Editor’s note: This column is part of a fictional weekly serial.
“So do we think it’s amnesia? And he’s really just a cute little old man now? Or are we leaning towards mastermind with borderline sociopathy — he’s fully aware of his past, and he’s been pretending this whole time? The scary people in suits weren’t really clear on that.”
Cecilia felt, all things considered, that she was taking the news that her until-recently-estranged grandfather had once been (and may still be) the head of an international crime syndicate rather well. Perhaps it was the disconnect between the absurdity of that knowledge and everything she had seen from Edgar so far, but she was intrigued rather than frightened.
Crimelord Grandpa was currently puttering in the half-dead garden. Cecilia and her mother stood at the kitchen window, watching him wander among the plants; he bent over each one as if talking to them.
“Does it matter which it is?” Alicia finally answered her daughter’s question.
“Of course it matters — whatever he might have once done, it’s who he is now that … Mom, why do I get the feeling this isn’t news to you?” Alicia had at first laughed when Cecilia began relaying what the national security agents had told her about Edgar but had slowly grown stoic, watching her daughter impassively. “Did you know, before we even came —”
“Oh, I’ve known for years.” Alicia made a gesture as if to brush the question away. “It was never relevant.”
Cecilia laughed. “Okay, I’m not gonna touch that one. Yet.” Giving her mom a cheeky smile, she said, “I’m going to do a little recon.”
“No — Cecilia —” Alicia grabbed for her arm and missed.
Edgar didn’t look up as Cecilia came outside. The back of his hair was sticking up like the tufts of grass which poked up between the stones of the back patio, and Cecilia had to smile. She slowed her excited pace and instead approached him carefully, gently.
“Hey Grandpa.” He glanced at her without smiling, then went back to tamping down the dirt around a dead fern. “Listen, I’m sorry I reacted so poorly yesterday when you told me you used to be a spy. It just wasn’t what I was expecting.”
Edgar gave no sign he was even listening. “I’d love to hear more, if you still want to tell me.”
“Do you have someone at home? A boyfriend,or girlfriend, maybe?”
Taken aback, and not at all seeing how this fit into anything, Cecilia didn’t even think to bluff. “I have a — something. I met a guy but …”
Her grandfather nodded as if that clarified everything. “Come here, I want to show you something.”
He waved for her to follow him as he wound his way through the pots. He bent over one, standing with his back to the house, and looked at Cecilia intently. “I found this in your mother’s handbag.”
There, at first indiscernible from the dark dirt in which it was nestled, was a gun.