Sequence of Events: Moving On (part five)
Though the job was thankless, it was not the worst.
Bruner’s instructions were coming through Summers…but the errand was Van Nest’s. It had been sort of a joke, one partly rooted in history, but again, part folklore. Kidding people about breaking them, turning them into sleepwalking assassins. Say you believe…say you don’t believe.
Yes, he believed. They did this to people, and the process felt inexorable, now he had himself been targeted. Summers had got the key to Bruner, made him forever beholden. Summers’s friendly face could now ask anything of him.
He would settle in behind a desk, be given a telephone and a file drawer, pass his days in the time-serving idleness he’d balked at before his accident. How far west could a ’49’er have gone by rail? Did the French army have cannons at the battle of Agincourt? That would be the sort of work Van Nest’s studio would give him, to keep him linked to the biz and Boardman…so they could be friends and socialize. Boardman would grow to hate the sight of Bruner.
And always, there would be an undercurrent of fear that would never leave.
Because they meant, in their good time, to jerk the rug away. Probably in Bruner’s case no amount of agreeing and obeying could prevent it…they needed him for only one thing. They had degraded him and driven him from the organization once; they would do it twice. He couldn’t guess what his state of mind would be then.
But he knew there were men set up, isolated, found holding the bag when the conspirators had scuttled. They were left behind in the cardboard house, exposed and dumbfounded, after the walls had folded.
Curtis Boardman missed the bon voyage. “Crimps” was closed, the cast and the show’s backers gone to a last gathering at Louis Guion’s lakefront house…and every friend of Guion’s who could manage it had drunk to him a farewell toast. Boardman had not, even for knowing the party an unrepeatable affair.
(2016, Stephanie Foster)