Lexi had stopped ranting, but Dobie wasn’t convinced she was okay. She had thrown herself into working on the car, insisting that they had no time to spare. “Are you going to help or just stand there?” she asked.
“What on earth could I possibly do?”
“I’ll take that as a resounding no. I don’t need cheerleaders this morning, Dobie. Why don’t you go call the news?”
Thus dismissed, he returned to the house, where Gabe’s wife was up preparing breakfast for the kids, and (presumably) himself and Lexi as well. The coffee smelled cheap and terrible, but he accepted a cup to be polite.
“Would you like to watch the news?” she asked. “I have to get the children ready for school.”
“Yes, please,” Dobie said. The TV was turned on for him. The morning news was convenient in that it provided an effective distraction from the thunder and yelling of the children waking up.
According to the morning reports, Dick and the 911 had been seen in Florenz. The man must have driven all night. He had been greeted in at least two towns by poster-waving protestors against the crusher legislation. Dick had also managed to get his videotaped manifesto to a CNN affiliate, and parts of it were being aired–especially the dramatic car-starting in the cave.
“The whole nation’s coming apart at the seams,” Dobie said when he returned to the garage. Lexi had apparently installed the muffler; she was jacking the car back down, and filthy.
“You don’t sound like you mind so much,” Lexi said.
“Most Soleis are excitable,” he replied. “With all the civil discontentment, this stunt of yours was like throwing gasoline on a fire. The lower classes will use any excuse to cause a commotion.”
She looked at him with a lopsided smile. “And if you put a little bit of thought behind what you just said, you might come up with a question of great social relevance.”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you mean, ‘my’ stunt? For one, I’m not the one who called the news, Dick is. And for another thing, they started it. Messing with me is not an advisable course of action for any man or government.”
“Aren’t you afraid?”
Her cheerful mode evaporated, and for a moment he thought she was about to start screaming in rhyme again. She looked at him like he was insane, and her voice was acid. “I’ve been gang-raped by Italian architects and my soulmate died in front of me. There’s nothing left on this earth that’ll scare me.”
Dobie gaped at her. “What?”
She went to the door of the garage, where two five-gallon gas cans waited, and picked up the first, grunting with the effort. “I’m not repeating myself. Have you sunblocked? As soon as I shower, we need to fly.”
Dobie stepped forward to help her with the gas can. “Will we eat?”
“Road food only, my dear.” The light tone in her voice flickered back to life, and Dobie was surprised to find himself relieved. He was getting close to admitting that Lexi frightened him when her voice got steely and enraged. He was certain he didn’t want to be in an enclosed space with her when she got like that.
“Did you fix the lights?”
“Hell, no! I haven’t got time to argue with ancient electronics. It’ll fix itself if I ignore it.” She laughed.