Night Journey To Washington
Copyright © Isabella Dalzell / Jeremy Waters 2018. All RIghts Reserved.
Washington, from the air was a mass of sparkling white lights, interrupted by incomprehensible black pools of nothing. A bridge of lights spanned the Potomac River and leading from it, a golden highway flowed, carrying cars discernible by the flashing of white headlights in one direction and red taillights in the other. Blue and orange fluorescent globes partitioned the streets into cross-cutting grids. The white, shiny egg -like dome of the Capitol poked up into the sky, as the plane veered sharply away from the thrusting pinnacle of the national monument. I felt a brief moment of sadness at the total subjugation of the natural landscape, but could not help but be impressed by the firmament of electrical stars man had created on the land, to illuminate his darkness. I thought in wonder, Does this city never sleep at night?
Later, as I walked from my hotel down the dark roadway, a gaseous vapour drifted around my feet as I wandered through the eerily silent city, past brightly illuminated, monumental white statues encircled with the same. The pavement-less highways and underground malls swarmed with white mall rats, jogging in their baggy sweat pants. I crossed the river, the urban landscape reverting to pavement and compacted boardwalk, fringed with painted clapperboard housing. This was the underside of the city, impenetrably dark and populated largely, it seemed, by black citizens, whose extreme politeness, so pleasant to experience, chilled the heart as the wind likewise blew across the street. Tiny, swaying spangles of white light were strung across what must’ve once been the main highway, now strangely empty of people the further into the township you went. A green four-leafed clover proclaiming Paddy's Bar flashed enticingly in neon; studded brightly white in its centre was a graphic of a pint of Guinness, filling and refilling endlessly. I walked in through the shutter doors, just as if I was walking into saloon in the Wild West. The bartender looked up, glass poised, and the whole place went quiet. No music, nothing.
"I think I’ll try a pint of your best Guinness, please," I said, painfully aware of my cut glass English accent.
The chatter resumed, just soft murmuring at first, gradually rising to normal conversational levels. I licked my lips appreciatively, tasting the dark, bitter creamy draught; it was good. I turned around to face the room, taking it all in slowly; the neat pair of dudes playing poker in the corner, one with a thin cheroot dangling from his lower lip, the couple in the opposite corner getting steamy. I had my big pants on, it was December and the walk over from the hotel had fair frozen the family jewels; now it was time to thaw out. I hitched up the elastic and made for an alcove on the far side of the bar where I could read my paper and observe the clientele. The bartender picked up the glass he had been carefully polishing on my arrival, and resumed his task. He nodded at me as I sat down and flipped open the paper. Not much happening with the GG's so I decided to get serious and read through the headlines in preparation for the conference the next day. It paid to be well informed, and I wanted to impress.
I flicked the paper irritably; the light was dim and unusually yellowy-red. I was finding it hard to read. The small lampshade had strange golden tassels attached to it, and the light seemed to grow ever dimmer as I studied the small print. I felt a presence at my table and looked up, alert. You could have knocked me over with a feather. A pale, foxy face, surrounded by razor- cut, henna-ed hair looked down at me and smiled. Her long scarlet nails twisted around a thin cigarette held at her mouth- a slash of scarlet; her doe eyes cut, or rather melted, right through me. The paper trembled in my hand as I fumbled for my lighter and smiled back like a rabbit stunned by headlights. My eyes travelled down her slim figure, clad in a tight, red, silk sheath with a low, low cleavage. I was out of my depth, and falling deeper.
“Anata wa karui funanori no otokonoko o motte imasu ka?”
Although I didn’t have a clue what she was saying, this didn’t at first strike me as particularly strange, nor as I knew I wasn’t capable of speaking at that moment, did I feel able to do more than grin weakly at her.
“Anata wa karui funanori no otokonoko o motte imasu ka?”
The fact she was speaking Japanese seemed no stranger than the fact she had come over to speak to me at all.
“My Japanese is rather rusty I’m afraid,” I said eventually, hoping I hadn’t moaned out load as she pursed her lips to blow smoke away from the table and lowered herself exquisitely into the chair opposite. She looked stunning, she smelled divine, she smoked deliberately provocatively ….and she remained silent as she drew again on her cigarette and eyed me with an amused glint in her eyes.
“Just enough to order smokes and a beer I suppose?”
“Yes, just the essentials – I can also ask for directions to the main railway station, but probably wouldn’t understand what they might say back to me.” She smiled. “Ask me the way to the main railway station Andrewsan,” she purred.
“私には鉄道駅への道があります” I answered in my best Kyoto drawl.
“Yes, we can drop the pretence can’t we?”
“We can, who sent you?”
“Follow me now; they are waiting outside.”
“Who sent you?”
“Come now…” she stubbed out the remains of her cigarette. I noticed how she looked disapprovingly at the lipstick on the butt, then raised her eyes to mine almost apologetically “…we must go now, neither of us has a choice anymore.”
I followed her down a shabby, dimly lit corridor into the street outside. A huge white Mercedes was waiting on the icy road and the frost twinkled on the tarmac. I was glad I was wearing my big pants. She slithered across the creamy leather cushioned seat and I followed her in meekly. Almost silently, the powerful car moved forward and I watched as the empty street slid by. She moved closer and I could feel her soft warm breath on my cheek and her thigh touching mine, the smell of her perfume was overpowering. It was all I could do to keep myself from passing out.
“Where are we going?” I asked, “and who did you say sent you?”
“To my apartment of course, silly boy. You want to see my apartment, don’t you?”
I gulped in apprehension.
“My name is Bonnie, since you ask. We can talk more comfortably there.”
I watched as her hand moved quickly, holding my breath, and before I knew it she had snatched my briefcase off the seat and handcuffed it to her slim wrist. The car drew up outside a tall apartment block glistening with glass and steel and taking me by the hand she led me inside. I watched in silence as the green lights on the buttons inside the elevator moved ever upward. At last we got out on the penthouse floor.
She led me inside the vast space and indicated one of the black leather sofas.
“Make yourself comfortable, Andrewsan,” she purred. “I’m just gonna fix us some drinks.”
“Come on now,” I said, “you could at least tell me who sent you.”
“Let’s just call him Donald. He keeps me in reserve so that I can elicit secrets from our car manufacturing rivals…”
At times like this, not that I had experienced many or any times like this exactly, you’d think my mind would have been working overtime on how to get out of there – or how to get out of there with my briefcase – or wondering if I’d injure myself trying to punch Bonnie’s lights out – or wondering why she thought handcuffing the bag to her wrist was such a great idea when it wasn’t locked, and anyway even if it had been, I knew the combination for God’s sake. But it wasn’t, it was focused 100% on the way her tight red dress was stretched across her admirable – is that the right word – I was certainly admiring them – breasts – I’m not the sort of author who likes to dwell on physical descriptions, painfully aware how clumsy and awkward such passages can be, but you should know just how perfect they were, just how much I wanted above all else, beyond any rational thought of my current situation – to touch them, to bury my face in them! to …. Well let’s start by touching them I thought
She sat beside me and handed me what looked like bourbon on the rocks. I didn’t mind that she hadn’t asked me what I preferred; it seemed to fit somehow.
“The briefcase is going to get in your way badly” I said; “and it isn’t locked you know.”
She laughed, “Nor are these handcuffs, but sometimes they come in useful – I just wanted to be dramatic.” She twisted the clasp back and released the cuff on her wrist, took a surprisingly unladylike large slug of bourbon and turned to face me, “what are you going to do now?” she breathed.
Well, I thought, the first thing is to be thankful I’ve got my big pants on, as they were at least allowing a little involuntary movement as my subconscious prepared itself for what it hoped was about to happen – the second thing was to regret I’d got my big pants on – there was no way they were going to pass unnoticed – and they were certainly going to spoil the moment, should that belt loosening, zip lowering moment arrive…
I tried the drink, Lord it touched the spot…I took another and another to drain the glass – do I ask her to bring the bottle over – or go for broke now, I thought?....f*** it, this exact moment is not going to come round again…its perfect…I reached across with my left hand and drew her face to mine,
“I’ve never wontid a vooman sooo morch un my lurf.” For a moment I was able to step outside my body and listen to myself – what the f*** was that drivel?...then everything became drivel, or swirly, or mystic, or whatever the right words are as someone realises they are sliding to the floor and losing consciousness…you f***** I said…I think out loud…at least I’d got that right…
I could hear a strange rustling in my ears amplified by the force of a waterfall as I resumed consciousness and realised I was being dragged across the floor and the sound was my raincoat crumpling along the wooden boards. There was a thump as the window slammed upwards and the fresh air roused me and cleared my brain. Again, a hugely noisy, whirring sound neared and as I opened my eyes I could see a helicopter swinging into view and the huge rotor blades coming towards me. The figure of a man lowered on a rope, a raft of coarse, yellow hair waving in the breeze, advanced to the window. He reached out his hand and I grabbed the blue besuited arm before I realised in dismay that it was my arch nemesis pulling me through the window and high into the sky above Washington. I gazed in despair at the block of shredded wheat on his head. It was too late now. He had me, and even hanging as I was, my clouded brain pounding with the bourbon residue, I could see below a swarm of TV reporters…
….thats what a mixture of alcohol, sodium pentothal and THC does for you…a whole set of dreams…and not the good kind….some involving elephants called GOP… some flashbacks to interrogations I’d conducted in Kyoto….some involving Trump…Donald, not Ivanka unfortunately….the dreams, or hallucinations more accurately, were a product of the drug cocktail and the details around my current mission. The scenes kept repeating themselves as if on some bizarre video loop. Slowly I started to gain control and the voices I could hear were real voices, not the characters in the video.
I levered my eyes open. I was still in Bonnie’s apartment, but we had company…two men and a new woman. Both men had revolvers on the coffee table in front of them as they sat where I had been moments – minutes – hours? Before. The men were Japanese Yakuza from the tattoos I could see on their hands. I couldn’t make out which family. The woman wasn’t, she looked British: mid-fifties, medium height, dark reddy-brown hair, quite long, good legs showing below her leather coat. I had no clothes on. One hand was handcuffed to the radiator, the other I moved to achieve some semblance of modesty as I sat back to the wall, legs stretched out in front of me. It must have been the sodium pentothal but I felt almost happy to see them.
“Hi, where’s Bonnie?”
The older of the two Yakuza grinned and nodded to the corner of the room to my right. Bonnie lay quite neatly, as though just resting for some reason on the floor next to the dining table. A small pool of blood had stained the carpet behind her head. Thankfully her eyes were closed.
“Oh, I suppose you did that?” I looked at gangster number one.
“No, in fact I did,” said the woman.
“Ah, right. Who are you? What are you?”
“The person who has probably just saved your life” she said, smiling and disconcertingly, keeping her eyes fixed on my groin area.
“You were like that when we came in. I’d let you go but we can’t find the key. I think Miss Bonnie Taylor here was lining you up for a fairly unpleasant session.” She then nodded to my left. A hammer, a cook’s blow torch and a screwdriver were on the floor next to me.
A bit old-school, I thought, but it would have been effective. Let’s be honest, I’d probably have told her most of what she wanted to know just for the sex. I would have then killed her myself of course. I didn’t like killing women, but if it was her or me, it was going to be her and no regrets.
What I didn’t know at that moment was whether I was going to have to try to kill this lot too.
“I’m Amber, by the way and I work for the Queen, the same as you. She sends her regards. Our friends here followed you in from Japan just as a precaution. We didn’t know exactly when that toss pot Trump was going to pull this trick; we thought though it was going to be after the inauguration, though I guess he wanted to keep it simple and use his own people and not risk CIA putting their noses in.”
“And you’re keeping this away from those clod hoppers in MI6?”
“Yes, this is direct from Liz herself” she said, “even May is out of the loop on this one…” still looking at my groin and grinning.
“I know she can’t stand the man, but bumping off one of his team isn’t going to go down to well is it?”
“She doesn’t seem bothered to be honest…she knows even he isn’t stupid enough to face her, given that her extended family still own most of the known world apart from Tibet and even the Dalai Lama is actually probably a fourth cousin on Philip’s side…we’ve even got three Knights Templar being sworn in today as part of Trumps’ team on Capitol Hill... that’s more than we had with Obama…May and Johnson haven’t got a clue…its hilarious.”
“Where are my pants?” I said.
“Over there,” she said with a trace of disdain. I glanced anxiously around the room. “I popped them into the hot wash cycle while you were out cold along with the rest of your clothes.” She nodded towards a neatly stacked pile of washing. I couldn’t see my pants anywhere.
“And my pants?” I repeated.
She nodded again, jerking her head in the general direction of the older, larger Yakuza;
“Torao has taken quite a liking to them.”
I craned my head further round, past the pile of washing; she hadn’t struck me as the domestic type. And then I saw them… On Torao’s head! Curiously, ludicrously, the effect resembled nothing so much as a Jane Austen mob cap, the type I had seen on those ghastly historical dramas so beloved of very young girls and old boilers past their prime. Perhaps the Queen wears one in bed, I reflected. Or maybe even Philip, when he’s feeling cold.
“It’s what they wear now in Japan,” she continued, “the old British y-front is quite sought-after. It saves time in the morning, tying the traditional headgear, the knots can be quite complicated, you see. It's come out quite nice don't you think? I popped a tablet of whitener into the machine, just to be on the safe side.”
I stared incredulously at the emblematic Union Jack badge centred on his forehead, and swore softly to myself; why hadn't I worn my black silk boxers? The ones on his head were a gift from my wife during a trip to Blackpool one summer. Underneath, on the rather stretched elastic it read 'Kiss Me Quick'.
Blushing, I demanded snappishly, “well, can I have them back?”
“Afraid not,” she said smoothly, pulling the tip of each finger of her gloves delicately as she spoke, “not unless you want to offend your protectors. Not a good move.”
I could see what she meant. Both of them sat there within reach of Bonnie's instruments of torture. She was quite right-it would never do to retract the present. She looked at me pityingly and then slipped her now ungloved hand inside her slick black handbag, tossing something in my direction. I caught it adroitly as I had been taught on the playing fields of Eton (or was it West Brom? My mind was still clouded by the Pentothal) and tore off the black cellophane bag with my teeth.
“My raincoat?” I asked nicely.
“Tomi.” She jerked her head again, this time in the direction of the younger, skinnier Yakuza, Grinning, he came towards me with the key, unleashing me from the radiator. I edged towards the pile of freshly washed clothes and pulled my raincoat over the top of me whilst I slipped on the black paper pants; you know, the kind they give you when you go for a suntan. Was that a smirk I could see on Amber's face? She turned towards the window, gazing out and pulled the collar of her coat up against the draft. I put the rest of my clothes on hurriedly. It was time to go.
I watched the green lights in the elevator in descending order until they stopped at B for basement. The two henchmen walked in front and as Amber and I followed through the grim concrete pillared, subterranean parking lot, I felt a frisson of alarm as her hand touched mine. She pressed a small bag into the palm of my hand and walked on ahead. I slid it into my trouser pocket, fingering the soft nap of the pouch and the hard lumps within. We approached a white Lexus and with a click and a flash of lights the doors unlocked. I made for the front passenger seat but felt Amber’s restraining gloved hand on my arm as she nodded towards the rear passenger door. Childish of her I thought, this desire to sit in front. Tomi took the wheel and revving the car alarmingly, joined the flow of traffic outside.
We began to drive south, Amber putting the occasional restraining hand on the drivers wheel with a;
“Now then, Tomi, we’ll have plenty of time for racing when we get to the desert.”
I slid my hand into my trouser pocket once more and began to explore the pouch Amber had slipped me. Torao dozed beside me, his headdress nodding in rhythm with the lurching of the car, the sweat trickling down his face. I eased open the thin silk cord tied around the neck of the pouch and released the contents of the bag into my palm. Withdrawing my hand furtively from my pocket, all the while glancing at Torao, I saw gleaming there a scatter of large diamonds, extraordinary in their rainbow brilliance. I looked up and caught Amber’s eye in the windscreen mirror. She winked at me.
“Torao, why don’t you show our guest our hospitality tray? she said.
The car bounced over a particularly large bump in the road and Torao awoke with a start. Grunting, he reached forward and unclipped a large panel embedded in the front seat to reveal a large drinks cabinet. I licked my lips excitedly at the array of glinting bottles and mysterious silver containers before me.
“Double oh P, or should I say Andrewsan,” she said slyly, “why don’t you prepare us some Martinis? I know they’re your speciality.”
Eagerly I took the cocktail shaker and filled it with ice, pouring over three large shots of gin and another of vodka before selecting my own special ingredient.
“I’m sure we could all do with a pick me up,” she rambled on from the front seat, “Something to pique the appetite-there’s a great drive-in diner a few miles ahead where we can get breakfast. It’s a long drive to Mexico.”