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255 hubris “Funny to see it without snow!” the copilot shouted. They were taking off from the Esslandian Green House again, the copilot at the controls, the whuppa-whuppa of the helicopter almost drowning his words. Grady glanced back at the sorry rectangle of a capitol, its flat roof and aluminum siding. He was still stinging a bit from Rapunzel’s absence. Or maybe it wasn’t absence, maybe she was hiding. Were there really three miles of tunnels hidden under that building? That was the rumor. Where had they put the dirt if they’d dug out tunnels? It was totally flat in the miles around, although there were mounds in the distance. “Getting kind of routine, flying up here!” the copilot shouted, aiming his words at the special envoy. But the special envoy wasn’t talking. Her jaw was clenched and she was looking out the window. Tentatively, Grady turned and brushed his hand against her calf. He was ready to apologize, but she made no response at all. “Terleski wants to take them up to Taylorsville Dam on Sunday. He can drive.” 256 s ha r p a n d d a n g e r ou s v i r t u e s “Isn’t that pretty far north?” Chad knew exactly where Taylorsville Dam was—it was part of his Dayton course—but he didn’t want to make an obvious objection. “It’s right near the Grid border, yeah.” Sharis said. “It’s the dam on the Great Miami.” Terleski had become a maniac with Cub Scout activities, although his own son was still too sick to leave the house. He’d taken the boys on a hunt for skunk cabbage, taught them rope-tying, built an obstacle course in his own backyard. “Are you sure it’s safe?” “Terleski’s been up there. He says it’s fine.” Sharis looked at Chad. “I’d like the boys to go. It’s good for them, good for Terleski . . . Good for everyone. And we’re still in the middle of Sweden.” “I don’t know.” Sharis put her hand over her eyes and sighed. “Speaking of Scandinavians, the Norwegians are falling apart. I’ll leave it out, but in six months the wife’s going to want me to go back and reedit. I think he’s having an affair.” “Tough for you,” Chad murmured. He wondered if Sharis would have an affair if the opportunity arose. They certainly weren’t having sex anymore, even in the privacy of their own bedroom. Sharis said, “I worry about their children and grandchildren finding out.” “Isn’t there something else you could do? Event editing?” “How would I make any money off events? You’ve got to be there for events. And if I tried to get a regular job, they’d want my high school diploma.” Chad was silent a moment. He saw himself pulling Howard ’s wagon through the snow with his head down, looking like an old and beaten man. “I don’t think I’ve been much good to you lately.” “Don’t be silly. You’re always good for me.” But she knew what he meant. “I liked your talk.” 257 hubris Chad nodded. Sharis filled her cheeks with air, blew it out. “Well, what do you think? What about the dam?” She offered a final lure. “He’s taking Leon.” Meaning: we’ll have some time alone. “Oh, why not? All their other trips have been just ducky.” “Ducky?” Sharis said. “You’re talking way before my time.” They both smiled. Mr. Terleski was doing his stupid hup-two-three-four twenty feet in front of the four Webelos and Leon, and Leon was marching like a goofball, jerking his hips back and forth and throwing up an arm on random beats. “Stop it, Leon,” Howard said, shoving in front of him. “Do you want to get us in trouble again?” Mr. Terleski pointed his right index finger sideways and jerked his arm out, indicating a path uphill through the trees. There were no leaves on the trees yet, it was cloudy and still chilly—“raw,” Howard’s mother had said—and the path was barely visible and slippery from the morning’s rain. They weren’t there and then they were, real men standing around them, with rifles and char camouflage paint on their faces. Mr. Terleski was still marching ahead of them. “Flippers!” Wilson halted and gazed at...


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