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Suddenly. Reese stopped talking. He appeared to listen to something beyond the view of the
lens, then, without warning he jumped up, and ran from the frame. There was the sound of
fumbling and static as the camera was shut down and the screen of Jillian s television set went
blank. She did not move, staring at the gray snow, even though the disturbing, hair-raising
 show appeared to have come to an end.
But it hadn t ended. Abruptly the static cleared and Reese re-entered the frame. It looked as if
some time had passed and Sherman looked a little worse for wear. He was holding a blueprint in
his hand and he waved it at the camera.
 There s no computer to run that plane, Reese said.  It hasn t been designed yet. He
unrolled the blueprint and held it close to the lens.  Once it s designed it s going to go right here,
in the cockpit. Right here where the pilots should be.
Jillian moved closer to the television screen squinting at the blueprint, trying to see the point
that Reese indicated with a poorly manicured fingernail.
 It s going to be a binary computer, Reese said.  Binary. That s twin, Mrs. Armacost. Twin.
What do you think you have inside you? What do you think he put there?
She couldn t take any more. She turned off the VCR and leaned back on the sofa, her head
reeling. She could see herself in the bathtub, Spencer kneeling next to her, washing her,
attending to her. She heard Spencer s voice.  What will they be? Pilots?
Jillian lay on the couch, the television remote control in one hand and remembered well what
she had said that night.  Pilots...just like their father. She sat there still for a moment, the
silence in the apartment was overwhelming. It made Spencer s voice sound that much louder.
  Jillian?
She jumped and dropped the VCR remote as she turned to face her husband.  I didn t hear
you come in, she said, doing her best to recover from her obvious surprise.  You re home
early.
Spencer sat down next to her on the couch. Jillian watched anxiously as Spencer toyed
absently with the VCR remote control. He tossed it lightly from hand to hand.
 I felt bad for you, getting into that fight with Nan.
 How do you know about that?
 She called.
 And she didn t tell you what it was about?
Spencer shook his head.  She said,  None of your business, Spaceman.
 That s right, Jillian answered.  It was just sister stuff. She ll get over it and so will I.
Spencer ran his thumb up the remote, his finger playing on the play button.
 You haven t heard from her?
Jillian shook her head and watched his fingers play around the buttons.
 Well, said Spencer,  I wouldn t worry . . . I m sure she ll call soon enough.
Jillian could not stand it any longer. She reached out and placed her hand on her husband s.
He stopped fiddling with the buttons. He touched her fingers.
 Jillian, you are trembling.
 Am I? Jillian said as lightly as she could.  I guess I m just a little cold.
Spencer put his arms around her as if to warm her.  I have something here to cheer you up.
Spencer reached into his briefcase and pulled out
a videocassette and waved it at her.
"  Follow the Fleet, he said.  Fred, Ginger, me,
you. What do you say? How about it?
Spencer went to the VCR and tried to load the tape. but he found the bay occupied.  You
watching something? he asked, looking over his shoulder at her.
He popped out the tape of Sherman Reese s expose.  No label, he said. There was the
faintest sound of suspicion in his voice.  What is this thing?
The lie came so easily, Jillian was astonished by herself.  It s a pregnancy video, she said.
 Denise gave it to me. She thought it would make me feel better.
Spencer loaded Follow the Fleet. The he joined her on the couch, taking her in his arms.  You
worry too much, Jilly. He hit the play button and they waited while the feeder tape spooled
through the VCR.
 Why are you building that plane? Jillian asked, trying to keep her voice light and casual.
Spencer laughed.  What? What are you talking about, Jillian? I don t get it. -
 That plane . . . that terrible plane that you and Jackson and McLaren are so proud of . . . Why do
you have to build it? Why does it have to exist at all?
Spencer shrugged.  It s a contract, Jilly. And I didn t add as much as Jackson said I did . . . They
have a bunch of real smart engineers over there. They re behind most of it,
The first notes of Follow the Fleet began to flow from the VCR, but neither of them were
paying attention.
 I know what you re thinking, said Spencer.  You re worried about what kind of world we ll
be bringing the twins into. I think about it, too, believe me . . .
They settled down to watch the movie.  Don t worry, he said reassuringly.  We won t let
anything happen to them. Will we? I know you won t and you know I won t.
Follow the Fleet played on the television, but it played to no conscious audience. Both Jillian
and Spencer had fallen asleep, entwined in each other s arms.
Jillian dreamed. A dream so real that even in her sleep she hated it. Those familiar words.
 I m going to rotate the panel forty-eight degrees. You got me, Alex?
 That s good to go. I ll need the 9c spanner as soon as . . . Spencer? You feel that?
 Alex? Jesus. Alex? What the 
Jillian awoke with a start, waking Spencer at the same time. Follow the Fleet was still on the
television set.
Spencer pulled Jillian into an embrace.  Must have dozed off, he said.
 Were you dreaming? Jillian asked.
said Spencer,  just sleeping.
 You weren t dreaming? Jillian pressed.  No, Jillian. I wasn t dreaming, he said. Jillian
looked into his eyes. They were not loving, but black and cold.
 Were you? Spencer asked.
Jillian looked down at the coffee table where Sherman Reese s video cassette had been before
they fell asleep. The tape was gone. Jillian felt her stomach lurch.
 Were you? Spencer repeated.
Jillian looked over at the radio and closed her eyes.  No, she said.  No dreams for me.
18
There were any number of restaurants on Madison Avenue that catered to the rich women who
constituted the New York corps known as  The Ladies who Lunch. Shelley McLaren was
known at all of them, but she favored one of them above all others. She was sure to get the best
table no matter how late she called for a reservation, she was always welcome to order  off the
menu  asking for things not listed on the menu, that is and for these privileges she was
mercilessly overcharged, but because she was one of the few who had a house charge at the
restaurant she had no idea how much money she actually paid for her microscopic lunches or
how astronomically she tipped. .
Not that she would have cared all that much, but like all rich people she did not like being [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]