Fairweather Nature Park Estates was located in a secluded area of southern Ontario.
Right next door to a plethora of heavily-populated bedroom communities and a nexus of highway nodes, commuting to and from the city was a snap at forty minutes or so. The sight of athletic Roscoe Burgess, looking good in the Armani suit and Gucci loafers, wearing Italian underwear and even an Italian aftershave when he thought about it, was nothing unusual in what was a pretty affluent little trailer park. He went about forty feet down the sidewalk.
Turning, he stood and watched for a moment as if waiting for the place to blow up. Not today, apparently, which was a good thing, by any rational standard. He liked to prepare himself in order to dive away from it at a climactic moment. It was this sort of thing that made reputations.
But the suspense was killing him…with a shrug, he turned and continued on his way.
“Good morning, Roscoe!”
“Good morning, Mrs. Beauvais.”
The cheerful calls rang all up and down along the sidewalk leading to Visitor Parking. The denizens, many older but with a few students and young families too, plus quite a number whose lives were complicated or they were exploring alternative lifestyles, were pretty laid-back. It seemed watering the postage-stamp of a lawn or even raking the heavily landscaped gravel terrain that some favoured was a morning ritual.
This fine Monday morning, sunny and unseasonably not snowing, the Firm had sent a car to pick him up, by which and the preceding phone call, he deduced that he was getting another assignment. He opened the door of the domestic sedan and looked in at the strange woman driving. There really was no other kind, as his father once said.
“Hi.” She waited until he was belted in and the door closed before setting off.
It was better than the ones who nailed the throttle the second your left buttock hit the seat pad and drove like there was no tomorrow. She was smooth but aggressive when she got going. The way people drove said a lot about them. One intern, he recalled, took the company car on a gopher everyone else in the office while you’re out type coffee run and never came back. The car was eventually found abandoned in Sri Lanka, in the hills overlooking Trincomalee Harbour and not too far from where Arthur C. Clarke used to live.
She looked over.
“Traffic’s light, and we’ll be there in plenty of time for the meeting.”
He nodded. The Monday briefing was a tradition, and when the workload was light, senior executives were expected to participate. That was one reason overseas assignments, no matter how short the duration, were highly prized and the stuff of contention amongst senior staff. Being at a meeting meant not just being there, but contributing. He didn’t have anything to contribute, but that had never surprised anyone before.
“Talkative, aren’t you?”
“Huh?” He gave her a blank look. “Sorry. It’s just that meetings are the bane of my existence.”
He’d been saving that line for somebody, why not use it?
She smiled knowingly, causing him to wonder just what she did know. She wasn’t bad looking in a hosey sort of a way, with long, straight, pitch-black hair, pale creamy skin like candy and those impossibly clear blue eyes. It was the fashion sense more than anything. She had black nail polish on at both ends for God’s sakes and was heavy on the mascara to boot. Her lashes were thick and attractively curly though.
They shook hands awkwardly. Her shoes had what looked like ankle cuffs and chains, with heels three or four inches long…he quite liked the wrist guards. Her aroma was spicy and enticing, like cinnamon toast and green marmalade. It looked like being one of them days, horny as a ten-peckered Billy goat and no real prospects as she was a fellow employee. Maybe he should wrangle some kind of overseas assignment…his garden was in, and the peas were coming up already.
“Yes, I hear you’re the man of action.”
She wasn’t an intern then, even with the stud in her right nostril and the multiple rings on every finger. He wondered if she had pierced her labia or anything like that. He was just about to ask when she interrupted him. Interns were like mushrooms, keep them in the dark and feed them nothing but bullshit. Yet this one clearly knew something about him.
“Can I ask a personal question?”
“What? Oh, sure. Fire away, young lady.” If this was the sort of thing graduating from the training schools these days then the world was just in a whole heap of trouble.
“What’s with all the naked people?” She gave him a long look of assessment as they cruised down the 401 at a steady one hundred fifty or so k’s per hour.
He approved of that much. The girl could drive.
“What, you mean my place? Well, for one thing, no concealed weapons.” It made it difficult for even a Ninja to approach him, what with the constant surveillance from Mr. and Mrs. Brixton across the way and that gaily-lecherous old crackpot Pillbody over the back fence….and of course there was the well-known Ninja fear, an absolute overriding horror more like it, of being seen naked by Gaijin, (outsiders.)
She gave tight grin and a shake of her head.
“The grounds are beautifully kept, and you can’t even put up a garden shed without going through the Covenant Committee. No mini-bikes, no chainsaws…” No parties, no unnecessary noise after eleven or before six a.m.
Not too many children and half the dogs on Valium. A no brainer, really, which suited him just fine.
She looked over.
“You’re not as dumb as you look. Why, I’ll bet you even like playing volleyball naked and stuff like that, eh?”
He grinned in a feral fashion, causing a little shiver of something to go down her spine.
“You would love the pool.”
She alternately nodded and shook her head as she focused on a clump of traffic up ahead. Her eyes came around again.
“Yeah, I probably would. What do they think of you coming and going all dressed up like anything?”
“Everyone has to have a job. I cut my lawn once in a while and don’t gossip unless they already hate them—or if they’ve already heard it somewhere else.” It made sense, the key to a successful evasion.
She looked over.
“Yeah. I suppose you’re right.” She was quiet for a moment. “I could go for that.”
“Say what?” No!
She drove for a while and then turned again.
“We could barbecue some steaks and do a little swimming, you know, a little sun-bathing.”
Roscoe was sweating now in spite of the air conditioning and his expensive Italian deodorant. He thought very carefully about what he might say. That fair skin had rarely seen the sun and had suffered nothing from the loss. He could imagine its alabaster perfection.
“That would be very nice, young lady.”
Her low, throaty chuckle did nothing to lower his stress levels one iota, for all of this could only mean one thing. Suzie must, in all probability, be his new partner. Gorman had been threatening him with a partner for months, years even, and she was due for retirement very, very soon now.
This might just be the perfect revenge for a lifetime of personal torment.
She couldn’t possibly have meant it seriously.