“That clerk was certainly giving us the stink-eye,” Sean said as they entered the coffeehouse, “Do you think it was personal?”
“Possibly. He didn’t bat an eye at the gay couple ahead of us. Black woman plus white man = trouble. Or maybe he knows who we are—the Bonnie and Clyde of the hipster generation—on the lam and hiding out in a sleepy Iowa farming community,” said Mary, who wasn’t smiling, “Would you get me a small mocha? I’m going to check in with legal.”
Logging in, Mary ran a quick security check on the coffeehouse’s IP and was satisfied that the WiFi wasn’t compromised. By the time Sean came over with the coffees she was checking her inbox.
“Anything of earth-shaking importance?” Sean asked as he sat down. “Are we still hot or are we not?”
“Except for this photo,” Mary said, showing Sean the image of her standing naked on the balcony in Seattle, “The internet has lost interest in us. Would you like a T-shirt of me, au naturel? Or perhaps my beautiful body gracing your coffee mug? It’s probably on Etsy already.”
“As long as it’s tastefully done,” said Sean, “Any other fallout from the buyout?”
“No problems there; at least somethings in my life have been going according to plan.
Everything else is crazy. I was talking to Tina this morning about the ‘vision’ I had last night. She saw it too, and she confirmed that it is Emily or, at least, the spirit of her,” Mary paused to sip her mocha, “Why am I not surprised? Don’t you find this a bit strange, or is the norm for the Carrolls?”
“Emily has always been a figure of mystery to me. When I would ask about her my questions wouldn’t be answered, and the subject would be quickly changed. I knew that Tina had some kind of a rapport with her mother.”
“And your mother, did she have a connection?”
“I don’t think so. Or if she did it wasn’t a positive one. That might have been why she was so nervous when we would come to the farm, and always so eager to return to D.C.,” Sean said as he looked at Mary closely, “I know why the clerk at the license bureau looked at you the way he did. Your appearance is changing—if it wasn’t so corny I’d say that you were ‘glowing.’ I think pregnancy suits you.”
“Well it isn’t doing much for my sense of taste; this mocha is awful. Try it,” Mary said, pushing the cup away.
“It seems alright to me, it must be you,” said Sean, “What else is going on in Seattle?”
“I’m having legal write us a prenup, are there any particulars you’d like to include?”
“Well, we’ve done all right with separate finances so far, and we both have wills, what about grounds for divorce?”
“I’ve only got two,” said Mary, “Unfaithfulness or cruelty.”
“I'll go along with that. What about a sanity clause?”
“It’s far too late as far as you and I are concerned. I’m afraid that we’re stuck with each other.”
“I’m thinking that the fun is only beginning,” Sean replied.
Roger Ramsen sat in his home office anxiously awaiting a call from his lawyers. It had been three days since their overture to the Icelandic woman, Þora, who Roger figured had been impregnated by Billy Clarkson. Ramsen went over the possibilities: If she wouldn’t acknowledge Billy as the father, there was no way they could co-opt her. Who was advising her? Roger had heard that the Icelanders were a stubborn, independent breed, but even so, what single mother would turn down a chance for child support? Of course, the underlying plan was to make her admit that Billy was the father, and when she did, it would be ‘discovered’ that the boy's father wasn’t Billy after all—and she would be shamed into silence by the threat of fraud charges. He felt confident in his contacts in Iceland—it would be a relatively easy matter to rig the boy’s DNA results—Billy’s had already been sequenced. What was wrong with that woman? It was bad enough that Sean had disappeared with his girlfriend Mary. The online character assassination of Mary had gone nowhere—instead of being shamed, she had become a feminist icon. Roger didn’t like the way things were heading. Worse still, Senator Clarkson was now vulnerable in his bid for reelection. His defeat would mean the end of Ramsen’s inside track in the Senate; not exactly the end of the world but it would certainly make things difficult Ramsen and his allies. By effectively ending his ‘congressional immunity’ it could open the way for prosecution of several people on numerous charges related to ‘Billygate.’ The bastards in the DOJ. They had already convicted the ex-governor of Virginia, and his wife!
In addition to all this aggravation, Ramsen could feel his indigestion acting up again.
“I’m hungry. Again,” said Mary, as they left the coffeehouse, “How about hitting the Whippy Dip on the way out of town? Then you can show me around town a little, I have a feeling we’ll be spending more time here than we planned.”
“Sure thing, I wouldn’t want you to starve. The town isn’t that big, but the Porter House is kind of neat, and then there’s the Vesterheim Museum, of course—you could get up to speed on Tina’s Norwegian heritage. They have regular tours, we can do one of those when we have some time,” said Sean, “You might get a kick out of the Ice Cave.”
“The Ice Cave?” said Mary, “Sounds intriguing. Is it far?”
“It’s just up on the bluff a little ways. We could be there before your Whippy Dip melted.”
“Don’t we need gear?” Mary said, with a worried note in her voice.
“The cave is only about 40 feet long. You’ve got your flashlight and your hoodie, don’t you?”
“In the car.”
“Good, you’ll need them.”