Bit of a whiplash installment: “you’re back to work! now you’re arrested!” At least Jimmy gets some solid advice from his friend, Loup Ypres.
That guy interests me. He already mentioned his family coming to Quebec from Algeria. That was, what, around 1962? I recall that the Separatist Movement got a reboot from those French who had lived in Algiers for generations and were suddenly unwelcome refugees in their own country. Is Ypres just passing on family lore or has he been behind bars?
With trans-Rocky Mountain Canada controlled by the Russian Empire, if Aurie could pull off something in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces, Rump Canada would collapse almost immediately. I wonder if she has looked that far ahead? If she did, she has to shelve that for her stint as regent.
Not at all sure how he did it, John Gates was pounding on his door at 0630, two mornings later, telling a sleepy Burns to get dressed, get in the truck, and keep his mouth shut. Bouncing their way to the spaceport, the older man explained.
“This launch is for us, not the Habsburgs,” Gates said, trying to not spill his black tea down the front of his jacket. “Some comsat. It has to go up and that means we need everyone.”
“Launching satellites,” Jimmy muttered.
“Kid? We don’t all get shot into space by our girlfriends, so focus up here a little,” John chided him. “Everyone is going to pretend you’re just another tech and that Burns guy is still cooling his heels back home.”
Gates braked at the locked fence.
“Got it?” he asked.
“Got it. Head down; mouth shut.”
Officially not working, it came to Jimmy’s attention that everyone was giving him a cut of their wages. Quietly, one by one, swore to them all he’d pay them back. Some demanded it. Macleod just said he wanted a trip on the flying saucer… when his fiancée wasn’t looking.
“Which is why,” the only one Jimmy’s age confessed over a cold tin of sardines, “I’ve not been over. She’s scared shitless that me knowing you will ruin my career. I’m sorry, Jimmy.”
“No worries.” Jimmy gave a grin. “You really think, compared to me, you’ve got women problems?”
“Point there,” Macleod acknowledged. “Let’s get back to the subassembly.”
It was on the sixth day of that, with Ypres with Gates in the truck, that Jimmy paused on his way out the front door as Loup was walking in.
“No work today. Ready to listen?” the Quebecois asked.
“This already does not sound good.”
“This Hartmann girl, your girl?” Ypres agreed, shaking his head. “News. Their Empress is gone on a trip. Your girl is now running the imperium. A, how to say, friend of mine says you will be picked up and taken to Halifax in about an hour.”
“Picked up,” Burns echoed. “Prison?”
Another Gallic shrug.
“You want to run? Here, in Canso? Nowhere to go.” He lit a cigarette. “Hint to you, from my old relatives. In jail, think weeks and months. Not days. Or you will go crazy.”
“And say nothing.” He brushed his cheeks to both sides of Jimmy’s and was gone.
“Never been to prison,” he muttered. The room was small, cold, dark. “Guess I can pack something, just in case.”
That done, nervous at hearing any car go down the road, he finally decided, fuck it all, and got a bottle of beer out of the fridge. It was half gone when he spied Grady’s SUV and a couple of sedans turn around at the empty lot to the south and stop in front of his place. He tossed the rest of the beer back and went to the bathroom. It’s a three-hour drive and I don’t know if we’ll stop. Dangerous political prisoner that I am.
There was a knocking on his door. He looped his bag over his shoulder and opened it. Grady, looking uncomfortable, he knew. The balding, fat one standing next to the lead car – a trench coat, really? – he did not.
“I’m sorry, Jimmy,” he barely heard the old sergeant.
The young man tried to imitate Ypres’ shrug and went to where fatty was holding open the back door of the car.
“You want to make a statement, kid?” Fatty asked from his left.
Say nothing. He shook his head. At that, the one in the front passenger seat radioed they had the suspect in custody and would arrive in four hours.
Four. Lunch? Piss breaks? Jimmy looked right out the window at a village he would likely never see again. Good. But I hope John and Loup come back for my leftover beer.
My answer is yes, Aurie. Why do I feel like she heard that?