Sunday, June 13, 2010

Professional Embarassment

sorting bricks, originally uploaded by Jenn Platt.
And here we have two things that are completely related. A photo of an imploded building, and a story about blowing up a building.

The photo was taken out of my kitchen window. Previous to Thursday there had been two buildings fenced off because of asbestos in that lot. Now there is a pile of debris and a lone guy in a hardhat who seems to be sorting bricks and inexplicably hitting them with a hammer first. Maybe he has brick issues?

The story has no bricks, but I've made up for this by including a french maid's costume and lots of explosives.

There was a green spot on the apron that finished off the French Maid uniform. 

She looked around frantically for something to clean it up with and saw a bottle of whiteout on the desk. 

Glancing at the clock again she decided it would have to do.  She sat on the cool leather desk chair, the material chilling her through her stockings and reminding her how horribly short the skirt she had to wear was.  Unscrewing the cap carefully over the blotter she let the dried white flakes of old whiteout fall on the desk and cupped the bottle in one hand as she brought it over her lap, close to the spot.  It looked like ink though that didn’t tell her how it got there.  She drew out the clumpy brush and dabbed at the spot, trying to make an even coating.

To her surprise it covered on the first try and when she looked in the mirror the spot was almost impossible to see.  “Close enough for government work.”  she said cheerfully, but her voice was too bright, and it made her frown.

She looked away from the mirror and went to the bed double-checking her kit to make sure it had everything she needed.  Satisfied, she hefted it easily in one hand and turned out the bedroom light without looking, striding down the hall with a walk that was too brisk for stockings with a seam up the back and a skirt that barely touched the tops of her thighs.

In the kitchen she paused at the refrigerator.  The streetlight outside let in enough light for her to see.  The picture on the gleaming sliver appliance was held up with a little plastic slice of watermelon because it was the most ridiculous magnet she owned.  The picture itself was unremarkable, just a couple of guys on a boat, the blue sea and sky behind them, a kingfish held up by the tail between them.  One of the men was tall, lanky but with a roll of gut pushing his t-shirt out, too tan, and smiling like he was trying to fool someone.  The other one was shorter and red instead of tan, but he held his body the same way, smiled the same way, and his eyes seemed to glitter even in the dim light.  This was the one she stared at for long moments like she could burn a hole through the print if she looked hard enough.  Her face was the kind that looked best smiling and the scowl she was directing at the photograph cut strange patterns into her face, making her look ten years older and dangerous. 

“Kent,” she said quietly, her mouth turning into a smile of grim satisfaction.  Tonight she was going to take care of all of it.  She opened the refrigerator, and like a light had been switched, her face fell back into her natural smile as she reached in and pulled out a bottle of water.  She closed the door without looking at the picture again, took her keys from the tiny hook near the door and moved into the garage.  She unlocked the car and tossed her kit into the passenger’s seat where it landed with a heavy thump.  She followed more gracefully, sliding in with a little twist to her hips that showed she was already getting into character.

She took brief stock of the car before she opened the garage door.  She had already draped her gray overcoat across the back of the seat.  She’d checked her kit three times between the morning and five minutes ago.  Her costume was perfect.  She turned down the visor she checked her makeup.  Perfect. 

The garage door slid up with a muffled rattle and covered whatever slight noise her sleek black car made getting onto the street. 

She was glad it was completely dark and she wouldn’t draw attention in her outfit.  If it had been lighter she would have had to wear her coat and turn the AC up full blast.  The cold air would make her too stiff to do the job.  As it was she fiddled constantly with the AC, keeping it cool enough so she didn’t sweat, but not cold.  She needed to be loose.

She drove the eighty miles to the house with a small smile on her face, humming along to the radio.

Her bright expression didn’t flicker as she pulled into the cul-de-sac and easily made out Kent’s house.  The driveway was full and there were several cars parked on the street in front of it. 

She parked her car on the street a few houses down, making sure it was well away from the curb and pointed toward the exit of the little loop. 

She killed the engine and pulled her coat on, unzipping the kit and putting the Beretta with its long silencer in her left pocket.  The outlines of C-4 and the detonators were completely covered by the feather boa, feather duster, balloons, whip cream and handcuffs.  She felt for them through the false bottom of the bag anyway, outlining each brick of C-4 with her fingers until she counted all five.

Closing the zipper again, she slid out of the car, locking it behind her.  Her hips swayed suggestively down the sidewalk, her coat only buttoned with two buttons near the top so it billowed around her like a cape, showing the long lines of her legs.  If she felt exposed or nervous it didn’t show in her face.  She went straight up the path to the front door, not even glancing around, having checked the perimeter the night before.  Despite the weight of the bag, she reached out with that hand to push the doorbell, her left never leaving the grip of the Beretta.  There was, of course, the slightest possibility that Kent would recognize her.

After a minute she was reaching for the doorbell again.  The door opened before she could touch it.

“Great, you’re here.  Come on this way before he sees you,” a man with graying hair and a red face said, ushering her in. 

It took her a moment to remember his name.  Craig, Keith Randall.  Vice President of the company that made her car.  She couldn’t remember how many kids he had and cursed herself for being so nervous.  “Oh, I’m not late am I?”  she asked, face turned into an expression of innocent concern.

He shook his head, waving her on with his hand, eyes going distractedly over the room.  “Hurry up.” 

There were only men in the house; she counted fifteen between the front door and the hall that led to the game room.  Somewhere in the house there were six more, including Kent and his brother.

As if thinking about them made them appear, the brother, a little less tan, but still startlingly brown, came around the corner from the kitchen with a beer in his hand and his shark’s smile on. He was followed a beat later by Kent, holding a bottle in the same hand, at the same angle, smiling the same smile.

Craig and the brother tried to block her from view at the same time, shoving her behind them.

“Man, why don’t you head out back and get the rest of the guys, it’s almost time for your surprise,” the brother said, gesturing with the hand that held the bottle.

The world had narrowed for her, she saw the bottle, saw the colorful microbrew label, read that it claimed to taste like blueberries, and then her eyes were past it to Kent who was looking around the gap between his brother and his friend to see her.

She saw him wink at her, no flash of recognition in his eyes, and settle his hands on his hips.  “I’ll have it now.” 

Craig looked at the brother who shrugged and stepped aside.  “Your birthday,” he agreed easily.

Kent took a step toward her, beer dangling at his side, dark eyes going from her head to her feet and then back up, pausing on the kit.  He reached out with the hand that had the bottle and quickly switched the beer into the other hand, fingers edging toward the handle of the kit.

She meant to swing away coquettishly, telling him not to spoil the surprise.  She would giggle and blush and say something coy. 

When she found she couldn’t speak she turned a little, cleavage out and bag slightly behind her, shaking her head.

His dark eyes glittered like they did in the picture and he turned his reach into a gesture, pointing at the kit.  “What’s in the basket, little girl?”

She blinked at him. He said it the way he always did on the tape.

The gun came out so fast that no one could stop her, could think to stop her, before she shot him in the face.

He went down instantly but there was still that split-second pause where she had seen his face turned into a bloody hole before he was out of her line of sight.

Her expression didn’t flicker.  She shot the brother and Craig, one bullet each in the head at less than a foot.

She didn’t look at the fallen men, scanning the hall up and down, not seeing anyone.  She put the Beretta back in her pocket, feeling the heat of it against her leg, through the material of the coat.

She stepped around the corner that led into the kitchen, her hips still swaying.  There was one man in the kitchen, short, balding, eyes immediately fixing on her legs.  “Want a beer honey?”

Reeca, Jonathan Harrison.  Corporate lawyer.  She thought about shooting him but without a full clip and three doors to cover she couldn’t afford to take the chance.  “Now what would that do for my dancing?” she asked sweetly.

He saluted her with his bottle trying to look casual and only succeeded in looking bashful and drunk.  “I think you’ll do fine.”

She giggled and left the kitchen, walking as fast as she could seductively.  The basement door was next to the laundry room and she didn’t see anyone else as she opened it.  She turned on the light and went quickly down the stairs, the grip of the gun practically imprinted on her palm.  She scanned the room quickly and not seeing anyone she threw the kit down next to the main support beam, crouched down next to it and put a fresh clip into the Beretta.  She put the gun back in her pocket and quickly unloaded the C-4.

Two charges went around the support beam, carefully but quickly packed into base and covered with two of the bags of concrete Kent had been storing in the basement, ensuring that the force of the blast would go into the wooden beam.  Two more charges went a few feet away from the water heater where the gas lines came out of the wall.  The last charge went against the dividing wall.  On the other side was Kent’s office, and according to department intelligence, was the wall his safe was in.  Supposedly fireproof, she was just supposed to make sure it got blown free.  She quickly inserted the detonators and set the timers for five minutes. 

She was walking back up the basement stairs only seven minutes after she’d gone down, with four and a half minutes to get clear.

The babble of voices and the panicked shouting warned her off the front door.  She went through the deserted master bedroom instead, using the french doors that led out into the garden.  Feeling time ticking past her, she hurried down the stone path to the gate, fumbled a little with it, and then forced herself to control her walk across the grass to the car.  She had her hand tight on the Beretta again and hoped she wouldn’t have to use it, the baffles in the silencer were probably shot and she didn’t want the whole neighborhood at their windows until after she was gone.

She unlocked the car and tossed the much lighter kit onto the passenger’s seat.  She got into the car without taking her coat off, starting the engine and rolling smoothly to the stop sign at the end of the cul-de-sac. 

She was just turning when she heard the muffled whump of the first explosion followed by a pop and then she saw a flare bright flash of orange in the rearview mirror as the gas line exploded.

She made her turn and went only five over the speed limit out of the development not hearing any sirens.  She got as far as the highway before her heart started beating so hard her hands shook.  She pulled off at the next rest stop and sat in a dark corner of the parking lot with her coat pulled tightly around her, sweat rolling down her face and back and sides, the AC on as high as it would go. 

Minutes went by with her gripping the edges of the coat and shaking while she tried to breathe evenly, tried to bring her heart rate down.

When she could take a full deep breath, shaky as it was, she felt clearer.  She had options.  She’d completed the op.  She could either hope that the evidence of her shooting anyone had been blown away or she could tell the director that Kent had recognized her. 

Of course that would mean telling the director how she’d met Kent.

For a wild moment she thought of running away instead.  Never showing up for her debriefing.  Then she came to her senses.  There was no way the explosion and fire would burn the bones and the bones would show three of them had been shot.  She’d just have to tell the director the truth.

Or at least part of the truth.   

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