some fall in love. i shatter.

The Friction (#6)

In Stories Volume 1 on April 9, 2012 at 8:04 am

01.28.12 / 4:56am

Brown was in the driver’s seat, his fingers locked on the steering wheel even as they sat still.  White was in the back on the passenger’s side.  Two dark gray suitcases were in the trunk.  One held her possessions, the other contained things she had picked up for Black.  She didn’t know if he would pack, if he even had clean clothes ready to go.

Manhattan – the city may never sleep but it dials back the intensity.  The car stood out terribly, she thought, idling on the quiet city street.  She saw light streaming from the windows of his building and hoped that he was the one awake.  She had tossed her depleted burner two days before and he hadn’t had any way to contact her, to signal assent, dissent, or warning.  One light was killed, then another.  The pause was severe and everlasting.  Maybe New York did sleep, maybe it was asleep now and so was she, caught in a dream where Black would forever linger between his residence and the front door of the building; where thirty seconds would last thirty years.  Better than to find the Head of Security walking through that door – she would expect nothing less than blood on his hands if he had discovered their plan.  But New York didn’t sleep and it wasn’t a dream and thirty seconds didn’t stretch thirty years and the building’s door opened slowly until finally Black emerged.  He was incognito in the casual wear of Americans: dark jeans, black sweater, black peacoat buttoned tightly around his lean frame, a black leather overnight bag in his right hand.

Brown pulled away from the curb two blocks away.  Black hailed them and they pulled over like any gypsy cab.  White smiled through the tinted glass, watching his hand reach for the door.  His glasses were pushed tight against his face.  They could do this, they could be free together for however long was left.  The car door opened.  Her left eye caught a pair of headlights approaching behind them.  Her right thought it detected movement at the door to the building.  She turned–

 

01.27.12 / 10:18am

Brown parked illegally and set his hazards to flashing – the diplomatic plates would prevent any hassle for at least a few minutes.  The boy stood under the awning of the bodega near the corner of 47th and 3rd, right where he was supposed to be.  Brown was thankful the boy hadn’t fucked this up for if he had, White would’ve blamed both of them.  He dialed the boy’s phone and hung up once he saw him react.  Brown waited to see if he signaled anyone.  Nothing, he hadn’t been compromised.  He dialed and hung up a second time.  The boy entered the store.  Brown quieted the car’s engine and followed inside, the tip of the white envelope emerging brightly from the pocket of his gray felt overcoat.  When he exited with a pack of cigarettes, the envelope was gone.  The boy exited shortly after, the tip of the white envelope emerging brightly from the pocket of his black Gore-Tex jacket, his inner pocket thick with a roll of cash.

Brown was double-parked at the first relay point on 55th and Madison by the time the boy arrived a few minutes later.  The two couriers hadn’t met before but Brown had been meticulous in the details: where each would stand, what they would do with their hands, how they would greet each other.  Even though he was watching for it, he barely saw the four-times folded envelope slide between palms as they greeted each other like old friends.  Then they split in opposite directions.  Brown took the car out of park.  He hated spending his time tracking couriers like this but it was the only way to ensure the unmolested transmission of the message from White to Black.

He was barely in time for the next relay.  The second boy had taken a stack of papers from his backpack, the folded envelope on top.  As he passed the flower shop on 43rd at 5th, he stumbled and it all went crashing down.  Brown flinched.  Somebody knelt to help him with the papers and the boy was on his way.  Minus the envelope, now in the hands of the third courier.  Brown didn’t need to follow this man – he was the most trusted of the three, had been used before, had a connection with one of Black’s men who believed he was working on a solution, even if everyone in the world knew a solution was out of reach.  If this connection had an ounce of intelligence, Brown thought, he’ll be making escape plans before they call him back.  He looked down towards the steering wheel, said a small prayer for his family back in Gray, and turned south.

 

01.27.12 / 7:00am

White walked downstairs from her bedroom in the second floor of the townhouse, emerging into the kitchen where her cook and his assistant busied about with preparations, though for what she did not know.  There were no dinners, no receptions, no parties planned.  Maybe I should have planned one, her mind drifted, to ease any concerns about my continued determination and presence here.  The assistant added milk foam to her espresso and handed White her first macchiato of the morning.  She relished small things like the espresso machine and the milk frother igniting at the sound of her high-heeled shoes through the floorboards.  She held the fragile white porcelain saucer in her left hand and sipped from the cup in her right, tasting how the fatty milk opened up the fine espresso’s flavor.  White was asking what the preparations were for when she saw Brown’s blazer pass across the doorway.

“Brown,” she called.  He came back and looked at her through the doorway.

“Yes, Madam?”

“Join me in my study, I need to discuss something with you.”

“Yes, Madam.”

Down the hallway from the kitchen, they entered a room of dark woods and books.  White walked behind her large desk and motioned for Brown to sit as she did the same.  He undid the buttons on his blazer and followed her command.  She took a folded white envelope from the breast pocket of her suit jacket and spread it out on the desktop between them.

“You know what this is?”

“No, Madam.”  She hesitated.

“It’s time, Brown.  All is coming to an end for us, just as we discussed.  Now you know what this is.”

“Yes, Madam.”

“And you remember the instructions?  You have your people in place?”

“Indeed, Madam, they have been in place for weeks now; adequately financed to keep them in their places.”

“So you’ll drive me in as usual, maintain your normal schedule, do nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Correct, Madam.”

“My speech has been pushed off until Monday, so the morning should proceed as normal, meaning Black should leave the grounds around 10am.”

“Correct, Madam.  If today’s schedule is the same as it has been, then everything is under control and in place.”

“Good.  Thank you, Brown.  And your family… ?”

“They know nothing but I’ve kept an eye on their whereabouts.”

“Good; I wish the best for you and for them.”

“Thank you, Madam.  If there is nothing else, I should make some preparations.”  His meaty hand reached for the envelope, folded it, and slid it into his pants pocket.  Brown made swiftly for the door.  “Good luck today, Madam.”

“Good luck to you, Brown.”  He shut the door softly.  His heavy footsteps could be heard moving rapidly down the hallway.  White swallowed the remaining coffee and cradled the small mug in her light palm.  She needed to remain focused.

 

01.27.12 / 1:39am

White took the piece of paper, folded it three times, and slid it into an envelope. She folded the envelope and slid it into a jacket pocket, terrified even to leave it out in sight of the world. She wept inside but maintained her resolve. A small smile even crept across her face momentarily; a rarity without him.

 

01.27.12 / 1:17am

“Our countries will annihilate each other.  They will tear down the entire world if it is necessary.  They don’t care anymore – all understanding, all empathy, all goodwill has been obliterated by years of violence.  Even if our respective leaders were to stand down it would do no good – the people would tear them to shreds as they themselves have oiled the gears of war.  If not our leaders, our military; if not our military, our citizens; if not our citizens, our vermin.  So deeply has the violence, persecution, and hatred permeated our society that should all living creatures be killed or halted, even the trash and waste would self-animate and rise up to bear arms.

If we are to leave this behind, if we are to forget our families, our countries, our lifelong loyalties… now is the time.  You have seen the writing the same as I, the signs are garish and unmistakable.  My country will be recalling me from the United Nations in days, if not hours.  I am only still here as I convinced them I was possibly onto a breakthrough with someone deep inside your country; that it was so secret that I could reveal nothing, only that I needed a few more days.  This is my cover.  I cannot fathom how you are still here other than that your country is playing the victim, the innocent citizen of the world, and requires that you be here to save face and rally countries to your side; even as we both know that your missiles are being prepped, your assassination teams are infiltrating my country, and that, though the rest of the world is unaware, the top general of your army has already been poisoned for cautioning against aggression.

The time is now.  The world as we know it is ending.  Pitiable as we may be, we are privileged; though we have failed on the world stage, we have succeeded in our own theatre.  You and I; after we disappear together, we will be forgotten.  We are but minor characters in the tumult swirling around us; stand-ins for the leaders we disagree with whose words we must represent lest we be forced to find each other in the cloudy confines of death.

Tomorrow morning.  5am.  My car will be outside your residence.  Brown will escort us and then go to his family out west.  We can still trust him.  I will have everything else prepared.  Have faith… in the plan, in the inevitability, in me.  I love you.  Even as our countries burn themselves to the ground and threaten to bring the world with them, even as everything we’ve ever been taught ruptures and shakes the earth beneath out feet.  I love you.”

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