Carey gave his fuel gauge a concerned glance. It was showing low, and he hadn’t yet collected the crucial information he needed.
“Low isn’t done, though,” he said quietly to himself.
He was coming up on his target again. He hadn’t seen anything worthwhile during his two-hour reconnaissance, and preliminary indications were looking bad again.
He passed the target with no joy.
It’s got to change, he told himself. It’s got to.
He looked at his instrument panel again; Carey’s stomach tightened when he saw the red fuel warning indicator was lit.
Almost out of time. Damn!
He went around again and gradually came upon the target. It looked just like it had on all the other passes.
The fuel light glowed a bright red in the dark cabin.
One more orbit, he thought. I can make one more orbit before I have to break off.
Carey tried to conserve as much fuel as he could. The back side of his patrol orbit had changed somewhat, but none of that mattered. Only the target mattered.
He came around for the last time, and his heart hammered in his chest as he neared the target. The profile had finally changed.
But it wasn’t Diana’s car in the driveway; it was Ryan’s. She had apparently been out with him all evening.
And now they were together, alone, in her home.
At the intersection, Carey made a left turn instead of the right turn he had repeatedly made to circle Diana’s block and headed toward a convenience store for gasoline.
Diana had gone out with Carey only a few times, and then she had gently but firmly made it clear to him that they could be friends, but that was all. By then, Carey had fallen in love with her, but he accepted her rejection.
Soon afterward, Diana had started going out with Ryan. Carey was hopeful that she would reject him, too, but after two months, that hope was starting to rub raw against Carey’s soul.
Carey stopped by the gas pumps and put his card in the slot to buy his gasoline. He filled the tank, not caring what the racing numbers on the pump were doing to his budget.
“Time to go home,” he told himself.
As he left, he turned back toward Diana’s home despite his stated intention to do otherwise.
Perhaps Ryan would have gone by now. Or would leave soon. Surely he wouldn’t stay the night. He couldn’t. Carey’s wounded, hopeful heart had to know.
One more orbit.