Stanley knew—Eileen would have him murdered. It was understandable. At another time he would have done the same. And the hours left to save her—someone who was life itself to him–were but a few. Madness—to have made so much of nothing—But Eileen would've and had. Eileen had been directed to find a problem. Eileen had done as she was told. Damned if the eager ambitious good soldier wouldn’t have done her job—reported success. No one on either side of the river ever admitted failure. And Eileen, when this was done, and as was the way, would move on. Up and on. Propelled by a sense of entitled good fortune. A higher calling another institution. Perhaps even a corner office and a view of the Potomac. Collateral damage would be the job left to be unearthed by researchers, decades from now—But there are no remedies, no reparations, no atonements for the loss of flesh and blood. Stanley would not be able to bear it. Not now. He would have to make it right.
Eileen had gone back and returned now—on Labor Day weekend. Must have been something pressing to miss out on a long weekend and be here instead. Missing Memorial Day and this one, was not done often by Washingtonians. A tradition revered: of saluting warriors and nodding to workers punctuating the beginning and end of a short summer. He thought back to those weekends away—affairs, of shadows and shades of verandahs and spires—–and out there on the beach—sunshine–umbrellas, dolphins–children jumping waves and gathering Cape May diamonds scooping them into empty vanilla shake cups—The crowds on the Boardwalk—families strolling in packs, clans and tribes–—crew cuts—ray bans; breasts, bleached hair–and tanned thighs— the accents speaking lines of foreign lands—and those Mason-Dixon lines. Hard candy, fudge and Southern Fried- and stomping on chickens and frogs in arcades–The flag lowering ceremonies at sunset, his hand on his heart back then—choking with emotion and pride. God Bless America—my home sweet home! A long time ago–all that. Now an echo of whatever never came to be.