Clown World: Book One, Chapter Six…unedited, incomplete…

Emily fell asleep with her arms wrapped around me. Soon, she was snoring lightly, and I waited until she curled up with her pillow. When she rolled over, I crept out of the bed, and walked to the command tent.
Francis sat on a broken-down table that someone had patched up. She gave me a grin around the fat cigar that jutted from her mouth.
“Good morning, Jake. Have a seat.”
I sat next to Francis. She lit her cigar and waited for me to start the conversation.
“Morning, Francis.”
“Where’s Emily?”
“I left her in bed. She was curled up with her pillow when I left. Can I ask you some questions?”
“It’s 0130, Jake. Ask away.”
“Is it possible for Emily and I to stay here, in this camp, and work, instead of going to Kingsbury?”
“Sure, you and her can stay here. We’d be glad to have you, but you know that this isn’t a main camp, right? Life out here is uncertain. We are out here to protect the flank of the main camp. People show up here all the time, but they never stay. Every main camp has a rear security element attached to it.”
“What would our duties entail? If we change our minds, can we leave?”
“The duties doesn’t change, Jake. There’s guard, kitchen, radio, maintenance, and other things that are important. Given your skill set, Rae would want you on her patrol squad most likely.”
“As far as changing your mind and leaving, the bus runs every other day. No one is going to force you to stay, you’re free to leave at any time. However, you should be aware that not every person you meet is as laid back as I am. If you stumble into the wrong camp, with the heavy-minded leadership, they may not let you go. Some may even try to punish you for even considering it.”
“I understand. Before I do anything, I need to speak to Emily.”
Francis grinned, and once again I cleared my throat. We sat in silence for a while, me alone with my thoughts, Francis alone with her cigar.
“You haven’t asked for advice, Jake, but I’m gonna give you some. Take it or leave it, okay?”
“Okay, Francis.”
“You should marry Emily.”
“Say again? I should marry Emily? Why would I do that?”
“Because you love her and she loves you. What greater reason to get hitched?”
“Let’s say that things get to that point, Francis. Where would we get married? There’s not a church here or even a chapel. I’ve not even seen a minister or chaplain.”
“Jonah is a minister.”
“The cook? He’s the camp’s minister?”
“Yep, among many other things.”
“You’re a soldier, Jake. Have you done a risk assessment?”
“Yeah, I’ve done one. I do one every day.”
“You’ve been here a day or two. What don’t you see in this camp?”
“I don’t know, Francis. What don’t I see?”
“We’re not replacing our losses, hoss. You don’t see any pregnant females in the camp, mainly because we’re all fighting to survive from one day to the next. If we don’t start reproducing, humanity doesn’t stand a chance.”
“Wait, Francis. You want me to marry Emily and pump some children into her?”
“I want you to get married to her because you love her. Having children with her is a side effect of your marriage.”
“That’s ridiculous.”
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Emily said, as she walked toward us.
There she stood under the moonlight, like some kind of heavily armed angel. She smiled at me, and my heart raced.
“Emily, you don’t have to get married to have children.”
“I know, but I want to get married before I do.”
“Well, that’s good. Because under the Rules of Governance set forth by the Council, only married couples are allowed to reproduce,” Francis said.
“Jesus,” I muttered. Things had escalated in the last few hours, faster than I’d imagined they would. I was at a loss.
Emily walked close and wrapped her arms around me. Her full lips pulled into a smile, then she leaned close and whispered in my ear, “whatcha say handsome? Wanna get married?”
Francis stood and stretched.
“I can go wake up Jonah, if you guys are ready.”
“Thanks, Francis. I need a minute alone with Jake.”
Emily waited until Francis disappeared in the tent, then she climbed up and sat next to me.
“Are you certain you want to get married, Emily? We don’t even know each other very well.”
“I am certain, Jake. How well do we need to know each other before we tie the knot?”
“Why the rush? Why do you want to get married to me?”
“Do you remember what you and Ted rescued me from, Jake? Do you remember what they planned to use me as?”
“Yes, Emily. I haven’t forgotten.”
“They planned to rape me, impregnate me, and do it over and over. I was going to serve as their baby making machine. They wouldn’t love me, they would respect me. I would spit out kids until they got bored with me.”
“I know.”
“Then, you showed up and rescued me from that fate. If I’m gonna have kids with anybody, it’s gonna be with the guy that rescued me. Look at me, Jake.”
I looked at her, and she gave me a smile. She took my hand and put it over her heart.
“I want you, Jake. For however long we have, I want you.”
“Okay. I don’t understand this, but I’d be a fool to turn you away.”
“Tell me you love me.”
I looked in her green eyes and saw heaven. A smile crossed my lips, and I nodded.
“I love you, Emily. I’ll do what I can to make you happy.”
“Happiness is overrated, Jake. I want to build a life with you, and I want us to do more than survive in this crazy world; I want us to thrive.”

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