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The Darkest Evening of the Year

The Darkest Evening of the Year

Titel: The Darkest Evening of the Year
Autoren: Dean Koontz
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    B ehind the wheel of the Ford Expedition, Amy Redwing drove as if she were immortal and therefore safe at any speed.
    In the fitful breeze, a funnel of golden sycamore leaves spun along the post-midnight street. She blasted through them, crisp autumn scratching across the windshield.
    For some, the past is a chain, each day a link, raveling backward to one ringbolt or another, in one dark place or another, and tomorrow is a slave to yesterday.
    Amy Redwing did not know her origins. Abandoned at the age of two, she had no memory of her mother and father.
    She had been left in a church, her name pinned to her shirt. A nun had found her sleeping on a pew.
    Most likely, her surname had been invented to mislead. The police had failed to trace it to anyone.
    Redwing suggested a Native American heritage. Raven hair and dark eyes argued Cherokee, but her ancestors might as likely have come from Armenia or Sicily, or Spain.
    Amy’s history remained incomplete, but the lack of roots did not set her free. She was chained to some ringbolt set in the stone of a distant year.
    Although she presented herself as such a blithe spirit that she appeared to be capable of flight, she was in fact as earthbound as anyone.
    Belted to the passenger seat, feet pressed against a phantom brake pedal, Brian McCarthy wanted to urge Amy to slow down. He said nothing, however, because he was afraid that she would look away from the street to reply to his call for caution.
    Besides, when she was launched upon a mission like this, any plea for prudence might perversely incite her to stand harder on the accelerator.
    “I love October,” she said, looking away from the street. “Don’t you love October?”
    “This is still September.”
    “I can love October in September. September doesn’t care.”
    “Watch where you’re going.”
    “I love San Francisco, but it’s hundreds of miles away.”
    “The way you’re driving, we’ll be there in ten minutes.”
    “I’m a superb driver. No accidents, no traffic citations.”
    He said, “My entire life keeps flashing before my eyes.”
    “You should make an appointment with an ophthalmologist.”
    “Amy, please, don’t keep looking at me.”
    “You look fine, sweetie. Bed hair becomes you.”
    “I mean, watch the road .”
    “This guy named Marco—he’s blind but he drives a car.”
    “Marco who?”
    “Marco something-something. He’s in the Philippines. I read about him in a magazine.”
    “Nobody blind can drive a car.”
    “I suppose you don’t believe we actually sent men to the moon.”
    “I don’t believe they drove there.”
    “Marco’s dog sits in the passenger seat. Marco senses from the dog when to turn right or left, when to hit the brakes.”
    Some people thought Amy was a charming airhead. Initially, Brian had thought so, too.
    Then he had realized he was wrong. He would never have fallen in love with an airhead.
    He said, “You aren’t seriously telling me that Seeing Eye dogs can drive.”
    “The dog doesn’t drive, silly. He just guides Marco.”
    “What bizarro magazine were you reading?”
    “ National Geographic. It was such an uplifting story about the human-dog bond, the empowerment of the disabled.”
    “I’ll bet my left foot it wasn’t National Geographic .”
    “I’m opposed to gambling,” she said.
    “But not to blind men driving.”
    “Well, they need to be responsible blind men.”
    “No place in the world,” he insisted, “allows the blind to drive.”
    “Not anymore,” she agreed.
    Brian did not want to ask, could not prevent himself from asking: “Marco isn’t allowed to drive anymore?”
    “He kept banging into things.”
    “Imagine that.”
    “But you can’t blame Antoine.”
    “Antoine who?”
    “Antoine the dog. I’m sure he did his best. Dogs always do. Marco just second-guessed him once too often.”
    “Watch where you’re going. Left curve ahead.”
    Smiling at him, she said, “You’re my own Antoine. You’ll never let me bang into things.”
    In the salt-pale moonlight, an older middle-class neighborhood of one-story ranch houses seemed to effloresce out of the darkness.
    No streetlamps brightened the night, but the moon silvered the leaves and the creamy trunks of eucalyptuses. Here and there, stucco walls had a faint ectoplasmic glow, as if this were a ghost town of phantom buildings inhabited by spirits.
    In the second block, lights brightened windows at one house.
    Amy braked to a full
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