“You have friends in Cuba?” Rox asked, wiping strawberry milkshake from her lips.
“The Bureau of Breed Affairs didn’t exist a decade ago. When it started, it started in a hurry, recruited from other U.S. Agencies.”
“You were a spook,” Anita said. “I knew there was a reason I didn’t like you.”
“Takes one to know one- or is that why you also hate yourself?” Laren asked.
“That’s a lousy reason to hate yourself,” Laren said, touching Anita shoulders. “You’re beautiful no matter what genitalia you have.”
“But the other refugees?” Rox pressed.
“The Cuban government was happy to take them, at least for now, just to show up the U.S. Gives them a black eye and a half; they didn’t just turn them away, no, they spirited them away to a black site, then lost them into the welcoming arms of the Cubans. Not that we can assume things will stay hunky dory. For now, the Cubans will keep them safe and happy because it fits their propaganda. But hopefully come November we can permanently settle them in the U.S. Though ironically, if we can get Cuba to give them permanent status here the US will welcome them as refugees with open arms.”
“And the Americans?” Sonya asked.
“Those we can take straight back to the states. I’ve arranged a flight directly into Bellingham. Two, actually- one into Seattle- that’s the one on the books, so if Drump does try to intervene, he’ll be at the wrong damn airport interdicting an empty plane. We’ll be going directly to the campus. They’ll be safer there, at least in the short-term. I called the Dean, and he’s offered to give them all honorary status at the school until they can figure out their next steps.”
“How you liking your shake?” Ben asked.
“Well,” Mahmoud said, stabbing his straw into it, “for the last year or so, I’ve eaten nothing but nutritional pastes, first force-fed, then eventually through a hole in my side.”
“But this tastes way better. Plus, it isn’t prison food.”
“How’s that taste?” Rui asked.
“You ever had a dream that felt like it lasted years, and when it took a turn you just felt this heavy, pervasive, suffocating dissatisfaction, like life wasn’t worth living anymore?”
“Yeah.” Rui said.
“And then you wake up. And everything awful- well, maybe not everything, but at least the worst of it, the shit you thought you couldn’t handle- it’s gone. And your life is back, and normal.” A tear slid down his cheek. “I still kind of can’t believe that I’m not going to wake up back in that cell. And that’s everything.”