Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Monday, September 27, 2010

Heaven and Hell: Sparring And Pompous Professors

Two more passages, these from Chapter Five....

The Dorchester was settling down now, most of the guests either gone, or on their way. Stryker walked over to Claire and Devon, tugging at the knot of his tie. Claire shook her head in annoyance, though her expression indicated that she knew it was a losing battle to get him to leave the tie on. “He’s on his way to Oxford,” he informed them. “And the decoy is upstairs, passing himself off as the President. I wonder how hard it is to get into the Presidential decoy line of work.” Stryker smirked, the tie coming free now, and he unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, tucking the tie into his jacket.
“Rather short shelf life for that line of work,” Claire replied.
“Unless you’re a lookalike for a dictator,” Devon remarked.
“Well, that’s it for the day. I’m going home,” Claire said, walking towards the door. She paused, turning to the pair. “I still don’t like this. Having him out at that manor, with the security arrangements being what they are. Damn that professor and his paranoia about security agencies camping out at his home.” She frowned.
“Preaching to the choir, ma’am,” Stryker said.
“We both agree with you,” Devon confirmed.
Claire nodded. “Good night.” She walked out.
Stryker glanced over at Devon. She sensed his gaze, and looked at him. “Be honest with me, Stryker. Just how long have you wanted to take off that tie?” she asked him, a light smile forming on her lips, her voice amused.
“All evening,” he answered.
“I thought so,” she replied.

A short distance away, beyond the woods, Alexander Hastings walked through his manor house, impatient and uneasy. It had been quite awhile since they had seen Touqan. He paused in the front corridor, glancing in a mirror. Still distinguished and handsome enough, he had white hair and a neatly trimmed beard, with green eyes. Wearing black slacks, a crisp white shirt, and Trinity College tie, he was dressed as casually as he ever would be. Hastings glanced outside, into the evening darkness. Two DPG officers were patrolling the grounds, with two of Touqan’s bodyguards to join them when the President arrived. The group would be housed in the gatehouse.
They should be grateful I allowed that much of a compromise, he thought to himself. The Oxford professor had little regard for government agencies, and regarded the agents themselves as little more than drones, bent on undermining his rights as a citizen. No, they’re not going to stalk these halls, he thought, looking behind him at the oak stairs, the fine furnishings. He smiled at the thought of tweaking the government in the nose. He moved on, back into the drawing room, where his wife was sitting reading.
Margaret Hastings was accustomed to her husband’s ways and mindset. She was ever beautiful, just past sixty, with silver hair and light blue eyes. She was also an Oxford professor, in the International Relations faculty. Unlike her husband, she was capable of dressing a bit more casually; tonight she opted for a dark red blouse and black skirt. Margaret loved Hastings, despite his general paranoia and ego, and had long since learned to ignore his occasional complaints about politicians.
“He’ll be here,” she said, not looking up from her book.
“I know.” He frowned. “I still don’t like them out there.”
Margaret glanced up at him. “Alex, try to be polite.”
“They’re slow witted fools with heavy arms.”
“And you wonder why they don’t like you.”
He smiled. “They don’t? Why not?”

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