NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
The America Diaspora is a sequel to The Chinese Century.
My attempts to convince Chief Williams we werent dealing with a CIA plot were fruitless.
I know this guy, he said. He was one of my officers. I remember like it was yesterday when he came into my office, after hed handed in his resignation. I saw great things for him. I told him that. He said, No, thanks, Im going to The Company. Im going to serve my country. I knew what that meant.
Is it possible he left?
Williams shook his head. CIA officers dont leave, even when they leave. Its like being in the Mafia. You have information, youre under your microscope for a lifetime, you can be called back at any time. No, if Mark Henry is in-country, its at Uncle Sams command. Black ops, I.M. teams, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions, the whole shooting match.
We can put out an alert on him. We can try to catch him.
Williams shrugged his shoulders. Wouldnt make a damn bit of difference. Hed deny it, he has a cover story ready. This is above our pay grade, Dana. He turned toward his keyboard. Close the door on the way out. And, I dont think I have to tell you, this conversation never took place.
Just let me know what to say and when, Chief. I shut the door carefully.
There was a boy at home. I had to tell him about his mother. And a girl far away, who would also have to know. I had work of my own to do.
The first thing you do in cases like this is tell him that his mom is alive. Shes hurt, but shes getting great care, and we believe shell be fine. Theres been an incident. Shes going to look different when we see her. But I did see her, and she will get better, trust me. She has great doctors. Well get through this.
Then go for the hug. Wait for the crying. Let go and allow the rage to come out. More hugging. Let your own tears out. Then comes the shock, and the depression. Its a process. It will take time.
I have to make a phone call, I say at last. More tears, from long distance. Can you get a ride to the Airport. Mr. Bransons own plane is coming for you. Ill be waiting here for you, with John. Well go to her room together. Shell be awake by then. Shell be fine. Shell be very glad to see you.
A grief counselor would be on the plane. I could never express my thanks for this to Mr. Branson and the whole crew here at Virgin-Maverick. Its gratifying that I dont have to.
The best news of the next day was the smile I got. We had just walked into the room. There were flowers all around, from co-workers, from the bosses in Atlanta, from the people upstairs. But she did smile. A little feebly, a little wobbly, a little tired already, just from that, her head covered with bandages, casts running down one side, but the other side reaching for us, hugging her children, everyone crying in joy, even the nurse on duty getting a little misty-eyed.
After the kids went out we got the good word. She was out of immediate danger. Shed stay a few more days as a precaution. Some physical therapy was already scheduled, some electro-stim for the bones to knit faster. Youre a very lucky lady, the nurse said.
I know, my wife said.
I took the kids out for brunch. We talked about buying a new home, maybe in Sandton, a big home with a pool, a jacuzzi, a nice garden out front. Enough room for two home offices, and an exercise room. For mom, the kids said. For me, too, I added.
We walked around central Johannesburg. We stopped at several stands and stalls, just picking through things. My sons greedy gimmes seemed cured at last. He knew the difference between need and want at last, and he had what he needed. We finally selected a necklace of bush beads, a Xhosa tribal trade craft, mostly dark reds like garnets, with some blue because its her favorite color. Robin hugged it to her as we walked into the Sun building.
Sitting in the apartment, I marveled at how quickly my kids had grown up. John was taking this like a man. Robin had suddenly become a competent, mature young woman.
I have a cunning plan, I said at last. Robin, why dont I put you in touch with a real estate agent. Pick us out a new house. Once youve selected, Ill be by, and your mom should be out by then, too. Would you enjoy that?
It would give you something to do, I added. She nodded again. You can bring John with you or leave him home. She said shed bring John with her, which surprised me. Shocked me, in fact. I swallowed back what might be tears of joy.
You going into the office? Robin asked. I nodded. Come with me, and Ill introduce you to Debbie Wyatt. I think one of her associates may be just who we need.
An hour later I was back at my desk, where Id been at the time of the explosion. I was checking the V-M blog files, checking the headlines, checking my e-mail.
There were some disturbing trends afoot, starting with the new kind of American who was coming in-country. It was one thing when they werent associated with Virgin-Maverick. That was fine. Its called immigration. But some of the newcomers truly seemed destined to cause trouble.
A Black Muslim group from Detroit had set up shop in Capetown, talking of a common cause with (of all people) Robert Mugabe, who was finally starting to feel a little pressure from the Mbeki government.
A group of whites from South Carolina were seeking land in Natal, spouting off about having common cause with Afrikaners, as though apartheid might be brought back.
A notorious spammer from California had set up shop in Durban, where our own fiber dropped into the Indian Ocean.
It seemed that we werent just importing American liberals anymore, but all of Americas problems.