Wednesday December 3rd, 2014

The exercise:

Secret Agent Theme Week enters its second day with a request to write about: the mission.

I've got a list of seven prompts I'm planning to use this week, but I'm going to keep an eye on where you guys go with things to make sure they will all still be workable. Hopefully I've created a framework that allows lots of wiggle room though.

I was quite excited to learn this afternoon that I'll be attending another craft fair this weekend in Osoyoos. I had inquired last week about space and was told that I was second on their waiting list, but that they'd also yet to receive final confirmation from two of their intended vendors. Knowing how things can go off at the final minute for vendors, I was considering getting myself ready to be a last second replacement.

I'm glad that, instead, I've got a couple of days to get things sorted out. That includes putting in another rush order for more prints of four of my greeting cards. This is a more established market, in a better location than the one I attended last weekend. So if the weather is more agreeable, I should see quite a few more faces in front of my table.

Here's hoping, anyway.


He sits in a crowded coffee shop, sipping from a steaming mug while appearing to peruse the day's local newspaper. The noise level is nearing cacophony, between chatting customers and machines struggling to keep pace with the caffeine demands of the neighbourhood's populace.

The man doesn't seem bothered by the commotion, his attention rarely straying from the front page article before him. A steady finger reaches up to adjust his glasses at regular intervals, pushing them further up his nose or shifting them into more comfortable positions for his ears.

He has been coming to this shop several times a week for the last month, his routine hardly varying at all. Paper under his left arm, order a medium regular coffee with room for cream, add said cream and a squeeze of honey, and find a table by the window. Preferably, it seemed to the two staff who paid enough attention to notice, with a view of Main Street.

Another adjustment to his glasses, a slight frown. If any other patron had the chance to use those lenses they would likely complain of a headache, or at least wonder why only a small percentage of the words on the front page were legible while wearing them. Given enough time, they might have been able to decipher the message being transmitted.

But he, of course, never allowed them to go beyond his reach. They were too important for such carelessness.

Another frown, a deeper one this time. He puts down the paper, takes off the glasses, and places them carefully in an interior pocket of his jacket. He finishes his drink while clearly thinking of something else before vacating his table for an arriving college couple. The girl has more perfume than sense, the boy too busy staring at her legs to care.

He exits the shop, considers his surroundings for a few moments, and then disappears into the crowd.


Greg said...

That's good news about the craft fair! I hope there's plenty of crowds for you and that you don't succumb to the fidgeting that you were observing last time. And good luck with the weather of course :)
Hmm, it sounds like you've found a viable use for Google Glass! It's about time someone did.... But the details in this piece are unobtrusive and set the scene nicely (even if I'd personally never pollute my coffee the way your protagonist does, and so now hate him deeply :-P) and I'm disappointed, though impressed, that you've told us about the mission spec. being delivered but not shared it with us. Now I want to know what he's up to and how he's going to achieve it!

The mission
Rupert Harrington-Goss, a slim, bespectacled young man with a hint of five o'clock shadow at his jawline, eyes the green of old copper and slicked back dark hair shaved fashionably at the sides, yawned broadly, not bothering to conceal it behind his veined and calloused hand. He was wearing his dressing gown (he'd literally had to be shaken awake by his valet) from under which a hint of chest hair showed. His visitor, sat on a fisherman's folding stool opposite him, was making very sure not to look down towards Rupert's knees as she strongly suspected that he wasn't wearing anything underneath the robe.
"Well Mumsie?" said Rupert. Crockery rattled as the butler came in with a tea-tray, a three-tier cake-stand of petit-fours, and a small brown pill-bottle. "What's the gig this time?"
Mumsie, as the Head of M&A (officially Mergers and Acquisitions; unofficially Murders and Assassinations) was affectionately known selected a mince pie from the petit fours while the butler was still setting them down, earning herself a look of stern disapproval, and nibbled it. It was good.
"The Red Bear," she said. "I'm sure you've known this one was coming, Goss, he's been on the books for a while. But we need a little house-cleaning to happen, and you're the man." She looked at his youthful face again. "Boy."
"Dosso?" Rupert was watching the butler pour tea, and then brandy, into the cups like a snake waiting for a baby bird to step into its lair.
"The dossier has been emailed to you via the usual secure service," said Mumsie. She coughed delicately when the butler stopped pouring brandy into her cup, and he starting pouring again with just a subtle stiffening of his shoulders.
"And the bad news?" The butler stood back and Goss and Mumsie both lunged for their cups.
"Two things," said Mumsie, relaxing as she sipped her 'tea'. "First, we think the Red Bear was warned about this a couple of years ago. It's quite likely that he'll have been preparing himself for what he thinks is coming, but we've been leaking information that should make him think that we're planning on taking him out on his travels."
"Of course," said Goss, yawning again. "And the other?"
"Budget cuts," said Mumsie. "They've finally reached M&A as well, so your expense account is 10% of what it was." Goss looked elegantly horrified. "But you should be grateful for that, as most of the agents are now on 'no unnecessary expense'. When One Direction were assassinated outside the O2 last week my agents went there on the bloody Docklands Light Rail. I'm thinking of framing the bloody travelcards and putting them up in my office."
"That was us? Well done Mumsie!" Rupert clapped politely, and then gestured that the butler should refill his cup. "So no Aston Martin this time round?"
"Get your bleach from the 99p shop," said Mumsie. "Do what you can, Goss, but remember that I'm not made of money."

David said...

Michelle McCallister. Blonde, petite, generally underestimated by her colleagues and compatriots. The Barber learned his lesson seven years ago. Costa Rica. Three targets. One Barber. Michelle’s knife plunged deep into his shoulder that day. He had the scar to remind him. She saved his life.

“You’re still alive,” The Barber said.

“Of course,” she smiled.

Her smile disarmed many men, it put the Barber on edge. He knew it was the precursor to bad news.

“Your brother is dead,” she said, not losing the smile.




“Natural causes.”

“Which cause?”


“That’s unnatural.”

“It spread quick.”

“How long?”

“Four days.”

“When’s the funeral?”

“Tomorrow, 9am?”

“Thanks for letting me know.”

Michelle stood up and leaned close to the Barber. She kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

He watched her leave, he always felt more comfortable when he knew she was gone. In her seat, an envelope. The Barber opened it, sifted through the contents:

A passport

Two locker keys

One plane ticket

Back to Costa Rica. Flight would leave 9am the next day. The Barber’s contact within the Beard’s organization had stopped communication. Four days prior. It was believed there had been a leak. The Barber would need to go and reinstate the lines of communication.

Or tie up the loose ends. Either way, he hoped he would not need a visit from Michelle any time soon.

Marc said...

Greg - hmm, then maybe I shouldn't inform you that I take my coffee the same way...

That's a great description of your agent, and I enjoyed the back and forth between him and Mumsie. Poor butler!

David - there are, I suppose, worse ways of receiving an assignment...

I am intrigued by this mission and can't wait to see how things go with it!