A man does not want to be late for his date with his wife
|I can’t tell you much about FogRunner. I know there will be many who say I should not even have told you his code name. The hell with them. This is a love story, and it’s going to be told my way, for he was a man I greatly admired.|
Google it. You won’t find squat. No. You won’t learn who he worked for. What schools he attended. What military branch he excelled at. None of that will be on file. He was a man who went through life without a resume, if you catch my meaning.
I won’t tell you the real name of his wife. I’ll call her Gloria for now, because that isn’t it. She was beautiful and her children were beautiful, two boys who carried the FogRunner’s strong chin.
The fact that he came home most every night of his life to eat with his wife and children is the story of legends. The risks he took. The fact that often times he arrived home by collapsing on the living-room rug smelling faintly of noxious oxide and chlorophyll , maybe a smidgen of Brazilian Tree Frog. Once, with a gaping stomach wound, he made it only to the back patio where his legs buckled and he had to use his forehead to knock on the patio doors, for his hands were occupied in holding in his guts.
“Daddy’s home!” his children screamed upon seeing him out there bleeding on the patio bricks. “Did you bring us anything?” they asked as they went to work ripping up sheets, loading the stapler, preparing the bathtub. “Of course,” he would always answer. For he always brought them something. His wife smiled and shook her head in that patient, knowing way of wives, then shooed the boys out of the bathroom. They would know to open the backdoor, for the helicopter was undoubtedly on the way. It always was.
These things happened to FogRunner, and every time his children and his wife forgave him. For they knew the score even if they didn’t know who he worked for; or his real name; or why, more often than not, he had to be set in the bathtub filling with his blood until a crew of mysterious and unsmiling men with short haircuts arrived by soundless helicopter to stitch him up, remove a bullet or two, take knives out of his chest, and all before they would let him sit down to dinner with his wife and kids—which he insisted on, always.
Some nights, needless to say, they would eat dinner quite late. But always, always, always, the children went to school the next morning for FogRunner believed strongly in education. Both boys were fluent in Mandarin by the time they were ten.
FogRunner loved his family more than life itself, and as I explained before, he would never miss dinner with them. On this night, February 14, Valentine’s Day, his flight back from Prague was late, so he was late. He was to meet “Gloria” at her favorite restaurant in the small town I won’t name at 21:30. A romantic dinner for just the two of them. He didn’t have time to check for explosives in his rental car at the airport. He just got in and turned the key and held his breath for thirty seconds. When the car didn’t turn into a fireball he drove it out of the Hertz parking lot and gunned it down the 405 until he was out in the desert.
He was dressed in his white dinner coat by the time he pulled off the interstate.
He checked his watch—it was 21:34 as he pulled into the restaurant parking lot.
Jimmy came up to the car as he got out. “Where’s the Lamborghini, Mr. F?”
“In the shop as always, Jimmy.”
Jimmy smiled the knowing, patient smile of all car parking boys who knew a large tip was in their future. And with that, FogRunner entered through the front door to spot his elegantly dressed wife grinning at him with relief from between two flickering candles at the corner table.
“Did you bring me something?” she asked as he kissed her offered cheek.
“Of course, my dear,” he answered. He gave her a wink and his martini arrived. The two very much in love people sat close together and clinked glasses. It was going to be a quiet night for once, and the FogRunners seemed gratefully resigned to it.