This story introduces Chuck, an…associate of Ethan who you may remember from previous stories. He’s going to be a re-occurring character if I can get some writing/editing done on his story. This is just a snapshot.
Ethan did not look like a janitor. That is what Chuck was thinking as they rode the elevator up to the top floor of the office building. Ethan was dressed like a janitor, but he stood too straight and looked too confident. Chuck was dressed in the same grey uniform, and felt as if anyone they passed would know immediately that he was a fake when he couldn’t manage to roll the mop bucket down the hall without sloshing water everywhere.
They didn’t talk on the way up or as they walked through the halls. Chuck’s shoes squeaked on the floors. Ethan, who appeared to have the same shoes, walked silently. They passed one office worker and Chuck felt like panicking, but Ethan just nodded to him and continued on. Ethan stepped into a conference room, closed the door, and turned off the light. When he opened the dented handyman’s toolbox he’d been carrying, a large gun loomed on the top. Ethan took it out and set it on the table. Under it was a large camera, a pair of binoculars and a few other things Chuck couldn’t distinguish in the dark.
“Why the gun?,” Chuck whispered, breaking the silence.
After taking the camera with a long telephoto lens out of the box, Ethan pulled an office chair around so it was facing the wall of windows overlooking the street. “Always have a weapon, just in case,” he said in a normal voice. “We don’t need to whisper.” He sat down and put the camera up to his face, then lowered it again. “Pull up a chair, Chuck, and man the binoculars.”
Chuck picked up the binoculars and sat down next to Ethan. He looked through them down at the street, but saw nothing. “What do we do now?”
“Wait,” Ethan said. Ethan wasn’t a big talker.
“What is Catty doing? She’s down there, right?” Chuck asked, not exactly the strong silent type like his companion.
“She’s not there yet, but she will be soon. She’s in charge of getting any sound bites that she can. And making sure we can see the subjects,” Ethan said.
“How can you let her put herself in danger all the time? Doesn’t it drive you crazy?” Catty always looked so…vulnerable. She should be up here, while the big, burly Ethan faced the subjects. Chuck had only a vague idea of who the subjects were, but if Ethan and Catty were interested in them, they were guaranteed to be dangerous.
“It’s her job,” Ethan responded mechanically. “And it’s my job.”
“I know it’s your job. But I also know you are close to her.” He paused. “I’m just not sure how close.”
Chuck remained silent, but Ethan seemed to read his skeptical thoughts anyway.
“Is that what you think of Catty?” Ethan said, letting a hint of annoyance seep through the stony exterior.
“You do live together.”
“We’re not sleeping together if that’s what you’re getting at,” Ethan said abruptly.
“Okay, sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. But I know you care about her. I would probably go crazy watching her walk right into…everything.”
“You have no idea,” Ethan said, under his breath. Half a minute passed. “You get to watch tonight, but try not to go crazy. Here she comes.” Ethan tossed Chuck an ear piece as he put one in himself.
Chuck stuff the ear piece into his ear and looked through the binoculars down to the street. At first, he didn’t recognize Catty. The woman approaching the bar looked older than Catty. She wore sleek navy pants with painfully high heels. Her blouse was sultry and the fabric shimmered as she moved. Her hair was almost black it was so dark. A wig, Chuck realized. It hung, loosely curled to the middle of her back. She had bangs sweeping across her forehead, and very sparkly, very dangly earrings in both ears. She was stunning, but different than the Catty Chuck was used to.
“Let me know when they are getting close,” Chuck heard her say in his ear.
“Got it,” Ethan responded back. Ethan had the camera to his face searching the street around the bar. Catty disappeared inside, and Chuck could faintly hear the sounds of the bar coming in through her mike. A few minutes past before Ethan signaled to Chuck to look at a car that was pulling up to the bar.
“Show time,” Ethan said to Catty. Two men got out of the car and went inside. A moment later Catty appeared in the large front window holding a half empty cocktail glass. She sat at one of the tall tables that looked out over the street.
The two men drifted into view with a third companion that must have already been waiting inside. They were just behind Catty and Chuck saw one of them eyeing her greedily. Chuck wanted to punch the guy. Remember what Ethan said, he thought. It’s her job. He looked over at Ethan for reassurance. He had paused in taking photos, and Chuck may have just imagined it, but he thought Ethan wanted to punch the guy too. Catty ignored the three men completely, lounging in her chair staring lazily out the window.
Ethan began taking photos again. Chuck saw the third man nod towards Catty and he said something to the others. They laughed and walked to the table next to hers and arranged the chairs so they could watch Catty. She gave them an insolent glance and then stared back out the window.
“Read them like a book,” Ethan said quietly, to himself. Ethan kept taking pictures as he explained to Chuck, “All she has to do is hear the description of the subject, and she knows exactly how to dress and act to draw them in. They are right where she wants them.” They watched as Catty sipped her cocktail and the three men conversed. The click of the camera and the background noise from the bar via Catty’s mike were just enough to keep the silence from feeling oppressive.
“I think we’re going to be good tonight,” Catty’s voice came in. “I’m getting everything.”
“What language?” Ethan asked.
“Korean, actually. I wasn’t expecting that.”
“I can’t hear anything,” Chuck whispered, afraid that the recording device Catty was using had malfunction.
“We can’t pick it up over her mike, but her phone will get everything we need,” Ethan said. Catty picked up her cell phone, opened it, and began texting. “Now she’s getting a few closeup photos to complete the package,” Ethan explained. He had paused in his photography work and Chuck thought he looked like he was enjoying himself, although it was hard to tell with Ethan.
Catty shifted just slightly and Chuck realized it was to get better photos of the three men. She put the phone away. “I think we’re can wrap this up. That bottle of vodka is almost gone. Not much more business is going to get done.”
Catty picked up her glass and drank the rest. She stood. One of the men said something to her and she turned. “Excuse me?” Catty responded, sounding annoyed. The man approached her, smiling darkly. Catty scowled at him and turned to walk away. He grabbed her arm and stopped her. Catty glared at the man so coldly, Chuck shivered. He hoped she never looked at him that way. When the man didn’t let go, Catty pulled free easily and strutted away. The men stood up to go too.
“They are going to try to follow her,” Ethan said, almost smiling.
“And that is supposed to make me happy?”
Ethan chuckled. “Catty has already disappeared. They will never find her.”