|Eating pigeon pie, sipping French wine and munching on dark purple grapes and blue cheese, Bebe Stephens looked her companion in the eye.
"Skilled negotiation is an imperilled skill," she said, resting her fork on her plate.
"I don't really care that much about it," he said taking a swig of his merlot. "I just want the job done right."
Bebe looked at him again, sizing him up. His beige suit, his leopard print tie. The salt and pepper beard and the neatly slicked hair. The beard hid any weaknesses in his lower jaw. Did he normally simper over pigeon pie? Or was his jaw line hard with determination? Again, she looked him in the eye. The deep lines around his eyes and the deep furrow between his eyes displayed his stern nature.
"An American warship is not an easy target," Bebe said, wiping her mouth with the cafe napkin in short pats. "That's not really open to argumentation."
He said nothing for a moment, just gazed at her. If they weren't in a public setting Bebe imagined what he could do to her. Finally he gave a deep sigh and leaned slightly forward in his chair.
"I expect so. I consider this a win-win situation. We can both come out ahead."
"Would you please tell me how you can say that," Bebe said, snapping the words off sharply to demonstrate her own certainty, "when there are currently five zodiac boats zipping around in that bay. Full of armed guards. Theirs. There are snipers on the radio building there. And another one there. And another one across from that restaurant in the clock tower? Yours."
"We could go about this in lots of different ways. We can just make a choice. And make sure it's the right one," he held his glass by the stem, swirling it slowly, watching her like a hawk. But she had been watching him like mountain lion, waiting patiently for him to land.
"Part of what we'll do is set a standard on our evaluation of the situation? Get a good understanding of our weaknesses and hence their weak spots? Horse shit. French horse shit. You nationalists are all so high on your own double-speak that you've lost sight of your own meaning let alone your double meanings," Bebe leaned back in the chair, shuffling her feet, not pretending to get ready to leave as a strategic measure but really leaving now. She took one last lingering look at the warship in the bay before them. Normally, a view of Parisian shops and restaurants and little tourist shops greeted her when she conducted business here. Today, a hulking behemoth of dominance sat there. And in a moment of clarity, as he popped another of the dark, purple grapes into his mouth. His neat white teeth breaking the skin and bits of pulp peeping out of his dry lips. Bebe realised that she was the dominant participant at this table and always had been.
Bebe had been travelling around the country following Douglas, meeting his minions and winning them over one by one. Twin trails of destruction spinning across France. And it had boiled down to this. An audience. An offering of a challenge. Take the risk and he would know for sure that Bebe was authentic. Bebe had just wanted to convince her adversary. She had wanted to run this risk: to judge the value of their enmity. To bestow her respect as an opponent. But now she was afraid she had been misled. This was a zero sum game. She felt that she must lose in order to win. She must suffer to achieve her results. She had wanted certainty, and now she was no longer uncertain. Douglas wasn't the enemy she had been questing for.
"By the way Douglas," and she saw him start at the use of his real name. Another sign of his weakness, displaying his surprise like that. "You never eat grapes with wine. It's just poisoning your own pleasure."
She turned away from him, away from the American warships, away from the armed guards of both, knowing full well that he would be watching her leave and wondering if the grapes were poisoned when all she really meant was that he wasn't worthy of being her nemesis.
700 words. Entry for Writers Cramp.
an American warship
dark purple grapes
Totally random writing. Just trying to produce something. Medium range probability that this sucks but I'm trying to amp up my production rate of crap stories in my portfolio.