A New Excerpt from The Sower
Ronni sat in the middle of the Sanders Theatre, her left arm looped
through Decker’s, waiting for the candidates to take the stage. Decker,
whose head had been on a swivel all night, surveyed the crowd. Satisfied,
he looked at Ronni. “If we’re hungry when this is over, let’s go to the
Union Oyster House.” They had been late getting to the restaurant and
had only eaten appetizers so that they would not be late for the debate.
“I was there once a long time ago,” Decker said. “It’s the oldest
restaurant in the United States. Lots of history and good seafood.”
“That sounds like fun,” Ronni answered. “Can we get a drink
Decked nodded: “And the best oyster stew you’ve ever had.”
The announcer introduced the candidates who came out on the
stage and took their places behind podiums placed ten feet apart. From
their angle, Ronni could see Magnolia Kanaranzi step up on a riser that
gave her the appearance of being the same height as Metzger.
For an hour-and-a-half the two candidates sparred, fielding
questions from the panelists and from the audience. Ronni found
herself cheering some of Kanaranzi’s answers. When it was over, she
was sure her favorite had won the debate.
“I’m so glad we came,” Ronni said. They shuffled toward the exit
and an opportunity to shake hands with Kanaranzi in the theater lobby.
“I think she was awesome.”
“Yeah. Me too. Kind of surprised there were no questions about
his indiscretions.” There was no enthusiasm in Decker’s voice.
“Is something wrong?” Ronni asked, giving him a concerned look.
“No. Nothing. Just this feeling.”
“I felt all night like we were being watched.”
Ronni’s eyes swept the room. “At dinner, or just here?”
“Just here. May be just my imagination, but I’d feel better if you
didn’t stop to shake Kanaranzi’s hand.”
They were quiet, vigilant until they were outside the theater.
Decker hailed a cab.
“Oyster House or hotel?” he asked.
“Oyster House,” Ronni replied. “I need a drink.”
The place was packed, and they got seated just in time to order
before the kitchen closed: oyster stew and a Rusty Irishman.
“Where is the ladies’ room,” Ronni asked the waitress, who directed
her to the back of the restaurant.
“See the sign? Turn left down the hallway,” she said.
Ronni sat in one of the stalls. Someone else came in the restroom
and went into the stall next to her. A second person came in. When
Ronni came out of the stall, a woman was standing at the sink, her
mascara smeared, looking like she had been crying.
“Are you all right?” Ronni asked as she washed her hands.
“I’m okay,” the woman said, turning and knocking her purse off
the counter, scattering its contents on the floor. “Oh,” she said, looking
like she was going to cry again.
“Here, let me help you.” Ronni kneeled and started picking up
the scattered items. She heard the stall door behind her open and felt
a sharp pain where the needle pierced the muscle connecting her neck
to her shoulder. Paralyzed by the shock, within seconds Ronni’s world
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