Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sheepdog-03


Others arrived not long thereafter.  These other guests were the usual combination of friends, family, neighbors and associates one often finds at social functions amongst Reginald and Kathy’s class in society.  Ken, despite a change of clothes and a shower, still moved like the working-class man he’d always been; wearing the guise of his hosts’ social station did little to conceal his outsider status.  Some of those other guests remembered Ken; they were old friends from Kathy’s college days, and glad to see that the two old lovers remained close friends.  Some were associates of Reginald’s, and found it curious that he kept a friendly association with someone so out of their league.  The relatives, by and large, sat in the middle; they knew that Ken was okay by Reginald and Kathy, but still found him odd.
                 
All of them, however, soon found that Ken was also anything but boring.  Ken joined in tossing horseshoes, playing Bocci, talking about sports of all sorts, holding conversations about anything—even those topics one would not expect a man believed to be a rough sort to know much about, like cooking or caring for the sick—and demonstrated a mastery of tact that few expected out of him.  Well, other than Reginald and Kathy, that is.
               
Reginald’s mother took Kathy aside as the two watched Ken play with the kids and whispered “I can’t believe that this is the same man that risked a prison sentence for you.  Has he settled down?”
               
“Not at all.” Kathy said, laughing, “He just got back from Argentina yesterday.”
               
“What was he doing down there?” her mother-in-law asked, curious.
               
“Do you remember Marisol?” Kathy asked in response; her mother-in-law nodded.  “Ken went down there because Marisol’s husband got gunned down in broad daylight by one of the cartels, and the government did nothing.  Then they went after her husband’s family, and still nothing.  When they went after her parents and her children, she begged Ken to help her.”
               
Kathy’s mother-in-law took another look at Ken.  He organized the kids into a group, teaching them how throw a horseshoe.
              
“What did he do?” asked the elder woman.
                
Kathy pulled her away from earshot.  “He killed them all.  It took six months, and he uncovered a CIA plot to overthrow the government in the process, but he made good on his word to Marisol.”
               
Her mother-in-law looked at Kathy, unbelieving.
                
“It nearly killed him.  He hobbled away from the last fight, and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital.  He recuperated at Marisol’s home after that, leaving just the other day.”
                
 Kathy then smiled. “Now, at last, do you see why I married your son?”
               
The old woman let that thought, and many others, work itself through her brain for a long moment.  Then she kissed Kathy on the cheek.  “Yes, I do.”
                
“Now, then, do you also see why Reginald made peace with him?  Would you not want such a man as your friend?”
               
Reginald’s mother, like his father, was not a stupid woman- just unaccustomed to thinking in unconventional ways.  Kathy, like Reginald, did not have that problem- nor did they have the problem of being unable to, as it were, translate.  Once again, the lightbulb went on and the elder woman nodded in appreciation.
               
“What I don’t get, dear, is how this man can be so good with kids and yet do such things?”
                
Kathy smiled. “He’s one of the rarest amongst men.  Like normal people, he’s got empathy.  Unlike us, he can shut it off when he needs to- and when he does, he can think like the psychopaths he kills.  That’s what makes him so unnerving, until you understand his special psychology.  Right now, he’s switched it on and he can fit right in.  When he switches it off, he can just as cold and unfeeling as those he fights, but rarely is because—unlike his enemies—he knows, and remembers, empathy.  Thus, with proper discipline, he maintains his moral center when he needs it most.”

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