...He checked his rearview for Vance, Reel, and assorted bogeymen.
I’m not growing paranoid. I am paranoid. And who could blame me?
Her firm core had come from agonizing exercise and careful diet. It had nothing to do with appearance. The core was power central. And fat slowed you down. In her world that was poison
There were three ways to approach the mission. For a mission was what Jessica Reel was on.
You could start from the bottom and move to the top.
Or start at the top and move to the bottom.
Or you could mix it up, be unpredictable, go in no particular order.
The first option might be more symbolically pure.
The third approach greatly improved Reel’s odds of success. And her ability to survive.
She opted for success and survival over symbolism.
It had been traumatic in ways that even now Reel didn’t fully understand or appreciate. The experience had come to define her, and guaranteed that many normal things people did in life would never be part of hers.
What happened to you as a child, particularly something bad, changed you, absolutely and completely. It was like part of your brain became closed off and refused to mature any further. As an adult you were powerless to fight against it. It was simply who you were until the day you died. There was no “therapy” that could cure it. That wall was built and nothing could tear it down.Maybe that’s why I do what I do. Engineered from childhood.
“It’s ancient history. I’m not much into history. I try to be more of a forward thinker.”
“Your compartmentalization skills are amazing, Robie.”
He shrugged. “Necessary part of the job. Hindsight might be twenty-twenty. You learn from mistakes, and you move on. But every situation is different. One size does not fit all.”
“A lot like working cases. So how much longer are you going to be doing what you’re doing?”
“How long are you going to be doing what you’re doing?”
“Probably till I drop.”
“You really think so?”
“I don’t know, Robie. You said you’re a forward thinker. I’m more of a live-in-the-present kind of person. So when are you going to call it quits?”
“I probably won’t be the one making that decision.”
She sat back, took in the meaning of his words, nodded. “Then maybe you should try to make sure you’re the one deciding.”
“Doesn’t go with the territory, Vance.”
They said nothing for about a minute. Each played with the drink in front of them.
Finally Vance asked, “Have you seen Julie?”
“No,” he replied.
“Didn’t you promise her you’d keep in touch?”
“I promised you too and look what happened.”
“But she’s just a kid,” countered Vance.
“That’s right. She has a long life ahead of her.”
“But a promise is a promise.”
“No, not really,” answered Robie. “She doesn’t need me anywhere near her. She’s got a decent shot at a normal life. I’m not going to screw that up for her.”
“Noble of you.”
“Whatever you want to label it.”
“You’re a really hard person to relate to.”
Robie again said nothing.
“I guess as long as you do what you do this is how it’ll be.”
“It is what it is.”
“Do you wish it could be different?”
Robie started to answer this seemingly simple question and then realized it was not nearly as simple as it appeared to be. “I stopped wishing a long time ago, Vance.”
“Why keep doing it, then? I mean, I have a crazy-ass life, though nothing like yours. But at least I have the satisfaction of putting slime away.”
“And you think I don’t?”
“I don’t know. Do you?”
Robie put some cash down on the table and rose. “Thanks for the call. It was nice catching up. And good luck on your case.”
“Do you really mean that?”
“Probably more than you know, actually.”