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Archive for October 12th, 2013

4

Cooper walked into a sunlit kitchen, where Jake sat at a birch dining table, a half-eaten bowl of cereal and almost empty glass of orange juice in front of him.  He was listening as the doctor, Lise, spoke quietly with him.  Jake looked up and said “Dad!  They have orange juice!”  Cooper smiled and said “Cool.  But if you’re done eating, you should probably get dressed, ok?”  Jake said, Ok, Dad.” and he headed to his room, a dark suited mountie quietly in tow.  Cooper fixed his gaze on the doctor.  “Why are you spending so much time with him, Doctor?” he asked.

Doctor Lise Philips looked Cooper in the eye and said “He really is a delightful young man.”

“I’ve always thought so.  I think he’s dealt remarkably well with everything that happened to…with everything that happened.  But it doesn’t answer my question, Doctor.  Do I need to be worried about him?” asked Cooper.

“You’re already worried about him.  You just hide it remarkably well.” replied Lise.

“Can you blame me?” said Cooper.

“Not at all.  All things considered, I’m surprised you let him out of your sight.” said Lise, sipping from her own glass of orange juice.  “This is divine.  I haven’t had orange juice in a very long time.”

“Why are you spending so much time with him?” Cooper asked again.

“I’m supposed to look after your health.  That means your mental health as well.”

“So a psych eval then?”

“He’s got deep trauma.”

“Hardly surprising.”

“Yours is deeper.”

“Doctor, we hardly know each other.” Cooper admonished, his voice dripping sarcasm.

“Better than you think.  You say…interesting things in your restless sleep.”

Cooper stiffened, then sat down opposite the doctor.  “Doctor, pillow talk is for lovers.  Clinically evaluating my unguarded moments hardly seems honest or fair.  It’s kind of like finding out you’re a father before your can tell the mother you’re sterile.”

Lise smiled.  The old dossier had mentioned humor and sarcasm being part of Cooper’s way of doing things.  “Well, you wouldn’t be the most unattractive man I slept with, Mr. Wilson.”

Cooper smiled as he shook his head.  “I’m not sure that says a lot about your taste in men, Doctor.”

“The body means little if the mind isn’t interesting, Mr. Wilson.”

“It’s Cooper.  Mr. Wilson was my grandfather.  I hear myself addressed that way, I still have to fight the urge to look for him.”

“Well, if we’re going to be on a first name basis, it’s Lise, Cooper.”

Cooper poured some orange juice into the small glass before him.  “I don’t see a wedding ring, Lise.  Married to the job, or just hard finding a man who doesn’t mind that you can’t shut it off?”

Lise stared at him, the only evidence she heard him, a slight flicker in her eyes.  “I don’t see one on your hand, either.”

Cooper looked  down at the tabletop before raising his glass toward his mouth. “We used it to get over the border.  Besides, it remains in my heart.  With her.”  He took a long pull on the juice, which tasted freshly squeezed.

Lise felt guilty.  She hadn’t expected to be read so well so quickly, and purposely said something she knew would hurt the man sitting in front of her, even if the quiet dignity of his presence wouldn’t allow him to show it.  She even knew about his ring, and what he did with it, which was in a file cabinet full of files on him at the unassuming and unmarked special operations office at the National RCMP Headquarters building.  But even a small act of unnecessary cruelty offered a glimpse into the character of this man before her.  His quiet words made it clear that he didn’t need the ring to be who he was, and he would probably refuse it if it were offered to him now.  She gathered her composure and asked “Who is Rick?”

“What? he asked, looking up at her.

“Rick.  You talk about him in your sleep.  You talk about her, and your mother, and Evan, but when you are really restless, you seem to be saying Evan or Rick a lot.”

“Someone I knew a long time ago.  He’s dead now, so he doesn’t really matter.  Just another in the long list of people I knew who are dead because they knew me.”

“That’s awfully dramatic, doncha think?” a man’s voice drawled from the doorway leading to the garage.

Cooper’s head swung towards the sound of the voice.  His eyes took in the Republic of Texas uniform, and the silver oak leaves on the collar, and the smiling face of a man who died eight years prior screaming for he and Jake to run.  “What’s goin’ on, hoss?” asked Rick Gearhart.

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3

Cooper Wilson shot straight up in bed, sweat rolling in large beads down his face and along his soaking back.  In the corner of the room, Agent Smith put down the magazine he was reading.  “Were you there the entire time?” Cooper asked.

“We are tasked with having eyes on you at all times.”  There are probably more personnel in this residence than there are in many of the Ambassadorial residences here in town.” Agent Smith flatly replied.  Cooper closed his eyes.  He was convinced that Smith wasn’t the agent’s real name, and that every agent on the detail would answer to the name.  “You don’t sound happy about that.” Cooper replied.

Agent Smith’s poker face refused to budge.  “You’re an assignment.  I’m a professional.”

Cooper looked into Smith’s steely eyes.  “Be honest.  I can take it.  You’d rather not be here, am I right?”

Smith paused a minute, then turned his head slightly, his face invaded by the beginning of an expression. “I neither like you or dislike you Mr. Wilson.  I’m aware of your past.  I know how most of your family died, and believe it or not, I sympathize.  I know you’re a symbol…a bridge between the ideals of the past and the realities of your country’s present.  I know what you could mean to certain rebel factions in your country, but after your country overshadowed mine for more than a century, and in many ways dominated us culturally, I tend to view your nation’s internal strife as your business, and not ours.  There is no upside for Canada in us getting involved.”

Cooper rose, crossed the room, to where his clothes lay in a chair, and started to dress.  Neither said a word as Cooper donned his socks, his pants, his shoes, and then stood, his back to Agent Smith, buttoning his shirt.  When he finished, he crossed the room toward the door, where he put his hand on the door knob, paused, and turned back to Agent Smith.  “During that time of “overshadowing”, your family slept safe under the aegis of my country’s shadow, as we stood on guard against a threat you couldn’t have hoped to successfully defend against on your own.  For whatever the rest of our faults were during that time, that should count for a lot.  Maybe everything.  But if the “rebels”, as you call them, are eventually defeated, then you have to know that the victors will turn their attentions on you.  Still, thank you for your candor.”

Cooper turned to open the door when Agent Smith called after him “Mr. Wilson! I said I am a professional, and I meant it. If I can prevent harm from coming to you, even at the cost of my life, I WILL do it.”

Cooper shut his eyes.  “I didn’t ask for that, and I don’t want it.” he thought to himself.

He opened his eyes, walked out, and shut the door behind him, nodding to the Agent waiting outside the door who silently followed him down the hall, remaining two steps behind.

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