Marion stepped in front of him, blocking the TV. She reached a single hand to his face. She cupped her palm against one cheek and hooked her thumb beneath his chin. The gesture reminded him of times she used to grab his face to kiss him, sometimes in a burst of affection and humor, though more often to silence him, to quell an argument before it began.

She bent close and looked into his eyes. She squeezed his face and spoke in a level, urgent tone, giving all four words equal weight. “Pay the fish lady,” she said.

Franklin heard her walk from the apartment, her shoes on the stairs. His eyes were again on the screen, where the network showed the disaster for perhaps the thirtieth time since he’d begun watching. This replay was not in slow motion, and from the first spark of trouble, the explosion was almost instantaneous. Fiery and gigantic, it filled the screen. The camera changed to a wider view, as trails of burning gas spidered away from the heart of the blast. Debris fell toward the ocean and disappeared, and the smoke began its inevitable evaporation into a wide, annihilating sky.