Disclaimer: Neither “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” nor the characters therein belong to me. They belong to Shoot the Moon Enterprises and Warner Brothers Entertainment Television. However, this story and the ideas therein, insofar as they exist independently of SMK are mine. Please do not redistribute or reproduce in like or in kind without my express permission.
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
The thought entered his mind unbidden as he drove another punch into the bag and spun to follow it up with a sidekick.
One hand clapping. He’d learned the koan a long time ago from an old-school martial arts instructor who tried to train his mind as well as his body. Lee, young and impulsive, had paid him only cursory attention. Now, though, the old man’s words seemed to be taunting him.
He raised his leg for a reverse kick that set the bag swinging on its chain.
What is the sound of one hand not clapping?
A variation on the koan. Odd that the inclusion of one word, a negation, should make such a difference. One hand not clapping – one hand . . . slapping.
Slapping. He could still hear the sound in his head. It would be forever etched in his memory – a sound more painful and discordant than nails across a chalkboard. The sound of his palm connecting with Amanda’s cheek.
If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound?
The answer, of course, is yes. He had learned the physical principles of sound long ago.
Sound travels in waves, caused by the vibrations of objects. The lack of a listener does not make the physical impact of the tree any less existential.
Just as the physical harm his palm had caused Amanda’s face was not diminished by the fact that he would rather walk over hot coals than deliberately hurt her.
He drove his fist into the bag again.
Without speaking, without silence, how can you express the truth?
He hadn’t known what would happen. Both of them had stood still as statues for what seemed like an eternity, but only lasted a few seconds – stunned. He heard his heart beating in his ears, and the slight buzz the several shots of whiskey had given him was instantly gone.
Then Amanda had managed to surprise him.
She had been exceptionally calm and quiet. She simply asked him to let go of her and assured him it hadn’t hurt.
He’d almost wished for a scene – that he could handle. Her silence had frightened him – especially when her eyes spoke volumes.
And not in anger. Rather, they’d revealed hurt, betrayal, and fear. He knew he deserved it all.
It is the journey, not the destination, that is important
He moved to the smaller, spring-mounted bag and began executing rapid-fire punches, attempting to keep up with the bag’s rebound.
He had been following Jack Harris. Never, however, did he expect to find him following Amanda.
From his safe vantage point a few car lengths back, he had then seen him thrust a pistol out the window and take aim at her tire.
He gripped his own steering wheel more tightly as he watched her ease hers off the road.
“Please let her be okay,” he’d repeated it over and over again as he crept through the underbrush, not knowing what he would do to rescue her, but knowing he owed her no less.
In the end, she’d surprised him yet again. She picked up a branch, blindsided Harris, and managed to rescue herself.
Where man turns in times of trouble reveals his true self
She’d met him at the restaurant as he’d requested.
He set the speed program on the treadmill and began to jog – willing his tension and frustration away with each successive footstep.
As they’d discussed the dilemma, and he recounted his plans, her eyes, the same eyes that had been so full of hurt, looked out on him with absolute trust.
He’d watched her carefully as she sipped her water. He didn’t know what he had done to merit that trust, but he knew he would do whatever it took to never betray it again.
Some tasks are simple but not easy
He’d had to level a gun at Amanda. His friend. His partner. The woman who freely trusted him with her life, and in whom, he realized, he would freely entrust his.
Harris and Brackin had been watching. If he hadn’t done it, they’d both be dead. If he’d missed, he’d wish he were dead. He couldn’t betray her trust twice.
Hardening his jaw, he’d narrowed his eyes, and met hers – willing her to read his mind, knowing all the while how unlikely that was.
He’d pulled the trigger, a sound almost as painful as the slap in the bar. Time again froze, and then she’d collapsed, rolling down the hill, lifeless.
It is impossible for man to step twice in the same river
She’d trusted him – that first day at the train station, walking with him, taking the package.
She’d trusted him – as she lay in the back of the ambulance, sick from a Muscuri injection.
She’d trusted him – trying to persuade him to return to the Agency, unwilling to believe that he was burned out, that he would sell out.
And he’d hurt her – a literal slap in the face. Yet, somehow, she’d still been willing to believe in him, even as he’d held a gun on her, even as he’d shot at her, she’d had the presence of mind to recruit help, and yet again save the day.
Amanda King was the only constant thing in his life; Amanda King was full of surprises.
Water heats gradually but boils suddenly
The treadmill came to a stop and he pulled the towel out of his gym bag to dab at the perspiration on his face.
She’d seemed so surprised to receive the commendation from Reagan, so willing to downplay her contribution to the case.
Then she’d shown him her sweater – the bullet holes. She stuck her finger through, and smiled at him. She was just so – Amanda. He’d leaned over and planted a gentle kiss on her hand.
Things were going to be different, he realized, as he packed up his gym bag, but they would be okay.