The great copper dome gleamed, the harsh sun reflecting off the gentle curve in such a way as to set the very air afire, a great golden halo around a building of pure white. The green blue waters of the bay rolled and crashed along the gentle beach front east of the grand building. Along the beach tiny specks, seen at this distance moving like ants, were people enjoying the fine spring day, before the sun became too much to bear in the later summer months.
"Truly beautiful, isn't it?"
The voice snapped Tom from his reverie, and he broke his gaze with the tableau in front of him to look at the speaker. An elderly man in a well tailored business suit gazed bemusedly at him past small oval glasses perched on his nose, his face showing he expected a response.
"Err, yes, yes it is. Very stunning. That's a sight I never expect to get used to, honestly. "
Caught by surprise, Tom stammered in response, hoping he wasn't making a fool of himself in front of someone important.
The elderly gentleman smiled at Tom, his friendly manner quickly putting Tom at ease. "Ohh, you won't, trust me on that young man. I take it this is your first time to the capitol building?"
"Yes, well, no. First time since I was a child. I'm actually just back in Arizona. It's been just under twenty years for me. "
Both men reached for handles set in the roof, Tom with a start, the old man with a practiced ease, as the cable car jostled and bumped. It swung around a tall building along its gear and pulley driven line. As the car settled itself on its new direction, the elderly gentleman settled his glasses back firmly on his nose, and looked back up at Tom, as if seeing him again for the first time.
"Twenty years? Parents moved your family away after the quake, I take it?"
Tom gave a half smile. "Something like that. The government home I was living in was destroyed in it. I was moved out to an orphanage in New York. I've been trying to get back here ever since. I love the desert. “
The old man snorted. “Well, there's precious little desert left now, and its shrinking all the time." He stuck out his hand. "Ed, Ed Marrow, by the way.”
Tom took the offered hand and pumped it briefly. "Tom Harlan. Wait. Edward Marrow... Director of Planning and Revising?" Tom took a second look at the inquisitive old man. The suit was obviously expensive, but not inordinately so. His hair, gray going on white, was a rather non conservative cut, a ponytail coming down past his shoulders, something that had been out of style in men for over a decade. But if the man's claim was true, then he was looking at one of the wealthiest man in the state. Considered a Barry Goldwater of the day, Edward Marrow was a man who worked in public service, it was said, for the mere enjoyment of it.
Ed's face brightened further, if such a thing was possible.
"Indeed! You've caught me out! Tom, eh? You must be Felicity's new assistant, then, fresh from Abrahim Tech? Well, at the very least I'll be seeing you at the bi-weekly status meetings. You must let me know sometime what you think of our fair state these days. “
He turned back towards the window they were standing in front of and gazed out, almost longingly, Tom thought.
"It is a gorgeous place. So much lost, yes, but so much gained."
"Indeed sir, I've been thinking the same. But... if you don't mind my asking, why are you taking the cable car? Surely you can afford a private landing, or at least a parking spot?"
"Afford? I can afford many things young man. But if I took a car to the capitol, I'd be stuck in that." Ed pointed to a bridge coming up quickly underneath them, their cable heading for one its supports. Traffic crawled slowly in both directions, a bumper to bumper sea of red lights over a river of brown mud. "As for a private landing, I don't trust aircars, and besides, if I didn't take the cable car every morning, which I do, I'd miss out on this!"
With those words, the man grasped Tom by the shoulders; he turned Tom around and pulled him next to himself at the window, looking outwards. As the car bumped and jostled at another turn around the supporting tower of the bridge, now under their feet, Tom gasped in wonder.
The sun was just rising over the top of the twisted black Encanto Peaks, a solid beam of sunlight streaming through the shattered mountain top towards the dome of the Capitol building. Still two miles away, the air that had already been afire nearly exploded with shining light, a rainbow of color as reflected beams from part of the dome facing away from the car stretched out for a mile further to strike the spray from the North Bay Rim, shimmering and glittering. The lights strengthened, most people on the car instinctively looking away from the window, as Tom and Ed stared at the sight, as did one or two others. Then, suddenly, the car was rounding another turn, and the light faded, leaving Tim blinking away the bright purple blotches across his sight. Stumbling again as the car made its final course correction, now heading down a slight slope towards the ground, Tom realized that Ed was staring at his face, the bemused look back on his face.
"Yes, you'll do.”
"I'll do? What do you mean?"
"Well,” Ed began, "I just find that one doesn't last long in Planning and Revising if they aren't able to see the natural beauty around them. Like those dolts, shielding their eyes from that sight." Ed motioned to the occupants of the car around them. "Blind fools, all of them."
Ed turned and continued to look out the window, seemingly done with conversation. Tom stood, looking first out the window, then at the people around, until the car shuddered to a halt on the pier, and people began filing out the doors. As he passed Tom, Ed clapped him on the shoulders.
"Well, I shall be seeing YOU around."
With that, he left Tom, disappearing into the crowd, as Tom began following signs that pointed to the entrance to the Capitol building.
Merci pour la lecture!