“Why don’t we ever go to another country and put something together for them? Why are we always ripping their stuff apart?”
With a frown, Sherlock slid reading glasses from his pocket, deliberately unfolded them, and arranged them on his face. He shifted focus long enough to glare over the frames at Kennie’s drumming — okay, okay — then turned back to his work. “You mean, besides the irreparable damage it would cause Theresa and her pyromania? We sometimes do build stuff, ya know. Maybe you’re forgetting our drilling project—”
“Nope.” That slow Texas drawl took forever to reach a point, even when there was a chance one might be in the offing; Kennie had quit waiting for Sherlock to finish his sentences long ago. “Water wells are good. Everybody needs to drill a well once in his life. Still not what I went to school for.”
Tap a key. Flash red, flash green, flash red. Tap another. Seriously, the trip to Houston was starting to look like a massive mistake, even worse than Washington’s latest regulatory boondoggle. All he’d wanted to do was spend some private time, away from the generals and the rest of the team, convincing Sherlock to expand their job description; NATO, their overseers, gladly provided civil support to its member nations, as well as military intelligence and combat operations.
Another glare at his hands; somewhere during that tirade, he’d started drumming again. Kennie leaned back and grabbed the recliner’s arms, digging his fingers into the smokey blue leather. If he held on hard enough, maybe he wouldn’t start drumming on the laptop’s keyboard. Or his boss’ head.
“And you know, and I know, and everybody else knows, after we leave the bad guys are just going to send their secret state polizei out on another midnight sweep. In a few months, they’ll have just as many political prisoners as before, only now they’ll be in somebody’s drafty old warehouse or stinking cold basement. One of our team will be sporting a new ache, we’ll have more blood on our hands — in the long run, what difference does any of it make? Buildings last. Dams. Roads. Even sprinkler systems. But reform-minded individuals in banana republics have a limited catch-and-release shelf life.”
Tap. Flash green. Now the lights reflected from Sherlock’s glasses, the shiny lenses and metallic frames, and from the subdued red scar encircling his wrist as he poised one finger over the keyboard. Kennie waited until the finger began its descent.
“A guy should have more to celebrate on Christmas Eve. That’s all I’m saying.”
Like he wasn’t fighting fit or something. “…exercise?”
“Always a good place to start.” Sherlock’s voice trailed off as he tilted his head back and stared at the screen. Sharp brown eyes sharpened further, peering through the bottoms of the lenses.
Oh, lovely. His commanding officer, the man who led them in the field, needed bifocals to see his computer screen. That wasn’t anything to celebrate, either. “Right. Well, clearly I could be spending my time in worse ways.” Kennie eyed Sherlock; for example, talking with you.
Sherlock eyed him right back; you sure could.
Kennie sighed. “Don’t y’all have some big sort of park nearby?”
“Sorta, yeah.” One eyebrow canted. “Why, you looking for a lift?”
Like hell. Kennie stalked to the door, grabbing his iPhone and punching up the map app. The comical plastic case mocked him; it looked like an engineering nerd’s pocket protector, yellow mechanical pencils and red and blue fountain pens perfectly aligned above its built-in amp and speakers. Cute and bright and not where his career seemed to be headed. “No, I’m not looking for a lift.” He’d rented a car at the airport. Under his breath, he added, “Not from a blind man.”
“Think I didn’t hear that?”
If his commanding officer’s ear quality matched his eye quality— “Whatever.”
“Heard that, too. You are carrying, aren’t you?”
Kennie paused, one hand on the polished brass doorknob, frustration reaching for a seismographic spike. He didn’t need a mother hen, and the SIG Sauer P225, in a crossdraw above-the-belt strut holster, hidden beneath his untucked polo shirt, symbolized his dilemma and never let him forget it. “Of course. Aren’t we always?”
No answer. Again.
Kennie refused to slam the door behind him.
Would you believe me if I say his day goes downhill from there?
Star of Wonder is available wherever quality ebooks are sold, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Apple iTunes bookstore, Kobo, and Smashwords. There's a paperback available, too.
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