It took only a month to track him down. Bixby had that unnerving knack of knowing just which stones to overturn, and how gently to prod at what was underneath them. They started out with the last known whereabouts, the house Reynolds had shared with his wife before she died. The new occupier was an introverted academic, the kind of woman who would take a carefully leaked fact from a conversation and let her curiosity and imagination run wild. In under five minutes Bixby had the name of the removals company, as well as the company who had handled the forwarding of Reynolds’ mail. The removals company had since tanked, but the forwarding company went from strength to strength, possibly because the merest hint of badge from the Future Bureau made them role over like puppies and hand over the entire file.
That led to another address, out of town, which led to a trip for both of them. Sarah happily agreed to look after Bixby’s dog, unaware that there was anything untoward in Benjamin’s sudden interest in Bixby’s radio controlled helicopter hobby, and the necessity of heading out to the country to fly it.
“I think it’s nice,” she said, caressing the velvet ears of Bixby’s greyhound, both of them watching Bixby head back to the car.
“Nice?” Benjamin faked an interest in the contents of his overnight bag.
“You and Bixby, getting out of town. Buddies.” She teased him with the word he hated. “You’ve been working so hard lately.”
“I know. I’m sorry. Sometimes it gets all -“ He jumbled his hands around in front of his face.
Sarah put out a hand to stop his. “It’s ok. I know. We don’t talk about the future.” She was smiling. They made that joke all the time: theirs was a relationship without a future.
Only now it was true.