33 A lovely day for a boat ride

“I gave you her number. You didn’t text her?”

“I expected you’d tell her.”

George said, “This is awkward. Pull over, we’d better link.”

In the language of light, things made even less sense. Linking had always been painful with anyone except Michel and his mother. In his surprise he spoke aloud. “Nonsense!”

Michel dropped the link. “It’s true. I am scared of her.”

“Of course you’re scared of her, you’d be an idiot not to show her some respect.”

“Respect is not at all what I want to show her,” Michel said.

“You’d better not take that mood with you or you’re going to get your ass poked through your nose and tied in a knot.”

“That’s just a story,” Michel said.

“It’s a very good story.  Father says it’s true,” George said.

“That fucker barely registers gravity. The truth? I doubt it gets close enough to rub off on him,” Michel said, but there was no heat in his voice.  Laelaps, George’s father, was generally considered the second craziest individual to ever roam the planet.  Excluding humans of course, but they were very sociable about committing war and murder and theft and rape, and George’s people were not.

Laelaps’ crime had been against himself, and it had rendered him even more solitary, hiding far from the usual tracks and haunts. He no longer checked in with Hermes, everyone’s go-between, although Michel had hunted him down on his last visit home and hung out with him. To no purpose, of course. Laelaps had been impenetrable when his link worked, and now it was gone, he was a blob on a hillside, indistinguishable from the scenery, occasionally gesturing or lighting up. Sometimes they’d wrestle to stave off boredom.

“I never got the impression he was all that crazy,” George said.  “It was less than six months, the time I lived with him, but it was long enough to learn a lot more about him in his own words, to counter everything Psyche had said. He just seemed sad and always preoccupied, as if his thoughts could not be set aside for other activities.”

“I suppose,” Michel said.  He texted Kima.

“It’s a little late now,” George said, with irritation.  “She only surfaces twice a day to pick up her messages.”

“What?” Michel said.

“Deep water and cell phone coverage don’t mix.  If she’s not right at the surface, she might as well be on the moon.”

“Shit,” Michel said.

He thrashed around for a while. George stood out of the way, as was polite.

“I will be giving her a surprise,” Michel said, knowing this was a bad thing.

“I’m pretty sure she wants to see you.”

“I should warn her.”

“It’s not traditional.  She likes it traditional,” George said.  It was true, as far as it went, but he’d still get a scolding for not warning her.

“I have to see her,” Michel said dreamily, “Even if she thumps me the whole time.”

“That seems unlikely.”

They slowed to a more sedate pace.

It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for a boat ride. They found an inconspicuous place at the marina to reappear, and walked down the ramp. The boat was a 24 foot Sea Ray, adequate for a jaunt out into the Salish Sea on a sunny day. The boat captain was a First Nations man who greeted George by name and smiled at Michel. “Good morning,” he said. George introduced him as Sparrow.

“I’ll leave you to it, then,” George said.

Michel linked with him, giving him a blast of shit for giving Kima’s location to a human. He’d been under the impression that they were going to hitch a ride on a boat, not be accompanied there by a nosy bonebag.

Aloud, George said, “My cousin is unhappy that you know the coordinates.”

“It’s only for today,” the man said, puzzled. “She doesn’t stay in the same place.”

“You know Kima?” Michel said, astonished.

“That’s one of her names,” the man said, frowning a little. “You have more than one name too, don’t you?”

Michel for once couldn’t speak, and ponderously moved his slate grey glare in George’s direction.

“Michel, I know who you are,” Sparrow said, with a calm that suggested coaching. “George, you shouldn’t tease him.” George said nothing, and Michel knew George was doing exactly that.

“What do you think is happening right now?” Michel said, slowly and carefully.

“You’re going to meet with Kima for a few hours, and then I drop you back wherever you want,” Sparrow said.

“Like I said,” George said.  “Have fun, play safe, all good wishes,” he added.

Michel called him a number of choice things in Greek, something unforgivable in Hungarian, and capped it with a biological slur in Romanian, but in a tone suggesting that everything was perfect and that he couldn’t be happier.

“Same to you, you miserable worm,” George said in Greek with a smile in his voice, and turned away with a wave.

Sparrow was under contract to George to provide him and certain associates with access to Kima. Michel, making conversation, learned that he was not the only human who knew about Kima, and that he had seen her dance on shore.

“What the fuck?” Michel said.

“George told you nothing about our arrangement? That doesn’t seem like him.”

“Oh no,” Michel said, his voice filling with gravel. “It seems as like him as anything I can think about.”

“George says you think you and he are competing for Kima,” Sparrow said.

Michel kept his temper, since there seemed to be more coming.

“But he said that she’s not a prize to be won.”

“No,” Michel said, looking ahead. “Kima and George have an agreement. Kima and me don’t.”

It took about an hour to get there. When they arrived at the coordinates, Michel thanked Sparrow and apologized for his harsh tone. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you,” he said.

“I’ll take you up on that someday,” Sparrow said, and watched as Michel went over the side and vanished beneath the waves.  He drew off to a more sheltered place, set a few fishing lines, and kept a watchful eye on the spot where he had last seen Michel.