|A Year and Change|
This prologue begins Book Four. More than a decade has passed since the Sailor Stars left Earth . . .
|Prologue: Election Results|
"A YEAR AND CHANGE," said the young man Mamoru Chiba was treating, "mostly on the farm. It wasn't too bad. Won't go on my permanent record." He already was already comfortable with legalese like "permanent record," a sign he was going to have one.
"That is a lot of time out of your life, Mr. Barris," said Dr. Chiba, extracting another shard of glass from his patient's scalp. "You can miss out on a lot in a year. Your lady friend can find someone else while you are away."
"Yeah, I hear you," said Walter Philips Barris. "That ever happen to you, Doc?"
"Something like that," said Dr. Chiba. "This may hurt."
"Aaaa . . . You weren't lying," groaned Barris.
The last time Barris had been Mamoru's patient he had been in custody. It was when Marvell Jones' gang war had still been raging, but Barris hadn't been one of the casualties. He'd ruptured his appendix while he was in holding at the juvenile hall.
Dr. Gonsoles stuck her head through the curtains. "Chibs, you owe me a dinner. The President just conceded."
"I should learn not to make bets with you," responded Mamoru.
When Dr. Gonsoles was gone, Barris asked, "Was that your lady?"
"Dr. Gonsoles is my friend," said Dr. Chiba. "This one is in quite deep."
Barris groaned again, but he didn't flinch. Instead he managed to say, "Where's that real pretty nurse?"
"All of our nurses are pretty, Mr. Barris," retorted Dr. Chiba.
"Don't B.S. me, Doc," said Barris. "You know the one I mean. Blond, great legs . . . Was she your girl, Doc? She was always around, I remember."
Dr. Chiba picked out a couple of more shards before answering. "We were engaged years ago, but we married other people. She is on maternity leave now. Do you have a special lady friend, Mr. Barris? Or a wife, perhaps?"
"I've got some ladies, but no one special now," said Barris.
"Keep looking for the special one," said Dr. Chiba.
"Well, Walt, you owe me a bottle of Johnny Walker," said Halinan, holding out his glass. "Black Label, if you please."
Harold Walters Rostov was "Walt" to people who knew him well, and one of those people was Charles Halinan, the new Assistant Director of the FBI. Politically they were at opposite poles, but they had been friends since law school and so had their wives. Rostov poured a little scotch and a lot of soda into the glass, saying, "That should be about a year's supply for you, Charlie. Mavis told me your doc--"
Halinan cut him off. "Don't be a sore loser, Walt." He tossed off about half the glass. "She may keep you on."
"No," said Rostov, shaking his head. "Threlkeld will be her National Security Advisor, and he'll want to have his own boy managing the Agency. Time for me to fold up my tent and move on." He poured himself a drink and lifted it up. "And time for you to move up, Charlie."
"Maybe," said Halinan, touching glasses and finishing his drink. "So, what's your plan, Walt? You've always got one or three."
Rostov put the scotch back into the liquor cabinet, saying, "Oh, I don't know. Hang up my shingle somewhere, I suppose."
"Right, Charlie, right," said Halinan, drawing out the words so there could be no mistake that he did not believe what Rostov had just said. "You've probably got five offers lined up."
"Three," said Rostov, "I'm not that much in demand." He finished his drink. "But I'm staying on until January. Got a loose end or two to look after."
Halinan asked, "And just what loose end do you want to tell me about, Walt?"
"Well," said Rostov, "There have been certain arrangements between your Bureau and our Agency for awhile. Actually since before G.W., but mostly under this Administration. I would like to ensure that those arrangements continue through the next Administration. The new President may not appoint an understanding man--or woman--to replace me, and he or she might allow our arrangements to lapse. I think it is in the national interest for these arrangements to continue to function."
"You're being about as clear as mud," said Halinan. "What are you getting at?"
"Charlie," Rostov said, "There's more to these angel sightings than we've allowed the public to know."
"Well, I'll get Scully and Molder right on it," Halinan retorted, breaking into laughter. Then he saw that his friend was not joking . . .
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