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The Old Spies' Home
Oahu, Hawaii September 15, 1973 2:00 am
Micah lay awake cradling Jude in her arms. The sweat from their naked bodies mingled and cooled in the gentle sea breeze blowing in the patio doors. The quiet waves of the Pacific lapped at the beach just beyond the stone cold fire pit. They had spent the better part of the evening engaged in vigorous explorations of one another’s body. Fatigue finally over took their lust and they settled for cuddling just after midnight.
“I missed you.” Micah coughed slightly to clear pent up emotions from her throat before she continued her confession, “I was starting to worry. Three months is a long time to be out of contact.”
Jude kept her head nestled on Micah’s broad and tanned shoulder. Her arm, which was lightly draped over Micah’s stomach, tightened slightly. But, she kept her silence. She had said little since their reunion at the base and moonlit drive to the bungalow on the beach assigned to them for the next four days.
“You okay?” Micah waited but Jude said nothing. “Hey, talk to me. I’m trying to be patient here but you’ve hardly said more than ‘oh God’ for the last four hours. What’s up?”
“Can’t talking wait a little longer?”
Micah closed her eyes to hold back a shout. She’d wanted to demand answers about the secret operation with Special Agent John Turner the minute she saw Jude looked healthy and almost bruise free. Her direct supervisor at the Agency, Langley Albert, told Micah to let Jude get some rest before debriefing. Micah followed his order for as long as she could stand but her notoriously short fuse was ready to blow. She wanted details about the mission in Chile. And, she wanted them now.
“I’d rather not wait any more. Jude, what’s going on with you?” Micah questioned as she shifted away from her lover to force a face to face conversation. “And, why wasn’t Turner with you? Where in Hell is he?”
“Please, leave it for the morning,” Jude begged but allowed herself to be moved into a sitting position.
“No!” Micah was firm. “I’m tired of being left in the dark on this. What’s the big secret?”
Jude kept her face down and whispered, “I’m pregnant.”
Micah swallowed once. Jude had missed the wince by the time she finally lifted her gaze. Micah’s brow was already furrowed as she moving onto a sneer when they made eye contact. Without a word, Micah swung her legs over the side of the bed. She grabbed her scattered clothes as she strode across the room. She pulled the door open and walked into the hallway half naked.
“Please, don’t leave,” Jude’s voice broke into a sob as the front door slammed closed.
New York City, New York May 6, 2011 2:00 pm
“Micah, we’re here,” Jude’s voice woke her from her slumber.
Grandma sat up with a jerk. Her neck cracked and her back popped with the sudden movement. She left out a little groan of pain. A soft, warm hand touched her arm and she grunted while pulling away from the contact without thinking.
A glance to her left caught a glimpse of the hurt she inflicted with her sudden reaction. Jude’s chin trembled. She struggled for a moment to hold back her tears before her professional face was restored.
“Oops, forgot rule 1. I’m sorry I touched you. But, you fell asleep. I was only trying to wake you up so the boys could get out,” Jude spoke softly but Grandma heard every measured word explaining the commotion filling the vehicle.
“Come on, Wolfe, I gotta pee,” Radio shouted in his usual speaking voice.
Carlos grumbled, “Tell the whole world why don’t you? Let’s just hope this dump has plenty of bathrooms or the rest of us are out of luck with Mr. Flush hogging the latrine.”
“Not my fault,” Radio defended. “Damn prostate’s the size of baby’s head. Can’t barely get a teaspoon out every hour. My bladder’s ready to explode. So, can we move it before I embarrass myself?”
“Too late,” Carlos muttered making Robert giggle.
Grandma loved the sound of his laugh. It brought a smile to her face. Robert’s laughs had been precious few and too many days in between since his father died. The thought of their shared loss brought a sudden pain to her chest. She tried to distract herself by watching her grandson hop out of the SUV. He moved like his Dad; purposeful and focused on his task. Unlike his father, Robert was comfortable in his own skin and usually easy in his smiles and laughter. That changed with the news his father, her son, Matthew Robert Colton, would not recover from injuries received during his assignment in Iraq.
Robert’s worried voice brought Grandma’s attention to the matters at hand. Her only living relative, Robert, was holding the door open for her. He shifted unsure what to do to help her. It was only then she realized a tear was trickling down her cheek. She wiped the evidence of her grief away and gave him a smug wink.
“Damned allergies! I must be within ten feet of a liberal,” she scooted closer to the edge of her seat trying to reached the step stool with the toe of her sneaker. “Those pinkos always get my sinuses dripping.”
The guys laughed at her remark and added a few of their own. Robert remained serious. He lent his Grandmother a hand to guide her safely to the curbside. He leaned in for a hug when he was sure she had her footing. His hold was tentative but hers was desperate.
“Don’t be sad, please,” Robert whispered in her ear.
Several more tears broke free but for much different reasons. “Oh my good little guy,” she hummed back to him. “As long as you stay close, I won’t be too sad.”
“Good,” he said and patted her back with infinite care before stepping away from her.
“Everybody okay?” Jude asked as she took in the scene.
“Fine,” Grandma lied.
“I guess, I’ll head in and register then,” Jude fumbled feeling a little awkward with the abrupt answer.
“No, don’t have to,” Robert said. “All done from the car. They sent pass cards with the reservations. Those are in my wallet,” Robert patted his front pocket protectively as he spoke.
Grandma and Jude both grinned as Robert took charge of their arrival. He waved a bellman over to help organize the bags. Then he made sure Radio and Carlos did nothing more than heavy supervision while Scooter directed the Valet guy where exactly to park the Hummer.
“Robert’s doing really well. I’m so proud of him,” Jude said quietly.
“He’s a good kid,” Grandma replied.
“He’s no kid anymore.”
“No, he’s no,” Grandma agreed. “It’s been a lot of years, Jude.”
The unexpected familiarity of the comment caught Jude off guard. “Well, yes, I suppose it has.”
Grandma sighed, “I think we need to talk.”
Jude looked stricken but nodded agreement. “Let’s just get the boys unpacked and off to the pool before we start.”
“Good idea, that will give us a couple of hours.”
“I’m not sure we need that long,” Jude could not hide the bitterness in her voice. “It didn’t take that long last time we tried to talk.”
Grandma flinched but managed to quip, “I’m not as fast running away anymore. Hell, it takes me an hour just to get off a sofa.”
“This is the only handicapped equipped vehicle we have ready to roll today,” the man in the greasy overalls said in a deliberated manner. “No matter how much you bitch, it is still going to be the only vehicle I have ready.”
Margaret Ann was red cheeked as she hissed, “It is a school bus. Not a vehicle. You can not expect me to drive a school bus into New York.”
Brick chuckled before he blew into the straw control for his chair. It buzzed into action and he powered around the short, yellow bus with the handicap lift. Margaret Ann was happy to have him on the move because it meant he could not speak while he steered his wheelchair.
“It’s the only transport with a lift that I got running. Take it or leave it or leave him behind. I don’t care what you do but you got five minutes to decide and then I’m going on break.”
Margaret Ann was ready to explode when Brick rode up next to them. His chair bumped to a halt as he released his lips from the straw.
“Who cares what as looks like as long as it gets us there, Nessy?”
The guy in the overall laughed out loud which infuriated Margaret Ann even more. “I’m going to report this to Administrator Sohn. It is unacceptable for us to only have one vehicle with a lift in working order.”
“Good. Report it! And, while you’re at it, ask that shithead where the surplus from my 2008 budget went to,” The guy shouted. “I saved him a hundred K in fiscal ’08 and he stiffs me in 2009 and 2010 and 2011. Three years in a row underfunded with aging equipment that you clowns take for joy rides at a drop of a hat. Any of you ever think about checking the oil on one of your road trips?”
“Boo Fuckin’ Who, cry me a river,” Brick said. “We all got jobs to do, Monkey Boy. So, get us the keys and let us go save the country while you climb back down into your grease pit and lube you some shaft.”
The guy lunged at Brick. Margaret Ann grabbled his overalls and hauled him back four steps.
“I’ll ‘effin’ snap your head off dickless!”
“Corporal, cool it! He’s not worth your fuckin’ pension, is he?” Margaret Ann was losing time and needed to appeal to their lowest common denominator.
The guy in the overalls eased back a step before shaking free of Margaret Ann’s hold. “Keys’re in the ignition. You gotta get gas. Tap the brakes before you apply them and get the fuck out of my yard!”
Margaret Ann watched the guy stomp away. The buzz of the electric wheelchair pulled up next to her.
“What a hot head,” Brick said and smirked.
Margaret Ann shot him a dirty look and replied, “Get on the bus, asshole!”
The hotel suit was lovely. Muted autumn colored furniture and walls edged with the rich, dark woodwork contrasted beautifully with the panoramic window views of New York City. Micah sat in one of two upholstered chairs across from the sofa. Jude was seated there pouring tea.
“Would you like a cup?” Jude asked.
“No,” the answer was erupted and Jude flinched. “I mean, I don’t want to be running to the bathroom while we talk,” Micah tried to excuse her rudeness.
Jude nodded but did not look up from her cup as she sipped.
The silence that settled was well known to both of them. They had been silent for thirty eight years on the topic of their break up. Neither was sure how to move forward. It would be so easy to leave the subject buried. If Robert didn’t need both of them to be a their best, it would be so easy to accept their own burials as well.
“We need to work together,” Micah started.
Jude sat up straight and defended the unspoken and unintended accusation, “I’ve been working with you for the last thirty six years!”
“I know,” Micah said quietly.
“I never let our problem stand in the way of the team,” Jude didn’t hear Micah and continued on protecting her reputation.
“Absolutely,” Micah agreed. “You’ve always been professional.”
“I worked my ass off for decades with your snide asides and your shitty attitude. Never once did I acknowledge how much you hurt me.”
“Hurt you?” Micah snarled, “I was the one that got hurt! I was the one you left behind. You get yourself pregnant by some sailor I never even met while you were suppose to be doing recon. You’re lucky they didn’t have you up on charges, lady! Instead, they let you marry the punk days before a sniper ended his new career as your personal sperm donor.”
Jude’s face was stark and cold and deathly white. “I never met him either.”
The tick of the grandfather clock was the only sound for more than a few minutes.
“What?” Micah finally asked.
“Langley arranged for the marriage certificate. Chief Warrant Officer Angus Spencer was fatally injured during my rescue.” Jude paused and took another sip of tea.
“Rescue,” Micah whispered suddenly feeling very sick.
“John Turner and I were suppose to be in Chile posing as a oil executive and his wife on business. There was only one bedroom in the rental house the agency arranged for us. One bed.”
“And, nature took it’s course,” Micah offered sarcastically wanting to doubt the previous claim of needing rescue.
Jude stared at her for several seconds weighing the truth or continuing the lie. The truth finally won out. “Turner was a coke head. I don’t know how he flew under the radar at the agency for so many years. I know even less about how he brought the stuff into Chile. Some spy I was back then.”
The pain in the statement made Micah respond. “You were young. New. Turner was suppose to supervise you. He was over you.”
“In more ways than one,” Jude grimaced. “He raped me, Micah. He cuffed me to the bed and raped me for days.”
“No,” Grandma gasped.
“Langley didn’t start to worry for a couple of weeks. Maybe it was a months. I have trouble figuring out the time line. Even after all these years and reading and rereading the reports, it’s too hard for me to piece together the minutiae.” Jude took another sip of her tea.
Micah was not satisfied with the gaps in Jude’s account. “Langley did get worried and sent in reinforcements, right?”
“Oh yep, that went great,” Jude snorted. “He sent Spencer who was twenty one and doing some embassy duty or other. Spencer banged on the door for like an hour. Turner was out cold on the bed next to me and I was bound and gagged so tight I couldn’t make a move or a sound. Finally, Spencer busts open the door. He was a smart kid. Figured out what was going on and called for back up. But, he was a kid.”
“He didn’t secure the scene,” Micah understood the rookie mistake that gets lots of kids killed.
Jude nodded. “Turner was groggy but rousing. He grabbed his side arm and took the kid out on the fourth shot. I thought I was next.”
“Loose his nerve?”
“Out of bullets.” Jude answered. “He took off and the marines arrived about ten minutes later but the damage was done.”
Micah sat motionless. Her stomach was roiling with the information. Her lover was victimized twice. First by her rapist and then by Micah herself. Only Micah’s crimes were worse; kept on victimizing Jude for decades.
“I should have told you. Even after you walked away, I should have made sure you listened to the whole story. You deserved to know what happened. But,” Jude hung her head, “Langley’s cover story was so tempting to believe. I meet a young soldier, whirlwind romance, elopement, pregnancy and he’s tragically killed on a dangerous mission. Shit, I wanted to believe the his story. I asked the psychiatrist to hypnotize me so I would believe it.”
“Jude,” Micah’s voice broke with grief.
Jude stood up and pointed at her, “No! Do not look at me like that!”
“What? Like what?”
“Like I’m pathetic. Like you need to pity me. You don’t! I raised my daughter. And, I did it all alone. She’s happy and healthy and she smart and,” Jude gasped for air as she lost control of her emotions, “and she shouldn’t have to know her father was fuckin’ rapist who defected. Let her have a man she can proud of. Let her believe she’s the daughter of a hero!”
Micah struggled to her feet in record time. She knocked her walker over and teetered toward Jude. She almost pitched forward but Jude managed to catch her. She meant only to right Micah but Micah pulled her close. The hug was painful.
“She is the daughter of a hero,” Micah coughed on the words. “She’s your daughter. I’m so sorry! Jude, I…, I’m such a monster, how could I do this to you. How?”
Jude held on tight as a storm of tears shook Micah. She was angry with herself for craving the touch. She should have been filled with anger. Micah treated her horribly all those years ago when she walked out. The insidious remarks along the way stung their working relationship like salt in unhealing wounds. But, Jude had no anger for the woman holding her close. Instead, she felt nothing but safe in those familiar arms.
“He was the monster. You were a coward. And, I was a liar. We all built lives we could live with, I guess.”
“Can you forgive me?” Micah whispered in her ear.
Jude closed her eyes and started to cry. “I want to but I don’t know if I can.”
Micah lay awake cradling Jude in her arms. The sweat from their naked bodies mingled with the medicated scent of Ben Gay as it dried in the air conditioned hotel room. Micah grinned thinking how glad she was Jude’s claims that yoga kept her limber as a thirty year old were absolutely true. Jude carried most of the work load for their vigorous afternoon romp. Micah was going to need a referral to PT for the muscle strain their reunion caused but it was a price she was happy to pay. Micah snuggled closer to her lover and Jude sighed in her sleep.
“Well worth fifteen ankle pumps daily for the next eight weeks,” Micah said to herself accepting her fate in the hands of the physical therapist.
The opening of the suite’s main door caused both women to tense. They remained still but every muscle was prepared to act. Heavy footfalls across the carpeted sitting room indicated their uninvited guest would be entering the bedroom in a matter of seconds. Before Micah could move, Jude dove across her and retrieved Micah’s Glock from the nightstand. Her body was fully shielding Micah’s body. Not to be outdrawn, Micah snagged Jude’s Berretta from under her pillow. She used her lover’s hip to steady her arm. Both women took aim at the door as it swung open. The shrill scream that followed was comical but nobody was laughing.
“For God’s sake, Scooter, didn’t your mother ever teach you to knock?” Micah barked the question like a drill instructor.
“Oh my, my, my God, oh my, my, my good God,” Scooter stuttered and leaned heavily against the door jamb.
Jude put the gun back on the nightstand but stayed splayed across Micah. “Relax, we’re not going to shoot you.” She paused and grinned, “Even though we should.”
“Screw it! Shoot me!” Scooter demanded after he caught his breath. “My eyes can’t unsee what I’ve seen. You two, together, naked, in bed, doing the nasty!”
Micah chuckled, “Don’t think you actually got to see what we were doing. If you did you’d know it was filthy and not merely nasty.”
Jude laughed out loud but Scooter continued to berate them. “How could you disgrace your uniforms with such perversion?”
“You want to field that one?” Micah raised an eyebrow as she asked Jude.
Jude nodded. “We aren’t in uniform, Scooter. If these were our uniforms we’d be in really big trouble because of all the wrinkles.”
It was Micah’s turn to laugh as she placed Jude’s gun on the nightstand next to her own.
Scooter was unswayed by their humor. “This violates government policy on so many levels.”
“Policy shmolicy,” Micah shrugged. “What are they gonna do, fire me? They forced me to retire five years ago. What I do for them now is professional consulting. You can’t fire a consultant. You just stop utilizing them. Or, the consultant stops allowing herself to be used.”
“It is against God’s law. God hates fagots.”
All the humor ended. Micah moved to pick up her gun again but Jude’s hand on her own ended the hasty action.
“I’ll deal with this,” Jude hushed to her lover. “Scooter,” she said quietly, “I want you to listen closely to me. Your wellbeing depends on it.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“No, never that,” Jude reassured. “It is your soul I’m concerned about here. It doesn’t matter what you think of Micah and me, or any homosexuals for that matter. We don’t need or want your approval. But, Scooter, somebody has lead you astray. God is all about love. To associate the most vile human emotion with the being who defines love is blasphemy. Hate and love can not coexist in a pure heart. God’s heart is pure. What about your heart?”
Scooter stood trying to gather his thoughts. Jude’s reply was completely unexpected. He was prepared for shouting. Even a physical altercation. But, a challenge to his own motivations was not what he was prepared for. He resorted to going by the book; the good book.
“The bible says,” he started and Micah guffawed until she dissolved into a coughing fit. “It says, gays are bad.”
Jude smiled again. “It doesn’t say exactly that. But, you have a point about prohibiting certain acts. And, if your interpretation is that the references are to consensual sexual acts between two mature adults then I think you should refrain from engaging in those acts.”
“Well, I don’t engage in anything like that,” Scooter defended.
“Good, then you have nothing to worry about.”
“But, but, you…,”
“Leave me to me,” Jude smiled again. “I can more than take care of myself. Now, next time you enter somebody’s hotel room, knock first! Or, I will take care of myself and shoot you in the ass.”
“Stop saying that. It’s driving me nuts. Isn’t there a bible passage against against bothering the elderly?” Micah asked but let her finger tips lightly caress Jude’s shoulder.
“Naw, only about respecting blood relatives,” Jude replied as she settled into Micah’s touch.
“Hey, stop that,” Scooter ordered. “It is wrong! Does Robert know about this?”
Jude frowned deeply. “I tried to be nice but you pushed too far, boy! You are to say nothing about anything you saw when you violated our privacy. If you utter word one about Micah and me, I will personally break each of your fat little fingers. You get whatever you came in here for and march right back to the pool. Don’t come back up until we give Robert the all clear.”
“Fine!” Scooter stormed into the bathroom and then raced out with three towels. “I’m out of here.”
“Yes, you are and,” Micah sighed, “you’re off the squad. This is your last trip, Scooter. Steal all the little shampoos you can. You won’t get another chance to do so on the taxpayers’ dime.”
He glared at them but said nothing.
“Get out,” Jude ordered and he happily obliged.
After the door slammed shut, both women spoke, “How are we going to tell Robert?”
Robert shivered in the damp towel. His flip flops squeaked as her hurried down the corridor to his hotel room. He had such a great time in the pool but he was exhausted from all the swimming.
“Hot shower, then a nap.” His tummy rumbled. “Hot shower. Eat. Then nap,” he corrected as he pushed in keycard into the doorlock. “Green and in.”
The minute he looked at his grandmothers, he knew something was wrong. They were sitting side by side on the sofa. Jude smiled at him but it was not as big a smile as she usually smiled. Grandma was worried. The deep line between her eyebrows was creased.
“What?” Robert blurted out forgetting he was cold.
“What? What do you mean, what?” Grandma babbled.
“Something’s wrong. What? Mommy?”
Jude was off the couch and at his side in a heartbeat. “No, no, nothing is wrong with your mother. Nothing is wrong at all. We just wanted to talk with you about something really good but it is kind of different.”
“Not different,” Grandma interrupted as she struggled to get up off the low couch, “in a bad way. It is good stuff, Robert. Really, great.”
Robert stepped away from Jude to help Grandma. He offered his hand to the older woman. Grandma accepted the assistance. Once on her feet, she pulled him into a big hug.
“Stop, you’ll get all wet,” Robert warned her.
“Don’t care,” Grandma sniffled. “Love you so much.”
“Love you too,” Robert whispered in her ear.
Grandma looked up at Jude. Her lover was standing watching them with something close to awe. Grandma had not seen Jude this happy in decades.
“Robert, we wanted to tell you something about us,” Grandma said as she released Robert from her embrace. “Jude and I love each other.”
“I know that,” Robert grinned.
Jude took Grandma’s hand and said, “Robert, we are in love with each other.”
Both women looked at each other for support. Finally, Grandma just said what was in her heart. “Robert, we love each other like your Dad loved your Mom.”
“Yep, like dating.”
“Right,” Jude said slightly confused. “Doesn’t that surprise you?”
Robert shook his head and shivered again.
“Why not?” Grandma was stunned by his complete acceptance of their news.
“I asked Mommy why you nag each other and she said you were in love. And, people who love each other get on each other’s nerves sometimes but they still love each other.” Robert shivered again as his grandmothers stared at him. “Can I get dressed now? It’s cold.”
“I’ll turn up the heat,” Jude offered.
“Let me run the shower for you,” Grandma said.
“I’m a big guy, Grandma. I can turn on the shower all by myself.”
Both women watched Robert hurry off to his bedroom with his flip flops squeaking all the way. Jude wrapped an arm around Micah’s waist and let her cuddle closer as they listened for the water to start.
“He certainly is a big guy,” Jude said.
Grandma agreed, “He is, indeed.”