As always, spoiler warnings: below the fold is a little of what happened in the last pages of the last chapter of “Foes & Rivals.” We learn a little more about local politics and finally meet Gil’s wife.
This is the last quiet installment. Things take on momentum now.
The mayor shook his head and leaned forward to pick up his phone.
“Find Bob and tell him to get back here. Yeah. We need to send a HAM radio message to Salem, soonest.” He set the ancient phone handle back onto the cradle. “Tell me what happened, Gil.”
His little story over, Gil walked out of the small office building into a light mist. Salem is the functioning capitol of what’s left of Oregon down the Willamette Valley and to each side of it. Portland is its own little enclave… I wonder if she’s still there?… but everything acknowledges the kingship of Rhun, Great Lord of the Nation, the horseman who defeated the cannibals of former Washington’s central valley, then, after being betrayed by Portland’s mayor, took that city, as well.
And that, he thought, nearly home, is when the three of us escaped. First to Zom’s Pub, on PSU’s campus, then later, the two of us, here.
He drove his bike slowly around the house and back into his shed. Coming out, he saw his wife standing still on their back deck. Obviously nervous and concerned from what their sons told her but waiting in silence and trust for her man.
He strode directly across the moss and grass and up the three steps, taking Mackenzie into his arms and kissing her mouth. A little broader after five children and dressed in a light gray shift which blended perfectly into the northwest Oregon sky; with her mousy hair she was nearly invisible to everyone. But she was the center of Gil’s life.
“A Russian warship, the boys said,” she said, looking up in adoration once their mouths broke apart. “But you are acting like there’s more, right?”
Perhaps because she was such an amazing, accomplished artist, in paint and sculpture, her ability to read people was almost as good as…
“It’s not so much that the mayor seemed to expect this and was radioing onto Salem,” he began, leading them both to sit down on the bench next to the aged wood table. “But while on the ship, they invited me for tea, if you can believe it! Their executive officer seemed to know about me. In fact, he had a printout about me.”
He held Mac’s hands just a little tighter.
“Why would Russian intelligence have a file on an absolute nobody like Gil Haven?” he asked rhetorically. “My suspicion is that they have a file on someone else. And her file had my name in it.”
Mackenzie’s right hand left his to cover her mouth.
“You… mean… Nichole?” she whispered.
“Yeah. That’s my best guess.” Gil shook his head. “And one more time, a generation on, we’re somehow caught up in the coils and plans of Miss Clarke again.”
“She was your best friend,” he said with a rueful smile.
“And she was your lover,” Mac said, holding his eyes.
“Yes. That’s past.” He stood and pulled her up. “Let’s just hope all this blows over and we keep our quiet, normal lives. No wars, no politics.”
He kissed his wife again.
“And no androids.”