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Archive for December 19th, 2015

Cooper Wilson opened his eyes.

Filtered sunlight filled the bedroom and the smell of western Washington Spring filled his nostrils.  He turned toward the window and saw the blind gently swaying in the breeze.

“About time you woke up.”

Cooper sat up, looking toward the open bedroom door.
“The boys have gone off to school.  No one woke you, although I doubt they could have.”

Teresa strolled across the room to the bathroom, shutting the door until it was only open a crack “But then, I suppose ruining your employment prospects and poking the government in the eye is hard work.  It probably requires lots and lots of recouperation.”  The door traveled the remaining distance with a loud slam.

It was that day, all over again.  This had to be the nightmare he was dreading.  He swing his legs out from under the sheet, planting his feet on the floor.  Teresa exited the bathroom, throwing him a glance that couldn’t seem to decide if it was distain or contempt as she walked to her side of the bed.  She picked up the dress she had laying out, and put it on, then put earings in her ears.  “Don’t wait up for me tonight.  I’ll be going…out.  I’m not sure when I’ll be back.”

Inside, Cooper tensed, knowing the words he was going to say next, and unable to stop himself.  “Well, maybe if you only do with your “friend” what you always do with him once or twice, instead of all day long, you could get in earlier than right before dawn cracks.”

He looked to her, her back towards him, and watched her body stiffen.  “I’m not divorcing you,” she said, pausing before saying much more quietly “as if I could.  I’ll always be the woman who married that firebrand, Cooper Wilson.”

“And you say it almost like you’re doing me a favor, when in truth, it is simply more convenient for you, and him, this way.”

In his mind, Cooper was screaming “Don’t go!  Don’t!  They are going to kill you today, because of me!” in part because he wanted to stop her, and in part because he didn’t want to hear what came next.

“It isn’t like he is the first.” she spat out, never facing him, before walking out of the room, slamming the door as she left.

And again, Cooper listened to her footsteps as she walked down the stairs and out of the house to her car, and drove off, leaving him alone in the house with only the sound of a gentle breeze, and blinds banging in the window frame to compete with the screaming in his head.

——————————————————————————–

Lise absent-mindedly pushed her fork around on her plate, her mind replaying last night, in excruciating detail.  She never considered herself a tremendous beauty, but neither had she ever inspired the reaction that she had gotten last night.  What troubled her most was the look in Cooper Wilson’s eyes right after she had kissed him.  While her profile of the man had been correct, she had clearly underestimated how much the man was haunted by his past, at least until that moment.

Rick Gearhart walked into the kitchen, poured himself a cup of coffee, and turned and appraised Lise as he savored the first swallow of the hot brown liquid.  Saying nothing, he set his cup on the table, and sat opposite Lise, waited a moment for an acknowledgment of his presence which never came, before asking “So last night didn’t go as you planned?”

Lise flinched, more startled by the fact she hadn’t noticed him come in than by the question itself.  “Colonel.  I didn’t see you come in.”

Rick suppressed a chuckle.  “Yeah, I noticed.  I’m guessing that you didn’t get the reaction you expected.”

A frown appeared on Lise’s face.  “No.  I clearly missed something with him.”

Rick laughed.  “Most people do.  But here’s the thing: he really isn’t complicated.  I’ve known him for 20 years.  The key to him is he means it.  If he says something, he means it.  If he gives you his word, he means it.  And if he makes a vow, he means it.”

Lise sat, letting the meaning of Rick’s words sink in.

“Teresa.” she said.

“Yes.” replied Rick.  “I know he was thinking about her yesterday.”

“Vows…I understand…but she’s dead.  She’s been dead.” Lise said.

“It isn’t that she’s dead,” Rick replied “it’s where they were at when she was killed.”

“His dossier states that their marriage wasn’t in good shape.”

Rick laughed.  “British understatement.  But again, he was battling against some well-deserved feelings of betrayal and his own never-say-die attitude.  Tortured doesn’t begin to cover it.  And when she was taken before it got resolved one way or another…”

Lise didn’t say anything, and was trying not to let her misgivings show on her face, but she was thinking about the possibility that she caused more harm than good.

Rick sensed where her thoughts were leading her, and said “I can’t believe I’m doing this, since you’re not one of my favorite people, but don’t second guess yourself.  I told you that I can see he’s got some feelings for you, and I can see that you do for him.  He can’t help the issue he has…he’s just made that way.  But you…don’t you let him wrestle with a dead woman for the rest of his life… a woman who stuck a knife in his chest repeatedly.  You and I know he deserves better, and you and I know that you can replace her.  Do it.  Do it for him.  Do it for yourself.  We live in the most uncertain of times, and the stolen moments are the ones you want to relive when you’re facing the end.”

He stopped, and a minute passed.

“Dammit,” Rick said “you just made me talk more about stuff I hate to talk about in two or three minutes than I did in the last 3 years.”

She laughed, and got up.  “Thank you.” she said.

“Don’t make me regret it.” Rick said as he took another pull on his coffee.

———————————————————————————

Agent Roy wondered if he should call the Major.  He stood in the corner of Cooper Wilson’s bedroom, and reflected on how poorly Wilson had slept, and now how he’d been in the shower for at least a half hour.

———————————————————————————
Cooper sat in the shower, his head slung low, the hot water beating down on him.  His skin was wrinkling like a prune, but he barely noticed.  He knew that he shouldn’t feel like he was betraying a dead woman who betrayed him, but that feeling was there nonetheless, roiling in his gut, and he let the sound of the falling water drown out the accusations popping up like daisies in his skull.

———————————————————————————

Lise marched into Cooper’s room.  Agent Roy volunteered “It was a very bad night, Major.  And now he’s been in there for at least 40 minutes.”

“I understand.  You are dismissed, Agent Roy.”

Roy stiffened “Ma’am?” he asked.

“Did I stutter?” She tersely asked.

“Ma’am.” he acknowledged, and he quietly exited the room.

She straightened herself, and opened the bathroom door.

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