...And Tomorrow...
by Charlotte

Most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and right place, they're capable of anything.

T minus eight hours. Fifteen minutes, thirty-two seconds; one thousand years. Each second stretched to a perfect, polished eternity, hovering disconnected from the next, from the last, from everything there is.

Your hands are shaking; you bite your lip until you think you can feel blood vessels giving way under the skin; your heart threatens to crack and flood you with something as hot and sticky as blood.

You are in the elevator to your son's hotel room; the motion has nothing to do with the sick lurch in your stomach, which you refuse to acknowledge. In your purse you have: a key ring; a cellular phone; a bottle of Xanax; two lipsticks. Your clothes are new.

Your father liked to talk about the outstanding experience of a person's life; the one thing, the great thing, that made everything else seem small. Your father fought in World War Two. He flew fifty-six missions; people shot at him; he was in danger every minute; he was a hero; he defended his country; nothing he did was wrong. The Big One, Ellie; his words uncurled thrilling and soft and electric against your skin. After that, everything's easy. Everything falls into place. There's nothing you can't do. Nothing. Do you understand me?

You understood him. After this, nothing. No more obstacles; no more struggling; no more crossing your legs to keep from leaping up, no more grinding your teeth to keep from screaming. No more fear; life will fall into place like the tumblers of a lock, easy as chess with no opponent. Nothing to rage against, nothing to fight; no reason to wake up.

You'll find something to take its place; you'll have everything, after all, everything you ever wanted. Everything you cried yourself sick not having; everything you lied and cheated and killed for, and sold your soul to get.


What I did, I did well, and I did it for my country

You can't stop thinking about Tom Jordan. Poor Tom. He was an idiot, of course, a traitor, a threat not just to you but to America -- it was utterly necessary to be rid of him -- but you feel a little sorry for him now that he's dead. You never liked him, it took everything you had to pretend, but he might not have known how wrong he was; besides, you have to admit, he had his own reasons for disliking you. (He was good with his hands, a long long time ago, although not as good as he obviously wanted to be, and you got a dirty kind of pleasure from what you did with him, to him; you could have let him down easier. If you'd wanted to)

The daughter, though. That might have been unnecessary (and that is as much of a concession as you will make on that, you'd really prefer not to think of her at all). You did want her out of the way -- the minute you saw her every nerve in your body shrieked like a smoke alarm, and when Raymond came home with a bandage on his leg and that silly look in his eyes... but you took care of that years ago. There was no way she'd take him back now.

Drowning is a terrible way to die.


What need we fear who knows it when none can call our power to account?

Never mind. It had to be done. There are casualties in war, and if (don't give her a name) if that girl was the only one to die for your cause, you're luckier than you deserve. Luckier than you have any right to expect, anyway. Of course she wasn't the only one, but those men weren't your problem; that was because of whatever Manchurian Global and whatever-that-man's-name-was (Doyle? Noyle?) did to them. That would have happened anyway, and they're really nothing to do with you; you'll get rid of them as soon as you can. (Except maybe you won't be able to; after all how much do you really know about what they did to Raymond? Who he's... programmed?... to obey in the last ditch? You, you, always you, of course, and you will, you will, you must be able to override whatever it is they've told him if it comes to that [but what if you can't? ]; you, after all, have the advantage. You have always had the advantage, where Raymond is concerned. This is a true thing, one of the truest things in your life; your son is yours, more than anything has ever been, and you'd kill for him, you'd die for him, you'd die over and over and over again, you'd do everything there is for him, even though he'll never appreciate that, never see how much you need him; how much you need each other; your love for him is in your blood, it is your blood, it suffuses you, every part of your body; you would, and you will)

Better not to think about any of that. Better just to grit your teeth and swallow a pill (and you do not have a problem, you've had a standing prescription for six years but you don't have a problem, you're just under a lot of pressure; one of these days you're going to quit just to prove that it can be done) and wait for this whole insane charade to be over. You don't trust this scheme one bit -- too many moving parts -- but these people must know what they're doing. They've organized coups before; you've seen some of the records. Some, but not all, and the first thing you're going to do when this is over is demand to know everything; you want a word with this Noyle-or-Doyle person. (The name rings a bell, and you don't like the look of the man; he looks, from the pictures you've seen, like some kind of rodent, not like someone you want rummaging around in your son's mind; this is a terrible thing that you've let yourself in for, but it is necessary, it is, it is, it must be; if it isn't then your whole life has been wrong, and you will not go down that road)


Everything else is a waste of breath.

The important thing is that you are right. What you are doing is not wrong; it cannot, by definition, be wrong, because you, by definition, are right.

Of this, you are sure.


I am you and you are me and what have we done to each other?


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