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Bayona. Chapter 2: Disengagement

- You’re not SERIOUSLY thinking of going there, are you?

Hampton Duvalle, Bayona’s long-suffering husband, watched his wife re-arrange some documents frantically at her desk. She definitely looked like she was gathering things, which could have been less of an alarming process had she had enough consideration to tell him about her plans beforehand.

- You are, aren’t you? Bayona, it’s Mudhill we’re talking about! Do you understand what kind of a mess you’re getting yourself into?

- *I* understand that Mudhill has been overlooked long enough. Cats and dogs die there, get beaten, get robbed every day, and the local police does not seem to lift a finger. What if that cat’s death was caused by those two police dogs? What if they went unpunished because the whole Prohespero Law Enforcement Agency was covering for them? This would mean that…

- You’re not listening to me. What does it have to do with you?

- It’s my duty as a journalist to uncover the truth.

- Like hell it is! You’re not going to singlepawedly stop police brutality out there! All you’ll do is make some enemies who will either drive you out in the best case scenario, or make sure you’ll never leave in the worst.

Bayona shot him a petrifying glare. Hampton’s red-furred cheeks fell powerlessly. He knew this glare. When his wife made up her mind to do anything, it was impossible to talk her out of it. She looked as determined as a hungry wolf in these moments. Her yellow eyes only helped to complete the image. Dejectedly, Hampton went for the last remaining argument:

- What about Mavis?

- What about her?

- She’s only 8 weeks old. She can’t even see properly yet. Do you not want to be around when her eyesight stabilizes? Do you not want her to see her mother clearly for the first time?

- She’ll see plenty of me when I get back.

- “When”?! “When”? This is not going to be a question of “when” but “if,” Bayona! You go to that filthhole, you’re never going to predict what happens there!

- That’s enough, Hampton.

- No, it is not! Do you want to follow in Ursula’s pawsteps?

Bayona stopped what she was doing at once. Ursula. That name got her attention all right.

- This is different, - she muttered.

- How so?

Bayona’s paws were gripping the edge of the desk fiercely. She wished she could retort faster - heck, she had to do it for the sake of her own mental image of herself - but - alas! - nothing came to mind. At that moment, retorting at all was a herculean task in and of itself. Hampton must have noticed - how couldn’t he have? Yet, he was silent. He waited. At last, Bayona took a deep breath and uttered the following:

- Ursula had never given any damn about me or my father. She wanted to be a free artist, whatever the hell that meant. She couldn’t have logically concluded that, unless one is absolutely sure they want to have a family and kids, they Shouldn’t Bloody Have Them. She thought she’d take chances.

After a short pause, her husband’s answer came:

- Were *you* sure when we got married and had Mavis?

Another moment of silence followed by a long frustrated sigh on Hampton’s part. Bayona was staring into space, seemingly contemplating something. As much as he wanted to completely lose his composure, he opted against it, slowly coming to grips with his wife’s decision.

- Look, I don’t want to tread on your career, - he began conciliatorily, - I’m just… worried, that’s all. I care about you, you know.

- I know, - Bayona’s yellow eyes finally met his light brown ones, - That’s why I married you. But, right now, I need this. I’ll regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t go there.

- I suppose you will, - he admitted, his voice fading defeatedly.

That very moment, the room seemed so quiet in contrast with the evening city of Sundevall outside, which happened to be exceptionally, annoyingly lively that day. It was so inappropriate, Hampton thought, as if it was mocking him and his wife; demonstrating that their little family drama was but a speck of dirt on a shiny beaded dress, invisible to an inattentive eye. They stared at each other for a few more moments before he approached and embraced her tightly. She rested her head on his shoulder, not speaking a word.

- Give me your hotel’s address once you’re there. We’ll be sending our photos and home videos to keep you company. Me and Mavis.

He heard her hum in agreement against his shoulder.

The only window in the room was overlooking Bayona’s desk, upon which lay an open pocketbook. A train schedule was writren there.

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