Brad pointed his chin in Jane’s direction as she entered from the kitchen. “We still have time to run up to Wisconsin.” His family had a lakeside cabin.
Jane shook her head, as she walked over to her chair. “Can’t go.” She lifted his jacket from the chair, continued without looking at him. “I’ve — got some things I need to do tomorrow.” Computer lesson at Crasob, driving lesson with Wings. She turned, smiling as she flung the jacket back at Brad, who caught it before it landed on his face.
Throwing the jacket behind him, Brad replied in a tone that suggested he was going to continue offering suggestions until he heard yes. “When are you done? We can head up after, I’ll make you — “
PAP-PAP-PAP. Brad and Jane flinched at the unmistakable sound of gunfire from outside the building. She had lived long enough in Chicago to recognize the shots came from a single small hand weapon, non-automatic (meaning this probably wasn’t a gang incident), at least two blocks away, street level. Brad opened his mouth but Jane raised a hand to silence him as she listened. No return fire; a police siren, a second, approaching their building from the other direction, blue lights strobing into the darkness outside Jane’s apartment window, PAP-PAP the same weapon firing again, the squad cars accelerating like rockets as their sirens blared, the roar of engines racing away from Jane’s building, the blue lights disappearing into the black night.
Jane sighed, finding no comfort in the knowledge that the Chicago of this new, very different world was just as dangerously violent as the city she remembered.
“Don’t understand why you still live down here,” Brad shaking his head. He had purchased a condo in Naperville the year before; every time she visited him there, she marvelled at how quaint, how safe, how revoltingly stale his new home seemed. “Sure you don’t wanna go to Wisconsin, get away from all this?”
“I don’t think going up to Wisconsin this weekend’s such a good idea.” Jane sat in her chair, holding a large mug of herbal tea with both hands, hoping Brad wouldn’t press the issue any further.
Brad exhaled loudly, puffing his cheeks as he looked off to his right. Exactly as Jane had remembered him doing before she stepped through the Looking Glass. He leaned forward in the couch, his eyes meeting hers. “You’re not going to make this easy for me, are you?”
It took a moment, although not a very long one, for Jane to realize what Brad was about to do. But long enough to prevent her from stopping him from reaching forward, grabbing her right hand with his left, then leaning to his left as his right hand reached down into his pant pocket.