Keystone Trigger

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Chapter 48

Reid and Rebecca watch out the window as the downpour resumes. Head nestled into the crook of the other’s shoulder, hands fitted together in Okinawa City, with the white and flat-topped houses outside.

“It’s pretty out there, isn’t it?”

Reid closes his eyes. “I guess so. When you’re inside, anyway.”

Rebecca laughs and pulls her husband closer. She feels his ribs through the thin cotton shirt and savors his warmth. “I hope everything worked out for Haruki.”

“Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with that. There’s been some weird emergency stuff, but Dana will get it fixed.”

“In the meantime, we have The Two Towers to get through.”

“God, we haven’t even finished the first one yet. That’s the second book.”

“Then we have some concentrating ahead of us.”

They stand at the window as light seeps into the street. From their vantage they can see Gate 2 of Heiwa Air Force base, the little checkpoint booth with the baby-faced armed guards. A ring of people forms around the high tan wall and the chain-link fences that mark the boundary between Japan and America, as if to claim it for the people who have actually lived there for centuries.

“I think that’s a protest.”

Old women in ponchos and neon green galoshes trudge up to link hands, like Reid and Rebecca do in their living room. Union workers with buzzcuts and glasses wipe rain from their dark, papery cheeks. A few children stand on tiptoe to see what’s going on.

“In a Category 4?” says Rebecca.

“Yeah, wild. I wonder why.”

“I think that’s kind of past the point of dangerous.”

Thunder echoes over the coast and squeezes in through their apartment windows, which are bolted shut against the debris.

“They must have planned it for a long time.”

“Well, they’re getting rained on.”

“I guess they know that.”

Silence. Rebecca kisses her man’s clavicle.

“Seriously glad they’re polite about it, though. They don’t make me feel bad, even when they’re angry. No throwing stones.”

“Pacifism has plenty of good points. Might not stop the nutjobs running around, but it’s awesome.”

“It's a long-term plan, sure. Like getting you to clip your nails.”

Reid grins and buckles his jeans. No fatigues necessary today. “We are the deterrent ‘til then, my love. Like it or not.”

Rebecca leans in and licks his cheek. “Well, I like you.”

“That’s the same conclusion I reached.” He doesn’t even try to remove the saliva blotch on his face. It feels freeing.

Looking out the window, they find the crowd has swelled to almost a thousand, and Reid’s native neighbors are streaming towards the airbase, as though it was far more important than the force of a typhoon.

“You think we should check ‘em out? I still remember that lady who gave us tea at the last one. Maybe they have those big doughnut balls.”

Rebecca squeezes her husband round the waist and shoves him lovingly toward the door. “Maybe let’s not stand right in front of the gate and let them see us violating orders, but we’ll see if we can get some food out of it.”

“A chance to practice Japanese, at least.”

“Okinawan. Or I guess what we learned was Japanese.”

Rebecca leans against the portal, a feisty smile accenting her freckles. “You’re holding me up, hubby. Where’re your shoes?”

Reid laces up his boots and runs a hand through his foreign, orange hair, though there isn’t anything to muss. He grins with a mixture of guilt and lightness.

“Into the typhoon for tea—and togetherness, too, I guess.”

“You guess. Did I mention I’m carrying a baby? By the way? I guess that’s a weird way to tell you I’m pregnant. I know you wanted to wait until we got home.”

Reid stops where he is for a long while, one knee up, a clean brown shoelace in each hand. He is poleaxed, more or less, in the cramped gray vestibule in their apartment, across from the panel window that welcomes in the autumn gloom. The knobs of his cheeks are rosy as he meets his wife’s intimate, impish wink. He says, “Wow. And here I assumed this whole time that real babies never shake their men.” He laughs once, a high nervous yelp, and Rebecca adds a soft train of chuckles. Reid gets to his feet and then dithers, stooping back down to finish doing up his boot. Then he rises, looks at his wife. He starts to cry. He holds her very still as the rain cleans everything on Okinawa.

Broken and plain, the first word from the microphone reaches the couple on a crest of unassuming anger. As husband and wife make their way through the rain to the public dissenters, they realize the voice is repeating an English phrase. What it says is, “Please go home, America.”

“Don’t I wish,” Reid answers. Rebecca seizes his hand and steers it toward her belly, where the child he swears to safeguard until he dies even now starts coming alive. The protesters open their ranks up to accept the family.

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