Sometimes, even a mistake may result in success.
|w.c. 1020, Previously entered in The Writer's Cramp Contest
Early Wednesday morning, my mind slowly focused, as I searched through the hazy residue precipitated by my lack of sleep. Several aisles sectioned the bulk of the convention hall's floor with display booths separating the milling crowds, flowing down both sides. Each cubicle was decorated with posters, banners, and signs promoting their company's high-tech military equipment. I represented one of those manufacturers, and our booth enjoyed less traffic than most others.
My sleepless night melted away as I watched a beautiful, auburn-haired young woman roaming through my neighborhood of booths. She stopped directly across from where I sat. I leaned an elbow atop my display case, watching her. I noticed her keen interest in one particular item in my competitor's display case. Then she did something that surprised me as she suspiciously hovered over that company's new high-powered optical guidance system, which they manufactured for the Defense Department.
She lifted her left arm as if to check the time on her watch. Then she rotated her watch's dial to the opposite side of her arm. The dial of the watch ended up pointing straight down at the guidance system. That seemed odd since she couldn't read the time, with the dial facing away from her.
At first, I thought she was examining the latch on the band. Then she did something puzzling. She reached to the backside of her arm and pinched the dial of the watch with her forefinger on its bottom while her thumb depressed the crown. Just like someone would do after setting the time. She smiled at the man behind the display counter, searched over her shoulder, then turned and stepped back into the river of buyers and their assistants. She followed the flow down the aisle between our booths.
My curiosity faded into the realization that I had just witnessed what appeared to be an act of sabotage. So I stepped into the flowing throng and followed her auburn hair as she meandered through the show.
A few minutes later, she stopped next to a shady-looking character, leaning against one of the pillars that separated the food court from the auditorium. There was no clear communication between them, but she hovered next to the man for several minutes. I thought, "This looks like a pass-off for the photos." Then I thought, "I've seen too many spy movies."
The woman then stepped into the torrent people, entering the food-court looking for their complimentary lunch. So, I rejoined my surveillance of her suspicious activities. Her auburn hair bounced atop her shoulders as she walked. I also noticed the sway of her hips, moving in tempo with the crowd's flow. At some point, my spatial awareness became lost in the view, and my pace must have hastened because I found myself walking only three feet behind her. The plume of her perfume muddled my thoughts, and I began to wonder if I could have been wrong about her.
At that moment, she left the crowd, and I followed. She stopped just outside a Taco Bell, leaned against the frame of its front window, fiddling with her watch. Another man, rough-looking, about six foot tall, twelve-o'clock shadow, and frumpy clothes, stepped up beside her.
The man's lips moved, and as they did, my eyes shifted to a sudden movement on her part. She shoved her auburn hair behind her ear on the side towards him. It was as if she wanted to better hear what he was saying. Then she turned toward him, pulling a short, thick leather strap from her pocketbook. She laid the strip of leather over the edge of her purse, facing him. He nodded his head. She smiled and whispered something.
Then he handed her an envelope, which she gestured for him to drop in her pocketbook. He shrugged, then released the package, and it fell into her purse. In turn, she raised her left arm, unbuckled the clasp on her watchband, and the watch fell into his palm.
At that point, the two smiled at each other, nodding their heads before they turned into the Taco Bell. I watched as they stepped into the line at the counter.
I immediately searched my surroundings, looking to see if anyone else saw what I just saw. The crowd kept flowing in a circle around the auditorium. No one else noticed the exchange that just took place. However, I realized it must have been an exchange of highly classified materials and I had to do something.
I rushed to enter the line behind them, but several people arrived ahead of me. I joined the line just behind a large man who obscured my view of the couple. I jutted my head out of the line occasionally, checking on the man and woman. Making sure they kept just ahead of me.
On one of those occasions, as I peered around the big guy, I saw the man shaking the woman's hand as he left the line. I excused my way ahead of several people, who sneered and scowled as I past them, to a place just behind the woman.
I reached and tapped her on the shoulder. I was about to tell her that I knew she was a spy and that I was about to call for a policeman. But as my hand fell on her shoulder, her phone rang.
She lifted the phone to her ear and simultaneously raised one finger on her other hand in front of my face. "Yes, sir. Yes, Agent Miers and I got the photo and Agent Myers is bringing it to your office. We believe the pressure plates and other security devices on the object are adequate." She said as she nodded her head and hung up. Then she turned to me with a questioning look.
My jaw still sagged in a dumbfounded expression, and all I could think of to say was, "There are never enough tacos."
She smiled the most beautiful smile I had ever seen and her eyes lowered in shy retreat. Then she looked up, her eyes crinkled, and her lips spread into a shy grin.
w.c. 1020, Previously entered in The Writer's Cramp Contest