The Pigeon

By Gayle Carline

     Jay­seen scanned the crowd a third time, her legs strad­dling the brief­case with her equip­ment, in case some thief was tempted to take it. One had to be cau­tious in this busi­ness. It had been a long trip and this job was sup­posed to be a quick one. A move­ment caught her eye…

     A lit­tle man hur­ried toward her, star­ing, head bob­bing and cock­ing by turns. He wore a grey suit, his rotund tummy arriv­ing before his legs reached their destination.

     “Miss J?” he inquired.

     Jay­seen looked around to see if any­one had heard. Stu­pid man, in one stroke, he had blown her cover.

     “Yes, I have your pic­tures, sir,” she told him, con­tin­u­ing with the plan.

     “We need to talk about the oper­a­tion,” the lit­tle man said.

     No, no, no! That was not the cor­rect response! He was ruin­ing everything!

     “Get over here, Grunion,” she hissed, then whis­pered to him, “You are blow­ing my cover. I’m sup­posed to be the pho­tog­ra­pher with your wed­ding pic­tures. We’re going to open the brief­case and be look­ing at wed­ding pic­tures over on that bench.”

     “It won’t work that way, Miss J,” he said. “There’s been a change of plans.”

     Sigh­ing, she picked up the brief­case and they walked over to a green metal bench at the edge of the square. She sat down and opened the case, reveal­ing a num­ber of envelopes. Pulling one out, she tried to continue.

     “I think you’ll really like the way these came out,” she told him as she handed him the envelope.

     But he didn’t reach out to take it. “No, Miss J.” His voice was firm. “The oper­a­tive is no longer in the vicin­ity. We need to relocate.”

     “But I just saw him walk into the bank!”

     “That wasn’t him. It seems that the enemy is onto our tac­tics and has begun to plant cybers at var­i­ous loca­tions. If you’ll do a quick scan with the mon­i­tor, you’ll see.”

     Pulling out a cam­era, Jay­seen looked through the view and pressed a but­ton. To the peo­ple pass­ing by, it seemed that the pho­tog­ra­pher was tak­ing a pic­ture, but the instru­ment actu­ally gave her a read­out of human and cyber activ­ity within the bank across the street.

     “You’re right,” she told Grunion. “Where’s the real one?”

     “We need to get to Union Sta­tion right away. He’s buy­ing a bus ticket to Jupiter.”

     Jay­seen closed her brief­case and leapt up. “Then we’ll have to hurry. If he gets on that bus, we’ll never find out where he hid the diamonds.”

     Sud­denly, a hand grabbed her right arm. She spun around quickly, her left hand swing­ing to free her­self from her cap­tor. Con­nect­ing her fist with the man’s jaw, he dropped her arm, but another took his place to hold her back. Pulling and push­ing, wrig­gling and wrestling, she tried to break away, but there were too many of them. Obvi­ously sent by the enemy, they called her name.

     “Jay­seen, calm down! Just calm down and come with us.”

     Now down on the ground, being held cap­tive, a woman’s face appeared before hers. “Jay­seen, honey, you need to come back home now. We’ll have some lunch, and you can have some choco­late today, okay?”

     Jay­seen started to scream some­thing at them when she became aware of the prick of a nee­dle and the world slipped away from her. They loaded her care­fully into the ambu­lance, the woman tuck­ing a blan­ket around her and sweep­ing the hair back from her face, wip­ing the dirt from her cheek.

     “What hap­pened this time?” the woman asked the two men who had sub­dued her patient.

     “Sorry, Ms. Far­ley,” a large man in a white uni­form said. “Some­one left the back gate open and she walked away. Good thing Mr. Scala from the bank rec­og­nized her and called us.”

     “We found her sit­ting on the bench, talk­ing to a pigeon,” the other orderly added, rub­bing his jaw.

     “All right, I’ll see what I can do about keep­ing our gates locked.” Ms. Far­ley stepped up into the back of the ambulance.

     “Grunion,” Jay­seen mum­bled, “Grunion, they’re onto us…”

     Ms. Far­ley stroked the young woman’s fore­head. “No, they’re not, Jay­seen. The home office res­cued you just in time.”


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