"Daddy. Daddy!" Byron tugs at Johnny's shoulder. "Daddy, Kyron wet the bed."
"Uh, what about his nappy?" Johnny says, thinking that he's got one over Byron for once.
"He takes it off in the morning. Don't you remember, Daddy? Duh!"
For a moment Johnny smiles and thinks, if our family life was a sitcom, Byron would have to be played by a dwarf – I mean someone vertically challenged – the boy is so bright. Then Johnny takes in what Byron told him. He jumps up and whips off the duvet from the other side of the bed. "Oh fuck, I mean, heck."
Kyron is missing, but it's obvious where he's been. Oh, why had he been such a wimp and not made them sleep in their own room? They all knew it was a lie that Mummy would have said it was OK. Now the marital bed, which hadn't been the marital bed as such for the last month, is saturated and already starting to stink.
"Where is he?" Johnny asks Byron.
"He's hiding from you," Byron says, calm in the face of his father's panic.
"What?" Johnny scratches his head. "Why's he hiding from me?"
"He's scared of you," Byron says. "He thinks you'll be mad."
"Is that what he thinks – that I'd be mad at him for wetting the bed? Oh God, I mean, gosh." What a cunt I must be, Johnny thinks, not knowing the right substitute – he'll have to ask Pastor Kelvin about that one.
"You shouted at us yesterday," Byron reminds him.
"No, that wasn't at you, mate. That was for Mum. Oh forget it. Where is he?"
Byron shrugs, but it doesn't take Johnny long to find Kyron, sodden and shivering behind the bathroom door. Johnny reaches out his hands. "Come on, mate, in the shower with you."
Foetal and wide-eyed, Kyron doesn't move. But Byron appears in the doorway. "It's OK. Daddy isn't mad." Trust me – I'll probably become a doctor.
Johnny laughs. "Look, I must admit, I could have done without this, but I'm not mad with you. Promise. Come on, Ky. You too, By. Big hug." Johnny feels cold osmosis on one half of his t-shirt, and burning in his eyes.
After the birth of the twins, Toni exercised herself back into good shape. There was gym for a few years. And, after her gym membership ran out, almost every morning, no matter how many times she'd been up for the boys in the night, in rain and cold, she walked five brisk kilometres, up and out of the pall of smoke that, in winter, hangs as a stole around the state housing, and leaves a taste of carbon, tart and particulate on the back of her throat. Up the steep gradient to crescents where 'turning difficult' signs mean 'keep out', and estate agents' boards show the tasteful interiors of executive homes, viewing by appointment only.
It's hardly light but Toni is wide-awake, fired up by the faint sound of the ocean and the promise of her morning walk on a wild beach. Across wet grass towards the noise of the breakers, she passes the hibernating play area where the go-karts are mothballed, and the crazy golf course sedated. The looming waterslide, more like a watchtower from below, echoes still of chlorine and children's wild screaming. She follows the path through a copse of ferns and twisted trees, sunless and suddenly chilling like stepping into a freezer room. A hair thin strand of cobweb trawls across her cheek. She bats it away in panic, then wonders when she first became scared of things like that – perhaps, at the moment of parturition.
Toni quickens her pace, and reaches the beach. It's long and deserted, as Rob had promised it would be. Her feet sink into the dune sand as she looks around. She sees Adam, the camp handyman, combing the beach with a metal detector, and, feeling better in herself today, waves to him, but he's too engrossed in hunting and gathering to notice. She decides to head south, away from Exmouth.
Now on firm ground, Toni is soon into her long stride, thoughts flowing into her mind, half forming and flowing out. She still has Rob's phone. She called Johnny before she left and, more personal assistant than husband, he handed over straightaway to Byron, who always leads in these things. It's funny – actually, worrying – how different the boys are, even at this age. And poor Kyron seems to have inherited his father's particularly slack strand of DNA. Still, everything sounded fine at home. Without her to boss them around, they're probably having a great time. And, no doubt, Johnny is giving them ice cream with their cornflakes. She smiles at the sitcom image, well aware that she'd make his life hell for a week if she caught him doing that.
The tide is far out. The waves have retreated behind the reef, leaving tepid pools and killing fields. Haggling sea birds scatter at the shoreline as she approaches. Toni doesn't like sea gulls, they screech and shit on children, but the fat black ones with long, orange, pencil beaks, makeshift disguises that don't fool anyone, they appeal to her.
Toni does know a few birds' names but is never sure which name belongs to which bird. Birds and bird's names fly around in her mind without ever coming together. The same is true for trees and fish, anything really except parts of the body and cars. And even studying anatomy for nursing had been a slow battle of hours conquering the instinct to call a 'femur' what everyone else called a 'tibia', or was it the other way round? Only cars have never presented a blind spot for her. With taxonomic certainty, she can identify a shape passing at speed – manufacturer, model, often, even the year. She's often wondered whether there's a market for this skill.
Toni walks on, looking all around her. She examines the clouds but sees little in them – maybe a face, a VW Beetle. Emptied shells and hollowed crabs crack and crush beneath her feet. In the wet sand of the water's edge, her footfalls leave mirror pools that are soon reclaimed and forgotten.
The beach is bisected by a promontory that would be impassable at high tide, but Toni reckons she can scramble over it. She checks the time on Rob's phone. The walk has taken her about three quarters of an hour so far. She thinks she ought to turn back but clambers over the rocks to a small cove. It's a deserted amphitheatre with steeply banked bush leading to matted forest and a brutal cliff-face. Toni becomes hot in the shelter of the cove. She takes off her fleece and knots the sleeves around her waist. Then she's overcome by the sensual – near sexual – urge to go further, to plunge naked into the surf. She frees her t-shirt from the band of her jeans and her fingers go to the button, but a stern voice arrests her. "This is private land, you know." A tall, old man in waterproofs, steps out from the bush; he's got binoculars around his neck.
"I'm going to work now." Andy stands in the doorway of the guest room.
Samantha has her back to him. The pillow she clutches is damp. She can't recall sleeping and supposes she's wept all night. She says, "OK," but doesn't turn towards him. She guesses her eyes must be swollen and her face puffy. She would never want her husband to see her like that.
"I'll be back about seven this evening," he says.
"Fine." He turns to go, before invading her sanctuary. "Look. What I don't understand is this. It's you that's been sleeping around and yet it's me in the doghouse."
Samantha snatches the duvet over her face and screams. "Go away. Get out. Just leave me alone, you moron."
On the porch of Starboard, Rob reclines in a plastic bucket chair he remembers as a sophisticated orange, but is now bleached beige from the UV rays. His bare feet on the porch rail shine white in the sunlight, but the rest of him, in his black suit, slouches in shadow and cigarette smoke. He'd rooted around in the kitchen of his chalet and found a rust touched canister with 'Coffee' written in groovy font and a supply of Air New Zealand UHT milk pots. He was delighted that the kettle, with its stony furred element, only works if a match is wedged into the switch, and it was Adam, no doubt, who'd thoughtfully left a match by the kettle. This isn't a few days away from the office – it's time travel. No wonder they renamed the place the Five Seasons.
Rob can already recognise his neighbour's form from a distance, her long purposeful stride, perhaps, a little too much hip sway. He wonders whether she'll insist on shaking his hand again but, when she reaches him, she smiles broadly, Howyadoin – not intimate, but close. She sits on the step of the porch and, letting out an exaggerated sigh of exertion, holds her hair up. Now, this is intimate: the way the nape of her neck is revealed, damp at the hairline, the vertebrae like half-submerged stepping-stones.
Rob makes Toni a mug of coffee. "Do you do this walking thing every day?" he asks, and hands her the mug.
"Thanks. Almost. I started when my gym membership ran out."
"Oh really?" He sits on the step next to her. "I get gym membership as part of my remuneration package – it's a fringe benefits tax dodge. But I've never got round to using it." He regrets telling her this the moment the words are out. He always forgets when it's the right time to brag about remuneration (networking sessions at conferences of peers) and when not to (conversations with organisational underlings).
Toni looks down. "Maybe you ought to," she says.
It's too late now to breathe in. "So, my doctor tells me."
Toni doesn't need to explain to him how unfair she thinks his having free, unused gym membership is – her eyes tell him that well enough. And Rob would be happy to transfer his gym membership to her, here and now. But he can no more assign to her those benefits of status that mean so little to him than he can gift to her his qualifications or vocabulary or the dreams he had last night.
Her affront seems to pass quickly, and she tells him about her walk.
"We'd–" Rob hadn't expected his voice to crack like that. He doesn't want to cut short this brief idyll, but tries again, "We'd better get going. We've got to meet with Owen Huntly in less than half an hour."
On the way to Exmouth, Toni tells Rob how Mr Wu phoned when she was out walking, but he doesn't seem impressed. Still, she asks Rob what he thinks of Andy Wu, for the first time trying out his name, without 'Mr'. Rob's expression clouds. For a moment Toni wishes she hadn't asked. Has she perhaps overstepped the mark, and is Rob about to put her in her place, as Mr Buller might have done?
"Well, he's a nice enough bloke is Andy," Rob says. "But he's a bit naïve."
"What do you mean? How can Andy be naïve?"
"You know, he's the sort of guy who thinks the daily practice of law bears some resemblance to a John Grisham novel," he says.
Toni guesses this might be funny and laughs.
"Look, I will say, to his credit, he isn't a shouter or name-caller like Ralph Gisborne. You know," Rob says, "Gisborne once accused me of being 'a dissembling bloody Marxist' at a volume that registered 4.1 on the Richter scale."
Toni says nothing. She'd never come into day-to-day contact with Mr Gisborne. He'd presented her with the Employee of the Year trophy but had to read her name off a card, even when she won it the second time. He'd kissed her though, rather than shake her hand. When he did, his leathery jowls momentarily abraded her skin, and his hand ventured too low on her back.
"Well, that's right. I put him straight. I explained to him that at uni I had applied Marxian theory, but I was not a Marxist, per se."
"OK." Toni has no idea where any distinction lies.
"And then he said to me, 'When you draw a salary from my company, you'll be a fucking Martian if I say you are'. Ralph Gisborne was the bull-shagger, and there was no mistaking that."
"So, you must be pleased now that Andy is in charge?" Toni says, far from certain he is.
"Well, yes and no. At least you knew where you were with an old bastard like Gisborne but, with Andy, I'm not so sure. For instance, I don't really know why we've been sent down here."
"Because the Artemis Washburn death claim is suspicious." Toni regrets her automatic answer straight away.
Rob smiles and says, "Me, I'm suspicious of any death claim. I mean, why would anyone take out life insurance if they didn't think they were going to die?"
Toni is about to explain why but realises he's being ironic.
"No, I've been sent along because Andy wants to sack Owen Huntly and wants me to make sure there's no legal comeback. He said I've got to investigate Owen's business practices, but the result is a foregone conclusion. Now, there's one thing that puzzles me – why the hell would you want to sack your top salesperson?"
Unconvinced by Rob's confession of ignorance, Toni feels even more remote from the centre of power. She's already learnt when Rob says he's puzzled by something, he generally isn't. She'd thought when she asked him about Andy he'd confirm her own admiration but, not only has he criticised their leader, he's hinted at things she could never have thought. It's like when she read a medical journal for the first time and was overwhelmed by the arcane technicalities and differences of opinion about things she'd assumed were straightforward.
"Still, I'm certainly not complaining," Rob says. "A little holiday at company expense isn't to be sniffed at. Still, I do wonder why Andy thought I should come down in person. I think he probably saw someone being investigated in a movie. You know, detectives sitting for days on end in an unmarked van outside the suspect's office, listening in with sophisticated bugging devices, going through dustbins. But I'll be buggered if I'm going to investigate Owen Huntly. If Andy wants him sacked, I could think of half a dozen reasons without any of the nonsense he has in mind."
At the outskirts of Exmouth, Toni thinks the roads and buildings are beginning to look familiar. It's probably not such a bad place once you get used to it. "I hear Andy's wife is absolutely stunning," she says.
Rob looks out his side window. "I have absolutely no idea."
"But I heard you were hitting on her at the cocktail party," Toni says. "Mr Buller told me the scandal the next day."
"I was merely commenting on her husband's presentation. Take it from me, Bruce Buller is full of shit."
Toni is intrigued to learn more about Rob's opinion of her ex-boss, but Andy Wu is a far more interesting subject of conversation than Mr Buller. "Andy dresses so well. And that Audi TT 3.2 Quattro is to die for."
"A car." She suspects he knows exactly what it is. "Apparently they have this penthouse apartment on Oriental Parade with windows from ceiling to floor."
"He's almost like a celebrity. It's interesting."
"No, it's not. It's tacky. Tell me something, do you know how much Sir Gerald Leet is worth?"
"Who's he?" Toni says.
"That's my point. Sir Gerald owns at least 20% of the Dependable. And yet you'd never even know he's alive if you didn't read the business pages. He can buy and sell people like Andy Wu with his spare change. But if you saw Sir Gerald in the street, you'd think he was, I don't know, a country bank manager."
"I don't get it," Toni says. "What's the point of being like that if you've got lots of money?"
"It's the whole point about having lots of money," Rob says. "It's called discretion."
"Oh. So what would you do if you won Lotto?" she asks.
"I did last year. Ten million dollars."
"What!" They nearly leave the road. "Did you really?"
"No, not really, but you wouldn't have known if I had. That's my point."
"Well, you'd sure as hell hear all about it if I won. I know exactly what I'd buy." Oh yes. Toni can name all the things she lacks but longs for. In brands and trademarks, she can dress herself and fill her world with the things she hasn't got. From tasteful, square-toed Italian shoes to the right car in the garage, she can name everything that's missing. But when she and Johnny play spending the Lotto winnings, he just doesn't get it. He'll say maybe he could buy a jet pack or a helicopter, something flash and expensive to please her. But he doesn't really understand or care what big money might buy. She certainly does though, and can describe everything: the renovated villa high on the hill with its teak blinds, each brushed metal appliance, and the shade and thickness of the carpets. When she pushes Johnny for something specific, he might say, "OK – one of those big Holden utes – a red one." And she'll patiently explain why it would have to be a Subaru Outback, obsidian black pearl. She smiles at how clueless Johnny can be.
"What's amusing you?" Rob says.
"Oh nothing," Toni is still spending her imagined wealth.
"Ah, this must be Owen's office coming up," Rob says. "Oh, very nice. There's parking over there." He points to the space Toni is already manoeuvring into.
Andy is relieved Cynthia is still off work, and he only has a few meetings today. If he can't talk to Samantha, he doesn't want to see anyone else. He hadn't expected her to react the way she has. In fact, abject contrition had come top of his list of probable reactions. Maybe it is more serious than a once-off fling. One thing is for sure, he needs Owen Huntly nailed, and he's not convinced Rob Hamilton is up to it. Perhaps he should hire a private investigator. Andy wonders whether you can look one up in the Yellow Pages, whether they carry guns.
Andy picks up the phone several times before he can pluck up the courage to call Samantha. When he does, her greeting is warm and dreamy but hardens when he speaks.
"What do you want now?" she says.
"I want to talk to you."
"OK, go ahead."
"I – well, there was nothing in particular," he says. "I just wanted to talk to you."
"Andy, you've been putting me through hell for the last few days. It really isn't a cliché when I say I feel like my heart is broken. If you can't say anything to stop that, I don't have anything to say to you."
"All right. I'm sorry."
"What for?" Samantha says.
"That you're upset."
"I'm not upset." Her voice is shrill and brittle. "I am fucking heartbroken."
Damn it. If they're going to argue, Andy wants to be the one to slam the phone down, but Samantha beats him to it.
Kylie Clyde, Owen Huntly's personal assistant and latest conquest, listens to the visitors' voices echoing up the stairwell. The man says, "Oh, look at the craftsmanship on this stairwell. This was probably the residence of one of the local coal barons. Thieving bastards, but, at least, they knew how to spend what they stole."
Kylie sniggers. Owen told her the building had been a brothel.
"Hello, I'm Rob Hamilton and this is my colleague, Toni Haast. I spoke to you yesterday about meeting with Owen."
Kylie and Toni exchange smiles of recognition. In daylight, Kylie can better weigh Toni up: a good figure. No wonder Owen turned around to check her out last night at El Maximo. A little heavy around the hips, though, must be from having kids. Good cheekbones but skin a bit weathered – she should have stayed out of the sun more when she was younger.
Kylie invites them to sit on the big red settee to wait for Owen, although she's got no idea where her boss is. Well, she knows he isn't in his office and that he's gone hunting. In fact, telling her he'd go hunting in the morning was the first thing Owen said to her after they'd finished thrashing around on the table in the wine cellar last night. Kylie's sexual experience isn't broad, even so, she was surprised someone as sophisticated as Owen would withdraw from her and say, "I think I'll stick a pig tomorrow." Dylan, her ex-boyfriend, after the first time, swore he'd die for her and love her forever. Kylie hadn't wanted Dylan to die for her or really believed he'd love her forever, but it had seemed the right thing to say.
Kylie watches the people from head office sink into the plump lap of the settee. Its overstuffed cushions push them together. The woman's skirt has risen up, and she tries to pull the hem back over her knees; he wriggles to keep his distance from her. They're like first time ice skaters on a crowded rink, struggling not to make contact. Kylie guesses they're having an affair, that's why they're so keen not to touch in front of her.
Five minutes after the meeting should have started Rob asks the question Kylie hoped he wouldn't. "Is Owen actually in?"
"I'll see." She dials the connecting phone, and, then goes to the double office doors, peeks inside, and shuts them again. She doesn't know what else to do except carry on with her typing.
"Well, is he in there?" Rob asks. "He's a bit big to miss."
Kylie doesn't like his sarcastic tone. "Not yet."
"Not yet? Does he actually know about this meeting?"
"I put it in his diary," Kylie says.
"Right. Has he actually seen his diary since he skipped our meeting yesterday?"
"I don't know." Kylie thinks hiding in the toilet might be a good move.
"Well, I don't mind telling you I'm actually getting really pissed off with this whole business," Rob says. "If I have to tell Andy Wu your boss has disappeared again, he'll be in deep shit."
Rob avoids Toni's knee for support as he struggles to his feet. Kylie stifles a laugh as she watches him fight against the vacuum suck of the settee. Wanker.
"I'd like to see Owen's file on his client Artemis Washburn, please."
"He keeps his files in his office," Kylie tells him, hearing herself the panic in her voice.
"Right, then I'd better have a look in there, hadn't I?" Rob moves towards the doors.
"That's Mr Huntly's office." Kylie feels her heartbeat race.
"It's also the property of the Dependable." Rob pushes open the doors.
"OK, I'll get the file for you." She glances at Toni, hoping for rescue, but she seems miles away. Kylie runs after Rob and overtakes him.
Toni is unimpressed by Rob throwing his weight around and assumes his rudeness is more to do with a hangover than Kylie's delaying tactics. Now alone, Toni drifts into daydreaming. Meeting the old man in the cove had upset her. He must have watched her through his binoculars. If she had given into her urge to skinny dip, it would have been horribly embarrassing at the very least. Toni shudders at the thought of being spied on while naked. That's why she hadn't told Rob about it. Then Andy had phoned as she was tramping along the beach, not a care in the world, high on ozone and endorphins – on a working day. This had completely flustered her. Sure, Andy was so cool when she tried to explain why she'd answered Rob's phone. She'd prayed he couldn't hear the ocean and seagulls in the background. She'll laugh about it in time, but not yet. Toni also feels a pang of nostalgia for Johnny.
For all his faults, Johnny follows the events of Toni's work with a fan's fascination. Sure, the better she does the better he does, but he's got a genuine curiosity about her career, if only because he's never had one himself. If she told Johnny about Andy phoning her, he'd slap his knee and shout, "Fuck me!" – well, "Heck!" these days – and then he'd analyse the situation and tell her what he'd have done in her place. And they have an understanding: when he gives her advice and tells her what he'd do in a situation, she won't point out the obvious – it could only be a wrong number if someone like Andy Wu phoned a loser like him.
Toni told Rob about Andy phoning when she was out walking, but he just asked what the hell Andy had wanted. Andy is always phoning Rob, and sometimes he doesn't even bother to phone him back.
Toni sighs and stands. She follows the others through the opened double doors.
Rob looks totally fazed by Owen's office. "Jesus. Look at the size of this place," he says and wanders around touching things. "Nice woodwork. Oh, real craftsmanship." He goes to Owen's wall of photographs.
"Oh, so that's Owen Huntly," Toni says.
"The man himself," Rob says. "Funny, isn't it? Having so many pictures of himself around, you'd think he'd have no self confidence."
"Maybe he hasn't," Toni says.
Rob seems so rude as he dismisses Toni, but Kylie thinks maybe she's right. Her mum, who'd gone to school with him, had said Owen Huntly was 'all shit and no shovel'? Kylie had never understood before, but maybe that's what she'd meant.
Kylie finds the Washburn file, but Rob seems to have lost interest in playing the big noise from head office. He's examining the photos one by one and making comments he probably thinks are funny. "So, Owen Huntly is a Mason. Well, well, well, now there's a surprise – My god, look at those sideboards! – Ralph Gisborne is wearing flared trousers! – Jesus, is he having carnal relations with that pig?"
Kylie hands the file to Toni, who methodically checks it, and gives it back. As they wait for Rob to finish his commentary on the photos, Toni says, "I really love your necklace, Kylie. Is it paua?"
Kylie nods. Her face is now burning. Toni seems to have seen right through her. She might as well as have asked, "Is that what you got for screwing your boss?"
Rob turns to them at last. "I bet the old dog has gone pig hunting. Kylie, tell me straight, has your boss gone hunting?"
Kylie can't answer that.
She won't answer.
"He has, hasn't he?" Rob sounds like her old college principal cross-questioning her about smoking in the woods.
Kylie nods and adds, "Owen told me not to tell you."
She wishes the earth would open up and swallow her until she feels Toni's hand on her shoulder and hears her say, "You didn't tell us, Kylie. We guessed."
"Rob," Toni says, "let's face it, we're not going to see Owen today. Kylie, please try to get hold of him somehow and tell him we really do need to meet with him, and it's urgent." Toni writes Rob's cell number on a post-it, and hands it to Kylie, who clutches it like a life saving prescription. "He can get hold of us at this number." She turns to Rob. "We need to talk to the police about the deceased, and we also need to speak to her partner. We can do at least one of those this morning."
Kylie finds Dr Washburn's details before she's asked. Toni phones, but he can only see them the morning after next. "Right, that leaves the police," Toni says. "Let's see if they can help us."
Kylie would give anything to go with them, to get out of this place she now hates. Sure, Rob may be a bit of a dickhead, but she's sees in Toni what she would like to be – so smart and decisive. Toni would never have stuffed things up and been done by a man more than twice her age who was obviously thinking about killing pigs as he did it. Well, that's OK because she'd been imagining Owen was Dylan. They don't offer to take her, and Kylie is left to dream.
"I think it's better if you speak to the cops on your own," Rob tells Toni when they get outside Owen's office.
"Why?" she asks.
"I have a thing about the thick blue line."
"What do you mean?"
"Let's just say getting roughed up in a police cell during the Springbok tour demonstrations might just colour your views a little bit," he says.
"Oh right, we did something on that in social studies. Were you badly hurt?"
"Look, I'm not saying I was personally beaten up." He straightens his tie. "But I know plenty who swear they were."
"I'll go to the library," Rob says. "Let's meet at the Anzac memorial in an hour."
Owen Huntly was up at dawn. He stowed his rifle in the cabin of his sheik's ute and no more than glanced at the boxes on the back before his handsome dogs were inside, circling, restive for the hunt. He drove deep into the forest and then set off on trails he's used since he was a young boy and knows better than anyone else alive.
Owen rests at the top of a steep climb from where he can see down to the ocean. He spots a woman scrabbling over the rocks and, for a moment, lets himself believe it really is Artemis. But Morgan Washburn appears from nowhere like a crabby old caretaker to shoo the woman away. Why does Washburn always hang around the spot where Artemis was found? Maybe the dried up old bugger had some feelings for her after all.
Owen loses himself in his thoughts until he notices the bitch looking up at him with concern in her eyes. What's up with her? Ah, clever girl, she must remember how, the day Artemis was found, he came to this very spot, how he sat on this log and took off his boot, then his sock and wedged the rifle upright. He can taste again cold metal and residue, smell the gunpowder, and feel the sharp rim of the muzzle against his palate, just as it was when he itched for the trigger with his toe. How had he found the strength not to do it? It was enough to make you believe in something.
Owen looks into the amber eyes of the bitch. What should he do? She doesn't know the answer, but the ridge on her back bristles, and a transverse wave ripples the length of her spine. He strokes her neck in reassurance, prompting the jealous male to muscle in for a blessing touch. Anyway, he hasn't come here to daydream. Owen takes his notebook from his poacher's pocket and reads aloud, "'Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster' – Theodore Roosevelt." Right. He stands. A pig would be nice, it must be said, but what he really needs to do is settle a plan for dealing with the bloody Gestapo on his tail. Wait a minute. What the hell does he mean with that stuff about men not being oysters? Owen takes a pen from his pocket and draws a line through the quote. Wanker.
Owen's informant at head office, whose intelligence is always worth the price of a generous present at Christmas and a seeing to when it can't be avoided, has advised him that this Andy bloody Wu wants to terminate him and is looking for an excuse to do it. That's why they're auditing Artemis's claim. No worries. He can think of half a dozen reasons why they could shut him down right now. But, by concentrating on Artemis's policy, they're throwing themselves off the scent. Sure, it might all look a bit dodgy, what with her having the accident so soon after taking out the policy, but her death was one claim that's totally above board. Owen realises that, as long as the investigators' suspicions stay with how Artemis died, he's got nothing to worry about. He can give them all the help they want on that score. And he knows how to make up for avoiding them: no one could fail to be won over by a slap up dinner in the wine cellar of El Maximo.
A sudden thought comes to him. Could that tasty woman he didn't recognise at El Maximo last night have been with Rob Hamilton? He'd spotted Rob sitting on his own, but his informant said there would be two of them. An unanticipated score would be too good to be true. He picks up his rifle and focuses the telescopic sight on Morgan Washburn, then tracks to the woman, but she's already climbed back over the rocks, and is gone.
Johnny runs to the phone. It might be Toni, and, if it's not her, it might be someone with challenging survey questions for him to answer.
"Hello, is that Mr Shannon?" The woman's voice sounds very official.
"Yeah," Johnny says.
"You are the caregiver of Byron and Kyron Shannon-Haast?"
Oh God! Gosh. Johnny's mouth goes desert dry, his legs weaken, a thousand accident scenarios preview through his head. He manages to say, "Yes."
"Oh, hello Mr Shannon." The voice turns warm and chatty. "It's Julia Foxton here, Principal of the Early Advantage Education Centre Inc."
"There's nothing wrong with Byron or Kyron then?" he asks.
"Oh no, not at all, they're progressing marvellously. Although you may want an ENT specialist to have a look at wee Kyron's runny nose."
Only bills then. Toni will handle them when she gets back. Johnny wants to say, "So what the heck do you want?" But he doesn't think Toni would like that.
"Actually, we'd like to ask a favour," the principal says.
"Sorry, Toni is away on business," Johnny tells her with pride.
"No, a favour of you, Mr Shannon."
People don't ask Johnny for favours, especially principals of incorporated early learning centres don't. He's got no money, he doesn't own anything worthwhile, like a ute, he isn't exactly reliable, and doesn't have the bulk or mongrel for debt collecting.
"It's a bit embarrassing actually," the principal says, "and I'd understand perfectly if you said no – or you don't have the time – or something like that – um, Sarah – our early music learning specialist teacher – has left us unexpectedly. Um – she's got herself a bit pregnant. One of the children's caregivers is the father it seems. That's between you and me, of course. And, I was discussing our little problem with our mutual acquaintance, Pastor Kelvin, and your name came up. He said you're a talented guitarist and you might be able to help us out at short notice. We've got an auditor from the Department visiting tomorrow actually. And unfortunately we were marked down on our musical capital at the last audit."
So, this is it; the call has finally come. Johnny doesn't need to give it a second thought. "Sweet as," he says.
"Oh, that's absolutely marvellous. We can discuss your fee when you pick up your lovely boys this afternoon."
Johnny fetches his guitar and gives it a gentle kiss. He slips the strap over his shoulder and stands, his skinny legs akimbo in Warehouse jeans. In a circular motion, he strums a power chord, bringing his hand to stop above his head. Maybe he could do some Red Hot Chilli Peppers numbers. Everyone likes the Chilli Peppers. But it's for kids, isn't it? He decides it will be fine if he uses 'flips' instead of 'fucks'.
Things go smoothly for Toni at the police station. She can meet with the investigating detective right away, and he's open and helpful. Toni dated a few cops when she was a nurse and feels a rapport with them. Funny she married Johnny.
"The whole town was gutted," the detective tells her. "No one in Exmouth had a bad word for Artemis Washburn. And she was a councillor too. Not that I'm saying people would have a bad word for any of the other councillors," he adds quickly. "We had more than 50 traveller trucks pitch up for the funeral. You see, Artemis had arranged a gypsy fair up at Arcadia for the past five years. And there were bikers from the Christmas teddy bear run she started. Farmers on tractors. A pipe band, of course. The local iwi arranged a hangi."
Toni sees tears welling in the detective's eyes. She clears her throat. "On the application form, the insured, Mrs Washburn, put down her occupation as 'dream maker'".
"Ha. Did she? Good on her. That would be about right." The detective seems to be in a daze. "Excuse me." He blows his nose.
Toni watches the tautening of muscles in his forearm. "Um, do you know what she meant by that?"
"Yes, I think I do," he says, but adds no more.
"Ok. And Dr Washburn?"
The detective shrugs. "He keeps pretty much to himself, always has done. When they bought Arcadia, about 10 years ago, he was still a specialist in Christchurch. He wasn't here that much, until he retired. We don't see much of him, even now. I think that's why Artemis threw herself into community work."
"Do you happen to know what Dr Washburn did as a specialist?"
"Oh, now you've got me." The staunch detective is like a little boy as his eyes roll up, looking for the word in his mind. "Endocrinologist, I think."
"No." He looks puzzled. "Cancer."
"Yes, that's it," he says and grins.
"Did you think there was anything suspicious about her death?" Toni says.
"No. There was no trace of alcohol in her blood, but there was a significant level of tetra hydro cannabinol. That's dope, to you and me," the detective says, and then blushes, perhaps thinking he'd overstepped the mark. But, seeming to intuit that Toni has also worn uniform and can be trusted, he says, "Look, Artemis was a bit of an alternative lifestyler, a free spirit you might say, so it wasn't exactly a shock to anyone that she might have been smoking something she shouldn't."
"Could it have been suicide?"
"Why do you think she'd do that?" The detective looks shocked at Toni's suggestion. "Artemis Washburn? Look," he says, regaining his professional voice, "we investigated all possibilities, and we're pretty sure the coroner won't find anything suspicious. Between you and me, I think she was having a bit of a puff at the top of the cliff, watching the sunset, got a bit disorientated and fell. It's tragic, but it could happen to anyone." He blushes more deeply. If Rob were in her situation, Toni knows he would raise an eyebrow to imply the nice detective himself smoked cannabis, and she resents Rob a little for that.
"Could she have been murdered?" Toni feels a bit stupid asking such a melodramatic question.
The detective breathes in deeply before he answers. "We considered all possibilities, of course. But we couldn't find anything suspicious. As I said, the whole of Exmouth was gutted about it. You'd need a motive." Toni sees the detective's fist clench. "And nobody, who met her, would ever have wanted to kill Artemis Washburn." The detective relaxes, and glances at a framed photograph on the wall behind him. Artemis is in the middle of a semi-circle of uniformed policemen. She looks elfin among the big men, but she's laughing, and the men's eyes are focused on her with love.
The detective is about the same age as Toni. His sandy hair is cropped short, and he has a small goatee. She sees in him the physical confidence of a man who can look after himself on a Saturday night, but he still has boyish, kind eyes. She thinks towards the end of their meeting he'll ask to see her later, and, in fact, in a parallel universe, Toni's doppelganger will meet the detective's at 7.30 in Rosy O'Malley's Irish style pub.
"We do have beautiful sunsets here," he says.
"Yes, I noticed last night." Toni thanks the detective before he can pluck up the courage to offer to show her a sunset. He blushes a last time when she shakes his hand, and she enjoys that.
Toni climbs the steps of the Anzac memorial and sees Rob reading the list of names carved on the obelisk. He seems engrossed in the directory of loss. He smiles when she greets him and points to a name. "That's my great grand dad."
Toni places her hand on Rob's shoulder. "Really?"
"No, not really." And, clearly not understanding his joke might have pissed her off, he says, "Nice little library they've got here."
"I went online to check out the shareholders of Artmor, the company that owns Artemis's policy. Nothing strange there – she and her husband are recorded as shareholders. But, if you ever want to feel the pulse of a town, have a look at the petitions table at the public library."
"What did it tell you?" she says, practising the nurture of a bright child.
"Lots," he says and walks down the steps ahead of her towards the car. "The most interesting thing was the proposal for a huge property development out on the Washburn land. It sounds awful. It's called 'Onion Park'. I assume that's got something to do with the Italian settlers who used to run market gardens around the outskirts of town. Fifty luxury lifestyle units. But there can't possibly be fifty people in Exmouth who could afford that sort of thing."
"Do you think this property development could have anything to do with Artemis's death?" Toni asks.
"I said 'interesting' which isn't the same as 'relevant'. But who knows? We can ask her bereaved partner on Thursday." Rob looks at the sky. "Weather doesn't look too good."
They've taken refuge in a café against the storm that came barrelling in from the west. Now the group of mothers and their toddlers have ventured back out into the rain, they're the only customers. The circles they cleared to watch the breakers through the rain have condensed over again. Rob restarts the stalled conversation. "I was thinking over what you were saying about Andy Wu this morning."
"What about him?" Toni is flattered that anyone outside her family might think about something she's said, but he soon deflates her.
"Your interest in him, like he was some sort of celebrity." Rob winces as he sips his tepid cappuccino. "Why are we all such sheep that we've got to have these leaders? Take Andy Wu: look at him. He's probably only out of short trousers a year, and everyone queues up to kiss his arse like he's god's right hand man."
"Well, he is our boss," Toni says.
"In point of fact, he's not my boss."
Toni flinches, but she guesses he hadn't meant to come across so aggressive.
"Look," Rob says, "Andy is someone who happened to be in the right place at the right time. I bet old Sir Gerald and his cronies had a mail order catalogue of CEOs. Flitting through it, Oh, he's got a nice suit and haircut, he'll look good on the business report – we'll have him."
"Do you know something?" Toni says. "You sound jealous of Andy."
"No. You're wrong. I'm not jealous of Andy Wu. I would just like to see some reality in the world, that's all. He's got no control over what happens to the company. He's only twelve years old after all, and if some other twelve year old sitting in a trading desk somewhere – I don't know where, London, Tokyo, wherever – clicks on 'Dependable' instead of 'Defendable', and our share price goes through the roof, Andy Wu would be the greatest thing since sliced bread. And, if they click the other button, he's toast. This leadership and strategy stuff, it's all a bunch of crap. Downsizing, outsourcing, whatever fad everyone's into today – if it works, it will all come down to luck."
Toni meets Rob's bolshy look. "I don't know much about you, but you seem to have a pretty cushy life, and yet you seem so angry. What do you want? Or is that the problem, do you actually know what you want?"
"Excuse me? I don't understand how the conversation switched to my inadequacies all of a sudden, but, fine, no problem." He draws in the condensation on the window with his index finger. '1. Authenticity.' "I want things to be as they're supposed to be. So that means I don't want corkscrews made of biscuit and I don't want the CEO of my company to be an Armani suit stuffed with this year's buzzwords. 2 – Do you want more?"
Toni raises her eyebrows.
"Ok, 2." And he writes on the window, 'Love' but immediately effaces it with his palm. "No. That's not what you think. I want everyone to deal with each other with respect." He looks at her as though issuing a challenge. Maybe he thought she might laugh.
Rob seems uncomfortable with her composure. "Actually, I don't think you would understand." He picks with his spoon at the hardened froth around the rim of his cup.
Rob looks at the window. The letters of his manifesto have dribbled into stalactites. He struggles out from between the table and the banquette. "I'm going for a smoke."
Now on their second coffee, Toni's bottom is getting numb. The flip flopping conversation has stalled once more, and they're gazing into the mist when Rob's phone starts to flash and vibrate on the table. Forgetting herself, Toni picks it up, looks at the screen and says, "It's him. It's Andy," and hands Rob the phone. He takes it but seems uncertain what to do next.
"Aren't you going to answer it?" she says.
"Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah." He rolls his eyes. "Hello, Andy."
Andy must be too busy for greetings because Toni hears him say straight away, "I've had an anonymous tip off about the Artemis Washburn claim."
"Who from?" Rob says.
"I don't know – it was anonymous."
"I mean, what did they say?"
"They said that–" There's a pause before Andy says slowly, "–she was murdered by Owen Huntly."
"Have you informed the police?" Rob doesn't seem to be moved in the slightest by the news.
Toni is thinking, Jesus Christ! Jesus Frigging Christ! That bastard Owen murdered Artemis! But she understands you're not supposed to listen in on colleagues' phone calls and manages to mask her shock.
"No, not yet." Andy must have expected more of a reaction than that and sounds a bit deflated.
"Well, maybe you should hold back, because she died the night of the cocktail party, and we all know Owen was there."
Toni is surprised to hear Andy say, "Shit!"
"Pardon?" Rob is battling to keep a straight face. "Was it a woman who gave you the tip off, by any chance?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, it was."
"Could be someone with a grudge against him, maybe an old flame. Only about 2,000 odd possibilities there," Rob says and holds the phone away from his smirking mouth.
"OK. Keep me informed of developments."
"Absolutely." Rob snaps the phone shut and pumps his fist. "Yes!"
"What are you so stoked about?"
"Life does not get much sweeter than this. Your beloved leader has just told me he's received an anonymous tip off that Owen Huntly murdered Artemis Washburn."
"Really?" That could have done with more surprise. "Oh my god! Do you think he did?"
"Of course not. Owen was at the cocktail party the night she died." Rob rubs his hands together in glee. "Oh, what I would have done to see Andy's face when I pointed that out."
Toni doesn't say anything but takes the Washburn file from her bag. She pretty much knows but needs to be certain. She checks the dates and says, "Owen could have done it. The cocktail party was on 16 August, and she died a week before on 9 August."
"Oh bugger." Now it's Rob's turn to deflate. "Do you think Andy will bother to check?"
"That's not really the point, is it?" she says.
"No, of course not, but I don't suppose he will though, will he?"
Toni shrugs. Rob seems pensive, and is quiet for a few moments. "It's bizarre though, isn't it? Andy really does seem to have it in for Owen. I mean, to the extent he can actually believe Owen might have killed one of his clients."
"But maybe he did," Toni says.
"Crap. You must watch the same TV bollocks as Andy Wu. Still, maybe I am right. Perhaps Owen really did score with the orchidaceous Mrs Wu – he was certainly hitting on her at the cocktail party – and that's why Andy is prepared to believe any old crap about him."
"Oh right! So what TV bollocks have you been watching?" Toni says, wondering without caring, whether she's pushed the envelope too far. But it's like Rob thinks she's levelled the playing fields between them, and he doesn't seem at all upset by this.
His smile is warm as he asks her, "So, what do you reckon happened then?"
"Mr Buller – Bruce–"
"Whatever – we don't care what he thought any more."
"Well, he thought it was suicide," she says.
"Bruce Buller is a fuckwit. He thinks everyone is a crim out to screw the Dependable. We can leave that to Sir Gerald Leet."
"So what do you think it was?" she asks.
"Suicide, of course – but not for the same reasons as Bruce Buller might think."
"Are you serious?"
"No, not really. I don't have an opinion. No, that's not true. I've got some real concerns about this case. Anyway, I take it you disagree with Bruce."
Toni is becoming animated. "Yes. It doesn't make sense," she says. She wishes he wouldn't stare at her hand gestures. "Artemis had all that money. She had everything going for her, why would she do something like that?" Toni pauses, thinking maybe she should sit on her hands. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"I didn't realise I was looking at you like that – I'm waiting for you to tell me what you think."
"I think it was probably an accident. And that's what the police report said," she says.
"Oh, definitely suicide then."
"The detective I spoke to–"
"Whoa! Hold it right there. I forgot to ask you, did he let you have a go on his Tasar?" Rob says and gives her an innocent smile.
"He wasn't like that at all. He was young, bright and cute as, actually." That was well aimed, judging from the change in Rob's expression. "He said they thought she'd been smoking a joint, watching the sunset, and slipped."
"Sounds fun, but Exmouth is not the land of the midnight sun."
"What do you mean?"
"Look, the police report said Artemis died some time between 10.30 pm and 1 am. The sun would have set hours before, especially at that time of year. So your cute detective was talking crap."
"OK, what do you think happened?" Toni says.
"I told you, I don't know. But remember, we're not the police. We only care about two possibilities." Rob counts on his fingers. "One, whether she killed herself – all right three. One, whether she killed herself during the suicide exclusion period. Two, whether she lied or withheld information material to our assessment of the risk. Or three, whether the beneficiary killed her. In the first two cases, we don't pay anything, and, in the third, we still pay to the owner – that's Artmor Investments. So, as long as none of those apply, we don't care what happened to her."
"Ah, but you shouldn't," he says. "Sure, from a human interest angle, we'd all like to know the full story but, professionally, you've got to keep your eye on the ball. If you're going to take over Claims, you've got to detach yourself from the people involved. That's why Bruce Buller was always so dangerous. He took everything personally. It was like anyone making a claim was going to be paid out of his back pocket. Now, this is your opportunity to change the culture of that department. Take out the emotional element. If you do that, I think you could turn things around." He looks her directly in the eyes. "And from what I've seen of you, you seem to have the ability to do that. In fact, I'd be happy to act as your mentor, if you'd like me to."
Toni's cheeks are burning. "I've got to go to the, um–" She hulas out from between the table and banquette. If she hadn't gone to the bathroom, she might have hugged Rob or burst into tears. In the mirror, she sees her mascara has run. This morning has been all too emotional what with the detective going on about how nice Artemis Washburn was. And now these things Rob is saying about her. No one in authority has ever shown such confidence in her. Sure Papa and Johnny think she's great for different reasons, but here's someone, who really is in a position to judge – a member of the company's New Management Team – asking her opinion, helping to plan her career, offering to be her mentor.
Rob holds open the door of the café for her as they leave. He's got the same uneasy look the detective had when Toni thought he was going to ask her out.
"I hope you don't mind me asking–"
"Yes?" she says slowly as she racks her brains for a way to let him down gently.
"–But have you got a coffee plunger in Port?"
"In Port – your chalet. You're in Port and I'm in Starboard. They're the sides of a boat."
"I know," she says. "Oh, no, I just used some instant stuff I found."
"Me too, but I'm useless unless I get a decent cup of coffee in the morning. Do you mind if we go and buy one?"
"Great. Right, I point blank refuse to shop at the Warehouse, so let's go to BigBargainz. I saw one on the other side of the post office near the railway station."
For someone who claims to hate shopping so much, Rob seems pretty excited about buying something. In fact, Toni must quicken her pace to keep up.
Past the unmanned security post, the huge pink hangar is empty of people. Aisles stretch so far they seem to converge. Four seasons in one day falls faintly from speakers high in the rafters. Toni hums along.
"Jesus. How do you ever find anything in this place?" Rob says, close to a shout.
"There's someone, let's ask him." Toni moves towards a far off assistant. "Excuse me–" But the timid figure in a pink shirt disappears at the sound of a human voice.
"What is the point of employing fucking hobbits?" Rob bawls after him.
"Hey!" Toni taps his arm.
"Sorry. Fucking orcs."
They tramp among house high shelves stacked with everything you'd need for ten lives until they find kitchenware and, eventually, twenty kinds of coffee maker. "Look at this." Rob takes a coffee plunger from its box. "It's already cracked. Can you believe it?" He looks very pleased, not at all disappointed.
Toni also opens a box. "Here you are – this one's fine."
"That's not the point, is it?" Clearly he's not impressed with her discovery. "Tomorrow morning, I could have taken this out of the box, all ready for a good cup of coffee – and this." He shows her the cracked glass once more.
She doesn't get his point.
"If they didn't disappear every time they saw someone coming, I'd complain." Rob looks around for signs of staff. He gives in. "I suppose I'll have to take the one that isn't broken."
"Do you need anything else?" Toni says.
"Coffee, I suppose." He sounds defeated. "Oh, and the essentials – a box of Blenheimer, oh, and some double strength Nurofen, of course. A packet of Mylanta wouldn't go amiss either. I wonder if they sell vitamin pills."
The rousing knock on her door tells Toni her reading on the bed slipped into an afternoon nap. She feels to make sure her buttons are done up, finger combs her hair in the mirror, and opens the door.
"Sorry, did I wake you up?" Rob looks sheepish in her doorway.
Toni yawns. "No, not at all."
"I thought you might fancy a little drive. There's somewhere really special I'd like to show you. It's only about 20 ks inland."
"Ok. That would be neat. Give me five minutes." She doesn't invite him in to wait.
At the car, Toni says, "Do you want to drive?"
"No, you can."
"Are you sure?"
"If you don't stop me, I'll always drive."
"That's OK, you're a good driver."
Toni glows at the compliment but thinks he looked a bit shifty. She wonders whether he's disqualified for drink driving. "You do have a licence, don't you?"
He looks at her squarely. "Yes. I do have a licence – a clean one, believe or not – but I choose not to drive."
Toni hasn't driven much on gravel, but the car handles well, and she's soon into it as she gets a feel for the camber of the road and the fun way the back wheels drift out on the corners. She snatches a glance at Rob. "So, is it a sort of green thing, you not driving?"
He turns and stares at her, before looking out the side window. "My parents were killed in a car crash. I haven't driven since then."
"Oh my god, Rob, I'm so sorry."
"It's OK, it was five years ago now. That's plenty of time for closure, so I'm told. The turn off to the lake is over there on the right."
As soon as they stop, Toni unbuckles and reaches across to touch his arm. "Rob, really I'm sorry. I'm so frigging nosey. I just can't help it."
He half smiles. "I said it's OK."
"So, can I ask you one more thing?"
"Was it an estate agent, in a 4x4, that killed your parents? It's just that you seem so angry about them."
Rob stares at her again, and Toni thinks he's on the verge of tears, but he bursts out laughing.
"I don't see what's so funny." It dawns on her that he may have lied about his parents. "Was it true about your parents?"
"Yes, it was. I promise. But it's taken five years for me to find anything funny about it. No, they were not killed by an estate agent," he says. He's no longer laughing.
After the echo of door slams and the crepitus of their footfalls on pebbles, the silence is perfect.
"This lake is sacred to Māori." Rob's voice is close to a whisper. "Waitapu. They used to call it 'Windermere' when I was a kid. It must have reminded some moron of the Lake District. Probably because it's wet."
Toni shushes him, and they stand without words. Later, Rob will tell her he found it 'effing ineffable' but, now, he says nothing. They each pick up a pebble and throw together. The water doesn't shatter, as it seemed it might, but sucks the pebbles in. For that moment, two navels are formed, impressed into the meniscus. Then ripples spread out in rings from the penetrations until they meet and merge in a kinetic mesh of interstices and interference. They watch as the ribbing of the water dissipates – micro, pico, nano, femto – until no trace of the disturbance can be imagined.
Rob's voice sounds choked. "The Japanese have a word 'aware'. It means the feeling of sadness that comes from witnessing the passing beauty in Nature."
"I like that." Toni says carefully, "Aware."
Rob insists on going back to El Maximo for dinner, but it's closed on Tuesdays. So, back at the Five Seasons, they sit on Toni's porch eating fish and chips, drinking box red wine from mugs.
"It's incredibly sad, this business with Artemis," Toni says.
"How do you mean?" Rob asks.
"It's like she was, I don't know, really special."
"I know, I know, I know." He must have been bottling this up. "I thought it was only me but in the photo in the file, she looks so beautiful."
Toni glances at him.
"I don't mean I fancied her," he says.
"It's like she was radiant. That sounds stupid, doesn't it? But when I first saw her photo, for me, it was like light was pouring out of her."
"Yeah, I get you. You don't think she committed suicide, do you?"
Rob hesitates. It seems difficult for him to answer. "Look, I just don't understand why she would."
"Did you know Dr Washburn was an oncologist?" Toni says.
"No, I didn't. Why do you ask?"
She shrugs. She'd hoped Rob might have found it important.
Toni can no longer see Rob in the dark but hears the sloshing as he helps himself to mug after mug of wine. The cold is becoming too much for her. Eventually, he must hear shivering and promises, "One last smoke." The struck match illuminates his face, and Toni sees the red tip of his cigarette repeating an arc, like the flight of a glowing insect.
"Have you ever been married?" she asks from beneath the blanket she's wrapped around herself.
"A couple of close shaves," he says. "But no."
"I guess deep down, below this sophisticated, lovable exterior, I'm a complete jerk."
Toni stays silent.
"At this point, you're supposed to disagree," he tells her.
"Yeah, I know. Look, I do think that you must be very difficult to get to know properly. If you take Johnny, well, with him, he's always Johnny – you get what you see. But with you, one minute you're like this dead serious, know it all lawyer, and the next you're like a five-year old with ADT. I think that would be very tiring for someone to live with."
Now, Rob doesn't react. Toni watches the glow rise and quiver as he inhales, and a parabola described as he flicks the butt away. Her feet are stiff from cold when she stands. "I've got to be up early for my walk – see you tomorrow."
Rob says nothing, and Toni doesn't hear him move from the porch before she falls asleep.