... walking with my mother, walking to the store in the neighborhood center—the store that sold women's clothes on consignment... I was only four or five and mother complimented me on being a "good walker"... it was about six blocks but I wasn't tired... the morning sun made everything look more alive... its warmth enveloped me, like a caress from my mother... we went into the store run by a strange little man and his wife... "here's a hot number" he said, holding up a brassiere, I wondered what that meant... "ding, ding..." there must have been a door bell in the back of the store for deliveries... my mother smiled at me, I was glad when she was happy, for the world then became a beautiful place where bad memories where forgotten.... "ding ding..." it was the first day of school the school smelled of floor wax and there were other children there but I wasn't afraid because the big kids went in a different door... I had a pencil box with my name on it... I was suddenly looking at a picture of myself entering school on that first day... "ding ding..." I was late to class the bell was ringing then I sat down across from Julie and when looked into her deep brown eyes I fell in love... "ding ding..."
The cell phone I was given at the embassy was ringing in my jacket pocket. I groggily pressed the talk button and heard Sally's voice.
"Sorry to wake you, but we've got your flight ready. You need to be at the airport by two o'clock. What did you find of Billy's?" I looked at the phone. 8 AM. I'd been asleep for almost twenty hours. My bladder confirmed it.
"Hand on a minute there, Sally, let me get myself together." I put the phone down. An empty jug was on the floor near my makeshift bed. Two minutes later I picked up the phone again.
"I have his computer and cell here, but no way to use them, all his stuff is behind passwords. They shouldn't be too hard to crack. Billy could be sloppy with his security. Did you get my computer?"
"No, the Reykjavík police is holding everything from the accident. We can't press them on it, it will be sent back to Seattle with the body after the autopsy. Someone will have to ID the body in Seattle before they release any of it."
"Your employer. She's being notified. We'll have her get in touch with your girlfriend. I think Molly will do what ever we tell her to." Sally was all business, no tact. I felt a bit ill. "There wasn't anything compromising on your laptop, was there?"
"No, just some text files. All the real data is in Seattle and there's a multi-level dynamic password system in place before any of it can be accessed. I'm the only person who could enter the system through that computer."
"Did you find any of Billy's papers or ID?"
"Nothing. All he had here was a phone and computer. I've got some of his clothes. There must be another place where kept his other things. We know he had an ATM card, he must have had some ID and a passport." I didn't mention the sock stuffed with hundred dollar bills.
"It may have something to do with the Russians; they usually like to hold some form of 'security' from their contacts. Once you're on the plane back to D.C. none of this will matter. Don't come to the embassy, there have already been reporters calling about the accident; we wouldn't want anything about the Senator's son, no matter how unrelated, to hit the media. Flight 645 leaves at 4:50. You can get cleaned up at the pool, do have enough money for that, and something to eat and Flybus ticket?"
"Yes, I still have most of what you gave me yesterday. I've only bought coffee since then." I wasn't going to tell Sally about the card I mailed, or Þora either, for that matter.
"Once you get to the airport, we'll take care of the rest. Just remember, you are still Billy... Oh, and by the way, how did you make out with that woman?"
"The one in the diner... "
"She was a friend of Billy's. Suspicious, but I don't think that she knows anything." So I had been under surveillance. One of the men at the restaurant, no doubt.
"I hope for both of your sakes that you didn't do anything dumb."
I hoped so as well.