Chapter 50

As they finished their drinks and cleaned the plate of fries, the women continued to talk about Dan and his mysterious new face. Clara would alternately switch between describing him as an aimless and immature man to relating tales of how he’d suppressed uprisings and participated in assassinations. She refused to admit that he was a secret agent but didn’t know what position that he’d held in the insurance industry before losing his job. She said that they hadn’t slept together since she’d seen him with the bandages off.

After almost an hour they left. Clara had become more and more incoherent the longer that they sat. She claimed that Dan had discovered a new weapon that would rid the world of all evil. She said that he was never paid enough for what he did. She said that she hadn’t meant to become an advertising tycoon. She told them that she just had a knack for breaking codes.

The woman was now staggering and stumbling along between Myrah and Jill as they struggled to prop her up on either side. The lunchtime crowd was beginning to stream in and people were eying them with a mixture of both fear and amusement as they ushered her through the mall. This wasn’t what any of these men or women had expected to see when they’d left their offices to go and grab a quick bite to eat or take advantage of a sale or two.

The patchwork of gauze that Clara wore around her face had gotten stained with grease from the cheese and purple dye from the drink. Her clothes were a collage of mashed potatoes, salad and casserole. She mumbled absently, letting her eyes roll back in her head. Myrah wondered if they should take her to the emergency room and have her stomach pumped.

"A car bomb, a hijacking, a suicide vest, an IED." She said as they carried her.

Jill looked over at Myrah. "What’s she saying?"

"It’s that stupid show." The builder’s wife spat.

Sometime during their conversation it had come up that Clara had been put in a room at the hospital where the television had done nothing but run back to back episodes of America’s Enemies all night long. The woman could now recite the names of clandestine organizations that were positioned around the globe as well as the people who led them. She’d described a scene in vivid detail where soldiers were ambushed and gunned down while raiding the house of an underground militant in Jordan. She’d said that it had been a horrible and intense thing to have to watch.

"Security checks, bomb sniffing dogs, x-ray machines."

Myrah looked around. "We need to get her out of here before she freaks someone out talking like this."

When they’d finished with their drinks it was immediately apparent just how badly that Clara had been addled by the alcohol and pills. She’d swayed drunkenly back and forth as they’d stood up to leave. She’d pushed her chair in very deliberately.

At the time, they’d all thought that it was funny. She’d worn a silly looking grin as she’d put on her coat and tussled with the sleeves. She continued to wear the same expression even after she’d fallen backwards and knocked over a waiter carrying a tray of food that was meant for the senior citizens.

"Separatist, Jihadist, Extremist, terrorist."

They’d parked on the second level of the garage nearest the food court. The people manning the kiosks stood back to let them pass. An attractive looking girl with dark hair and dark eyes started to ask them if they wanted to sample some soap but thought better of it upon seeing their predicament.

Clara was drunk, high and probably still a little bit dumbstruck by her accident. She mumbled the names of crazy dictators and underground zealots as she was dragged along through the shoppers. She would take a few steps and stop. She would say that her husband didn’t know anything about insurance. She would insist that America’s Enemies were everywhere.

When she’d fallen at Slopes, the women had gasped out loud as they’d watched her still grinning sailing backwards, collapsing amid a ringing symphony of silverware and breaking dishes. Myrah remember that from the fake fireplace, the animatronic moose had turned its head and called "Wipe out!" cackling madly in their direction.

"Biological weapons, dirty bombs, surface to air missiles, unmanned drones."

Jill pushed her up a little straighter. "Do you think that what she said about Dan is real?"

"I think that she’s a little out of it right now." Myrah answered.

In the restaurant, Jill had made the apologies while the builder’s wife collected the woman from off the floor and scrapped food from her coat. The boy that she’d knocked over was dazed but otherwise affable about the whole experience. He’d laughed and said that he’d never seen such a huge yard sale. None of them had known what he was talking about but even so they were grateful for the way that he’d said it.

"But what if he is a secret agent?" Jill wondered allowed. "Life is strange. I never thought that Thom’s father would be anything but the Tower Killer."

"Do you think he’s not the Tower Killer?" Myrah asked.

Jill looked straight ahead.

Myrah thought back to what Clara had immediately said when they’d been cleaning her off as she said befuddled and grinning at the table. The woman had taken a long look around at all the fallen food and drinks and then she’d asked. "Is this is a terrorist attack?"

In light of her confusion, the builder’s wife thought there was no telling whether her friend was telling the truth about Dan or not. She’d had been hit by a bus, given mysterious painkillers, gone through airport security, and taken out for drinks by her friends at eleven o’clock in the morning. She might be imagining the whole thing or she might be married to a highly trained killer. Who knew?

"Why do you think she’s rambling on like this?" Jill asked.

Myrah shook her head. "I guess that there’s no shortage of things to be worried about." She answered.

She herself had seen the show America’s Enemies and it alone was certainly enough to make you paranoid. The program linked everything back to strange and mysterious forces that seemed to control everything from caves and bunkers. Foreigners were plotting against your way of life every second of the day and night it declared. They could destroy you whenever they pleased.

From the mantle in Slopes the moose had continued to wheeze and bellow. "Stay on the Green Circles!" it called after them as they’d left. Myrah wondered what kind of callous bastard was pulling the strings on that puppet.

NASA said that an asteroid might fall on your head. There was a deadly flu making travelers wear masks. Search teams probed the grass for the body of her neighbor. A kid was gunned down by a cop outside of the house in the gated community where she lived.

Commercials with little dogs and butterflies.

The End

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