New – 20 August 2005
A Glancing Blow
When Scott walked into his house, his wife Linda was sitting in the living room, going over her cookbook. Surprised by his entry, she looked up and greeted him -- her voice laced with a joking hint of sarcasm, "Well, welcome home, stranger! I hope you enjoyed your days out with the boys!”
Scott was too tired to even try for a simple retort. He was more concerned at how he could tell his wife that the world had but seven and a half months to live and that their only hope was inside a series of spherical steel shells. He stood near the door, studying his wife. As could be expected, every strand of her short red hair was in place, her dress was immaculate, and her make-up simple and without the slightest flaw. The blue skirt flowed gently over her knees while a sash about her neck gave the outfit an added flair. 'She's damn pretty,' Larry thought. 'A lot like a Stepford Wife,' he suddenly realized.
Seemingly unaware of his appraisal, she looked up at him with vivid brown eyes and smiled. "You look terrible,” she said half in jest. "Why don't you take a shower and go to bed?"
Scott walked over and dropped down onto the couch. (Linda was in his easy chair.) After a moment, he answered, "Mostly I'm hungry."
Linda Scott had turned back to her cookbook, apparently unaware of Larry. But after just a brief pause she answered without looking up, "How about some tuna casserole?" Then, as if to sell the idea, “I had it for the club yesterday and the girls raved.”
"Be just a minute." With that Linda was up and heading for the kitchen. She was now in her element and it showed in the lightness of her step.
Scott smiled to himself. He had always taken a certain pride in making his wife happy. It seemed a part of his obligation as the family's provider. If by praising her salad she would find delight, then he would praise with gusto. While he would show no such courtesy to others, it did seem a part of his duty as husband and father of their children to do so at home. And Linda could be pleased in so many small ways.
Linda was a good example of an upper-middle class wife. She had few interests other than the dutiful wife, mother, and hostess, such that her talents were seldom capitalized on -- primarily for lack of ambition. She was well satisfied with her station in life. And, if it offered no challenges, neither did it offer defeats.
Even her love for Scott was a well-organized program of duties, considerations, and carefully groomed ideas from her teenage youth. Her affection for her husband was displayed only as an element in her designed outward appearance. The greater depths of her emotions were carefully hidden, again by her own design.
In many respects Scott and Linda did not match. It was perhaps his quest of independence that most separated him from her. She was at her best when surrounded by large groups of people and in an atmosphere of certainty and non-change. The conservative, upper-middle class life style she had long since mastered and was, therefore, quite content to live with for the rest of her life. Scott, on the other hand, would always prefer smaller groups and complete independence from the rules and so-called morals of a larger society.
If she controlled her emotions, Scott was ruthlessly honest in his. If he felt passion, she felt an expectancy and calmness in the nature of ordered things. Outwardly, Scott ranged from cockeyed optimist to a quick-tempered frustration. Part of this variety of outward display was the result of an uncompromising objectivity and honesty. He simply took no pains to conceal his emotions, likes, or dislikes. Linda, on the other hand, was always steady, outwardly always well in control. With her powers of control, he could have held a small volcano in check.
In the early years of their marriage, he had been almost careless in his outward displays of love and affection for his wife. He had, in effect, held nothing back. Perhaps it was this which precipitated her apparent apathy to his love. He had provided her with such assurances of love and security that she never again had occasion to question them or their place in her life. She could take her exceptional life as some sort of divine grant.
It was perhaps her subsequent lack of response which had dampened Scott's love for her. Yet he still maintained a strong affection for her. Only now the love was not to the point of her being the only possible woman in his life. He was merely conscious of her feelings and well being and had always avoided the possibility of bringing her sadness.
It occurred to Scott on that cool October morning that he could not tell her about Ketuohok -- at least not yet. A collision of worlds in the literal sense would not be acceptable as part of her reality. She would simply deny it. Outwardly she would attempt to carry on as if nothing were amiss. Inside, it would fester in her mind. And she would never be able to cure the diseased thought in her brain without consciously admitting to its reality. And this she might never do.
No, Scott could not tell her. At least not now. There would have to be preparations made.
With Smith, Ryker and Masters on their way to Washington, Scott headed west. As the more-or-less official scout of possible sites and additional people, he had acquired an exclusive charter of a small plane. This was his only assurance of quick mobility.
It also provided an unexpected bonus. It was the pilot, a roguish fellow with the unlikely name of Darrel Yasaitis, who had been rather enthusiastically recommended by Tom Griffith, himself an amateur pilot. Yasaitis' primary qualification was that he had been a helicopter pilot in the early stages of the second Gulf War and had survived. Scott was very impressed with this definitive characteristics and, to some extent, so was Yasaitis.
"When I was a kid, I always figured helicopters was about as cool as they come. But a year of flying around a country where every cat in town has a gun and figures it's open season on whirlybirds; well, it don't do nothing for a guy's health. Matter of fact, tends to cut living off damn abrupt. Hell, I remember one time I went in to get my fortune told, the gal never looked at my hand, or head, or nothing. She just saw my helicopter wings and looked sad as hell. It's just that sort of thing that gives one pause."
"But you kept flying for your whole tour, plus an extended tour?
“Damn dumb, too. Trouble was I was too scared silly to think about quitting Then, after it was over and I was flying back to the States, I broke out in a cold sweat thinking about it. Stayed that way for weeks. Sure taught me one thing. The reason the army don't want you to think is that pretty quick there'd be no army. Takes a real dummy to fight a war.
"You don't believe in dying for a cause?"
“Depends on whose cause it is. Basically, I'm opposed to dying, period. But if it's one's own cause -- fighting for a homestead or family or some such -- sure! But a war? Hell, no war can help me. All a war does for a guy is to ease the strain on his heart by eliminating all that blood it has to pump to arms, legs, and most everything else. Fighting a war just don't make no sense. While you're dying, some cat is making it."
By San Diego Darrel Yasaitis had made it. He was now a member of the group. Scott had no qualms at all about seconding Tom's recommendation.
Colorado Springs, otherwise, was a waste of time. Scott saw two people, a young dentist and an engineer. The dentist was accomplished, pleasant, intelligent, and thoroughly satisfied with life. He was also an excellent example of a far-right conservative who went to the extreme of avoiding any and all left hand traffic turns. The latter seemed almost a requirement for anyone living in the shadow of Cheyenne Mountain. In addition, the dentist's mental outloook left room for little or no imagination. Everything the man had done in his life had been easy. He had no survival experience or orientation.
Then there was the engineer, who turned out to be a professional parasite. He knew all the right words; knew how to talk quickly and expertly, but lacked the simplest ability to produce basics. He was great at organizing, writing proposals, and getting funding. But he was zero on self-accomplishment. Neither he nor the dentist gave Scott any excuse to take them on. And both of their recommendations had been lukewarm, so that a quick exodus from the area seemed warranted.
With Colorado Springs a wipe out, they headed north. Flying to Denver, they were routed slightly toward the west, over the mountains, in order to skirt Denver and head in a somewhat circular route for its airport located on the plains northeast of the city. As they encountered the first hints of clear air turbulence, Scott had a momentary twinge. Then he asked, "Yasaitis, you ever fly over mountains before?"
"Not as much as you might imagine. Mostly deserts, villages, and the occasional battlefield awash with oil and blood. "
Scott grimaced, "But no moutains ?"
"ls that what that green and white stuff down there is? Hells bells, I figured we'd really lost some altitude. And here I've been kicking the altimeter gauge all this time, trying to see if it was stuck."
"Tell me, Yasaitis, how do you manage to provide others with such comfort and confidence in your abilities?"
"Dumb luck, I guess. I figure most things are dumb luck.”
"And I guess you've always been lucky."
"No question. I've had enough luck for a bunch of people. Don't know if I would've gotten anywhere without it.”
"You could have tried hard work."
“Naaa. Hard work don't mean a thing. The work ethic is only for the woefully ignorant. Hard work just gives people who ain't lucky the feeling that they can change their lives for the better. 'Course they can't. The only way to change is to get lucky."
“Or create your own luck.”
“Not knowing exactly what luck is, I'd be hard pressed to create any.
"Maybe you're right. But I know some people in Colorado Springs who got unlucky due to their own stupidity."
"Didn't ask any of those cats to join your party, eh?"
"Nope. They just didn't have anything to offer.”
"And you figured no on both of them?"
Yasaitis was quiet for a second, as if it were necessary to make the next comment more precise than his normal off-the-cuff manner. Then he said, “I guess you might be more of an authority on luck than I figured. After all, you're kind of a dispenser of luck. You get to decide who gets a special kind of luck and who don't. Sounds kind of awesome.”
Scott had been glancing out the window. Then he turned to stare at the back of Yasaitis' head in the front seat. Thoughtfully, he replied, "If you mean I get to play God a bit... choosing who gets on the ark and who doesn't… I guess you're right.”
"I don't mean nothing personal about it. I figure that it's just one of the ways of the world that someone has to play God ever so often. And I guess this is your turn.”
“You make it sound a bit frightening."
“Just me, I guess. I reckon I don't know all what it takes to be a dispenser of luck. Maybe it's supposed to be frightening. I don't reckon I know the rules that you gotta work by.”
"Oh yeah. There gotta be some rules. Something I learned in the military. It's called RHIP. It stands for "Rank Has Its Privileges". But the unwritten rule is that Rank Has Its Responsibilities as well. Only the army never mentioned anything about RHIR!”
Scott sat watching Yasaitis. The serious conversation was clearly over, the point having been made. It occurred to Scott that he would want to get to know Yasaitis better in the coming months. Something worthwhile might be lurking behind the corn ball.
And you could never tell what it might be.
Denver was a decided improvement. It started in the laboratory of Dr. Al Steward, a research and practicing M.D. Scott was waiting -- more or less patiently -- when Nancy Lomas walked in. All labs should have a Nancy Lomas. Charming, intelligent (Dr. Steward's bio-med assistant), and attractive. Attractive to the extent that Scott asked in a half-serious, half-joking manner, “What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this.”
“I like the work,” was her response. For just a moment she turned to look at him. Seeing the twinkle in his eye, her smile brightened, as if she enjoyed even the slightest hint of a flirtation. “I probably should mention that I'm married. And while I wouldn't want to overly discourage you, the fact of the matter is that right now my husband and I are in the midst of a very passionate love affair. The kind that really knocks your socks off. All the time.”
"I'm married too," Scott laughed. "So you can relax in that regad. Still, I'm curious: Do these affairs of yours go on for very long?"
“Hard to say. This one has been going on for three years come January.”
“What does your husband do for a living?" A thought had begun to form in Scott's mind.
"He's in construction. That is to say, a carpenter. On the other hand, two years ago he was an engineer in an aerospace company.”
"Is he a good engineer?”
“So why is he a carpenter. Isn't the job market for engineers finally turning around?"
“Turns out he likes being a carpenter.”
As Scott reminded himself several times during the conversation, it was a bad practice to bring people into a program without even meeting them, but Nancy turned out to be sufficient evidence for Jim and Nancy Lomas to be Denver's first representatives to the group. The clincher was her response to Scott's story. First, intelligent skepticism and consideration, followed by calm and penetrating questions. Then she said yes for both herself and her husband. As she left, she had already caught some of the enthusiasm of the project. She also provided another lead, a Beverly Losten.
Dr. Steward was more cautious. Scott had quickly decided to add his vote in offering a place to him. But Dr. Steward asked for some names and sources to check out the story. A friend of Voulers, there seemed to be no problem. Still, he declined to recommend others until he had convinced himself about the reality of this stranger's story. Despite the hesitation, Scott was not disturbed. Perhaps because the doctor was so imminently reasonable. And Scott felt his mission had been sufficiently successful already to warrant the delay.
The case of Beveryly Losten, however, had its own, very interesting variation.
Scott looked at the number on the apartment door with unsurpassed relief. Nancy's directions to Beverly Losten's pad had been about as intelligible as the average medical doctor's prescription. Finding these particular numbers had shot a fair portion of the afternoon and a major part of Scott's energy and cool.
And -- to cap it off -- Beverly was among the missing. From her roommate it was determined that she would continue in that state for two more days.
On the other hand… there was her roommate: Sally Lynn Hammond. Sally was a woman with that unique combination of beauty, brains, and charm that one does not always consciously notice at first glance. But within a few moments of being in her presence in a one-on-one, face to face conversation, it becomes quite captivating. An obvious student of the Aphrodite Archetype, her intense focus on a person while they were talking inevitably left that person feeling nothing but positive feelings toward his or her rapt listener. With Scott, it took about three minutes of conversation to convince him that Sally Hammond might be worth investigating.
While Scott's mind was racing with new and alternative ideas about her, she was still in the mode of being very sympathetic. "I'm sorry but I can't reach her by cell phone either. It's just that she always turns it off when she's doing..." (a notable pause) "well... what she's doing."
"Sounds intriguing and very mysterious," Scott replied, smiling at Sally's sudden chain of pace, apparently in order to protect Beverly's privacy.
"Beverly is often mysterious. It's one of the things I like about her. The most beautiful thing in the world is the mysterious. Haven't you heard? "
"Which is why, I suppose, you can't tell me anything more about her? Not her innermost secrets, necessarily, but how she reacts to the unexpected."
Sally smiled. "I don't like to invade anyone else's privacy without their permission."
"That's understandable and I suspect quite honest," Scott noted. "But what about your privacy? Can you give yourself permission to tell me about Sally Hammond?"
Sally did a quick gear shift and began to take stock of this apparent friend of Beverly's. He was not the tall, dark stranger of movie fame, nor was he fantastically attractive. Rather he was medium-plus height and weight, with thick reddish brown hair. His complexion was a trifle rough with shadings of red and chapped cheeks and a remembrance of freckles from a distant youth. Only his penetrating green eyes seemed even remotely the stuff of which seducers were made.
But there was also something else, something wholly undefinable about him -- as if there was something important that seized her imagination and motivated her to learn more about him. A quiver in the ether seemed to tell her this was not the time to be coy. Intuitively, and without a hint of rational hesitation, she said, "That would probably require our taking a bit more time to get to know one another." Abruptly she smiled broadly, "Like over dinner, for example. Are you game?"
Scott was momentarily stunned. He had been thinking (primarily) business, and suddenly Sally was making the time-honored sounds of flirtation. Before he could say anything, she added with a coy smile, "I tend to get hungry really, really easy. My friends hate to have be around because I'm constantly grazing."
Scott almost laughed in her face. The woman was slim and well built, without a hint of excess fat. "You're kidding," he replied.
"No," she replied, matter of factly. "Of course, I'll have to change first. Why don't you come in and relax? Maybe listen to some music."
Scott had not quite kept up with the pace of the conversation, and he was now forced to reach back to his carefree bachelor days for an appropriate comeback. "What? No floor show?"
Sally laughed, the quality of her tone brightening Larry's day and stirring some long repressed feelings. "I'm afraid the dancing girls has had to take the day off. I think it's the stomach flu. But we do have an orchestra." With an obviously appraising look, she added, "You're a classical music lover, correct?"
“How'd you guess?"
"Beverly is a fanatic about classical music. She has everything Gustav Mahler ever wrote, plus a large collection of most everything else.”
Larry grimaced slightly. "Mahler might be very appropriate."
Sally did a double-take, not understanding Larry's last comment. "What?"
Then Larry dismissed the mood. "Whatever you want to play is fine.”
"Well, I'm a fan of the Russians. How about some Tchaikovsky or Rimsky-Korsakov?”
“Really? You like the Russians?" Larry was suddenly in his element. “Hell, I love the Russians!" Sally's eyebrows raised slightly, as if to question his possible boast. Larry sensed an immediate need to try and prove his assertion. “How about some Borodin? If you have In the Steppes of Central Asia, that would be almost guaranteed to provide a mental transfusion for me."
Sally smiled gloriously. It had not been a ploy, a fact about which she was unexpectedly pleased. As she found the appropriate CD, she noted the fact that Scott had begun to study her with new eyes, a genuine smile on his face. That was good.
From Scott's point of view, there was something about Sally Hammond which seemed somehow familiar! Sure, she was beautiful, charming, self-possessed – what good-looking woman lets a stranger who claims to know a roommate into her apartment? Apparently Sally could take care of herself. And she was obviously healthy and athletic in her carriage. The long, soft brown hair framed a soft, precisely sculptured face, a face gently tanned by a considerate sun. She was well built with no overemphasis of any feature which might detract from any other aspect of her beauty. In sum, Larry could not find a single flaw. Still, there was something more about her than just looks.
As the music started, he found a seat in an easy chair while she hesitated momentarily and sat down on the couch. There was no other sound as the music painted its gentle portrait. As the last sounds drifted away, Larry smiled and said aloud. “I'd forgotten how much I love that piece of music."
Sally laughed. “lt is beautiful." Then she looked at him. "And I believe you when you say how it provides for your ‘mental transfusion' -- you look completely cured."
"Oh, I am. Now I'm merely hungry."
Sally brightened. “Wonderful! And for your further cure, I'm going to allow you to pay for the hospitality of the house. Inasmuch as Beverly isn't here, I will assume the obligation to insure that you're not bored. Beverly would never forgive me.”
“Does that include a home cooked meal? Eating out is about all I've done lately.”
"But this time you get the pleasure of my company, not to mention a chance to do something marvelous for Art in America.”
"Well, I did contribute at the office. But then again, why not?"
"Your enthusiasm at your good fortune truly overwhelms me.”
“I'm sure,” Scott answered. Standing up and starting for the door, he added, "Well, let's go."
Sally blinked slightly then asked, "Can you wait five minutes while I get ready?"
Scott looked back. "Delays! Delays! What do you need five minutes for?"
“To get ready. I do have to change."
Scott laughed. "If you can change in five minutes, I'll not only take you out, I'll give you a medal.”
Scurrying from the room, she said, "Time me!”
Scott did just that and at four minutes and forty two seconds Sally was back with a green, soft dress, looking fit to be crowned at her coronation.
Scott was genuinely shocked. “My God! You made it!"
"Where's my medal?" Sally asked, with all the necessary indignation at such bureaucratic delays.
“Oh, it'll have to come through channels." Then Scott, with a secret but seemingly sincere promise, said "But you'll get it. I guarantee it.”
"That's what they all say.” It was a marvelous smile. "Well, let' s go. I can't wait around for you all night." Scott just smiled and let himself be led to the slaughter. "And I know just the place to go. It's where I take all my rich gentlemen dates.”
Sally had not been jesting entirely. But Scott was rich now. At least he had no money he wanted to save, invest, or otherwise put away for a rainy day. Considerably more than rain was on its way.
More importantly, however, Scott was slowly becoming entranced by this woman. He would have been quite willing to spend as much money as necessary just to remain in her presence. Sally was a very captivating woman. With a shock he suddenly realized that she had lived up to her promises -- he was totally relaxed for the first time in a very long time.
Sally was smiling in a nice way when she said, "I'm beginning to think you're just about totally at ease; your eyes are glassy."
"How old are you?"
Sally was taken back. "Why you're beyond relaxation, you're drunk to ask a lady a question like that." When Scott continued to silently wait for her answer, she acknowledged, "Twenty-two."
Scott smiled with surprise. "Twenty-two?"
Sally grimaced, "Actually my age varies with the situation. For auto insurance purposes, I'm twenty-six. For socializing, I'm over twenty-one." Then, with a lovely smile, "For you, I think I'll be twenty-two."
Scott smiled again. Then the smile faded as he began to think in a more serious manner. Suddenly he was considering the practical. "You're just an artist?"
Sally lifted her head and, with a great deal of false dignity and just a tinge of concern said "Well, I have been known to do some other things. I like sports. And I occasionally play the piano.” Then, with a smiling grimace, "But badly."
An artist, Scott thought gloomily. What exactly would an artist contribute to the enclaves and their little community of candidate survivors? Almost in the manner of merely being polite, he asked, "What kind of art?"
"Sculpture. Mostly bronze." Sally grimaced inwardly as she suddenly felt less confident.
Scott smiled politely. Until it hit him. Knowing something of bronze sculpting, he realized that there was much more to the art than shaping bits of clay. "How much of the process do you do?
Sally began to feel a little more confident. She was proud of her abilities as an artist. "Most all of it. I've done the clay portion, obviously, welding armatures together, fleshing out shapes and applying the clay. Working the clay and getting it down to precise shapes and figures. But I've also done the rubber and fiberglass molds, different waxes, gating and venting, foundary work, metal finishing and polishing, and the chemical patination. Pretty much all aspects. I even used to own a foundary. Nowadays, I leave that part to others, but the metal finishing I still enjoy. You should see my studio. I'm told that my machine shop is the envy of most men."
"Welding!" Scott said abrupty. "And machine work as well?"
"Oh yeah, lots of welding. You do have to rework the metal from the foundary. Remove vent tubes and supports, polish the resulting surfaces. I also often fabricate from scratch some of my pedestals and the like for the scuptures. I've even gotten into fountains lately, which is a whole new set of issues -- plumbing and flow details." Then as she saw Scott's smile increasing, she asked, "Why do you ask?"
"It's just that we could really use someone with your talents.”
"Thank you. But... Who's we?"
Her question brought Scott back to earth. He was already reaching for his wallet. "We can't talk here. I'll explain it all to you back at your place."
“My place?” Sally asked. She was a little off balance. Scott had seemed so nice and so gentlemanly. But this was something else!
"Or my hotel, if you like." Then Scott saw her face and realized the meaning of her question. His brilliant retort was, “Oh.”
Sally had no intention of letting him off the hook. She said not a word to help him, so he was finally forced to say something. "Look, this is not what you might think. Believe me. I'm really not trying to take you to bed. It's something much more important.
“More important?” Sally could not help but smile.
Scott mentally kicked himself again. “Let's just say that you'll understand completely once I explain what my friends and I are about.
Sally was ready to believe this man. And she was not totally adverse to the idea that his intentions might be other than completely honorable. But she said, “Well I guess I can give you a short audience." And then added, “At my place."
The explanation took Scott much more than a 'short audience' -- He was being particularly careful to fully and yet ever so gently explain the future to this woman with whom he was now beginning to think in terms of a future. At every step of the way, he watched her face and eyes for some indication of the effects of his words. Finally it seemed there was no more to tell. Scott found himself suddenly very worried, now that he no longer had the shield of telling his story.
Sally was quiet and serious. She had been staring intently at Scott, trying on the one hand to fathom his story of worlds in collsion and, on the other, to determine if she could even believe him. The simpler alternative was to disbelieve him, but this she did not want to do. She really did not want to lower his worth in her eyes.
He waited for her to answer, as he knew that he could say no more. She understood this and with difficulty began to respond, albeit with her head lowered. "I really don't know how to respond to the... incredible." She looked up at him with a terrible intensity, "I would like to believe what you have told me, if only because it was said by you."
Scott understood. It was a nice compliment. But it was also something springing up inside himself that he hardly recognized -- it had been so long. But he also knew that he must help her." You know and trust Dr. Steward, don't you?"
"Yes, I know him. And I know that Beverly thinks the world of him."
"You can call him."
But to Sally this was a way of saying that she disbelieved Scott. In the face of utter catastrophe, she was struggling to maintain her tentative and untried linkage with him.
Scott again volunteered. “We'll call.”
Sally accepted the ultimatum with something resembling relief. Together they went to the phone. As she dialed, Scott went back to the living room to wait.
In the last hours, Dr. Steward had become a believer and gently confirmed what he believed to be true to Sally. When Sally rejoined Scott, she sensed a certainty she had never known.
"It's really true, isn't it?” She quietly spoke as she sat down beside him on the couch.
“In a terrible way, it's very exciting. To realize the utter insecurity of life and yet, at the same time, to be alive. Life is suddenly very miraculous and very precious.” She then looked at Scott with a deep, thoughtful calm. “Time becomes so important to our lives. Hesitation becomes our eneny." Quietly, her body leaned against his, her body seeking the feel of vibrant life against her own.
This simple act caught Scott off guard, but these feelings were quickly overridden by a new found breathlessnes and awakened depth of desire.
Fumbling, he said, “Sally, I have to say that… He had no desire to lose this moment, but knew that he must speak now. “Sally, I'm married.”
Sally did not move. Her warmth did not abate. Almost conversationally, she asked, “Do you love her?”
"There's you... and now." The truth hit Scott even as he spoke it. He had not known it until this very instant, but it seemed so obvious.
To this Sally reacted. Her body now tense, “Would you feel guilty or hindered?"
“No.” It was so simple. Scott had not even hesitated.
Sally was soft, warm, and happily radiant. “Life is so precious,” she whispered. Snuggling deeper into his arms, “I don't ever want to waste it.”
It was some time later that each of them knew the depth and intensity of Sally's words. As they lay in bed in each other's arms, life was somehow renewed.
It was the incessant ringing of the phone that woke Sally. Sleepily she managed to get to it, banging the receiver against the night table only once. It was a struggle, but she did manage a simple, “Hello?”
“Is Larry Scott there?"
Sally's eyes found the clock. “Do you know what time it is?”
“Yes, lady, I know. Is Larry Scott there?”
“Who's Larry Scott?” Then her eyes found Scott's sleeping figure in the bed beside her. She woke up. “Oh.”
The phone ignored her exclamation and demanded, “Aren't you Beverly Losten?”
Sally looked at the figure. Then she remembered. “Oh, you want Larry. Just a second, I'll wake him.” Then it occurred to her what the casual comment amounted to. Oh well, she thought, I've never been much for hiding such things. "Larry, wake up!” Her voice was very authoritative.
Still it was thirty seconds before Larry was at the phone and displaying any semblance of consciousness. “Scott here."
"Larry, this is Voulers. I've been looking all over town for you. You apparently turned your cell phone off."
"I do that a lot."
"Well quit doing it! We need to have immediate access to you. In the meantime, get your ass back here right away.”
“What the hell is going on now?” Scott tensed as the possibilities began to come to him in all their profusion. He began visualizing everything from suicide to a take-over by the CIA, all in a brief moment.
“I'm not going to talk about it on the phone. Just get back here. ON THE DOUBLE!!”
“Okay, George. I'm on my way." Carefully he handed the receiver back to Sally, who placed it back on the hook. For a moment he sat on the bed, wondering.
“What's wrong?” Sally sensed the urgency.
“We've got problems. Only I don't know what they are. One thing for sure: I've got to leave right away.” Then he turned to her and felt a loneliness he might never have expected. “I'll get back in touch as soon as I can. When your roomie, Beverly, gets back, fill her in and then cool it until I talk to you. I'll try like hell to call you by tomorrow night.”
Scott felt a complete confidence from Sally's simple statement. He felt stronger for it. Interrupting his efforts to get dressed, he reached across the bed to give her a kiss. The sweetness of that touch lingered with him all the way back to home base.
Chapter Two -- Ketuohok
Chapter Four -- Luck of the Draw
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]