The Morrow Family Saga, Book Three: Laughing, Chapter Eighteen

Natalia found the monuments interesting. She pretended that she was in a movie where her character was touring Washington, DC. She loved the idea of learning as long as she didn’t have to be herself. At the moment, she was no longer Natalia Morrow. She was La La Marconi, tourist extraordinaire.

Acting was so much fun. Especially when it was during a family vacation.She could make believe that she wasn’t a part of the family. She hadn’t felt like a part of it since Papa and Mama Venacek went away. Now, she just didn’t feel like she belonged.

Sure papa and mama tried their best to show her they loved her. But they pushed her to do things she didn’t want to do. School was one of those things. So was church. She hated them both.

Not mama or papa. No, she hated school and church. She hated to learn. No amount of learning would get her to Hollywood or onto Broadway. Only beauty and connections would get her there.

Still, she would play along until she was old enough to drop out. Then, she would leave everything behind. Who needed school, anyway? She didn’t.

Natalia continued to imagine herself as someone else for the rest of the outing. No one seemed to mind as long as she listened. They only hoped that she would wake from her dream before it was too late. The question that remained with them was: Would she?

****

Shasta had always found  history intriguing. How the country was built. How it went from colonies to states within 200 years. How slavery was ended by a war that tore the country apart. Even the Great War and World War II excited her. Ancient Greece. Ancient Rome.

History was what made her imagination run wild. And school fed that imagination. She excelled at math, English, history, science. But mostly history.

This trip had been like a trip to the mythical Elysian Fields for her. The theaters. The museums. The historic restaurants.

She was having the time of her life. Even though she knew that the trip had to end, she wished it wouldn’t. They had to return to Des Moines. Still, she would remember this trip for as long as she lived.

***

Jim Wallace had long discarded the thought of writing any part of this nightmare into his memoirs. No one would believe it if he did. Most of the people would claim that it was all fiction. Had he not sat through several months of depositions, he would have agreed with that thought, but he had heard it from more than one source. There was no denying this vile story.

He had observed changes in one of the FBI agents involved in the investigation. they were subtle at first, but became more pronounced over the months. The other had very ;little change. He couldn’t blame the one who’d changed. Even he had changed.

He no longer thought of the Midwest as the bastion of wholesome living. It seemed that it had joined the rest of the country in depravity. He smiled sadly. He was disappointed, really. He had hoped that the region had remained largely pristine and uncorrupted.

Unfortunately, reality was such that it often disappointed him. Not that he expected too much from it. He just hoped too deeply. he was always the hopeless romantic.

Hell. He was used to disappointment. His whole life had been full of them. What his life had become was a big one.

He had not set out to become DC’s secret keeper. He’d never asked for that curse. The only plus was that no one could touch him. His life was too precious to them all.

He pulled himself out of his thoughts and sat back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling of his office. Funny, he hadn’t noticed the spot above his chair before. Strange. He didn’t remember it being there.

Grabbing a step stool, he elevated himself enough to inspect it. A bug. Did the FBI believe him so daft as to discuss any of those secrets in his office? If so, they were fools.

He never talked while in his office. Not about those things. Hell. He never talked about it anywhere.

He hoped that the FBI was enjoying his mundane phone conversations. Eddy must really get off on listening to the calls. Especially those to himself. He smiled.

Eddy was a sadistic little prick. An odd egg. Perhaps the bug was placed there to ensure that he wouldn’t talk. He was tempted to talk just to see what they would do.

He smiled. Too tempting. Too dangerous. He preferred his freedom.

Eddy was just waiting for a reason to get rid of him. All the reason more to keep it all under wraps. He was ahead in a mental chess game. He didn’t want to blow everything on an impulse.

He carefully removed the small microphone from its little place of concealment. They weren’t going to be happy when it suddenly went dead, but he didn’t care.  He needed his privacy. Even from Eddy. That little creep didn’t need to know everything.

As he tossed the little intruder away, he hoped his hunch was correct. It it was, he would find a couple of Eddy’s men planting a new device tomorrow sometime. If he was wrong, He would find CIA agents waiting for him when he arrived back from the final depositions tomorrow.

He really hoped that he was correct. He didn’t particularly care to face down the CIA. They weren’t particularly nice when it came to someone finding their little presents. Despite their prime directive, they did happen to have their claws deep into domestic affairs as well.

One thing he had learned was that the CIA was paid to lie to other countries as well as the general public. Half of the time, he believed that they even lied to the President. He wouldn’t put it past them. Not that it really mattered at the moment.

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