Jan. 4th, 2011

campkilkare: (Default)
The house is small, but it has a porch and it face west, and most evenings he can be found there around sunset with a bottle and a glass. Most nights he could leave the bottle inside. Most nights. It's exactly what he asked for, but he long ago stopped being surprised by the Agency's ability to meet exacting specifications.

From time to time, here in his retirement, he gets visitors. If they come at sunset, and they bring a bottle of their own, he will speak to them; he doesn't allow them in the house. Some of the visitors he doesn't speak with. Some of them he doesn't need to, and for them he goes inside and brings out a second glass and they sit for a time and they don't talk about the things you can never talk about, and then they go. Some of them he chooses not to, the young and callow ones. Many of them don't even know enough to bring a bottle, or speak to him with presumption, as if they had bought him. No one has ever bought him.

He has never had to throw anyone off his porch; none of them have been as young or as callow as that. His reputation is a matter of record, for those who have the eyes to see those kinds of records, and time has yet to dull him. You retire young in his business, or you don't. He didn't expect to, certainly.

The girl brings him Johnny Walker Black, which is a good omen. He doesn't generally think of female agents as girls, but she seems terribly young, and small. To hold her would be like holding a bird in the palm of his hand, brittle bones and rapid-fire heart. He's not used to thinking of female agents in those terms--of any woman in those terms, in the years that have followed--and it disturbs him enough that he pours a second glass.

Because she let him finish the first glass, he speaks first. "Who sent you here?"

"Akers."

He nods. He knows Akers. Years ago he and Akers did something together, and every now and again Akers comes and sits on the porch and they drink and don't talk about it.

"What about?"

She folds her hands over her lap. "At the Agency I'm just an analyst. I worked with Akers on my first account last month. Before that I was in the FBI. I caught the Black River killer."

Caught but did not bring in, he recalls. He reads a lot. The Black River killer was one of sixteen bodies brought out. In calm terms, she tells him about following the trail, about the needles, about killing him, about the evidence that had to be changed or forged in the aftermath. She says it carefully but without fear. How could someone like Akers, like him, ever judge her?

And he waits for the questions to come. About how to live with it, about what you do with the nightmares, about the darkness inside and where you put it when you come away to a little house that looks west. He listens and braces himself to tell her he has nothing to tell her.

She comes to the end of the story, and he waits for the questions.

He waits for a longish while, and when she doesn't speak again he goes inside and gets the woman on the porch a glass of her own. When she leaves, the sky is dark.

That was the beginning.

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T. Oso

March 2016

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