelled of army surplus and campfires and mildew. If there were others inside we could not see them for the thick darkness sliced in a couple of places by moonlight.

The Lancia was there as well, apparently pushed inside by Tom’s people through a garage door on the front of the building. We shuffled in, not caring that we were spending yet another night sleeping in the same clothes. Dimity lay on a cot beside me.

“I don’t know about you, Mitts. But I’m ready to go home soon. Sleep in my own bed.”

“Do you still have a bed to go to?”

“Good question.”