"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Well, neither do I, half the time," Brian said pleasantly. "Just a little conceit of mine. Never mind. Here, have a drink," he said, taking another, his forehead sweaty.
The congressman ignored him, turning instead to the young soldier wedged next to him, a last-minute arrival, no duffel; maybe a courier. He was wearing a pair of high riding boots, and his hands were gripping the bench like reins, his face white under a sprinkling of freckles.
"First time in Berlin?" the congressman said.
The soldier nodded, holding his seat even tighter as the plane bounced.
"Got a name, son?" Making conversation.
"Lieutenant Tully," he said, then gulped, covering his mouth.
"You all right?" Liz said to him.
The soldier took off his hat. His red hair was damp.
"Here, just in case," she said, handing him a paper bag.
"How much longer?" he said, almost a moan, holding the bag to his chest with one hand.
The congressman looked at him and involuntarily moved his leg in the tight space, out of harm's way, turning his body slightly so that he was forced to face Brian again.
"You're from New York, you said?"
"Utica, New York."
"Utica," Brian said, making a show of trying to place it, "Breweries, yes?" Jake smiled. In fact, Brian knew the States well. "Fair number of Germans there, if I'm not mistaken."
The congressman looked at him in distaste. "My district is one hundred percent American."
But Brian was bored now. "I daresay," he said, looking away.
"How did you get on this plane anyway? I understood it was for American press."
"Well, there's Allied feeling for you," Brian said to Jake.
The plane dropped slightly, not much more than a dip in a road, but evidently enough for the Soldier, who groaned.
"I'm going to be sick," he said, barely opening the bag in time.
"Careful," the congressman said, trapped.
Copyright © 2001 Joseph Kanon
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