Jack brought his old cot into the living room and, after moving books out of the way, set it down across from the couch. Then he took Jo’s bag and brought it in the bedroom. Jo shrugged at Micah when he motioned for an explanation, and went to the door of the bedroom. Jack was changing the sheets.
“Jack,” she said, “you don’t have to give me your bed.” “I want to talk to you for a minute.”
She looked back at Micah, but he’d already begun to browse the books strewn around the main room. He held a copy of “Successful Management Strategies Through The Ages.”
Jack appeared by her side and saw what Micah was holding.
“I read it for the funny gaps,” he said. “Did you know that the Reformation had a cataclysmic influence on teamwork in continental Europe until the industrial revolution?”
Micah put the book down. “Sounds like a riot.”
“I’m going to steal Jo for a few minutes, Micah. Just make yourself at home.”
Jack gave her a blanket for her shoulders, and led the way up the small rise to the windmill. Halfway up they were joined by Rockette, and Jo knelt down to give her a hug. She was full-grown now, and her fur was slightly coarser than Jo remembered. Still, her fluffy undercoat was coming off in preparation for summer, and it stuck to Jo’s hands and the blanket Jack had given her. Jack waited three steps ahead and watched the small reunion.
“I saw her across the street when we got here,” Jo said. “Must have been saying hello.”
“To the Indians? No way. She knows not to cross that street.”
Jo gave her another hug and then stood, leaning slightly to stroke the dog’s head. “Well, maybe she forgot.”
They continued walking, and Rockette shot off into the darkness.
When they reached the top they felt a soft breeze, and Jo saw the dark outline of Baboquivari Peak against the slightly lighter sky to the west. Baboquivari was the most spiritual place on earth for the Tohono O’odham tribe—they called it the navel of the world. Jack had brought her to this very spot on their first night here to watch the sun set behind it.
Jack stood looking south as though he could bore a hole through the wall with his stare.
“I want you to tell me what’s going on,” he said.
“Saving the world is your thing, Jo.”
She nodded, and tried to summon the half-crazed strength of someone with nothing, or everything, to lose. She closed her eyes. “Che is coming here,” she said at last. “He’s tunneling under the wall and he’s going to be coming up through the field.”
“In Border Run!?”
“It happens with or without your cooperation.”
Jack chuckled, and reached down to pick up a small rock. He flipped it in his hands, finding the best hold, then reached back and flung it south, his entire body leaping into the air with its own momentum. She counted in the silence afterward, two, three, four, and on five she heard it hit with a high dull smack.
“So this is what you’ve been doing, is it?” Jack said. “Joining a group of wacko radicals and plotting a communist revolution lead by Che Guevara’s clone?”
Jo had prepared herself for this, and knew that the only way to protect herself was to avoid the conversation. She steeled herself with images of her son. Jack’s son. This was no time to defend her own character. If Jack believed she was part of something absurd, great. It was better than him knowing the truth. She let the rhetorical question stand, and Jack followed it up with a practical one.
“When is all this supposed to happen?”
“The day after tomorrow.”
“Jesus! And you come to me with this now? Why me? Why my property?”
It was a question Jo too had asked. Why not give themselves more time to prepare, to convince Jack?
“Niether the government nor ImPass own the land, so we felt it was more safe,” she said, repeating what she’d been told. “As for timing, we simply didn’t know until now. They had to wait until it was clear on their side.”
“And what if I just go to the Feds?” Jack looked into Jo’s eyes defiantly, then over her shoulder. She followed his gaze to the bonfires in the distance. “I should tell Mr. Uno Che to keep digging,” he said disdainfully. “Another two hundred yards and he’d be their problem.”
Jo watched the flames shift and flicker. In the distance, their movement seemed jerky, not smooth, like a series of slightly altered snapshots. “All we want you to do,” Jo said, “is keep an eye out. You’d just let him pass through using Border Run! for cover. Aside from preparation we’re only talking about a half hour of your time, ultimately.” She paused, knowing this was an unfair assessment. “I mean, that and a whole lot of headache. I’m not saying it’s no big deal.”
“Oh you’re not? Great. Thanks for understanding.”
Jack was silent for a while. Below them, the light went out in his house.
“You should have seen Angel’s face when he asked about you,” he said after a while. His tone had changed, his anger having been replaced by disappointment. “He was so… He asked how long you were staying.”
“Please don’t use Angel against me, Jack.”
Jack began to say something, but stopped himself, turned, and began back down the hill toward his house. Jo watched him go. Again she’d failed to reach him, but at least she’d said what she needed to say. Part of her hoped, despite herself, that he really would go to the Feds. Everything would have to be exposed. He’d learn the truth, learn about Alex, and they’d just have to make do. It felt silly to pretend there was a risk of being caught when the real risk was not catching. But she knew Micah was right. He’d never go to them. The government was probably the only thing he respected less than radicals.
Jo heard a rustling in the underbrush behind her, and turned to see Rockette emerge into the clearing and drop something at Jo’s feet. It was a dead bird. It looked like a warbler, but it was too dark to tell. Rockette sat and looked up at her, waiting for recognition. Jo sighed.
“I don’t blame you for crossing the street,” she said.
After watching the bonfires burn for a few minutes longer, she began to make her way down to Jack’s, Rockette running along at her feet, bird in mouth.
Inside the house, both men were lying down with their backs turned toward the center of the room. Jo stepped slowly past them into the bedroom and closed the door behind her, then undressed and climbed into bed. Jack had used the flannel sheets she liked, and had left her the softer pillow. She looked up over her head and out the window, and for what seemed like a long time tried to send healing thoughts to her son until she slipped, finally, into sleep.