1995 Janice snapped out of her funk just in time to avoid running the first stop light on the way into Astoria. She wasn't quite sure if she had come around on her own or if Granite had barked or something. She looked left and right, checking for the unmarked police cruiser that would be laying in wait for someone like herself. Considering the day she had been through so far, she hardly felt paranoid. Janice was too close to get stopped by something so silly, she reprimanded herself, at the same time acknowledging the fact this was exactly the time these things always seemed to happen.
But there were no police and she found a place for her and Granite to get some burgers, lots of burgers. And two orders of fries. And a large chocolate shake. And two aspirin. By the time she crossed the Columbia River into Washington State she felt, if not better, at least more sober.
"I know I needed to eat, Granite, but I think we over did it," she said to the dog. He nodded slightly, never taking his eyes off of the road ahead.
“Maybe too much food, better than too much beer.”
"You're right of course."
"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Janice, wondering if the Wonder Dog was going fickle on her.
“No beer, too nice. Too much beer; can't stand up.”
"So you're saying that I need to perfect my buzz, is that it?"
“No more per-fec-ting. Just drive.”
Janice didn't have to look at him to know that the conversation was over for now. As bad as she thought she needed another one, drinking beer was over for now too. Oh well, she told herself, when this is over, the drinks would be on her, and she would get as royally fucked up as she could. There was only one small problem with her plan; she didn't have the faintest idea on how she was going to stop Eddie. She wasn't even the least bit sure she could. What she really wanted to do was pull over, so she could concentrate on the problem at hand, compile her resources, make a plan, and get in touch with Jonathan.
"God, I'm starting to sound like a Boeing supervisor," she muttered to herself, as she passed the sign for Fort Columbia State Park.
"Plan-do-check-act, plan-do-check-act," she repeated to herself. It was some New Wave Dave thing they were supposed to be using back in the shop, part of being a World Class Company. Ha! When would they ever learn? A bunch of overpaid Boeing bigwigs fly on all expense paid trips to Japan for a few weeks to try and learn why Toyota's so goddamned successful. They take a few tours, round up a few buzz words, maybe try and close a few deals for some 747's, hit a geisha parlor and a steam bath, send the secretary out on the perfunctory shopping trip to buy gifts for the wife and kids, and then return back to the Company with a bunch of bullshit that no one believes in. It never ceased to amaze her that an American named Deming, of all people, had started this way of thinking back in the sixties, hoping the auto industry would get a grip. But Big Business wanted no part of anything that involved getting the little guy on the floor involved with the decision-making process. So he sold it to the Japanese, who were smart enough to listen. Hail the Honda!
Well, if it was a new idea who's time had come, and if it helped make her Nissan to be so dependable, and it couldn’t work at Boeing, there must be something in all of that she could use. Plan-do-check-act. Plan-do-check-act. Hmmm.
Plan, not much of one right now, but the goal was to stop Eddie, and if it didn't work the first time, there wouldn't be any time left for checking the results and acting on their failures. So the focus was on the 'plan'. What had they said about planning?
Oh yeah, make sure of your goal. There was a mandatory reading of a book once at Boeing called just that, 'The Goal'. That too had passed by the wayside at work and she continued with a renewed passion. The real goal is to stop Eddie, or at least stop Triple E. Sometimes she wondered if they were really one and the same, or actually two different identities existing in the same disgusting body.
So what do you mean by stop him? Detain him? Ask him to quit picking on people and go back to just being a little pervert? Hardly, she admitted to herself. The little bastard was going to have to die. Breaking both of his arms and legs wasn't going to do it. Sticking his dick in a blender and turning it on liquefy would probably only piss him off. No court of law would ever be able to convict Eddie. Hell, they let O.J. Simpson off with much less circumstantial evidence than would be involved in proving the exploits of Triple E to a jury. No two ways about it, death by death would be the only guarantee out of this mess. Probably the only option Eddie was going to give her anyway, she reminded herself, quickly removing any twinge of guilt her subconscious might try to dredge up about killing her own brother.
That said and done, she had to look at her resources, limited as they were. Her brother Jonathan might be stronger, but he hadn't done squat so far. Except to call her. Thanks a bunch! She hadn't seen him in years and she guessed he hadn't changed all that much, meaning that murder would be way out of his realm of imaginable solutions.
Her father, who she couldn't imagine had changed at all, had never really done anything with Eddie in all his years at bat. She couldn't expect much from him. Besides, he must be what, sixty-three years old by now? He was a drunk, like her self. Trying to forget Eddie, as she was. Maybe she wouldn't count him out of the picture quite yet. God, who was she kidding? She looked over at her faithful canine companion. He looked back. Nothing was said. Nothing had to be.
Besides the dog, I got squat. I could call the police, but that would end up ugly, with everyone else getting killed and Eddie escaping into the night, she could just feel it. Not a risk she was willing to take. Once she got her Dad and Jonathan safe, they could nuke the bastard, but until then….
Wait a minute, she said internally. Did I just change the goal? Do I have to kill Eddie, or just get dad and Jonathan out alive?
A few seconds later she had her answer, in two parts. One, saving her father and her brother without doing anything about Eddie would only prolong the agony. Second, she doubted there was a chance in hell that she could accomplish that feat without killing Eddie. He wouldn't be forcing this showdown if he didn't have a plan and an idea of some kind of closure of his own. Well that makes things simple, she said to herself, realizing for the first time that she didn't really have any choice at all. No choices, no help and no way out.
So much for the ‘plan-do-check-act.’ She switched mental gears and went into what her martial arts instructor had called 'warrior mode'. She flashed back on one particular lesson, and found herself feeling a little too much like the Hollywood Kung Fu to be comforting. Nevertheless, the lesson had been important.
'When you find yourself in an unavoidable confrontation, you must first realize what you are up against, before you can react in way that will give you the greatest odds of success. You must measure their strengths, and weaknesses. Avoid the strength, exploit the weakness.'
Okay. First, the strengths; Eddie's been at this much longer than myself, so he's probably much more adept in using his powers. Advantage Eddie. He's got hostages. Advantage Eddie. Even if he doesn't use them as such, then I inherit human liabilities. Advantage Eddie. God is probably not on either of our sides. Advantage Eddie. I'm half drunk. Advantage Eddie. Dad's an old lush in his sixties. Advantage Eddie. Jonathan's an unknown quantity to me, but not to Eddie. Advantage Eddie.
I got Granite. Advantage Janice. That's it.
"Let's see how we stand here, as I add this up in my head," joked Janice as she crossed over the Chinook River inlet on her way up Highway 101 towards Ilwaco.
“Two against one, if you ignore the puppies,” transmitted Granite.
"Granite," exclaimed Janice with newfound hope, "you make everything so dog-gone simple!"
"Of course," she said, smiling again, "Keep me straight."
“Thankless job, would rather chase cats. Just drive.”
"Right," Janice said. "Just drive."
She was tired of driving. Now that there was very little she could do to plan for the event, all she wanted to do was get it over with, as soon as possible. She glanced at her clock. It wouldn't be long now.
Mark and Cathy Potter were huddled next to each other on a couch, comparing stitches and war wounds, when Officer Nelson came around the corner.
"How are we doing?" he asked politely.
"Nothing life threatening, I assure you," replied Mark, not meaning to be sarcastic, but still hating the fact of being in a hospital, or dispensary, or whatever it is that a person called a place like this. It wasn't much bigger than most of the Chec Medical places he had been at.
"Don't mind him, Officer Nelson. He's just a needle wimp. A few shots, and a few stitches, and he thinks he's been through World War Three."
"You up for a few questions?" the officer asked.
"Are we free to leave, once you do?" asked Mark, with his wife frowning at him.
"Free as a bird," answered Nelson, adding a bit of a smile, although it was clear to both of them he didn't really feel much like smiling at the moment.
"You'll have to excuse my husband, Officer Nelson, he's under the influence of a couple of Tylenol, and they always make him feel groggy."
"I understand, and please, call me Mike," he said, catching the sarcastic meaning in her last sentence.
"Mike Nelson? I can't believe this. Mike Nelson? Like in Sea Hunt?" asked Mark.
"Please, no offense, but I get this quite a lot. Not as much as I used to of course. Seems the young kids don't remember anything that wasn't in color. But there are a lot of retirees around here who still remember Lloyd Bridges before he had a couple of sons who became movie stars."
"Our apologies, Officer Nelson, I mean Mike," said Cathy. "Mark's a bit of a scuba freak, and I think that Mike Nelson has got to be his biggest hero. He and Jacques Costeau."
"No apologies necessary," answered Mike.
"Sorry officer, I mean Mike, it's been kind of a long day," said Mark meekly.
"Look, a couple of questions, and I'm out of here."
"Did either one of those two people you drug out of the plane say anything coherent to you?"
"Like what?" asked Cathy?
"Anything, anything at all."
"Not to me," Cathy said, looking over to Mark.
"Me either, except that she kept asking about Joe. I assumed he was the pilot."
"How are they doing?" asked Cathy, with a professional concern on her face that the officer instantly recognized, therefore he put things a little straighter with her than he normally would have.
"I just got off the phone to the hospital in Astoria. Sara's going to make it, thanks to you two. Joe's touch and go. The doc's give him a 20-80 shot at best. But they're doing all they can. Which leads me to my last question. According to the staff over there, Sara keeps talking about some Eddie fellow. I guess she got so nuts over it that they had to sedate her. Did she say anything to either of you?"
"No, nothing," said Mark. Cathy nodded silently in agreement.
"Okay, that about wraps things up on my end."
"Why do you ask?" inquired Cathy.
"Well, the people in Astoria said she kept saying that something really bad was going to happen, somebody might be getting killed, and that it was all going to happen on a slippery boat, somewhere north of Long Beach. Naturally, they had to give me a call. When I asked if they had anything more, they said that she was pretty much out of it from the sedative. Probably nothing, but I had to follow up on it. I guess that shows you just how slow it gets around here in the winter. But then, that's why you came down here, right?"
"Right," said Mark, amazed at just how much things had livened up as of late. Then he remembered the evening before, when there hadn't been a thing to do, and Cathy had been afraid that if they stayed in the cabin any longer she would get screwed to death. He smiled to himself, gloating about the fact that he had been in rare form that day, three times that day. Then he remembered what had launched him on this flashback in the first place.
"Officer Nelson," he said as the policeman was already turning away.
"This probably seems silly, and it could probably just be a wild goose chase, but…"
"Hey, nothing's silly. Trust me. Besides, all I've got to do the rest of the day is finish out my reports and patrol around Marsh's Museum. God forgive me if Jake the Alligator Man ever showed up missing. What have you got?"
"Well, like I said, it's probably silly, but last night, Cathy and I had a beer at a place called the 'Slippery Deck'. It's right up the road from…"
"I know where it is. It'll give me something to do. Thanks. You know, you're pretty sharp for someone who's got a couple of Tylenol under his belt," said Nelson as he winked at Cathy.
"I guess I deserved that," said Mark.
"No, what you deserve is a good night's rest. You and that beautiful wife of yours, that is. And I've taken up too much of your time already. Thanks for all that you've done. Now go and get some rest. And just to be on the safe side, I'm gonna head up to the 'Deck', that's what we locals call it, and check in on old Luke. Besides, I don't know if you tried it, but he makes the best chowder around, and a mean bowl of chili too. If nothing else, this gives me a chance to go have a bowl. Thanks for the tip."
"Good-bye Officer Nelson," Cathy called out after him.
"It's Mike," she heard, coming from around the corner.
"Oooh, definitely on a first name basis. And I think the words he said were, and I quote, beautiful wife, am I wrong?" Mark asked pouting.
"No, you're not wrong, ust incomplete. He said, and I quote, that beautiful wife of 'yours', end quote."
"Ah yes, that is how I remember it, now that you remind me."
"So what are you going to do about it, He-Man?" she purred.
"Let's get out of here, gorgeous, and I'll show you. I'd like to take you here, right now, in your own familiar surroundings, but somehow, Lysol just doesn't do it for me anymore."
"After you, studly."
"No, no. After you, my queen of crash rescue."
"Get a life."
"Got one. I just need someone to share it with."
"Have anyone in mind?"
"No. The women I've known never seem to know the meaning of, Stop! Stay here. That plane could be really dangerous!"
"I know what you mean. I keep running into these macho men think just because they got their ass blown unconscious from playing with exploding airplanes, they don't have to let someone know they're still alive so their significant other won't wander around in the fucking ocean going insane!"
"I was right the first time."
"How's that?" asked Cathy.
"Let's just get out of here, gorgeous."
"Now you're talking."
"Besides, I know this terrific place to get a bowl of chowder."
"After you studly."
"No, after you."
"We ain't even going there again, so you're right. After me."
"God I love it when I get my way, no matter how long it takes," boasted Mark.
"Don't get happy," came the reply.
Jonathan headed out the front door of the Slippery Deck Tavern, supporting his father as he went. While the effects of the brandy were no doubt part of his problem, the death of his best friend had left him totally drained, mentally and physically.
"I'm gonna set you down in the back seat, dad," said Jonathan quietly. "You just rest while I change this damned tire, and try not to piss off Eddie anymore, okay?"
"Fuck your Eddie," Thomas said in a whisper more from exhaustion than feeling the need for secrecy.
"Just have a little hope, will ya? This ain't over yet," whispered Jonathan back.
"Tell that to Luke, and while you're at it, fuck you too! " replied Thomas, with more force this time.
"Hey, will you two girls quit mumbling about fucking each other and just get this damned car on the road!" shouted Eddie, shutting the door to the tavern after checking to be sure the 'CLOSED' sign was still turned toward the highway.
Jonathan eased his father into the back seat, then grabbed his car keys and headed for the trunk, nearly tripping over the corner of the car as he did. He wanted Eddie to know he was doing his best to go along with the program, but he also wanted to get into the back before Eddie came sniffing around. He quickly popped open the trunk, unzipped his gym bag, and pulled out the gun case with his .380 Colt inside. He looked around the side of the trunk lid and shouted to Eddie, who was coming around the front of the car.
"All I got is one of those space saver tires, Eddie," he said, trying to distract him as he pulled out his shirt and stuck the little pistol holster into the small of his back. He barely got the bag zipped up again before Eddie was at the back of the car.
"I don't give a shit if it's a square tire, Jonathan. Just get it out, grab the lug wrench, and put the son of a bitch on, okay?"
"I'll need to get out the…”
"You ain't gonna need the fucking jack, Pinhead, just do what I tell you. You remember how that works, don't you? You've been doing it for how many years now?"
Jonathan wanted to say 'for too many', but he held his tongue, taking the advice he had just given his father.
"Right… Triple E," Jonathan obediently replied.
Jonathan proceeded to get out the spare tire, then rolled it awkwardly towards the front of the sedan with one hand, while carrying the tire iron in the other. He started to break the lugs loose as Eddie watched.
"Jonathan, you missed your calling, bro. All of these years I thought your were destined to become a politician, maybe even president, and now I realize that your real aptitude lay in mechanics."
As if on cue, Jonathan rounded off the lug nut he was working on and raked his knuckles along the wheel well of the Ford. He cursed quietly to himself, watching the blood beginning to flow across his hand, trying to avoid falling into the conversational trap he knew Eddie was laying out for him.
"Perhaps I was wrong," said Eddie, with less sarcasm than Jonathan had anticipated. "Looks like you've rounded it off pretty good bro."
Jonathan went on to break loose the remaining lug nuts then tried the rounded one again. He found that Eddie was right as the lug wrench turned easily over the dog-eared corners.
"You see Jonathan, this instance is no different than any other in your life. Without me to smooth out the rough spots, you're just not going to make it in this world. Too much of the weak tit old man in you I'm afraid. But it's not your fault you got one set of chromosomes and I got another. You just need to remember which side of your bread the butter is on, hear what I'm saying?"
Jonathan heard what he was saying, and thought he understood what he meant, but he couldn't understand the sudden calmness in Eddie. It was confusing, yet somehow all too familiar.
He tried to make some sense out of it all, but it was useless. Less than half an hour ago, Eddie had killed a man. Two minutes ago he was on the verge of having a mental meltdown over getting out of the tavern and on the way to God only knew what kind of confrontation with Janice. Now he was in the mood for a fatherly chat about the prospects for his brother's future. Go figure.
"Stand back a little, Jonathan," Eddie said pleasantly.
As Jonathan did as he was instructed, Eddie started his show. First he mentally zipped off the rounded off lug nut as if it had been sitting in a pool of WD-40 for a week. Then he zipped off all of the remaining lugs but one. The wheel creaked a little.
"I'm gonna lift the car now, and I want you to remove the last nut and swap the tires. Got it?" asked Eddie.
"Jesus Eddie, Eddie Jesus, whatever. Just do what I told you. Here we go."
The car rose up off the ground instantly, and though somewhat afraid, Jonathan managed to do as he had been instructed. Without having to be told, he quickly spun on the remaining lug nuts as tight as he could get them with his bare hands. Eddie set the car down.
Jonathan glanced through the front window at his father, but his head was down and he seemed oblivious to what had just happened.
"See what I mean, bro'?"
"What's that Eddie?"
"Together, we can do anything."
"I used to believe that, Eddie. Maybe I still do, I don't know. It's the things that we don't do together that have I have a major problem with."
"Like Luke?" asked Eddie curiously.
"Yeah, for starters. Like Luke."
"I never meant for that to happen, Jonathan. You've got to believe me. Hell, you saw it with your own eyes. You saw the gun. He was going to kill me."
"I didn't see it that way Eddie," said Jonathan meekly, feeling that he had to speak up a little or his conscious was going to descend upon his soul with more power than Eddie and his sister combined on a bad day in hell.
"Of course you didn't. It all happened too quickly, and to be honest with you bro', you're a lousy judge of character. You have never seen the real obstacles out there."
"And you've taken care of that for me, right?" asked Jonathan, with a hint of rage that was too intense to hide completely.
"Something like that, Jonathan. We'll have plenty of time to talk about that later. Just be patient and I'll explain everything to you in detail, I promise. For now, tighten those nuts, and let's just get the hell out of here?"
"What about dad?"
"What about him? He's a harmless drunk. All he's gonna do is find a new place to hide and sleep off what's left of his miserable life. He probably won't even remember this entire day if we let him have a few more drinks."
"Just like that, huh Eddie?"
"Just like that. Trust me bro'."
"But Eddie, you used dad for a shield, like he was just some kind of sand bag for you too push around," Jonathan countered.
"I'm sure it looked that way to you, Jonathan. Would you rather I use you for a shield? I doubt it. Luke might have taken a chance with you in front of me, but think about it bro. Do you think that in a million years Luke would have taken a shot at me with his best friend in the line of fire?"
"See my point?"
"Yes, I guess. But then why did you drop the TV on Luke?"
"What was I going to do, Jonathan? Stand there for the rest of my life waiting for your ol' man to faint in front of me so Luke would have a clear shot? You weren't exactly helping me out back there, bro."
"What about Janice?"
"That's where we're headed, aren't we? It'll all work out, big brother. Now finish with that tire and let's get the hell out of here."
"Whatever you say Eddie," Jonathan responded as if he was in a trance. He was too drained to verbally spar with Eddie anymore. It always seemed to end this way, he added to himself.
"That's the spirit. You and me, all of the way to the White House, dude."
"Right. The White House," droned Jonathan, as he finished off working on the wheel.
"You drive, Jonathan, I'll sit in back."
"Whatever you say, Eddie."
"Triple E, Jonathan," said Eddie calmly. "How many times do I have to remind you of that?"
"Not too many more," replied Jonathan solemnly, "I think I'm beginning to get it."
"Good for you, now let's go."
Five minutes later, as they headed south on Highway 103, they saw a police car approaching from the other direction.
"Watch your speed, Jonathan," said Eddie from the back seat. Jonathan let up on the pedal a bit, even though he hadn't been speeding.
The cruiser passed without a glance, seemingly not in a hurry to get anywhere in particular.
"Good job, Jonathan. Just keep on doing like you're doing, and follow the signs for Ft. Canby State Park."
Jonathan glanced quickly over at his father, wishing he hadn't. The look he got in return was colder than anything he had ever seen from Eddie.
"Yeah Jonathan, good job. Just keep doing like you're doing…"
Jonathan turned away from the icy glare of his father and looked into the rear view mirror expecting to see Eddie ready to laugh. To his relief, Eddie seemed more concerned with watching traffic, or thinking about whatever it was that Eddie thought about. He played with the idea of getting hold of his sister, when she spared him the effort.
He thought he had never been so glad to hear her voice, but he soon found that he couldn't be farther from the truth if he had spent the day orbiting the Earth on the Space Shuttle.
“Jonathan, it's me.”
“Just shut up and listen. Strictly yes and no from here on out, just like before, okay?”
There was a slight pause in their mental connection.
“I'm sorry. Eddie's doing?”
“Is Dad all right?”
“You on the way yet?”
“Listen up, Jonathan. Unless you want us all to end like Luke, I have got to take Eddie out… Tonight.”
Janice detected a sense of remorse in her brother when she mentioned disposing of Eddie. She wasn't sure where he was coming from and didn't feel she had time to figure it out. Besides, she wanted to keep this transmission as short as possible. She could hardly afford another liability right now. She was going to need his help, albeit in a minor role.
“As in out of commission, Jonathan, until we can get a handle on what's happening.”
“Special,” Jonathan replied with as much sarcasm has he could imagine sending.
“I'm serious Jonathan. It'll be either him or us before this day is over, if we don't slow him down. I haven't figured out much of a plan yet, but when the shit hits the fan, you just grab dad and make a run for it. Understand?”
“You two are no match for Eddie. Just get in the car, and put as many miles between us and Ft. Canby as you can. No heroics, no hesitation. Just do it.”
“What about you?”
“Don't worry about that right now. Triple E and I are going to spend a little quality time together. Reminiscing about the old days, stuff like that.”
“No other way to do this?”
“I’m afraid not, Jonathan. See you when you get here. Just remember what I said. The first sign of trouble, and you and dad are out of there. Got it?”
“Good. I'm counting on you Jonathan.”
He knew instantly when she was gone. His stomach began to twist in knots again, and he was sure he was going to have to stop the car and toss his lunch. Somehow he fought through it, and managed to focus on his driving. It was getting near dark, and he switched on his headlamps. The rain continued to pour even harder and the windshield wipers struggled to keep up, even when on high speed.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, his sister's last words kept echoing in his head, over and over and over. I'm counting on you, Jonathan. I'm counting on you, Jonathan.
The steady staccato of the windshield wipers seemed to add a rhythmic quality to the chant. It seemed more of a song now, and Jonathan began to fear that he was beginning to have the nervous breakdown that must be inevitable after a day like this.
Soon Eddie's voice was added to the mix. You and me, Jonathan, all the way to the White House. You and me, Jonathan, all the way to the White House.
As if on cue, his father's voice added a bass accompaniment to the mental melody. Yeah, Jonathan, good job. Yeah, Jonathan, good job.
Before long, he had a full four-part harmony going inside his head, with Luke finally joining in too. You got my vote, Jonathan. You got my vote, Jonathan.
Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead and his arms suddenly felt like they were made of rubber bands. There was no doubt in his mind that he was going crazy, and he was more than ready to succumb to the insanity, when Eddie's screaming voice shattered the record playing in his head.
"Look out, Jonathan!"
Everything came into focus just in time for Jonathan to slam on the brakes. The Ford went into a slide, but he was able to counter-steer his way into his own lane, bringing the car to a stop in the middle of the intersection. A large Chevy four-wheel drive was lined up directly on his door, only a few feet away from impact. Jonathan could read the manufacturer's name on the winch installed atop the big black bumper, now was level with his side window. The bearded man inside was none too happy and was laying on his horn as if he could push the car out of his way by sound alone. The light was red, but there was nothing for Jonathan to do now but go on.
The man in the Chevy was still sounding his horn as they gathered speed, giving the bird to Jonathan as the crossed the intersection. He watched in his rear view mirror for a moment to make sure that the truck didn't follow him. To his relief, it proceeded straight ahead toward the beach ramp.
"What in the hell are you trying to do, Jonathan? Get us all killed?" Eddie yelled from the back seat.
"Sorry, shit, bro. Pay attention. We don't have far to go now. Just follow the signs."
Right, said Jonathan to himself. If I'd paid attention and followed the signs long before now, we wouldn't be in this mess, would we?
“Would we what?” came the voice in his head, Eddie's voice. He glanced quickly into the rear view mirror. To his horror, Eddie was looking back at him. Smiling. Jonathan wasn't sure, but he thought he sensed Eddie's eyes beginning to glow again, with just a touch of red. It was a wicked smile, actually more of an all-knowing smirk, Jonathan thought to himself.
"Don't be so surprised, Jonathan," said Eddie out loud. "I've had the power since I was a pup. Janice has obviously had it for some time now. Probably getting fairly good at it I imagine, for a girl. And you, the quintessential late bloomer, are finally catching on too. Congratulations."
Jonathan's mind began to race as he tried to figure out when Eddie had discovered all this. Please, God, don't tell me he knows about Janice and I talking.
"Are you sure Eddie? I don't think I could do any of the things I've seen you do."
"Never try and bullshit a bullshitter, Jonathan. I know Janice just got hold of you. I could feel her trying all day. It was only a matter of time before she connected if you had even a trace of the power in you."
"I don't want any special powers, Eddie."
"Of course you do, you just don't know it yet. It scared me at first, a little anyway. But it can come in real handy sometimes, especially in politics. Trust me. When we get back to Olympia, and things are back to normal, I'll show you a few things that will save you years on the learning curve path. Won't hurt us on our way to Pennsylvania Avenue either bro'."
"I don't know, Eddie."
"All I ask is that you think about it, give it all a little time to sink in. We'll need every foot up we can get to make it to the White House."
"Is that all you ever think about Eddie? The fuckin' White House?"
"It's our destiny, bro’, plain and simple. Think of all the good things you could do. Save the trees. Save the salmon. Save the whales. Hell, you could even save the whole stupid world if you'd just widen your horizons a little."
"I still don't know Eddie."
"It's our destiny."
"But what about Luke, Janice, and dad for Christ's sake?"
"They have their own destiny, just like us."
"You make it all sound so simple," said Jonathan, not quite believing his ears.
"That's only because it is, Jonathan. Destiny is something that you fulfill. Think of it more as a destination, if that will help. Destination is the place where you know you are going. How you get there takes some serious thinking at times, but destiny has already chosen your destination merely requires a little acceptance. Otherwise, it's a no-brainer."
"And we're headed for the White House, I take it."
"It's simply our destiny, Jonathan. Now turn right here at the light."
Jonathan slowed for the intersection, and could see the brown sign to Fort Canby State Park.
"I suppose meeting Janice is our destiny too?" asked Jonathan sadly.
"Not yours, Jonathan. Mine. And Janice's of course. But I do believe that you're starting to get the idea. It won't be long now, how's the ol' man?"
"Looks like he's asleep."
"Passed out is more like it, but all the better."
Jonathan turned the corner as instructed. For the most part he was becoming lost in an internal battle between his mind and soul. Sometimes Eddie made so much sense. Other times he seemed to be the devil himself. This day had started with him wanting to do whatever it would take to get out from under Eddie, correction, stop Eddie. Now all he wanted was for the day to be over, everyone to be safe, and for him self to have some time to try and figure things without anyone else's guidance.
In other words, you should have just stayed home, asshole. Luke would still be alive, your father would probably just be going home to his trailer to sleep off another day of drinking, and Janice would still be a recluse in Oregon somewhere.
What about Bob Perryman, and Chris Connors, he asked himself in rebuttal?
Eddie said they were out of the way. He didn't say that he had done it.
Well no, not in so many words, but the implication was still there.
Whose implication? Yours? Your sister's? Come on Jonathan. Get a grip.
It's Eddie making me think this way, or making you think this way, or whatever the hell is going on inside my head, or our head, or whatever!
Screw Eddie. We need him, sure. As a teacher, and a grunt to do the crap jobs. But how can Eddie be the man, when you're the man? Besides, I like the sound of this White House gig.
Not you too. I'm beginning to feel a lot like Luke Skywalker for some reason.
I'm already there with you, man. I'm the Ying to your Yang, remember? But we're not exactly talking about joining the Dark Side here Jonathan. Let's face it. We'll never get anything accomplished from the state level. I don't know what Eddie has in mind, but we've got big plans and high hopes, remember. Without your dreams, we're nobody.
If giving up on all of this politician business is all I have to do to shake you, Eddie and all of the other bullshit I've run into today, count me in.
If I die, so do you, Jonathan. You'll just be an empty shell like your father. Have you developed that much of a taste for brandy in the last few hours? I don't think so. And remember Jonathan, no one knows you like I do. Not Eddie, not your father, and not your Johnny-come-lately sister.
Why is that old wise one, as if I don't know that you're going to tell me whether I want to know or not?
It’s because I am you.
Of course, how silly of me, what do I do now?
You'll know when the time comes.
Thanks, Yoda. Thanks for nothing.