(Last week: Chartan and Gina agree to name their baby Jake Jake. Brazil probes the man behind the recruitment poster for combat veterans. Today’s episode takes place about five months later.)
It was the start of a new year with winter chills and clear skies full of stars. Chartan’s eyes watered as he stared at the heavens through the 3rd floor hospital window in the birthing room. Jake Jake had arrived healthy and ready for his mom.
He’d never thought about the mechanics of child birth. In the end Gina had done all the work—he had only added words of encouragement. For a moment he was embarrassed by thoughts of his bravado in teaching life restoration classes. He had preached without the first-hand knowledge of how it is to bring another human being into the world. He was humbled by events of a half-an-hour ago.
“What are you thinking?” asked Gina a few feet away in her hospital bed. The baby was asleep on her chest.
Chartan left the stars and turned to his wife. “I’m thinking how lucky we are. How do you feel?”
“I’m sore but it isn’t painful, it’s more a reminder, I guess, of what has happened. I might not believe he’s real, but for the effort it took to get him out.”
Chartan took a few steps forward, stopping when his thighs pressed again the bed.
“It’s like life, our life, has just begun.”
As instructed, Brazil sat in the last booth on the freeway side of the diner. He was on his second cup of coffee when three men appeared at the entrance. They had close cropped grey hair and blank stares. This must be Riley and his group, thought Brazil who quickly lowered his head to avoid eye contact. The meeting had been five months in the making. He’d almost given up. Maybe if events had moved faster, he might not have rekindled his marriage with Julie.
He looked up at the heavily lined face.
“Good enough. On my right is Leon and on the left, Chase. Okay?”
Riley slid in next to Brazil with Leon following him.
“I’ll be back,” said Chase who walked away.
“Some starry night out,” said Riley.
Riley leaned forward and spoke in a whisper. “You look like I thought you would. I’m glad you’re not nervous.” He handed Brazil a large brown envelope. “Read this and call the number inside tomorrow at 1400 hours—we’re starting to move—no more delays. ”
“Gentlemen, would you like coffee?” asked a woman in a bright orange uniform.
“Not tonight,” said Riley as he and Leon stood up and departed.
“Was it something I said?” laughed the waitress.
Brazil smiled at her—she looked a little like Julie. “ No, they’re guys who take life too seriously sometimes. How about a burger, rare—no fries?”
After the waitress left Brazil pulled out his cell phone and called Chartan.
“Just checking in on Gina,’ said Brazil.
“She delivered an hour ago—everybody’s fine.”
“Congrats, dad. So, it’s Jake?”
To be continued next Sunday…