Red and Brown
Anger. Determination. Pain. Getting closer.
Dina opened her eyes and studied the computer screen the big picture was from the mini cam way out at the corner of her patio.
It was pointed down the road, but showed the driveway and front steps of Axel's house on the left side of the screen. Four men had entered around five, they'd left with a lot of boxes. Then half an hour ago the house had suddenly been swarmed. And then they'd left . . . sort of.
The two little pictures showed straight across from Axel's house, and the street the other direction. The street curved in front of her house, so the side door and walk where they put out their garbage bins was out of sight of those men lurking around.
She had everything ready.
I just need the nerve. And the silence.
She closed her eyes. A hard grip, step down, down, step away. Walk. Not far . . . no, other way . . .
Dina shuddered. I remember. How that felt, the utter disorientation, as it started.
She was in her snow boots, stretchy exercise pants. The old blonde wig she'd kept, even though her hair had grown back after her head was shaved. Now she grabbed the pillow case full of clothes and stuffed it down her stretchy pants.
The plan will work! I will make it work.
Her Dad's big brown coat, wrap it around, use his long brown scarf like a belt to hold it closed up over her "pregnant" belly. Grab the old sock. Open her bedroom door and slide out quietly, a long step just there, to avoid that squeaky board . . . down the steps, quietly, quietly, through the kitchen and out the side door, the little block of wood to hold it open. Dodge the garbage cans, and down the walk, through the gate and jam the sock in the latch.
Walk down to the street and around the corner to peer down the street. Ignore the stir across the street. Spot the figure way down the street, not walking very steadily. Wave, then stride quickly down the street. Now movement from the other side. Had they left the house?
She waved again. "Rudolph! I was getting worried!" Trying for a little accent, and then she reached him and hugged him.
A faint laugh. "My sweet, you should be asleep." Yes, he'd picked up the accent, just enough to hint at the Ukraine.
She hooked his arm and led him on down the street. "Oh, you know I can never sleep when you work late."
Stepping past the first man. "Oh! She kicked! Here! Feel!"
She took his hand and set it on her bulge.
"Nyet, my sweety. That is our son, getting into practice for the Spring Games."
She giggled at that.
"Let's get you two out of this snow." He led her onward and the shadows stayed where they belonged. She steered him past the garage, the front walk, around the curve . . . Even with her eyes open she could feel the desperate determination . . . physically too. Trembling. She pulled him onto the back walk, reached down to pick up the minicam, and walk past the bushes. She pushed the gate open, and caught it, closed it silently, easing the latch down as she pulled the sock out of it.
"Thought of everything, did you?" A bare breath of sound.
"I hope," she breathed, and pushed the door open. Led him through, with a quick detour to hang her dad's coat and scarf. Slide a hand through the curtains and pick up that mini cam.
Axel had been edging carefully up the stairs, and followed her lead to step over the squeaky board and into her room.
She took the heavy coat as he shed it, and the furry cap, and put them in the bathroom to drip dry. Hustled back to see him blinking vacantly at the bed.
"Sit down," she kept her voice low, "I remember how it feels. I have your wine, you can hide here for a long as you need to, to recover."
"Oh." He staggered over the the bed. "My feet hurt worse than my head." He leaned and nearly fell over.
She pushed him upright, and untied the snow caked shoes, pulled them off.
We left a trail of snow melt all through the house . . . She popped up to put the shoes in the bath tub and pulled the wine bottle out of her sock drawer.
"Remember. Half a glass a day for seven days."
He nodded, shivering. "Twenty days and even the chip is dissolved. You need to stay legal--for now. I'm going to . . . go all Igor on them."
She pulled the cork out and handed him the bottle. He took a long swallow, stiffened and panted as the effects hit. Another swallow.
"No wonder you threw yourself at me, after you drank this stuff." A third swallow.
She snickered. "No, that was displaced hero worship. I've been in love with Red since the first book."
She reached and took the bottle from him. Worked the cork in and forced it down.
"You know, Igor's not very sneaky." She eyed him. "You need to be sneaky, to be Ghost, this time."
He breathed in a little laugh. "The wild gray stallion that no one could catch?" He leaned sideways and kissed her hair. "I'll have to start calling you Brown, since you just hauled my battered body to safety."
She swallowed. "Now I need to hide everything . . . those shoes and the pants and tie can go in Vlad's room, but your coat and hat . . . the wig . . ."
"Bundle them up. If they search, I'll have to hide them with me." His hands went to the tie, and slowed.
She snickered and hopped off the bed and pulled his suitcase out from under it. Popped it open.
"Dina . . . you are my hero. The black pants and turtle neck sweater . . ."
She helped him out of and into the top part, and stiffling a giggle, left him to deal with the pants himself. She wiped the nice shoes down, peeked out, and helped him with the nice dry socks and the pants. Tucked him into bed.
"I'm going to hide things and wipe up any drips we left behind." She slipped quietly out, just a few quick moments and she was back.
He was sound asleep, curled up and quiet. she took a pile of her summer weight blouses, and layered them over the rest of the clothes she taken earlier. Slid the suitcase quietly back under the bed.
The big coat was dry, so she wrapped up in it and curled up in her big reading chair. She woke when her brother tried to come in quietly, and again at five, with the furious pounding on the front door. The door bell ringing over and over.