Michael Connelly (b. 1956, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Written by Michael Connelly

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The Narrows, 2004

I could hear the river but not see it. It was hidden behind the homes. But its furious power was almost palpable, even from this distance. In storms like this the whole city washed itself out over its smoothed concrete surfaces. It snaked through the Valley and around the mountains to downtown. And from there west to the ocean.

It was a mere trickle most of the year. A municipal joke even. But a rainstorm would awaken the snake and give it power. It became the city’s gutter, millions and millions of gallons banging against its thick stone walls, tons of water raging to get out, moving with a terrible force and momentum. I remembered a boy who was taken when I was a kid. I didn’t know him. I knew of him. Four decades later I even remembered his name. Billy Kinsey was playing on the river’s shoulder. He slipped in and in a moment he was gone. They found his body hung up in a viaduct 12 miles away. My mother had taught me early and often, when it rains…

"Stay out of the narrows."

"What?" Rachel whispered.

"I was thinking about the river. Trapped between those walls. When I was a kid we called it ‘the narrows.’ When it rains like this the water moves fast. It’s deadly. When it rains you stay away from the narrows."


© 2004 Michael Connelly; New York: Little, Brown and Company

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