“What do you do, Briggs,” Frank turned on the captain and asked him in a harsh tone, “what is it that you do?”
“Well …I … I…um” Briggs stuttered, searched for the answer. His title was military liaison for civilian relations, so, that’s what he told Frank. “Which means what exactly?” Frank pressed on.
“It means, I am overseeing the civilian transition from … Um … Well, I am here to be … To uh … To help…” he went silent.
“Thought so,” Frank said. Briggs blushed and then got angry.
“Look, Frank,” Briggs said, heated, embarrassed, “this has nothing to do with me. It’s progress and you know it. Sails to steam. Horse to the internal combustion engine …” “Men to machines,” Frank cut him off. Again, Briggs was silent.
“I need your keys and pass card, Frank,” Briggs said and held out his hand. Frank pulled his wallet from his pocket and removed the worn, stained pass card. His picture faded, his face younger. He replaced his wallet, then removed his keys from his front pocket.
“Man to machine, Briggs,” he said and tossed the card and keys into the dirt at Briggs’ feet, “from what I’ve heard, your wife has made the same transition in the bedroom.” He walked away, leaving Briggs to bend over and pick up the last connection Frank had with Noah Industries from the dirt.
He sat on the front porch, glass of good bourbon his hand, watching the night sky. Milly was in bed, she had made a fine dinner and he had eaten it hot, fresh, right out of the oven. That was nice, that was something to be happy about he told himself. He had time now. He had money now. He wasn’t worried about finances, the house was paid for, Abbey’s college was covered, the car still ran, they had cable TV … Hell, it was a good life. Still, it wasn’t about money and Frank knew this. It was about decency, honor, letting a man live on his own terms. It was about things he couldn’t put into words. Things guys like Briggs would never understand. He sipped his bourbon and watched the night sky turn from velvet black to deep, cobalt blue. He watched while the first fingers of dawn flexed across the eastern sky. He watched.