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Sometimes, you are faced with a disconnect that is so profound that it is alarming in its implications.  One such example is the conduct that I and other friends have been on the receiving end of since Tuesday night.  The vitriol itself would normally be bad enough, as it has come at the hands of people who are usually vocal to the point of preachiness about “tolerance” and “diversity”, but when its coming from people we thought were our friends, it is as disappointing as their venom is disturbing.

Earlier today, I read a long post on Facebook from someone whom I have known a long, long time, explaining his justification for such behavior.  In several ways, this was a continuation of a series of disparagements and slanders he started Tuesday night, but to read just how much he’s allowed this poison to cloud this thinking really took me aback.  I had resolved to sleep on it before writing this piece, but when I got home, I saw this from another friend who I have only known for about ten years, a friend who I first befriended online, but who I later met in person (he lives in the north part of the Puget Sound region, and whom I have since met up with several other times):

so I’ve been called a racist three times in the last two days….twice by people who know me well and who should know better, and once by some idiot who doesn’t know me at all. So, I make this request of all of you…….If you consider me a racist for how I voted (which I’ve explained numerous times). Instead of dirtying yourself with that kind of ugliness, unfriend me both here and in real life…..It is wrong and ignorant and prejudiced and you know it. I have a pretty high opinion of all of you and would like to hold onto that opinion…..so just unfriend me and not ruin my perception of the better person that I believe you to be.
I wish you well.

Reading this angered me.

It angered me, because I know this man.  I’ve done business with this man.  I’ve had coffee with this man.  I’ve met his wife, and I’ve done work for the both of them.  This slander angered me.  And my disappointment tempered it.  I was disappointed because two other people who knew him could still hurl this accusation in a way that clearly displayed serious enough intent that he took it seriously.  I was disappointed because he was not the only person I knew experiencing this.

Which brings me back not only to the friend justifying this kind of behavior, but all my friends.  Facebook is really an interesting development.  While it can be a timesuck, it has also been a means  for me to keep in contact with family all over the country, to renew friendships with people I went to college with, people I went to law school with, people I worked pre-law jobs with, or to strengthen friendships formed in other places on the internet, as well as make new friends with friends of my friends, and join some online communities based on shared interests, some of which don’t really have too much at all to do with politics.

Now when you think about it, having friends from so many different experiences and times in my life, it should not be too terribly  shocking that some of them hold political leanings to the opposite of my own.  While this can “get loud” sometimes, I have never considered “unfriending” anyone because we disagree about something.  I have often said, my tongue only partially in my cheek, that if I were to act in such a manner every time someone else was wrong, I would have long ago given the world the finger, and moved to a remote cabin up in the mountains where I would no longer have to deal with such effrontery.  The truth is that I’m actually used to having relationships of various degrees with people who believe differently than I do.  Much of my family actually falls into this category, but it doesn’t dim my affection for them.  Some of my friends on Facebook are people whom I chose to be friends with, knowing full well their opposition to my viewpoint on various matters. I was able to do so because I still shared some sort of interest with them, or because I enjoyed the exchanges I had with them, because they were able to debate without the hyperbole, the slander, and the pigeon strutting which is all too common in my experience when dealing with those who have political views which oppose my own.  As for those who subscribe to a different view who are my friends from previous shared experiences, the point remains the same; I chose to be friends with them, if only because my previous experiences with them taught me that they weren’t bad people, regardless of their political views.  Put another way, their opposing viewpoints do not dim my affection for these people whom I made a conscious decision to associate with and  “friend” on the social media platform.  So when I see these same people unflinchingly and reflexively assert that the possession of an opposite opinion can ONLY be the result of evil intention and/or some debilitating form of ignorance or intellectual disability, which then somehow justifies the ongoing slander and disparagement, like some perverse cadence of curiously permissible hate and intolerance of the now “unfriended” or soon to be “unfriended” individual, my sadness becomes profound.  When the justification includes naked assertions of “facts” which are no such thing, and when the justifier is someone you know to be smarter than the things they are saying, I am disappointed.  When the justification is then wound up with this rather remarkable pronunciation:

People are not “unfriending” their “friends” because of an election. They are separating themselves from people who have exposed themselves to lack the benevolence, intelligence, sophistication and good-will-of-heart to participate in the advanced citizenship known as “America”.

I realize that some of the people who cry loudest about “tolerance” and “diversity” are least capable of living in a society that values it, or can benefit from it.  Henry Ford once famously quipped at an early point in his company’s life “You can have one of my cars in any color you like, as long as it’s black.”  That kind of restriction doesn’t live up to the ideal presented in either word, nor does it make for a healthy society.

My unfriending friend also made a point often made by various members and followers of the Left over the last decade or so…his own variation on the slightly humorous assertion that he and others who share his view are the “adults” in the room:

We can relate to children because we were all children once upon a time. However, as we grow older and wiser and more sophisticated, we do not socialize with children. They are not part of our peer group. We do not pass notes that say “yes, no or maybe” when we are 30 or 40.

That is, of course, his view.  For myself, once I moved away from the community we both grew up in, and went to law school, where I started to ask questions which made some of my professors uncomfortable, and started reading the treatises that used to be used to train lawyers, but have been long since abandoned in favor of the case method, I grew to form more conservative views than those I have been exposed to (less diplomatic people might be inclined to say “indoctrinated in”) when I was younger.  The irony is that the more I read, and the more I observed, and the more my body of knowledge grew as I continued my education, the more I developed these views.  The key to this is the “I”.  I didn’t come to these conclusions because they were what I was being taught.  I didn’t come to these conclusions because it was what my professors were telling me.  I did that, as my knowledge and experience grew and developed.  These weren’t conditions that lend themselves to “regression” to some troglodyte lens through which the world is viewed, and while I’m not hurt by the endless broad brush assertions to the contrary, I have grown impatient with apparent apprehension that is excuses people who state this from having to take me seriously, and instead somehow get a free pass to insult me and my friends, and casually ascribe all manner of ill or evil intent to our views.  If you’re a friend of mine, and you’re doing this, the question I challenge you to answer is this:

“Are you really that unwilling to focus your wit and intellect on persuading me to see the reason in your position, or are you simply incapable of successfully doing so, and your actions are instead some kind of coping mechanism?”

I submit that the question is one that you should answer honestly as much for yourself and your own well-being as it is for mine.

Will any of this cause my unfriending friend to engage in any serious introspection, or will he simply continue his social media crusade and unfriend me too?  I hope that it is the former and not the latter, not just between us, but between all of the people in this country right now, because it is one thing to call me an enemy, but still engage in a dialogue for the sake of our shared experiences and amity (Hell, if Jefferson and Adams could do it, there is no reason for us to want or believe otherwise).  It is quite another to call me an enemy, then set out to treat me as one…and if this happens often enough, to enough people, then that is exactly what we will have, and nothing about that is “American”.

I gave up trying to predict the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election.  If I spoke out about the very real reasons why Hillary Clinton, a/k/a Felonia von Pantsuit, could not be allowed to win the election, I was usually greeted with responses asking how Trump could possibly be more acceptable.  While I loathed the idea of President Trump, the idea of a person who clearly flouted public records laws in order to conceal a pay-to-play scandal that monetized a government sinecure and put US policy up for bids by interested parties.

Having said that, I wasn’t sure that Trump could actually take down the great Clinton criminal enterprise.  I decided that I wasn’t even going to watch the election results, but at about 8:30 pm, my curiosity got the best of me, and I turned to the CBS coverage, and discovered that it was actually a fight.  I ended up staying with it, rotating around to the various networks and ended up really enjoying watching the various talking heads struggling to contain their disappointment.  But what has been simultaneously disappointing and amusing has been the post-mortem the legacy media has engaged in after their humiliation Tuesday, and how so many of them fail to grasp the real cause of the Trump victory.

No, this wasn’t a “whitelash”.  No, this wasn’t misogyny.

This was about the average American deciding that they are fed up with constantly being lectured to, with serious looks, smug condescension, and wagging fingers about how they are everything wrong with this country, and how the way they have lived, and want to continue to live, is a crime against humanity, and that even considering that they are being fed nonsense is somehow a thought crime for which they should feel utterly and completely ashamed for not abjectly debasing themselves and groveling for the pardon of their fellow citizens who fancy themselves to be the intellectual, cultural, and yes, even moral betters of the people they deign to look down upon.  I’m not the first person to make this observation, or to be disappointed that instead, the introspection of these “experts” too often leads to the conclusion that it is someone else’s fault.  The pollsters.  The voters who could have only voted for Trump because of evil motives and dark hearts.  But this is only part of the story.

The other factor is the incestuous relationship between the Left and the Media, and what they have done to Republican Party for decades.

While Trump was not my first choice, nor my twelfth choice, I did previously note, with not a small degree of amusement, Trump’s ability to take everything the Democrats and the media could throw at him, shrug it of, and essentially say “AND???”  Even the Republican Party failed to understand how he was able to do this, but the answer lies in the votes of the people who made him the President-Elect:  Double-standards and political correctness are not embraced by average people.   For decades, Democrats have catered to excess.  They have constantly advocated the use of liberty as cloak for vice.  Republicans, as a general rule, have aimed for a different demographic, hence the generalization about “family values”.  This has provided a powerful tool for Democrats and the Press, because while everyone is human, human failings have only been suitable for pointing out as it applies to Republican candidates.  At the same time, we have had a creeping transformation of expectations focused around the dubious notion that we each have a “right” to not be offended.  As this cancerous idea grew, and metastasized, victimhood has become both a sword and shield as everything has become offensive to someone.   The result is that Democrats could condemn their opponents for weaknesses that they themselves would never had to defend in their own lives, and over decades, Republicans became conditioned to being cowed, to pulling punches, to not uttering obvious truths aloud, and to slinking away in the face of opponents who could be caught red-handed in all manner of morally questionable deeds, criminal acts, blatant lies, or influence peddling, and never ever display a shred of shame, and under no circumstances ever, ever,ever back down.

And into this scenario, where the average person is fed up with being told they’re the problem with America, that there is the law for the average person, and the law for the rich and powerful, and that subsets of government can pick and choose which laws they want to follow, walks a man who could never be elected.  A man who has said crude things.  A man who has been married multiple times.  A man who has been bankrupt more than once.  A man with an outsized ego (a trait he shares with many politicians, but in his case, this was “unacceptable” to our betters because he wasn’t a member of the political class.)

And when the accusations were flying like mud, he didn’t cower.  He didn’t slink away.  He pushed back.  He’d say stupid, feisty things, rather than getting quiet.  And he would say the things that average people were thinking, whether or not they were politically correct.  As I look back, I am reminded of the Vulcan proverb: “Only Nixon could go to China.”

He has an opportunity that hasn’t come in a very long time.  We have one party in the White House, the House of Representatives, and Senate.  If he chooses smart people to advise him and to be in his cabinet…if he chooses to approach Congressional leaders with an intent to actually work with them, and he pursues an agenda of shrinking government, of cutting regulations and reversing the administrative state, and enacts tax cuts and tax reforms, then we could see a real economic improvement the likes of which we haven’t seen in this country since I was I child.

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that we could have some real change, and I find myself praying, yes truly praying, that he is visited with divine wisdom, and that he appoints and listens to people who can destroy “business as usual” which has spawned a complacency which has converted public service into a sinecure that creates previously undreamt of wealth for the arduous task of creating nothing but laws and regulations formed by experts with no practical experience or skill.

And I hope he doesn’t blow it.

My news feed over the last few days has vacillated between frustrating to comical.  Between tragic to oblivious.  Between…well, you get the picture.

The turmoil?  Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump’s remarks about a married woman he wanted to seduce caught on a hot mic eleven years ago.

As this issue has unfolded, I’ve watched with amusement as people who already left the party to throw their weight and effort behind an unserious third-party challenger jump on board the rafts of glass houses full of self-identified Republicans tripping over themselves to throw their stones at Trump.  Sadly, a number of these people were arguably in a position to actually demand changes in the party governance which might have made a Trump candidacy a bad joke unable to advance beyond the primary season, but maintaining the integrity of their own primaries by keeping them closed was as horrifying to many of these same people as opposing the crony capitalism which has blossomed in recent years.  Others are people who have hobbies and interests which mirror some of Mr. Trump’s more prurient proclivities, but have lacked either the opportunity or the courage to pursue them with equal dedication.  Regardless of which camp all the now mortified individuals now fall, they are share the same condition:  They all either knew or should have known who Donald Trump is.

And as I watch them all try to distance themselves from the spectacle that the media has dutifully turned him into for this, I’m trying very hard to not say that Bill Clinton was right.

In 1992, Bill Clinton went on record as saying that “Character does not matter.”  As much as the idea distresses me, I’ve come to the conclusion that he was correct, based on empirical evidence.

If character mattered, Bill Clinton’s impeachment wouldn’t have happened,  because his past with women, which was made clear to the American electorate, would have prevented him from being elected in the first place.

If character mattered, Bill Clinton would have resigned, rather than been impeached.

If character mattered, Bill Clinton’s impeachment would have ended with  Al Gore becoming President.

If character mattered, Teddy Kennedy would have lost his election after Chappaquiddick if he had the nerve to run in the first place.

If character mattered, Maxine Waters’ conflicts of interest, and those of Nancy Pelosi would have ended in discipline from ethics investigations, and them choosing not to run for re-election after.

If character mattered, John Conyers would have been back in Detroit decades ago, bumming dimes from bypassers on the street for his next bottle of Ripple.

If character mattered, Alan Grayson would have been prosecuted, rather than elected.

If character mattered, Tim Geithner never would have been the Secretary of the Treasury, and Hilda Solis never would have been the Secretary of Labor.

If character mattered, Mitt Romney would be running for his second term.

If character mattered, the RNC would have someone…anyone else as their standard-bearer in this election.

If character mattered, then there would be no shortage of Democrats telling Hillary Clinton that she needs to shut her mouth and not comment how Trump treats women.

The uncomfortable truth is this:  While character SHOULD matter, it doesn’t…at least not to Democrats, because the only way that anyone could turn a blind eye to the corruption and immorality that the party and its various candidates are rife with is if character doesn’t matter.  Yet they successfully use their compromised position to their advantage.  It’s easy to be cynical, and reject morality for yourself, but use it as a cudgel against other flawed human beings.  And proving themselves to be the party of stupid, the Republicans inevitably retreat with their tails between their legs when this cynical strategy is employed.

I’m sure that some of you are reading this, and screaming obscenities at me already about my “defense” of Trump.  Make no mistake.  I don’t defend him.  But I do note that he has enjoyed an unusual degree of success at simply ignoring previous attempts to cow him for things he has said and done, such attempts being of a kind that would have more traditional GOP candidates falling all over themselves, apologizing profusely in the pursuit of a respect, or even adoration that not quite half of the population has been conditioned to not give them, simply because they purport to represent the Republican Party.  In my own more cynical moments, I allow myself to believe that this is precisely why he is the Republican standard-bearer, and it completes my break with the Republican Party, which could have enjoyed a well-deserved loyalty from a solid constituency had it actually made a stand on issues, including character issues, not because they believed they could win, but because it mattered.  Instead, with a handful of exceptions, they frittered away these opportunities, and joined their morally rudderless opponents in openly mocking and ridiculing their own number who chose to fight the fights that mattered.

And now, as I watch the rats scurrying through the hawser holes of their sinking ship, in search of some sort of political cover, I want to scream “OWN IT, YOU FAITHLESS S.O.B.S.!  You made your choice.  You took this snake to your bosom, knowing it was a snake!”

No matter who wins in November, America lost.

If Hillary Clinton wins, we have lost the rule of law, and the countless benefits and blessings of residing in a republic.

Donald Trump wins, we lose our self-respect, and maybe our soul.

I find either choice spiritually damning, so I fall back on the next priority:  Will we remain a nation of laws?

I only hope that if Trump loses, we are finally rid of the Republican Party, and can build something in its place that values liberty, freedom, integrity, and can actually communicate conservative principles to voters, and then LIVE them in office.

For hours, Denny drove the ancient Land Rover over numerous back roads of the kind that Cooper and Jake had frequented before Lise brought them in.  He didn’t doubt that the people he could see in the shadows intended to be there, avoiding discovery by anyone who might be looking for them.  What he questioned was whether or not the silent, hard man who drove the antiquated SUV  actually knew where to find Lise and Teresa.

Cooper looked to Rick, who was looking out the other side of the vehicle, his eyes studying the topography and the faces as they rolled past.  Deciding that he could no longer wait, Cooper broke the silence and asked “Where are we going?”

Denny’s eyes never left the road as he stated ” A warehouse.  It’s in the middle of no where.  Our southern neighbors use it as a staging area for their ops here.  It has a clearing where helicopters can go in and out.  That’s how they plan on getting your fiancee and your wife to Toronto, where they will be put on a boat, and ferried across to the US.”

Cooper marveled at the matter-of-fact way Denny announced this, and how his own brain seemed to fill in the omitted “Everyone knows this.” at the end of Denny’s declaration.  He barely started to ask “How…” when Denny, trying not to look perturbed, turned to him and said “Did you think Agent Roy was kidding when he said he wanted to help?  They’ve known about this place for years.  It’s under constant surveillance.  You can say what you want about the RCMP, but they observe the Coventry rule better than any outfit I’m aware of, and the fact that we’re going to act on this information means that someone is going to lose their intelligence gathering capabilities.  Roy’s got pull with his peers, and even some of his superiors…maybe even enough to avoid getting in trouble for using those   connections to get us this information.”

Denny’s gaze returned to the road before him, and before another five minutes had passed, he pulled off to the side of the road, and put the Land Rover in park.  He turned to Rick and Cooper and said “Right.  The warehouse is less than a kilometer in that direction.” as he pointed  to the right, where the trees were thick enough to obscure their view of anything.  “I’ll go first and take out the sentries.  Then you two can follow.  Try to be quiet.  I’m certain that they have a man advantage on us, but I’m equally certain that as long as we maintain the advantage of surprise, I can cut their advantage down to size.”

The three got out and checked their equipment, and then Denny quietly walked off toward the warehouse.  Cooper watched him leave, then turned to Rick, who was checking ammunition and his knives.  “You haven’t had much to say, Old Man.”

Rick  holstered his knives, and  looked at Cooper, his expression neutral, but his eyes smiling.  “You remember that bit of Yankee poetry you used ta be fond of quotin’?” he asked Cooper.  Cooper looked at him and asked “The hand that knows his work won’t be told to do it better or faster; those two things?”  Rick nodded and said “Yup.  That’s it.”  He paused for effect, then said “That guy?  He knows his work, and he’s a damn sight better at it than I’ll ever be, despite the best training available at Ma Benning’s Home for Wayward Boys.”  Cooper paused.  Coming from Rick, this was high praise, and he decided to let it go.  Rick looked at his watch, and said “I reckon it’s been long enough.  We should follow on, now.”

————————————————————————–

Lise could hear the sound of her own heart beating in her ears.  She didn’t relish dying, but the idea that she would be used to lure the only man she ever loved to her death was more than she wanted to live with.  She finished untying the ropes on Teresa’s wrists, and waited as Teresa untied those around her own wrists.

After they had each untied the ropes around their ankles, they stood up.  Lise realized for the first time that they were about the same height.  Teresa looked at Lise with a look of disdain, then allowed it to soften.  “I see what he sees in you.”  Teresa said quietly.  Then, almost as an afterthought, she asked “Is he happy?”

Lise was caught off guard by the question, and by how earnestly it was asked.  She replied softly “Yes.  At least as much as can be expected.”  Teresa nodded, then said “Ok.  Let’s go save his life.” and she opened the door, only to find the guard on the floor, his lifeless eyes staring at the growing pool of blood running out of his body.

26

Rick sat watching as Cooper paced back and forth across the hospital room floor, favoring his right leg in the process.

“Dammit, she’s overdue.”

Rick shifted in his chair, understanding that there was nothing he could say at this moment to help his friend find comfort, but knowing that he had to say something.

“Mr. Wilson?”

Cooper and Rick turned to see Agent Roy standing in the doorway, teetering on a wobbly cane.

“I know what you plan to do, and I want to help.  I can’t go,” Roy said, looking down at a body that he clearly could not yet rely on, “but I have a friend who wants to help.”

Rick turned to Cooper and smiled before saying “Who’da thunk it?  Roy actually has a friend.”

Cooper’s lips twisted into a wry smile, and said “Quiet.  A very serious guy is about to tell us about another serious guy who we should take seriously.”

Agent Roy’s poker face almost melted away for a second, and he said “I suppose I deserve that.”

Cooper’s smile faded and he looked Agent Roy squarely in the eye.  “No.  No, you don’t.  You have the job you have because you’re serious, and you wouldn’t be good at it if you weren’t.  The fact is that I owe you my life, and that is only because your sovereign deemed it worthy of that sacrifice, not because of anything I am or have done.  It’s a thankless job, and if you’re lucky, you might live to retirement, and have a chance to have a life of your own before you die.”

Roy regarded Cooper for a long moment, then said “And that is why I’m going to remain on your detail.  And why my friend is willing to help.”

Rick stood up and said “So who is this guy?”

Roy shifted on his cane and said “His name’s Denny.  He’s ex-SAS.  Not much on conversation, but the only person I’d want more to be on my side in a fight would be a ghurka.”

The question was on Cooper’s face before it escaped his lips.  “Ex-SAS?  I didn’t think anyone in the King’s service was “Ex” anything right now.  I thought it was all hands on deck.”

It was Roy’s turn to laugh.  “I said he was good.  I didn’t say he had authority issues that make the Colonel over there look like a well-mannered school boy.  Honestly, in different times, he’d be in prison, but the Crown would be wasting too many resources keeping him incarcerated.  And if things ever got bleak, he’d be “doing the right thing” out of sheer self-interest.”

“And how would you happen to know this guy?” Rick asked.

“We’ve been friends since childhood.  When I told him what was at stake, and he realized that this was something that I’d do for you if I could be an asset rather than a liability, he agreed to go in my place.”

Roy paused for a minute, looking at Cooper. “And any other time, he’d refuse to take you, because you’re a liability, but he knows nothing would keep you from going.”

Cooper nodded to Roy, saying nothing.

Roy said “I’m gonna send him in, and I’m going back to my room, because if I knew what you were planning, I’d have to report it to my superiors, who would report it to the Crown, and then we would all be clapped in irons to keep us from doing it.”

And with that, Agent Roy turned and slowly made his way down the hall.

A minute later, a tall man with brown hair and five o’clock shadow strolled silently into the room, and said “Colonel, Mr. Wilson?  I’m Denny, and apparently, we’re going after a member of His Majesty’s Forces who has been kidnapped by our southern neighbors.  Get your coats, we disappear now, before the Crown can act to stop us.”

25

Lise came to slowly, and marveled at how the pain in her head started softly, and came to creep out over her entire body.  As her vision drifted slowly into focus, and she came to fully hear sounds again, she realized that her arms and legs were bound, and she was lying on her side on a very cold slab of concrete.  The pain in her head started to radiate in waves, and she could see daylight, of a sort, drifting in through filthy windows overhead, illuminating the dust in the air.  Her mouth and throat were dry, and she suddenly felt an uncontrollable urge to cough.

From behind her, Teresa croaked “You’re finally awake.  For all the good it will do you.”

“Where are we?” Lise choked.

“A safehouse, somewhere near the border.”  Teresa said.

Lise thought she heard something…resigned…in Teresa’s voice.

“What are they going to do with us?”  Lise asked, trying to keep her voice level.

Teresa sighed.  “Well, they’re working on a way to get us across the border undetected.  When they do, I’ll face a summary hearing, and a firing squad.  They’ll use you as bait to get Cooper, then probably kill you in front of him, before executing him in away that will leave no doubt that he is well and truly dead this time.”

Although it was close to what Lise expected to hear, she still felt the sting of the description of the fate that likely awaited them both south of the border.  As she held her breath in, Teresa continued “Thankfully, Cooper is still in the hospital, so they won’t succeed in using you as bait.”

Lise tried not to shift too much upon hearing this declaration, but Teresa picked right up on her discomfort.

“No…” she rasped.  “He can’t…”

Lise sighed, and said “He would.  Rick knows he couldn’t stop him.  He was already getting up and getting around before I left.  And Agent Roy was trying to get out of bed too.”

“Damn him.  Damn him to Hell.  What is he thinking?” Teresa asked.

Lise realized that up until this moment, she never truly understood “It’s Complicated” as a relationship status.

“Still, the King will stop him.  His intelligence people have to know what he is doing.”

Lise frowned, and was glad that her back was to Teresa.  “I’m pretty sure that he and Rick have probably  figured out a way to bypass the intelligence groups.”

Teresa laughed softly, then harder.  When she regained her composure, she said “Well, if anyone knows how to get by without intelligence, it’s Rick and Cooper.”

The two women stopped talking, and listened to the wind blow through the gaps in the building’s aging walls.

Finally, as the light outside started to fade, Teresa said “Alright.  I guess we have t think of a way to prevent those two from getting killed.  I’m sure that is something we can both agree is important, Major.  I suspect that we can agree on that, even if it means we lose our own lives in the process.”

Lise rolled over on the cold concrete to look Teresa in the eye, and to assure herself that the two really were in agreement.  She was not disappointed.

24

Lise looked over her shoulder one more time, shivering involuntarily in the cold night.

The instructions that Teresa had sent brought her to this broken down loading dock at an hour where even the drunks were sleeping it off.  She had followed a circuitous route, trying not to capture anyone’s attention.  As near as she could tell, she succeeded.  She stepped up to the dilapidated door, and knocked softly.  The door opened slightly, but she could only see darkness inside.  She heard Teresa rasp “Get in here,” so she stepped forward and let out a slight gasp as the door slammed behind her.

“I didn’t think you’d come.” Teresa said, her form obscured by darkness.

“Well, the consensus was that it is a trap.”  Lise replied softly.

A low chuckle drifted from Teresa’s darkened form.  “I’m sure he didn’t want you to come.”

Lise replied  “Actually, Colonel Gearheart was the one who tried to talk me out of it.  He left me with the distinct impression that if something happened to me, he would make the life of the person responsible short, hot, and very unpleasant.”

“Rick.” Teresa spat.  I never understood why he and Cooper are such good friends.  And if it weren’t for him, Evan might…”  Her voice trailed off in the darkness.

Lise didn’t know what to say, but she was fairly certain that anything she might say would be wrong, so she opted to let Teresa talk.

“I’m sure I must seem like quite a bitch to you, Major.  Maybe I am.  I’ve come to think that I never really appreciated my husband.  I know I never understood his kind of power, at least not until I came to see how it has endured.  I guess I would have never been satisfied with him, because it was bound to make him a magnet for all the wrong kinds of attention, and it did.  But I loved my sons…I STILL love my remaining son, but I never had the closeness with them they had with Cooper.”

Lise listened, feeling not quite surprised at these admissions, but wondering why Teresa had chosen to confide in her.

“And I would like to get something straight, Major.  I don’t like you.  I probably never will.  But I like how happy Cooper is with you.  I’ve been watching you all for a month or so now, and you are clearly a good thing for him.  Just because I left him, it doesn’t mean that I hate him, and I really am glad to see the two of you together.”

Teresa paused, and even in the dark room, Lise could see her tilt her head upward.  Lise thought she could hear the tiniest noises crossing the ceiling above them.

“Dammit!  You were followed!” Teresa hissed.  Before Lise could respond, the door crashed in and chaos, disguised as flashes, smoke, and pain followed.