|The Magdalene Mandala|
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Fans of Bradley's fictional work have been waiting since the 1970s for his third novel, following Bestsellers Imprint and The Mantouche Factor, which sold half-a-million copies.
2006; 349 pgs
Lining up Jester to thread the high central archway was a little worrying because I was uncertain of the current's strength.
I could see no roils or ripples curling from the abutments, but the lighting wasn't very good and I feared crashing the boat. Just then, however, the low sun flared behind me. It had found a rent in the brooding cloud cover before it sank into the waiting teeth of the Massif Central . The ancient sandstone of the bridge in front of me turned suddenly from dark grey to vibrant dusty rose, and its shadowed archways flicked from sooty to royal purple. Incongruously, distant thunder rumbled with the splash of claret sunset. And so the floodlit girl fell off the bridge with a drum roll.
My mind registered that it must be a girl because of the moth-like flutter of cloth from the balustrade. Her skirt billowed up briefly when she hit the water. It was as if some lumpy creature had come suddenly up from the depths to snatch an exhausted insect that had fallen on the surface. Just before she went under completely, I saw a pale blob for an instant. It might have been her face, and then it was gone in the centre of a widening ripple that lived for some seconds in the lazy current. The limpid water of the summertime Garonne River was hard to stir, and her splash made no sound that I could hear. There did not even seem to be any foam from the splash, but maybe the shadows absorbed it. In any case, it all happened unexpectedly and my view was obscured.
I shoved Jester into reverse and I did see, or thought I did, a long pale object spearing upward from the middle of the ripple for an instant before it, too, slid beneath the surface and the loom of the boat's oncoming bow. My mind told me that this must be an upward reaching arm, and it seemed to wave a thing that was just a blacker shadow with glints of gold. I remember thinking, stupidly, “The Lady of the Lake ,” before Jester's prow blotted out the scene and then itself disappeared in the darkness beneath the span. It was purple darkness only for an instant because the sun was suddenly switched off by low overcast skies or sullen mountains to the west.
While the stone archway was sliding over the stern, some hint of movement caused me to glance up. Silhouetted against indigo clouds and shy stars peeking through small rents in them, two shapes were leaning over the bridge's balustrade. One shape seemed to extend itself, like some lengthy and stealthy thing flowing down a wall – and fired a gun; I saw a reddish yellow flash with a few sparks. I ducked, which did no good whatsoever since I only increased the size of the target. I heard a metallic whine off the taffrail, along with a soft “phutt” sound that was aggrandized into a magnificent fart by the bridge tunnel. Then the stone closed overhead and the two shadows were gone.
Under the bridge, in the archway tunnel of solid stone, the sound of churning, reversing water was like being right beside Niagara Falls on the promenade. But I knew it was hopeless. You can't stop a boat like you can stop a car. Jester had passed over the woman, and might have pinned her under the water. I spun the wheel hard over to port with the idea of giving the victim some room in which to surface between the main hull and the starboard outrigger, but there was not much clearance in the tunnel.
Jester's speed had been much reduced in that fierce burst of full reverse, but not halted. The roar of water ceased as we glided out from under the other side of the bridge. I de-clutched the engine just before I scrambled behind the windowed wheelhouse.
How were the gunmen to know that the wheelhouse was steel, and that the glass was really polycarbonate?
About Michael Bradley
Michael Bradley is the nom de plume for Michael Anderson de Sackville, American by birth; Canadian citizen since the mid 1960s.
The famed researcher, author, amateur historian and anthropologist was born in Talladega , Alabama in 1944. He was educated at Agincourt Collegiate in 1963 and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia from 1964-1967; He became a Canadian citizen on Dec. 1, 1965 .
Nominated for the Nobel Prize (Biology) by Nobel Laureate, Konrad Lorenz in 1979; Bradley refused special Doctoral degree program offered by Dalhousie University . Throughout the 1980s, he served as a lecturer at various institutions of higher learning, including: the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, Vanderbilt University, York University, Yale School of Divinity, and Kennedy-King College. ( Chicago ).More...