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    One thing you could say about Max Griffin: he was consistant. He'd been a bastard all his life, and he stayed a bastard right up until the moment he died.
    It went like this:
    Robin realized his mother was dead and went right to the phone in the living room to call the police. Max didn't try to stop him. In fact, Max didn't budge from the kitchen, lost in his mad world, mumbling incoherently. The police arrived within minutes and escorted Robin from the house. One officer, concern in his eyes, asked, "You okay, son? You have any idea what went on in here?"
    Oh yes, Robin knew what had happened in there, all right, but he didn't have a clue how to explain it. He didn't know where to begin, what to leave out, where the reality of the situation ended and the unreality began, so he said nothing.
    "You look pretty beat-up yourself, boy. Were you in on this?"
    "I just got here, sir."  
    "But did it have anything to do with this at all, you getting beat-up?"
    Robin didn't know how to answer that question, either. It made his mind whirl just to think about it. Another officer came up to them just then and said, "Hey Bart, let's hold these questions off until later, okay? Son, you wouldn't mind coming down to the police station with us for awhile, would you? I realize this must all be very painful for you, but if it's at all possible I'd like to get your statement down while it's still fresh in your mind, if that's all right with you."
    "No, uh, sure, uh...that's fine."
    They brought his mother out then, on a stretcher, a sheet covering her frail body. She looked so small, so fragile, bundled up like that. That's not my mother, Robin thought for one irrational moment. Someone somewhere's trying to pull my leg here. This whole thing, this whole day, is just one big practical joke on Robin Tyler, that's all it is. Really my mother's still alive, in her kitchen, waiting to hug me and laugh with me in that full, from-the-gut way she had. Robin shuddered as these thoughts passed through his head. If only she was still alive, Robin thought. If only, if only, she was. 
    They brought out Max next, still wrapped up more-or-less from head to toe in the gauze the hospital had applied to his cuts and slashes earlier that day, many of which now bled profusely. They should have had him on a stretcher, too. Not six hours before, he'd gone through the front window of their house and had fallen twelve feet to the pavement below. He shouldn't have been able to move at all, yet here he was, on his feet, one police officer on either side of him holding him up and carrying him along. Standing over his wife's corpse before in the kitchen, he'd looked dazed, almost mesmerized, as well as completely mad. Now, fury was added to the madness in his features. 
    "Look at that bastard," Robin heard a police officer say. "How can he even stagger? He should be all but dead by now. What kind of drugs did he have in him anyway?"
    Only enough drugs to knock out a mule, Robin thought. Almost unconsciously, he rubbed his silver ring. What in the hell was going on here? 
    Max got to within five feet of Robin when their eyes locked. One of Max's eyes was so misshapen Robin couldn't see the eyeball itself. But the other eye, that right eye. It made Robin's stomach lurch just to look at it. Max looked at Robin with such a murderous rage that Robin thought, he's going to try and kill me. In spite of the police, in spite of the fact that he should be half dead from loss of blood, he's still going to try and strangle the life out of me, just like he did to mom. After the day he'd had, Roben had no desire to wait around and see if his intuition was correct or not. He turned to walk away, and then he heard shouting, and then he turned back just in time to see Max, with a roar, tear himself free from the two officers who had a grip on him to lunge in Robin's direction. Robin shouted, "Stop!", and at the same time someone else yelled, and then Robin was deafened by the explosive shriek of a dozen rounds of ammunition all going off at once. The bullets made Max's body spasm. For a few moments there he looked like a puppet being manipulated by a particularly inept puppet master. But, even at that, with surprise now added to the rage and madness that was now a part of Max's very being, he came at Robin again, and this time a barrage of gunfire just about took his head off. That did it. Max slumped to the ground, and now it  really was time to cover him with a sheet to load him on a stretcher.
    No one said anything for several minutes, shocked by what they'd just witnessed, and then one of the police officers patted Robin on the back and said, "You looked soaked, kid. You better go in and change your clothes. Then we'll get going, okay?"
    Robin sat alone in the back of the police car as it slid slowly through traffic. The rain continued to pour as if it would never stop again in Robin's lifetime, but this was Seatrailia, after all, and it rained all the time in Seatrailia, so the downpour barely slowed down the rush of pedestrians filling the sidewalk. So many people, Robin thought. So many people who think their problems are so damned big. Well try my day on for size, you assholes. Go through a day like I've had and see how well your petty, meaningless miseries stack up. The police car passed an alley, and Robin saw  three derelicts huddled up against an automatic teller machine because that was the only place they could stand where they had even the slightest chance of staying dry. Robin felt so close to them at that moment. He felt like their brother, the youngest son of the lowest of the low. Stay well my brothers, Robin called out to them with his heart. Stay dry, if you can. Stay alive if you can. I've found out today that it's easy to die. It's so very damned easy to die.