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“This is correct.” I closed the file and returned it to her.

“It says here that you’ve earned thirty awards in aviation since you graduated from flight school. Is that true?”

“No. It’s forty-six.”

“You know,” she said, reading from a sheet of paper. “Most pilots don’t earn these particular types of awards until they’re in their fifties and sixties, when they have at least twenty-five to thirty-five years of experience under their belt. You have almost twenty years of experience, if I count your high school aviation achievements, and you’re only weeks away from turning thirty-eight.”

I blinked.

“Are you going to say anything about what I just mentioned, Mr. Weston?”

“I was waiting for the question. There’s usually some inflection in your voice when you ask one. You only stated a list of facts.”

The witness at her side cracked a smile.

“Moving on.” She clicked her pen. “We’re having some problems verifying the people you listed as next of kin. The phone numbers that are listed for them go straight to payphones in Montreal. We need the updated information from you, okay? My ‘okay’ is a question, Mr. Weston.”


“Let’s start with Christopher Weston, your biological father. What is his current place of employment and contact number?”

“He’s a magician. He disappears and reappears into my life every few years. I’ll try to catch him next time and ask for his number.”

“What about Evan Weston, your biological brother?”

“Also a magician. His talent is in erasing things, making things appear differently than they are.”

“No phone number?”

“No phone number.”

“Your mother?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Your wife?”

“Ex-wife. I’m sure she’s still ruining lives wherever she is. Look up the number for Hell.”

She took off her reading glasses. “Every Elite employee is required to list at least four next of kin contacts. Every. Single. One.”

“Then I’ll be the first exception.”

“I don’t think so.” She looked at the witness. “Since Mr. Weston wants to play games, we’ll need to use our data team to find his family members. Make sure we tell the hiring board how uncooperative he was today when you do that.”

The witness nodded, but I said nothing. I simply picked up a glass of water and took a long sip, knowing there was no way in hell they’d find anyone outside of my ex-wife. It’d all been buried decades ago, and it would never come to the surface again.

“In the meantime,” she said, “surely you can order your next of kin in order of closeness so we know who to contact first in the event of an emergency?”


“Okay, then. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the closest, how close are you to your biological father?”

“Negative eighty.”

Her brown eyes immediately met mine. “I’m sorry, what? What did you just say?”

“Negative eighty.” I enunciated every syllable. “Do you need to rewind the tape and play it back for yourself?”

She shook her head, and for a second she looked as if she regretted even asking, as if she was going to stop this line of questioning and move on to something else, but she didn’t.

“Mr. Weston, on the same scale, how close are you to your biological brother?”

“Negative sixty.”

“Your biological mother?”

“No comment.”

“Mr. Weston,” she said, her voice a little harsher. “Could you please answer the question in regards to your biological mother?”

“I could, but I won’t.”

“Mr. Weston—”

“It’s a no.”

“It’s not a yes or no question.” She raised her voice. “Every question today is mandatory, especially since you waited until the very last minute to deem us ‘worthy’ of your time. If you wish to continue flying after your final trips for Signature this weekend, you need to answer me. Otherwise, we can stop this session right now.”

“It’s undefined.” I clenched my jaw. “In regards to my mother, it’s fucking undefined.”

“Thank you.” She let out a breath. “Last question in that set. On a scale of one to ten, how close are you to your wife?”

“Ex-wife.” I corrected her again. “She shouldn’t be included in any files related to me, but she’s ranked right between my father and brother for a negative seventy.”

“Well, enlighten me, please.” She looked up and scratched her head. “In the event of something unfortunate happening to you, who would you like us to call first?”

“A funeral home.”


She looked away as if she was unsure of what to say next. Seconds later, she slid a standard employee agreement to me, along with a pen. “You’ve signed this before, but please sign it with me as your witness...And wait. I actually have one last question. Are you aware that you have an ‘FCE’ on your employment file with us?”


“Would you like to know what an ‘FCE’ means?”

“I assume it means I’m capable of counting and you’re not. You said the previous question was the last question.”