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Third Degree

Greg Iles

Top 10 Best Quotes

“elbowed Danny. “You think Shields is the father of that baby?”

“circa 1985. Vida's great claim to fame was winning a televised wet T-shirt contest in Destin she'd beaten 150 other competitors-but two children and ten thousand cheeseburgers had deflated her prized assets and hidden her waist in a roll of hard fat.”

“What do you think, Doc?" The patient's question penetrated Auster's reverie. "I think you're doing about as well as you're going to do, Mr. Johnston. You're not going to play ball for the Yankees, but you're not going to drop dead anytime soon either. You'll probably still be fishing when they bury me." Johnston gave a little laugh. "I hope so, no offense. But I was thinking, Doc, you know. . . . I might need some tests." Auster looked back in puzzlement. Johnston had the tone of a patient who'd read some article on preven tive medicine in [i]Reader's Digest[/i]. He probably wanted a goddamn sixty-four-slice CAT scan of his heart.”

“The sheriff faced forward, the downward angle of his big head radiating disappointment.”

“Most of his fellow TRU deputies were white country boys of a type Carl knew well. The majority were ten to fifteen years older than he, and some were over fifty. In a town with high unemployment, men didn't give up jobs with benefits unless they were pushed out usually after an election. But despite the age and background of the men, there was an attitude of benign tolerance toward black officers in the unit. Prejudice still existed, but it was an amorphous thing, difficult to point at and impossible to prove, except in a few cases. Even the hardcore, Southern-rock NASCAR types accepted that civil rights reforms were here to stay, and they tried to make the best of it.”

“Look at your wife. You're brow beating her, trying to make her confess that she fooled around with somebody. Well, what if she did? Whose fault is that? You want to feel bad? Ask yourself that. Laurel's a good woman, a beautiful woman, and if she's looking somewhere else for love, then you haven't been taking care of business at home." Warren's eyes ticked up from the computer, but Kyle pressed on. "If she confessed right now and gave you what you think you want all the dirty details-where would you be then? Fucked, that's where. Nine ways from Sunday. The two of you would have nowhere to go, because you're never going to get over it. I know you, man." Warren's eyes smoldered. "I didn't know you'd spe cialized in psychiatry." Kyle actually laughed. "I wouldn't waste my time. I already know more about human weakness than most of those cranks ever will. I went to school on myself.”

“It was so easy to forget the man was dying. Danny wondered if Shields forgot it himself sometimes. For the first second or two after he woke up in the morn ings, maybe. Danny had a paraplegic friend who'd ex perienced that. He said there was nothing worse than the crushing weight of remembering that he was para lyzed and couldn't get out of bed.”

“I've seen a lot of men on the south side of twenty die for no reason at all. Shot or mortared out of a clear blue sky, some times by their own side. I've heard them screaming in the back of my chopper with no hope of getting to a field hospital in time. And they don't scream to God, Doc. They don't scream to Daddy, either. They scream to Mama. Because they know Mama loved them more than anyone else ever could. More than even God, if there is one.”

“I think about all my patients who've died. Older people, most of them. But not all. Looking back, I try to remember if the young ones were marked somehow. Whether they might have done something to bring their fates down on themselves. But they didn't, Danny. One day God or Fate just said, 'I will not let you be happy. I will not give you children. I will not let you breathe another day. I will take away your ability to move."'" "Warren-" "No, listen. This is important. I've tried to believe, all my life. To have faith that there was justice in life, some larger plan or meaning. But I can't do it any more. I've watched some of the best people I ever met get crippled or taken before they reached thirty, forty, whatever. Babies, too. I've watched babies die of leuke mia. I've watched infants die from infections, bleeding from their eyes and ears. Terrible birth defects...I look for a reason, a pattern, anything that might justify all that. But nothing does. Nothing does. Until I got sick myself, I played the same game of denial that all doctors do. But, Danny, my cancer ripped the scales from my eyes. I go to these funerals and listen to smug preachers telling grieving people that God has a plan. Well, that's a lie. All my life I've followed the rules. I've toed the line, given to the less fortunate, followed the Commandments . . . and it hasn't mattered one bit. And don't tell me about Job, okay? If you tell me God is testing me by killing me... that's like saying we had to destroy a village in order to save it. It's a cruel joke that we play on ourselves. And don't tell me it's all made right in the afterlife, because you know what? The agony of one infant dying senselessly mocks all the golden trumpets of heaven. I don't want to sit at the right hand of a God who can torture children, or even one who sits by and allows them to be tortured. Free will, my ass. I made no choice to die at thirty seven. This one's on God's account, Major. We look for meaning where there is none, because we're too afraid to accept randomness. Well, I've accepted it. Embraced it, even. And once you do that, the world just doesn't look the same anymore.”

“I know you're listening to me," Kyle said stubbornly. "You're a control freak, Warren. Everybody knows it. And that's fine most of the time. Good for business. But now things are slipping out of control. That's how life is, okay? It's in the nature of things. Entropy, whatever. And a guy like me, when the water starts rising, I go with the flow. I let the current carry me, and I make the necessary adjustments to keep things in proper trim. You, on the other hand, are like a robot optimized to run within a certain set of parameters. When life breaks outside those parameters, you're lost. Your programming no longer suits the environment. You're like a submarine stranded in the middle of an interstate. And partner, there is a big-ass tractor-trailer headed straight for you. I'm trying to drag you out of the way, but you just won't let me. You're staying where you are because you don't know how to move”

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Book Keywords:

existentialism, rural, self-diagnosis, eternity, aging, pissed-off, heaven, doctor, god, faith, integration, cheating, racism, southern, obstacles, medical-humor, life, humor, death, country, depression, guilt, reason

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