I was travelling and had a 4 hour lay-over in Beijing’s International Airport. I took a seat away from everyone, as usual, and dove into my book. “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens was my preferred reading. It reflected on others what type of person I was, and then, for those who knew what to look for, it was my calling card.
Having been known for my trade in the less savory markets, I knew better than to give out business cards. I made sure there was nothing that could be tracked back to me.
So, when a man sat down across from me and waited until he caught my attention, I finished my page and turned it before asking, “Do you need something?”
The man looked at me and I could sense his gaze, but I didn’t look at him. He paused for a moment and then, he stated, “I need a review of my plan of action.”
His terms were strange to me, so I knew, right off the bat, he was an informant for a covert organization. Only those who travelled in my circles knew better than to try to use complicated words. But, I was sure he didn’t know he’d given himself away.
With so much time in my lay over, I wanted to humor him and give him his fantasy experience. But I wondered if he was going to stick to his guns or break protocol for the sake of more information. So, asked, “What agency?” He flinched but I waited for him to either confess or respond appropriately enough to seem natural.
My question was normal, but had he been in my industry, he would have told me what type of job he was looking to complete. Instead, he assumed I’d figured him out. He swallowed and replied, “Agency?”
He wanted to stick to his guns, which meant he would lie to keep his identity and organization secret. So, I answered, “Wrong.” I turned the page and added, “Please don’t waste my time, sir. If you approached me not under false pretenses, we could have had a conversation. Now, I’ll have to ask you to leave me alone.”
I stood and closed my book. Without looking back, I walked away carrying my messenger bag. As I rounded on a café, I paid for a coffee and took a seat. Once situated, I pulled out my book and placed it on the table in front of me.
The same agent walked over and took a seat in front of me. He swallowed and pulled out a manila folder from his briefcase, and he placed it on the table between us. “Ms. Shadow, I am Agent Chase from the CIA. I need help and you might be the only one who can best help me,” he added.
I looked up at him as I sipped my coffee but I did not touch the envelope. Being in my line of work, it was dangerous to leave prints. I smiled, knowing no prints would be left on my cup or the table.
Agent Chase waited for me to open the envelope and when I didn’t, he stated, “Janis Morgenson was caught attempting to assassinate her husband. There is no way her intellect, on any level, could have resulted in the plan she had. Which is where she old us –”
“You can’t catch a shadow.”
I listened to his story and sifted through the details. And then, I set down my mug. I reached into my bag and pulled out thicker plastic gloves. With them on, I opened the manila envelope and pulled out some papers that included details to Janis Morgenson’s case, along with several questions.
I looked through their file case and then, I set it down on the table. I looked up at him, not giving anything away, as I asked, “You’re charging her for attempted murder or manslaughter?”
Agent Chase nodded, “The State wants to go for murder, but we only have enough for manslaughter.” He was calm but I could see the excitement in his eyes, as though ready to trap me into some type of confession.
I kept my cool and replied, “If you have your conclusions drawn, you can’t see any more than you want to. I can’t help you, sorry.” I removed my gloves and placed them into my bag.
Agent Chase reached out to stop me, but I pulled back suddenly. He looked at me, the look in his eyes filled with pleading need. “Please, Miss. I’ve been through most of the acclaimed masterminds and no one can figure this out. If you can just tell me how to solve it,” he added.
I looked at him, quite blank but very appalled. How can I tell this man how to retrace the crime if he hadn’t a clue what he was looking for nor did he known whom he was asking this of. The gravity of the situation hit me and I sat back in my seat.
Agent Chase sat back and then, he opened the file. He spread the papers out and asked, “Ma’am, can you tell me who Janis Morgenson is to you?”
I looked at him, cold and quietly. I could feel my personality shift as the mastermind within wanted to talk. I saw Agent Chase wait and then, I asked, “Off the record?” Agent Chase visibly shivered, and then, I added, “Remove your wire, tracking device, and dismiss your listeners and I’ll talk to you, Agent Andrew Chase of the CIA.”
Agent Chase looked at me for a moment, and then, he replied, “No. Because, if you cared about justice, you would go on the record with your answers.”
I smiled and watched the color drain from his face as he realized he just lost this opportunity. I wiped down my mug and put the rag into my bag. “That’s your problem. You see based on what you have concluded instead of concluding from your findings. And that is why you lose out on the answers you’re searching for.” I stood and picked up my bag. “I hope we won’t meet again and I wish you luck on your case.” I turned and walked away.
I returned to my terminal in time to get in line and enter the gate to my seat. As soon as I was situated, with my bag safely tucked under the seat in front of me, I leaned back and thought about the last conversation I had with Janis Morgenson.
For her to have mentioned anything close to my identity was unacceptable. Even if she had meant to throw it in their faces, I knew it was risky. So, before I turned off my phone, I texted, “She snitched” to ‘Right Hand’ and then shut off my phone.
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