Heaven Should Fall - By Rebecca Coleman

Through the open door I could see my husband hard at work just outside the shed, a column of sweat staining his T-shirt in the June heat, his solid arms shedding flecks of grit and sawdust as he twisted down the metal vise. He wore a ball cap with the brim tightly rolled and heavy leather work boots, and when he stepped back and held his small, lethal project up to the light, the ease of his broad shoulders and smoothness of his belly made him lovely in spite of his efforts. Truly, Cade could have been anything. With his passion for his country and whip-smart intellect, he could have been the congressman he had once aspired to become. He could have been a pastor or a diplomat, a marine, or, thanks to his sincere charm and beautiful eyes, a very successful womanizer. But instead he stood alone outside this shed in northern New Hampshire, loyal and angry and probably not entirely sober, building a pipe bomb.

I caught his eye, and he waved and commenced to shake powder into the pipe from a narrow-topped bottle.

“Lunch is ready.”

“Be there in a sec. Is the baby awake?”

“Yeah, he’s in the high chair. Candy’s watching him.”

“How’s he feeling?”

“Better. I put some drops in his ear and they seem to be helping.”

“Good. Poor kid.” He slipped in a fuse, and then, with a cautious hand, slid a palmful of nails down the center. “You know what we need, Jill?”

I could think of many answers to that question, but Cade answered it himself.

“A weekend away,” he said. “No whining kids, no animals to feed, no parents in the next room keeping things all quiet and inhibited. No sitting watch at three in the morning like we’re the goddamn Branch Davidians. Just you and me in a motel room someplace, getting friendly.” He set the other end of the pipe into the vise and tightened it down.

“There’s an alumni weekend at our alma mater next month. We could go to that, if you haven’t blown yourself up by then.”

He laughed. Carefully he set the completed bomb into the box with the others, then came over to kiss me. Not to my surprise, he tasted like beer.

“‘Let justice be done though the heavens should fall,’” he quoted, low voiced, smiling.

I smiled back stiffly. “Come eat. The family’s waiting.”

He turned on the garden spigot and crouched to wash his hands in the crashing water. It flowed away from the house in a narrow river, carrying away steel dust and explosive powder, the grime of farmwork and sloughed dry skin from his calloused hands: the slow erosion of my husband.

Chapter 1


The signs for Baltimore-Washington International Airport began to appear above the highway ten miles out. “Keep right.” Cade shot a glance at my side mirror, then shifted two lanes over in one graceful, if reckless, maneuver. I braced the dowels of the two miniature American flags against my lap, but they barely shivered. Cade and his little white Saturn coupe were like a boy and his dog. He spent half his life in the thing, and there was no reason to doubt his skill at handling it.

“I bet he’s dying to get off that plane,” said Cade. “It’s a fifteen-hour flight from Kabul to Baltimore. That’s a crapload of Nicorette.”

I grinned. “So if he seems really cranky, I shouldn’t assume that’s his normal personality.”

“Nah. He’s a cool guy. Getting shot at for three years probably makes a person a little edgy, but he’ll mellow out fast enough.” He felt around in the console and, finding it empty, said, “Pass me the mints, will you, Jill?”

“You’ve got one in your mouth already.”

“Yeah, but it’s almost gone.”

I reached into the neatly arranged “auto office” box at my feet and retrieved the Altoids tin from a side pocket. “Cade, you’re a mint addict.”

“Usually you’re not complaining.”

“The first step is admitting you have a problem.”

His brow creased above his sunglasses. “I thought it was believing in a higher power.”

“No, that’s the second step. That a higher power can restore you to sanity.”

A white sign appeared above our heads, marked with a rainbow of coded indicators. Cade turned down his Dave Matthews Band CD, as if quieter music would help him see the signs better. “‘Arriving Flights,’” he read aloud. “We’re coming to get you, bro.”

We navigated the labyrinth of the parking garage and emerged into the airport. Once through security, our gate passes in hand, we joined the crowd gathered around the walkway cordoned