Mr. Tom Collins
A middle aged gentleman with graying short hair took notice from his airport seat. When he looked up his expression changed. It was an attractive young woman calling him.
“Hi, I’m Monica,” she put her smooth manicured hand out to shake his.
He shook her hand firmly with his equally clean manicured hand.
“How did you find me? Nevermind, let’s move to the airport bar where we can talk. I need a drink anyway.”
After uttering the first word, Monica became more and more subordinate. They walked at a clipped pace, both of them in fine cardiovascular health. Monica had put in her time running up and down stairwells.
Mr. Collins was wearing a gray suit with a tasteful geometric tie and polished black leather shoes. He carried a black attaché case. Monica was dressed in tight black dress pants, a shiny silver blouse with a tie at the neck and a strategically placed cut out at her cleavage. She wore flat black leather shoes in an effort to downplay her height. She carried a simple black shoulder bag that looked heavy.
“Have you been here long?” Collins asked. His blue eyes glinted with intelligence.
“I got here early and spent some time reading.”
“What did you find out?”
Monica was more disarming than Collins expected. Her delicate features had received a light yet professional makeup application. He found himself looking at her full lips, at the pink shimmery lacquer coating them.
“I found out a couple important things. Number one: the guy we’re looking at is, in my opinion, an expert at laundering money. He doesn’t keep the cash lying around or bury it like some 1970’s drug lord. He turns it into other forms of currency. Number two: second in command to the big kahuna is apparently a guy named Phil Spectrum. Phil is unhappy in second position, he’s highly competitive even with his boss. I think this aspect is key to disbanding the organization.”
They had arrived at the airport bar. They took a quiet booth at the back overlooking the tarmac.
“You’ve uncovered some good information, but it’s nothing that we don’t already know Monica,” Mr. Collins summoned the waiter and ordered a Tom Collins.
“I’ll have a soda water with a couple limes please,” Monica pulled out a compact and checked her lipstick.
“You’re not drinking?”
“It’s 1 pm on a Monday.”
“It’s what people do in airports.”
“I don’t want to lose the rest of my day.”
Collins tried to hide his disappointment. He was thinking it would’ve started his work week out right to get a little intoxicated with Monica, and then rent a room for an hour, or even half an hour.
“What’s your understanding of your role?”
“I’m told I’ll be working on the ground floor and collaborating with Cedar McPherson. Of course I’ll always be available to you, but as I understand it I won’t have a direct line, we can only meet in person.”
“Exactly, now Monica I want you to listen to me very carefully. We had a few problems with Cedar last year on Project Cannabis, so part of your role is to keep an eye on him. Are you married?”
“Are you married? I don’t see a ring.”
“I think you already know the answer to that.”
“I want to hear it from you.”
“No, I’m not married, but I don’t see how my status has any effect on this.”
“I’m asking more to look out for your best interests. We’ve got some sharks in the water and what I propose is this: I’ll do my best to keep you safe, but only if you’re honest with me about any advances made on you. We all know how incestuous it can be and I want you free and clear of all that for our work together.”
For a second Monica was caught off guard and he saw her tell. She grabbed a lock of her wavy brown hair and twisted it around her index finger.
“I really don’t think that’s going to be a problem. I’ve never needed a man to protect me from other men.”
“How can you be so naive?”
“It’s naive to think you haven’t been in that position at least a dozen times so far in your life.”
“I think I put off a very cool vibe when I want to.”
“You have no idea, that merely excites them.”
“Why are we discussing this? I feel uncomfortable.”
“Look that isn’t my intention at all. But clearly this is a subject you need to take a look at.”
There was a long pause before Monica acquiesced in an attempt to get him to change the subject. But despite her best attempts she was thrown off balance. It felt disempowering for Collins to offer his protection. She knew how powerful he was, that he was the highest ranking person she had worked with yet. But the way he tried to perform some kind of transaction with her made her feel cheap. Not only that, but worse it made him look cheap to her, and that wasn’t what she wanted. She decided that rather than bluntly voice her concern she would play it off smoothly.
“Mr. Collins you know, I think you might be right. It’s just hard for me to look at myself that way. I mean no one wants to be naive like this,” she purred and smiled her most disarming closed lip smile. Her eyes swept over Collins with a look of approval.
Not knowing exactly what had happened, Collins took a big swig of his drink, and silently hiccuped.
Monica was still staring at him, because now she did feel turned on, but she had raised the stakes and now she couldn’t rush off to a trashy hotel room with him. Crap, she thought.
Mr. Collins looked out at a distant runway with a slightly glazed expression. He needed some rest. The hours he had been pulling were starting to be very wearing and he was under a lot of pressure all the time.
Monica pulled a blank envelope out of her bag and pushed it across the table to Collins.
“Look I have another appointment. I have to go. This is for you. I hope you can get some rest.”
Collins looked a little defeated. He would have liked to decide when the appointment was over. He held his glass up in a toast, “Until next time Monica. I’ll be seeing you.”
She paused for a moment looking at her phone and didn’t notice him slip a bobby pin into her bag. Five minutes later she was exiting the tram at another concourse and it was as though the meeting never took place.