“Once you do, my friend, then you will have your answer. Are you so eager to know? They say curiosity killed the cat.”
“It’s not just curiosity, Erwin. We need to know how to conduct business this week. Everything depends on this. The people out there” -- he gestured toward the conference room – “they need to know so they can do their jobs.”
Erwin shifted in his seat, finding a way to lay his head on his hand. This was as close as he ever came to expressing irritation with somebody, but he felt it was necessary to explain a few things to the younger man.
“Carter, you’ve had a good career, a linear path from college to Washington to chief of staff for a successful Congressman. Those who know you say you’re a young man on the rise, and I happen to agree.” Carter raised his eyebrows appreciatively. “Nevertheless, you haven’t been dealt a real setback yet, an existential crisis of the sort we just delivered to the Congressman on Friday. So listen to someone older and wiser.
“Since Friday, del Gato has questioned everything. He has ransacked his memory for clues of betrayal he had missed. He blames himself. He blames her. He certainly blames the other guy, that toymaker. Like a shrewd politician, he ponders his options, and like a lovesick puppy he pities himself. He rages and weeps and calculates and turns inward. See, you have to understand that his life had been entangled in hers, Carter, more so than it was ever entangled in ours.
“He is different men right now,” Erwin continued. “And we won’t know which one he will be this week until somebody checks. You have the keys to his apartment. It probably is your place to drive over and see. But let me say that no matter what you find, he will have collapsed. Maybe not on the outside. Maybe he’s full of forgiveness or full of fight. But once you find him, keep in mind that he has collapsed.”
“Okay, so, what do I tell everybody in the meantime?”
“Say ‘yes’. For the time being, just say ‘yes’. So long as we don’t know for sure, it’s the truth. As a wise man once said, ‘There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.’”