it was the night before the big day - one of them.
harry and jerry and me decided to take the bus to town. .
the driver was a little fat native woman who made a big deal out of giving us exact change for our tickets.
the bus was crowded. we were a little surprised that the natives did not get up and give us their seats but we did not really care.
we broke up when we got to town.
suddenly we were the only ones left on the bus, when it was just getting back. harry had a tan like he had been out in the sun for three days, but it faded before we got to the camp.
the streets of the camp were deserted. the young guys, the proles, were all locked up and under guard. half of them would be dead at the same time tomorrow night.
the admirals and generals were having one their admiral and general night before parties. me and harry and jerry walked in, there were still some seats in the back.
the women had not noticed jerry yet, but they would. jerry was one of those guys who just had it - like everything else in the world you either had it or you did not, and they flocked around jerry like moths around whatever.
i sat down and admiral x’s secretary came over and asked me about my sore foot, but then jerry came over she forgot about me. some more women came over and surrounded jerry.
you always were a backward swaying bimbo, jerry told the admiral’s secretary, and the women all pretended to be shocked, but laughed.
up front the admirals and generals were laughing too, harder than ever. the torch lights flickered.
what did we care? we were the children of the dawn, the clouds would always part for us and the birds would always fly out of them. we would get old and gray and our maids and grandchildren would bring us cool drinks on silver trays.
this will not take long. i have only three questions.
have you been there?
yes, i have.
a simple yes or no will suffice. have you done that?
have you seen it all?
good. here is your assignment.
the man behind the desk handed over a small phone. the screen of the phone showed black and white head shots, as on i d card, of an ordinary looking white person, and a name and address.
memorize it and give it back.
that is easy enough, the man who had been there replied. he glanced at the screen and handed it back across the desk.
that is all, the man behind the desk said.
the man who had been there got up and left the office, which had no window, and contained only the desk, two chairs, and the man behind the desk.
the man who had been there and done that passed the elevator and walked down the four flights of stairs to the street.
two hours later the man who had been there and done that and seen it all entered one of the larger waiting areas of one of the world’s larger airports.
the person whose picture had been on the phone of the man behind the desk was seated by themself at a table for two in a corner, to the side of the great window looking out in the night on to the landing strips.
the man who had been there sat down across the petson whose picture had been on the phone.
i have been instructed to meet you.
i suppose you must have been.
but do you know what?
i have had enough. of all this nonsense.
have we not all?
i wish there were someplace we could go, and get away from it all.
i think i know a place.
then shall we go?
they got up and left.
a third person, who had been seated in one of the deep chairs of the waiting area, carefully folded up the copy of the london sun they had been reading, and followed the pair at a suitable distance.
and was followed themself by a fourth person.
who was followed by a fifth...
forever is a long time. they can not follow us all forever…
lady nadine looked over her balcony and saw uncle charles sitting in the garden.
althea, she asked her niece, would you please go and tell uncle charles i wish to speak to him? he is sitting in the garden, beside the new roses.
of course, aunt, althea agreed.
althea made her way down to where uncle charles was seated, and found that he was asleep.
he looks so peaceful, althea thought. like he is having the most beautiful dreams any person has ever had. it would be a shame to wake him.
uncle charles? she asked a couple of times. barely in a whisper, but uncle charles did not respond, and althea decided that she had followed the letter of aunt nadine’s request, and returned to the house.
lady nadine was mildly annoyed but not seriously discountenanced by althea’s failure, as althea was little more than a child. she rang for her personal maid, soames, and instructed her to tell uncle charles that she , nadine, wished to see him.
he appears to be asleep, lady nadine instructed soames, but do not have any qualms about waking him.
yes, my lady, the dutiful soames replied.
but when soames reached the sleeping charles, she, like althea, thought she had never seen a creature, not even a dog or a cat, look so completely at peace with the world, and after a few half hearted shakes of his drooping left arm, she desisted and returned to the drawing room.
he just looked so peaceful, my lady, she explained to nadine. i did give hm a few good shakes, honest i did, but what could i do? i didn’t want to knock him out of the chair and on to the hard ground.
oh very well, lady nadine exclaimed. tell benton i wish to see him.
benton, the butler, arrived and was given his marching orders.
look here, benton, he is asleep unless he happens to have just woken up. i want you to bring him here. i do not care how annoyed he might be, do you understand? lady nadine felt like adding, it is i who am mistress of this house and charles is just a wretched parasite and hanger on without a penny of his own to his name, but of course she said nothing of the sort to a servant.
but when benton reached the still slumbering charles, his heart, too, went out to him.
lord bless me, benton thought, i have never seen a live soul look so at peace. a few dead ones in my time, but none still alive. and he made no effort to wake him.
i am sorry, my lady, he reported, but i could not wake him, not without getting positively violent. but he was breathing quite normally, so i do not think there is anything to fear on that score.
lady nadine admitted defeat. in that case, she sighed, summon cousin marcus instead. i believe you will find him in the library, working on his history of the hittite empire.