From Jazz to Tango

crashing airliner

The dance lessons were not working. First of all, he hated to dance. Of all the things he was good at, dancing wasn’t one of them, in spite of the fact that he was at least adequate at several sports.

Secondly, she hadn’t noticed him. Hardly surprising since he was one of the worst students in their jazz dance class. He only joined so he could observe her without arousing suspicion, but he needed to get closer, and that meant interacting with her.

Their instructor Raoul could be bought, which was how Edison managed to land a spot in an already full class to begin with. Each student was supposed to choose a partner next week and he needed to be hers. A little more flirting with teacher and a stronger hint that he might be interested in some “personal tutelage” after hours would probably do the trick (he’d have to convince the little French tight ass that he was “bi”).

“Kathy, right?”

They were sitting on a mat facing each other, legs open, soles of their feet touching as they stretched.

“With a ‘C’, yes. Can’t you stretch more than this? You’re not really flexible.”

Oh, terrific. She’s snobby and critical. He’d hoped she’d be the type to take pity on one of the less accomplished dancers and offer a few pointers.

“I know. I need to work on it. Name’s Edison.”

“Like the lightbulb guy?”

“That was his last name. It’s my first.”

“I suppose everyone calls you ‘Ed’.”

“No, everyone calls me ‘Edison’ except my Mom, Cathy with a ‘C’.”

He didn’t like her, but this was business so his personal feelings were irrelevant. Unfortunately, eliciting the correct personal feelings from her was very relevant. Normally, he didn’t have problems charming women. She was going to present a challenge.

Edison stumbled and fumbled his way thought the lesson. His timing was lousy, his footwork was even worse, and he hated Raoul’s whiny, lispy voice every time he issued instructions. Part of him wished he were cooler about gay people, but he’d been raised on Chicago’s Southside, and his Daddy, who’d actually stuck around, didn’t abide by none of them “girly men.” For good or otherwise, it had rubbed off on his only son.

“Okay, that’s it, people. See you next time.” Cathy all but ran to where she’d set her gym bag while Raoul touched Edison’s forearm. “You really need to practice. I’ve got some time tonight once the class leaves. For you, I’ll wave the fee.”

The tall African-American, one of the few in class, had hoped to invite Cathy out for coffee, but the instructor delayed him just long enough for her to get out the door. Edison was screwed in more than one way. Well, he’d done worse than sell his body for the sake of an Op.

—–

It didn’t cost all that much to get the bum living in the beat up Ford van to rundown Cathy in the parking lot after class. Well, he was supposed to try, anyway.

She always parked under a light pole about twenty meters from the studio’s front entrance, which meant she had to walk out in the path of vehicles. He didn’t turn on his headlights, just like Edison instructed, so she wouldn’t be warned. She had just enough time to react when she heard the pathetic laboring of the van’s engine, but not enough time to get out of the way.

It probably wouldn’t have killed her, since he wasn’t going more than 15 or 20 miles an hour, but her injuries would certainly have warranted a visit to the ER, and maybe hospital admission. None of that happened of course, because in spite of Edison’s poor dancing performance (which had improved slightly after a few “private sessions” with Raoul, since he had thrown in actual lessons as well as sex), his reflexes and running speed would be the envy of “The Flash.”

They were rolling to a stop after he knocked Cathy off her feet with a flying tackle. The van rushed into the street, made a left and was gone before anyone could use their cell to take a photo of the offending vehicle’s license plate.

“Thanks. You saved my ass.”

He wanted to make some comment about how he made it a habit of saving really fine asses, but even under the circumstances, she probably wouldn’t appreciate it.

“You can get off me now.”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. Just getting my wind back.”

He stood and helped her to her feet.

“Bullshit. You aren’t winded. You may be a crappy dancer, but you’ve got moves where it counts.”

“You kiss your Mama with that mouth, girl?”

“I’m not a girl.”

“Sorry, again. Just an expression.”

She was still being a total rich, white girl pain, but she allowed herself a smile.

“No, I’m sorry. You just saved my life and I’m acting like a total douche.”

“If you’re feeling alright, you can make it up to me by letting me buy you coffee.”

“This late at night? Not a chance. Besides, I’m sweaty, and now I’m covered with dirt from wallowing in the parking lot. Rain check, but for a drink, not coffee?”

“Sure.”

People came around asking if she was okay. The police arrived by then, so Edison had to endure giving a statement along with Cathy and the other witnesses. By the time it was all over, homeless guy living in his Ford van was halfway into oblivion, courtesy of the twenty he’d earned and the bottle of gin he’d bought with it, a better brand than he could normally afford.

*****

“Why do you take jazz dance? You obviously don’t enjoy it.”

The rain check was cashed in on Friday night, and after dinner, they stopped by “Pistachio’s,” her favorite bar, for that drink he said he’d buy her.

“My Mama. She always said I should try new things.”

“You don’t look like a Mama’s boy.” She was smiling again, maybe flirting a little. She certainly filled out the red satin dress which clung to her well-endowed frame like acolytes to a goddess.

“It’s not like that. She died last year and I pretty much never did what she told me to do while she was alive. Did a lot of thinking after the funeral and figured I owed her.”

“Sounds sad. You must have loved her a lot.”

“Not as much as I should. Not nearly as much as she loved me.”

“Dad still around?”

“Unfortunately.”

“I thought that in…” She stopped herself and blushed, which he could see even in the dim light over their table.

“You were going to say that in black culture, the Dad usually doesn’t stick around.” He got her or rather caught her about to say something racist. He could use this and put her on the defensive. Finally, he’d won.

“Sorry, I guess that was pretty insensitive of me.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“You sure know how to win a girl over on the first date.”

“Is this a date? Besides, I thought you said you weren’t a girl.”

“It was just a figure of speech.”

He could tell she was torn between contriteness and anger. She didn’t like being treated with anything less than respect bordering on worship, probably because rich Daddy always called her his “Princess.” If he’d been white, she’d have snapped off some insult, called an Uber, and been out the door, but liberalism and white guilt (which only went so far with the kind of money her family had) made her stay to prove she wasn’t racist. He could probably take her now, right on the floor, and she’d let him. Well, maybe not, but she’d definitely screw him tonight if he made a pass.

“It’s alright. I get that a lot from white people.” He was really rubbing her nose in it, but it would seal the deal.

“Look, I’m sorry, okay? What do you want me to do about it?”

“I said it was alright. Don’t worry about it. We were having a good time up until right then.”

“Let’s set back the clock five minutes.”

“I’m game.”

“I bet you are.” She had turned up the heat, flirting full on, even running her index finger up and down his forearm and hand. If Raoul could see them now, he’d be pissed.

—–

They spent the next week traveling, and now the timing was critical. His intel said they’d strike within 24 to 48 hours, so he had to be careful. They had planned to go to Japan after Hawaii, but at the last second, he changed their reservations for Sydney, telling her it was a surprise.

She was mad at first, but five hours after United Flight 9654 took off non-stop from Honolulu to Tokyo, without so much as a desperate distress call, the aircraft disappeared off radar and was presumed lost. It took a week for the first of the wreckage to be located in the Pacific, but by then, they had left Australia for Santiago, Rio, Marrakesh, and finally Malta, but they couldn’t stay there for long.

It took a lot to convince her that anyone would murder hundreds of passengers and crew of an international flight just to get to her or rather her father. She was the youngest of four sisters, and killing Cathy would just be a warning shot.

Once Hugo Warner III was convinced that his baby had been murdered, and that the nameless syndicate that ordered the hit could do the same to any of his other children at any time, and especially that all his money wouldn’t be able to protect them, he would give them what they wanted, which was the backdoor into every government and banking database in the western world.

Yeah, he’s that Hugo Warner, owner of Apollo Integrated Cloud Services, largest database provider on the planet.

What the syndicate hadn’t counted on was Edison Davis, or rather the covert multi-national law enforcement agency he worked for. His job was to keep Cathy safe. By making sure they couldn’t get to her, they wouldn’t risk changing targets, figuring something went wrong with their security or their methods, which was certainly the case.

They had a man on the inside or rather a woman. She couldn’t blow cover, but she could leave enough breadcrumbs to shake up their Op, just enough to make them wonder what they were doing wrong. It also gave his team the time they needed to round-up each syndicate member distributed in a dozen countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Edison wanted to kill their ringleader Leo Franken himself, but the twenty-six year old weasel disappeared nearly six hours before the strike force raided his flat in Berlin and was still at large.

By then, the threat was over and he delivered Cathy with a ‘C’ back home to Daddy in San Francisco.

They had been lovers for a month before the relationship cooled. He knew sleeping with her was part of the Op, but he couldn’t protect her if he fell in love, so he cut it off. She was mad as hell, but she was also scared.

Edison didn’t bother to accept Warner’s invitation to the family estate, just set up a meet to hand Cathy over to his security people. He didn’t want to see the family, be offered money, vacation with them in their Villa on Lake Como, or any of that shit.

In the end, it was just a job. At least he didn’t have to take any more dance lessons. When she asked, he was too embarrassed to tell Cathy that the name of the agency he worked for was called “Tango.”

This is the second story I’ve written today for First Line Friday hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie (which I hope is allowed, and if not, please delete my links).

I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the first story, not because I didn’t think it was good, but because it seemed so ordinary. I wanted to stretch myself a little and try for something involving more intrigue.

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8 thoughts on “From Jazz to Tango

    • Thanks. I was kind of worried about the characterizations, since I’m dealing with race and sexual orientation, among other things, and yet real people aren’t perfect examples of any one perspective or philosophy.

      Liked by 1 person

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