Sins Of The Father

As soon as the door closed, Aphra was in motion, rolling out over the foot of the bed like a sleek black bullwhip uncurling on the floor. She grabbed the pants she’d tossed over a chair back and snatched out what looked like a pocket electronic translator–and could actually do a decent job of turning English words to Spanish and back if anybody cared to–and punched in sequences with a blur of ruby-tipped fingers. Smiling as she read the screen, dowsed around the room.

Under his side of the bed there. He had her rumbled but good, no doubt about that. But what she wanted wasn’t coming up very quick. That was some trick-ass hardware there. Oh, wait… no, what the fuck was that all about? Ah. Oh, shit. Who is this guy, CIA? NSA? What it spelled out was, “Super Fed”. Well, that’s live, she thought. No point messing around with the second string. She was back in the bed seconds before he opened the door, tucking her scanner under her side of the mattress and giving him a come-hither glance and centerfold spread that should be frying every receptor he got.

“So I’m still working my way up the bureaucratic ladder,” Town was saying as he moved back to the bed and got in, kneeling over her for a long moment, drinking her in. He reached down and brushed his hand lightly over the narrow furze of nappy pubies she hadn’t lazered, waxed and Veet’ed out of existence.

“One thing I like about fucking white boys,” she said. When he raised his eyebrow she gave it a beat and said, “Don’t sound like Velcro.”

He laughed and bellyflopped on the bed like a kid, rolled a pillow under his chin and gazed into her face. “I’m doing okay. But maybe I wish I’d thought of going wildcat myself. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve had stuff go through my hands that people would pay big bucks to get their hands on.”

“Or make sure nobody else did, right?”

“Exactly. Deep Six stuff. The Ex-Files.”

“Sometimes I get the feeling over half of industrial snooping is negative like that. Find out what they know. Make them think the wrong thing. Find it and bury it. Get that damn disk back. Find the negatives and destruct ’em without looking at ’em. What’ll it cost to shut that bitch up.”

“I’m in it for good, though. Something about dealing with countries and global outfits and… I don’t know. I just want to be the best at it there is.”

“Better than your daddy, right?”

“Shit. That’s probably a lot of it. Yeah. Shit.”

“Well, listen, hon. Sometimes I think everybody’s into everything for messed-up reasons they don’t even know about. Now it’s me who ‘doesn’t want to brag’–wink, nudge–but I might be at the top of the game right now. I coulda been one of the top ten industrial analysts in the country at Oracon. And now? I don’t know. I wish somebody would come along and pay me to turn them over. I think I could do it if anybody could. But I might be top gun right this minute. That’s the pisser: you never find out. There’s no standings or like quarterback ratings or anything.”

“Top gun, private division. I can believe it.”

“Division? Hey boy, I wonder a bit about that shit. Who’s really the champs? What I’ve been seeing some of those Federal types pull off lately, I think maybe us NGO squads could win the SnooperBowl if they had one. You think the CIA’s smarter than I am?”

“I kind of doubt it. Ever think of going over to the public sector? Do your duty for God, Country, and Some Asshole In The Whitehouse?”

“I oughta have a big ‘A’ tattooed on my tits, sugarboy. Standin’ for ‘A-political’. I’m only it for the green flash.”

“Well, I’d make it a triple A. Alltime Awesome Ass. In years to come they might just search out the finest butts in the world and give the best one the Aphra Alisandra Trophy.”

“You might qualify for some sort of Heisman yourself. The High Man trophy. Hey, what’s your last name, anyway? And don’t give me no Double Ought boogie-woogie.”

“Well, it might not be bad for that trophy. It’s Hardley.”

Aphra bit her laugh off halfway, her face suddenly hardening. “So wait a minute… oh, fuck, you saying… So your daddy, big time fed agent and shit, his name was Hardley, too?”

“That’s the way it works. For us white folks, anyway.” He gave it his best smile, but she wasn’t having it.

“First name Davis? Well, Jefferson Davis? Jefferson Davis Hardley?”

Townsend stared at her. Was this taking another turn that he had no handle on? What…

“You asshole mother fucker!” Aphra went from supine to standing on the bed in one explosion, as though launched by hidden springs.

“You fucker!” She screamed. “You rabbit-assed whiteboy twat!”

Townsend was also on his feet by then, standing by the bed erect (though a lot less erect than moments before) and staring at a woman who was now a nostril-flaring, eyes-blazing, talon-brandishing column of gleaming black rage. He opened his mouth to reason, and realized that would really pointless. Whatever happened, it wasn’t something you could talk away.

He squatted and reached under the bed to grab his gear. Aphra took a step on the mattress and kicked him in the jaw so hard he saw white flashes, landed back against the wall. He stood, holding his electronic goodies behind him and she leaned back to power a karate kick right at his throat. He blocked it with his free hand, but felt it. She knew what she was doing and was very fast and strong. He leaned over as though to pick up his clothes and she fired another kick at his face. But he was ready for this one, grabbing her ankle and twisting it hard while pushing it up towards the ceiling. Her other foot came off the bed and she fell, trying to twist, but he controlled her with his grip on her foot. He grabbed her other ankle, jammed it with great effort behind her opposite knee and bent her calf down to trap it, controlling her with one hand while he snatched up his clothes with the other. She was snarling and yowling like a buggered cheetah.

He had everything in hand and was holding her without risking damage, but stood there staring at her, writing and flexing on the bed. her ass cheeks sweating and clenching with her effort to do him harm. His erection came back just like that and he felt an extremely powerful impulse to grab her other foot and fuck her thrusting, heaving head off.

Instead he gave a sudden heave that pulled her towards him, rolling off the bed. The same movement gave him impetus towards the door. Even with his head start he beat her to the door by a very slim margin. He was outside on the sand, trying to step into his pants while holding his gadgets in the other hand, and she stood in the door, shaking with hatred. The sight made an impression on him he’d carry with him all his life: filling the door with sheer animus and animosity, her body perfect and lethal, her face like a jungle cat, baring sharp teeth.

People were starting to gather, lights coming on. He had his pants on and stuck his stuff in the pockets. No sandals. A shudder passed down Aphra like a ground tremor and she was suddenly calm. Icy, razor-edge calm. She stared at him in contempt and said, “Tell your fucking daddy that Debra says Fuck Off.”

She slammed the door and he stood there staring for a long moment. Then he turned to face a circle of dumbfounded faces and shrugged. “That time of the month again,” he said and walked away, bummed to the max.

He was across the bridge and entering the Avalon lobby before he figured out what it had to be all about. He stopped like he’d walked into a solid left jab, turned at stared at the Villa Ki’in. And hoped to hell he hadn’t just been fucking his half-sister.

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