Friday, May 08, 2020

Social Distance

This is Chapter 20 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Friday evening, July 17, 2020, Phoenix, Arizona

Andrew Stevenson had just put the finishing touches on his latest video, a sermon titled ‘Modern Adultery.’ He had started his missal by giving the back story on Mary Robinson and Sean Carroll then going into detail about Jo Carroll; about her killing of an intruder and her link to Mary and Sean. Stevenson had given a particular emphasis to the line in John 4:18, ’For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband… ’ as he flashed the picture of Jo in the arms of Sean, an image that Barbara Merrit had sent him. Stevenson went on to imply that even if Mary was aware of this little ‘affair’ between Sean and Jo, Jo was no better than the Sumerian harlot that Jesus had spoken with at Jacob’s well. That was all Stevenson needed to prime the pump and the rest of the sermon—equating Seattle with Sodom and Gomorrah—wrote itself. When he was satisfied, Stevenson uploaded the file to his server and then clicked the ‘publish’ button. A notification was immediately sent to almost 100,000 followers as well as a dozen news outlets, including one special email to the newsroom of KWAH, the Seattle TV station that had covered the ‘witch’ riot.

Saturday morning, July 18, 2020, Seattle

Mary Robinson was watching her daughter Mareka eat her granola. It was heavy on honey and fruit but, in Mary’s judgement, it could have been worse—the only breakfast fruit Mary had eaten when growing up was spelled ‘Froot.’ Her phone chimed so she opened it to read her notifications. An email from Jo topped the list:
Hi mary m in spokane.
Got here too late to say goodbye to mom.
Some stuff i need to do probably b back monday pm.
C u then
Mary went on to the next one. It was from a media watch service that she and Sean had subscribed to. It gave regular updates on any mention of Sean or Mary that it found in various media. As she read it she gave a sigh of resignation: “What’s next?” she muttered to herself and began to read:
Notice of Activity: 22:30_17_Jul _2020:  subject(s) mentioned in closed captioned YouTube Video "Modern Adultery": https://astevenson/
Mary took the phone outside and clicked on the link. It was the same sketchy preacher who had helped instigate the previous week’s riot. She scanned the video at double speed with the closed captioning on, stopping only when she saw the picture of Sean and Jo embracing.

I’ll have to talk to Sean about proper ‘social distancing’,” Mary thought, smiling.

Saturday morning, July 18, 2020, Spokane, Washington

Jo woke up in a cold sweat.

She had booked a room in The Tiki Lodge motel—trendy when it had opened in the 1960s—was now but a shadow of its former glory. The trains passing nearby woke her several times during the night and, when she did manage to drop off to sleep in the early morning, her dreams were colored with an air of menace—always culminating in a replay of the night she shot and killed the Russian intruder in Seattle eight years ago. That event was in steady rotation on her ‘dream-playlist’, along with beatings from her ex. She had taken the room to get out of her Mother’s house, and all the baggage that came with it. She was staying in Spokane because she had to sign some papers at the lawyers Monday morning before she could return to Seattle. When she had been a teenager The Tiki Lodge seemed exotic. Now the parking lot of the motel had been a human zoo when she checked in: obvious drug dealing, apparent prostitution, signs of drinking and general air of vagrancy. Social distancing did not seem to be a concern here. She became aware of the weight of her mother’s gun in her purse. After she had checked in and gone to her room she took it out and placed it alongside of the sink as she undressed to take a shower.

You can go back home again, just not all the way,” she thought as she pretended not to notice the cockroach that scurried along the floor of the shower stall, “I’m never coming back to Spokane again, ever.

Saturday Morning, July 18, 2020, Seattle

William Preston, the news director of Seattle’s TV station KWAH, was trying to make some sense of the email that he had received from Andrew Stevenson, the tele-evangelist from Arizona. Preston was checking his computer at breakfast to see if there was anything that he needed to go into work for. At first glance The video linked in the email seemed to be about the morality of adultery, but when the Pastor mentioned Sean Carroll and Mary Robinson in the email, he read further. It seemed that the preacher had found some connection between Sean and a ‘mystery woman’, and included an image obviously taken at the ‘witch riot’ of the previous week. The preacher named the woman as Jo Sanford, a name which rang a bell in Preston’s memory but, for some reason, he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He did a quick search for ‘Jo Sanford Seattle’; her name came up in a news report about the killing of an intruder eight years ago, but he didn’t get any hits with an image search. “The news video of the riot might have a better image of her,” he thought.

He would be spending Saturday morning at the station.

Sean had a sick feeling as he watch the preacher’s video.

“This is not a good thing,” he said to Mary, “Someone’s trailing us again.”

“I’ve already put the lawyers on it,” said Mary, “And I think I’ll talk to some of our old ADR crew, they can get the lowdown on these characters.” Applied Diffusion Research was the industrial security/espionage firm that Mary had founded and had been purchased by Amasales, a giant internet retailer. Many of the ‘crew’ had, over the last eight years, gradually left the firm and had regrouped into a smaller business—‘Baby ADR’ as they called it. “This is definitely one of those occasions when the best defense is a good offense,” she said.

Saturday Afternoon, July 18, 2020, Reykjavík, Iceland

Vilhjálmur Stefán, Þora Sigmundsdóttir and Sean’s son, was in Reyjavík with his mother, in the children’s play area at the Vestubaerjarlaug swimming pool.

“I miss pabbi Sean,” said Villí, out of the blue, “And Mareka, when can I see them again?”

“You’ll see them tomorrow, on FaceTime,” said Þora, “Like we do every sunnudagur.”

“We didn’t see them last week!”

“They were busy, moving to a new house.”

“They are too busy, they don’t like me,” said Villí, with a quaver in his voice.

“That’s not so, they love you very much. When travel restrictions are over you and I will go to Seattle and see them in person.”


“Really,” said Þora, as she brushed some wayward hair out of Villí’s face, “I promise.”

Next Chapter: So Far Away

By Professor Batty

                                                                                     All original Flippism is the Key content copyright Stephen Charles Cowdery, 2004-2023