While the others filed into the hotel, I whispered to Harriet, “Save my place,” and hurried over to the other bus, which sat there empty. The closer I got, the more I realized it was the same one I’d seen earlier in Erie. I stepped beside it and saw a banner fastened along one of its long sides: CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SOUTHERN OHIO FOOTBALL ALL-STARS! NIAGARA FALLS OR BUST!
And then I knew—knew—that it was the same, and I also knew that I’d correctly identified the glowing yellow eyes I’d seen staring back at me as that bus had pulled away from McDonald’s.
I had sort of lost track of him after the football season ended—after he was out of the headlines on the sports pages, headlines that had, throughout the fall, featured his gridiron heroics (if that’s the right word). I don’t normally read the sports pages (nothing really changes there but the names), but I could not help myself during that season he was back—playing for Southern Ohio Prep, that private school not far from Franconia.
Every week the stories grew—the yards he’d rushed, the vicious tackles he’d made (the opponents he’d put in the hospital). Father told me he’d even seen him interviewed on TV—and that college coaches were already foaming at the mouth and breathing heavily as they pictured Blue Boyle wearing their school colors, rushing for new collegiate records, putting more opponents in the E. R. What a wonderful thought!
What I couldn’t understand, though, was how. As I said, the last I’d seen of Blue Boyle was back on Green Island in Lake Erie the previous summer when he had tried to kill Harriet and me—and had very nearly succeeded. So … how did he escape from Green Island (the Coast Guard had swooped in and surrounded the small island inhabited only by marine birds)? How did he end up at S.O.P.? Where was he living … and with whom?
That last question could not have a lot of answers, and the most obvious answer is the one I dreaded the most: Harriet’s father.