Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Fourteen
16th August 1974
“Yes, I’m happy for you Aurora” Zella said into the phone, the expression on her face didn’t reflect what she was saying or the tone of her voice. When Yuri had answered the phone Aurora had asked for Zella, her voice bubbly with happiness.
This was after Zella had returned early from the Summer Holiday on the Baltic Sea, which she had gone on with her family. All she would say to Yuri was that she wished that her mother would mind her own business without elaborating. Yuri knew about the often-contentious relationship Zella had with her mother, something along the lines of only those who know you best can drive you completely insane without even trying.
“I see… Please don’t do that, I know you mean well but…” Zella said, “As I said, I’m happy for you, I mean that…”
There was a long pause as Zella listened. Then Zella said, “Good night, Aurora.”
Zella gently hung up the phone when the expression on her face suggested that she wanted to slam the handset through the table which it sat on. She had been working hard to control the volcanic temper that everyone knew she had. After that accident a year earlier which no one had believed was actually an accident, she had finally admitted that she needed to make a few changes.
“Aurora is going to have a baby and she is at the point where she is trying to convince herself she made the right choice by convincing others that they should do the same things” Zella said, “I just hope that this doesn’t end like it did the last time. Aurora nearly went insane after that.”
Yuri remembered that Zella’s friend Aurora was in the hospital and home sick for an extended period of time the prior winter. Just no one had mentioned exactly what had been going on.
“What happened?” Yuri asked, “I don’t mean to nose in on your business or your friend’s, but that would be useful.”
“Aurora and Moishe have been trying for a long time” Zella replied, “Aurora suffered a miscarriage last winter and that wasn’t the first time. Each time it gets worse, and everyone is worried about her.”
“I see” Yuri said.
“I don’t think you can” Zella said, “You have this life growing inside of you, unique and special, even if it is something you didn’t want. Then it is gone. Any woman who tells you that is not a devastating experience is a liar.”
Yuri stared at Zella, unsure what to say in reply to that.
“The worst part is that you are also relieved that it is over” Zella said, “At least I was.”
“You went through that?” Yuri asked.
“Unless you were completely daft, you knew I wasn’t a virgin when you met me” Zella replied, “Life happened, and do you see a child anywhere?”
Yuri remembered when he first met Zella. How forward she could be. That night in the hotel room in Warsaw when she had simply not cared that he was there when she got dressed to cover a major story. Zella didn’t say anything else as she pulled out a record from the cabinet that she kept them in. It was in a plain white jacket with the word Autobahn handwritten on it, meaning that it was an advance copy of something that she had acquired from somewhere. When Zella dropped the needle on the record, the room was filled with the sound of a car starting of all things followed by the strangest music that Yuri had ever heard. He couldn’t tell what sort of instruments were being played. Zella was sitting on her couch, Yuri could tell that she was trying to check out, completely lose herself in music.
Meuse Heights, near Verdun, France
Sjostedt was feeling rather foolish as he walked through what had been a battlefield when he had been a young man. The blasted landscape was gone, replaced by a forest. It was shocking that so many years had passed. He had been advised to keep on the paved trails because there was still unexploded ordnance and God only knew what else around, even if there weren’t the entire area was regarded as a vast gravesite by the respective Governments of the two nations that had fought this battle. That was hardly a surprise.
He’d had months to try to puzzle out what Coyote had been talking about. The place where it had all begun? And this unfinished business. Sjostedt didn’t have the first clue where to start or what he should be doing. The whole thing about Coyote was too insane, and he had said as much to Emil’s brother Peter who was a retired Psychiatrist when he had come to check on him at Emil’s request. Peter had listened to Sjostedt’s story and said that Coyote was a manifestation of his own subconscious. What unfinished business did Sjostedt still think that he had out there in the world? The alternative was the supernatural, that Sjostedt really had been visited by the Diné Trickster spirit.
Which of those two was more likely?
The Mesa desert where he had been born had felt wrong and he had spent months pondering those questions as he had recovered from the heart attack and the surgical intervention that had saved his life. It had occurred to him that he had come of age in the brutal war that he had fought in. Perhaps Verdun was the answer. Walking through a forest in France on a warm summer afternoon, Sjostedt felt no closer to the answers he was seeking.