2018-02-01

Me and Mrs Jones

Bing-bong-bing.

I wait for maybe fifty seconds and reach to ring the doorbell again. It feels awkward ringing this bell, but it should. This apartment used to be mine.

The door opens and a vision appears before me. I blink, and the vision fades to real colors, which are still not unattractive.

"Mr. Jones, long time no see."

"Uh, hi, Mrs. Jones. How have you been?"

"Not bad. Yourself?"

"Well, enough, I guess. Uhm, well, except, look, I'm really sorry about this."

"What? It's not like there's child support you aren't paying."

"I'm not here on personal business."

"The uniform is not just to impress an off-duty nurse, huh? What is it, then, George?"

"There's been a complaint. Medicine missing at the hospital. I have to take you in for questioning."

My ex-, or, should I say, estranged wife sighs and turns around. "I'll go get my purse and a jacket. Do you think it'll take long?"

Watching her from behind, not-faint echos of memories lodge in my mind. Medium brown hair, but it was once my privilege to run my hands through it. And I shouldn't mention my memories of the rest.

I shake myself. "Can't tell you even that. They should not have sent me. The office knows it's a conflict of interest. I can't ask you what happened, and I can't even offer advice."

"Can I make myself a little more presentable?" she asks as she picks up her purse and goes into the bedroom.

"Sure."

"I want you to know my side of things."

"Wait." I recite the litany of rights you tell people before you arrest them or question them. "Got that?"

"So I'm being accused?"

"I can't answer that, either."

"Well, I want you to know what happened, even if the police office is deliberately trying to get me to waive my rights."

I'm not allowed to stop her from talking, either.

"So get out your recorder and make this official," she adds.

I pull out my standard-issue phone and thumb the recorder app. "It's recording."

"Four times in the last two weeks, I've found some patient's prescription in my purse. The first time, I didn't find it 'til I got home. But I called immediately and told my boss and the physician in charge. Since then, I've checked my purse every day before I go home. Three more times, and each time I took what I found to whoever was in charge at the time before I left."

She waited for a comment.

"You know I can't say anything here."

"The third and fourth time, I checked my purse after I took it out of my locker, and there was nothing there. Then I checked it again after I changed clothes, and there it was."

I continued to wait, looking around the once familiar room.

"The was only one person besides me who was there both times. I think you know her." She was being vague. Then, being sure I could see through the door, she imitated a hairstyle I would recognize.

Julia Gomez. The chief's daughter. The reason Georgette and I are have been separated for three of the eight years we have been married. I have no kind words for the woman, but I can't say so. Not under the circumstances. 'Gette knows, anyway.

Something clicks in my brain.

Chief Gomez runs his unit like a fiefdom. He keeps the force under his thumb, by hook and by crook. One mistake, and he uses it to blackmail you. If he can't catch you at something useful enough, he sends his daughter to do his dirty work.

I don't give in, so, four years ago, she took it up a level. Manufactured a compromising situation, and even though I didn't fold, it was my word against hers.

And she has made it more of a personal battle since then. I have become the thing she can't have, and she can't stand not getting what she wants. Now I understand that she is using my estranged wife against me again.

The chief would not usually allow going this far, so she must be out of control. Or, ... I am also one of the few officers on the force not under his thumb. He has this thing about things he can't have, too.
 
I go to a window and look outside, being careful not to disturb the curtains or show my face.

I see I have backup I didn't know about down on the street five floors below us. Two cars that I can see from here. There may well be more. There should be no need for that.

Then I notice the hardware. Subconsciously, I recoil.

I could walk 'Gette downstairs and keep her too close to shoot without hitting me, but I couldn't protect her at the station. And I can't guarantee that they would avoid shooting me, and calling me collateral damage of the war on drugs.

Walking into the bedroom, I say, roughly, "Can't wait forever for you to put on your pretty face. Nobody at the station'll be persuaded anyway."

'Gette looks up at me in surprise. I hold up two fingers and point to the window, then do cherrytops with my finger. I turn sideways as her eyes go wide, and do a charade of shooting with rifles.

"No use delaying things."

"A girl's got her pride." Fortunately, she also remembers we're on record. I had told her some time ago that the recorder on our police issue phones immediately transmits what it records to the station. The benefits of permanent connections.

"Okay, one more minute."

It is also fortunate that, with the phone on my belt, the camera is at such a level that I can keep my gestures out of the viewfield. But I can't risk too many more clues, and we are probably out of time. I point toward the elevator, then the emergency stairs and point down. I think that racing the elevator down is our best chance.

She makes some finishing touches and puts her makeup away. "Let me get some snacks, just in case it takes a while."

I follow her into the kitchen and let the camera record her putting soy bars and a couple of cans of apple juice into her purse, then casually turn away so she can grab her piece from its drawer, quietly. She puts it in her purse, too.

Why a nurse needs a handgun may be beyond some people, but she has been the target of stalkers in the past, including the recent past. I'm not the only one who thinks she is beautiful.

She also grabs a jacket and two backpacks she keeps as seventy-two hour kits for natural disasters and such.

"I'm ready."

I lead, so the backpacks won't be picked up by the camera.

She locks the door behind her, and we go to the elevator. When it opens, we walk in, and then I drop my phone.

"Careless of me."

I turn the camera facing the wall and leave it there as she steps back out, and then I follow her. She hands me one of the packs. When the door is safely closed we both break into a run for the stairs.

But she heads up, not down, gesturing to me to follow. I throw my nightstick down the down stairs and follow, dropping my pager near the wall on the first landing up, hoping they'll think I threw it there from below. GPS in those pagers, useful if the officer needs to be rescued, not so useful if he needs to be rescued from his own fellow officers.

On the roof, the next building over is only six feet away and at the same level. This whole block is close like that, the only block with tall buildings in this town. She doesn't wait, just runs for the edge.

I follow, and check below as I go over the edge. It appears that the officers on the street are focusing on the ground floor, waiting on the elevator. At any rate, no shots ring out from below. The building after is at the same level, and we clear the edge together. The third building is taller, but there is a fire escape we can reach by leaping.

Fortunately, the fire door opens from the outside. Safety code.

Inside, we run down the stairs. I follow her into the basement.

"There's an underground maintenance accessway that opens in this building," she says. I know about it, and we find the entrance. I wave her back, but there's no sign of anyone, so we enter the accessway and make our way under the street.

Back at surface level across the street is an indoor mall, which we enter from beneath. We come up in an employee access hallway.

"Your fashion sense sucks."

"I do stick out, don't I? I think you should change, too"

"There's a Team Captain."

We slip in the back of the sportswear shop and I hold my conscience at bay as we lift T-shirts, shorts, and running shoes.

Back in the maintenance access, 'Gette pulls off her shirt, and I freeze.

"We never did finalize the divorce. Get changed."

It takes me a minute longer to change, and we stuff our clothes in our packs.

Once again on the surface, we cross the mall and walk as casually as we can to the bus terminal.

As the bus pulls out, we hear sirens and watch police cars closing in on the apartment building from all sides.

"I think I'm glad I read your mind back there."

"Me, too. I'm glad I figured out what was going on."

"What'll we do?"

"Hang out in hotels in Cincinnati and further east? Watch the news for a week and post incriminating hints to Twitter from netcafes?"

She leans against me, her head on my shoulder, staring out the window. "Well, if this is the end for us, at least we have a little more time to spend together."



Table of Contents Next: N

Originally inspired by a question in the LDS Beta Readers Facebook group, by Cheree Mackay Myatt, on plot elements to get a long-term separated couple back together for a week. She ended up with a list of ideas long enough to consider using in creating an anthology.



[Edit record starts here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2018/02/backup-me-and-mrs-jones.html.]

2018-01-15

A Little Regency Flash Romance: "Caroline's Confession"

A bit of speculative Regency flash fiction, inspired by the House Party:

(I say speculative because it started as speculation on the direction one of the relationships seemed to me to be heading. Other directions look more probable now.

Changing the names to separate their work from mine seems to have changed the characters, as well. I think it's a fragment of a similar but separate story, now.

It's turning into a space Regency set in a starfaring hollowed-out asteroid.)



Sepculation about how one of the story lines might end
temporarily unavailable. 
I apologize for the inconvenience, 
but this was written a little too close to someone else's stewardship.
God tells me I should be a little more considerate when I play God 
with other people's stories. 
When that person's story is complete, 
maybe I'll be allowed to put what I had written back up. 
For now, I'm working on a little more thorough separation of story lines.
If I succeed, I may put the rewrite up here.

2017-10-16

Pink Heels and Rusty

Rusty's electric blue eyes bored into me, his expression a total cipher.

"You're mad at me."

"Mmm-mmm," he shook his head without taking his eyes from mine or changing his expression. I couldn't look away. The grass under my feet scratched.

"Then what?" Yeah, I was asking the obvious.

"You said your shoes would match my hair." His voice was matter-of-fact, just a shade cool, revealing no hint of what he was really thinking. "I just want you to know that my hair is not hot pink."

My ears burned. I held up my heels, pleading with my eyes.

"And my hair is not fuzzy. Curly, sure. Not fuzzy."

The fake fur ankle straps. Mom had called them excessive. Did the corners of his mouth twitch?

"But they're cute, aren't they?"

"Sure. But nothing on my head is as sharp as those stilts, not even my nose."

Relief flooded me. "Oh my gosh. You had me going."

He tilted his auburn head. "You wear those tonight and your ankles'll be killing you before you leave." I couldn't tell if he was warning or joking. Maybe both. Then he bent down without changing his expression.

"Uh, what should I do?" I asked as I watched him. I didn't know whether to squat down with him or remain standing. Either way was awkward.

He pulled one shoe off. "Well, you could go barefoot. Myself, I never pass up a chance to go barefoot." Then he pulled his sock off and wiggled his toes. I know it sounds stupid, but his feet were as perfect as his face.

I think I would have died if he had let his focus drift even for a moment to my thighs.

When I was choosing my outfit, my thoughts had been different. I chose the tight denim hot pants and loose, light blue v-neck tee-shirt specifically to keep his attention on me. But when I arrived at his house for the party, I could see I was out of place.

He had met me on the front sidewalk before I could quite decide whether to say I must be at the wrong house, and had stared, just for a moment, at my high-heeled shoes before saying, "Nice heels! Wanna take a look at the back yard? It's where we'll be dancing later."

Not knowing quite what to do, I had removed the shoes as I followed him around the corner of the house, before both of us came to stand in the soft but scratchy grass.

And now he had removed his shoes.

I do not not know how he managed it, but he straightened up without looking once at my legs.

"Let's put our shoes on the porch."

"Rusty!" A girl's voice called through the back door. "What ..." The door swung open and Rusty's sister stepped out. "Ah, you must be Cheryl. Rusty said you would be coming."

"Hi." I didn't know what else to say. I was planning on seducing your little brother? Right. That joke would not fly in this house, not in this group.

"Cheryl, this is Reba, my big sister."

"So nice to meet you. Lovely outfit. Where did you find it? Could you come with me? I could use some help. Mom wants to talk with you, Rusty."

"Thanks, Reeb."

"Uh, ..." I looked back to Rusty.

He just grinned, and my awkward feelings seemed to vanish like mist. "Reeb's a good friend. I'll go see what my mom wants."

Reba came down the steps and hugged me. "Bring your heels. Wouldn't want'em walking off without you."

I followed her up the back stairs, carrying my shoes.

"I'm gonna change to jeans, and I want your opinion," Reba said as she led me into her room.

"Uhm, ..."

"Mmm?"

"I'm dressed wrong."

She started pulling pairs of jeans out of her closet. "Whattaya think o ' this pair?"

"I guess I misunderstood when Rusty said casual. Those look nice."

"Think so? I have an old pair that matches these. Not your kind of casual? Here. Do you think they'd fit you?"

"Maybe. Not my ... usual casual, I guess. Fit me? May I?"

Ten minutes later, we descended the front stairs in matching jeans and tees. She had found me a pink camisole to go under my tee-shirt, and picked a tee of her own that matched the blue of mine. And we were both barefoot. And friends.

I don't quite know how Rusty's family made me feel so at ease so quickly, but I had even forgotten to worry what Mrs. Ellison would say.

"Ah, Reeba, Cheryl, there you are. Come help me with the finger food."

Of course Rusty was right. I would have broken my heels or my ankles or both, dancing in the grass.

The music was loud enough to dance to, but not loud enough to bother the neighbors. In fact, some of the neighbors joined the party at different times.

And it was fun. Reeba and her date led a bit of formation street, and some of their church friends showed us how to dance ballroom style. And there were parlour games, which are kind of like drinking games without the drinking. And nobody paired off to go submarine racing in the bushes or anything.

I got to help clean up, and I found myself driving home thinking that she who had come to conquer was the vanquished. And I didn't exactly hate the idea.

2017-09-25

Asking for a Letter of Reference

A letter of reference is a lttle different from a letter of recommendation, and a reference is not a guarantor.

reference:
  参考、参照、参照できる人、参考になる人など

letter of reference:
  参考になってくれる人からの参考になる(手紙などの)文

つまり、推薦状でもなく、保証人の申し出でもありません。

You provide a letter of reference to give someone an idea of what sort of person you are.
人柄を考えるときに参考になる為に、この文を送ってもらいます。

A referee is completely irrelevant to letters of reference. When you think "referee", think of the guys who call the plays in football and other sports.
"Referee"  と言うのは全く関係ありません。審判のような者です。

[This is not exactly true in the field of law. I'm talking about letters of reference for school and job applications.]
[法律の分野ではちょっと違うことがある。入学志願届けや求職の応募などの話です。]

So I have put together a little sample conversation to help understand the concept and the usage.
以下は概念とその利用について説明するための対話実例です。

-------------

Hana: Professor Williams!

Prof.: Uh, hello.

Hana: Do you remember me? Hana Kinoshita.

Prof: Uhm, sorry, give me some more clues.

Hana: I took your class in foreign language teaching methodologies at Nanboku University seven years ago.

Prof.: Nanboku University ... Ah, yes, I remember teaching there. I was also teaching at Touzai University at the same time.

Hana: Oh, dear. I was hoping to ask you for a letter of reference.

Prof.: You would get a better letter of reference from a tenured professor, I'm afraid.

Hana: But I was hoping for a letter of reference for the methodologies class. I'm applying for post-graduate teacher training at a college in the US.

Prof.: Well, if I were at my desk where I could look at my records, I might remember better. Can you send me an e-mail to refresh my memory?

Hana: Oh, well, I guess I can.

Prof.: And maybe you should get a letter from one of the tenured professors, as well.

Hana: I'll try. Can you write down your e-mail address for me?

Prof.: Got a pencil?

--------------

Don't worry. Forgotten but not forgotten.
忘れていると思うのは仕方がない。記録はあるはず。記録を見たら、思い出せるでしょう。ただし、さらに一人、違う人にも頼んでもいい。

--------------

To: jill7williams (at) groupmail.net
From: hana.yesterday (at) rose.readmail.ne.jp
Subject: Letter of reference I asked for today

Dear Prof. Williams,

Thank you for taking time for me this aftenoon.

I was a student in your foreign language teaching methodologies class at Nanboku University in 2010.

One of the things I remember you teaching were methods of engaging the student. You demonstrated how pretending to forget what words mean can be used to invite the students to help in class.

I really appreciated the teamwork assignments. You had me leading a team twice, once in techniques for elementary schools and once in techniques for high schools.

Sometimes it was hard for me to finish on time because I was also taking a class in using novels as a teaching tool, and had to demonstrate use of four novels for that class over the semester. You helped me several times when I was having trouble getting projects ready to turn in.

I need a letter of reference for Southwestern Teachers College in New Mexico. Could you write one for me? I am asking one of the tenured professors, as well, at your suggestion.

The address to send the letter to is

Admissions Office
Southwestern Teachers College
Santos Pisces, New Mexico 99999
USA

Please let me know if you can.

Respectfully yours,

Hana Kinoshita

--------------

That's a little formal for e-mail, but this is a formal request.
e-mailにしてはやや形式に染まったものですが、礼儀に従うところです。

Note that prompting the memory, as Hana does here, is okay, especially because Professor Williams asked for help remembering.
華さんがここで思い出してもらうために情報を足しているのは特に問題ありません。ウィリアムズ教授が「手がかりください」って言っているし。

Asking the professor to say specific things is usually considered a breach of protocol.
教授に書いていただきたい内容を特定するような発言は気をつけるべきです。礼儀だけではなく、ルール違反になりかねるのですから。

--------------

To: hana.yesterday (at) rose.readmail.ne.jp
From: jill7williams (at) groupmail.net
Subject: Re: Letter of reference I asked for today

Dear Hana,

I have checked my records and refreshed my memory.

I recall encouraging you to work hard on the novels class.

I also recall you falling asleep a couple of times in class because you had been practicing late for the drama club. Remember to use those drama techniques in your classes.

I will be happy to send your letter of reference (and I won't mention the falling asleep in class ;-).

I checked the address for Southwestern Teachers College. The best place to send letters of reference for graduate school applicants is the graduate admissions office, so I will send it there.

Let me know how things go at STCNM.

Sincerely,

Jill Williams

--------------

This is where Hana's involvement ends.
これ以上は、華さんが関わって行けません。

The letter should usually be sent by regular post (physical mail) directly from the professor to the school.
大概は、教授本人がこの letter of reference を直接その学校に送るべきです。

If a professor can't send a positive letter of reference for some reason, the professor should decline, to allow the student to find someone who can.
なんらかの事情があって生徒のためになる letter of reference を送ることができない場合、教授は控えて、生徒が別の方に、参考になる人になってもらえるようにするべきです。

2017-07-07

Snow White, as a Play, scene 14, A Woman of the Camp

prev TOC

[Scene 14, A Woman of the Camp -- 

N: Narrator, K: King, 

J(SW): Snow White, in disguise as the servant, Jane,

C: Councilor, S1 & S2: two Soldiers,

AB: the King's armor bearer, R/M: Runner/Messenger,

P: Prince of the Enemy camp]


S1: The Queen's Maid is a sight to be seen.

N: The young woman was watching the night sky at the edge of camp.

C: You should keep your thoughts and your eyes in check, soldier.

S2: But you have eyes for her too, I think.

C: I am bound by the Queen's orders. I must watch her.
    If she comes to any harm, I come to the same.

S1: Cruel. They say the Princess and the Maid look alike.

C: I can tell them apart when they are together.

S2: They say she is only inferior in beauty to the Queen.
    And the Princess, of course.

C: They have loose lips.

N: Both soldiers busied themselves with the camp fire for a moment,
    then returned to watching the soldiers on guard duty around the camp.

S1: The Slow Moon is high.

N: The Councilor looked quickly at the soldier who had spoken,
    then at the other, who was again watching the young woman.

C: I don't know that I would say that.

N: The soldier who had spoken only nodded.

C: Jane. Isn't it time to retire?

J(SW): Yes, I suppose it is.

N: In a prearranged signal, Snow White, in her disguise as Jane,
    stretched and looked first at the larger Slow Moon,
    then at the smaller Fast Moon.
    Having thus told her friends trailing the camp that she was safe,
    she returned to campfire.

J(SW): I will retire now.
    With both moons high tonight, I think I could read,

C: The Princess spoils you, teaching you to read.

J(SW): It is only that I may better serve their Majesties.

C: So they say. So they say.

N: The trip to the battlefront took most of a week.

C: Your Majesty, I bring supplies and news.

K: That is good.

J(SW): And the Princess's Maid,
    with a charge to serve you as you need.

K: I see.

N: And the King saw more than the Councilor, of course.

C: I don't see how she can help.

K: You must be tired from the journey.

J(SW): Shall I tend to your wounds?

K: I think you should. Councilor, how about the supplies?

C: I shall see to them, sire.

N: When the Councilor was out of hearing,
    the King's Armor Bearer signaled to him.

K: I must say, I am not surprised, although it is against my orders.

J(SW): You have not had your wounds properly dressed.

K: I am not the only man with wounds in the camp.

AB: I will send for bandages and medicine.

J(SW): I shall need help by the river.
    There are herbs for dressing wounds there.

AB: Then I shall call for someone.

J(SW): See that the Councilor is made aware that I go.

K: He did not use the signs.

J(SW): He does not trust your Advisor.

K: Then he is not

N: Snow White put her fingers to the Kings lips.

J(SW): We work with whom we must.

K: You've learned your lessons maybe too well.

N: On the third day that Snow White, in disguise, was in camp,
    the enemy Prince raised a flag of parley.

C: It's a trick.

K: See that our allies are informed.

C: Soldier!

S1: Sir!

C: Send signals to the camps of the allies.

S1: What shall I inform them of, sir?

K: I am meeting with the Prince of the enemy to arrange parley.
    Jane, you will attend me.

J(SW): I hear and obey.

C: She will just be in the way, Sire!

K: I thought you knew, Councilor, that the servants of the Palace
    are trained in all the arts and service of the court.

C: I shall prepare to attend.

K: I think I won't need your help.

J(SW): But, M'Lord, he would take news back to the Kingdom.

K: Then, Councilor, I must put you under oath.
    You must remain silent during the meeting.

C: By the King's word.

K: And there may be news which you will not be able to tell.

C: Understood.


[JMR: Written between 21 January and 7 July 2017, and posted on 7 July.]




TOC next

2017-07-06

Snow White, as a Play, scene 13, The Bad News

prev TOC

[Scene 13, The Bad News -- 

N: Narrator, A: Advisor,

Q2: the 2nd Queen,

M: Mayor, C: Councilor, 

R/M: Runner/Messenger, Jane: Snow White's personal servant,

MM: Magic Mirror]


Q2: Councilor, we must send you to the battlefront for information.

C: What? Battlefront?

M: Your Majesty. It is our pleasure to serve.

C: Where is Snow White?

Q2: She did not take the news very well.

M: What news?

C: Is there trouble?

A: You sent for me, Your Majesty?

Q2: Thank you for hurrying, Advisor. I know you are busy.

A: The Queen's word is my only command.

Q2: Runner, please tell these men the news you have.

R/M: The King is wounded, and the soldiers do not fight.
    There are shortages of food and supplies in the camp.

C: We must send someone!

Q2: Who but yourself would you suggest?

M: Quite right, Councilor. Quite right.
    Who else would be free to go?

Q2: Advisor, you will see to it that the King knows
    he can trust the Councilor.

A: Your Majesty. Not that.

Q2: How else shall he know whom he should trust?

A: Very well. I shall see to it after preparations are complete.

Q2: The Princess is very disquieted. No one is allowed to disturb her.

A: No one, M'Lady?

Q2: Only I and her personal servants may see her.

J: Your Highness?

Q2: Yes?

J: If it please the Queen, I seek permission to attend the King
    for the Princess in the camp.

Q2: Is this by the Princess's request?

J: It is.

Q2: Then you shall also represent me in the camp.

J: I hear and obey.

C: Your Majesty!

Q2: See that there is sufficient preparation.
    Jane must be allowed to attend to the King in every need,
    and she must be brought back safely.

M: Is it wise?

C: She will be in danger.

J: I am understand the dangers.

Q2: If she comes to harm, I will require it of you.

C: It is a hard thing you require.

N: But Snow White disguised herself and traded places with Jane.
    And Jane resigned herself to staying in the Princess's rooms,
    occasionally showing her silhouette at the window.

R/M: See how the Princess worries.

M: It is past midnight. She should be asleep.

C: She must be very worried.

N: Before they left, the Advisor privately gave the Councilor
    secret signs to give to the King.

A: These will assure the King that you speak for us.

C: Are they necessary?

A: It is by arrangement with the King, to show
    how much he can trust your reports.

C: Thank you. I shall go now.


[JMR: Written between 21 January and 6 July 2017 and posted 6 July.]



TOC next

Snow White, as a Play, scene 12, Rumors

prev TOC

[Scene 12, Rumors -- 

N: Narrator, A: Advisor, SW: Snow White, 

Q2: the 2nd Queen, who was no longer a confused and scared Woman,

M: Mayor, C: Councilor, 

R/M: Runner/Messenger, Jane: a Servant, Tom: another Servant,

MM: Magic Mirror ]

M: Is the King alive? Has he been injured?

R/M: The King is alive and leading the armies.

C: Are the women of the camp tending to the injured?

SW: You are both of you just horrid.

M: Oh! Snow White! I didn't know you were around.
    I'm sorry to cause you to worry about your father.

SW: I don't think you are sorry at all.

Q2: Be careful how you speak of such things,
    in the castle, or in the hearing of the people.

C: But you must both prepare yourselves for the eventuality.

Q2: What eventuality?

M: That the King might not return.

C: Or that he might not return alone.

SW: You have both disobeyed a direct order of the Queen.
    Leave now.

M: But we have business with your majesties.

Q2: Why do you talk of a war which you yourselves will not fight?

C: It is about the war. We must send supplies. We need money.

M: Or, indeed, the King might not return.

SW: Jane, call the Advisor.

J: He is outside the castle, M'Lady.

T: The Mayor and the Councilor asked him to see to the crops
    when he returned with the Runner.

Q2: Then send for him.

J: I go.

Q2: Until he comes, you two may sit in the conference chamber.
    Tom, you will see that these two gentlemen are made comfortable there.

T: I will see to them, M'Lady.

N: The Mayor and the Councilor left with Tom, though not willingly.

Q2: I am afraid for us all.

R/M: Fear is a careless messenger. It is useful, but not as a commander.

SW: Don't be afraid, Mum. Things will work out.

Q2: What if they don't work out very well?

A: If we do our best, only God can judge us.

Q2: Oh! Advisor!

SW: And He will judge us well and faithfully, in the end.

Q2: You weren't gone?

A: I obey the Queen. But I have sent some men we can trust,
    to check the crops.

Q2: Tell us the full news, faithful Runner.

R/M: The King has been injured.

SW: How badly?

R/M: The wounds are not mortal.
    He still leads both in battle and in parley.

SW: Is ... how ...

Q2: Is he recovering well?

R/M: He is. Do not lend your ears to rumors, my Majesties.

SW: Thank you.

A: How goes the war?

R/M: All parties grow weary of the fighting.

Q2: Why does it continue?

R/M: Our agents tell us that our enemies are being paid to fight.

SW: Of course. Is it clear yet who buys their service?

R/M: Rumors, your Majesties.

SW: These are rumors we must hear.
    We will judge for ourselves of their truth.

R/M: Indeed. The money seems to come from partisans
    within our own country and the countries of our allies.

A: Are these rumors reliable?

R/M: Proof is hard to come be. There is one more rumor.

Q2: Let us hear it.

R/M: The money is drying up and the partisans are seeking new sources.

Q2: That explains why the Mayor and the Councilor come asking for money.

SW: Do not speak of this last rumor outside this room.

R/M: I hear and obey.

SW: You are all my good friends. Tell our friends I will miss them.

Q2: Miss them?

A: We must protect the Queens.

N: And the Queen, the Princess, and the Advisor made plans
    with their most trusted servants and court officials.


[JMR: Written between 21 January and 6 July 2017 and posted on 6 July.]



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