by H.E. Taylor
|Chapter 32||Table of Contents||Chapter 34|
Jon Visits, January 27, 2056
On Sunday Jon called to say he would be dropping around to visit next week. The Senator was scheduled to hold a series of meetings with Provincial and First Nation leaders. He didn’t know when he would be free, but he would make a point of seeing us.
I felt a little odd being just another scheduling point in my brother’s busy life, but I resolved not to let it put me off. Anna was running a fever and Edie was tired, so I didn’t have time to dwell on it.
On Tuesday, when I got home in midafternoon — it was a non-class day at the university — I was met at the door by Edie.
“Your brother is here.”
“Jon?” I walked into the kitchen and looked around. “Where?”
“He’s in the basement.” Her voice told me she didn’t like the situation.
“What’s he up to?”
“I don’t know. He’s been poking around in Matt’s stuff for over an hour.”
“Oh.” I had a drink of water. “I’ll go see. Have you thought about supper?”
“There’s a bit of pork. I was going to wok up some vegetables.”
“It’s early yet. Let’s see if he is sticking around.”
I was noisy going downstairs so Jon would know I was coming. I heard the sound of cardboard ripping as I walked down the basement hall. Jon was in the process of tearing open a recalcitrant taped box. I crossed my arms and leaned against the doorframe watching him.
“What in the hell are you doing?”
Jon stopped struggling with the box he was kneeling beside and grinned up at me from the middle of a messy scene. All the boxes of old clothes, books and paraphenalia which had been stored in Matt’s closet and along the inside wall were open, spread helter skelter about the room. He was going through everything.
“I’m looking for a clue.”
“Why Matt, of course.”
“And you think you’ll find it among his old socks?”
“Very funny. Did you see those books?” He pointed to a pile on the end of the dresser. “Maximoff Bakunin? Bertrand Russell? Howard Zinn? Why was he reading all those old radicals?”
I shrugged. “Are you working for ConSec now?”
“No!” He almost yelled and caught himself. “I want to understand why my brother” — he stopped and looked at me sharply — “why our brother got himself mixed up with that criminal. What did he think he was doing? He can never lead a normal life again.”
“You mean Henry?”
He nodded. “Besides which every once in a while some eager young security flack thinks I am Matt and I wind up in holding for a couple of hours. It’s damned inconvenient.”
“So, what have you found besides books?”
“Not much. There’s a notebook there,” he nodded toward the dresser, “but all it has is fabber notes, designs and specs.”
“Well, I’m hot and tired. I’m going to have a shower while the sun is up. Are you staying for supper?”
“Sure. The Senator said I was free for the rest of the day.”
I left him poking through Matt’s stuff. Something didn’t quite feel right. He knew something about Matt he wasn’t telling me, but I brushed it aside and went on with my shower.
While Edie and I got supper together, I told her what Jon had said. I was about to call him when he came upstairs and plunked himself down with a big sigh.
“Well I don’t know what to think,” he said.
“Matt was always looking for the edge,” said Edie.
I went on putting out the food.
“The edge of what?” asked Jon.
“Whatever he was interested in — fabbers, business, people.” She dropped her eyes.
“Have you considered the possibility that Matt and Henry were just commercially inconvenient and had to be eliminated?” I asked.
“Of course. That’s what it’s all about. What I am looking for is a hint, a clue as to what they were intending and maybe who didn’t like it.”
“But he wasn’t living here when he met Henry.”
“I know. I just thought maybe there would be some sign.”
“La Revolution does not have a business plan,” said Edie.
“That’s something Matt said to me once.”
Jon pushed back from the table looking miffed. He stared into the distance over the lake.
Edie caught my eye and shrugged. “It’s quite startling, you know.”
“What’s that?” I replied, quite consciously making small talk while Jon stewed. I went on eating my meal.
“How you two can look so much alike and yet act so differently. No one would ever mistake you for Matt, at least not once you opened your mouth.”
That drew Jon out of his funk. He sat forward and started to eat again. I noticed he was setting the pork aside.
“Is the meat not to your liking?”
“I’m sure its fine. I’ve been on a bit of a vegetarian kick lately, that’s all.”
“Oh. You should have said.”
“I don’t like to be a bother. And I do appreciate the meal.”
Anna started to cry down the hall in the bedroom. Edie sighed and stood. “I was hoping she would sleep, but I guess it’s time for her supper too.”
Jon watched her leave, then turned to me. “She’s a cute little thing. What’s her mind like?”
“She’s bright, but…” I hesitated. “reticent, almost damaged.”
“The fire? Still?”
“Yeah and Matt didn’t help.”
“What are you doing with her?”
“She’s Matt’s girl. I haven’t laid a finger on her.”
“That’s a pity.”
I didn’t particularly want to talk about Edie, so to change the subject I asked him out of the blue about his theory on corporations.
“I was naive,” he replied. “Businesses act like organisms and automatically protect themselves.”
“Ottawa has changed you.”
“We are all the product of our experiences,” he acknowledged.
That was as close to a ‘yes’ as I would get from him, I realized, so I asked, “And what have your experiences been? I haven’t seen you. What is your Ottawa life like?”
“Hectic. I am on call 24/7. Last week the bugger called me at 02:00 in the morning.”
“Our revered Senator is a bugger?”
“I didn’t mean that literally. He’s a womanizer, actually. His wife knows and doesn’t care. I don’t know why.”
“Oh.” This was more than I wanted to know. Really. “So how do we deal with the corporations?”
“By changing the regulatory environment, if it comes to that, but I doubt it will.”
“The corporations are our primary instruments. I can’t tell you what is going to happen in the future, but I can try to use those instruments.”
“That’s quite a change in attitude for you.”
He paused and looked at me intently. “The future belongs to those who invent it.”
No sooner had Jon made this pronouncement, than his wrist padd played the bells of parliament. He jumped. He actually jumped on his chair.
“Oh shit. That is his ‘come here immediately’ signal. I have to go.” He stood. I followed him to the door. “Say goodbye to Edie for me. And thanks for supper. I was glad to meet her finally. I’ll be in touch. Bye.”
He left the house in a hurry and to my surprise turned into the back yard. I went back to the table and sat at the end by the window. A moment later, Jon rode out on an electric scooter. He waved to me and was gone.
Later that night Jon called to say he was heading back to Ottawa with the Senator.
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
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Last modified March 26, 2013