Molly Berenson, Sean Carrol’s previous girlfriend, had just walked into a downtown Seattle coffee shop and spotted Mary Robinson in line.
“Oh, hi! How’s it been going, Molly?” When Molly hesitated in giving an answer, Mary said: “It’s alright if you don't want to talk.”
“No, it’s OK. One of those things I guess… it worked out OK, I’m just not cut out for the cloak and dagger stuff—ohmigod! That metaphor is exactly what happened to Sean! I’m sorry I said that!” Molly flushed with embarrassment.
“It’s apt. When you look at it that way it’s funny, except for the part about Sean actually getting stabbed,” Mary said. “But that’s behind us now, at least, I think it is, Sean never mentions it.”
“But whoever did it is still out there, doesn’t that worry you at all, and him living with you?”
“I think that after the coverup was exposed, Sean was no longer important, and except for an occasional request for an interview, it’s over. I hope he’s not worth killing anymore! But enough about that, how are you doing? Are you still seeing that guy, what was his name?”
“Blue Eyes? I was overjoyed to see him again, but… ” Molly paused. “You know, people say that prison will change a man. In his case, it didn’t. He’s still stuck in the WTO protests of 1999! Radical politics has a short shelf-life; I work for an insurance company now, for Christ’s sake.”
The women reached the head of the line and ordered.
“You’re going to make a career in insurance, Molly? Can you see yourself there for the next twenty years?”
“You know, I might. I’m very good at what I do, I work for reasonably decent people, I can see it happening.”
“No longer an option,” For a moment, Molly looked crestfallen, “Menopause comes early in my family.”
“I’m sorry, again, I don’t want to pry,” said Mary.
“It’s a day to day thing, the flashes are the worst part, what’s that old joke? ‘My God! I forgot to have kids!’ What about you, Mary, are you still happy with your business?”
“Well, it is changing. The NSA kind of wants to dominate all internet intelligence, although they can’t really monetize it the way we can. We’ll keep at it until it isn’t practical… ”
“Or until someone buys you out?”
Mary was taken aback for a moment, wondering if Molly knew something about the impending sale.
“Business is good, but everything has its price. Sit with me, I want to to pick your brain a little.”
“Sure,” said Molly, “There’s a window table open.”
“Molly, did Sean every talk about his family with you?”
“Not much. He seemed… I mean it wasn’t as if he was hiding some big family secret, but he just didn’t talk about them much… a little about his mother, no siblings, oh I forgot about Billy, but he doesn’t really count, does he? Nothing about anyone else. Of course, we know all about his father. He’s got an aunt… in Iowa somewhere. She’s quite elderly; she was eighteen when Sean’s mother was born. Sean did say that she took care of him when he was little.”
Outside the coffeehouse, a steady stream of pedestrians walked by. Mary, out of habit, scanned the crowd. Suddenly she turned her face away from the window and tersely said:
“Molly, listen. Turn your head away from the window. There is someone taking pictures of us—don’t look—he’s sitting on a bench across the street. Shit. I’m sorry Molly, I shouldn’t have exposed you.”
“It never ends, does it?” Molly was mad now. “I told you that I’m through with this crap. Sorry, I’m leaving.”
Molly stormed out with her coffee.
Mary took out her cell phone, but by the time she had turned the camera on, the man across the street was gone.