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Imperfections: Gene and Benson

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"You asked to see me, Sir?" Blevins asked woodenly.

Dubois scowled. "Where's your guide, Captain?" You didn't discipline a sentinel without the assigned guide present. Dubois wasn't sloppy with the rules.

"Formally decline, Sir."

Dubois sat down and leaned back in his chair. Normally, he would have demanded the guide be present anyway, but he wanted to get this over with. "The report of the incident says you took a swing at Paldukai. Do you have anything to add?"

Stiffly, seriously, Blevins said, "He touched my guide. I realize it was an accident, but--"

"Is there some reason why that matters?" Apparently, Blevins thought this was a rhetorical question. Dubois sighed. "Blevins, what were you assigned here for?"

"I am an instructor in tracking and survival, Sir."

"That's right. You're an instructor that teaches sentinels tracking and survival. And it's hard enough to keep a class of sentinels focused and on schedule without one of my *instructors* distracting the students by suddenly turning duck-shit stupid."


"You are not some untrained kid, Captain. There's enough unavoidable chaos and hysteria around here without you adding to it because you have no self control. You will show acceptable decorum and restraint at all times, or you will be immediately reassigned." He could tell that Blevins thought he was being unreasonable. He didn't care. "I'm not going to put a reprimand in your file." That wasn't much of a punishment, anyway; Blevins knew that everyone expected sentinels to be volatile. If it took more than that, though, to make his point, well, it would be easiest to write the instructor off and start over. "I'm not going to accept any excuses. And I'm not going to give you another warning. You are dismissed."

Blevins left angry, but Dubois was pleased to see that he wasn't going to indulge that anger. Blevins was competent. He could probably pull it together and control himself out among the students. And if he didn't, well, he wasn't irreplaceable. Dubois could find another instructor; he couldn't afford to have an entire class spoiled by mass anxiety and paranoia.

Satisfied with his decision, he gathered up his briefcase and hat and headed for the door. His secretary caught him coming the other way. "Major, there's someone here to see you. He doesn't have an appointment, but--" Dubois had already seen the guest over the corporal's shoulder. There weren't many people that tall. He dropped his briefcase and held out his hands. "Gene!"

He'd only meant to clasp hands, but Gene was a civilian now. He hugged like a civilian and clouted Dubois across the back. "Major," he said laughing. "Major Benson Dubois. Who would have guessed?"

Not Dubois. Not just fifteen years after the Civil Rights Act. There were still people who had a problem with a Black man in the number two position of the biggest sentinel training center. But Gene Gatling didn't mean it that way. He'd always been as innocent of racial prejudice as he was oblivious to conversational boundaries. "Not bad, huh? I've even got an office."

"You? You used to say you never wanted one." Gene was still the same; impossibly tall, impossibly pale--even his hair going white now--and impossibly open.

"How are you, Gene?"

"Oh, you know. Fine, I suppose. I'd say, 'about what you'd expect,' but I really didn't know what to expect."

Dubois blinked. He'd forgotten what it was like trying to get a straight answer to a simple question from this man. "How's your health?"


"And...your senses?"

"They're fine."

"How's your reaction time?"

That earned him a startled look. "It's--you know, I have no idea. I haven't been tested in years. I'm not using my senses very much at work."

Oh. "What are you doing?"

"Well...several things. Mostly running the sawmill. Until recently."

Sawmill. Sawmill? He could tell this was going to be quite a conversation, and possibly too silly to have in front of his secretary. "Let's go for a walk," he said. "The advanced class is doing scent trials. Want to take a look?" As they walked down the hill, he tried again to pick up the conversation. "So how did you wind up at a saw mill?"

"I inherited it. My dad died."

"Oh, I'm sorry." It was a waste of a good sentinel, he supposed. Gene had been reliable and healthy, careful and even-tempered. He was the easiest partner Dubois had ever had. "So how's the sawmill business? The wood business, I guess? Are you good at it?"

Gene answered solemnly. "Apparently so. The sawmill's doing fine. Although I haven't been home very much in a while. I was a state auditor for two years."

"Oh," Dubois said, feeling a little confused and not sure about what.

"What about you? You're coming up on thirty years now. Are you thinking of retiring?"

Dubois shrugged. "I haven't given it much thought, actually. I have to admit, I've got a pretty good job here. And I don't have any idea what I'd do on the outside. On the other hand, I don't see making colonel, either. They may not keep me much longer...."

"How would you feel about being the guide for the next governor of Tennessee?"

Dubois laughed, trying to picture a state with so many sentinels they made a special cabinet seat to cover their problems. "Why would the next governor of Tennessee need a guide?"

"Yes, I know." He nodded earnestly. "It's not like the position will use enhanced senses. But the governor is a state employee, and the law is quite clear. If the state hires a sentinel, it has to hire a guide."

"And the next governor of Tennessee is a sentinel?" The idea was startling, and Dubois was vaguely embarrassed by his own surprise. If race wasn't important, why should sensory status be?

This got a laugh. "Well, you don't stop being a sentinel just because you get elected governor!"

And yes, that was funny. "No, I guess you don't. So, Tennessee elected a sentinel governor. How about that!"

This brought Gene up short. He turned around and said, "Benson, they elected me."

"You're the next governor of Tennessee?"

"You didn't know?"


"Strange, isn't it?" Gene smiled sadly.

Dubois could only nod.

"Apparently, I seem very honest."

"Well--you are very honest."

"Major, I can't pretend that being the partner of a governor is going to be as interesting as being the partner of a munitions expert. But I need you now every bit as much as I did then."

"Oh," Dubois breathed.



Tennessee 1979

Benson watched the staff strip the linens from the tables while Kraus bustled through the room making notes. It was like watching a slow-motion tornado hit the formal dining room. A backwards tornado, that left tidiness in its wake, the remains of the horrible evening vanishing as though nothing had ever happened.

Kraus swept up to him like a U-boat pouncing on a helpless passenger liner. "Tell me the truth, Major. The Governor did not like the soup." She was already scribbling in the note pad.

Through his teeth, he said, "Hello to you, too, Miss Kraus. Having a nice evening?"

The attempt at politeness only seemed to reinforce her. "That bad, eh? I will have a few more words with the head chef. Now, Major--"

He sighed. "It's Benson, Kraus. I'm not a major anymore."

"Benson," she continued impatiently, "I have the menu for next week's reception waiting in the kitchen, but until you approve it, we can't order the ingredients. I don't have to tell you about the importance of advanced planning. If you had told us about the cumin issue earlier, we could have avoided tonight's soup disaster--"

"Yes, Kraus, thank you. It's all my fault. I get it. Can we move on, now?"

She drew herself up. "Well, there is no need to get huffy." She spun on her heel and stormed off, already yelling at one of the wait-staff about how he was handling the silver centerpiece. Odd, odd, woman.

The last traces of the Governor's Arts Dinner were nearly gone. The small terraced platform where they children's choir had stood to sing had been quickly disassembled and whisked away. The table that had held the medals for the arts honorees and the plaques for the noteworthy arts supporters was gone. Seventy people had been here not half an hour ago, finishing their coffee and admiring their awards and now they were all gone.

Finishing their coffee and admiring their awards and giving Benson odd looks.

And murmuring.

When Benson had stood up to give the Governor a hand--because the photographers had set up so that the award recipients were standing just half an arm's length too far from the table holding the awards themselves--Senator Bigalow had actually snickered. The habits of a lifetime in uniform and the gifts of guide training had gotten him through the evening with a neutral expression, but though he knew that he should let go of the anger and walk away, somehow, he couldn't be that big about it.

Benson had known there would be problems. Here and there. But such open hostility. And so soon. Gene Gatling had only been in office two weeks....

"Ah, Benson, there you are. Well, of course, there you are, here is where I left you."

Benson came almost to attention as he turned around. "Evening, Governor. I take it everything is fine upstairs?"

"Katie said to give you a hug for her. I think I can pass the message along verbally, unless, you know--?" He smiled sloppily for a moment before sobering. "We need to talk about what happened this evening."

"Yes, sir, I suppose we do." Anger eroding to disappointment, he followed the Governor down the hall past the press-room and the receiving room to the Big Office, with the View and The Desk and The Chair.

"Sit down, Benson, make yourself comfortable." He shut the door, then went to sit on the edge of the desk rather than behind it. "You're upset by what happened tonight. am I. Although Taylor warned me that Senator Bigalow would find something to be a bastard about, so I shouldn't be surprised."

"He wasn't the only one who noticed," Benson muttered, his ire rising again.

"No, he wasn't," the Governor admitted. "And maybe I should have seen it coming. This was your first state dinner, you didn't make it to the inauguration. I just wasn't expecting....Well. That. I'm sorry."

"Governor, the only thing you did was hire me. You have nothing to be sorry about," Benson snapped.

He shook his head. "I don't have to expose you to this. I don't use my senses on the job. I certainly won't be using them on ceremonial occasions. There's no reason for you to be exposed to the public side of things. I shouldn't have assumed you'd want to be involved."

"So that's it then? We just...hide me under the rug?" But no, no, this wasn't Gene's fault. It was wrong to put the blame on the easy target. He had to work with these people, and if they weren't ready for a Black guide in a position of this much prominence, that would just make things harder. Really, was it fair to ask the Governor to comprise his administration? "If you think that's best, sir."

"What? Oh, no! I work much better when you're...handy. That's why I moved you in. But I won't ask you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. I'm a target, I can't escape that. But you don't have to be one, too. "

Benson thought about that. "Governor, I realize that it isn't going to be easy. But I don't think you can fight racism by hiding in the back room. If you're willing to have me out there being seen, I'm happy to be out there being seen."

The Governor looked at him in frank astonishment for several seconds. "Oh," he said, at last. "You couldn't hear what they were saying."

"About what?" Benson asked, confused now. He couldn't follow the Governor's thoughts any better than anyone else could, but he'd learned years ago that he usually got to the right conclusion, even though the route was circuitous and highly idiosyncratic.

"Benson, they weren't mocking you because you're Black. They were--oh. Actually, this might be worse."

"Governor, I sincerely doubt it could be worse."

"They were mocking you because you weren't a woman."

"Well....That's certainly weirder, I don't know about worse."

"Benson, I don't have a wife. Or a hostess. So Kraus sat you where my wife would sit," he said with the patience that made him so likable in the debates. "Which probably would have been fine, but you handed me the medals and the certificates." He sighed.

"So, I'm polite. I don't see why that leads to nudging and whispering."

"That's what the First Lady does."

The silence that followed that announcement was like a very deep pit. Benson and the Governor peered into that pit together, thinking.

"So, let me get this straight. It isn't that I'm not White enough. I'm not feminine enough."

"Oh, no, Benson! You couldn't be a woman!" he protested seriously.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that--"

"Can you imagine what they'd say, if my guide were a girl? Hinting that you are my 'little woman,' that's just insulting and funny. In poor taste and mean-spirited, but it can't come to anything. But if I had a female guide, they'd be saying she was my whore, and they wouldn't be kidding. Well, you know, unless she was very elderly."

"Oh. Right. Because Senator Bigalow is a pig," Benson felt sort of ill.

"But doing it this way, you bear the brunt of all that political bad taste. Which can't be easy for you. I'm sorry, Benson. I should have thought this out before. Maybe I need to bring in some relatives. Some female relatives. Let them hostess the state dinners for a few months. Let everyone get used to seeing you around, not sitting in the First Lady's seat. The whole thing will blow over."

"That's a very good idea," Benson murmured.

"That is, if you're willing to let it blow over....Benson?...are you willing to let it blow over?"

"Well, now, I don't know. Pansy, I could live with. Everybody gets called that. My first drill sergeant called everybody that. But apparently, people have been implying I'm a slut. My honor is at stake."

The Governor stared at him for several seconds, the joke filtering through layers of tangents and connotations. Then he laughed so hard he slid off the desk and huddled on the floor, shaking in silent mirth.



Tennessee, 1981

After school, Katie did her homework in the kitchen. Kraus sat at her table in the corner, checking over the household books. Most afternoons, Benson joined them. Between three and four, the Governor read legislation, economic projections, or environmental reports. That was very boring, but in the kitchen there was milk and cookies and Kraus grumbling about the cost of coffee and a copy of the newspaper. It was the best part of the day.

Except for today. Today, every time she thought he was engrossed in the paper, Katie leaned over and sniffed him.

The sixth time, he said, "If you're trying to learn to be subtle, you need more practice." He didn't bother to look up.

"Dad said he could smell it. When Mom got sick."

Very carefully, Benson reassembled the paper, folded it up, and set it aside. "Could you smell it?" he asked.

It took her a long time to answer. "I don't know," she said finally. "Everything smelled funny, then. And loud. Maybe, but...."

He sighed. "And how do I smell to you, now?"

"The way you always do. But, Benson, if something happened to you years and years ago--"

"Katie!" Kraus said sharply. "Do not be unkind, Liebchen."

"Why not," Benson bounced back automatically, "Unkind never stopped you." For something to do, he swept up his glass and went to the fridge for another helping of milk. "Katie, how much do you know about what's going on?"

"Just what I've heard people saying." Right. And the kid was a sentinel, so the household's rumor mill was an open book to her.

"What have you heard people saying?"

She didn't answer.

Benson sighed. "You've heard that the army thinks I may have been exposed to something toxic, and it may make me sick." Please, God, don't let her have heard that the government sometimes does this on purpose. He couldn't--he really couldn't--explain that.

"But it's not fair!" she burst out. "You haven't been in the army in years! How could they--"

Kraus, with that softness she only showed to Katie, came around the table and gathered the little girl into her arms. "Hush, darling. I am sure everything is fine." She gave Benson a dirty look.

Benson sat down across from Katie and took one of her hands. "This time Kraus is probably right. The chances I was exposed to something bad are pretty small. I spend most of my time with sentinels. They would have known if we were breathing or eating something bad. And if I were sick, I think your Dad would know. I'm with him every day. He knows my smell, my heat, the sound of my heart. If something were wrong, he would have noticed. I think that when the Army calls next week, they're going to tell me that all the tests were negative."

"But then why do you smell scared?"

"Because only an idiot is never afraid. Here, you have all weekend to work on this." He closed her notebook into the textbook to mark the page, and pushed them both aside. "Let's go into the living room and meditate on the nature of fear."

When the Governor came in at 4:10, Katie was in a full lotus with her heart rate hovering at about forty. "You started without me."

"Sorry, Governor. She was a little worried."

"About what?"

"Well, I can't say I blame her. She's been hearing things. The staff are acting like it's Tuskegee all over again."

A cloud lowered. "I see. Well, I'll put a stop to that."

"Actually, I was thinking it might be better to go away for a couple of days. If you can take the time. Go out to the mill. Or take her to one of the state parks. It would make a nice photograph, you next to Natural Bridge. Pete would love it."

"We're not taking Pete. He's been eating salami."

"Well, how about Marci? Her plans for the weekend fell through. What do you say?"

"If we invite Marci, we have to invite Gretchen."

"I was hoping you wouldn't say that." But Benson smiled a little. Taking them someplace quiet and safe for a few days--Gene and Katie both needed that.

When the call came on Tuesday, they wouldn't just give him the news over the phone. They made him come down to the base and listen to all kinds of polite double speak before giving him his test results. By that time, Benson wasn't so much relieved to find out that he was okay, as he was pissed off that he'd been jerked around for days and put in that position in the first place.

When he came in the rear entrance the Governor was waiting for him, alone, in the kitchen. He was trying for calm, but Benson could easily read the tension beneath the surface. "It's negative," he said quickly.

The Governor jumped up and with careful deliberation, wrapped Benson up in an awkward but determined hug. "I'm so sorry, Benson. I want you to know that I'll be here for you, no matter how bad it gets."

Benson always thought he was ready for the eccentricities of Gene Gatling's mind. It ought to be comprehensible: The Governor could pick out the most subtle fraud almost in his sleep. It was impossible to lie to him--even for the most accomplished politicians. He was never wrong about the weather. Or a soundness of a wooden plank. Or if the bomb was armed. Or which way the vote was going to go in the State House of Representatives.

But them something small and unexpected would slip through invisible cracks in the brilliance and completely turn things around. "No, Governor. Negative is good. It means I don't have anything."

He considered that. "So you're not dying?"

"No, sir," And his throat almost closed on the words, because now--now--he was feeling the relief. "I'm not."

"Oh! Never mind, then." He stepped back awkwardly. "I'm very glad."

Benson looked around. "Where is everybody?"

"I gave the staff the evening off. Miss Kraus is in Marci's office with Pete worrying about you. And Katie is at the top of the stairs, eavesdropping on our conversation. Which," he added sternly, "she knows is wrong but won't get in trouble for this one time. Isn't that right, Katie?"

From the Governor's face, Benson judged that the answer had been a meek affirmative. "Now. Let's celebrate. We'll order pizza, how's that?"

Even Benson could hear the "Yipee!" and the thud off feet on the stairs as Katie ran off to share the good news. Although he'd much rather crawl into bed and sleep for a week, he answered, "Fine by me, Governor, but I'm getting pineapple on mine."



Tennessee 1982

"Governor, this housing bill was your pet project. If you back out now, you'll look indecisive."

"It was my pet project before Bigelow and Huxley padded it with pork. If the senate passes this as it currently stands, I'm going to veto it, Clayton, and that's final. Marci, where is the education report?"

When he was distracted, which was most of the time, the Governor forgot that Marci in the outer office couldn't hear him as easily as he could hear her. Benson touched the intercom and said, "He's looking for the education report."

She was on her way into the office before Benson finished talking. "I have the education report right here, but you want the farm report."

"Oh, I do? Why?"

"You memorized the education report last night," she said gently, "What's the drop-out rate?"

"Nineteen percent. You're right. All right, give me the farm report."

"Governor, Mrs. Huxley is in the outer office. She'd like a word with you."

Clayton muttered, "We're due at the Capital in twenty minutes, sir." Benson was pretty sure what he really meant was, "you're about to piss all over her bill, don't tell her how much you hate it to her face, too," but Clayton wouldn't use those words out loud.

The Governor sighed heavily. "Send her in. I have to be polite."

Mrs. Huxley was matronly and elegant. She wore more pearls then Benson thought trustworthy. She swept up to the Governor with a big smile and open arms and said, "Gene, I hear you're not happy with the final shape of our bill," like it was causing some kind of personal heartbreak.

"Gladys," the Governor said firmly, looking down from his full height and shaking her hand in a manly way. "What a surprise to see you here." He was polite enough, but Benson suddenly had goose bumps. The Governor almost never got angry, even when the legislature was in session.

"I was hoping I could change your mind about your statement today."

"But you didn't think you'd succeed, so you decided to resort to more extreme measures."

"Why--Gene--" she fumbled a little. "Whatever are you--"

Stiffly, the Governor said, "I think you'd better leave now, Mrs. Huxley. And if you try anything like this again, I will have you arrested for assault."

Affronted, aghast, she huffed her way out the door. Her escape would have been almost comical, except as soon as she crossed the threshold, the Governor grayed and stumbled madly toward his desk. Benson beat him to his target and held out the trash can just in time for The Governor to deposit his breakfast in it.

Pete, frightened, hollered for Marci, and he probably would have gone on to demand an ambulance and the national guard, but Clayton clapped a hand over his mouth. "Quiet, you idiot. We can't let this get out. Marci, close the door. Everyone stay calm."

"Easy for you to say," Benson snapped. "I don't see you over here holding the bucket." The vomiting seemed to be over, and Benson put down the trash can and guided the Governor into the nearest chair. "Governor? How are you feeling?"

The Governor didn't answer. He was stiff and shuttered and frighteningly pale, even for a guy who was pretty pale to begin with.


"Angry," he gasped, "I feel angry. She could have killed me."

"What?" Marci gasped, nearly losing the glass of water she was holding out.

Trying not to panic, Benson took the glass away from her and wrapped the Governor's hands around it. "What was she wearing, Sir? Could you tell?"

"You mean under all those gallons of perfume? Benzene."

"Well. Fuck," Benson said.

"Benson, I don't think sex has anything to do with it," the Governor protested. It was the sort of thing he might say, though, even if his cognition wasn't compromised, so it might not be a warning flag.

"I didn't smell anything," Pete protested weakly. "Um. Maybe it was an accident."

"Oh, and it was just a coincidence that she made him sick right before he was about to make a statement about the bill?" Clayton snapped.

"Marci," Benson ordered, "hand me that lamp."

"Hand you the lamp?" She repeated.

"Yes, from the desk. The lamp." Benson tilted the light to flash the Governor's eyes. He flinched away with a vague protest. "Well, his pupils are even. Governor, how much did college enrollment increase by last year?"

"Four percent--" the response was immediate and automatic.

"What sections of the housing bill do you object to?"

"Everything after page nine is gratuitous pork, but I'd have to say section J paragraph 12 is the worst--"

"Right, he's fine. Clayton, have them bring the car around, we'll never make it to the Capitol in time walking. Marci, make him finish this water. Pete, if anybody asks why the Governor looks a little peaked, the story is we got hold of some bad donuts."

"Peaked?" Pete protested. "He looks like death warmed over."

"Pete, does this look like a good day to argue with me? Come hell or high water, he is making that statement." Benson gathered up the Governor's briefcase and took an emergency tie from the stash in the desk. The one the Governor was currently wearing hadn't escaped unscathed. "We'll change ties in the car. Chop, chop, get a move on, people."



Tennessee 1983

The first day back at school, Katie came home gushing about how good looking Todd Wilson had suddenly become. Benson, who had picked Katie up from band practice every Tuesday and Thursday for the last two years, had spent enough time waiting around with the other kids' parents to know that Todd Wilson was kind of a bully, and that Katie needed to use something besides her eyes and hormones to make her decisions.

The fourth day she came through the kitchen prattling on to Kraus about how blue his eyes were, Benson blindfolded Katie for the afternoon practice.

"But, Benson, it'll mess up my hair."

"Somehow your hair will recover." Benson had trained sentinels for the Army for ten years. He knew how to tie a blindfold. "Now," he pulled a heavy glass mixing bowl out off a box he'd hidden behind the couch. Mentally, he calculated how long Kraus would be interviewing cleaning staff. If she saw what he'd put in this mixing bowl, well the temper tantrum would be amusing, but also inconvenient. "What am I holding?"

"What do you mean, what are you holding? I can't see."

"Katie," he said sternly, lifting the bowl up so that it was a foot away from her face. "What do you smell? What do you hear?"

"Water? You've got water. But it smells funny...."

She was fast. *Good girl,* he thought. "What does it smell like?"

"I don't know. Kind of familiar. But not very strong...."

"You should be able to hear what I put in the water--"

A startled laugh interrupted him. "Fish! You've got fish. Benson!"

"How many?"

She frowned, listening harder. "I don't know."

"Hold out your hand."

He pressed her palm against the surface of the bowl.

"How many fish, Katie?"

"Um, three. But one's not like the other two. It's different."

Benson stripped off the blindfold and revealed two goldfish and an algae-eater. "Good job. Now take them up and put them in your fish tank before the air in their water runs out."

She grinned, taking the bowl. "And before Kraus sees what you did with her dish. But, Benson, I don't have a fish tank."

He sighed. "Katie...I know it's not a kitten." But the kitten had made Benson sneeze and the Governor couldn't eat if he could smell a cat box. And no where in the house was far enough away. Fish was the consolation pet of a lot of sentinel children.

"Thank you, Benson."

He watched her take her new fish upstairs, knowing he hadn't won. Fish would not distract teen-aged girls from boys.



Tennessee 1987

The budget didn't have room for a professional packer. Marci and Benson had done it, boxing up the personal property and private files. Oddly, the office looked much the same. Most of the room belonged to the state. As of tomorrow, the man sitting, staring out the window, wouldn't. Not anymore.

The Governor had not yet offered Benson a position at the mill. Maybe his brain wasn't currently operating in the plane of the practical. Maybe he thought there wouldn't be much for a professional guide to do at a saw mill. Maybe he couldn't offer much of a salary. Benson hovered in the doorway, looking for missing traces of their tenure in the Governor's office, wondering how to ask for a job. He wasn't ready for a whole, brand new adventure. And Katie had two more years before leaving for college. Benson wasn't ready to leave that job unfinished. Huh. Maybe the position he ought to ask for was 'Nanny.'

"What do you think of China, Benson?" The Governor--very nearly ex-Governor--asked without turning around.

"Well...I think you ought to stay away from the spicy kung pao chicken. And I really don't see how ping-pong qualifies as a sport." Because even now, Benson couldn't guess what was going on in his partner's head. It was, by now, a familiar confusion. Gene would come to the point eventually, even if it would probably involve some very odd metaphors and a meandering story about Cousin Henry and the gerbil.

"I just had a call from the President's secretary, asking me if I wanted to be a Special Envoy to Taiwan."

"Oh," Benson answered, numbly. "Our president? I mean, he's a republican."

"I have a reputation for honesty," the Governor answered. "Also...he thinks something...fishy might be going on over there. I'm the only sentinel prominent enough to send over there without it looking like he's sending a sentinel over there."

"Well, I have to say, I can't imagine anybody mistaking you for a spy."

"I don't know if Katie would like it. They have English schools in the capital, though. I checked."

"She's going to have to change schools in the middle of the school year anyway...." And she hadn't been looking forward to the confinement off a small town.

"What do you think, Benson? Want to live in Taiwan for a couple of years?"

"Why not? I was just thinking a few minutes ago that what I needed was a whole, brand new adventure."