The Husband By Dean Koontz
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Dean Koontz the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives with his wife, Gerda, and the enduring spirit of their golden retriever, Trixie, in southern California.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A man begins dying at the moment of his birth. Most people live in denial of Death’s patient courtship until, late in life and deep in sickness, they become aware of him sitting bedside.
Eventually, Mitchell Rafferty would be able to cite the minute that he began to recognize the inevitability of his death: Monday, May 14, 11:43 in the morning–three weeks short of his twenty-eighth birthday.
Until then, he had rarely thought of dying. A born optimist, charmed by nature’s beauty and amused by humanity, he had no cause or inclination to wonder when and how his mortality would be proven.
When the call came, he was on his knees.
Thirty flats of red and purple impatiens remained to be planted. The flowers produced no fragrance, but the fertile smell of the soil pleased him.
His clients, these particular homeowners, liked saturated colors: red, purple, deep yellow, hot pink. They would not accept white blooms or pastels.
Mitch understood them. Raised poor, they had built a successful business by working hard and taking risks. To them, life was intense, and saturated colors reflected the truth of nature’s vehemence.
This apparently ordinary but in fact momentous morning, the California sun was a buttery ball. The sky had a basted sheen.
Pleasantly warm, not searing, the day nevertheless left a greasy sweat on Ignatius Barnes. His brow glistened. His chin dripped.
At work in the same bed of flowers, ten feet from Mitch, Iggy looked boiled. From May until July, his skin responded to the sun not with melanin but with a fierce blush. For one-sixth of the year, before he finally tanned, he appeared to be perpetually embarrassed.
Iggy did not possess an understanding of symmetry and harmony in landscape design, and he couldn’t be trusted to trim roses properly. He was a hard worker, however, and good if not intellectually bracing company.
“You hear what happened to Ralph Gandhi?” Iggy asked.
“Who’s Ralph Gandhi?”
“Mickey Gandhi? I don’t know him, either.”
“Sure you do,” Iggy said. “Mickey, he hangs out sometimes at Rolling Thunder.”
Rolling Thunder was a surfers’ bar.
“I haven’t been there in years,” Mitch said.
“Years? Are you serious?”
“I thought you still dropped in sometimes.”
“So I’ve really been missed, huh?”
“I’ll admit, nobody’s named a bar stool after you. What–did you find someplace better than Rolling Thunder?”
“Remember coming to my wedding three years ago?” Mitch asked.
“Sure. You had great seafood tacos, but the band was woofy.”
“They weren’t woofy.”
“Man, they had tambourines.”
“We were on a budget. At least they didn’t have an accordion.”
“Because playing an accordion exceeded their skill level.”
Mitch troweled a cavity in the loose soil. “They didn’t have finger bells, either.”
Wiping his brow with one forearm, Iggy complained: “I must have Eskimo genes. I break a sweat at fifty degrees.”
Mitch said, “I don’t do bars anymore. I do marriage.”
“Yeah, but can’t you do marriage and Rolling Thunder?”
“I’d just rather be home than anywhere else.”
“Oh, boss, that’s sad,” said Iggy.
“It’s not sad. It’s the best.”
“If you put a lion in a zoo three years, six years, he never forgets what freedom was like.”
Planting purple impatiens, Mitch said, “How would you know? You ever asked a lion?”
“I don’t have to ask one. I am a lion.”
“You’re a hopeless boardhead.”
“And proud of it. I’m glad you found Holly. She’s a great lady. But I’ve got my freedom.”
“Good for you, Iggy. And what do you do with it?”
“Do with what?”
“Your freedom. What do you do with your freedom?”
“Anything I want.”
“Like, for example?”
“Anything. Like, if I want sausage pizza for dinner, I don’t have to ask anyone what she wants.”
“If I want to go to Rolling Thunder for a few beers, there’s nobody to bitch at me.”
“Holly doesn’t bitch.”
“I can get beer-slammed every night if I want, and nobody’s gonna be calling to ask when am I coming home.”
Mitch began to whistle “Born Free.”
“Some wahine comes on to me,” Iggy said, “I’m free to rock and roll.”
“They’re coming on to you all the time–are they?–those sexy wahines?”
“Women are bold these days, boss. They see what they want, they just take it.”
Mitch said, “Iggy, the last time you got laid, John Kerry thought he was going to be president.”
“That’s not so long ago.”
“So what happened to Ralph?”
“Mickey Gandhi’s brother.”
“Oh, yeah. An iguana bit off his nose.”
“Some fully macking ten-footers were breaking, so Ralph and some guys went night-riding at the Wedge.”
The Wedge was a famous surfing spot at the end of the Balboa Peninsula, in Newport Beach.
Iggy said, “They packed coolers full of submarine sandwiches and beer, and one of them brought Ming.”
“That’s the iguana.”
“So it was a pet?”
“Ming, he’d always been sweet before.”
“I’d expect iguanas to be moody.”
“No, they’re affectionate. What happened was some wanker, not even a surfer, just a wannabe tag-along, slipped Ming a quarter-dose of meth in a piece of salami.”
“Reptiles on speed,” Mitch said, “is a bad idea.”
“Meth Ming was a whole different animal from clean-and-sober Ming,” Iggy confirmed.
Putting down his trowel, sitting back on the heels of his work shoes, Mitch said, “So now Ralph Gandhi is noseless?”
“Ming didn’t eat the nose. He just bit it off and spit it out.”
“Maybe he didn’t like Indian food.”
“They had a big cooler full of ice water and beer. They put the nose in the cooler and rushed it to the hospital.”
“Did they take Ralph, too?”
“They had to take Ralph. It was his nose.”
“Well,” Mitch said, “we are talking about boardheads.”
“They said it was kinda blue when they fished it out of the ice water, but a plastic surgeon sewed it back on, and now it’s not blue anymore.”
“What happened to Ming?”
“He crashed. He was totally amped-out for a day. Now he’s his old self.”
“That’s good. It’s probably hard to find a clinic that’ll do iguana rehab.”
Mitch got to his feet and retrieved three dozen empty plastic plant pots. He carried them to his extended-bed pickup.
The truck stood at the curb, in the shade of an Indian laurel. Although the neighborhood had been built-out only five years earlier, the big tree had already lifted the sidewalk. Eventually the insistent roots would block lawn drains and invade the sewer system.
The developer’s decision to save one hundred dollars by not installing a root barrier would produce tens of thousands in repair work for plumbers, landscapers, and concrete contractors.
When Mitch planted an Indian laurel, he always used a root barrier. He didn’t need to make future work for himself. Green growing Nature would keep him busy.
The street lay silent, without traffic. Not the barest breath of a breeze stirred the trees.
From a block away, on the farther side of the street, a man and a dog approached. The dog, a retriever, spent less time walking than it did sniffing messages left by others of its kind.
The stillness pooled so deep that Mitch almost believed he could hear the panting of the distant canine.
Golden: the sun and the dog, the air and the promise of the day, the beautiful houses behind deep lawns.
Mitch Rafferty could not afford a home in this neighborhood. He was satisfied just to be able to work here.
You could love great art but have no desire to live in a museum.
He noticed a damaged sprinkler head where lawn met sidewalk. He got his tools from the truck and knelt on the grass, taking a break from the impatiens.
His cell phone rang. He unclipped it from his belt, flipped it open. The time was displayed–11:43–but no caller’s number showed on the screen. He took the call anyway.
“Big Green,” he said, which was the name he’d given his two-man business nine years ago, though he no longer remembered why.
“Mitch, I love you,” Holly said.
“Whatever happens, I love you.”
She cried out in pain. A clatter and crash suggested a struggle.
Alarmed, Mitch rose to his feet. “Holly?”
Some guy said something, some guy who now had the phone. Mitch didn’t hear the words because he was focused on the background noise.
Holly squealed. He’d never heard such a sound from her, such fear.
“Sonofabitch,” she said, and was silenced...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Harper Collins, 2006. paperback. Book Condition: New. Author Signed UK Trade Paperback Book 2006 LON: Harper Collins First UK Trade Paperback edition, first printing, mint, new/unread in flawless pictorial wrappers, signed by the author. signed by author. Bookseller Inventory # KOOHUSB30
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 7231830
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007231830