Busted Axle Road
CopyrightÂ© 1993, 2001, 2010
Eight years, Heather thought as she warmed water for instant coffee in her grubby little apartment. Eight years, and what have I got to show for it? A few crummy sticks of furniture that's not worth hauling out for the garbage. Let the super do it, after she left.
It wasn't going to take her any five or six days to pack up and close the apartment, she realized; she could do it today, if she wanted to. She'd done some good in that time, but it seemed like the good that she'd done didn't come very often. All too often, when something good happened, she didn't feel very good about it.
It had been with such a flush of victory that she'd come to Los Angeles to work for the Defenders. They'd actually stopped construction on Old Brook, and it had never opened! Now, that had been worth what she'd had to do to those police officers! McMullen had been right, after all, they'd been spies, but she'd converted them long enought that it had counted. In fact, there hadn't been a new nuclear plant opened since Old Brook was stopped, and that was a victory to feel good about on the nights that it seemed dark and lonely.
But that had been a long time ago. There'd been a lot of pants to unzip since then, and never had there been anything quite close to it.
What really hurt was the way Harper and McMullen had brushed off her suggestion about doing something about the Japanese whaling fleet. She realized now that she'd started out all wrong, talking about torpedos and kamikazes. It would work, sure, but nothing that extreme was needed. She'd thought it all out carefully. It was clear that whaling was economically nothing more than a pimple on the backside of the Japanese economy, but all the cars they imported were a heck of a lot more important. All it would have taken would have been a few demonstrations against importing Japanese cars, here in on the coast where a lot of people both cared about whales and drove Japanese cars, and the whaling fleet would get sunk quicker than the U.S. Navy could manage. Why the hell hadn't Greenpeace ever seen that? Bunch of babies.
She'd had it all worked out in her head, a good program, one that would help out a lot and would really make the Defenders look good, and not even cost much. But, they'd brushed her off again, and sent her off into the wilds of goddamn somewhere in the frozen north, over some snake that no one was sure existed or not. Here's a big program for you to run, it's real important, make a name for yourself, and no, we're not going to give you any help.
Big goddamn deal.
It wasn't the first time that McMullen and Harper had brushed her off, sent her off on some pipsqueak thing, instead. At least this time, they didn't tell her to go down on somebody in the process. It was too bad that job with that conservancy in Pennsylvania hadn't come through. It was nothing spectacular; probably no bigger deal than those snakes, but she'd have been her own operator, not a mouth-whore for McMullen and Harper.
At worst, it would only be a few months in that godforsaken town, wherever it was. They expected her to accomplish the impossible? Well, she'd do that. She'd done it before, but maybe this time it wouldn't be McMullen taking all the credit. Do it right, and maybe she could get a staff job some place where what she did would count. She had resumes out all over the place; a success on her own, where McMullen would have a hard time stealing the credit, couldn't hurt. And, by God, she'd do it without unzipping one single pair of pants, if nothing else but to prove to herself that she could do it.
The water was boiling in the pan on the stove by now, but she realized she didn't care. The bottle she'd killed last night was laying in the sink, and her head didn't feel very good, but then, neither did she.
"Where did I go wrong?" she said aloud. Everything had seemed so wonderful after Old Brook; it seemed like she could have moved the earth. She'd wanted to save the earth for her children, and now, here she was, pushing thirty, with the old biological clock ticking away, and she'd never gotten near to even thinking about having children. "Maybe I'd better just give it up, find some man that works in a factory somewhere, and sit at home and stay pregnant," she thought. "Sit at home, and watch soap operas all day, and not give a damn any more. I've given enough damn for a lifetime."