This is part of a work in progress, to read previous and future chapters and chaptorettes see other postings of ‘The White Lady’ in this category
Briscoe had suddenly turned into a chatty New York cab driver.
“So, Mr. Smith, a little bird told me you went AWOL for quite a while.” This was after I told him where I wanted to go next: the communication centre of CCS, which the world knew as Chimera TeleSystems.
A little white ladybird, no doubt.
“You should know; you picked me up with the … with Reshenyova.”
“Yeah, but I do that a lot—or at least I did before … well, you know, when there were people left to pick up. None of them was deserters—pickups were just for personal debriefings. So … what’s your story?”
“Briscoe, how long have you been with CCS?”
He laughed as if he had expected the evasion. “I was hired as a courier—covert and overt—three years ago. Ms. Reshenyova noticed me and here I am. Your turn. What’s your plan, at least?”
“If she picked you as you say, then you must be well versed in confidentiality, especially when it comes to the Paper Clip division.” The operatives own term for their unit, which officially didn’t exist. The paper clip motif kept popping up with the White Lady so often that we had adapted it, I think to her displeasure, but there it was. Some things you can’t control. The title sounded nice and innocuous. Tiny and harmless.
Jab … Jab.
“Sure, sure … but, Smith you know I’m gonna be on the fast track to … to that division … now, right? Ms. Reshenyova’s gotta promote from within to get the ball rolling … if she’s got good material to work with, that is and …” Briscoe flashed a smile in the rearview mirror. “… I’m very good material.”
He had a point. The White Lady probably would power boost Briscoe up the ladder now, whereas before she might have given him another few years seasoning. He looked strong enough; personally, I would be concerned about his maturity, mental and emotional strength.
But hey! You fucked up. And not only with Lili …
My turn to try some of that mental strength. Had to concentrate on the job at hand. Step-by-step was my way to get things done. Stop thinking about things I couldn’t control.
It would take up much of the two hours I had given Dr. Mireille just for us to get to the communication centre and back; it was completely across the city and over two bridges. Here was my chance to make a friend … find and keep an ally. Never know when you’ll need people, after all.
“Briscoe, just shut the fuck up and drive.”
His bright grin turned to a sneer, but Briscoe did as ordered.
In my mind, I did answer him. My story was simple—one we’ve all heard before. Boy born of refugee parents. Boy fights with family. Boy chooses to leave home to see the world. Boy becomes a beggar, not a chooser. Boy recruited by shadowy organization led by enigmatic pale person. Boy meets beautiful girl recruit. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. Boy and girl go on missions together. Girl in danger. Boy saves girl, compromises operation. Girl reassigned by pale leader. Boy never sees girl again. Boy chooses to run away from organization. Boy finds paper clip in empty apartment. Boy returns to organization to find everyone boy knew dead except pale leader who orders boy to kill unknown rival killer group and revenge girl’s death. They all died happily ever after.
I settled back into the leather seat. Nodded off.
Woke up when the car jolted to a stop.
“We’re here. Here’s my fucking card, Smith. Let yourself in.” Briscoe threw the swipe card in my general direction.
Immature. Mentally, emotionally weak. Been there.
I retrieved the card from the floor. Hopped out of the car. Swiped myself into the glass and steel Chimera building. Headed for the main hub, 20 stories up.