Apparently the office suffered a power outage over the weekend. I suspect some sort of kitchen-appliance blunder, but as yet have no proof. In apology for the lack of content, I felt that I might contribute something.
As I have mentioned before, after the War, I made my wages as a writer of novels for men and certain jaunty ladies who crave adventure. My recent forays onto this internet have shown me that my works are out of print and rarely spoken-of. Forgive the ego of an aging man who wishes once more to share the stories he found inside his brain. From time to time I'll share excerpts from my older novels; truly, going back and having my loyal manservant type them up has reawakened the love of the craft. I have begun taking notes on a new work, my first in many years. As for now, I hope you enjoy this selection from The Vodka Vixens, the sequel to my 1965 book, The Vodka Killers.
Charles checked the .44 like he did every morning when he woke up. It was a routine that almost comforted him. There were no complications. There were no expectations. There was no anger, no sadness, no emotion at all. Ever since that fateful day in '56, uncomplicated times were seldom indeed.
But that was a long time ago and far away from his current location. Getting into Cuba had been easier than he had anticipated. The agency had set him up with a rubber raft after he disembarked from the so-called "fishing ship" the Orca. It had seemed legit, but civilians rarely are used in such a capacity as this Quint. Charles also knew that in this line of work, it was sometimes beneficial for the right hand to be kept in the dark about the left hand's activities, lest they find themselves handcuffed together.
After his other routines and calisthenics Charles put on the sort of linen shirt popular in the area as an attempt to blend in. There were fewer Anglos doing business here than in Batista's days, and fewer still vacationing since the embargo. But there were enough, and the dark, swarthy features Charles inherited from his Apache grandfather would help him look more like the local Spaniards than most Agency men.
He winked at the girl at the front desk as he left the hotel and her tan skin blushed even further. He walked the streets a bit, turning here and there, in an elaborate pattern established to discern the presence of tails. Finding none, he went to his meet-up destination, a bar hidden away on a side street.
It was dingy, sparsely-populated, and hot. Charles immediately felt at home. The bartender's hair was tight and curly, but Charles couldn't draw his eyes off her lips. Thick like soft pillows inviting him to come rest on them for a night or two. Perspiration caused her white linen shirt to cling to her in ways that Charles' never would.
"Hola, Senor," she said with a voice somehow both thick with sensuality and lilting with promise. "What'll you have?"
It took Charles a moment to notice she'd spoken to him in English. Nerves ajangle and ready for death-causing action. "You speak English . . .very well," he said, testingly. He wondered if his meeting place for his contact had been compromised.
"I was born in New York, actually," she replied. "I welcome the chance to speak the way I grew up."
"New York, eh? What brings you here?" Charles' hand slid subtly down towards where he kept his sidearm hidden.
"And I'll have a bourbon, neat."
"No bourbons here . . .have to go somewhere that can get past the embargo. Let me make you a local drink." She began mashing a mint into a glass, mixed it with cane surgar syrup, carbonated water, and rum. Charles was intrigued.
"You never answered me why you're here," he asked, watching her top it with a lime.
"Here in this bar or here in Cuba? I'm here in Cuba because I had family here. I'm here in this bar to meet you, Charles."
In less than a second Charles' .44 was leveled straight at her, but her smile nor the sparkle in her eye remained unperturbed.
"Canary Jackanape Soluble," she said.
"Moist Familial Arbitrary," Charles returned.
"I've never known a man with seven heads," she continued.
"Babe Ruth was a fat bastard," Charles continued, knowing he was a phrase away from success.
"Kitty kitty meow meow smell the HELLO," she said.
"Abraham Lincoln was a homosexual," he finished and put the gun down. "They should have told me my contact was . . ."
"A woman? Oh, Charles, I'd heard you were at least a bit more open-minded than that."
He took a long swig from the drink she'd made. "No. That my contact was so . . .intoxicating. What is this drink?"
Smile and eye still unperturbed, yet eyebrow arched, she replied, "A mojito. The sin here almost makes the rest of it worthwhile. Cigars, rum, love . . .but I get the feeling the Reds won't stand for it too much longer."
"Well, I always say 'Enjoy it while you can.' Besides, we'll kick this bearded Marxist out soon enough. Now what say we get down to business?" Charles said, downing the rest of his drink.
Her finger traced her collarbone and her smile widened. "Business before pleasure?"
Charles smiled, but before he could decide they were interrupted.
"Oh, Charles, it pains me to see you drinking this filth," one deeply accented voice said.
"With this filth," an almost identical one replied. Before even turning, Charles recognized it. Olga and Natasha, the Rasputin twins. Two of the Kremlin's deadliest and most beautiful agents. And he had a feeling this time he wasn't going to get off so easily.