When I heard Ed’s wife scream, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I thought, for a second, that someone was trying to break in, and it amused me. Whoever broke into this house would be in for a treat— especially on tonight, of all nights. And then I heard cold voices shouting “This is the police! Get down!” I felt a chill pass through me—I looked over at Ed and I knew that he knew. The jig was up. The Foundation was here.
Ed looked at me then, totally calm. That’s why he was the boss, because no matter what, he kept his cool. Back then I was little more than a kid myself. I can’t imagine I’d have kept it together then. I can’t imagine I’d have kept it together now.
Ed looked at me and said, “Take my son. Go. I’ll meet you in the Library,” except I knew he was lying. He’d never get to his wife in time. He’d damn sure try though. People that get caught up in Foundation shit, they don’t come back right. Memories are all gone, but something else is wonky, too. Like they take out your soul. Suck the life right out of you. That’s what Ed—well, some things are better saved ‘till later.
Ed bolted. He knew it was too late. I saw it in his eyes. But damn, if he wasn’t gonna try. I looked at you then—you were young. Five, maybe. Scared, too. Who wouldn’t be, hearin’ their mommy scream bloody murder, and then their daddy boltin’ into the night. I wish I’d had time to say something—I know kid, I know—but there wasn’t. There was a bolthole dug into the ground, covered by a grating. I shoved you in, and pushed you along, and then got down after you. Barely more than two feet high that was—lucky you I was a younger man.
You were sobbing now, as we crawled. I could hear sirens above us and muttering voices. There was only a grating between us and them, and I had to hope that none of the agents had to tie a shoe or look down to spit or anything. They call me Lucky Bill, but I’ve never been luckier than that night.
We popped out a block down, and I grabbed you immediately and started running. I could hear the sirens branching out now—they knew we had gone, but they didn’t know where. What? No, they were looking for you, not me. A man will do anything for his son, and your father—he knew a lot of shit. A lot of stuff the Foundation wanted to know.
You were full on crying now, as we ran. Screaming for your father and mother. I don’t blame you, fuck, who’d blame a five year old for that? But I could hear sirens moving closer all the while. I dragged you into an alley an pushed you up against a wall and looked you in the eyes. I said “Shut the fuck up kid.” An’ other things I’m not proud of. I told you we were goin’ somewhere safe, and you’d see your parents eventually. But we had to get to that safe place first.
I wish I could say I hadn’t done that before, or that I’d never do it again. But the fuckin’ truth of it is that the Hand deals with a lot of orphans. It’s part of the business. A lot of us have families, and when you fight a war, families die. Our escape was one of the easiest ones I’ve done. The worst is when you have t’ pull the kid away from his dead mother or father. Truth is, you had it kinda easy.
That’s the story, more or less. I got you back to the Door and managed to knock before Gammel tore my head off. I wish to hell an’ back that hadn’t been your first time in the Library. It’s glorious in there, and no one should ‘ave to run in, with hellhounds an’ worse on their heels.
I still go and visit your father sometimes, even though I shouldn’t. He’s a regular at a pub—no, I’m not gonna tell you where, you little masochist. Thinks I’m a construction worker. He’s doing better now, and he’s out of that shithole Detroit, so don’t go looking. Sometimes I think he almost recognizes me, but—well, that’s neither here nor there.