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Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2321090-Oh-My-My
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Thriller/Suspense · #2321090
Floating up like there's water underneath; I'm the desert, you're the shining sea...
I checked my boarding pass one last time as I climbed the stairs: Rich Jenkins, 6:15 Flight 485, New York to Paris. I edged past faceless typical men in suits staring at phones or newspapers, stowed my carry-on and squeezed into the last remaining seat, between a guy chewing gum and a woman playing Candy Crush with all the sounds enabled. Bleh.

I hated long, crowded airplane rides, but it was an inevitable part of my job with the Agency. I disliked sleeping in public, and there was hardly room to lean the seat back, so I sat up stiffly and mentally rehearsed my assignment, trying not to be driven mad by the sounds of Mr Gum Chomper on my right or Ms Bubble Popper on my left.

The sight of Paris sprawling out along the Siene came none too soon, sparkling in the dusk like a lap full of stolen jewels. I caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower lit up in multicolored spotlights as we swung down to the runway. Paris isn't called the "City of Lights" for nothing. With a smirk, I added the word "blinding" to it in my head, recreating the jaded U2 song of the same name which reflected my current mood.

I grabbed my luggage, summoned an Uber, and made my way to the assigned hotel room. Unpacking, I changed from my stuffy button-down and blazer to something a little more edgy: a plain white T-shirt and a black leather jacket with a white shark emblazoned on the back.

I tucked a box of cigarettes into the jacket pocket and strolled casually out to the streets for a night on the town.

Inside the nightclub, I approached the bar, took a seat, ordered a drink and scanned the room for my contact. Fast-paced electronic beats throbbed from the sound system, and neon lights cast an unearthly glow on faces as couples danced in between murky shadows.

The women were dressed appropriately for the evening… meaning there was a lot of bare skin and bouncing body parts as they hopped around like monkeys on display. I held them all in disdain. Anyone who would cheapen themselves like that wasn't worth my time. I'd found out the hard way. I was there on business.

I spotted her sitting alone in a corner booth. Just as I'd been told to look for, she was the only woman wearing a long-sleeved dress down to her ankles, collarbone hugged by a ruffled neckline that looked positively mid-Victorian amid the flouncing debauchery.

She glanced up as I approached. Her eyes, catching the flashing rainbow lights, appeared to be as black as her smooth, straight hair. Her skin, what there was to see of it, looked pale as moonlight. Thin lips highlighted in pink parted in an unspoken question as her eyebrows arched.

"Tasha?" I inquired.

"White Shark?" she responded.

"Same." I turned quickly, displaying the back of my jacket. Then I sat down across from her with my drink. "You have a good time?"

"Nominally." Tasha's slender hands played nervously on the table like a piano.

I sized her up as I had the others who'd crossed my path over the years. Tasha held herself aloof, with the dignified bearing of royalty. Her enigmatic beauty drew me in even as I scoffed at the possibility of falling in love with a Russian spy who I'd probably never see again.

"Have you a cigarette?" she asked abruptly, the faintest trace of an Eastern European accent evident.

"Yes, but you'll have to pay for one of mine." I produced the box I'd brought along and pried out one. "They're genuine Virginia Slims. Bet you haven't seen the likes of these where you're from."

She reached into a small black purse, handing me a Euro bill. I surreptitiously ran my fingers across it, confirming the thickness. It was actually two bills, glued together around the edges, with a very thin piece of paper folded between. The cigarette I gave her in exchange had papers rolled up inside of it.

The exchange being completed, I should have simply gotten up and left. But I felt compelled to linger a moment in her mysterious presence.

"So," I said, allowing myself a faint smile, "do you usually dress like that to party?"

Tasha secured her cigarette in her purse, replying without looking at me.

"I don't party."

"You neither? Why are we here, then?"

"They made us come."

"Nice to meet you." I tried to engage her. "You live in Paris?"

"No."

"Seriously, if another beat drops, my brain's gonna blow up," I grumbled. "I'd better get going. Can't hear myself think over this din."

"Indeed," she said, raising her eyes to mine for the first time. "You are not alone in that."

"I'm always alone. My preferred default."

"There is safety in numbers."

"More like a big fat headache."

As the desultory conversation dragged out, a man wearing a loose T-shirt and jeans strode up to our table. His cold gray eyes and thin-lipped smile sent a chill down my spine. Tasha's eyes widened with a flash of horror quickly suppressed.

"I see you've met someone new, my dear," the stranger said, looking from me to her with an amused glance.

"Yes, Vladimir." Tasha addressed him in the same quiet tone she had used with me.

I calculated this guy could easily have a weapon hidden at his waist. Play it cool, man.

"You going steady tonight?" I asked casually.

"Yes." She stood up. "We are ready to leave now."

"Aw, shucks. I thought I'd have you all to myself. Shoulda told me." I leaned back in my seat and waved her away.

As Tasha and Vladimir walked off together, she glanced back over her shoulder and gave me a look. I was unaware of its significance… until I realized she'd left her purse at the table.

I picked it up and snapped it open. The cigarette was still there.

My mission was incomplete until that cigarette was safely in Tasha's hands again. I got up and headed for the exit they'd just gone through, elbowing past the dancing couples and pushing out into the welcome empty silence of the hallway.

I saw them ahead of me and kept my distance, trying to figure out how to separate them so Tasha could get away with my papers.

The outside air was cool and damp. Streetlights flickered through a light fog. The noise of traffic muffled our footsteps as I trailed them.

Vladimir led her down an alleyway. I edged to the wall and peered around the corner.

"Alright, what did he give you?" His voice was cold, low and ominous like the fog surrounding us.

"Nothing."

"You didn't go to a nightclub to have a good time. You're not that kind of woman. What were you doing?"

"Am I not allowed to have a good time?"

"You can't play with me, Tasha. I know who you answer to."

"You can see I have nothing. Leave me alone."

"You'll regret this…"

His hand shot out and grabbed for her arm. She yanked away from him, lifted her leg up and planted a kick square in his solar plexus with her spike heeled shoe. He folded in half like a newspaper and went flying back against the wall with a grunt.

Tasha steadied herself and rushed towards the main road, instinctively readjusting her clothes. I stepped forward into the alley in front of her. She jumped sideways.

"You forgot this," I said, holding out her purse with another faint smile.

She snatched it out of my hands without a word and shoved past me. I turned to follow her.

"Do you think I should—" I began.

"You ee-diot!" She spun around, glaring back down the alley. "He'll keel us!"

I glanced back and saw Vladimir getting to his feet. He drew a gun from under his shirt.

Tasha grabbed my arm and hauled me away down the road before I had a chance to collect my strangely muddled thoughts. I stumbled after her like a blind puppy.

Within seconds she waved down a cab and shoved us into it. I watched as we left Vladimir behind.

"Oh my my, what sort of a spy are you, Mr White Shark?" She rubbed her nose. "You have not the very fast reflexes of the shark."

"I'm alright. My mission's accomplished."

I can't forget the scornful look on her elegant face as she turned stiffly, silhouetted in the window against the city of blinding lights. If the circumstances had been different, I think she would have been just what I wanted. As it was, I never saw her again. Crazy world, the moment we call life.


Word Count: 1458.

notes

Lyrics to Oh My My


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