Public Key (Lxxxv)

I didn’t sleep much that night. That’s okay. I was happy to lie there, think about what an idiot I was, and how good it felt to be alive.

I woke up with the dawn, put together my kit, and waited. And waited and waited. At length there was a knock on my door, and it was with only mild trepidation that I opened it. Hannah was there, wearing fresh clothes the color of the road, her backpack around her shoulders, a smile on her face.

Ready? she asked.

Let’s do it.

We went up to the main lodge. I checked inside: empty. Why don’t you wait here for a minute, I said. Let me go and find Oakley.

Why?

I forced myself to chuckle. He is my notional employer, I should tell him if I’m about to disappear.

She nodded, and I went over to his house. I knocked our knock, then again, louder. After a few minutes and a few overheard curses, he shot the bolt and opened the door.

What, he said.

Hannah came back.

So?

I took a breath. We’re going on a hike.

His eyes spread into spheres like a bubble rising to the surface of a lake. You’re what?

Going on a hike. With Hannah?

He stared at me.

Do you think I could borrow-

Have you lost-, he started. Then, less shoutily, Have you lost your fucking mind?

Possibly, I said.

Well… shit.

We’ll stay off the roads, I said. Off the villages. I’ve got a rout planned, we should-

Are you in love with her?

That one brought me up short. I thought it over for a second, then shrugged.

Because if you were in love with her, he said, that at least might explain why you’re acting so phenomenally stupid.

I though you were going to say that it might excuse it.

Yeah, that’s really what I was going to say.

Listen, I said, I can’t-

Do you want to get caught?

Another question that felt like walking into a wall.

No, I said. Not on your life.

Then go back to your room, your house, and close the door behind you.

I can’t.

You’re thinking with your dick, he said.

Oakley-

That’s okay. I mean, I’ve seen the girl. She’s beautiful in this kind of gautama sphinx kinda thing. I can see-

I can’t just stay there, I said. I can’t sit in my hammock for the rest of my life. Sooner or later, I have to…

To what? Get caught? Get shipped back air freight to the States to get put on trial?

I took a deep breath, and thought it through.

I don’t think it’s likely, I began.

Yeah, well, what you think right now isn’t exactly the seven pillars of fucking wisd-

I held up my hand. I don’t think it’s likely, I repeated, but I’ve thought about it through, and it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

He stared at me. Or maybe he was trying to light me on fire with his brain.

It didn’t work. And he sighed.

You love her, don’t you, he said.

I don’t know.

Does she love you?

I don’t fucking know.

Could you love her?

I think so.

Do you want to?

Yes. I do.

Then mazel tov, he said. Have fun, don’t get caught, I’m going back to bed.

Oakley-

He reached out and pulled me into a big hug.

If you get caught, I kill you, he said.

Thanks, I said, with what little oxygen remained me.

I hope she’s worth it.

Yeah, me too.

He broke the hug, and held me by the shoulders. Laughed in my face, shook his head, and closed the door.

 

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~ by davekov on 13 March 2011.

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