Saturday, March 24, 2012

Flower Killers (Part 4 of 4)

Continued from Part 3

"What happened?" Stanhopestares intently into Jones’ salacious eyes, and is clearly not going to be  dissuaded.

Jones is sitting smug as a sleezebag on a second date, and pondering whether she has a right to know the truth given all the time taken to subvert it.  He'd been the one with her in the indoctrination room and eliminated her memory, creating a new one instead.   Easy when you know how. Why should he let her yank his chain this time. Then she’s a pretty young thing. Nice legs.

He rises and moves to the front of his desk. Her  crossed legs haven't escaped notice and he's wondering what he can get in return. Her hair's pulled back but he's wondering what it would feel like across his belly, what his hand might feel like on her ass. She's a good looking piece of meat, almost worth losing your job for and they're the stakes if he's to tell her the truth. Then once she knows, she's dispensable. Yeh fucking her would be like a shot of heroin to the jugular and he's decided to take the risk.

She's on the verge of giving up before the sleezeball makes a move, "Jones, please....What happened? Who am I, what did I do?"

She unbuttons her blouse, knowing by his undue attention that this is the way to open him up. She swears she sees him salivate as his hand marks their curvature. She's repulsed but martyrs to the cause have faced worse. She's no Joan of Arc. It's him who'll burn if he doesn't fess up.

She lets him slide another hand between her crossed legs before making an excuse to hit the bathroom. Again as she fumbles in her bag and withdraws the gun. He immediately realises he's pushed too hard.

"Crazy bitch . . what's that for?"  Any hope of relieving the 'pressure' between his own legs now clearly quashed, she's holding the gun to his neck.

"Who am I?" she asks as she grabs his crotch, his eyes are watering now as she cocks the pistol and puts her face so close to his he can smell her sex, feel the violence.

 "Can I sit?" He whimpers.

Still with the gun to his skin, she ushers him into the chair still warm from her own body. "Finish the story, all of it."

Kerry pays the taxi driver and picks up the attaché case wedged behind the driver’s back seat. It’s not unusual for business to be conducted at these ‘friendly’ affairs since it’s an eclectic collection of who’s who in the zoo comprising military, diplomatic, local dignitaries and businesses people. Receptions and such events are often the only time society here homogenises. Deals are struck, treaties discussed and campaigns decided.

She’s nervous with the weight of her load.  "Think of something else," she talks to herself for distraction and focuses on trivial things such as "Where do Afghan women get a bikini wax or American nails."  She enters the reception milling with people and heads straight to the bar and orders a Cabernet Merlot, before strolling casually over to the Afghan and making her introductions, totally aware of the enormity of the swap she is about to make.

The children are safe, reunited with their mother but he doesn't know. He thinks she's delivering an address, a location and a wad of cash in exchange for his finest Afghan Brown. He thinks he's getting his progeny back. She thinks she knows what's in the bag. She knows that timing is everything. She knows she's a spy out in the cold. If the military find out, she's dead. If the Afghan finds out, she's dead. If she can't get out of the soiree in's over for everyone.

This is a lone mission and no good can come from being discovered. Fail, and might as well take a bullet now. There will be no rescue until she can get back to the hotel and meet her rendezvous and escape this mad country and its miscreant justice.

He's an ugly man, and she wonders what the young American had found attractive in him. He's bearded of course and greets her with an outstretched palm but not before bellowing into a handkerchief, making her reluctant to shake his hand, but she does.  She sits next to him placing her bag next to one identical at his feet, then sees Jones and Co. milling in the room. It's a surprise. She's supposed to be a lone operator and it irks her that they're tracing her steps, keeping an eye on her or perhaps at the ready to eliminate her if it all goes pear-shaped.  It's nearly over, she's about to see the back of it.  The back of the desert, the charade, the dangerous game; the back of this unruly outpost, and back into the land of ice and snow where she belongs.  She has a brief flashback to a Massachusetts winter and she swears she smells Thanksgiving dinner before she returns to the moment and focuses on the task at hand.  There's little more to do than make the switch, bid farewell and exit.

The taxi is well into the D-3 district and out of earshot when the ground vibrates and a pall of dense smoke rises above the building she's escaped. Tomorrow, she goes home, knowing that the Afghan is now a pile of chunked flesh and broken glass, and he’s not the only one.
"I blew up the club and everyone in it?" she releases her hold on Jones. "I was that woman? I made the switch?

Jones nods, "Fake money  and a slab of C-4 for dead flowers . . . killer flowers."

“We set up a purchase. A  shipment in exchange for the kids. We wanted the keys to stop him flooding the market, to stop him selling to the cartels. We buy a shitload of that stuff from him and a million others, then destroy it. Only there wasn't just money in that bag. We blew the bastard to smithereens. You blew the bastard to smithereens. Along with everyone else. You don’t remember? Did my job well then didn't I? We had to cover it up, blame an insurgent bomb. Something went wrong with the timer. It wasn't supposed to go off until he was heading home. You killed some of your own as well as theirs. Damn nearly killed me."

Her heart skips a beat. She slumps back into her chair, no true recall of what happened but a 'feeling' that she'd led a double life, saved a life, taken a life, now she's rattled with the knowledge that she took many lives.  Innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

For once, she’s speechless. She also realises that he won't let her get away now that she's been told the truth. Her gun arm falls limp and the weapon slips from her fingers. She's shattered.

Jones pushes a button on his desk phone, "Harley, I think we're done here now."

A man dressed in a white lab coat walks into the room and begins to remove something from his pocket. 

She's quick enough to suspect something untoward, "Oh no you don't!" 

In a flash, she retrieves the weapon. No time for negotiation as two sharply aimed shots spit from the barrel.  She pivots on one foot taking Jones by surprise then spins, the white coat now seeping red. Clean kills, minimum blood. Some things remain in the subconscious only to surface under pressure. She  grabs her coat. Pockets the pistol and leaves, locking the office door behind her.

Slipping out of reach was easier than she thought as recall begins to emerge. She hurriedly returns to her apartment, makes a call to the only man she trusts before removing the attick cover and retreiving a long-forgotten suitcase.  Passports, fake ID, it’s all coming back. Selecting those that most suit her purpose she hurriedly packs before slipping silently into oblivion. She remembers deep cover, how to give them the slip. She remembers evasive action and the art of necessary disguise. She remembers everything except smuggling the children, perhaps that didn’t happen, she doesn’t know. She doesn’t care.  Charles is supportive and the level of trust she’s put in him dangerous but warranted, his car pulls up in the street below, her wheels to freedom for now.

“Remember I told you I had connections?” He announces nonechalantly as they drive towards the airport.

“I used to be an operative. Worked editing documentation, hiding anything that might incriminate the agency. Never saw any action though so no need to erase me or my memory. I was a desk jockey but I know how to get what we need to expose the truth. Are you interested in helping me expose this? Go public.”

She's reluctant, it’s all too fresh and her memory and might not be totally accurate, “Perhaps, but Ineed to go deep. Stay down for a while. I’ll do some digging. We can’t bring this up without hard evidence.”

She passes him a mobile phone, “Here, I’ve changed the IMEI and the SIM in this and in my my phone. It can be traced if the call is longer than 2 minutes but you can message. They won’t be able to find me or link you."

He smiles…it’s bittersweet but better than nothing. “I’ll be in touch Kez. Trust me, I’ll be in touch.”
With that, she opens the car door and is gone in a swirl of suitcase and overcoat. She doesn’t look back.

The Agency began pursuit but she’s slippery and by the time they’d realised what had happened, who’d eliminated Jones, she’d boarded a plane, several planes and was well south of the border.
She's changed her name. Dyed her hair.  Even had a nose job, surprisingly cheap where she’s hiding. She’s immersed herself in the place and the culture. Her only regret that she’s alone in an open prison, far from home. As prisons go, it’s not bad and she can cope.

Charles, ever the concerned friend, the lover, keeps in touch. For now, short messages, and communiqués. Limited contact from public computers all with dynamic IPs. He feeds her information while she works on her memory and documents it all, everything…she’s waiting for the right time to release it to the press. 

He loves her more the longer he stays away, but keeps her close in heart and mind. For now it’s too dangerous to be around her.  She misses him like a limb but knows there’ll be a time when she can come out of the cold. 

She also knows now, why she cut the flowers from their stems.


  1. Stamford? Stanhope? (first line)

    I like the ending. And I think there's a lot of potential in this story. I suggest you take the ending (not including the scene in Jones' office) and rework the story back from that. Maybe Mercedes Karpov and Edmond Chase would be willing to help Kerry Stanhope and Charles put things right.

    Oh, and that Thanksgiving dinner you smelled? That would be mine. I do a bang-up job at it. You have an invitation to share anytime you'd like. ;-)

  2. Eh... Muse doesn't fit. And Jones' character shift is way too over-the-top (if that's the same Jones from the previous parts). The last section of the ending is expected, which is fine, but the first two sections... WTF?

    Too much glossed over.

  3. I liked the writing, despite the numerous typos and grammatical errors. Ending came up a bit short with me. I was like the main character, never really knowing who she was, or what she was about. That's actually the most interesting part of the whole thing

  4. This page seemed to end short. Did you get bored with the work?

  5. Like Tom, I enjoyed the main character... I see so much Jeff in your writing now that it's coloring my view of it.