When she went upstairs and turned on the light in her bedroom Chigurh was sitting at the little desk waiting for her. She stood in the doorway, her hand falling slowly away from the wallswitch. He moved not at all. She stood there, holding her hat. Finally she said: I knowed this wasnt done with.

Smart girl.

I aint got it.

Got what?

I need to set down.

Chigurh nodded toward the bed. She sat and put her hat on the bed beside her and then picked it up again and held it to her.

Too late, Chigurh said.

I know.

What is it that you havent got?

I think you know what I'm talkin about.

How much do you have.

I dont have none of it. I had about seven thousand dollars all told and I can tell you it's been long gone and they's bills aplenty left to pay yet. I buried my mother today. I aint paid for that neither.

I wouldnt worry about it.

She looked at the bedside table.

It's not there, he said.

She sat slumped forward, holding her hat in her arms. You've got no cause to hurt me, she said.

I know. But I gave my word.

Your word?

Yes. We're at the mercy of the dead here. In this case your husband.

That dont make no sense.

I'm afraid it does.

I dont have the money. You know I aint got it.

I know.

You give your word to my husband to kill me?


He's dead. My husband is dead.

Yes. But I'm not.

You dont owe nothin to dead people.

Chigurh cocked his head slightly. No? he said.

How can you?

How can you not?

They're dead.

Yes. But my word is not dead. Nothing can change that.

You can change it.

I dont think so. Even a nonbeliever might find it useful to model himself after God. Very useful, in fact.

You're just a blasphemer.

Hard words. But what's done cannot be undone. I think you understand that. Your husband, you may be distressed to learn, had the opportunity to remove you from harm's way and he chose not to do so. He was given that option and his answer was no. Otherwise I would not be here now.

You aim to kill me.

I'm sorry.

She put the hat down on the bed and turned and looked out the window. The new green of the trees in the light of the vaporlamp in the yard bending and righting again in the evening wind. I dont know what I ever done, she said. I truly dont.

Chigurh nodded. Probably you do, he said. There's a reason for everything.

She shook her head. How many times I've said them very words. I wont again.

You've suffered a loss of faith.

I've suffered a loss of everthing I ever had. My husband wanted to kill me?

Yes. Is there anything that you'd like to say?

To who?

I'm the only one here.

I dont have nothin to say to you.

You'll be all right. Try not to worry about it.


I see your look, he said. It doesn't make any difference what sort of person I am, you know. You shouldnt be more frightened to die because you think I'm a bad person.

I knowed you was crazy when I seen you settin there, she said. I knowed exactly what was in store for me. Even if I couldnt of said it.

Chigurh smiled. It's a hard thing to understand, he said. I see people struggle with it. The look they get. They always say the same thing.

What do they say.

They say: You dont have to do this.

You dont.

It's not any help though, is it?


So why do you say it?

I aint never said it before.

Any of you.

There's just me, she said. There aint nobody else.

Yes. Of course.

She looked at the gun. She turned away. She sat with her head down, her shoulders shaking.

Oh Mama, she said.

None of this was your fault.

She shook her head, sobbing.

You didnt do anything. It was bad luck.

She nodded.

He watched her, his chin in his hand. All right, he said. This is the best I can do. He straightened out his leg and reached into his pocket and drew out a few coins and took one and held it up. He turned it. For her to see the justice of it. He held it between his thumb and forefinger and weighed it and then flipped it spinning in the air and caught it and slapped it down on his wrist. Call it, he said.

She looked at him, at his outheld wrist. What? She said.

Call it.

I wont do it.

Yes you will. Call it.

God would not want me to do that.

Of course he would. You should try to save yourself. Call it. This is your last chance.

Heads, she said.

He lifted his hand away. The coin was tails.

I'm sorry.

She didnt answer.

Maybe it's for the best.

She looked away. You make it like it was the coin. But you're the one.

It could have gone either way.

The coin didnt have no say. It was just you.

Perhaps. But look at it my way. I got here the same way the coin did.

She sat sobbing softly. She didnt answer.

For things at a common destination there is a common path. Not always easy to see. But there. Everthing I ever thought has turned out different, she said. There aint the least part of my life I could of guessed. Not this, not none of it.

I know.

You wouldnt of let me off noway.

I had no say in the matter. Every moment in your life is a turning and every one a choosing. Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn. No line can be erased. I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person's path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning.

She sat sobbing. She shook her head.

Yet even though I could have told you how all of this would end I thought it not too much to ask that you have a final glimpse of hope in the world to lift your heart before the shroud drops, the darkness. Do you see?

Oh God, she said. Oh God.

I'm sorry.

She looked at him a final time. You dont have to, she said. You dont. You dont.

He shook his head. You're asking that I make myself vulnerable and that I can never do. I have only one way to live. It doesnt allow for special cases. A coin toss perhaps. In this case to small purpose. Most people dont believe that there can be such a person. You can see what a problem that must be for them. How to prevail over that which you refuse to acknowledge the existence of. Do you understand? When I came into your life your life was over. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is the end. You can say that things could have turned out differently. That they could have been some other way. But what does that mean? They are not some other way. They are this way. You're asking that I second say the world. Do you see?

Yes, she said, sobbing. I do. I truly do.

Good, he said. That's good. Then he shot her.

The car that hit Chigurh in the intersection three blocks from the house was a ten year old Buick that had run a stop-sign. There were no skidmarks at the site and the vehicle had made no attempt to brake. Chigurh never wore a seatbelt driving in the city because of just such hazards and although he saw the vehicle coming and threw himself to the other side of the truck the impact carried the caved-in driver side door to him instantly and broke his arm in two places and broke some ribs and cut his head and his leg. He crawled out of the passenger side door and staggered to the sidewalk and sat in the grass of someone's lawn and looked at his arm. Bone sticking up under the skin. Not good. A woman in a housedress ran out screaming.

Blood kept running into his eyes and he tried to think. He held the arm and turned it and tried to see how badly it was bleeding. If the median artery were severed. He thought not. His head was ringing. No pain. Not yet.

Two teenage boys were standing there looking at him.

Are you all right, mister?

Yeah, he said. I'm all right. Let me just sit here a minute.

There's an ambulance comin. Man over yonder went to call one.

All right.

You sure you're all right.

Chigurh looked at them. What will you take for that shirt? he said.

They looked at each other. What shirt?

Any damn shirt. How much?
He straightened out his leg and reached in his pocket and got out his moneyclip. I need something to wrap around my head and I need a sling for this arm.

One of the boys began to unbutton his shirt. Hell, mister. Why didnt you say so? I'll give you my shirt.

Chigurh took the shirt and bit into it and ripped it in two down the back. He wrapped his head in a bandanna and he twisted the other half of the shirt into a sling and put his arm in it. Tie this for me, he said.

They looked at each other.

Just tie it.

The boy in the T-shirt stepped forward and knelt and knotted the sling. That arm dont look good, he said.

Chigurh thumbed a bill out of the clip and put the clip back in his pocket and took the bill from between his teeth and got to his feet and held it out.

Hell, mister. I dont mind helpin somebody out. That's a lot of money.

Take it. Take it and you dont know what I looked like. You hear?

The boy took the bill. Yessir, he said.

They watched him set off up the sidewalk, holding the twist of the bandanna against his head, limping slightly.

Part of that's mine, the other boy said.

You still got your damn shirt.

That aint what it was for.

That may be, but I'm still out a shirt.

They walked out into the street where the vehicles sat steaming. The streetlamps had come on. A pool of green antifreeze was collecting in the gutter. When they passed the open door of Chigurh's truck the one in the T-shirt stopped the other with his hand. You see what I see? he said.

Shit, the other one said.

What they saw was Chigurh's pistol lying in the floorboard of the truck. They could already hear the sirens in the distance. Get it, the first one said. Go on.

Why me?

I aint got a shirt to cover it with. Go on. Hurry.