I jumped the wall and said a few words over his grave. I asked a question too: why he had been barefooted coming back over the bridge. It was what had killed him, that lag time McCoy spoke of, the looking down at his feet. Sam Pedican was silent under that slab blazing white in the sun.
Just as I was leaving the cemetery, Sam Pedican, Jr., pulled up in a huge Oldsmobile. We talked for a while and he told me that he had a copy of the video tape shot by the tourist who had been at the bridge that morning when his father was killed. But he'd lent it out to someone. It clearly showed, he said, his father and Constable McCoy being washed over. The tape had been shown on TV stations in south Florida. I gave Sam Junior my mailing address in the States and offered to pay COD for the tape if he would send it. He promised but I doubted, correctly, that I would ever see that tape.
On the way to Gregory Town I pulled off the highway on the south side of Glass Window, walked back up the road to the bridge and climbed the rocks up to the cliff top on the east side, and looked down into the gorge beneath the bridge. Far out, the ocean appeared flat but close in the swells heaved up against the stubby platform of rock beneath the bridge, were sucked back out, exposing more of the rock face, and heaved into the wall again. Beyond, on the far side, the Bight was flat and glassy and green. I climbed back down, crossed the road and made my way down to the base of the bridge. I walked north, climbing over the line of boulders where Sam Pedican had died, until I was standing on twenty yards of limestone directly beneath the bridge. I looked up at the underside of the span; its steel reinforcing rods, snapped and twisted, jutted out from the sides like the whiskers of a giant mangy cat, damage done by the rage of Haloween 1991. I stood in the middle of this flat-top rock and thought, if I took a few steps east I could dive into the Atlantic; a few steps west I could jump into the Bight of Eleuthera.
But I did neither. After a few minutes there I got the creeps and started working my way up to the car.
Back at Cambridge Villas I showered, ate cracked conch and mashed potatoes in the restaurant, and afterwards caught up on my notes in my room. When darkness fell I went downstairs and joined Mr. and Mrs. Cambridge who were talking with friends at the bar. Soon the conversation turned to Sam Pedican. I recounted my interviews with Camalo McCoy and Madeline Pedican, mentioning my surprise that Sam Pedican had attempted to cross Glass Window barefooted. That terrible image--a barefoot man halting on the bridge, looking up, as a rage rode in to kill him--had haunted me all day.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder--a young man with a finely sculpted face, soft curly hair and a single gold stud in his ear--and whispered that he had been one of the people who had found Sam Pedican's body. He could tell me what happened, he said. By now, the conversation was developing faster than I could keep track of, so I told him I wanted to talk to him before he left and turned my attention, somewhat rudely, back to Mrs. Cambridge who was talking about Sam Pedican being barefooted.
“Why is it you tink,” she was saying, “why you tink Sam Pedican show up here in Gregory Town widout his shoes? He come right in here dat morning widout his shoes. Still wet. Now, why you tink he come here da way?”
I had no explanation.
“Well, I tell you why dat stupid man come over here barefoot.” She stood with her arms akimbo, a towel over her shoulder. “He come to Gregory Town dat way because he got washed over dat bridge coming down here da morning. Dat's why he's dead, the only reason why he's dead.”
“Do you mean that Sam Pedican got washed off Glass Window twice in one day!”
“Daz just right what I mean,” she said.
“Of course,” I said, clueing in, “he lost his shoes when he was washed over the bridge the first time coming down from the north.”
Why hadn't someone told me this?
“Probably cut his feet climbing back up top, I thought, lucky to be alive. I'll bet that's what happened.”
“Da be a good bet, Marvin Hunt.”