The News Is Bad/The News Is Good/Isn't It
Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.
~ Colin Powell
Afterward, when Despina, again alone, is dressing, she picks up the paper. Carefully avoiding the headline, she tries to read the story before her tears smudge the print too badly.
Saturday a hiker found the remains of a human body washed into a depression as he retrieved his hat in the backwaters of a creek near Spirit Mountain on the Stone Circles Indian Reservation in Arizona, the United States of America.
Although no positive identification has been made, DNA testing is under way. The body is suspected to be that of Juan Ignacio Quantico, 30, missing and presumed dead since last August when a rogue US Government agent shot him during an unsanctioned raid.
Quantico graduated from Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, then did graduate work at Harvard before serving briefly as an interpreter in the Bosnian conflict. He was employed by the US Government upon his discharge. He is survived by two children, Sara, 8, and Alberto, 5, his alleged current wife, Despina, his brother Tomás, and his father Ignacio, the Chief of the Stone River Reservation tribe. Quantico's first wife was shot outside a hotel four years earlier when she took a bullet meant for him. That murder is alleged to be related to the same case.
The investigation that followed the assassination led to the imprisonment of Roger Dragon, the former department head of his FBI division.
A half brother and his wife were instrumental in providing the details the police needed to bring the gunman to justice. Dragon is currently serving two consecutive sentences, for the attempted murder of Quantico and murder in the first degree of his first wife.
It is unknown at this time if the proof of a second murder will alter his sentence.
None of the tribal leaders were available for comment, nor could the current department head at the US Bureau of Indian Affairs be contacted.
Holy cow! What a weird way to discover the body! Bet that freaked that hiker out, but good. Glad I wasn't taking my kids on one of our excursions when it happened. That's the kind of thing Alberto or Miguel would have stumbled upon.
A shudder passes over her body.
It's quite unlike me to fall into a stranger's arms the way I did last night. I think I need the stability right now that being with Evelyn and her husband and the rest of the group will provide.
Leaning her entire weight against the door, she sets out to locate Ragnar to see if she can hook up with the tour group as they leave Sweden.
Instead, she finds Tore.
Clutching the ring, she says, "I need to go back to Oslo. Do you think I can find my own way down on that mare? Where should I put her once I get there? I evidently don't remember where the stable is, as I ended up in that meadow, which was NOT on the way to it."
She stops, realizing she's rambling because the story has totally unnerved her.
I never thought to ask about that, but one of my horses would have gone HOME, not to a strange location... Surely Norwegian horse nature would not be different from American horse nature… That means one of theirs would have gone HOME, not to a strange location...
This horse must normally be stabled here, not at the Queen's stable. Decidedly odd.
Although Tore tries to dissuade Despina, once he realizes she is set on going, he decides to accompany her. They make a rapid descent directly into the Queen's stable yard.
Despina thinks, No way could I retrace that route! He really knows not only this country, but also every trick of mountain riding ever invented! This seems less than half of the distance we went on the way up, yet the Queen's stable was NOT much uphill by bus from the downtown area... yet, on horseback, we climbed steadily... Weird.
Despina dismounts before Tore can reach the mare's head to hold her and swiftly untacks her.
"Will you arrange transportation into town for me at once?"
While he cross ties his horse and heads toward the office, Despina stows the saddle and bridle.
Just as the overeager groom from her first visit pops his head into the aisle, she comes out and leads the mare over to the wash rack. Before he can reach her and snatch the mare from her grasp, she suggests, "Will you soap down that saddle and bridle and see the pad gets laundered?"
Into the wash rack Despina goes, hosing her mare off quite efficiently. Before she's quite got the water all flicked away, the groom is back with reinforcements, and Despina is forcefully, but ever so politely, retired to a neutral bale of hay, relegated to by-stander status by a cast system that has centuries of tradition behind it.
She fumes as she waits for whatever ride Tore is lining up to put in an appearance.
Reaching the end of her patience, Despina reaches for her cell phone, bent on calling herself a cab, no matter what it does to her cash reserve.
Magically, as if the sight of the phone drew him out of the office, Tore says, "Olav, will you take Despina to the Raadhusplassen, the area around the Town Hall, or the area surrounding Akers Festning, whichever she prefers?"
The groom stares in shock. "Are you sure? Those are the red light districts! Ragnar will have my head!"
Taking the groom by his arm none too gently, Tore hustles him out of earshot the instant he begins talking. "Well, that's true, Olav, but at this hour, she won't have any trouble, although it would probably be best avoided at night. Everyone will be off the streets, sleeping, at this hour. I need to be sure she's someplace where there are few English speakers, where she'll be around for a while before she can make her escape from Oslo."
Returning to Despina, he reassures her that by nightfall, she will find her luggage in the Grand Hotel, in the Queen's suite, where Ragnar will eventually join her with the rest of her travel plans all worked out.
When he sees Despina's frown, he is quick to reassure her. "Don't worry, Despina. That's the best hotel in town, five stars."
Last updated 11/30/14 Corrected Oslo; 11/17/04.