The girders shone in the sunset. Time passed, the sun faded, clouds grew. Joseph had opened the window, and he was lying on the bed, half-asleep in the cold. Lucille came home, put a bill in the meter, walked inside, and swore at him. He didn't notice.
"Come on, you asshole, you know better than — Aah!"
She almost stepped on a soldering iron, which was plugged in and burning a hole in the carpet. Unfortunately the entire fucking floor was covered with bits and pieces of techie stuff. She slammed the window shut, cutting off the breeze, and angrily unplugged all of the electronics from the junction box. It got stuffy quickly in that little room, with both of them there, but she took off her jacket and lay on the other bed.
"Joe?" she said quietly. "How's it going?"
His eyes opened, and he looked over at her. "...Lucille. I've gone insane."
"Okay. Want to talk about it?"
"No." He lay back, and slipped into real sleep.
She smiled at him. It had been a long time since he'd done something unexpected.
The next morning they both woke up at the same time, and kissed. Joseph packed away his crap, and Lucille heated up some milk for instant coffee. They folded out the table together.
"So you've gone nuts," Lucille said conversationally.
"Oh, my God, don't joke about it," Joseph begged. "I'm not sure what was going on yesterday — I was trying to work on this idea I had, and these whispers... I mean, I kept straining for the words, but I could never quite hear what they were saying."
"Well, maybe it was a conversation in the next apartment?" She sipped at the coffee, which was gritty, but so essential to their life.
"But all the time? I kept hearing it the whole day."
"Do you still hear it now?"
"No." He looked around. "I don't."
"Fine then." She bit an apple.
"Fine. It was probably just a television someone left on anyway. You know the funny thing, ordinarily it would have driven me up the wall to listen to that kind of noise constantly."
"So did being insane help you take a look at the bootleg, or what?"
"Oh, yeah. Let me tell you about it. The nonstandard ASIC is probably the biggest lead..."
When the yakuza had approached them about the imager, it had been hard for them to convince Lucille that they were serious. She and Joseph thought about it carefully, and eventually agreed to hand over the plans for the projector in exchange for some money and of course their lives. Although they kept making jokes about what the criminals were going to use it for, they had no real idea what, if anything, the yakuza was planning.
They had worked out a complicated scheme. Joseph, in Tokyo, would check the suitcase containing the parts for the gun into the baggage claim. Lucille, arriving separately, and therefore not under the eye of Sony Counterintelligence, would meet the bribed customs guard and get the parts out of it. She would drive back to her house, the yakuza would show up and give her the money, if they didn't Joseph would talk to Sony, all very usual.
She still wasn't exactly sure what had gone wrong with the plan. She had shown up, a bit late because of a traffic jam, and the guard hadn't been there. She had knocked on the baggage room door. It was unlocked. She walked in. He wasn't there, and neither was the suitcase, and so she walked over to the departures section. What are you doing here? Where's the suitcase? I gave it to the guy. When? A few minutes ago. Then where is he? I don't know. What are we going to do?
Lucille walked calmly to the ticket stand, and bought two tickets for İznik. She handed one to Joseph, pulled him out of the line, and they ran for it.
Their whole flight had been marked by the weird kind of paranoia that Lucille specialized in. Sometimes Sony would show up one step behind them, but most of the time they were operating blind; Joseph often doubted that anyone was following them. And Lucille was always dragging them around, buying plane tickets and then hanging out in the airport and looking for agents; she would rent cars with their credit cards in Minnesota, and hire someone to drive them to New Mexico City, while the whole time she would be in Australia, living with some friendly folks. She used to write down all the different stories, so that she wouldn't mix them up.
They survived, which up until now she had considered an unqualified success.