The Tension Mounts

This dream of Lady Chief’s, her confession to us about her relations with Ian as Chief of GLICIS, and the overall tenor of the GLCIS attitude toward the three of us spurred us on to prepare the beginning of our “extended vacation” in Pacifica.

We started noticing the regular appearances of about three strange cars in our neighborhood, which alternated their presence with each day of the week, and noted as well the permanent parking of a closed electrovan about halfway between the safehouse and our Storage Facility and within sight of both locations. I had just finished making regular trips to the unit with Elizabeth, with Lady Chief, and by myself to put our long term storage in order. We were sure those trips were known.

When we replayed a week of CCTV from outside our house our suspicions increased. As the chief shopper, I started doing a little more random driving in between destinations and discovering that electro cars behind me had certain similar features whenever I did this. Most particularly, they always had two, and only two, usually male, occupants of the front seat. In one case one of these cars was stopped by a red light after mine had been the last car through the intersection.

I continued my on-a-whim choice of a scenic route and it never reappeared. When I reached the grocery store parking lot a little later, that car was parked on the edge of the parking lot, and not in any of the slots, but next to the curb and facing toward the parking lot entrance. Two men were seated in it.

It was GLCCA security surveillance, of course. Since we were all spys with time in the field, and in (at least subtly) hostile territory, we had paid enough routine attention to have made the operation less than a week after it started. With a coordinating electrovan plus multiple, rotating vehicles following actively, but not obtrusively, the watchers were serious about it. It was surveilance, not harassment, with enough interest to warrant a van keeping continuous watch on both the storage unit and the house.

Storage businesses are semi-secure sites which are perfect locations for difficult or dangerous arrests. The fences are too high to get over or through in a hurry, there are only two gates to seal as you close in on the target, and there is no cover anywhere for the target to hide behind.

Very likely, it was being done at the request of the new Chief of GLICIS, whose appointment (but not, of course, his name) had been announced in the upper house of the Legislature, the Parliament, by the Prime Minister the week before. That stellar event was the “other” of “in other news” before the cutaway to three commercials on the evening news screen.

Clearly the new Chief was feeling his oats at no longer being Interim and had decided it was time to do something about the three of us. But what? That was the conundrum. Storage units were also excellent, well hidden, places for a discreet daylight hit by a Truth Team.

One Monday a flat, soft package came in our mail. When Lady Chief opened it up it contained a single gaudy green rayon Hawaiian shirt covered with eight splashy white hibiscus blooms. She held it up to show it to us and a folded, four sided, business card fell out of it. As we handed it around, we found no printing on it, but only a brief handwritten note that included a small, sketchy ink drawing of a single four petaled purple flower. The note read, “You have four days.”

Of course it was our GLCCA friend Violet, putting her job, and maybe even her own life, at risk. The folks at GLCIS must have been very heavy handed with GLCCA, openly stating their real intention of killing us with a Truth Team with GLCCA being asked to uncover our local travel habits.

Since there were never more than two of us in my electrocar at a time, and that rarely, one or two of us were always ensconced in a highly secure and well alarmed safe house. So the most likely method would be a bomb attached under the electrocar, in it, or below it’s hood. The coming Thursday, four days after the arrival of the shirt and note in the package, was the day when I would usually do our weekly grocery shopping and was the optimum time to place the bomb.

The car bomb would be placed, probably magnetically, while I was in a store shopping. It would be detonated remotely while the car was emerging or entering our attached garage. That bomb would kill at least me, and cause enough commotion for the Truth Team to break the security seal of the house by force, allowing the killer and thugs to penetrate it in the confusion, and to kill however many of us were still alive inside.

If anybody in the upper levels of GLCIS had any tradecraft left, they would know that I had a registration and carry licence for two guns, one of which was a duplicate of the one they originally removed from the house, and it very likely stayed in the house when I ran errands. So, given our past history with GLICIS killers, the members of that Truth Team would probably be fitted with kevlar vests and prepared for a firefight.

One of the goodies that GLICIS had sold to Elizabeth along with the house was a mirror on a pole used to check for suspicious additions under cars. We took it to the garage and ran it exhaustively under my electrocar, as well as searching the passenger compartment thoroughly and checking carefully under the hood. All of it came out clean. We went back into the living room and sat looking at one another for a moment. “Tomorrow?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Elizabeth, then turning to Lady Chief, “Call the airline and find out the express flight time from Midway to Portland.” Lady Chief went into the kitchen with her recently purchased dictapad. The house dictapad, of course, was already tapped.

Lady Chief returned, “Tomorrow at 11:45.” I opened up my own dictapad seeking route and travel time from North Chicago to Midway. It would take 50 minutes. Longer because I’d have to do some of the scenic route and a couple of rounds of four left hand turns. So we needed to start by 9 am.

The following morning at 8:30 am I backed the electrocar out of the garage and opened the trunk. Each of us brought out several pieces of useless junk of the type that accumulates in any home over time, with the star items being framed posters that once were on the walls that a 2500 volume library now covered, a hula hoop from the fifth iteration of the fad in the 2060’s, and a creaky exercise bicycle. All three of us were clueless about where those last two items came from. We placed them in the trunk, which was otherwise and visibly empty for the watchers.

The night before we had packed those clothes and personal items which meant enough to each of us that they were worth taking along from a country that we were never going to see again. The vehicle was still in the garage and our minimal luggage fit quite tidily in the rear seat and seat well beside the Dutchess of Kumquat, who, in the morning, was looking as elegant as ever in a style of soft sweeping and swirling fabrics and a couple of simple pieces of jewelry that, if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford them.

This day it was 2 carat first water diamonds, one on a neck chain so delicate that it simply disappeared into Lady Chief’s rich, midnight blue satin blouse leaving the pendant looking like a blue giant star floating between her breasts, the second two 3/4 carat were set simply and plainly in platinum and brightening her earlobes.

Not that anyone these days sees many blue giant stars. There’s still too much methane in the atmosphere for anything like the amateur astronomy of the 20th Century. In clothes like these, growing older increases the majesty of them. Lady Chief, in her late 50’s, with artistically grey streaked hair, looked regal beyond conception or comparison.

As spys, all three of us were habitually pared down to minimal possessions, always ready to permanently get out of town “in our socks” as was the phrase in GLCIS. Two of us, as whores, were pared down to those things that would sustain us in the life when unexpectedly changing towns, even though neither of us needed to work in a house or on outcalls again. We are, after all, whores for the rest of our lives, even at Elizabeth’s 75 years, so we have no excuse for arousing contempt by looking either slaternly or dressed below our age.

Those in the life, or discerning Johns, know instantly that we still are the Highest Class of Tart. I am in my middle thirties, the true age to service a fully mature man of wealth, intelligence, and discerning taste in women beyond mere pullet chasing; and Elizabeth, in her seventies, was an age appropriate serving of rum soaked, almond flavored, cake, ready for his patrician father. And, just like the diamonds, if you have to ask the price for us first, you can’t afford it.

Elizabeth and I wore our well fitting, well tailored day clothes; myself in the first, Oxford gray, business ensemble that Zoltan the tailor had given me years ago; Elisabeth in another of his creations in desert tan, a color that now truly flattered her delicately semi-transparent, aged skin and stunning silver hair.

Beyond the smart and curve enhancing clothes, we also each brought the well-stocked toilet and make up kit that allowed us to look our best within minutes, no matter what the situation, far less make-up for Elizabeth with her silver hair, and for me a makeup palette congruent with my day clothes and with the short curled cap of Auburn hair with the well worked golden highlights of the GLC Premiere Cuts shop, a style that doesn’t hide it’s artifice, or try to pretend that I’m still 27, but is as decoratively elegant as any of our bespoke tailoring.

For all of us it was just our simple daywear (as in stylish Simple Little Black Dress daywear) and none of us were leaving with any fanfare or any regrets.

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