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He sighed. He could see someone had tried hard to put together a themed
package. ?Sorry, Lurch. I can t do this.
He tried to explain why not, and made her understand he was serious. I don t
have to play if I don t like the company. I ve never been that kind of rockstar,
don t plan to start. Thanks, but no. Lurch blanched. He would not have thought
her whey face could turn whiter, but it did. She argued her case, becoming
agitated. The person who put this together didn t understand. I do, I tried, but
what the President, uh, or people round him see is, they ll see you being
awkward. Please Ax. You can do this. You have to do it.
Sorry, said Ax. Credibility issue. Surely the White House can understand a
credibility issue?
Ah, well, he was thinking, watching her shocked face. So that s the way things
are, and that nice civilised patrician gent I was talking to was really Pigsty Liver
For whom might is right, and now I ve bust the deal
She left, saying she d get back to him.
Ax, crestfallen and exasperated, wondered if his life was actually in danger
(she had been so flustered), but decided not. Fred Eiffrich isn t Caligula, he s just
an emperor whose favour is easily lost. Too bad. And if Ax no longer had a
patron in this town, that was okay. He had a contingency plan.
In the morning he took the Metro to Dupont Circle, bought himself coffee and a
muffin and went to sit in the park. People walked briskly, a school class of
teenagers were doing drill-exercises. Sparrows flirted and chirruped and hunted scraps. The central
fountain featured a ronde of undraped forms, male and
female: sleek, pallid stone. Two white guys, clad in running shorts and singlets,
sat on the rim of the bowl talking quietly. Could one of them be my man? He
wondered if he d been stupid about the gig, but decided he d been right to say
no as an opening gambit; see what Lurch comes back with. . . On his VIP ticket
he d have flown into Shannon by private jet (no flights to England, but he could
have handled the rest of the journey). Getting out of the USA otherwise, when he
had little money, wasn t supposed to be here, had a chip in his head and came
from a contaminated country, was not going to be straightforward. But he d been
working on it.
I like to be in charge of my next sandwich.
The sparrows caught his attention. What a strange city it is, where nobody
feeds the birds. He wanted to crumble some of his blueberry muffin for them,
but respect for Lurch s feelings restrained him. I d hate to create an artificial food
chain . . . One of the little birds hopped to within inches of his foot, without the
bait. She looked up. He saw in extraordinary clarity the blonde stripe above her
shining dark eye, the soft pelt of smoky brown feathers. She reminded him of
Fiorinda, and he had a wistful thought that she might come to his hand. He
could almost feel the tiny claws, digging into him
He recognised the penumbra of something untoward happening in his brain,
and the next instant there was Fiorinda, her living ghost: Fiorinda, in her stormcloud indigo and the
orange fluffy cardigan, one arm across her breast, the bi-loc
set in a white-knuckled grip against the side of her head. His heart leapt. Oh God,
she has remembered. My telecoms-allergic babe finally realised why the fuck I
gave her that thing. She looked as if she d been crying.
?Fiorinda, my baby. What s the matter? What s happened, sweetheart?
?Ax, you have to come home. Sage has gone. Olwen wouldn t give him life
support any more. You don t know because he wouldn t let us tell you, but he
was taking far too much snapshot, in the Zen Self experiments. He said he
couldn t stop, it was something he had to do, and now he s gone to Caer Siddi.
The moment he saw her, the moment he heard her voice, the world turned
upside down and righted itself, and he was there, in the world he thought he d
lost, loving her and Sage, grasping that they were in trouble and he d have to
sort it out
?You two haven t been getting on then, I take it. And the stupid bugger
wouldn t let you tell me. Fiorinda, don t cry, it ll be okay. Just explain to me what
went wrong 
She shook her head, her trouble only darker. ?N-not at this distance, Ax. You
don t understand, he s gone. He was, I think he was dying when he left
Rivermead. No one who goes to Caer Siddi ever comes out again. He s never
coming back. Sage is gone. Things are okay here but not too good. Fergal s taken command of the [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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