On Monday, Mary checked into what had been ADR, now a division of Amasales, the internet mega-retailer. After a few hours, she figured out that an Amasales IT had inserted a rigid time marker into the code, negating the ‘float’ which enabled the ADR software to work properly. It would take a few hours to fix, but Mary was in no hurry. When she and Sean had returned to Seattle Saturday night, Mary found the information from Roger Ramsen’s computer in the old ADR dropbox, where Molly had uploaded it. Mary wanted to put it into the ADR system to crunch it against Billy’s information as well as compiling a dossier on each member of The Brotherhood. The process would be a good test of the system’s integrity.
Meanwhile, Sean spoke to their building’s rental agent about getting another apartment. There was an open unit available, furnished, for which he had the agent prepare a lease. Sean also arranged for the delivery of those items he had shipped from Iowa; he was especially intrigued by what information his mother might have had in her computer concerning The Brotherhood in general and the Regelind Tobacco dynasty in particular. Despite the creepiness of The Brotherhood’s practices, Sean wanted to find out more about his paternal grandfather as well as any other relatives who might be hiding in that branch of his family tree. He stopped into the Post Office to restart their delivery and picked up the mail which had accumulated during the time he and Mary had been gone.
In the pile of mail was a hand-addressed letter from one of his old co-workers at ADR. He opened it and discovered that it was an announcement for an ‘engagement celebration,’ to be held that evening at King’s Hardware—a Ballard bar. The letter was postmarked a week prior but there was no R.S.V.P. in the invitation. Sean sent Mary a text message:
Engagement Party 7 pm tonite for Eddie B@ Kings Hrdwr in Ballard. Who'd a thunk it? Are U up for it?Mary had just loaded her data on The Brotherhood and, with nothing to do for a few minutes, was able to answer right away:
That's the place with the patio in back? And the chicken wings? Count me in. I'll take a taxi from here and meet you at 7.Sean TM’d his confirmation and then sat down with his laptop to go through his emails. with the letter from Þora and began to read:
Hi Sean. Thank you for replying to my previous email. I think that the time has come to bring the uncertainty about Vilhjálmur to an end. There are special needs issues with the child and although I am reluctant to ask for your help I need to exercise all my options. Will you consent to a paternity test? It may be possible to do at a distance, or you may have to come to Iceland. I wish you no harm, I only want to do what is best for the child.Sean made a mental note to talk to Mary and the lawyers about this.
Thank you, Þora
The meeting of The Brotherhood began with the usual call to order. The leader made no pretense of ‘business as usual’ and started directly into a discussion of the failed assassination attempt.
“Brethren: it is now eight hours since I should have heard from the operative. There was a storm in the area; perhaps his communication was affected by it. I don’t know the details.”
The group remained silent. Finally, one of the men spoke:
“What do you know?” he queried. “John, we’ve been behind you on this since Ramsen died, but the things you’ve tried have only made the situation worse.”
“The operative’s last contact was yesterday, 1800 hours our time. He was leaving Chicago, which would have put him in the target area by 0200 at the latest. He was to have reported back by 900 hours. There has been nothing about an incident at the farmhouse reported in the media or in police reports.”
“And the Kitsap plan? Is it on track?”
“The materials are in transit. They should arrive in Seattle sometime today.”
“We’ll give it another 24 hours. I move we adjourn until this time tomorrow.”
The motion was accepted and the meeting was adjourned.
The party at King’s Hardware was already in full swing by the time Mary arrived. She spotted Sean on the patio and went over to him.
“How did it go today?” said Sean.
“No big deal,” Mary said, “Amasales IT thought they could ‘improve’ the algorithm by locking the clock. It was an easy fix.”
“And the dropbox files?”
“I did a mass analysis and dumped the results into a flash drive. I’ll look at it in the morning. How did your day go?”
“I’ve got the new lease, a unit on the other side of the building, a floor below ours. All it needs is your signature,” Sean said, “And I received another email from Þora. She needs some help.”
“A paternity test?” said Mary.
“Yes, at least that. She mentioned something about the child’s ‘special needs.’ I think you know what they might be.”
A woman dressed in a Gypsy costume approached the couple.
“May I read your palms?" she said.
“Is this part of the party?” asked Mary.
“Of course,” said the woman, “Eddie thought it would encourage conversation.”
“I'll bite,” said Sean, as he surreptitiously slipped his wedding band on his ring finger.
The woman clasped Sean’s hand and began to trace the lines on his palm. After a minute, she frowned.
“I see a perilous trip and great danger,” said the Gypsy, “Difficult times lie ahead.”
“Looks like I’ll be going back to Iceland…” Sean thought, “Do you think she knows what she’s doing?”
Mary had been studying the woman carefully. “She’s not a faker, although she might know who you are, and is making a lucky guess, Mary thought, “Let’s see what she thinks of my fortune.”
Mary held out her hand. The fortune-teller held it for a moment, frowned, and then dropped her hand as if it were hot.
“You are expecting a child,” she said, “I wish you the best.”
With that pronouncement, the Gypsy woman abruptly left the table.
“I didn’t think I was showing,” Mary thought, “I’m starving. What do I have to do to get a plate of wings?"