Claire woke up around six am and in a panic, reached for the newspaper that was sitting on her nightstand. It hadn’t been a dream, it was real, she could see it, smell it. She scrambled to get ready for the day, and with coffee in hand, called her friend; an ink expert.
“Tony. Yes, it has been a long time. I’ve got a favor, one that will be exciting for you if the tests come out positive.” She filled him in on the story of Eve, and of the newspaper she wanted him to test. Tony had the testing lab in his home and seemed intrigued.
Claire stopped at the bakery to buy some pastries and coffee for the two of them. She was on Tony’s porch by ten in the morning, waiting with her gifts, feeling somewhat nervous about the test.
The door opened for her to see the wonderful face of her old friend, his pony tail had greyed in the couple of years since their last reunion. He still wore his glasses that rested near the tip of his nose, and had that familiar smile. He had that goofy big smile that reached across his face. Her friend was a wonderful geek. He put his hands out for her, and pulled her in for a hug. “It is good to see you, Claire. It’s been far too long.”
“Tony, you’re looking fine. Thanks for seeing me on this short notice.” Claire raised the bag of donuts in the air and smiled. “I have coffee too. Just the way you like it.”
“Well, you sure know how to get to me. Come on in, I’m actually quite anxious to see this document you told me about.”
The two of them sat and Claire told him about the newspaper, the oddity of how it had come into her hands. “Tony, I know this sounds crazy, but I have this nagging feeling about it. I just need for you to tell me that it’s a fake so I can dismiss this as a prank.”
She handed him the paper, and watched him skillfully examine it. “Come on, you can watch me do this, it’ll be just like old times.” He took her to his lab, a little room that would normally work as a second bedroom. “There’s two ways to do this, non-destructive and destructive. Obviously, we’ll try the first way, it’s called micro-spectrophotometry.” He laid the paper down and picked up a tool-like device she’d never seen before. “I’m going to scan the ink with this ultraviolet light to record its spectrum. That means it will record the wavelengths of light it absorbs.” She watched him scan the paper with the wand. “Some inks emit light on exposure to ultraviolet, while with others, the uv disappears. The spectrum of the ink on the document can therefore be compared with the continuums of standard inks. Starting with the 1990s, ink manufacturers added a chemical identifier to their products to indicate the year of manufacture.” He pointed to the number that came up on the instrument. “Look at this.” He pounded the information into his computer, and found the table of elements with their descriptions. It was then that Tony became silent and began working as if Claire wasn’t standing beside him. She watched as he became lost, at times frantic with his work. Finally, he looked at her and said, “I need to use a more destructive method, Claire. The results I’m getting so far don’t make any sense.”
“Do what you need to do, Tony. I’d like to preserve the front page if you don’t mind, but I don’t care about the rest of it. I just want to know what year this was printed.”
Tony seemed disturbed, he put his hands on her shoulders, and looked her in the eyes, “Claire, you’d better be sure what you’re saying. I may give you an answer that’s difficult for you to believe.”
“What do you suspect, Tony? Just tell me, please.”
“Give me another couple of hours, come back here and I’ll have what you need.” He ripped the last page of the newspaper off and handed her the rest. “Give me some time, please.” He glanced at his watch, and said, “Come back here after lunch. I need to concentrate on this and I think I can do that better if you leave me alone.”
Claire kissed the side of his face, and found her way out. Two hours, she had to waste two hours. Tony lived near a shopping center, so she walked a few blocks hoping she would find a place to sit, maybe have another coffee. Then she heard his voice, a sound that made her skin crawl.
“Sweetheart, wait a minute.” Bill was with one of the Senator’s from Nevada. Catching up to her, he gave her a quick kiss, and smiled, an obvious act for the other Senator. “Honey, Matt and I are off for a quick lunch, come join us. We’re going to discuss the bill. And I know you enjoy talking about this sort of thing.”
“You must have me mistaken with someone else, Senator. My name is Claire, but to you, I’d prefer to be called Senator.” Turning to the other man, she smiled, “Nice to see you, Matt. I have a few hours to kill and would love to hear what you have to say about it.” Claire mustered up what she could, to sound cordial, and let the two men lead her to a quiet spot where they could analyze the contents of his hideous document. She thought that maybe she could talk logically about its contents with Matt at the table, anyone could see how wrong it was. She had a great amount of respect for this Senator.
They found a small table at a garden patio restaurant where Bill promptly ordered wine for the three of them. The weather had been unusually dry for May, the sun was shining with promises of a warm day. Claire took in the aroma from the many roses surrounding them, their intoxicating smell helping to make the company tolerable. The colors had been tastefully planned by a master gardener; pinks, reds, yellows. It was enough to make a person forget about the ugliness of the town.
“Claire, these asshole Dems have got us by the balls on this one, their timing is remarkable, which means we have to work harder than ever to pass SB 1257 on Friday.”
She was taken aback by Bill’s comments, his voice having interrupted her session with nature. “I seem to be at a loss, what are you talking about?”
Matt spoke up to join the discussion, “You haven’t heard then. There’s a vote coming up on Wednesday.” He laughed, “The same old bill we keep denying them, the Paycheck Fairness Act. It’s to embarrass us right before we vote on 1257.”
Claire was stunned, both at the news and the fact that they chose to discuss it with her. She had consistently been the only Republican to vote for this bill. “Gentlemen, this is the first I’ve heard of this, but you’re right, it is a brilliant move on their part.” She leaned back and smiled. “Tell me boys, what has happened to our Party? How did we let ourselves get hi-jacked by extremists? What the hell is wrong with men and women getting equal treatment for their work?”
Both men laughed, but Claire kept her eyes on Matt. When her expression finally got the best of him, he became more serious and said, “Claire, you know the economy can’t withstand something like this. It’s a stupid ploy to make us look bad, it’s that plain and simple.”
“I think you boys are looking at this all wrong. Why not amend the bill to lower pay for the men so it matches my gender? Now, what do you have to say about the economy problem?”
Bill seemed to waken from his silence with her comment, “Why do you call yourself one of us? Like it or not, lady, you are in on this, and you’d better not think about letting us down.”
Claire stood, looking down at the two men, she smiled with poise. “It’s been a pleasure, gentlemen. I’ll see you in the chamber on Wednesday.” She turned and confidently left the two of them to wallow in their anger, but heard Bill express his feelings before she was out of hearing distance.
“Bitch, let her go. We’ll get her in line.”
Claire took a chance that Tony would be done with his work in spite of her early arrival. He answered the door with an odd expression. Grabbing her arm, he pulled her into his home, then stepped outside, and looked both directions, scanning the street to be sure that she wasn’t followed.
“Tony, what is it? I’ve never seen you like this.”
“Sit down, Claire. I have incredible news for you.” His hands were shaking, his voice nervous. He went to the table where his page of the newspaper was and held it in his hands. “This is absolutely incredible, Claire. Do you understand what you have? Tell me more about this Eve.” His voice was excited, louder with each word that left his lips. “This is real, Claire, it is fucking real!”
She sat, staring at him, speechless for some time.
Tony rushed across the room and sat next to her, grabbing her hands. He was losing himself over his news, laughter came from deep within him, then tears formed in his eyes. “I must meet her, Claire. She is a miracle. Think what we can learn from this woman!”
“Tony, are you sure? If we make this public, we have to be absolutely certain.”
He stood and began to pace. “No, we don’t say anything. We have a gift here, and need to use it, we need to learn everything we can. Tell me how to find this coffee house and I’ll meet you there tonight.”
Claire stood, her head ached like it did each night in her nightmares. She wrote down the address for him, and told him to be there at midnight. “She’s been there the last three nights, but I don’t know, Tony. She was so stressed last night, she might not show. I just don’t know.”
He walked her to the door, saying he’d be there. “We must try, Claire. She’s the biggest phenomenon I’ve experienced in my lifetime.
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