A Sentimental Mood
Sinon is sitting on a park bench looking out over a duck pond. It’s a cool and cloudy day, with a slight breeze causing the yellow-green foliage on the other side of the water to slowly sway. A pair of joggers passes by as the Guardian reaches down for a coffee sitting next to a 1′×1′ package wrapped in brown paper.
Jones arrives a few minutes late. She’s wearing track pants and a sweat-stained tank top, and her hair is done back in a short ponytail with a rubber band. “Squash,” she says after a long pause. She gives a code phrase indicating an all-clear.
Sinon motions over to the bench. “Coffee?” A cardboard caddy holds another cup.
She nods, an expression of gratitude flitting across her face briefly. She pops the lid off and takes a long sip. “…Thank you.” She reattaches it, putting the cup carefully next to her feet, and folds her hands in her lap, legs locked together in a prim, schoolmarm posture. "What did you wish…to speak…of?”
Sinon looks off in the distance. “This is a nice spot. Reminds me a bit of a park Wheeler and I would do lunch.”
“I’m tired, Jones. For some reason, I never thought I’d make tenure, you know what I mean?”
Her expression is unchanged. “Feeling burnt…out?” Her voice doesn’t seem to imply any judgment of the condition. Just a professional query.
“I won’t say that there aren’t times when I wonder past decisions. Whether we have made the right calls.” He looks over at her, the “we” clearly not a figurative statement. “I’d like to think that we’re… friends of a sort. Or at least we were at one time.” A pause. “Would you mind if I ask you a personal question?”
She gazes levelly at Sinon from behind her black wraparounds. "…Ask.”
Sinon shifts in his black and blue running outfit. A look of discomfort passes over his face before being quickly replaced with his more typical expressionless guise. "Back in the days when we were both with the company. We both had a choice. Morley or Poole. You chose the… secular… path then. You seem to have found your faith since then. Why now? Why him?”
She is quiet for a long moment, although the fingers of her right hand tug unconsciously at her track pants. “I….was like…you. Pensive. Skeptical of…..” a much longer pause than normal. SHe’s actually choosing her words. "…of faith. Of certitude. So he let me in.”
”He…invited me…into his memories….his head. His faith….is authentic. Grounded in….fact. In…experience. Where others blunder in the dark…he has seen ahead. The clarity we…long for…he has it. He wants…to share it.”
“I apologize. I didn’t invite you for an interrogation.” He waves the subject matter away. “I suppose I just I haven’t had much sleep since Seattle. There’s only so much coffee and mind rotes can do.” Sinon looks away off into the distance.
She inclines her head slightly. "None of us…are getting…younger.”
“True.” Sinon chuckles a bit. He looks back over the pond.
”What else is….on….your mind?”
He looks back over at her. “Too much.”
”I assume the boss told you of my new venture?”
She nods. "I…expected..you’d be up to…something along those…lines. I am glad you…did not..disappoint. We need…more networks. Better ones.”
“I wanted to know if you could recommend any young interns who might be appropriate for some research. I’d be looking for someone who can complement my skill set. Preferably one with 3 semesters in probability theory and a class in the core curriculum. Experience seeing projects through to their end would be a bonus.”
Jones thinks a moment. “Talk to….Shroud.” She pausers. "Cabal name, not…a Shadow name. Gaslight….Rover…Z. If you need Death…Rook.”
She pauses a moment, and continues.
”Shroud is…private. All…federal employees. High-level. Don’t like to…mingle. But you can…make your case.”
“If only I knew the type…” Sinon trails off wryly.
A moment later. “Thank you.”
She dips her chin a bare millimeter, her idea of a nod. "Of course. Was there anything…else?”
A second passes. “One last thing.”
“I recovered an item of interest.” He motions his head to side, indicating the package next to him.
“Yes?” She bends at the waist, picking up her coffee and sipping it.
She looks down at the package, setting her cup back on the ground. An eyebrow raises in curiosity. “May I?”
“Certainly.” He gestures over. "It’s something I know you have been looking for…”
She opens the package.
Inside is a white LP, four black letters—M, O, N and K—emblazoned across it.
“It took me some time, but my contacts managed to track it down to Sikora. His employee tried to deny having it, but I can be persuasive when needed.”
She flips the cover from front to back and to front again with a deft motion, then taps the vinyl a couple inches out and peers inside both sides, as if she’s looking for something hidden. "What…is this for”
Sinon grins, ignoring the question.
“Well. No rest for the weary, I’m afraid.” He rises and begins walking away.
A moment later, he turns back.
“Happy birthday, Therese.”
Her face crinkles in a small grin, just for a moment. “…Thank you.”