And The Plot Thickens
Then . . . without warning Agent Sawyer leaped to his feet, whirled abruptly and kicked the red stool he'd just vacated, sending it spinning across the shiny floor of the room where it crashed into and ricocheted off the pale green wall where it rolled to a stop, miraculously undamaged.
"Okay Balzac," he shouted, "Enough crap. No more useless chit chat. You're going to give me the whole story, right now. Every last stinking word of it. You hear me? Not tomorrow, not next week, not someday, and not by God to hell even five minutes from now. Start talking."
Pindar stared into Sawyer's livid, beet red face, noting how the ropey blue veins stood out on the agent's forehead and said, quietly and calmly, "Why should I?" Sawyer stared back, breathing hard but visibly struggling to rein in his rage. "Because we have Nola Klok and Ricardo Newman. And their futures are in, uh, how should I put it, uh, peril? -- yes, that's it, dire peril, immediate and dire peril."
"Who?" Pindar asked. "You have who? Klok? Newman? Never heard of them." "Oh, you've never heard of your right hand man. Oops, right hand gal, sorry about that. And never heard of your trusty sidekick, Ric Newman . Never heard of either of them?"
"Well, okay then. Perhaps we can arrange a meeting, a meeting where the three of you can get acquainted. How'd that be?"
We might be able to convince you that bravery in the face of a comrade's severe pain and suffering quite often becomes nonexistent. Wilts away like a leaf of lettuce soaking in a pot of simmering vinegar. When soul mates start to scream and squeal and writhe about and repeatedly bang their heads on the hardwood floor and beg and plead to be mercifully put out of their misery, well, at times like that even the bravest, most intrepid, and most fearless of fighting spirits become prone to mediation."
When Balzac remained silent and continued to simply lie there in his strait jacket on the bed, staring up at the speaker as if the threatening oration was no more than a routinely boring Sunday morning sermon, Agent Sawyer walked over , bent down to whisper in his face, "Which one of the two are you fucking, eh? Which way do you go, superman, super-hetero or super-homo?"
When Pindar Balzac spoke, it was in a sharp yet controlled tone of voice. He said, "One day you will find out, Mister Government Man."
"Yes, I'm sure you are right," Sawyer said. "But it won't be some day. It'll occur in less than an hour. As soon as the arrangements are made. As soon as all the equipment is readied. As well as our two experimental guinea pigs."
# # #
Ric Newman hung back at the street-side entrance to Katz's Korner Kosher Kitchen A luncheon date with a lovely lady, as tempting as that might seem to a callow youth, had caused to toll the familiar bell of caution deep in his mind, that solemn gong that had so often warned him away from some impending disaster. He stepped to the side and peeped around the sill and through the sun-darkened glass into the deli's brightly lit but surprisingly small and uncrowded interior. She didn't seem to be there, not seated at any one of the ten or so tiny tables inside nor standing in the shadows near the doorway. But she'd said to meet her at exactly three o'clock that afternoon. He'd arrived at 3:00.
Nicole London was not a person any healthy young male could, should, or would ignore lightly. Her classically beautiful face with those sparkling green eyes, tantalizing tiny upward-tilted nose, and full carmine lips, not to mention her long, wavy auburn hair, and a body that old-timers liked to describe as 'to die for'. All of those descriptions, as well as her reputation within the group spelled out perfectly loud and clear, "I am woman, take me if you dare."
She had invited Ric to join her for lunch, telling him she had something of great importance to discuss with him, and that she needed his help. She needed him, only he could help her. And her need for him was urgent.
Nicole London, the Nicole London declaring such a personal need was, well... And she had hinted, without offering explicit details, that he would not be sorry if he were to agree to help her.
What would Pindar do in such a situation, Ric wondered. Hah! Pindar would never allow himself to be swayed by human desires, especially by merely sexual ones. No, Pindar was above such mundane instinctual drives. Pindar Balzac was, unlike Ric himself, the true pinnacle of this era's evolved human being, always bending his energies toward improving the lot of the group, the demonstrably superior members of this newest generation.
Yes, he thought, that's why Pindar is our leader, and why I am only his ever faithful sidekick. He's a leader, and I'm a follower.
The com holstered over his left breast beneath his shirt began to vibrate. With a final look through the window into the deli, Ric activated the com with a pat of his hand and spoke into the air in front of his face, using the usual whisper level expected of civilized two-way communication in public places.
"Newman here... go."
The voice that responded was unrecognizable. being filtered through one of the new HP miniature VoxRepro exchangers, but Ric knew that, due to the context, it was Nicole, who said, "Sorry I couldn't keep our date. Circumstances have changed. But I have to meet with you as soon as possible. Things are moving at an unexpectedly rapid pace, and we must get together immediately."
"Okay," Ric whispered. "just say when and where?"
"Right now. In the alley to your left, at the rear door of the deli. Knock with a Dum, dum, da Dum, dum... dum, dum. Hurry... bye."
"Bye," Ric said, as he turned to his left and walked swiftly toward the alley entrance.
# # #
Nicole London's solid silver com, pinned over the nipple of her right breast beneath a brief bandanna styled halter top, buzzed softly at her and she tapped it lightly, said, "London... go."
"This is Sawyer. Talk to me."
"He's on his way."
"Shouldn't be more than a couple of minutes."
"Don't screw this up. Do whatever it takes. Understand?"
"Yes. Don't worry. There's his knock mow; bye."
# # #
Nola Klok, felt a temporary respite from the removal of the restrictive strait jacket and by having been relocated to sit alone in a larger room, one with air conditioning, red and orange and green flowered wallpaper, and an agreeable abundance of comfortable looking furniture.
She looked up as the door opened, and a big smile lit up her face as she saw Pindar Balzac enter. Even the fact that a scowling David Sawyer, the FBI or CIA or some other federal agency's Get The Job Done super-special agent followed Pindar in could not dampen her relief at seeing the group's tall, slender, but strongly muscled leader.
Both men chose individual chairs and they sat upright on the edge of their seats, each warily watching the other.
"Pindar," Nola began, but stopped instantly as Balzac raised a hand, palm out in her direction.
"Later," he said.
"Good God, man," said Sawyer, "let her speak. Unless you have something to hide, that is."
"Where's Newman?" Pindar asked.
"All in good time, hold your horses. He'll be here when he's brought here. Not before."
Nola's face brightened and she said, "Ric's here, too?"
"Like I said," Sawyer repeated, "All in good time." He continued, "Why not use this time to bring me up to date on your recent activities. Who've you murdered lately? Either one of you may start. I'm all ears."
"We do not commit murder, Agent Sawyer," Nola told him, "and you know that. The selection of each and every subject for removal is carefully determined and then sanctioned by multiple committee heads, and ultimately by The Chief himself. "
"Nola, please," Pindar said.
Sawyer allowed his scowl to deepen. "A nine millimeter hollow point exploding in a 'sanctioned' human brain should hardly be relegated to the categorical euphemism you so glibly label as being a 'removal', my dear lady."
"I'm your lady, fella," Nola said.
"Understood," Sawyer said. "And not really all that young, you're right about that, and not so dear either, from what I hear."
"Exactly what do you mean by that?"
"Nola," Pindar interrupted. "Let it go."
"Let it go." Pindar stared into her eyes but spoke to Sawyer, "You don't have Ric, do you? If you did we wouldn't be sitting here waiting for him."
"That's right," Nola said. She stared back at Pindar. "This clown's bluffing. He's just a stooge, anyway."
Sawyer said nothing. He merely grinned.
# # #
Ric Newman entered the deli's back doorway after Nicole had opened it when he'd knocked with the Shave and a haircut code, He drew in a deep breath when he saw her. He couldn't help it. She was even more spectacularly stunning in real life than she was when she appeared in full makeup and wearing those magnificently brilliant form fitting costumes on the giant video monitors.
"Ric," she said. "Thank you for coming. I'm so grateful to you."
"How could I refuse? What's the problem?"
"It's complicated. I don't know how to tell you."
"Give it a try."
She reached out and touched his cheek in a gentle, smoothly flowing motion, crooning, "You dear, dear man."
Grasping his hand in her own, she led him to a dingy sofa pushed up against the wall of the tiny back room. Extremely aware of the warm heat being transferred from her distinctly feminine hand to his, Ric followed her willingly and sat down on the sofa as she indicated he should do. When she gracefully sank down to seat herself beside him, Ric's rate of respiration increased rapidly as he felt the firm but yielding flesh of her buttocks rub against his outer thigh.
"Oh Ric," she moaned, as her hand again slid softly over his cheek, the tips of her fingers touching his lips in a slow, deliberate caress.
"Will you come with me, Ric? Please? I can't explain; can't just tell you; I have to show you. Oh, I'm so desperate."
Her sweetly scented lips approached his own. "Please?"
"Sure I will. Lead the way."