June 27, 2009


Posted in Writing Spashes tagged at 9:33 am by Tamara

Havilah stared at him blankly. “A what?”

“An arms dealer,” Dorian repeated matter of factly as he searched for something in his briefcase.

Havilah suddenly let out a dry giggle and looked up and away. “An arms dealer. Right. Okay, you got me.” She shook her head and rubbed a hand over her eyes. “Alright, I give, I lose. Well done. Where’s the camera?” She looked around them seriously, waiting for a team of cameramen and sound people to jump out and mock her joyously for falling for it. She kicked herself for listening to him this long. Why hadn’t she realized this was a big joke? She heard a slap of paper landing on the table in front of her and looked down to see a pile of photographs. Her laugh died in her throat as Dorian started talking.

“That’s Garrett’s stock-in-trade. He supplies black market weapons to the highest bidders. Everything from the small stuff—semi-automatic hand guns, grenades, tear gas, to the big stuff—mortar launchers, nuclear components, chemical warfare experiments….” Dorian continued listing off the weapons in the same emotionless monotone as Havilah pawed through the photos with her stomach churning violently. Some were dark pictures of Garrett and men she’d never seen unloading trucks and doing other things that looked normal enough to her. Others, and these were the ones that were making her skin crawl, were gruesome, horrifying scenes of war, bombed out houses, dismembered bodies, mass graves….

She pushed them away from her, sunk against the back of her seat and looked up at Dorian where he sat with his hands folded on the table, staring calmly at her. She met his eyes and held them for a long moment as her heart pounded slowly in her ears.

“How do I know this is real?”

He shrugged. “Look me up, check me out, do whatever you like. Play prime time T.V. sleuth if it makes you feel better. I’m sure you watch those shows.”

Havilah irritatedly narrowed her eyes, but somehow she couldn’t tell if he was jabbing at her or being serious. She stared back at him hard, then cocked her head to the side and propped her elbows on the table skeptically.

“Alright. So what do you want with me?”

Dorian shifted in his seat with the closest expression to interest she’d seen on his face all night and leaned towards her. He picked up his coffee and took a slow drink, staring at her over the rim. Placing it down, he cleared his throat.

“We’ve noticed lately that Garrett has taken quite the interest in you. Now, a man of his financial status doesn’t typically spend loads of time in low-end coffee houses, so to be honest we wondered at first if you were one of his contacts.” Havilah’s eyebrows shot up but Dorian took no notice. “We looked into you enough to figure out that that’s not very likely, but we did notice that you’ve got a background in debate and linguistic analysis, correct?”


“Well, debate requires quick thinking and persuasive argument—both important facets of undercover work, and linguistic analysis requires you to be observant and analytical, right?” He didn’t wait for an answer but continued, “While all this still hardly makes you ideal spy material, we couldn’t deny that you have a much more valuable asset: for whatever reason, he’s fascinated with you. Now, I understand you’ve rejected his advances so far. Any particular reason why?”

He leveled her with a look and Havilah cried indignantly, “Because he’s a sleaze!”

Dorian bobbed his head slightly from side to side to concede she was probably right but didn’t address the issue. “Well, what I’m asking is that you change your mind.” He paused to let his words sink in and Havilah just looked back at him unflinchingly.

“How?” she deadpanned, and he took a long, slow breath.

“Well you see, we have about enough evidence to convict Garrett, but we want more than just him. Garrett’s the hub of a massive black market, and we want to take out a few spokes with him. We’ve put several agents undercover with him over the years, but they can’t get anywhere. The man’s like Fort Knox; he won’t let anyone close enough to him for us to get anything good.” He took another drink while waiting for his words to sink in, then continued. “Well, if you’re failing miserably with your best and most complicated plans, sometimes you need to try out your worst and simplest. That’s where you come in.”

Havilah swallowed and began fiddling with one of her empty sugar packets as Dorian went on. “As I said, for whatever reason, Garrett is fascinated with you. Our agents haven’t been able to get him to work with them, but you’re different. He’s chosen you.” He looked at her over the top of his glasses to make sure she was paying attention.

“Now, we’re not asking you to really do anything. The last thing we want is for you to play detective. All we want you to do is observe and tell us what you see. We want fresh eyes, and eyes that have no idea what to look for. Sometimes when you know what you’re looking for you look too hard and you overlook the things that are actually important, see? To be honest, I’m not really expecting you to get much of anything. But, it might just take one clue or one name, and that’s what we want to use you for.”

Havilah agitatedly begin ripping her empty sugar packet into pieces. “And just how am I supposed to do this?”

Dorian shrugged as if the answer was obvious. “Just like you would with any boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?” Havilah cut in, and Dorian raised a brow at her.

“It couldn’t be too painful. Garrett can afford to treat his women well. Theater tickets, jewelry, weekends at resorts,” he trailed off as Havilah rubbed the palm of her hand over her face and up into her hair, propping her forehead on her hand. She took a deep breath and sighed slowly, staring at the salt and pepper shakers as she gathered her thoughts.

“Look,” she said at last, trailing a finger in the ring of water left from her glass. “I don’t think you understand. I didn’t just say no to Garrett because he’s a sleaze, I said no to him because I have moral problems with it. I have no interest in dating someone who doesn’t believe the same things I do, and I told him so—in no uncertain terms, too.”

Dorian pursed his lips in disapproval, and Havilah stopped. She knew he didn’t get it, and she felt like an idiot trying to explain.

“If I did date him, I’d be trying to build a relationship that I knew had no foundation, and I’d have to be fake to do it. He’d see right through me.”

Dorian cut in emphatically. “No, the absolute most important thing is that you be exactly who you are. No lies, no weaving complicated stories, or you’ll back yourself into a corner. You need to be and believe exactly as usual.”

“So how could I date him?” Havilah cried. “He goes against absolutely everything I think is right!”

“Exactly,” Dorian thumped his finger down on top of the photographs and Havilah jumped. He speared her with a look and thumped his hand again. “Religious arrogance is all well and good, but you’ve got to make a decision. Look at this,” he jabbed a finger at the pictures. “Doesn’t this go against what you think is right?” Havilah swallowed and said nothing. “You can either hold to your high moral standards and steer clear of associating with a lower being, or you can actually do something about what’s wrong. Is a few dates really worth more to you than the chance to help keep weapons out of the hands of murderers, terrorists, and warlords?”

Havilah looked at him and had the sudden feeling of being a mouse backed into a corner by a tomcat. She tried to think of a protest, but nothing came. She chewed on her lip. Would it be possible? Her eyes traveled down to the pictures and she stared at them for a long, silent moment.

“Would you train me at all?”

Dorian shook his head. “No. No spy camp, no fancy gadgets. The best way to blow your cover is to try to be the superspy you’re not. All you get to do is be romanced by a rich man and keep your eyes and ears open.”

He watched her for a long moment as she continued chewing her lip and staring at the pile of pictures. At last he took a deep breath and reached to sweep everything into his briefcase.

“Well,” he said, pausing to down the last half of his coffee in two gulps, “I’ll let you think it over. You’ve got my card. Do your detective work on me.” He stood. “I want an answer by Friday.”

(Copyright 2007, T. H.)



  1. J said,

    I do believe my eyes deceive me—you’ve posted a bit of your novel! It was well done (!) and as your Faid–I expect to see more of this and the continuation of your prose in general.

    • Tamara said,

      Oh, no, this isn’t a novel. This is just blather I wrote years ago. I doubt I’ll do anything with it. I don’t have the patience to concoct a spy novel. Ha.

  2. daniellecrossett said,

    Yay! You DID post it! I’m so glad :)

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