Sean and Billy were walking amid mossy lava formations. “The moon is made of green cheese,” thought Sean, before returning his attention to Billy’s question.
“I guess I don’t, know what is going on.” said Sean, “Fill me in. Was that really your daughter back there?”
“I’ll get back to her in a minute,” Billy said, “What do you think you know about my activities here?”
“What do I know? Nothing,” said Sean, What do I think? If I know you at all, you’re probably running some kind of scam, not necessarily illegal, but sketchy enough to be questionable. Something with the Russians, something with the locals, getting your money from an ATM, fucking women. Geez, do you realize how many people have been looking for you?”
“You mean The Senator and his minions, of which you are one?”
“Bill, look, I’m just a data miner, I’m like you in a sense, but unlike you I get a W-2 at the end of the year. How long do you think you can go on like this? All the rogue sites you used to use for your scams are being busted, Wikileaks is virtually defunct, you have become obsolete… you’re the ‘Kid Charlemagne’ of cyberspace.”
“You just don’t get it, do you Sean?” said Billy, “The world is in conflict. Money is the lubricant. Rebels, rogue states, tin-horn tyrants—their power all comes from the barrel of a gun. They can’t buy this stuff at Costco. Deals need to be done under the table by someone, someone who knows how to keep it all invisible. The Senator knows how it works and he gets a taste of it—almost all of it.”
“You do realize that if this was true and it got out it would ruin your father?” asked Sean.
“That information is my insurance policy. He won’t touch me, or my daughter, because he knows I would release it,” said Billy, “He’s a bad man. Worse than you can imagine. He’s backed by an organization which never lets anything, or anyone, get in its way. That’s why he must not find out about Maria. That’s why you should leave, Sean. The Russians heard you outside the embassy last night and they didn’t appreciate it. You’d better be sitting on that flight tomorrow or you’ll be going home in a box. We’re dealing with the dark soldiers of the new order. Never underestimate their power.”
Billy was becoming more agitated, with beads of sweat forming on his upper lip and forehead. “High,” thought Sean. He had better calm him down or he wouldn’t be able to get anywhere with him.
“You hungry Billy? If I’m going to go back tomorrow, I’ve got a kitchen full of food and wine. It would be a shame to let go to waste. I won’t bug you about going back.”
“Not hungry, but I will drink some of your wine.”
“Yeah. A little wine, just the way it used to be.”
They were walking past a swampy area when Billy pointed to a wall on the other side of the highway.
“Your place is by the Russian Embassy, right? Let’s cut through Hólavallagarður, it’s right on the way.”
“The cemetery. Just down the street from your place. It’s quiet and a lot more private than walking in front of a bunch of houses full of peering eyes. Don’t cross here—go up a little.”
Sean thought that the cemetery was nice. Old enough to have a pleasant coat of moss in places, yet well-kept with a system of elegant brickwork paths. The damp smell of the place was of life, not decay. The sun had broken through, brilliantly illuminating the tombstones with a golden shafts of light. Billy led Sean to a plot that had a wall they could sit on.
“I still don’t get it, Billy,” said Sean, “You could go back home and do some basic campaigning for your father, he gets elected, you get an NSA job. You’re set for life—maybe even traveling the world as a special envoy—you could probably even get a post back here in Iceland if it means that much to you.”
“If it were that simple I might think about it, but it isn’t,” Billy said, “I am the proverbial black sheep, the prodigal son, living with the mark of Cain.”
“Now you’re just being ridiculous. Look. I’ve known you like a brother. I know that your father is a… well, let’s just say that he’s another gasbag politician, better than some, worse than some, but he is an effective legislator and quite probably the next President of the United States.”
“Like a brother, Sean. Like a brother. Think about it. We’re nearly dead ringers, our mothers were similar in appearance, your mother was living in D.C. at the time of your conception, we were born within a couple of months of each other. It would never do, now would it, for a rising young politico to have children by different mothers. Think of how you made it into college, lost your mom, and how my mother died a few months later. ‘She OD’ed on alcohol and barbiturates’ they said, ‘tsk, tsk, too bad, so sad, so sorry, poor Billy.’ Then, a year later, it’s ‘Billy meet your new mother’—a younger, sexier, richer mother with real connections. Sean, listen to me. You are my half-brother. He knows I know, and he knows that we’re the only things between him and the White House. Your mother was his lover. She had you. He bought her silence and then found a way to keep her quiet forever. And now, why he’s got you in his pocket! The good son Abel sent to redeem the bad son Cain.”
“Give me some time to process this,” said Sean, “Are you saying that he killed our mothers to advance his political ambitions?”
“Oh no! No one can prove a thing—your mother’s car crash, a terrible accident. Did you ever read the police report? The real one? Or how about my mother’s death? I’ve done some research on that too. It isn’t that hard to kill a drunk, bless her heart, and she was definitely a drunk. Just get her a prescription for sleeping pills from the family doctor, and then, one night when she’s really hammered, see to it that she takes a triple dose.”
“You have any proof of this?”
“I have enough,” Billy continued, “Look. I’m not out to destroy my father. He can do what he wants, but I’m not going to live in his shadow. I’m just crazy enough to believe that I should be entitled to a real life. I can’t be around him, I’d kill him—if he didn’t kill me first.”
“Let’s go open that wine,” said Sean, “I think we could both use a drink.”
“Right on, brother.”