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The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (17th Installment)

August 06, 2018 04:12AM
PART EIGHTEEN

O’Brian awoke at five minutes to six, ahead of his alarm which was set for six AM. He turned the alarm clock off before it rang, disturbing the ladies, stretched, pulled on a robe and went into the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, relieved, showered, shampooed, shaved, medicated (with the antibiotics he was still taking), his wounds freshly bandaged, he returned to the living room, casually pulled the bedclothes together, and folded the bed into the couch. Then he dressed in the clothes he’d laid out for himself the night before. Fresh underwear, a pair of blue jeans, a casual long-sleeve shirt open at the throat, and white socks and sneakers. (“Plimsolls” Jane would probably call them. Or she would if they’d had ‘em in 1817.)

The jeans were already belted when he pulled them one. After tucking his shirt in, he buckled the belt. Looped through it were a handcuff case and cuffs on his left hip, and an empty pistol holster on his right. He went back into the bathroom, opened the linen closet, unlocked a strongbox bolted to the wall, and withdrew a SIG-Sauer P226 .40 caliber semi-auto, from which he removed the safety lock. Then he locked back the slide, inserted a fully loaded magazine, released the slide so that it stripped a round off the top of the mag as it slid forward, and decocked the pistol. Then he removed the magazine, added a round to the top, and reinserted it back into the weapon. Fifteen rounds in the mag, and one up the pipe for a total of sixteen. It felt good not to have to carry the bulky Magnums. The SIG was not only lighter, and more comfortable to wear, to say nothing more comfortable to hold, it gave him a third again more firepower than both the revolvers together. But the Magnums, though well ahead of early 19th Century technology, were just barely explainable. The SIG would’ve seemed like a phaser from Star Trek to the folks in Regency-era England.

He pulled on a light sports jacket, and checked the drape to make sure the weapon was hidden. Then he went to the door of his office/den, knocked gently, and opened it a crack.

“Ada,” he said, “you up?”

“I’m awake,” she replied. “Haven’t gotten out of bed yet, though.”

“Why don’t you take the bathroom, and I’ll get breakfast started. We’ve got to get to stepping if we’re going to make the ten o’clock service. And Jane’s not used to showers. She might want to take full bath, and that’ll take time.”

“OK,” she replied, with just a hint of weary resignation in her voice.

*

Twenty minutes later, Ada, having completed her morning ablutions, was dressed, and knocking gently on Jane’s door.

She opened the door a crack, and said, “Jane, honey, you up?”

“Yes, I am. Please come in.”

Ada entered, and saw Jane laying out some clothes on the bed. Jane was, perhaps, a little more adept at dressing herself than most ladies of the gentry from her era, since she and her sisters had to share the only maid, and usually wound up helping each other. Still, she found the combination of dressing without assistance, and the oddity of 21st Century fashion a bit intimidating.

“Mike’s getting breakfast ready. Ought to have it done in just a few minutes. You want to wash up and bathe first or eat first? Nowadays, it’s OK to come to breakfast in your night clothes, long as you wear a robe. Think they call ‘em ‘dressing gowns’ back in your time. But if you don’t feel comfortable with that, I can bring in a tray.”

“Michael is getting breakfast ready?”

“Honey, Mike’s lived by himself since Cesca passed. That means he’s got to do for himself. Course, doing for yourself’s a lot easier’n it was in your day. We got us a lot of gadgets do what you used to have to have servants for. Still, you’d be surprised how helpless a lot of men are in the kitchen. Mike, though, he’s a pretty good cook.”

“I see. Do you think I have enough time to bathe and everything before breakfast is ready?”

“If you were more familiar with things, probably. But getting the knack for using gadgets that didn’t exist back in the day is going to take some time. Mike can keep the food warm, but why’n’t you eat first, then I can help you in the bathroom. I promise Mike won’t be scandalized if you sit down at the table in a robe. That’s how most people do it nowadays.”

Bowing to Ada’s greater knowledge of the customs of the time, Jane acquiesced.

“The food smells wonderful, and I am hungry. Would you please tell Michael that I’ll be right out?”

*

As soon as Ada left, Jane completed the task of laying out her clothes.

When she woke up that morning, finding herself in a strange bed, she knew that the unbelievable experiences she’d had the evening before had not been a dream. It had really happened. She really had traveled two hundred years into the future.

That she was able to accept this so quickly rather surprised her when she came to think about it. What could be more unimaginable, after all, than traveling back and forth through time?

And yet, when Michael told her that was what they had done, she had accepted it almost immediately.

Partly, she realized, this was because she trusted him. Completely. With her life. With her children. With her heart. So her instinct was to believe what he said.

Partly, it was because his being from the future explained a lot of what had puzzled her about Michael. The hesitations when he talked. The vagueness. The gaps that she now realized she sensed when he talked about his past. The sense that he, somehow, really didn’t belong, and that this odd foreignness was attributable to more than his simply being an American.

Now, in the context of his having to hide such an incredible, unbelievable secret, it all made sense.

Well, there was no point in brooding about it. She was not trapped here, after all. He had told her, without hesitation, that she would be returned whenever she wanted.

So, if she wished to avail herself of the opportunity to see the world that had shaped the man she had come to love, she must make the most of it. She opened the door and stepped into the hallway.

*

Breakfast turned out to be plate full of delicious pancakes with a half dozen rashers (Michael called them “slices”) of bacon, and a tall beaker of orange juice.

“There’s maple syrup in that bottle, if you like it on the hot cakes,” Michael said. “Also butter. I’m not a coffee drinker, and neither is Ada, which is kind of funny ‘cause cops are kind of notorious for drinking copious amounts of coffee. But I’ve got some if you’d like it. Also some tea.”

“Cops?”

“Slang expression for police officers.”

“Oh. Well, the juice is fine,” Jne replied. “Where do you get it? Do you have an orangery?”

Michael chuckled.

“No,” he said. “Oranges aren’t as hard to come by nowadays. I just bought the juice ready made at the store. There’s plenty if you want seconds.”

“‘Seconds?’”

“A second helping.”

“Oh. Another American colloquialism. What did you call it? ‘Slang?’”

“That’s right,” said Michael, smiling.

As it happened, one helping, delicious though it all was, was more than sufficient. When she was finished, she and Ada left the table, and went into the bathroom. Closing the door, Ada turned on a light from a switch on the wall,

“How does that light the candle in the lamp?” asked Jane. “And why does the flame not flicker inside the lamp?”

“It’s not fire, exactly,” said Ada. “It’s electricity. It’s . . . well, basically it’s lightning harnessed for utilitarian purposes. The light here, the stove and oven in the kitchen, the ice box that keep the food cold and fresh, the television we watched last night, are all powered by electricity.”

“Amazing,” Jane whispered.

Ada went to the tub, and turned on the faucet.

“Most people nowadays bathe in the morning to ready themselves for the rest of the day. If they have a hard, physical kind of job, or it’s a very hot day, or they do some hard exercise routine that causes them to break a heavy sweat . . . that is, to perspire profusely, they might bath later in the day as well, but bathing in the morning is pretty standard.”

“People bathe every day?”

“Usually. Sometimes several times a day, like I said. It’s not like it was in your day, when the water hat to be heated on the stove, and then brought up the stairs. It’s convenient, and people take advantage of the convenience. Now most people shower in the morning. Generally, if they take a more traditional bath, it’s in the evening. Showers invigorate. A more traditional bath, what we call an ‘immersion bath,’ relaxes you. Showers take less time, too, ‘cause you don’t have to wait for the tub to fill up. You can step right in as soon as the water starts coming out. You want to try a shower?”

“I think I will,” replied Jane.

*

By 7:45AM, Jane was showered and shampooed, and her hair completely dried by a device that was, like all the other seemingly magical devices in this time, powered by electricity. Ada had showed her how to brush her teeth, and then rinse her mouth out with some ghastly tasting liquid called Listerine (though Jane had to admit her mouth really did feel more fresh after using it). She was now in her bedroom dressing, with Ada’s help.

“Girl, you’re going to have to learn how to do this by yourself, eventually,” said Ada. “Clothes aren’t as hard to get into as they were in your day. Even rich people usually dress themselves.”

“Is that why Michael never employed a valet?”

“He’d consider it a waste of money. Probably had his clothes designed so that they’d look appropriate for your time, but were still comfortable, and easy to get into and out of on his own.”

She dressed in the same outfit as yesterday evening, but with fresh underthings. On her feet she wore a pair of rubber-soled shoes made of a bright red canvas. Ada called them “tennis shoes.”

“What is ‘tennis?’” asked Jane.

“Oh, it’s a game, kinda like what I think you call shuttlecock or badminton, only the paddles are bigger, the net’s closer to the ground, and they play it with a rubber ball instead of a shuttlecock. It’s much faster-moving. These kind of shoes are used when playing that game, but they’re so comfortable, a lot of people wear them all the time. Over in England, they call ‘em ‘plimsolls,’ I think.”

“Why?”

“No idea. Over here, they also call ‘em ‘sneakers,’ ‘cause they’re so quiet to walk in, and ‘Keds,’ ‘cause that was the name of one of the first companies to make ‘em, and ‘Chucks’ ‘cause Chuck Taylor’s is one of the most successful companies making them right now.”

Ada stepped away, looked at her, and said, “You look real pretty. You want your hair in that over-the-shoulder ponytail again?”

“Michael liked it that way, did he not?”

“Sure did.”

“Then, yes, let us fix it the same way.”

*

O’Brian was seated in the living room reading when Jane and Ada emerged from the bedroom. O;Brian stood up, and said, “You look scrumptious, Jane. You ladies ready?”

They both nodded.

“In that case,” said O’Brian, stepping to the front door, “prepare for your first look at the outside world of 2017.”

With that, he went to the front opened it, and stepped back to let Jane and Ada precede him through. O’Brian’s condo was on the second floor of the building so they stepped out onto a balcony that led to a stairwell. They descended to the ground level parking lot, and O’Brian led them to a Honda Civic.

“This is what’s usually called a ‘car,’ More formally an ‘automobile.’ ‘Car’ can have other uses, but ninety per cent of the time, when someone refers to a ‘car,’ he means this kind of vehicle. When they were first invented, they were called ‘horseless carriages.’ As you can probably surmise, that’s because they’re not pulled by horses.”

“Then how does it move?”

“Powered by an engine under the hood. The front part of the car.”

“Is it run by electricity?”

“Ada’s been catching you up, huh? No, it’s not. Some cars are, but most are fueled by gasoline, a refined type of petroleum, which is an oil that’s dug out of the ground.”

He opened the passenger side doors on the front and back seat and helped Jane in. Ada got in on her own.

When he was behind the driver’s seat, he turned on the engine, then said. “Buckle up everyone,” while he buckled his own seat belt.

“What is this for?” asked Jane, after Ada had assisted her in buckling hers.

“Safety precaution. Keeps you from being thrown from your seat into the windshield, the front window here, if we get into a crash.”

“Does that happen often?”

“It’s never happened to me. But it does happen. Very seldom, but it happens. There’s a law that everyone has to wear their seatbelts just in case. Preventative measure.”

With that, he backed out of the parking space, and drove out of the apartment complex.

A few minutes later, they were parked in the lot at the Largo Town Center Metro Station.

“Traffic into DC on Sundays is a bi – uh . . . that is, the roads are always crowded on Sundays. We’re going to take Metro, which is the rapid transit rail system for the Washington metropolitan area.”

“We have trains in our time, but I’ve never actually ridden on one,” said Jane.

“Well, in your time, they’re steam-powered. These trains are a lot more advanced, and a lot faster. In about ten years from your time, rail travel is going to explode in popularity. To this day, it’s probably the standard way to travel over there. Here, it’s mostly commuters that use ‘em. That’s people coming from the suburbs to a major city to work.”

They stopped at a machine, where O’Brian bought Jane a ticket, then walked to the gate, where he showed her how to insert it to open the entryway, and walk through. As she waited on the other side, O’Brian and Ada went to the station attendant, showed him their badges and creds, and were allowed in through the employee’s gate.

“Why did you not have to pay?” asked Jane.

“Cops ride free on public transportation. The downside is, if something happens we’re expected to intervene and take care of it ‘til the transit police get here. Course, we’d probably do that, anyway, if it was a dangerous situation, even if we’d paid.”

They went down to the train platform, and, a few minutes later, caught a Blue Train into the city.

“The various lines are denoted by color,” O’Brian explained. “Makes it easier to know when to transfer.”

A half hour later, they got off at the Metro Center Station, and transferred to a Red Line train that took them to Cleveland Park Station. From there, it was a short walk to the National Cathedral. They arrived about a quarter to ten, fifteen minutes before the service was due to start.

*

Jane was still dazed by her train trip, particularly coming, as it did, right on the heels of a trip in a horseless carriage (that was the easiest way for Jane to regard it; words like “car” or “auto” didn’t really convey the concept in her mind as well as the outdated phrase Michael had used to describe it), on a road, the most smoothly paved road she’d ever seen or ridden on, that was crowded with so many other horseless carriages, all traveling at what seemed to her to be breakneck speeds, their progress controlled by nothing but a system of signs and signal lights she found bewildering. Then the trip on the train, mostly through long underground tunnels at speeds that seemed to defy possibility. Yet the comfort and smoothness of the ride was what was most astounding. Michael said it was about twenty miles from Largo to Washington, yet they had made the trip in approximately thirty minutes. With many stops along the way to allow passenger to disembark and board!

It was all too astounding!

Now they were at the entrance to what Michael called the National Cathedral.

“This is the second largest Episcopal church in the United States. The only one that’s bigger is St. John the Divine, another Episcopal cathedral up in New York City. This one is officially called the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, though it’s better known as the National Cathedral. It’s the seat of both the Washington Diocese, which includes DC and adjacent counties in Maryland, and of the Presiding Bishop for the entire Episcopal Church in the United States. Likes to think of itself as ‘America’s Cathedral,’ and, not altogether without justification, since Congress has designated it as ‘America’s National House of Prayer.’ It’s not really that old. Construction started in 1907. Mostly completed ten years later. But the final filial wasn’t installed until 1990. Presidents have worshipped here and been buried from here. No presidential children’s weddings have ever been held here, though, oddly enough. For some reason, whenever a president’s kid’s gotten married while his or her dad was in office, it’s usually been at the White House.”

“The White House?” said Jane.

“The Presidential Mansion. I know your boys set it afire back in your time, but we’ve managed to get it rebuilt since then. Maybe later this week, we can tour it.”

“That would be most interesting,” said Jane, smiling.

“I assume you know that the Episcopal Church is the American branch of the Anglican Communion?”

“I recall reading about an American clergyman getting consecrated as a bishop. The consecration required an oath that recognized the King as the supreme authority for the Church. So he went to Scotland to get consecrated, since their bishops had become non-juring after the ascension of William and Mary. But I have never heard of the Anglican Communion?”

“Samuel Seabury,” said Michael. She looked at him as if puzzled. “That was the American clergyman who got consecrated a bishop up in Scotland.”

“Why would you know such a thing?” she asked.

“Remember, my degree’s in US History,” he replied. “And, being a history major, I should’ve remembered that you’d’ve never heard of the Anglican Communion, simply ‘cause it doesn’t exist in your time yet. Think it’ll get set up sometime in the late 1860’s. And it’s a loose confederation of the Church of England with the various branches worldwide that developed from it, like the Episcopal Church of Scotland, the Church or Ireland, the Church in Wales, and the Episcopal Church here in the States, all with the Archbishop of Canterbury at its head. Anyway, I thought you’d be more comfortable worshiping in a service that seemed at least a little familiar to you, though I imagine it won’t be exactly what you’re used to, given the time and distance. Also, I thought you might like to see a church where so much history’s happened.”

*

The service was an odd combination of the familiar and the strange. But by far, the strangest feature of the service was that the clergyman officiating was a clergywoman. A slender pleasant-looking woman, wearing spectacles. She was, Jane estimated, in her 40’s, though not as youthful-looking as her mother. She rather reminded Jane of her sister Mary, of how she might look at that age. She found herself wondering how Mary might have liked the opportunity to serve in the clergy.

“Michael,” she whispered, when there was a break in the service, “the vicar is a woman.”

“That’s not the vicar. That’s the bishop.”

“The bishop?”

“One of ‘em anyway. She’s the Diocesan Bishop. Mariann Budde. First woman bishop the diocese ever had. Made quite a splash when she was chosen. The Presiding Bishop for the whole national Episcopal Church is a guy, though. Michael Curry. But the one he replaced was a woman.”

“You said just said she was the first,” said Jane, indicating the officiating clergyperson.

“First to be in charge of this diocese, not the first to be in charge of the national church. That was a lady named Katherine Jefferts Schori. She really made history. Not only was she the first woman to be named the Presiding Bishop in the US, she was the first Primate of any of the Churches that make up the Anglican Communion to be a woman.”

Jane couldn’t quite find the words to express her astonishment.

*

After the service was over, they all made their way back to the Cleveland Park subway station, and caught another red line train. After a trip lasting perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes, the arrived at a station called “Brookland – CUA.”

“What does CUA stand for?” Jane asked Michael.

“Catholic University of America,” he replied. “The National Shrine isn’t a parish, nor is it a cathedral. Though it’s the biggest Catholic Church in the US, in fact, the biggest in the North American continent, and one of the ten biggest churches of any denomination in the world, it is, or at least started out being, officially the campus chapel for the university. It’s a separate entity now, but the university and the Shrine are still intertwined. All of the campus services are held at the Shrine. The Shrine’s adjacent to the campus. For practical purposes, the Shrine is still the campus chapel. The Vatican has designated it as a basilica, though.”

A walk of ten or twelve minutes, mostly uphill, brought them to the entrance. Where the National Cathedral was what Michael called “neo-Gothic” (and Jane could see the similarities in style to the medieval cathedrals she had seen in England), this one he said was “neo-Byzantine” in style, similar to pictures she had seen of Eastern Churches from antiquity and the middle ages.

Atop the huge church was massive dome, blue with trimmings of red and gold. It was one of the most beautiful things Jane had ever seen.

“Did they paint that, Michael?” she asked.

“Mosaic, I think,” he repled. “That’s how they’re completing the inside of the dome. They’re just about finished, after a hundred years. It’ll depict the Blessed Trinity, Mary styled as the Immaculate Conception, and twenty-two saints who are either American, or who’ve been important to America or to the Shrine. It’ll be done by Christmas, they say.”

“What does the Immaculate Conception mean, Michael? Are they referring to Mary’s conceiving Jesus in her womb while remaining a virgin?”

“No. It means that Mary was conceived without Original Sin, unlike every other human except Jesus himself. But St. Joachim and St. Anne were a loving married couple, and they conceived Mary in the normal way. I don’t know if it’s official doctrine for the Church of England, but the Immaculate Conception it is pretty commonly accepted theology. Even Luther endorsed it.”

“Oh?” said Jane, her inflection making it a question that invited Michael to continue.

“Back in 1846, America’s Catholic bishops adopted the Blessed Mother, when styled as the Immaculate Conception, as the Patron Saint of the United States. That’s why they gave this National Shrine for American Catholics that name.”

“I see.”

“Listen, you and Ada have already attended a worship service, and neither one you’s Catholic. Why don’t you both take a walk around the campus, and meet me back here at maybe about one, and then I can show you around the Church.”

“You came to the,” pausing to recall the unfamiliar word that had not yet been coined in her time, “the Anglican Service.”

“Well, that was just ‘cause I wanted to be with you.”

“Perhaps I want to be with you,” she said shyly.

Michael grinned broadly at that, then turned to Ada.

“How about you, Marshal?”

“Well, I like you, and all, Mike, but I’m not as anxious to spend time with you as Jane is. And I don’t think you’ll need a chaperone in church. Maybe I’ll just take that walk, give you two some alone time in a place where you won’t be up to no hanky-panky. I’ll meet you out here after the service for the tour.”

*

After they found seats, Michael began to explain what would happen.

“The Mass is in English, now. They went to the vernacular back in the 1960’s, and a few years later, the Liturgy was revised for the first time in four hundred years or so. It’s called the Novus Ordo. New order. You’ve never been to a Catholic Mass in your own time, have you?”

Jane shook her head.

“Well, what you’re about to see will be pretty similar to a Church of England service. Where y’all have the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Table, we have the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This particular Mass will probably run a little longer, because the choir’s here, so the music’ll add time to the service. But I think you’ll find the music very beautiful.”

“I’m sure I will.”

“The Liturgy of the Word, after all the introductory and penitential prayers, is basically three or four Readings from the Bible. Four on Sundays and special feast days, three at daily Masses. There’s a three year cycle for Sundays, and a two-year cycle for the rest of the week. On Sundays and special feasts, you start with a reading from the Old Testament, then from Psalms, often set to music, then from some part of the New Testament other than the Gospels, usually one of Paul’s epistles, and finally a reading from one of the four Gospels.”

And then?”

“Then the priest preaches a sermon. Usually a homily, which is a sermon that takes its theme from the Scripture readings for that Mass. Feel free to go to sleep during that.”

“Michael!”

“Just kidding. Then after the sermon, the Liturgy of the Eucharist starts with a recitation of the Creed, usually Nicene, occasionally Apostles’, then the Offertory, or Presentation, of the Gifts, then the Consecration, then the distribution of Communion, then the Final Blessing. Just so you don’t make a faux pas, Communion at a Catholic service is just for Catholics, and not even for all of them.”

“Is that why you did not join me for Communion at the Cathedral?”

“Yeah. I respect the Anglican faith, notwithstanding its origins. To receive their Communion would be disrespectful to their faith, to your faith, and a repudiation of my own.”

A few minutes later the Mass began.

*

The Mass was quite moving. Particularly the music. She thought her sister Mary might have been particularly stirred by the singing and the playing on the magnificent organ.

There had, unusually Michael insisted, been no Old Testament reading, other than the Responsorial Psalm (the thirty-third, put to music, as Mike had said it would be, with the congregation joining the choir in the singing). The first reading had been from Acts, rather than the Old Testament, the story from Chapter 6 about the early Church slowly organizing itself, and trying to settle disputes between the Jewish Christians and the Gentiles ones. The reading following the Psalm (which Michael called the “Responsorial”) was from the First Letter of Peter, the passage about Jesus being the cornerstone. The Gospel was from John, the passage about there being many castles in his father’s house.

Jane was surprised to find that it was lay members of the Congregation, whom Michael referred to as “lectors” (“a comparatively recent innovation, to get the laity more involved in the Liturgy,” he’d said), who read the first two passages. The priest celebrating the Mass had read the Gospel passage, and preached the sermon.

Jane was not as overtly pious as her dear sister, Mary, but she did love the Word of God. She had always heard that Catholics were not as Scripture-based in their worship as most protestants, but she did not find that to be the case here. Not just the Bible readings, but virtually every prayer, every invocation, throughout the Mass, seemed to derive, to some degree, from Scripture.

When the service was completed, they went outside to find Ada, then went back into the Church to examine it more closely. Michael took them to what he called the Trinity Dome, the interior of the great blue dome she had seen outside. The mosaic was still not quite complete, but what could be seen was truly beautiful. At one end of the circle, the Three Persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, were depicted. At the other end, Mother Mary. In between, the many saints who had either been important to America, or specifically to this Church. Around the circumference at the base of the dome, the words of the Apostles’ Creed.

“Pope John Paul the Great died only a short time ago. He was canonized in record time. A truly holy man,” said Mike. “He visited the US several times, and he stopped at this church. He was the one who named it a basilica. He was Polish, and there are a lot of Americans of Polish descent. Some of them were relatives of John Paul. Mother Teresa there spent her whole religious life in India helping the poorest of the poor in Calcutta. She was canonized a few years after John Paul. Famous the whole world over for her goodness. She also visited the shrine during a trip to the US. Right next to her is St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of cops. One of ‘em anyway.”

“Cops have more than one patron saint?” asked Ada.

“Chicago cops chose St. Jude for their patron when they set up a society for Catholic members of the Force. But that wasn’t official St. Sebastian, the Centurion Saint, was named the patron of municipal police by Pius XII, but he doesn’t cover Feds like us. St. Michael has the general beat.”

He pointed to another saint and said, “That one, the girl in native dress, is Katherine Tekawitha, an American Indian convert to Catholicism. Next to her is Juan Diego, another Indian convert, down in Mexico, who saw a vision of the Blessed Mother in a place called Guadalupe back in 1531. She imprinted a picture of herself on Juan Diego’s cloak. That cloak is still kept in the basilica that was built in Guadalupe, where the apparitions occurred. Over there is Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American ever canonized. She was originally on your team, Jane, but, after being widowed at a young age, she converted to Catholicism and started an order of sisters dedicated to educating American Catholic children. She’s largely responsible for the whole system of Catholic education in this country. She was canonized in 1976, to coincide with the Bicentennial of the Unites States.”

Jane could not help but be moved at the depth of feeling with which Michael spoke of all these revered figures. The striking dichotomy of someone who could unhesitatingly shoot twelve men to death in mere seconds, but who could speak about matters of faith with such quiet, sincere awe was disconcerting,

“You are an odd sort man, Michael,” she said. “One of the best men I have ever known, do not misunderstand me. But it is hard to reconcile the gentle man who talks of God and His saints with such reverence with the man who so ferociously waded into battle against great odds the first time I ever saw him.”

He smiled and said, “There’s a character in a series of novels I’ve always enjoyed. A guy named Marlowe, a former policeman who’s gone into business as a private investigator. In one of his books he once said, ‘If I wasn’t hard I wouldn’t be alive. If I couldn’t ever be gentle, I wouldn’t deserve to be alive.’ I’ll always defend my life when it’s threatened by violence, but I’ll always try to make sure that it’s a life worth defending.”

*

After touring the Shrine for another hour, it was coming on to two. They all walked back to the Metro station and caught another train going back. But instead of going all the way to the Metro Center transfer station, he got them all to exit at Judiciary Square.

“Something here I want you to see,” he told Jane. “It’s one of the most important places in DC to me, but not too many visitors know about it.”

Ada protesed, “She doesn’t need to see this now. She’s already seen you in a shootout, and she’s already seen you wounded. No reason to dwell on it.”

“Jane’s a widow already,” said Michael. “She should be reminded about what she might be getting into.”

When they reached the street level, Michael led her to a plaza. On either side of the entryway onto the plaza was a bronze statue of a lion. As they walked past the lion along one of the pathways, they came to a wall on which were engraved hundreds of names.

“This is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial,” said Michael. “Engraved on these walls are the names of every American police officer known to have been killed in the line of duty, going all the way back to 1792. Every year, in a special ceremony, new names are carved on the wall. The names of all those killed in the year immediately preceding, and the names of any who’ve been discovered after previously being lost to history.”

“So many?” asked Jane.

“Nearly twenty thousand,” he replied. “But that’s over more than two hundred years.”

“Do we have one, too?”

“You mean Britain? Not yet, but there’s a fund that’s been started to establish one.”

“Why are you showing me this?”

“The vast majority of cops complete their careers, and then retire, and eventually die of old age. But enough don’t that this was set up to honor those who, well, to quote a president who’ll take office about fifty years after your time, those ‘who gave the last full measure of devotion.’ Someday I might be the required to pay that last full measure. My name might be one of those carved onto these walls. If we go forward, Jane, you’ve got to be willing to face that possibility, remote though it is.”

“That is an awful possibility to contemplate,” she said. “Oddly, though, I seem to feel myself drawing strength from this place. May we come back before it’s time for us to return to my own era?”

“Of course.”

*

They returned to the subway station adjacent to the memorial, and, less than an hour later, were pulling into the parking lot at the building where Michael had his lodgings, his “condco.” That term had still not been explained.

“Michael, what is a ‘condo?’” she asked.

“Short for ‘condominium.’ Basically it’s an apartment, a set of rooms you live in that’s one of several such sets of rooms in a given building, that you buy instead of rent.”

“Is there any advantage to that? I could understand buying an actual house. But why buy an apartment?”

“Real estate tends to increase in value. You pay a monthly rent, you pay for the right to live in a place for a month. You pay an installment on a mortgage, you get equity in the property.”

“Equity?”

“The difference between what you owe on a property you’re buying and what it’s worth now.”

“Oh. I see now. Back home” as she thought of her time, “it’s uncommon to buy a house by taking a mortgage out on it.”

“Nowadays, it’s standard. A house, even a condo, is just too expensive to buy in one shot. But if you plan well, by the time you’re finished paying off a mortgage, the property’s worth twice as much as it was when you first bought it, so you come out way ahead.”

When they entered the apartment, Michael removed his jacket, and hung it on a hook on the wall near the front door, then started toward the bathroom to put his hardware away.

“Michael!” said Jane. “Is that a pistol of some kind?”

“Yeah. It’s what we call a semi-automatic. A little too hard to explain in your time, which is why I went with something a bit more primitive.”

“But we were going to church!”

“Yeah.”

“Were you expecting trouble?”

“Course not,” he replied, smiling. “If I’d been expecting trouble, I’d’ve brought a twelve-gauge shotgun.”

With that he turned and went back to the bathroom.

Jane was dumbstruck. Bringing a weapon into a church seemed to her a sacrilege!

“Honey,” said Ada, “just ‘cause Mike wasn’t expecting trouble doesn’t mean he shouldn’t’ve been prepared for it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Trouble, well, it’s got a way of showing up when it’s not expected. If trouble had come without warning, Mike would’ve been caught with his pants down.”

“Come again?”

“Caught unawares. And worse, unable to respond.”

She pulled back the button shirt she’d been wearing open over a light blue t-shirt and showed Jane a short-barreled revolver snugged into a shoulder holster.

“Neither of us was expecting trouble. But we were both prepared for it.

Michael returned at that point while Ada went into the den to disarm.

“Ada,” Michael called, “pizza OK?”

“Sure!” came her voice.

He turned to Jane and said, “Pizza’s kind of an Italian meat and cheese pie. It’s also finger food, so we don’t need knives and forks, but we have them available if you prefer. It’s kind of spicy. Not hot, but maybe a little more flavorful than you’re used to. You game?”

“Excuse me?”

“Willing to take a chance on an unfamiliar dish?”

“Oh. Certainly.”

“Great. I’ve got another show we can watch while we’re eating. Another play on film. This one was made especially for TV instead of theatrical release. You might find it particularly interesting. It was first run over in Britain in six one hour parts, then over her in three two-hour parts. We don’t have to watch the whole thing, but once we get started, you might not want to stop. As I said, I think you’ll find it really interesting.”

“What is the play called?”

Pride and Prejudice.”



(TO BE CONTINUED)
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The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (17th Installment)

Jim D.August 06, 2018 04:12AM

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Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (17th Installment)

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Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (17th Installment)

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Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (17th Installment)

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