If mantis is greatly disturbed, it can tear its head off.
None of them has seen Bill for about five years. That is why Bill came to me. That is why the organization sent him right to me; they like to keep saying that “professionalism” is my second name. I don’t care about these clichés, as long as they pay. They need me to pay a visit to Bill’s son (Tommy) and his French teacher (Valery): one appearance, talk, plus support of the legend, that’s it. Routine. However, in this case, it is the routine, which can be performed only by me.
I’m taking a girl for escort from Freddy’s agency; Olga, nope, she’s not from Russia I guess, it’s just the name. She’s updated on the business, so no additional instruction is required. Sexy, charming, impeccable physical appearance – all of these are in accordance with Bill’s legend. We go to the school. Ground floor: “kids-kids, bottoms like lollipops”, - I hum, while we pass half-open doors of the primary school rooms. I wink at Olga – this kind of job can bore you to death, if you forget about humor. She answers with equivocal half-smile, in which three parts are equally mixed: positive evaluation of the joke, light surprise of the brought-up theme and goodwill towards the interlocutor, however up to the bit, until he starts to ramble and clown around, - Freddy is a good teacher, for me it’s a pleasure to work with the professionals of logistic support. It is important that she won’t ramble herself.
Up to the third floor. I peep in – inside, in the enormous auditorium, are mixed-aged pupils (the lesson goes in English, however it’s French class, it seems there is an eternal beginner’s level). Many blacks and mulattos – really huge guys, who have obviously been staying in the school for too long. The teacher notices us, nods and I close the door. While waiting, I examine Olga more intently and I realize that she’s just stunning, that I want her, and that after this task I will invite her for a cup of coffee.
The teacher walks out and brings Bill’s son Tommy. Ordinary exchange of civilities – I’m kinda playing “a good guy in a tough situation”. Till the very end I won’t understand: for whom did she take me. Did she notice the forgery? Or did she and Bill have intimate relationship, and she perceived my visit as the news from him?
I hug Tommy, he is lost and tries to smile, when Valery says: “Tommy, it’s your dad, he hasn’t seen you for five years”. I’m used to this, not the first timer.
- Probably, he doesn’t remember you very well, Bill, just give him some time, - Valery is still friendly; it seems that nothing has changed, neither in the geometry of her body, not in mimics – it’s interesting.
- Yes-yes, of course, - I answer with trembling voice, trying to conceal the tears, I turn away.
- Apparently, there were significant reasons for your absence, and it seems to me that Tommy understands everything. And you work at the same place, in the drug store? – asks Valery out of place.
- Ah, what? Yes, sure, same drug stores, all the same, - what a ridiculous legend Bill came up with!
- Maybe you and Olga will wait inside? I need to finish the class, - Valery suggests.
- You are so kind, Valery, of course, we’ll wait, thank you for the invitation, - Olga catches up right in time.
We come inside. Having noticed Olga the guys at the backrows become very excited: they start to make sounds, demonstrate that they give place, try to speak to. She takes the place right in the middle of these testosterone-filled youngsters. The lesson, if it may be called so, continued. Hefty guy, resembling Shaquille, tries to make a phrase in French: “je n’ai pas de tête, parce que… aye, don’t you fucking interrupt me!” The rest disturb him (they are smaller, but still of Kobe Bryant and Charles Barkley sizes) and yet they manage to buzz around Olga.
Shaquille, who finished answering, walks to his place, next to Olga’s, but it has been already occupied by some reckless kid, who tries to explain to Olga that in their school things like “free love and no sexual borders, aight?” are accepted. Shaquille’s deep voice: “I’ll give fifty bucks to the one, who’ll pull this nigga out of my chair”, - and waves the bill. The volunteer is found and starts to pull by hair the blabber, who breaks the arms of the wooden armchair, while trying to keep his place. I was almost impressed by this primeval battle and strength, if I wasn’t so mad at my escort and her cheap unprofessionalism. I realized too late that Olga is prone to this kind of attention (or I just understand nothing and something’s radically changed: how a professional like her could’ve changed so much in a couple of minutes?). Why on earth doesn’t she stand next to me with the door at our backs? – this is primary school of safety! Still I need to figure it out with the remaining resources. I nod her and say: “let’s go”. She gazes at me in deep surprise, kinda what am I doing wrong? Dumb slut, oh yes, I’ll pay a visit to the agency. Fred must have set me up for a reason – it’s obviously some game, as he never let me down during all these years. But what does Bill have to do with all this? – he’s just a petty crook.
Irritated, I go out. As it turned out, right in time, - Bill, stoned, was coming upstairs, after him Fanny, or whatever is her name, was climbing up in the same condition of inadequacy. Shit! I fly down, grab both of them by elbows, turn them around and pull them downstairs.
- Jimmy, friendo, what a pleasure! And I, I was just about to come to see my sonny Tommy! – Bill, stumbling, shuffles the stairs into porridge with his feet.
- You, drunk shit, I’m not Jimmy, I’m Bill, got it?! You have no son; you arrived here by accident thinking it was a bar, is it clear? – I whisper menacingly, pulling them one staircase down, pushing them further.
- What do you wanna do with my kid?!.. But why did you take this case at all?! This is an art for you, not just a job, you think that you’re an artist… - Bill’s face distorts in presage of hysteria, foam appears in his mouth corners.
- Okay, so now you take your…whatever, you just walk away quietly, so nobody hears you. Just allow me to finish my job.
- Jimmy, I guess, you forget yourself… - Bill tries to fix his à la Elvis haircut, but hits his temple disheveling hair, his other hand just lashes the air will-lessly.
- Allow me to remind you: the organization pays me money for you, makes you a favor, in order to clean up your “moments of weakness”. But they never told me that you would be so stupid, that you’ll try to break your own cover. So get out now.
Bill tries to make a threatening, and at the same time, pleading face, but a vomit wave passes over his face. He threatens someone with his finger, tries to make a fist of his palm, curses, and starts to crawl down clumsily under my intent gaze, his companion climbs down after him. After I was sure that his eyes finally died out, I went back.
As I arrive on the third floor, the bell rings. If I would allow my imagination to burst out, I would see the flow of crude oil carrying white camellias, twisting them in whirlpools, very carefully, not to soil their fragile petals; of course, this would be only for the pleasure of flowers dancing (even without a music, but, isn’t oil bubbling a music in itself?), and after that – rape them and bury in anaerobic environment, so that they become part of hydrocarbon brotherhood. No, I do not allow my imagination to burst out, I just turn down the flame under its pan, and that’s what I see: blasted out doors, from the depth of smoke puffs half-naked mulatto and black guys run out, going insane in ecstatic dance, their bodies are covered with ritual signs, burning fragrances only emphasize the smell of their sweat, smell of animal thirst for copulation, insemination and breeding. This would be wonderful, if I wasn’t white and could have climbed out from the box of my obligations before the organization.
The bell rings, the doors open, the crowd of those same guys pour out, and pretty melted Olga is in its center. The mob takes her downstairs. The last sparkle of Olga’s mind is enough only for a questioning glance at me, but even that is cursory. I just wave my hand to her – it’s your own trouble, my dear. I hope that I’ll be able to manage it here myself. I know the scenario in her case, the agency is full of these kind of stories; but still, why did Freddy slip her to me?..damn him, and here’s Tommy with his beautiful teacher.
Sitting on the stair landing, we talk until sunset. About what? - don’t remember at all; living into the character – this is my job after all. Tommy appears to be uncommonly smart boy: he is clever enough not to ask “dad, where you’ve been?”, he tries to become a friend of mine, accepting me as I am now. This is weird. I’ve worked with kids before, but usually they are auxiliary objects, meaning that I just use them in order to convey an argument, or to withdraw myself from a question, as a child stereotypically possesses a large emotional potential. In short, it has always been easy. In this case, for some reason the kid is the main target or, maybe, the organization is holding something back. Anyway, I have to prepare reports on both of them.
We lie down on the mattress, which I’ve prepared beforehand, cover ourselves with a plaid. Tommy lies facing me, snuggling up his back to Valery. Normally I try to avoid the eye contact with kids, their energy is kinda not very good, or, I don’t know, maybe, even a man with my experience has his own weaknesses, don’t know. But now I have to: the distance is literally thirty centimeters. Tommy continues to talk passionately, I listen and agree. Only now I notice, that under his eyelids, right on the eyeball there is a plastic grid, encircled by blue plastic edging. What is it?! How could I’ve missed this during the whole day? Perhaps, I better don’t ask, as his father I must be knowledgeable of this; or this was installed during the last five years?
- Well, Tommy, tell me, how old are you?
- Five…eight… - Tommy opens his palm and adds three fingers to it. Why didn’t the code work? The grid is still white plastic dead. Or it’s not the code? There was not a word about it, so how do I know? No, I don’t, it must be the organization… no, something is wrong here. How old is he? In fact, why should I bother? He is obviously not prone to manipulation or, no, how did they find out about the eyes – about my attitude towards children’s eyes. How, no, all kids-related missions were accomplished perfectly, there’s no reason…
- Bill, it’s a lovely evening, and still you cannot relax, - Valery’s voice streams softly.
- Me? No, I was just thinking, so many years have passed. And what do you mean by “relax”? –I feel Valery’s palm over mine under the plaid. That’s better, this returns us back to usual schemes. Tommy continues to chatter; only these grids, gazing, shit, I don’t even know gazing at what exactly, pupils under them are practically indistinguishable. For how long has nobody seen his eyes? Or has looked into his eyes at all? He doesn’t seem to be autistic, no, normal development, or he simply knows that nobody can see his eyes, and that is why?.. That is why what? What did he go through five years ago that his eyes closed and can function only in this way? Boy, my boy, my dear mystery boy, looks right into my eyes, grids are vibrating softly… Am I falling asleep, no-no, phew, that’s silly, nah, here, it goes by the usual scheme.
- Well, I don’t know, so many years have passed. When was the last time we met? So you see. Ah, whatever, nothing ever changes, right?
- Yes, maybe, right, - I put my palm on Val’s hip, awesome bottom, knitted dress, - very well – it means, that they had something. Okay. I can caress hips like these for eternity, but I need to go further. I carefully pull up the dress, get into her panties. Her hand stops me.
- No, Bill, you won’t get it, - she says firmly.
- What? Val, what is it?
Here, I need to blink, once again, whatta? My neck bends will-lessly, head drops to the mattress under the gaze of Tommy’s grids, they are still vibrating and vibrating. I’m trying to raise my head a little and I see Olga behind Tommy’s back – she smiles at me, very warmly, as if it was for real. She holds me by my hand, Tommy embraces my shoulder. It is much harder for me to open my eyes, the feeling is that now I’ll be able to hear the vibration of the grids.
- Dad, I love you, - whispers Tommy.
- Dear, I love you, - Olga’s voice resounds somewhere very close.