In the light of the moon shining through the kitchen window, his trembling fingers opened the freezer. He didn't want to look inside. He didn't want to see the bottles stacked up neatly, waiting for him. Blindly, he reached in and grabbed the first bottle, pulling it out.


Stumbling down the dirt road in the morning light, Bruno Kubik came to his senses. He looked around at the trees on each side of the road, then to the left and right, looking for signs of traffic. Other than the sound of insects chirping in the tall grass on the edge of the road, there were no signs of life. Vhere am I? How did I even get here? As he walked, he became aware of the bottle hanging from his fingertips. He lifted it and saw an empty vodka bottle. Did I drink the whole thing last night? Stepping on a sharp rock, he realized he was barefoot. He kept walking, hoping to come to someplace familiar.


"Papa! Papa!"

Bruno rolled over and rubbed his eyes."Vhat is it, Reese?" he mumbled, heavily rolling his "r".

"Papa, help!"

At that, he jumped up off his bed. "Reese? Reesie?"

He ran to his daughter's bedroom and threw open the door. "Darling, vhat's wrong?"

The dark silence greeted him. He saw the empty bed, Reese's doll on the floor by the window.

He fell to his knees as he remembered.


Sitting on the edge of his bed with his head in his hands, Bruno took a deep breath. I don't vant to sleep tonight. I can't take anymore.

He sat up straight and reached for his glass. Downing the rest of the vodka, he stood up and paced. In his mind, he heard the crunch of metal. No.

Walking into the kitchen, he took the bottle and poured more vodka into the glass. Taking a drink, he walked into the living room. His eyes fell on a picture on the shelf. Reese was eight in that picture. It vas the Fourth of July picnic in Boston. That vas a lovely day. He picked the picture up and ran his finger along his wife's hair. In it, he had his arms around the both of them, squeezing them in a loving bear hug. Melissa Kubik was looking up at him with stars in her eyes. Reese was looking at the camera, laughing.

Vhat do I do, Melissa? Vhat do I do vithout the two of you?

Placing the picture back on the shelf, he took another drink and walked back to the bedroom. He took off his shoes and lay on top of the bed. Looking at the glass on his end table, he breathed a deep sigh and rolled over, facing the window. The sound of traffic lulled him into an uneasy sleep.

They were driving. Just crossing over into Vermont. There was a bridge ahead. Melissa was turned around, talking to Reese in the back seat. They were laughing.

Bruno tossed. His brow was furrowed.

"Oh, the Gorge," Melissa said. "I love that place. Let's stop, Bruno."

Looking at her with a loving smile, he pulled over into a small parking area. He could never deny her requests. The lot was almost empty. There was one couple walking back toward their car. No one else was on the bridge.

In his sleep, Bruno mumbled. "I don't vant to go out there. I don't vant to see this again.

"Let's go out on the bridge, Papa," Reese said, bouncing up and down.

He looked out at the bridge and the rickety chain-linked fence. With a glance at Melissa, he asked, "Is it safe?"

Melissa laughed. "Of course it is. I've been stopping here since I was a kid."

With each of them holding Reese's hands, they walked out to the middle of the bridge. Bruno stretched his neck and looked over the edge at the deep ravine and the river so far below. "Okay, that's good. Ve saw it." He started to motion for Melissa and Reese to head back to the car. "Let's go."

Melissa laughed again. "Let's stay out for a few minutes. I forgot how much I loved this place. It was a yearly stop on our way to Grampa's house." She and Reese leaned across the fence, looking down.

Bruno stepped back, his hands hovering behind them, ready to grab their shirts should they start to fall. "I'm not as in love vith it as you are," he said. "In fact, ve can go any time."

"Alright, scaredy cat," Reese said with a laugh. Stepping into her father's arms, she giggled. "We can go back to the car now."

Bruno chucked her chin and took her hand. "Come on, Momma." He tugged at her shirt to pull her away from the fence.

Walking back the way they came, Bruno looked at his wife and daughter again. "Oh, how my heart bursts," he thought. "I am such a blessed man."

They hadn't taken more than ten steps when he heard the rumble of a large truck coming over the bridge. Looking over his shoulder, he could see the driver looking down at his lap. Then the man started flapping his hands, as if trying to stamp out a fire in his lap.

It all happened in a split second, yet Bruno watched in slow-motion as the truck swerved out of control, just as it was going past them. He reached out to grab Melissa's hand as the truck came crashing through the fence right in front of them, but he missed. With a tight hold on Reese's hand, he fell back. The front of the truck went through the old rusted fence that stood between them and the gorge, ripping it away from the support posts. The right fender knocked Melissa backward. Her feet teetered on the edge, her hands flailing helplessly as she tried to find something to grab ahold of.

The truck stopped with its front tires perched precariously on the edge. The driver was still frantically slapping his hands on his lap, oblivious to the scenario he had just caused.

As Melissa's feet teetered, she started to fall backwards and her hand caught the fence. It pulled away from the bridge and she hung down twelve feet below, clinging to the chain-links.

Bruno had fallen backwards, still clutching Reese's hand, but Reese had rolled off the edge and was now dangling above her mother. She screamed, "Papa, Papa! Pull me up."

"Reese, I've got you," he yelled. "Stop kicking." He looked past Reese down to Melissa. "Darling, can you climb up?"

"I'm trying," she cried. Each time she tried to pull herself up, the fence pulled away from the bridge a little more and she ended up another foot down.

"Papa. Don't let go," Reese cried.

"Reese, you need to stop kicking. I can't pull you up."

Bruno was lying on the bridge, his arms hanging over the edge, holding onto one of Reese's hands, the other flailing as she tried to steady herself. As her feet kicked out frantically, one shoe caught on the fencing.

With a high-pitched scream, she yelled again. "Papa!" Kicking her foot, she tried to get loose from the fencing. Her thrashing about was pulling Bruno, as he slid closer to the edge.

"Hey, Mister," he yelled to the driver in the truck.

Looking over, he saw the man stop his frantic slapping and look over at him.

"Help. Grab my legs," he said.

When the man opened his door, three empty beer cans fell out. He got out of his truck, kicking them, and threw himself on Bruno's legs to stop him from sliding.

When Bruno felt himself stabilize, he called down to Reese. "Little Dear, reach up vith your other hand. I need both hands."

"My foot is stuck on the fence." Crying, she wiggled again in an attempt to free her sneaker.

Bruno felt her hand slipping through his fingers. "Reese, please. Your other hand."

"Just a minute, Papa. I think I've almost got it." Reese tried to lean down to grab the fence and pull her foot loose.

Bruno felt her hand slip a little more. He barely had ahold of her fingers now. Frantically, he screamed down at her. "Reese! Your hand!"

Watching from below, Melissa hung on helplessly. "Bruno," she yelled. "Her foot is caught."

"Can you reach her?" he asked.

Melissa tried again to pull herself up. Every time she moved, the fencing came further away from the bridge, this time, both of them sinking lower. "I'm too heavy," she said softly.

Bruno looked down at her, deeply into her eyes. "No, you are not. Let me get Reese up, then we'll pull up the fence and get you up here. You hang on, Melissa."

Reese tried again to wiggle her foot out of the shoe. Her sweaty fingers slipped another inch out of Bruno's grasp.

"Bruno," Melissa said calmly. "I love you. I'm too heavy. The fence is pulling her down."

"Mama," Reese screeched.

Bruno and Reese both looked down at Melissa in terror.

"I love you," she said again as she let her hands slip from the fence.

"Noooo," Bruno screamed as he watched Melissa fall silently into the ravine.

"Mama, Mama, Mama," Reese screeched again, reaching her hand down trying to grasp for her mother's falling body.

"Reese, up here," Bruno cried. "I need your other hand, Little Darling."

"Papa! Mama!" She flailed and tried to swing her body to bring her other arm up to Bruno.

Bruno called to the driver, who was still holding onto his legs. "Can you get up here? Help me pull her up."

The man let go of Bruno's legs and crawled to the edge. Bruno could smell the beer on him.

The man started to reach over the edge to grab Reese's other hand. His fingers brushed hers. "Hold still," he called. "I can't quite reach you."

Bruno's muscles burned as he held onto Reese's hand with everything he had. His palms were slick and he could feel that her's was, too. "You have to get her other hand," he said to the driver. "I can't hold on much longer." He looked at the man, his eyes furious. "Can you do this? How drunk are you?"

Looking back at Bruno, he said, "I'm okay. I've got this." After his third try to grab her hand, he finally connected with her. Just as his hand grabbed hers, she slipped from Bruno's grasp.

"Reese!" he screamed.

She let out a terrified scream, then realized that the driver still had her.

Bruno shifted his position and reached down for her hand again. "Here, Reese. Here. Can you reach me?"

The fence that her foot was caught on creaked and shifted. It pulled her down a little more. Her hand was inches from Bruno's. She tried to grab ahold of the driver's hands, which were both clutching her left hand.

"She's too heavy," the man said. "I can't pull her up."

Suddenly, Bruno heard footsteps running up behind him. "Hold on. We're coming," a voice yelled. He looked over his shoulder and saw two men running towards him from a pick up truck across the bridge.

"We've got a rope. We'll get her." The man ran up beside Bruno and knelt down. The other man with him ran up on the other side of Bruno. He reached out and steadied himself on the remaining section of fence.

"No!" Bruno watched with horror as the man's weight shifted the fence. He turned his wide eyes, down to Reese, reaching down as far as he could go.

The fence attached to her shoe shifted again, pulling her down. Her hand slowly slipped from the driver's. He frantically scrambled, reaching out for her fingers that were no longer there. She flipped upside down, hanging from her shoe, still caught on the fence, until her own weight caused her foot to slowly slide out of her shoe. Bruno watched helplessly as his daughter followed Melissa down into the ravine, her scream echoing up to his ears.

"NO! NO, REESE!" he screamed and started to throw himself after her. The men with him grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him back, down to the ground. They held him there, thrashing and screaming, until he had nothing left to give.

Bruno screamed in his sleep. The tears soaked into his pillow. "I can't. I can't."

When he awoke the next morning, he was drained, his throat felt like it was cut with shards of glass. Stumbling into the kitchen, he reached into the freezer for another bottle.


Pounding. An annoying persistent pounding. Is it in my head? It von't stop.

"STOP!" he bellowed. "Just STOP!" Then he heard his name.

"Bruno? I know you're in there. Open up."

He threw the empty bottle against the wall, shattering it onto a pile of broken glass from two previous bottles. Sending his chair flying behind him, he rushed to the door and swung it open.

"Stop pounding!" he screamed. "Owen . . . Vhat are you doing here?"

"Just because my sister is gone, doesn't mean I abandon you, Bruno." He pushed past him into the house. "Good Lord. This house is a disaster. What the hell has been going on here?" Pulling Bruno over to the couch and pushing him down, he stood with his hands on his hips, looking around. "First thing I'm going to do is get some coffee - strong coffee into you. Then, we'll get this place cleaned up.

"For God's sake, Bruno. You need help, man."


One Year Later . . .

He saw the sign, "Welcome to Vintage." Vintage, Maine. New town - new start.

Following the directions scribbled onto an envelope, he found the address he was looking for.

Standing in front of the bar, Bruno looked up at the sign. "Destiny's." With his hands in his pockets, he kicked a rock across the parking lot. "Let's see if you will be my destiny."

He pushed the door open and walked in.

"I'm not open yet," a voice said, coming from the dark hallway behind the bar.

Stepping up to the bar, he said, "My name is Bruno Kubik. I'm here for a job."