I was thwarted again. This time by an accidental circus.
The circus is never accidental, you might say, but you’d be wrong. This circus was an impromptu compilation of the sublime and the absurd; the kind of thing that happens every night in the spy world. And I should know. I’m a spy. A spy with good intentions.
What exactly are my intentions?
Well, I’ve never really been sure. But they are good. Altruistic even. I’m not one of the bad guys. They are always so poorly lit. I have no problem with noir lighting, but the good guy always gets the better end of that deal. Also, I have a better hat. The bad guy fedora is always sort of slouchy and malformed. Mine is crisp and well creased. And purple.
I only wear it at night.
It’s night now.
The sun hadn’t quite set when I left my apartment. I live high in the sky, but Tim the Elevator Operator always brings me back down to earth. Tim never asks questions. Hell, he never even makes eye contact. But I’m pretty sure he’s curious. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s one of those peripheral characters that could go either way. I smile at him – a smile that I feel certain conveys more mystery than Tim can handle. He wants to know – I can feel it. But I’ll never tell.
Tim will be one of those that they’ll interview in the aftermath.
“Yes, this is where she lives,” he’ll say. (Maybe catching his breath and then correcting himself: “lived.” Maybe not.) “I always knew there was something different, something mysterious, about her. But I had no idea that she was a spy.”
Yeah, that’ll be Tim. I’ll laugh at the TV when I see the interview on the television over the bar where I’m drinking a Tom Collins. The bartender will eye me with that same sort of curiosity that Tim has. Maybe I’ll wink at him over the rim of my glass. A knowing wink. A wink steeped in mystery.
Once I hit the street, I tuck the collar of my trench coat a little tighter around my neck. The wind is cold and the rain sheeting its way to the sidewalk, washing it clean of the detritus of urban existence.
Well, that’s not really true. I’m wearing a trench coat, sure, but it’s May and one hardly needs it now. The wind is blowing but there are no clouds, no rain. There should be rain, but there seldom is. Probably an international cabal of monomaniacal meteorologists has commandeered the city’s rain and is holding it hostage. No more rain, drizzle or fog until we meet their demands. Funny that we’ve not been notified of the demands yet. What are they waiting for?
I made my way down the avenue, headed for my favorite all night diner. We don’t have those in the Southwest – back where I came from. All your eating has to be done by sundown or it’s just too damn bad. But in the city, hunger never sleeps. Burgers and fries available around the clock. I still feel guilty about it – eating after midnight. I do it sometimes, but just because I am edgy and live by my own rules. I step to my own drum. I don’t need your empty conventions.
The diner is empty. For the moment. I take a seat in the back, where I can watch the door. No tellin’ who’ll be coming in or what they’ll be looking for. Whatever it is, I’m prepared. That’s my job – being prepared.
I’m prepared for earthquakes, robbery, and 382 different forms of pestilence. I am all set if we have bombings, extra thick fog or rampaging rapists. I can handle it. I know the zig-zag run. I cannot be stopped.
A gun? No. Don’t need it. I live by my wits – my own special brand of chuptzpah. I can’t spell it, but I can sure as hell live by it.
The waitress is asking for my order. I know she’s curious about what I’m wearing underneath the trench coat. Wouldn’t she be surprised? She’d never suspect my crimson velour jogging suit – the color of dried blood and the texture of short, soft fur. Too bad sister. It’s mine and I’m not likely to share. The pants are a little bit hot where I have them stuffed into the tops of my knee high, high heeled leather boots. I can feel sweat run down the back of my knee.
I order. Frito pie.
Then I call her back and change my order. This is the city. The coast. The not my home. Their chili will have beans.
I get a cheeseburger instead. With tator tots.
It’s gonna be a long night. The city never sleeps. I’ll need my strength.
Don’t be afraid.