The press follows the Senator’s entourage into the Baggage Claim section of the airport, where they wait for Lana. Tim talks to a uniformed security guard, who speaks into his walkie talkie. Several TSA workers come over and jog after Bettina, as she rushes through the pre-screen line so she can wait at the gate for Lana’s incoming plane.
Lana is the last person off the plane. Bettina shrieks and opens her arms wide to give Lana a big hug, and they rock back and forth, as people stare at them. A few break out into applause.
She sees that Lana has earbuds in, and pulls on the white wire to reveal that it’s attached to nothing. We’re all here to get you, Bettina tells her, as she holds Lana’s arm as they walk down the concourse. I need to use the bathroom, Lana says. Bettina waits outside, with Lana’s carry on.
They go down to the restricted section of Baggage Claim, and wait for Lana’s checked bag. Don’t open it inside the airport, the baggage claim lady tells Lana, who nods.
The press surrounds Lana as she watches the vehicle caravan. Do you feel vindicated, Lana? She gives no indication that she’s heard the question. Are you seeing anyone, Lana? Another tries. Twenty minutes later, Lana says something into her lapel mike, and Levi comes out of the door ahead of the Senator who goes to the Tahoe. Tim gets the door for him, but the Senator walks over to Lana.
It’s great to have you back, Lana. Senator Johns tells her. Thank you sir, she says, not taking her eyes off the street. Are these people bothering you? He asks Lana, putting an arm around her shoulder. She gives him a side hug and briefly rests her head against his shoulder. Let me see your sunglasses, he tells her. She takes them off and hands them to him. Ask away, he tells the press. Get candidate Lana on the record. He puts on her sunglasses and folds his hands together and scans for threats. Lana laces her fingers together in front of her and looks down at her hands.
Lana, what do you think about women being excluded from certain roles in the military? Be specific, please. Why should women be excluded from ground combat roles? After all, you’ve proven what a woman can do. I’ve proven nothing, Lana responds. Israel has a lot of experience with this in their armed forces. Papers have been written. Search them out and form your own opinion. I’m asking you, the reporter insists. No women in ground combat roles, period. I’m proud of our elite fighting men, and would love to be invited to shoot with them on a square range sometime. She makes a call me gesture with her hand. Why should there be a closed door to women? Another reporter follows up. Ask an Apache attack helicopter pilot if she wants to go through Ranger school. Or an EOD specialist, if she wants to go through Special Forces selection. This is a non-issue inside our military. You didn’t answer my question, the reporter complains. It’s easier to define and implement a negative. That’s why the Bill of Rights is a charter of negative liberty interests, and why the moral law of God is a series of prohibitions. No further questions, she tells the press. Bettina gets the rear door of the SUV for her. Lana turns back around. “Let there be peace”. She smiles and waves at the reporters and gets in. Senator Johns stays in character and goes to the Tesla and gets in the driver’s seat.
The clip makes the evening news. “And Lana Radley is back on the campaign tour”. Senator Johns’s likeability rating goes through the roof. “Let there be peace” becomes the new informal campaign slogan.
After a lunch stop at a local diner, Bettina sneaks up behind Lana and gooses her, then bolts to the driver’s seat of the SUV. Lana keeps scanning, but now with a surpressed smile on her face. Bettina starts the vehicle and rolls down her window. Lana walks over. I’ve got Raj and Lindsey with me, sweetie. See you at the next stop. And the SUV screetches away from the curb. I need to find a bathroom, Lana tells Levi, and she goes into the diner.
Five minutes later, she comes out, and gets in the driver’s seat of the Tesla, which is comfortable from being in dog mode. Lana glances over at Levi with a quick smile. How are you doing, soldier? He chuckles. You sound like a general. Are you glad to be back? Yes and no. If the powers that be were to put an ankle bracelet on me and limit my movements to a twenty mile radius from home, I’d be as happy as a clam – at high tide. So you didn’t want to leave New Orleans? I chose to be here. Are you good to drive? Yes. They get out and switch. Lana grabs a travel pillow and a blanket from the back, and then pulls her earbuds out of her daypack and puts them in her phone.
There a reason you don’t want to talk to me? Levi asks her. She puts her earbuds down. I’m willing to listen. What’s on your mind, Levi? I like you, Lana. Thank you, she says softly. You’re supposed to say I like you too, Levi comments. You already know that, she tells him. I know you know about the Highlander being bugged. Yes. Not my call, but I’m glad it was, Levi admits. So you got an ego boost listening in on a private conversation that you weren’t meant to hear. That does not endear you to me, Levi. We only heard your synthesis. Then you got out of the vehicle at the restaurant. I’d like to know your antithesis.
Levi, I don’t expect people to change. I take them as I find them. Am I wrong in this? I’m curious, Lana. I’m curious too, Levi. Did you want me to know that the Highlander was bugged? Bettina is my best friend; the question about Christian Zionism and then replacement theology. Did you really think that wouldn’t get back to me? Samantha has her own agenda, Levi replies. Lana starts scratching herself. I feel bugs crawling on my skin. Maybe I should take my clothes off for the cameras…
Levi frowns. Not funny, he comments. Yes, it is, Lana says giggling. Levi tries not to smile, and they both burst out laughing.
So what is your antithesis? Tell you what, when all the bugs are gone, I’ll tell you. Already done. Well, that explains why we didn’t find anything in the Highlander, Lana says. Who is we? Levi asks. The plural of majesty, Lana replies, giving him a look. Levi chuckles. So your antithesis? You anticipated me, Lana replies. I’m impressed.
Let me come at it a different way, Levi. Do you know what a prolepsis is? No. It’s a literary device where the author abruptly flashes forward years ahead with the same characters. How far ahead should I go in our story? Ten years, Levi says grinning. Ten is the number of testing, Lana murmurs and closes her eyes. Are you asleep? Levi asks her eventually. Just thinking, Lana replies. Think out loud, he tells her. I’ll help. So we’ve been married for nine years now, Levi entones. What do you see happening? Well, there’s a strain on our otherwise happy marriage because you’re not pleased with me homeschooling our kids. Starting fall semester, I want them enrolled in Hebrew school, you insist. And I tell you to start delegating, so you can make time to teach them yourself. It’s an important part of their heritage that they should learn from their father, not a stranger. Would you listen to me? Lana asks, rolling her head on the neckrest to look at him. Yes.
I believe you, Lana says softly. And you do, and find it’s what you look forward to most when you come home from your travels around the world. And we grow even closer as a family. Levi nods. But as you really get to know our kids, you discover that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, and that you’ve got a brood of Christians, with another on the way. So you go to see your rabbi about this. And he cites Ezra Chapter 10, the mass putting away of the heathen wives and children by the Jews upon their return from Babylonian exile, and tells you that in the Talmud, Pharisee so and so says such and such, and he convinces you. So you come home and give me an ultimatum. Convert to Judaism or I’m divorcing you, and cite Ezra 10, which I read in silence. And then I plead with you not to do this.
Ezra the scribe was a great man of God and greatly used by God. But even the best of men are but men at their best, and he was wrong in this matter and erred in his zeal by listening to bad counsel, when he should have sought out a prophet of God. Malachi would have told him that God hates putting away. You’re contemplating compounding one sin, breaking our marriage vows, with another, adultery, if you marry again. Please don’t do this, Levi, for your own sake. God will make it cloud up and rain on you, just like what happened in Ezra 10 to the men of Jerusalem that fateful day. But will you listen to your faithful and loving wife or your rabbi?
How many kids do we have? Three and one on the way, Lana answers. I’d shoot him in the face, Levi comments drily. Levi catches a big smile on Lana’s face as she looks out her window. Back to the here and now. I know about your letter to Raul Guttierez. Lana looks down at her hands. I think you’re fishing, she says softly. He doesn’t reply and they drive in silence. Have they set a date yet? He finally asks. November 1st at this stunningly beautiful plantation. It’s about an hour outside of NOLA. That’s still hurricane season, Levi notes. Then it’ll be candlelit, Lana says, grinning over at him. Are you going to be in it? Lana nods. Let me guess: maid of honor - so you can spent time with his brother at the rehearsal. You’re very perceptive, Lana says. And that way your parents can see you together walking down the aisle. Yes, that is exactly what Sam and I are planning. What do you know about him? Lana asks. We had a psych profile done. The report said that he had an upper class rural upbringing. A deeply religious introverted mother who withheld any displays of affection, and a father whose braggadocio and toadying he loathed. The father an officer in a paramilitary police unit. Why rural? Lana asks. The work ethic and lack of interest in sports or any known hobbies. So no Friday Night Lights, Lana muses, makes sense. Why not middle class? Latin America doesn’t have much of a middle class and he’s well educated. What else? Lana asks. He places a strong premium on order and structure, which likely came from his father’s rank in a hierarchical organization. Why not a mayor’s son? His skill at arms. They don’t have a gun culture down there, and a handgun is an officer’s weapon. And I find it difficult to believe that the first time he handled one was as a priest. Lana nods. Exposed to violence and killing in his formative years, desensitizing him and allowing him to eventually function as a cartel enforcer. You are very thorough, Levi, Lana says. I’m impressed. I didn’t tell you anything that you didn’t already know, Levi replies. That’s a defective syllogism, mister. Fix it then, he tells her. Knowing implies certainty, whereas inferring implies a reasoned conclusion.
I didn’t tell you anything that you didn’t already infer, Levi replies. Better, but still defective. Explain. Lana sighs. Alright. Lana is afraid to ask her husband for a hug. Therefore, Lana is afraid of her husband. That doesn’t follow, Levi tells her. She nods. Lana doesn’t ask for a hug because her husband ought to know that she needs one right now. Still doesn’t scan. How can he know unless she tells him? But he’s her husband, Lana protests. And that makes him a mind reader? But you told me ten years ago that you didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already infer. My brain hurts, Levi complains. Just ask for the hug, okay. I’ll be glad to give it. So we should tell each other what we want, and not assume the other knows it? Levi nods patiently. I wish you would have told me that ten years ago, Lana exclaims, throwing her hands in the air. Levi laughs hard.
Now, I want to listen to some music on my headphones and get some shut eye before the next stop, Lana tells him. He grins and nods.
So what did you and Lana talk about that you didn’t want me around for? Lindsey asks Levi that evening, after Lana and Bettina have left to stay with a Tesla family. Our marriage, Levi says. Lindsey wheels around and storms off.
The next morning, when Bettina and Lana come back and before everyone piles in the vehicles, Raj takes Lana aside. Watch out. Lindsey’s on the warpath. Why? Levi told her that you two talked about your marriage. Do me a favor? Lana asks. Sure. Tell Levi that I’d like him to ride with Bettina this morning. You sure about that? Raj asks her. You too, she tells him.
Five minutes later, Lindsey sees Levi and Raj get in the Yukon with Senator Johns. What’s going on? Just you and me this morning, Lana tells her. Lindsey gets in. The Tesla follows the Yukon down the freeway, but quickly gets outdistanced by Bettina’s lead foot. Let’s talk, Lana says. Alright. Where’s the engagement ring, Lana? Let me guess: it’s imaginary, but coming. What did Levi tell you, Lindsey? That you two are getting married. Were those his exact words? “Our marriage”. Lana sighs. Do you know what a reverse biography is? Sounds rather self-explanatory, Lindsey says. It’s a framing technique that’s used in neuro-linguistic programming. I used a derivation on Levi - that’s what he meant when he said that we talked about our marriage, as future present. We’re not engaged and we’re not seeing each other. Why not? Lindsey asks. You know he wants you. It’s complicated, Lana says. Break it down for me. My life isn’t an open book, nor do I wish it to be.
Now let’s talk about your blog. What about it? You’re a talented writer, but putting yourself out there like that isn’t healthy. You have no idea how many followers I have. Why do people watch Nascar? Lana replies. You’re so witty. Lana doesn’t say anything and they drive in silence. Alright if I play some music? Lindsey asks. Lana nods. Lindsey puts on her Miette Hope playlist. Play that song again, please, Lana requests. It’s lovely. Lindsey beams. It’s called “Spring”. How did you find her? Lana asks...
So what would you do, if you were in my shoes? Lindsey asks an hour later. Be more specific, Lana replies. Levi. First of all, let me say that you have excellent taste in men. He’s a quality guy. Thank you. But he’s not the only quality guy out there. You need to get off your sights. See the room. Is that cop talk? Lindsey says snidely.
Tuesday afternoon blog post: Acres of Diamonds
Lana ambushed me. She had Levi and Raj ride with Bettina so we were alone in the Tesla this morning…and she frowns and doesn’t speak to me again for another half hour. Finally she says, I’d like to tell you a story if you’ll let me. A Western? I quip. And she laughs, and I cannot help but laugh with her. Lana has an infectious laugh, and her face just lights up when she smiles. Maybe that’s what draws guys to her – that and the fact that she’s always so well put together…
…and the creek was full of diamonds, and the farm became the largest diamond mine in Africa. Open your eyes, Lindsey.
Lana is such a tiger mom.
When we were coming into town, I asked her what she is going to do. About what?Are you going to go back to being a cop? No. So you’re going to sue the city for millions? No. I don’t understand. What do you want to happen? I didn’t think she was going to answer, but she finally did. I want my badge back and then an honorable discharge. So you’re not going to go back to being a cop? That season has past, Lindsey. Finally I ask her what she’s going to do about Levi. I’ll listen to what he has to say, Lana says shrugging. My Bible says that it is folly and shame to answer a matter before you hear it. Have you ever read it? I’ll get religious when I’m old.