In The Movies


Leo gazed sightlessly out of the window. It was still raining outside, and the night was dark. Droplets of water ran incessantly down the glass of the window pane, making the lights of the city outside merge hazily, as if in a mirage.


He heard a knock at his door, and went, unhurriedly, to answer it, knowing who it would be. It could be nobody else.


“Hey.” Jed was wearing a bathrobe over his pyjamas. “You’re still dressed,” he said as Leo let him into the room. Jed’s security detail settled down outside the door as Leo closed it behind his friend.


“Yeah,” Leo shrugged.


“I couldn’t sleep,” Jed murmured.


“No.” Leo wandered back over to the window. Jed followed. They gazed out together.


“I tried watching a movie…thought it might help me sleep,” Jed said.


“Which movie?”


“I don’t know – it had Harrison Ford in it, saving the world again.”


“He’s good at that,” Leo acknowledged.


“I got to thinking – in the movies, the hero gets to beat the bad guys, save the world, *and* rescue the girl – and all without sacrificing his integrity or descending into the murky depths of moral ambiguity.”


“That’s the movies.” Leo shrugged. “It’s easier in the movies.”


Jed sighed. “Yes. It is.”


They were silent for a long time, gazing out of the wet window.


“I killed a man today, Leo,” Jed said softly as the rain fell harder on the streets below.


“I know.” Leo turned to face him. “Me too.”


“You didn’t kill anyone,” Jed remonstrated. “I gave the order! I take full responsibility for…”


“You wouldn’t have given that order if I hadn’t told you it was what had to be done,” Leo interrupted him. “We share this, sir. You gave the order but we’re both complicit. You don’t shoulder this one alone.”


Jed gazed at him for a long time, and then, finally, he nodded. “No,” he agreed. “I have no idea how a man confesses to something like this to his priest,” he said softly.


Leo gazed at him sympathetically. “I guess that’s between you and God.”


“Yes.” Jed took a deep breath and squared his shoulders.


“I killed people in Vietnam,” Leo mused.


“That was different. That was a war.”


“This is a war too – just a different kind of war,” Leo murmured.


“This was a political assassination, Leo,” Jed replied quietly. “A state sanctioned murder. And we ordered it.”


“Yes.” Leo shook his head. “I know. I’m sorry.”


“For what?” Jed put his head on one side and gazed at his friend.


“When we campaigned for this presidency, all we thought about was improving education and the healthcare system, and poverty…I never told you that you might have to do something like this.”


“You didn’t know!” Jed protested.


“I knew something like this was a possibility…I just never thought to warn you about it.” Leo put his hand on the window, and gazed outside again. “I’m sorry, Jed.”


They were both silent again for a long time, and then Jed rested his head on Leo’s shoulder. Leo put his arm around Jed and they gazed out at the bleak, rain swept landscape together. They stayed like that for a long time and then Jed reached out, turned Leo’s face towards him, and kissed him on the lips.


“Let’s go to bed,” he said.





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