DayJob continues to be a freaking trial this week but I’m seeing lots to write down. Woke up at 0400 this morning, in fact, with an image behind my eyes which will tie this book, “Regent,” to both “Crosses & Doublecrosses” from six years ago as well as the in-process manuscript of “New Russia” I walked away from in the late spring. Future histories, like those past, are webs, not linear.
Below, I think the woman who brought food is legit and knows Ypres or his family. Donegal? He might want to recall that “I was only doing my job” didn’t fly in 1946-48 (not that the Nuremberg Trials had any legitimacy; they didn’t need it. They had guns).
Having never been arrested before, much less tossed in jail, the processing was at once perfunctory and humiliating. Down a floor to a hall with damp walls, he was told to surrender all of his belongings and strip. Jimmy resolved to never tell Aurie about the gloved finger up his ass to check for contraband. Issued an orange jumper made of paper, he was shown to a tiny cell. No window or door handle. A sink just large enough for one aluminum cup. Metal bed with a pad maybe a centimeter thick. One rough blanket. The sole light overhead was recessed and behind shatterproof plastic.
And I’m assuming they are listening, he thought. Did Aurelia send that message to the flatscreen? Who else could it be, with that strange word, “Walls”? Then again, he knew there were other demis and much more powerful AIs about the world. After all, no one signed it.
Help comes in time, he mouthed without saying. Think weeks and months. But Uncle Rich indicated the Premier wants me gone ASAP. Not at all religious it never occurred to him to pray but he did think very much about someone who he thought he could win before he lay down and closed his eyes against the light.
The door banged open sometime later. With no idea how long he had slept, Jimmy listened to the guard tell him he had five minutes to shit and piss. And watched him do it. That over, the man took his shoulder and pushed him toward the hall where another waited. They took him back to the conference room, one floor above.
I wonder what Uncle will have to bitch about this morning, Jimmy thought, guessing at the time. But when the door opened, a man he didn’t know came in.
Mid-thirties with khaki pants and an off-white woolen turtleneck sweater, he gave a smile before tossing some manila files onto the table opposite Burns.
“Captain Donegal, Canadian Army,” he said, extending his hand across the table. Jimmy managed a perfunctory shake. “Looks like you’ve had quite the time of it, what?”
If this guy is not a spook, I’ll eat my hard hat from the base.
“Such a quiet, normal, life,” Donegal said, opening one of the files and flipping pages. “Until just a few days ago. Care to talk about that?”
“I made a statement to Officer Grady already,” he replied.
“I know. I have it here,” the captain said easily. “I just wanted to know if you have anything else to say?”
“Mister Burns?” Donegal said with a grim look. “You have stirred up a lot of trouble. I just want to ask if you can help set our minds at ease over one or two things. I think we can help each other if you do.”
Think weeks, months… Jimmy stared at him.
“For example,” the other looked down at the file for a moment, “can you tell me what a demi-human is?”
“Okay. How about this: in that report to Grady you brought up, you admitted to sleeping with Hartmann.” Donegal looked up with an open smile. “Did she seem different than a regular girl to you, then?”
To keep the grin off of his face, Burns recalled when she stabbed the syringe into her left thigh. Another shrug. The captain leaned back.
“You’re not being very helpful, Mister Burns,” he noted. “We’ve a plane over at Shearwater Airbase, across the harbor, to take you to Ottawa, soonest. If you can help me, it might prevent any unpleasantness coming your way.”
Jimmy stared over his shoulder at the inactive flatscreen. Maybe it wasn’t anyone. Maybe it was SIS trying to get me to talk. He closed his eyes. A moment later he heard Donegal stand and leave, shutting the door. He allowed himself a deep breath.
About five minutes later the door reopened to a mousy, older woman carrying a tray with a bit of food, a bottle of water, and a small glass of milk. He thanked her and quickly tore into the meat and cheese, not knowing when his next meal might be. But she was still there. He looked up as she leaned down, holding a felt pen. On a piece of cheese, she wrote, “Ypres” before motioning him to eat it immediately. She was leaving while he chewed.
She knows Loup? Or vice versa? Letting me know that I might have some outside help? He drank all the milk. Or is this another possible SIS trick?
“Get up,” a different guard said from the door. There was another behind him. While they both wore pistols, they were still in their holsters. Burns stood and they waved him into the hall and back to the elevators.
That means parking garage and not cell. I suppose that’s an improvement.
Into the same or an identical sedan, he was startled a bit to see Captain Donegal, still in civilian clothes, to his left. No word or even a nod as the car moved. Back onto the street, Jimmy realized he had misjudged the time; the sun was just coming up over the eastern horizon. I remember that movie where the spies use sleep deprivation to break their victims…
Due east a few blocks to the smaller wharves, the car stopped.
“Your orange jumper is warning enough for no one to help you if you try to run,” Donegal finally spoke, opening his door. “I’d rather not add manacles at this point. Yet.”
He was led, three men ahead of and behind him, to a short pier with a nondescript motorboat. Two more men awaited them. No one wore anything like a police or military uniform. Five minutes later had them motoring across the harbor, the far side about two klicks away. The oil terminal ahead, the boat turned southeast.
“What you were told yesterday?” The captain spoke again. “We’re getting you out of here. Flight from the airbase to Ottawa. Normally a two-hour flight but we are taking the scenic route.”
“Afraid the NorFeds might blow us out of the sky?” Jimmy snarked before he could stop his mouth. I am so sick of this shit.
“Something like that,” Donegal agreed. “We’re not sure about what’s going on with them and the imperials right now, so we’re being cautious.”
“Am I worth all this trouble?” Jimmy asked, honestly curious.
“Someone thinks you are. This is just my job.” Donegal pointed ahead. “We’ll be putting in there. Behave yourself.”
Off the boat and into another car, they were waved into the airbase by the two men in uniform with rifles, driving directly out onto the taxiways to where a small, twin-engine jet plane waited at the northwest corner of the runway, facing the opposite direction.
Holding onto Jimmy’s left arm, the captain stopped at the bottom of the stairway.
“Not coming?” Jimmy asked, forgetting to not talk.
“My assignment is here in Halifax,” Donegal had no trouble admitting. “Odd jobs like you crop up now and again.”
The engine opposite screamed to life. Donegal leaned forward to Jimmy’s ear.
“And good luck, Mister Burns. This is bullshit.” He walked back to the car as one other man, with a machine pistol, waved for him to get aboard.