The car ride passed in silence. Maggie wondering at how long she would suffer the unendurable half-life of forgiveness, Jerome an exact copy of his father, down to the moody inscrutibility. Neither spoke, Maggie for fear that the spell might break and Jerome would send her home.
On the highway, rushing South of the city, the aging baker finally felt like she could breathe again. And was just gathering her bearings when her son finally spoke:

"How long?"

She didn't respond.

"How long Margaret? These killings. It's too dangerous for a-"

"An old woman?"
"You know what I mean. For an amateur. Going around playing Columbo? With this things? Mo-Maggie. You're gonna get hurt eventually."

Maggie couldn't help but notice his slip. Had he almost said Mom?

"Well, 'Jerome', if I didn't know better, I'd almost say you were concerned."
"Of course I am!" The sudden anger surprised her.

"Of course I am," he repeated more quietly, "Just because we're- doesn't mean I don't care, or want you... you've seen the photos."

He pulled off the highway at the exit for Autumn Lake, his hometown.
"You're still my Mother Margaret, even if we're not, even after you-"

"After I betrayed you."

"Yes." His voice was iron, rigid, yet vibrating with pain, still fresh after 15 years. "I don't want you to end up like those poor folks, resting in their own blood."
Maggie thought for a while, and, feeling embolden by his concerns, decided to push the matter.

"It's been 15 years Jerome. How long are you going to punish me? I- I know, I deserve it. But-"

She reached out, lovingly patted his arm.

"How long are you going to punish yourself?"
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