They drove straight through on the way up North unlike the ride down. It was early morning before the police finished questioning them, finally letting them go with the promise that they would return for further questioning. They set off for home as the sun rose in the mist and didn't really stop except for the bathroom all the way up 95, the Garden State, and the Thruway. The sun followed them all the way. Tevet slept fitfully, sometimes catching her breath in dreams and once or twice moaning, yet when she woke she couldn't remember whether or what she dreamed. Her eyes were so vacant that he hoped she would fall back to sleep. He offered her a sedative but she declined.
She sprawled on the seat like a ragdoll until her eyes closed.
Javier called Lisle from the cellphone and learned what had gone on there, then he called Tevet's mother and spoke to her lover, Lisa, who said Lee was out but had been worried all night. He left her the number for the carphone although they had it and Aurelie called back when she got home. Javier woke Beth to take the call but she was still too tired to really offer anything but grunts. He had thought she would cry again when she spoke to her mother but there was no weeping. One time, however, after a long silence on Beth's end her mother must have said said something that made her laugh.
The laughter didn't last long and her eyes were wet after the call. When he asked what had made her laugh she said it was nothing.
It annoyed him unreasonably the way she had laughed and then said it was nothing. Little things were suddenly bothering him beyond what they should. There was a blue insulated picnic sack in the back of the car where they stowed diet cola for her and a few bottles of Evian for him. At one point, trying to get himself a drink while she slept, the zipper jammed as he reached back. He dragged the damn thing up to the front and sat it on his lap, thrashing at it to get at the drinks.
The jammed teeth of the zipper grinned like a circus clown. It made him so mad that the ripped the bag to shreds with his teeth and hands.
The police had not asked whether he knew the suspect. The insulation from the shredded bag hung down in jagged grey tongues while the melting ice and water soaked his lap and the seat next to him.