Some older, wiser heads come over, both to check on their friend and find out what happened. In all that, the conversation quickly takes a dark turn.
I’m still a few thousand words ahead. We know from the last scene with Aurie that at some point Jimmy is transferred to Halifax. I am a bit torn as to what happens after that. Having him, essentially, sit back and wait for Hartmann to rescue him, after she already did once from the pirates, would be demeaning to his self-image as a man. Burns assembles rockets, so we know he’s not dumb. And works in commercial fishing, lobsters and crabs, which is hard, dangerous work, so he’s not physically weak. How to be heroic and noble without being shot by the secret police? Thinking about that…
I wonder if Ypres and Jansen ever get together?
Recognizing the sound of Gates’ truck, Jimmy stood and opened the front door. I guess this is okay with my detention. John got out of the driver’s side with a bag of sausages and bread, that he could see. Loup came around carrying a case of beer.
“Damn, you guys are the best,” he yelled, waving them in. Having been in each other’s homes for years, the two older men set about putting things away in his kitchen. Seeing the half-empty bottle in their host’s hand, Ypres brought out three. They took the couch so Jimmy got the broken chair.
“Now,” Gates nearly shouted, “what the actual fuck is going on here! Pirates, imperials, UFOs, you’re a spy? What the hell, Jimmy? You take two girls home and suddenly you’re James Bond instead of Jimmy Burns?”
“I confess,” Loup said softly in his native dialect, “I miss the looks of the older one. Elegant.”
Living it all in two days and having been interrogated a few hours ago, Jimmy’s telling got a little better each time. And with his friends, he was not at all closed-mouth.
“Four times? Four!” John was incredulous.
“Four-and-a-half,” Jimmy smiled. “She started with her crotch over my face.”
Loup shook his head and stood for more beer. Jimmy reached under the coffee table to set out an ashtray for him. Was there a Quebecois who didn’t smoke?
They grew silent when it came out who “Aurie Hardt” really was. The two shared a look.
“I had no idea until after the pirate attack,” Burns clarified. “And who said I was a spy?”
“Monsieur Alvis mentioned it in passing to our Mountie,” Ypres explained from behind his gray cloud. “No one believes it, Jimmy.”
He went on with the scene at the hospital and the next day, with the spaceship.
“Everyone took pictures,” Gates told him, “and shared them. You front and center. You really did go into space?”
He said yes. Then concluded by admitting he is under house arrest.
“But,” now John was angry. “We’ve only got days to get ready for that launch! We need you.”
“What can I do?” Jimmy asked.
Loup looked to John who said, “One more.” Ypres took that for both beer and a smoke.
“Jimmy?” he spoke carefully. “This princess. Does it go further than just a friend for the night?”
“Leave it to a Frenchman to ask such a question at a time like this!” Gates huffed. Ypres’ eyes never left Burns’.
“She said she’ll come back for me. And I better have an answer ready,” Jimmy told him.
“And your answer will be?”
“I…” golden eyes, blood, “I’ll tell her she is my life now.”
Loup leaned back, blowing a huge cloud to the ceiling.
“This will be trouble, John.”
“Losing one of our best techs? Of course it is, Loup…”
“Non. Our friend is now, how do you say? A material witness in something huge. Halifax must know by now.” He tapped off some ashes. “Ottawa, tomorrow. My family came here after Algeria. Many were Separatists. Many of those were jailed, beaten.”
“Now,” the electrician waved at his younger co-worker, “Mister Burns espouses a princess with a technology we cannot imagine. This will make some people very nervous.”
Their talk was suddenly not fun and the room seemed smaller, again.
“Hey, now,” Jimmy tried to begin.
“This imperium, just some years ago, dropped the bomb on another city founded by Frenchmen, St. Louis.” He stubbed out his cigarette. “What will this, what did you say? Demi-human? What will she do when our friend here is in lockup by the SCRS?”
That was, Jimmy knew, the French way of saying the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
“That’s enough for today,” Gates said, standing. Their conversation was getting dangerous. “We’ll check in every couple of days and I’ll try to get you back to work. Coming, Loup?”
He was already out the door but Ypres paused.
“Have you any way to contact your new friend?” he asked quietly.
“I’ve just that old landline,” he said, pointing at the phone on the kitchen counter. “My computer is at the base.”
“Ah,” Ypres replied with typical Gallic understatement. “I have some friends in, well, here and there. I shall reach out to them about all this. A very interesting time.”
Unable to stand the close-in walls, Jimmy stormed out the back door. Looking up to where a spaceship was that morning. Nothing there but the darkening eastern sky.
“The damn SIS! No way… I’m nobody…” You slept with a foreign princess who said she wants to love you, idiot. “What now… what now?”