That afternoon, Paul went for a long bike ridenothing like his marathon several weeks ago, but a good workout.
He returned home, took a shower, and sat on the back porch. His face throbbed with wind burn, and his muscles protested, especially his calves. But he was feeling better than he had in the two months of this nightmare.
There was a point you reached...
He heard someone running and turned his head just in time to see an elated Pete running by with his hand in the air. "Paul! Slap me five, man!"
Paul held out his hand, and he and Pete did a little modified dappalm on palm, back of hand on back of hand, fingers interlocking, fingers this way, that way...
"What are you so happy about, Pete? Get an A on your arithmetic quiz?"
"Better than that," Pete said, tongue on one side of his mouth, as he slapped Paul's hand around a little more.
"You kissed a girl."
"Stop that. Fitch is history."
"Yeah. They had a big scene and he walked out."
"You don't say."
"I do say." Too excited to think about Condor, Pete ran back home, holding his arms out at arms' length and making loud airplane engines. Several times he made chattering machine guns as he strafed the enemy Fitchoids on his way back into the house. The door slammed and all was silent.
Paul rose, dusted himself off, and went inside.
Evidently, when the rich boys played, they left the pieces behind.
Paul wasn't interested in picking those pieces up.
The call came at eleven that night. Paul was in bed, reading, when the phone rang. He picked up. "Hello?"
It was Ben Rich. "Paul, it's spectacular. I want you in here first thing in the morning. Kelly Johnson isn't completely sold yet, but we're both going in the morning to shake up some four star generals about ending this nightmare. We need you on the job tomorrow."
"Oh, and Paul? This project is about to become extremely classified. Don't talk to anyone, you hear?"