Lucy tried one more time to persuade Saul to go home.
‘Ain’t got a home. Just a nice apartment, a nice this and that, but there ain’t frickin’ nothing like home there. Just sick o’ this shit!’
Lucy gazed with her customary refined gaze of compassion mingled with anxiety.
‘What shit do you mean, Saul?’
Saul bowed his head. ‘Frickin’ shit, Lucy. Frickin’ shit.’
Lucy cautiously took a step closer to Saul.
‘You haven’t done any shit,’ she pleaded.
Saul laughed grimly.
‘Fuck no! Yer right wi’ that one, Lucy. I haven’t done shit!
‘All my life, I ain’t done shit. Got it in one, genius!’
‘You’ve done a lot of great things. I’d like to do just a half, even a quarter of the great things you’ve done, Saul.’
Saul wrinkled up his face in horror.
‘Like what? I ain’t done shit. I’m not like Adolph, y’know. I want this poor little schmuck boy running for president, like he promised me all these years ago.
‘And ol’ Saul Terence Magilligan Friedman ain’t takin’ no for an answer!
‘Little weasel ain’t gonna wriggle outa this one, I can tell yer!
‘We need a solid pro-speech, pro-privacy and pro-peace candidate.
‘There’s only one person who can do that: Adolph Lyndon Milhouse Adams.
‘None of the rest of ‘em measure up.
‘Frickin’ neocons! Frickin neocon bitches, liberal interventionists, Ima gonna make sure these bastards don’t get away with it! If there’s anyone who can preserve our constitution and make our shit right again, it’s this guy. Otherwise we’re all frickin’ fucked!’
Lucy drew up a chair.
She could listen to Saul kvetch for hours.
Except right now, it wasn’t really ‘kvetching’ at all.
She knew that Saul was a very ethically serious person; and that behind the irritable, fussy persona, Saul was a person of good heart and character who was genuinely bewildered and terrified by the tidal wave of surveillance apologism, warmongering militarism and generally self-seeking depravity engulfing Washington.
Oh, if only Saul were a good Catholic!
She would nurse him in his old age, and take care of him forever.
‘Hell no,’ she thought to herself.
‘Father Jacobs isn’t here now. If only I had the chance, I would marry him, and I would brave all the legions of hell to be the Orpheus to my Euridice; blessed Saul, O my blessed, fallen Saul.’
Saul was convulsed in a fit of sneezing.
‘Frickin’ fool romantics!’ he managed to groan at last.
‘Who?’ whispered Lucy, her sky-blue eyes sparkling with wonder and delight.
‘The war pigs. Frickin’ war pigs, don’t tell people I said that, don’t tell ‘em nothing, Luce, or we’re all frickin’ fucked!
‘But the frickin’ war swiners, they’re killin’ everyone. Soon they’re be no-one left to kill. ‘Only us. Just us. We’ll have to face the world alone, or die alone.
‘Just us, nobody else in this whole goddamn world, Lucy!’
Lucy’s heart leapt with a holy terror. She dared to hope against hope.
What on earth was this strange, irascible man driving at?
Could it possibly be?
Had he somehow managed to discern the truth?
And had he been hugging close this great secret all along?
‘America!’ he almost screamed.
‘America, Lucy. If everyone else is gone, we might still make it.
‘But I’m not sure I want to live in that kind of world, where so much truth and beauty and joy gonna be lost.’
Lucy’s hopes were cruelly dashed. She wept and wept and wept.
‘Of course,’ she told herself; over and over and over and over again.
‘Of course, he’s an older man, he’s an older man, of course, I’m his intern, and he’s an older man, and what on earth was I thinking, dear God, blessed Maria, be with me in my time of trial, hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee…
Saul sat bolt upright in horror.
‘Oh, oh, ohhhhhh, for Chrissakes, Lucy, I’m sorry.
‘Been fuckin’ kvetchin’ on and on like this, you’re so frickin’ tired, Lucy. Get yer rest.’
Lucy shook her head.
‘I don’t want any rest. I just want to be here and listen to you talking.’
All of a sudden, Lucy froze in horror.
What the hell did she just say?
If Saul understood what Lucy really felt, he didn’t show it.
‘I ain’t got nothing interesting to say, Lucy. Go and buy a frickin’ cat and at least he can meow for ya.
‘I just don’t know what’s wrong with me, Luce.
‘I sit here and whinge and moan about what people in my party (and the other one) are doing, but I can’t seem to do shit!’
Lucy bowed her head, tears still streaming down her cheeks.
‘Goin’ home,’ muttered Saul.
‘But Adolph will come. He’ll come, Lucy. Remember what I said…
‘Check that email.’
Lucy’s pained eyes followed Saul for every last moment, until he finally shuffled out of the room.
‘I’ll check the email as Saul says; and then I’ll go,’ she whispered to herself.
Lucy opened the last email of the day.
It came from high up.
Higher than most.
All of a sudden, Lucy screamed in fear, and ran out of the room, not even stopping to collect her coat.