According to Marianne, it lost its color on the day Frank first raised his hand to her. She would not tell him what it was originally.
Now, his ass stiff from too many hours on the hard edge of the sidewalk, damaging the flower was the least and most immediate of his worries.
The whitewashed walls of the house across the street betrayed nothing. Somewhere within, Frank Bain had a gun trained on the person of his estranged wife Marianne. Was she dead or alive? There had been several gunshots, one at three o'clock, two at four-thirty and another at a quarter to five, but at five oh five, the cops spoke to her. She sounded strained, emotional, but still very much alive. It was almost six now. There had been no more gunshots, but Frank could have used other means. There were so many. A hangman's noose, a sharp kitchen knife, his bare hands, a cocktail of domestic insecticides. All of those might be soundless.
He tried not to think about them, but the images flooded his thoughts, almost as if he was there in the room with her, listening to Frank Bain tormenting her with the possibilities, asking her to choose. Was he picking up her stream of consciousness somehow?
That had happened before, to the surprise of them both, somehow confirming that soul mate link they had been aware of from the first.
Don't die. His mind was pleading. Don't die.
Live. Take me with you. Live for me.
The words popped into his head. The voice was hers, although the acoustics echoing within his skull sounded odd, as if coming through a long, narrow tube or from underwater.
The very air around him seemed to come alive and it was as if he could feel every ant meandering across the sand, every blade of grass glistening as it unfolded, pushing up towards the sun. The flower in his hands was a deep, dark plum, the color of old blood and promises broken. But the whitewashed house across the street seemed to have given up its ghost.
That was the moment he knew, long before the SWAT team stormed the place and brought out both blanketed bodies.