I felt, though, as if I had dodged a quite literal budget. They hadn’t shot me this time, but they might change their minds at any time.
And I didn’t want to have to kill any of them. If I was honest with myself, though, it was because I didn’t want to be caught.
I really, I thought, needed to spend some time in the company of a guy who wasn’t a complete loser. Which meant Bruce. I hadn’t spoken to him in a while, but he was the only one I could think of right now other than Barry, whom I didn’t want to encourage in any way, shape, or form.
We met in Arlington and he invited me to take a drive. I hadn’t forgotten my promise to myself never to get in a car with him again.
I broke it. We drove west out of the city, far enough that there were no houses, only fields, stopping at a scenic lookout at the edge of the Shenandoahs. It felt cleansing to be out here.
“So, what’s up?”
“I needed an antidote. Seems everyone with a Y chromosome I meet lately is a total ass.”
Bruce laughed. “There are some total asses without Y chromosomes too.”
I thought of Lugenia, although she was more idiot than ass, and nodded slightly. He was right. “But I needed a reminder that having a Y chromosome doesn’t make you one.”
“Some days I think it’s having a Y chromosome and being under 25.”
Did I tell him the truth? My instincts said not to. He would…well. Who knew how he would react to know for sure his gods were real? It might actually destroy his faith, might drive him to seek rational explanations. “Maybe.”
“So…what’s the reason for that?”
I poured out the story of Lugenia and Miguel.
He shook his head. “Typical. Happens all the time. You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped, Jane. You know that, right?”
“I wish I didn’t.” I let out a breath, looking back east towards DC. “I know I can’t help her, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to. She’s not a bad person, just…
“Just lousy taste in guys?”
I laughed. “Lousy taste in guys and…well…I can see why she went back to him. There were shots fired. She might think it’s the best or even the only way to keep herself alive.”
For which I couldn’t blame her. Who wanted to die? Nobody except maybe some old guy on life support. Lugenia wanted to stay alive, but she wasn’t going to be living. Just surviving, and I could see her now. Pale, wan, and pregnant.
Was that a real insight or just a thought on what was likely to happen? I didn’t know.