The Enemy Of My Enemy...

“This is absolute madness,” Emma declares. “I can’t believe you expect us to do any of this.”
 
She’s sitting beside me on one side of the desk, Joel is seated on the other - I still know nothing about him other than his name even though we've been talking for nearly half an hour now. My hands have been freed but my thoughts are now tangled in their place; the lights have been turned up and I don’t feel like a prisoner anymore but perhaps I’m only a captive of another sort now.
 
Despite our situation I can’t stop myself from stealing glances at Emma – up close she’s even more stunning than when I had seen her from the rooftop by the bank… however many days ago that was. I’ve lost track of time and I don’t think I’ll get it back any time soon. Not if we agree to Joel’s plan of action anyway. God, I must look like ten pounds of crap crammed into a five pound bag.

“It will work Emma, you just have to trust me on this,” he says with a slight shrug. “The mayor and the mongrel will be put away for good and you two will be rewarded handsomely for your part.”
 
“Assuming we live to see that glorious day,” I say, my eyes burrowing into his skull.
 
“And why the hell should we stick our necks out while you sit safe and sound in your comfy little office?” Emma is almost quivering with anger, her words begging to be screamed instead of wrapped in the calm tone she is struggling to maintain.
 
“Without me he’s dead or in jail,” he replies with a slight nod in my direction, “and you’d be dead in a bullet riddled car in the middle of nowhere with homeless people scavenging your corpse for clothes and money.”
 
Silence descends on the room, our righteous anger suddenly disarmed.
 
“I hate to admit it,” I say with another quick look at Emma, “but this would also give us a chance to do what we’ve been trying to do for a long time – expose Wilkerson and Grozny. Don’t believe for a minute that I consider this the ideal way of doing it but it’s something to think about.”
 
“We’ll need to be in regular contact until this business is completed,” Joel says, as though our participation is assured. “To that end you’ll be expected to carry these at all times.”
 
No-Neck lumbers over to the desk, pulls three phones out of a manila envelope and places one in front of each of us before retreating to his corner. There is no brand or logo apparent on the black and silver cases and they certainly don’t look like any phone I’ve seen displayed in any retail location. We’re in the big leagues now.
 
“There are two numbers programmed into each of your phones – dial star one to reach me, dial star two to reach each other. That is all that you’ll be able to do with these; direct dialling is disabled. The numbers themselves will never be displayed or accessible, in case your phones fall into the wrong hands. You will be expected to answer whenever I phone; failing that you will have five minutes to return my call. After that you will be considered a lost asset.”
 
A lost asset?” Emma’s voice is dangerously quiet. “We are human beings Joel, not machines, not assets - do not forget that for even a second. And I suppose we can assume these are equipped with GPS tracking technology so that you can follow our every move?”
 
If I had been getting more sleep lately I would have thought of that. Maybe. Either way, I’m glad she’s on my side in this mess… and there is definitely some history between these two, I can hear it in the way they say each other‘s name. I doubt I’ll be privy to that information any time soon though.
 
“It’s a necessary precaution Emma,” he says with another wave of his hand. My fingers twitch with the temptation to grab his wrist and twist it until he squeals. “I need to be able to find you should anything go wrong.”
 
Emma makes a noise that is suspiciously close to a snort and sits back in her chair with arms crossed and a look of disgust distorting her features. She throws a glance in my direction and I return my focus to the sleek devices arrayed in front of us.
 
I pick up my phone, turn it over in my hands and watch the light reflect off its silver lining. I consider all that needs to be done in such a short time, whether or not we stand a chance in hell of accomplishing any of it. Maybe it’s time to cut and run, to get out of town and forget this foolish crusade - we’re swimming with sharks and our blood is in the water. Walking away would be the smart thing to do, the safe thing to do. It’s too bad that the smart option reeks of cowardice and that I’ve always equated safe with boring.
 
Emma reaches for her phone but I grab her hand with my right and snatch the device with my left. She raises a single red eyebrow at me, a flicker of flame across white satin, before slowly pulling her hand away and placing it on her lap. I can feel my tongue wrapping itself in knots already so I quickly turn and slide both phones across the desk to Joel.
 
“Don’t be foolish Red,” he snaps. “You won’t last the day on your own.”
 
“I didn’t say I was turning you down.”
 
“Then what is this?” Joel asks, holding up his returned phones.
 
“You’re going to need to program another number into those,” I tell him. “And we’re going to need one more phone.”

The End

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