The Prodigy

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Chapter 15

Mom and I sleep in the next morning. There is no need to beat the heat by rising early for a run in the park. The wind is howling outside. We head down to the gym for a yoga class. I remark to mom that all the exercise may kill me before anything else does. Mom laughs and reminds me that I’m not yet old enough to suffer a cardiac arrest or hyperthermia in an air-conditioned building. We pass George as we walk across the lobby and wave. I realize that I’ve become acclimated to the presence of George, as he no longer sends shivers down my spine. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not. When I arrived home last night, I used the bug detector and found three devices in my bedroom, my mother’s bedroom and the living room.

I have come to begrudgingly appreciate the building we are living in. The gym is stunning, although I would still prefer to run outside, if at all. The building is located conveniently close to the subway, the local coffee shop, the dry cleaner and the corner mart. By now, I’ve become friendly with the people who work in these establishments. It’s comforting to see a friendly face going to and from work. On the face of it, New Yorkers are tough and aggressive when you first meet them. Once you get to know them, they are the most loyal, dependable human beings you can meet.

Mom snaps me out of my reverie by whispering we are no longer in downward dog. I look around and realize that I’m the only one with my butt in the air. Yoga is supposed to be about non-judgment, but right now I feel like a purple elephant. I sink down in child’s pose. Mom starts silently laughing.

After the class is over, we shower and head to midtown for the dance class on 45th street. Mom elects to stay and watch. The choreography of the contemporary class is brilliant. I remind myself to thank Josh for recommending the dance center. The rain has started up again as we leave the dance studio. Luck is with us, however, as we quickly hail a cab and head to the Museum of Modern Art. When we arrive, we check our bags and umbrellas. Mom indicates that I should check my phone as well and then we head up to the second floor.

Mom leans over and whispers. “Don’t be alarmed but a man followed us from our apartment to the dance studio.”

I struggle against the impulse to look around me. “Did he follow us here? What kind of espionage do they think we are doing?”

“I don’t think so. I didn’t want to alert him that I knew he was tailing us so I didn’t turn around in the cab.”

“Nothing like an element of danger to brighten up our day. I hate having to look over my shoulder. At work, I constantly see Dr. Lucas staring at me.” Mom links her arm through mine.

“Congratulations. You are becoming much more proficient at sarcasm. How was last night with Josh?”

I break out in a smile. “We had a great time. We picked out a puppy at the shelter for his brother Bent and then ordered Thai food. He is bringing the puppy down to the beach today. Josh also is going to see his grandfather’s friend in the state police. He ran all the names on the list of detainees from Rosewood and compiled a complete list of their arrests and indictments.”

“I hope he is careful when he picks up that file. There is a strong likelihood those names are tagged in the system by the people who work for Katharine Lucas in the government. His friend should be careful as well. Can you reach him on a secure line and warn him?”

“Josh is pretty careful, but I’ll text him and ask him to call me. He is really worried about protecting his brother. He is sending Bent and Francesca to a monastery in Odilla, Brazil in September. He confessed that his biggest fear is that there will be no one to look after Bent in the event something happens to Josh. Francesca is in her late sixties.”

“We’ll buy a prepaid cell phone. Tell him to call you on that. Why Brazil?” We move into the room with “The Scream” by Edward Munch. I fleetingly wonder what prompted the artist to depict such fear. I then wonder if my face will come to look like that.

I turn to face mom. “Technically, there is still no extradition in Brazil despite the federation, not that Francesca or Bent have done anything remotely illegal. The other reason is Francesca’s cousin is the abbot of the monastery in Odilla. They will grant them sanctuary.”

“You are really falling for him, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I think so. I asked him to go slowly. My life has gone from a very focused, simple existence, to a virtual diorama of multi-layered, complicated relationships.” We continue moving through the exhibit.

“Do you wish you could go back to your simple existence?” Mom scans the room as she says this.

“No. I have never felt so alive. It would be nice if there was a guarantee that we will all emerge from this unscathed.” I lean closer to my mother. “Do you see something or someone?”

Mom points to the Schiele drawing in front of us and whispers that a woman has been hugging our shadow for the last few minutes. She starts discussing the history of the artist as the woman passes in front of us. The artist had died when he was twenty-eight years of age during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

“Why don’t we finish up this room, eat lunch downstairs and head home?” Mom says this more like a statement than a question. We descend to the ground floor and eat at the Terrace 5 café. After we finish, we head to the subway. The skies remain relentless in their torment, but there is no cab available. When we get home, I take a hot bath and curl up with my research notes. Within minutes, I fall into a dreamless sleep. When I wake, I smell the fragrant wisps of rosemary and paprika.

Still sleep drugged, I go into the kitchen. “Mom, did you make roast chicken?”

“I did. It seemed like a good day for it. It’s chilly. I never feel like using the oven in summer, even with air conditioning. I am so grateful to have a small balcony with a grill.”

“Unfortunately you have covered every inch of that balcony with plants. You barely have room to move out there.” I start setting the table. “What time is it?”

“It is close to seven.”

“You’re kidding. I slept for almost three hours.” Just then the intercom buzzes. The two of us instinctively freeze. A ripple of fear passes silently between us and then mom breaks the moment. She goes to the door and answers the intercom.

“Yes, who is it?”

“Dr. Christiansen, you have a visitor. Josh Lucas. Do I have your permission to send him up?”

“Yes, please do so.” She looks at me with raised eyebrows. I shrug my shoulders and give mom a look of surprise to indicate I had no idea he was coming.

The doorbell rings and mom goes to open it. Josh steps through the door. “I am sorry Dr. Christiansen for the lack of notice. I got back early and stopped by on the off chance you were home.”

“You’re more than welcome here. Let me take your jacket. I hope you’re hungry; we are having roast chicken.” I take the jacket from mom and hang up his jacket while mom goes into the kitchen and grabs another plate. Josh walks over to me and gives me a bear hug.

“I missed you.” As he says this he palms a Microdrive into me hand. He whispers. “Don’t say anything and just act like you’re crazy about me.”

“You are a very optimistic person.” I shake my head and laugh. I grab his hand and lead him over to the dining room table to sit down. Casually, I show my mother the drive in my hand as she places the chicken on the table. I pick up the side dishes and help her. The idea occurs to me that if Josh is eating dinner with mom and me, then our relationship is acquiring some degree of permanency. I just hope fate does not prove to be maliciously cruel, again.

Early the next morning, Josh calls me to join him after I go for a run. We plan to meet with Kevin to go over the pedophilia data and take him to lunch. Despite the warning not to work over the weekend, we want to make use of the rainy day. I had gone over the data the night before and want to see if Kevin could make modifications to the computer program. We also have a secondary reason. Kevin is a little lost without his family back home and has not gone anywhere except work and the Yankee game over a week ago. Kevin needs some company.

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