Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter Fifty-nine


El Salamante Hotel

Angus sat at a table with the honor guard.  Glasses held high they spoke words too often uttered – a toast to a fallen brother in arms.
The SEAL sat with me by the fire.  He was a short man with a weathered face and bright eyes.  He didn’t speak. Good thing.  He just raised his glass at the right time and drank.
Me -- I’m just staring at my drink.
I don’t know how Angus kept the authorities off our back.  I swirled my drink with my finger.  I suspect a large amount of cash helped. 
The SEAL offered to top my glass.  No thanks.  I shook my head.
We are free and have the hard drive.  So...what now?
All I could think of was Mike.  Tell her, Jake!  His blue eyes still stared at me. 
“I’ll tell her, Mike,” I said out loud.
The SEAL raised an eyebrow.  He watched me intently for a moment.  Then he quietly filled his glass, nodded in my direction and stood up.
He spoke in a steady voice.  “To us, and those like us!”
They all responded, “To those like us!” and downed their drinks.
Then the SEAL looked at me.  I could tell what he wanted.  So I slowly stood and looked at their hard faces.  The fire behind me popped, the smell of wood smoke filled the room.
In a quiet but strong voice I toasted him.  “Gentlemen.  To Colonel Mike Hickey!  Semper Fidelis!”
“Semper Fidelis!” They stood, answered and drank.
I turned and threw my glass into the fireplace.  They followed and hurled their glass at the same spot.  I walked from the dining room and out of the hotel.  It was still raining.
For a while I stood, getting wet and stared into the night.  I heard them walk up behind me.  They each came, shook my hand, then walked into the dark.  Angus stood beside me with his hand on my shoulder.  The zip-lock bag with the hard drive pressed against my side inside my coat.
“We have a lot do, Angus.”
“Aye, Laddie, that we do.” 

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