(This story was written for the NYC Midnight flash fiction competition. It had to be a spy story, taking place in a night club and involving a beach ball. I had 48 hours to write.)
The crowd pulsed like a living organism. The crush of humanity, deafening music, flashing lights and beachballs surfing over the fingertips of the crowd made The Station the hottest nightspot in LA — but one person was not feeling the vibe.
Tiffany, the name she used with the Russian informant she was meeting, pushed through the raucous crowd trying to reach their meeting spot. She was a tall brunette, in a shimmering low-cut top with a heavy pendant and a leather mini skirt. Her clothes fit the night club scene, but her swollen belly did not. She had one hand placed protectively over it, as she moved people aside with the other.
Nikolai, her handsome informant, was seated by the far wall. He caught her eye, since she was a head taller than most of the crowd and smiled. As she emerged from the dance floor into the relative calm of the periphery his smile disappeared. “My friend,” he said, “has it been so long since we see each other?”
“Seven months,” she sighed as she patted her belly. He reached out, but her hand grabbed his in a vice-like grip. “Just because a woman is pregnant does not give you permission to touch her stomach,” she snapped.
“No offense meant, my friend,” he said, “You American women— I cannot believe you are still working in your condition.”
“I know it’s a risk,” she said, “but I wasn’t sure you’d trust anyone else.”
“I think not. I do know you verrry well,” he affirmed with a lascivious grin. He motioned for the waitress. “Vodka martini for me and for you, little one?” He lifted one eyebrow, baiting her. She could drink him under the table. She had many times.
She didn’t take the bait, “Cranberry juice with lime,” she said over the noise.
He laughed, “Ahhh, tonight will be all business then.”
“How did this happen, Tiff? You were always careful…”
“Oh, Nik, it’s not yours!” she shook her head at the absurdity, “but why do you assume it was an accident?”
Nikolai looked surprised and the conversation stalled as the waitress returned with their drinks. Tiffany noticed, over the waitress’s shoulder, a man staring intently at her. Her body stiffened, but she stopped herself from catching his eye. She couldn’t let the agent know she had seen him. She had suspected Nikolai might be under surveillance. This confirmed it. However, she wouldn’t ditch the meeting. It was a calculated risk, but this intel was a matter of life or death for a fellow spy.
Tiffany took a breath, relaxed and tasted her drink as Nikolai sipped his martini appreciatively. She made small talk by patiently explaining to Nik that in America a single woman could choose to get pregnant if she wished. Then as the agent watched, she leaned over seductively and whispered in Nikolai’s ear, “Time for business my old-fashioned friend.”
“I cannot touch your belly but this, you allow?”
“Just like we discussed,” she murmured.
Nikolai leaned over and kissed her passionately, slipping his hand in her shirt to grope her breast. She felt the SIM card he deposited in her bra.
“Lecherous bastard,” she yelled, slapping him and jumping to her feet. He looked shocked and amused. She stomped dramatically from the table, making a beeline for the bathroom, fake tears falling. From the corner of her eye she saw the agent trailing her. He touched his ear while he talked to someone. Shit, he has back up!
She knew there was only one exit from the ladies’ room, and he would be waiting. She could easily lose one man in the crowd, but not a coordinated team. Hopefully, her plan would work.
In the bathroom, Tiffany closed herself in a stall and hung her oversized purse on the hook on the door. First, she removed her wig. She was a long-haired brunette every time she met with Nikolai. Next, she removed the stretchy top and shimmied out of her leather skirt, leaving her black silk slip. She pushed everything into her purse, then pulled apart her large pendant to reveal the hidden blade. She took a deep breath and plunged the knife into her midsection.
Earlier in the evening, when she had become suspicious, she made a trip to the kitchen with a purloined beachball. The busy kitchen staff did not object when she took saran wrap to the empty breakroom. Once there she had released enough air from the beachball to make it fit realistically against her stomach, then wrapped it with layers of saran wrap to make it appear as genuine as possible under her stretchy top.
Now as the air whooshed out, she sliced off the saran wrap. Her slip would easily pass for a sexy cocktail dress in the dark club. She grabbed her lipstick and wallet and left her purse on the hook, then returned the knife to its hiding place, hoping she wouldn’t need it. She stuffed the toilet with saran wrap and beachball. It automatically flushed when she exited. “It’s clogged,” she said loudly to the crowded bathroom, making a disgusted face. As the toilet overflowed, she headed for the mirror and finger-combed her blonde pixie-cut with water, making it spiky and stylish. Then she applied red lipstick.
Next to her, a bachelorette party was all giggles. “Congratulations, when’s the wedding?” she asked.
“Sunday,” a tipsy redhead in a ‘Bride’ tee-shirt tittered.
“Tell me about your wedding dress,” Tiffany said, bending over to bring her head close to the bride’s as the group exited the bathroom.
The agent, watching for the tall, pregnant, brunette, didn’t pay much attention to the svelte, sexy blonde bent in conversation with the short redhead. The girls headed to the dance floor and Tiffany joined them, the SIM card snuggly pressed against her breast as she danced her way to the nearest exit and into the cool night air.
Dasvidaniya Nik, she thought as she slipped into the darkness.