“I’m going to go get Jessica. And Bill and Trisha and their family.” Max told Stewart. They were working behind the bar. It was around three in the morning and the customers were all regulars Max more or less trusted implicitly.
“Gus is right, it will take a few minutes, what can happen in a few minutes.”
Gus was not in his usual booth, unlike Max and Stewart, he still needed to sleep.
“Nothing. Everything.” Stewart said.
“So, you don’t want me to go.”
“Never said that. I think you should go. I’m here and we have experience dealing with the ones on the other side. Perry would be willing to do whatever it takes too.”
“Okay, I’m going.”
“It’s three o’clock in the morning here, so that’s like what? One, in Iowa? Maybe you should wait until ten or so our time, so Bill can have his coffee and be coherent when you bounce this idea off them. Plus, you know how teens are. Jessica is probably sleeping late, better to wait until noon. That will give us time to give Perry a heads up that you’re leaving the area for a couple hours.”
“Teens…” Max said, “I never knew them as teens. Have I been a bad father?”
“Oh yes. Very bad.”
“Bad varies from perspective. From Jessica and Nick’s point of view you abandoned them after their mother died, pawned them off on Bill and Trisha and disappeared. You let them think you were dead and didn’t do much as drop them a Christmas card. You’re a dead-beat day, only worse.”
“Wow, thanks.” Max said.
“Theirs isn’t the only perspective involved. To some around here you are bully, to others you, an me, are saviors, Gods even. You rule this area like an all-powerful, mostly benevolent dictator that only I can counterbalance.”
“Oh, Perry has the threat of dropping a posi-bomb on you, but you survived one, so the science is behind you surviving another.”
“It would take us out of the game for a while.”
“Maybe less time than you think, we’ve got experience with it now. I don’t doubt they have been working on other methods to take you and me down. I mean, history says that power corrupts, so there is a strong chance that you and I will turn evil at some point.”
Max laughed, “They have no idea, do they?”
A small smile creased Stewart’s face, “No. I keep wondering why you care so much? Let’s get out of here and see what we can see. Fuck this place. We know things do not end. We’re living proof. These worldly things you concern you with mean almost nothing to me anymore. I see things repeating over and over again. Sometimes I hope another asteroid hits us. A complete wipe and reset of the planet.”
“I can’t.” Max shook his head, “I love them.”
“And I’m still here because I love you.” Stewart held up a hand, “But I’m not going to stay forever, just until you become a total asshole, then I’m moving on.”
“That will never happen.”
“Give it a thousand years.” She said.
“Well it’s good to know you’ll wait that long.”
“And so the assholery begins…” She looked around, “You seen Nick today?”
“No, he asked me to leave him alone, so I’m giving him space.”
“Lotta space.” Stewart said.
“As much as he needs. I’ve been having these weird thoughts lately, Stewart.”
“About your family?”
He nodded, “Yeah, how do you always know?”
“That’s sexist.” Max said.
“Reverse misogyny. Sue me. So you’re thinking about your family two weeks after your son shows up? Doesn’t exactly take a trained psychiatrist to make that connection. You’ve always been a brooder, Max, it’s one of your worst traits. You over think so much during the slow times that it’s nearly insufferable. Thankfully when the rubber hits the road you don’t seem to any problem with second guessing.”
“One of my worst traits?”
“Mulling shit over and over, seeing it from every angle, from every opinion, trying to hurt no one and if you have to hurt someone hurting them the least amount possible. Sometimes you just gotta crack a few heads and not take the consequences to heart.”
“Those aren’t the thoughts I’ve been having. I’ve been thinking about Sarah.”
“Naturally. I mean we didn’t do her any favors, leaving her like we did.”
“Now I think we could bring her back.” Max said.
“Sure…yeah, I see where you’re going, we’re set up nicely for that. Lord knows we’ve brought more than one shambler up from mindless meat eater to sophisticated member of society.”
“Why didn’t we think of this before?”
“I did, but you know, that whole, she’s your wife and I’m banging her husband thing kind of puts me off a bit.” Stewart said.
“How so, the sex or the wife?”
“She died, in my arms. I wasn’t with you until after…”
“I hadn’t thought about it from that angle. I know you used to go to church and that you used to be religious, about middle of the road religious, like most north Americans. Not join a jihad to reclaim the holy land, but more than willing to hold up a placard outside of a clinic.”
“Ouch, probably true. I just did it because my parents did it. Sarah was more religious. Anyway, I…do you think I would have had sex with you if Sarah were still alive?”
“She is sort of alive and yes, I think you would have. Those were stressful times, we both needed a little human touch and I can’t say I’m disappointed with the years we’ve had together, even though now the physical component is mostly moot, us not having real bodies and all.”
“Could you get pregnant?”
“We’ve been boning for what? The better part of seven years? I wasn’t sterile before I died, where you?”
Max looked down and then to one side.
“You are? What, a vasectomy?”
“Sarah thought two kids were enough.”
Stewart laughed loudly, “So all this time I was hoping to have your spiritual over child and you never mentioned it? All that effort in vain. All those hot, sweaty nights and grappling with you in the dark and there was no chance whatsoever to conceive? My time has been wasted!”
“It’s not funny!” Max said, “Okay, well, maybe it is a little funny. Have you slept with..”
Stewart held up one hand, “You might want to think about what you’re asking before you complete that sentence, buddy.”
“I wasn’t questioning it as a loyalty test or anything, just wondering if you could actually conceive.”
“Oh, so it was a science question? Gotcha. I can’t conceive, pretty sure. I haven’t had ‘that time of the month’ since we gave up our bodies during the fight with Sentry. Let’s get back on point here; are you going to go get Jessica or Sarah or not?”
“I think I should.”
“Good. I’ll manage from here. You might want to gather up Sarah first, so we can blood her up before your daughter sees her. Oh, and tell Nick what you’re doing, unless you want to spring it on him like some sort of Halloween horror surprise.”