“Yeah?” Mechteld casually answers.
“Having fun baby-sitting?” A woman’s voice asks.
Sounding surprised Mechteld asks, “How did you know?”
“We read it in the newspaper. It has your name written all over it. You need to be more careful. You’re going to get arrested.”
“I had permission. Cornbury gave me a license.” Mechteld says, her voice friendly.
The woman gives an incredulous laugh and asks, “You’re kidding? For a sixteen year old?”
Mechteld gives a breezy hum and says, “Yeah, luckily my name still carries some weight. He was practically falling over himself to do me a favor.”
“God, I see why Mark hates that man.” The woman says disdainfully. She then changes her tone and says, “Mechteld, I called for a reason. Have you been watching the news lately?”
“I’ve been busy with the kid. I haven’t been near a TV.”
“Do you have a newspaper with you?”
Mechteld looks to the table and then says, “Yeah, hold on.” She gets up from her chair, walks past Marquita, and goes to the table. She takes the newspaper from the top of stack and asks, “What am I looking for?”
The voice answers, “Las Vegas. You’ll know it when you see it.”
Marquita sits under the window not understanding the conversation. In the time she’s been awake, Marquita realizes that this is the first time she has seen Mechteld both slightly distracted and acting pleasant.
Despite all she’s learned, the desire to go home is still strong in Maquita, but she reminds herself that if she stays she could finally learn control and possibly live a normal life. A normal life was the thing she prayed for each night. Marquita asks herself, “Shouldn’t you be happy? Isn’t this the future you wanted?” Marquita thinks about what the future means to her. Was it truly infinite now? Does that really mean it has to be a future without her family? Marquita feels as if she’d rather die then be without them, but ironically, that’s the one thing she cannot do.
Marquita feels almost paralyzed as she contemplates, “Should I stay of should I try to escape?“ After a moment she begins to slowly shift from her spot. She still doesn’t know what she should choose, but she figures she should at least see how close to the door she can get. On shaky legs, Marquita slowly stands as Mechteld listens to the voice on the phone.
Mechteld scans on headlines and quickly finds what she’s looking for. On the first page below the fold Mechteld reads, “Identity of Casino Robbery Suspect Shot by Police Still Unknown”.
“Who is she?” Mechteld quickly asks.
“Her name’s Anita. She was shot on live television and they have her in police custody at a hospital. We need to extract her for trial.” There’s a pause in the conversation. Then the woman asks, “The job you just did at that hospital in Queens, how long did it take you to prepare?”
“Did you do it by yourself?”
“Yeah, for the most part.” Mechteld replies. She then asks, “Why are you doing it? Sounds like something Yazzie can handle.”
“The Vegas office is new. None of them have done an extraction,” the woman answers. Then, hesitantly the woman adds, “Also, Anita is one of mine. She was my first protégé. Mark pulled some strings and now we’re supervising their team. We want you to help.”
Mechteld waits a moment before speaking. After scanning a few sentences she asks, “What’s her motive? Why does she need that much money?”
After letting out a tired exhale of breath the woman answers, “I don’t know. She had some issues with addiction, but that was almost 80 years ago.”
Mechteld looks again at the article and then skeptically asks, “Six robberies for drug money?”
Now near the door, Marquita lightly presses her hand to the doorknob while keeping an eye on Mechteld. Without turning around Mechteld covers the receiver of the phone and says, “Make good choices Marquita.”
Mechteld turns her attention back to the phone and she hears the woman say, “Mechteld…. I think she’s going crazy. She had some mental issues when I first changed her, but I thought she was better.” The woman pauses before warily saying, “I think she’s trying to expose herself.”
Mechteld looks at the article again and then makes a side glace at Marquita now standing at the window.
Mechteld ask, “You’re sure it’s her?”
“And are you sure she’s insane?”
“I guess we’ll know for sure when we extract her.” The woman gives out a stressful exhale and then with a slight plea in her voice says, “Mechteld, if we have to do, what I think we’ll have to do, I want you with me.”
Mechteld stands at the table biting her lip as she thinks. After a long pause she uneasily answers, “I got the kid with me. She needs to train.”
“I know you. I know you can make it work.”
Mechteld thinks a moment, gives a small sigh and she says, “I’ll call you in two hours and let you know.”
Quickly the voice says, “Okay, talk to you soon. Bye.”
“Bye.” Mechteld responds.
Mechteld braces her hands on the table and leans into it. She hadn’t planned for an interruption. She knows that the extraction will probably be no problem for her, but she also knows that she needs to keep an eye on Marquita. Mechteld thinks, “I had a plan. Las Vegas is not part of the plan.” She looks again at the article and then responds, “But this is family.”
Marquita stands by the window watching the street; not sure what to do. Marquita keeps asking herself, “Why don’t you leave?”, but Mechteld’s warning is effective. She knows that she couldn’t outrun her and after seeing the memories of the cave she was genuinely afraid of what would happen if she were caught.
Mechteld sets down the phone and then turns to Marquita. She leans on the table and says, “Alright, we’re not going to Baltimore. We’re going to Las Vegas.”
Stunned, Marquita shouts, “What? No, I am not going to Las Vegas. I’m not leaving Queens.”
Mechteld takes a deep breath and cracks her knuckles against the table.
“I can do a lot of things right now. I can tie you up, put you in a big suitcase and take you with me to Vegas. I can tie you up, put you in a big suitcase and leave you in Baltimore. It could be days or weeks until I get back, but it doesn’t really matter because you’ll still be alive and waiting. Or I can make you this deal and I’m not a person who makes deals.” Mechteld’s voice wasn’t threatening; yet it scares Marquita. She then stands from the table and moves to the widow by Marquita. They now stand face to face. Mechteld is only slightly taller, but the power Marquita perceives from Mechteld makes her feels as if she’s a foot shorter.
Mechteld continues, “If you do this, if you come with me and behave, I will consider,” Mechteld then stops and empathizes, “not promise, but consider letting you have some sort of contact with your parents.” Marquita opens her mouth to speak, but before she can Mechteld adds, “Very restricted and controlled contact.” Mecheld pauses a moment and then continues, “But you have to do what I say, when I say it. When it’s time to train, you will train. When it’s time to shut up, you will shut up.”
Marquita thinks about the offer and wants to know what could be in Las Vegas that is so important. She knows she doesn’t want to go, but she also believes that Mechteld will follow through with her threats. As she stands face to face with Mechteld, she can’t decide if this the best option for both seeing her parents again and controlling her ability. She still wasn’t sure if she should fully trust Mechteld. Reading her memories told her a lot, but it still left many questions unanswered.
Apprehensively she asks, “And if I say ‘no’?”
Without pausing Mechteld bluntly answers, “You get the suitcase. So what’s it going to be?”