Ok, I'm late with my Write..Edit..Publish Reunions excerpt. I started this thing about three weeks ago, and the more I write/edit it, the longer it gets. I think dear old Isaiah thinks he should be a short story; I've been reading (listening to) lots of detective novels. Isaiah, a really bad guy, sort of developed from my book and movie preferences. Aargh!!
My submission is nearly 1300 words, unedited. I just ran out of time to fix this. Blame my MC for being such a needy, impatient brat. If his story feels like an unfinished prologue, it probably is. If I'm lucky, my muse will stick around long enough for me to find the time to work this into a Noir short story. I know what comes next, just don't have the time to develop it. Yes, I do hate that writing is not my priority at this moment.
“Welcome back Mr. Harvey,” a young man in gold and crimson cheerfully said. “Please, step this way so we can expedite your registration.”
Isaiah stood his ground in line. Twenty years in maximum security prison had trained him to distrust special treatment.
“Sir. If you would follow me. Please.”
The fresh faced boy looked distressed as he motioned for Isaiah to step out of line and follow him.
Isaiah looked left, right; up and down the lobby. He made a production of checking out all the angles. His eyes lit on cameras on the ceiling, ornate columns, fake flower pots and fountains. His gaze lingered on this man, that woman, a trio of foreigners. He looked everywhere.
“Please Sir. We have been expecting you. The Management wishes that you not linger overlong in the lobby.”
“I am weary, and have come a long way,” Isaiah intoned.
“For sure, Sir. This way, if you please.”
Not the response Isaiah had expected. “Lead on,” he agreed, and grabbed the handles of his suitcases.
The concierge led him to the right, and then the left along a brightly tiled path through the casino. Isaiah huffed and sighed, letting his guide know his bags were heavy as he fell behind. Another right brought him to a set of elevators.
“The bell hop has your key Sir,” said the fresh faced boy.
A Cuban appeared, his oversized attire garish in white and yellow. Isaiah frowned, looked back the way he’d come. “I am weary,” he began.
“Yes sir,” the Cuban bell hop interrupted. “Shall I attend to your bags for you, Sir?”
Isaiah nodded and allowed the Cuban to take control of his luggage. He loaded his two bags onto a wheeled rack, then pushed the button for the elevator to arrive. Isaiah wondered if all his preparations had gone awry. Years he’d planned this reunion. He’d called in all his markers, promised money he wasn’t sure he still had access to. Now he was free. But, had his patience paid off?
The elevator arrived and he stepped in. The suite was more sumptuous than Isaiah could have imagined, even at the height of his nefarious career. He’d climbed far, risked much, and when finally cornered by the FBI he’d kept his mouth shut. He’d expected support and special treatment for his loyalty and silence. His position had guaranteed him certain considerations. He’d been wrong.
After inspecting the three rooms, paying particular attention to areas that might logically conceal video and listening devises, he was surprised to see the bellhop still standing near the door.
“Oh, uhm,” Isaiah started, hands in his empty pockets in embarrassment.
“No need, Sir,” the disheveled man assured him with an ingenuous smile. “I’ve been generously taken care of.” He stuck a hand into his back pocket, pulled out a wad of papers, and offered them to Isaiah. “For your entertainment, Sir. Address is on the coupons.”
“Thank you,” Isaiah said dubiously. Entertainment was the last thing on his mind
Alone in his rooms, Isaiah sank to a knee and let his emotions overwhelm him. Where had he gone wrong? No one had appropriately responded to his carefully crafted codes. Were any of his old contacts still viable? Had everyone been bought, killed, or just been dormant so long they’d forgotten their allegiance?
No, he decided. He would not despair. He would shower, shave, and dress as if he still had a plan for his revenge. He had hoped all the players would be together in a spot of his choosing. But he still had his patience, his most valuable skill.
He stood, and angrily tossed the papers into the waste can. They fluttered as they fell, and he recognized a slash of writing. Retrieving the two slips of paper, he noted one was a prepaid entrance to The Right Spot night club. The other, the one that caught his eye, was a hand written note stating, “See you at ten. Don’t be late.”
Isaiah checked the ornate wall clock and noted he had an hour and a half before his appointment.
He entered the club amidst angry cat calls and profanity from the head of the waiting line. By the time he ordered his second whiskey he was getting antsy. Crowds still made him nervous. The waitress that delivered his drink was not who he expected.
“Hello Darling.” She set his drink on the table; kissed him softly on his left cheek, right cheek, lips; then flopped into the empty chair opposite him.
“Helen,” he said, hoping his monotone conveyed displeasure. In truth, he was delighted to see this dark and deadly beauty.
“Don’t be rude Darling,” she admonished, draping her overlarge and voluptuous form into the chair opposite him.
He waited while she sipped her white Russian. He’d learned not to rush her. But he was growing impatient, the noise of the Club grating on his delicate nerves.
There was a lull in the music. The DJ announced a break and the crowd shifted and cleared around them. Helen leaned towards him. “Your network has been compromised.” Her voice was a husked whisper.
“Compromised,” he repeated, looking desperately around the room.
Helen flicked a manicured finger under his chin. “You’re safe here, Sweetie. You know I adore you?”
Isaiah leaned back and picked up his melting drink. Helen wasn’t his type; he preferred his women natural born, petite. Race wasn’t important, but gender was.
She laughed again. “I adore you, Isaiah. Your honesty, in this depraved business.” Her eyes remained on his, though he wanted to look away and assess the crowd.
“You’re safe here,” Helen assured him. “For now. Maybe not tomorrow though.”
“What happens tomorrow?”
“I don’t know,” she said, sadness pursing her red lips. “I had control of today, and you were late.”
“Well,” he began.
“Never mind,” she interrupted. “Someone leaked your codes, and they were prepared for your scheduled reunion.”
Isaiah choked on his whiskey. “I’ve been very careful,” he sputtered.
She raised her hand again. “You’ve been gone a long time, and your payments are suspect.”
“I’m good for it,” he grumbled.
“I know. Which is why I’m still here,” Helen said, her smile somehow sadistic.
Isaiah glanced around, knowing the gesture was fruitless, but unable to help himself.
“You’re safe here,” she said. “But everyone that knew your intentions are dead.”
“Except you,” Isaiah said, working hard to keep the dread out of his voice.
“Except me, yes,” Helen agreed. “As I said, I adore you.” She slid a bulging envelope across the table to him. “Had you shown up to your ‘reunion’ tonight, you’d be dead too.”
He eyed the package skeptically, then seeing no reason not to take it, he snatched it up and quickly perused the contents.
“Walter Cronin,” he asked.
“I owe you,” she said.
“And – “
“Nothing,” she said, sipping her drink and looking into the milling crowd.
The DJ had returned to his kiosk. Looking closely, Isaiah realized he was the shabby bellhop.
“I, ah,” he began, looking through the lavish documents.
“I hope never to see you again Isaiah,” Helen said, carefully dabbing tears from the corner of her eyes. “But, knowing you, I will.”
“I hope not too,” he said with a smile he did not feel in his heart. “Thank you.”
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