“I left your man resting outside, hope you don’t mind, Jack,” the man said.
“No… not at all, Roy” Jack said, annoyed.
“Oh, and the men you sent in earlier… I don’t know why, but they suddenly decided to get naked and tie themselves to a tree… craziest thing in the world,” the man said. He was smiling and radiated cheerfulness. “And a couple of fellows that were up on the trees, playing with some toys, also fell down… you should check that out, too.”
Jack lowered the driver’s tinted window. The driver looked back and Jack made a gesture with his head. He nodded and stepped outside.
“Oh, hello Lucy…” Roy said, extending his hand. “Long time no see.”
“Yeah,” Lucy said, and shook his hand. “They woke you up too, eh?”
“Worst, I was having breakfast…” Roy said, shaking his head. “But doesn’t matter, good to see you again.”
“Yeah… you too,” Lucy said, still half asleep.
“So… what’s this about?” Roy said, still smiling. “And who’s this?” He looked at Mr. Russell.
“This is Mr. Russell,” Jack said. “We need to talk, Roy.”
“Yeah? Okay… what about?” Roy said, and quickly added, “Oh is this about Sebastian?”
Jack turned and looked at Mr. Russell who looked back. They both grinned.
“You up for this?” Roy said, facing Lucy.
“Hell no, I’m just here ‘cause I didn’t spot the snipers.”
“Is that right?” Roy said and laughed.
“Shut up… I was sleeping.”
The driver returned to the limo and the car began to move forward once again.
“So, where are you boys taking us?” Roy said.
“New York Headquarters,” Mr. Russell said.
“Listen Mr. Jackass– I mean, Russell,” Lucy said, her eyes on Russell. “Just drop it, turn around and let me go back to sleep,”
Mr. Russell did not say anything and simply smiled; however, his gaze rested on Lucy.
Lucy’s expression began to change subtly. First it transformed into humorous frustration. Then she clenched her jaw and her eyes froze, her face stung by the crimson hue of deep annoyance.
“You know mister, I’d wipe that smile off, if I were you,” Roy said.
“Don’t worry, Roy, I won’t do anything stupid…” Lucy said, made a pause and then added, “Yet.”
“The briefing is in New York at 9 am, if you want you can–“ Jack began.
“Jack, I think you better tell us right now what’s going on,” Roy said
“Mr. Stevens, we’ll–“
“Please call me Roy, Mr. Russell.”
“Okay… Roy, I think we better wait for New York.”
“With all due respect, Mr. Russell, I wasn’t talking to you,” Roy said, still in the same jovial voice.
Mr. Russell, for the first time, was taken aback.
“Well, Roy… This is my operation and I think that–“
“Mr. Russell,” Roy interrupted. “Please shut the fuck up.” Roy looked at Russell and then back at Jack. “Jack… either you explain to us what’s the deal right now, or we’re out.”
Jack looked distressed. He knew Roy too well, and what he was capable of doing. Roy was different from Lucy: she still cared. Jack knew he would not be able to stall as he’d done with half-asleep Lucy. He looked at Russell who nevertheless shook his head, then turned back to Roy and gave up.
“Sebastian appeared on the grid yesterday,” Jack began, Mr. Russell sighed in resignation. “He made a mistake; we think he’s hiding in New York. We have a chance now, a couple of years we didn’t have the information we have now. This time we can get this guy. We need your help.”
There was a moment of silence. Roy glanced at Russell and then to Lucy, expecting Jack to continue, but he remained silent.
“That’s it?” Roy said.
“We have detailed intel about where he might be hiding,” Russell said. “This is a once in a million chance. We have to take it.”
“Right… Well, good luck with that, gentlemen, but, and I think I’m not alone in this” –Roy turned to Lucy: she nodded– “I think we’ll pass.” Roy then turned to Lucy.
“Roy, please reconsider your–“
“Say Lucy,” Roy interrupted, ignoring Jack. “You want to grab some breakfast, I know a great place around here.”
“Yeah… I might as well forget about having a good night sleep.”
“No disrespect Roy, miss Lucy… But you can’t leave,” Mr. Russell said.
Lucy and Roy both looked at Mr. Russell attentively. Then they turned to Jack who looked uncertain.
“Really, Jack? This guy?” Lucy said.
Jack said nothing.
“So, where’re you dropping us off?” Roy said looking at Jack. “If you could lower the glass so we could tell the driver…”
Jack remained still for a moment. Roy and Lucy’s stares were fixed on him. Soon after, he lowered the glass.
“Driver… Mason Street with Dixon,” Roy said.
“Is that alright, Mr. Powers?” The driver asked.
Jack sighed and glanced at Lucy who still had her eyes on him. “Yes Andrew, it’s alright.”
Mr. Russell remained silent.
“You were always a crazy mother-fucker Jack, and it’s cool… it suits you, gives you that edge your face lacks, but if you ever pull that sniper shit again, you’ll be dead,” Lucy said.
“Come on Lucy, the man is probably just under a lot of pressure, give him a break,” Roy said.
“I don’t give a shit,” Lucy said tiredly. “And this other guy, I mean, what the fuck, Jack?”
“Well, that I got to say… Mr. Russell seems to be indeed a very idiotic person, Jack,” Roy said and looked straight at Russell.
“You’ll regret this,” Russell suddenly said.
Lucy immediately pulled out her gun and pointed it at Russell. “You fucking wake me up, put snipers on me, tell me all these stupid things about Sebastian and then you threaten me? I might be asleep but I’m not stupid.”
“The man’s stupid…” Roy said, but his voice was void of any real emotion. “But sure he’s just that, not really worth it, if you ask me…”
“Fuck that,” Lucy said emphatically. “I will cap your skinny ass and throw it out the window.”
“We’re here sir,” the Driver interrupted, everybody had forgotten the glass was still down.
“Thank you Andrew,” Jack said dubitatively, looking straight at Lucy’s gun
The car slowed down and parked.
“Come on, Lucy,” Roy said, opening the door. “We both know you’re not going to shoot the man.”
Lucy smirked and pulled the gun away from Russell’s face. “You sure know the business Roy, let’s go.”
Roy stepped out the car. Lucy put back the gun into her trousers and followed him. They walked towards a restaurant that had, next to a giant figure of a lumberjack, in bright red neon, the words “JOHNNY’S DINER.”
Mr. Russell slowly recovered from the shock of having a gun pointed at his face. “You didn’t tell me this was going to go down like this,” he said, in shock. “I never signed up for this.”
“Calm down Steve. It’s Steve, right?” Jack said and moved to where Roy had been seated. He watched the pair walk towards the restaurant for a moment, then he closed the door. “I’m sorry about this, but we really needed your help. Those guys would’ve recognized any of our senior officers.”
“I understand Mr. Powers, but it’s just that I’ve never had a gun pointed at me,” Steve said.
“I know Steve, don’t worry. You’ll get used to this, in time…” Jack said. “You did really well. You have balls, kid,” Jack peered at the driver’s rearview mirror, met his gaze and with his head signaled him to move. The driver nodded and the car sped off. “You can take off your make up.”
Steve began to wipe off his face with a handkerchief. His facial traits began to change radically. Suddenly his wrinkles by his eyes and forehead were gone, the size of his nose was diminished and even the eyes became the eyes of someone younger.
“Sir, if you don’t mind my asking…” Steve began, after he’d finished whipping his face. “Do you think Lucy would’ve really shot me?”
Jack gazed at him and remained silent. Then he looked away and poured himself a whisky.
Roy and Lucy entered the restaurant. They stood at the entrance and scanned the tables. Soon they spotted a lonely, thin man, seated at a corner, devouring a tall stack of pancakes. Lucy laughed mildly and they walked towards him.
“Hello darling,” Lucy whispered to the man’s ear. “You missed us?”
The man turned around rapidly. He had pancake in his fork, golden syrup dripping.
“Jesus Christ!” the man yelled. “Lucy, Roy… what are you doing here? I thought we were going to meet at eight.”
“A tiny change of plans,” Lucy said, making a gesture with her right hand, as if she were holding a bullet with his thumb and index finger. “Mind if we join you?”
“No, not at all, take a seat” the man said, putting the piece of pancake in his mouth. “What happened?”
Lucy and Roy sat; Roy to the man’s left, Lucy to his right.
“The Feds…” Roy said. “They say this time they’ll get Sebastian.”
“Are those pancakes any good?” Lucy said.
“They’re…. excellent…” the man said, still chewing. “But, Roy… tell me… who was it?”
“Jack,” Roy said.
“I think I’ll order some, I’m kinda hungry,” Lucy said, searching for the waitress. “You want some, Roy?”
“Powers eh…” the man said. “That could be a problem. He’s smarter than you think.”
“I seriously doubt it. You should’ve seen this bloke that was with him,” Lucy said, half giggling. “A certain Mr. Russell.”
“What?” the thin man said, bits of pancake flying through the air. “Russell… I don’t know that name, you sure that was his name?”
“Yeah… quite certain,” Lucy said.
“Lucy is right, he really didn’t seem to be an intelligent person,” Roy said.
The man chewed more slowly than before. His stare was lost somewhere on the table. “No… no, I don’t think so Roy. This might be a problem.”
Lucy laughed, “You didn’t see this guy… he was stupider than a chicken… These boys are clueless,” she said and finally caught the waitress’ gaze and called her over. “They wanted us to help them. And they meant business, they even had snipers on my flat, same for Roy. They seem desperate–“
“What can I get you?” said a fat waitress with too much make up on.
“Two tall stacks… And juice. You want juice Roy?” –Roy nodded– “Yeah, two large orange juices.”
“Alright,” the woman said, scribbling the order on a piece of paper. “You alright?” she said to the thin man.
“I’m fine, thanks.”
“Okay, I’ll be right over.”
“Roy, what did Mr. Russell looked like?” The man said once the waitress was gone.
“Kind of a tall fellow, black suit, black tie… Seemed quite old, kind of bald… Had hair like yellow fire,” Roy said.
“Mmmh, interesting…” the man said, putting down his knife and fork and whipping his mouth.
“Really, I think you’re giving this too much thought, right Roy?” Lucy said, turning to Roy.
“Yes, I think so too.”
The man had his stare lost again on the table, but soon he unlocked it and appeared to be more relaxed. “Yeah… you’re probably right.”
“Exactly, those mother-fuckers don’t know shit.”
“Yeah… maybe you’re right Lucy…” the man said. “Still… it’d be good to check it out.”
Lucy and Roy looked at each other.
“You really think so?”
“Yes, I do,” the man said dryly.
“Alright… if you say so, we’ll give it a go,” Lucy said.
“We can’t be too careful with these matters,” the man said, taking a sip from his coffee.
The waitress reappeared with two plates of pancakes and placed them in front of Lucy and Roy. “I’ll be right back with your juice.”
“You know…” Lucy began, chewing on pancake. “They did say… one… thing… that was kind of interesting.”
The man looked at her and waited.
“They said… this time…”
“Swallow, please,” the man interrupted her.
“They said this time they had more information than they had last year,” Lucy said. “But don’t worry, they’ll come for us again, you should see the kind of field men they got. It’s embarrassing.”
“Yeah… I think you two should play ball with them for a while,” the man said.
Roy silently ate his pancakes.
“But, do you know what they’re talking about? This new info I mean…” Lucy said, and went back to her pancakes.
“I have a feeling,” the man said and stared at the both of them. “Still, I want to be certain. I want to know exactly what is this new information they say they got about me.”
“Here’s your juice.”