Memory ManLarge Print - 2015
Amos Decker's life changed forever--twice.
The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to play in the NFL. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field forever, and left him with an improbable side effect--he can forget nothing.
The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare--his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.
His family destroyed, their killer's identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.
But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Memory Man will stay with you long after the turn of the final page.
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Something seemed off, but he couldn’t pinpoint what, when he almost always could. Orphan facts, he liked to call them. There was no one to claim ownership because they were lies.
He never forgot anything, but that didn’t mean everything was always placed in the proper context opposite either a complementary or conflicting fact.
“Well, you never forget anything, so I have to believe that it will come to you.” “That’s the problem. If it hasn’t come to me then it’s not there.” Decker tapped the side of his head. “I don’t have things come to me. I go inside my head and retrieve them. There’s a difference.”
Life had coincidences. Serendipity abounded. Wrong place, wrong time. It came as the result of seven billion people jostling each other within the span of a single planet. But there was an unwritten rule in police work: There are no coincidences. All you needed was more in-depth investigation to show that there are no coincidences.
An SJH, in ballistics shorthand. It was a brutally efficient piece of ordnance. Not exactly a dum-dum, named after Dum-Dum, India, where a British army officer had invented a bullet that mushroomed out on impact and acted as a miniature wrecking ball inside the body. Innovation wasn’t always good for you.
“And human beings have limits,” said Decker. “And you can say all you want about the world being unfair and people rising above the atrocities done to them, but everyone is different. Some are hard as steel, but some are fragile, and you never know which one you’re going to get.”
“You don’t look so good, Amos,” Miller said. “Should I?” Decker said back.
“Grand master of memory? What did she have to do?”
“Three tasks. The first was to memorize one thousand random numbers in an hour. Next, she had to memorize the order of ten decks of cards in an hour. And lastly, memorize the order of one deck of cards in under two minutes.”
“There are around one hundred and fifty people in the world who have successfully performed the three tasks.” “Didn’t think it would be that many.” “It’s not, in the grand scheme of seven billion people.”
In his mind progress was always to be measured in inches, especially when you didn’t have yards or even feet of success to show off.
Everyone has an agenda, whether altruistic or self-serving.
Guys don’t worry about people looking, because guys are always the ones who are looking.”
He rubbed the metal through the plastic. Then he stopped. It was like rubbing a genie’s lamp. He had made a silly wish, never thinking it would come true. But it just had. The last piece had just fallen into place.
It took him all of three minutes to pack up pretty much all he had. It fit into a bag two feet square with room to spare.
“Well, that would have been a little obvious,” said Wyatt. “So I chose symbolism over literalness.”
“Debbie again. I told her I might have to recruit some of them in case I needed local muscle. It was stupid but she’d believe anything.”
“It’s called a double constrictor knot. It’s like a clove hitch but with an overhand knot under two riding turns. I actually practiced tying it on the flight back from Utah. I discovered that it’s nearly impossible to untie once the knot is set. In fact, it’s one of the most effective binding knots in the world. Been around at least since the 1860s. It’s also called the gunner’s knot.”
For a man who never forgot anything it was difficult for him to remember who he used to be. And how he had gotten to be what he was now.
His tolerance for pain was greater than most. You didn’t play football for as long as he had without being able to take pain. But a bullet to the head would not be painful. He would just be dead.
Those who only watched pro football from the safety of their stadium seats or big-screen TVs could never imagine the devastating power of enormous men running at speed into other enormous men. It was like being in a car accident over and over. It didn’t merely hurt; it stunned. It shocked the body in so many different ways that one could never be the same afterward. It pushed bone, muscle, ligaments, and brains to places they were never intended to go.
There were few things in life that were certain. There were many things in death that were. He was staring at three of them. Eyes wide open. Pupils fixed. Mouth involuntarily sagging. Dead.
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