It so happened that Heléne had arrived back at camp a day before we did, and had tried to wrangle the satellite wireless into a usable shape, trying to arrange things with the banks, get in touch with Jennings, and finishing other chores. She only had time to talk to us for a few minutes (she actually smiled for a few seconds while doing so), even though she looked so very ragged and in need of a shower at least.
She grabbed up a sheaf of pocketbook notes and weighed in her mind who to hand them to, me or Graham, before extending them to me. Account information, she told us. Wire transfers and that sort of thing, numbers of old colleagues of Manocarci and their departments, last known locations, potentially useful bits.
She let us know Enzo would be coming to see her in a week, and then in two weeks they would go into civilization for a few days to receive updates, even though she was behind in her own work as it was.
C’est la vie, I said, goofy smile spreading across my face. She only stared back. Then she hugged Três, who was surprised most of all.
They talked back and forth, Lena saying things in too-fast, heavily-accented Portuguese, patting the younger woman’s back quite a few times.
I would sell you all for a half-decent drink right now, said Graham. Oh, what a jokester.
We crowded under the mess tents later on, this time joined by a few curious bystanders, some surprised we made it back, others grudgingly accepting that we were now part of a (self-imagined) club.
So, said Três. This is where you abandon me, yes? She said it in her language. I didn’t think it was going to be so cutting, but there it was. Already trying to distance herself.
Come on, parceira, I said. You know you can’t jump all over the world. What about your own family? School?
She folded her arms. What about yours?
She had me there. I choked down the dry substance that passed for a meal out here, wishing that we were back chewing on boiled roots.
We spoke some more, way too late, deep into the clicking, buzzing, generator-light-driven night. We scratched at bites and scolded each other not to. It was hard to tell whose heart was broken more. At last, she understood, or at least resigned herself.
Sometime in the night, Graham had worked the radio and Lena one of the rugged laptops to arrange for a boat to Santarém and to pinpoint the GPS coordinates Três had given, respectively.
As we waited for our pickup the next morning, she told us where the erstwhile Bonny and Clyde (easy on the former, heavy on the latter) were headed.
Trelew. A city named Trelew, far south of Buenos Aries, halfway to la fin du monde. Bon chance, she told all of us. I believe that if Enzo is right, this is a most important task.
And with that, she disappeared back into her canvas and plastic sheeting.
The three of us waited in silence for our river ride, and talked only when we needed during the few hours down to the Brazilian river city.
I noticed Três had recovered a small music player that she had used at the base camp all those days ago. I asked what she had to listen to. She offered me a small blue earbud, which blasted out some heavy, angry punk shoutings mixed with what sounded like an melodic aria laid inbetween, a complicated beat coursing through it.
It was pretty good.