The kitten purred in his lap. The only consolation to torn feelings was this tiny creature that loved him unconditionally. Her belled blue collar jingled quietly. Sullivan had spent the last five hours on the phone shouting at internal security to get him patched through to the Prime Minister. A matter of life and death, for everyone in the country. It had been one of those times when he wished that he could throttle the poor peons answering phones and following protocols.
Naruko mewled petulantly demanding his complete attention. Absently he scratched her under the chin as he waited on hold. At last he would speak to the top of the chain. At least he hoped so. “Mr Morris?” No shit Sherlock, who the fuck else did you think this was waiting after all that yelling, “We apologize for the trouble. There have been,” a laboured pause, “issues that have made things a bit more difficult than usual. What seems to be the emergency.”
Now was as good a time as any, “If you don’t put me through to the Prime Minister, this whole country goes to hell in a hand-basket, and your fucking retarded protocols will be cited as the reason more than eighty percent of the population died,” there, said.
Another pause, “Ah,” ahem, “one moment please.”
It could be worse, they could have hung up on him for his arrogant anger. They knew better though. They knew his name. Heads would roll all the way down the line for putting him through this circus.
The Prime Minister, “Mr Morris. Always a pleasure.” Bullshit, you asshole.
“Cut the shit, David. You know why I’m calling. You know it’s no pleasure. Five hours ago, we had the time to find a plan of action together. Five hours of yelling to get to you gave me time to formulate a plan that you have to accept whether you like it or not. So put on your listening ears, because if you don’t everyone dies.”
“All right. Since we’re friends start talking.”
“Remember 2010 in Vancouver? Threats, propaganda, security, herding little old ladies into locked rooms to be felt up and strip searched by thugs little better than those in the Surrey gangs. Well we did all that, as you know, to kiss ass to the bully to the south. This time however, that bully to the south has put their greedy glasses on and threatened us with a full scale nuclear strike if we don’t open our airspace to them with no conditions, along with a clean wipe of their debts to us, in addition to free movement of their citizens and military in both directions. Sound like fun? Thought not. It’s all on the hush-hush at the moment, but I can assure you that the media is not far behind me. It’s going to hit the world stage in less than 48 hours, actually, less than 40 since I’ve been put on hold and jostled around the system so much. We need damage control, we need it now. If we don’t fix it, we’re all dead. Get the media on board. Get the top five journalists given exclusive coverage. Keep it tight. Keep it controlled. Contact our overseas friends and apprise them of the situation. Activate our internals to the south and recall the rest. Quietly.”
Silence, the kind that makes one’s ears ring, came from the other end of the line, “I’ve known you a long time, Sullivan. You’re no liar. You’re not prone to blowing things out of proportion. You better not be stirring shit or you might find that getting home later will be difficult due to traffic. If you catch my drift.”
The line went dead.
Good. He finally put his point across. Sullivan hoped that his years of service and straight shooting would pay off. If it did, he would be the unspoken name behind it all, the one that only he and his family ever knew about while the Prime Minister, his childhood friend, took the credit. If things failed, then his name would be the one to take the fall and his life would end.
A cold nose prodded his chin. An inquisitive mew reminded him to uncoil and pay attention to his little charge. His family. Since his wife and daughter had been blown out of the sky six months ago in an accidental training accident, assassination more like, he had only had Naruko to keep him sane. What secrets this little animal could tell if she could talk. Thankfully not or else she’d be dead too.
He stood and stretched placing Naruko on his shoulder. He swore to himself mentally. This room felt like a tomb. A teak desk in the corner with a picture of his late wife and daughter on the corner, tear stained letters scattered across it. Jezzabelle used to write him letters every week, hiding them in places he would find at a later date. Even now he was still finding things as if she were still there, writing and hiding. He was furious, hurt, confused, broken. Somehow he would get revenge, but he didn’t have a clue what he was actually doing.
If someone were to ask him ten years ago if he thought his life would mean anything, he would have said no. Simply, it was Jezzabelle that gave him the strength to be everything he could be and more. When only three years ago she brought their daughter, Shyel, into the world, he had two people who were everything to him. In the blink of an eye he would give everything to have them back, even if only a moment.
Bitterly he kicked over an empty trash bin and walked out of the room. Pausing only long enough to look at the photo on his desk and whisper, “I will always love you.”
The office opened out into the living room. A modest and warm place with a baby-grand piano in the corner. Shyel had shown a love for the sound right from her first day home when Jezzabelle played. The first song she’d ever played for their daughter was Green Tea Waterfall as composed by Christian Kacher, a moving piece that seemed so energetic and fateful and now so very sad. With Naruko still resting on his shoulder he sat down at the baby-grand and closed his eyes. Taking a deep breath he played the song for the first time with such feeling that even the kitten stayed absolutely silent.
The ominous final cord of the original settled his resolve and gave him strength. Toying with the song and extending it, it became firmer, happier, brighter, turning into an expulsion of barely contained emotion and focus. As each finger struck a key his mind became clearer and his thoughts more focused. Naruko began to purr, she affectionately nuzzled his neck. I love you, said the kitten in it’s own way, I’m still here.
An hour passed before finally Sullivan stood up and stretched again, empty but calm. He knew what he had to do. Screw waiting on politicians, they would just screw things up. War would ensue if he didn’t start moving immediately. He knew he had to protect himself. His life would end before the 40 hours had lapsed if he did not.
One more phone call would be all it would take to trigger events. To protect a nation and extract himself from everything. One phone call to end the stupidity of power-hungry people. For months he had slept on the couch, he had been unable to enter the master bedroom without falling apart. Now he could face it. The phone beside their bed was a private line. It had one number in memory: his brother’s.
Harry answered on the first ring, “Sully? Is that you? Fuck I’ve been worried about you, bro. If mum was here she’d be sick.”
“Yeah. It’s me,” his voice was gravelly from all the yelling and passion in the last 6 hours, “I have a favour to ask.”
“Ah, first time you call me in six months and you have a favour. Well, better than hearing from the morgue I guess. What’s up?”
“You remember that event I said I may need one day? You remember that envelope I told you never to open until I either died or called? I’m calling.”
The phone was silent like the bedroom, then, “Are you sure?”
“For the first time since we all lost Jezzy and Shy, yes. There are events in motion that need to be diverted. Open that envelope. Mail the three letters inside. Use gloves. The instructions are inside. Do this, and you and I and Naruko can walk away from everything. Our way out is here. It will be our only opportunity. Can you do this for me?”
“Yeah. I can. I’ll call you in an hour. No. I’ll see you in an hour. Until then.”
“Love you, bro. Thanks.”
“You too. See you soon.”
“Yeah.” Hanging up, he surveyed the room. A rumpled bed was covered in a light layer of dust, the state of the sheets told of a once affectionate relationship. Shelves full of books lined the walls. Books about everything from basic sciences to music and children’s literature. Even a liberally sized, and well used, collection of books about sexuality and creative thoughts on the art of lovemaking. Somehow he felt awake. Alive.
Naruko jumped from his shoulder to the bed, daintily sneezing when the dust tickled her nose. She pawed at something under the pillow on his side of the bed. A corner of paper, an envelope. It must be the last letter Jezzabelle wrote, he had never set foot in the bedroom since her death. With a sense of trepidation he carefully opened it as Naruko left the bed to explore.
My dearest love. I hope I can explain this to you when you’re reading it. Your brother is not to be trusted. I saw him with that man you warned me about. They were awfully friendly. Thankfully they didn’t see me. I was so scared. I saw your picture. I saw money change hands. I heard your brother say he’d take care of things when the time came. I love you so much. I know he’s your blood and you love him, but I know that something bad might happen. I love you. I will always love you. Shyel will always love you. Please be careful. Jezzy.
What the hell was going on? A noise behind him made the hair on his neck stand up. A strangled mewling followed by a crunch. Turning, he saw his brother with a dead kitten in one hand, and a silenced pistol in the other. Aimed at him.
“Sorry, bro. It’s nothing personal. I just can’t let you destroy what we worked so hard to start. Look, I even remembered the gloves. Don’t worry. You’ll see your family soon,” he fired. Two quick shots. A sharp hiss for each.
Sullivan opened his mouth, closed it. Like a fish out of water. He dropped to his knees, slumped to the side. A picture, of Jezzabelle and Shyel was set before him. A still warm and tiny body was placed under his chin. “I’m sorry. You’ll be happier where you’re going. Goodbye.”
Slowly the world faded. He could hear a sad but strong tune being played on a piano somewhere in the distance. Perhaps he would find that piano. A soft mewling began. Purring.
“Daa,” squee’d a happy voice from the darkness.
“Yes love. It’s Daddy.”