The Adventures of Marian, the slightly aggressive Librarian,
Do we ever know white knights when they first appear? Do we give them the credit they deserve? Or do we tell them to keep their muddy boots off the carpet??
The eavesdropping equipment was set up inside the terminal. The two men in the expensive suits stopped there first.
“Hey, Eddy, what was it they said to each other there at the end before the lady took her little nap?”
Eddy turned around and grinned. “Listen to this.” He flipped a switch, and the voice of the tall man, speaking in his own language, came through the static and white noise.
“Find out what he’s saying,” Terry said.
“Listen,” Eddy said.
There was a lull in the interference. Clear as a bell, they heard Ms. Mott say, “Bite me.”
Dino grinned. “We gotta get her outta there, man.”
Terry didn’t smile. “Yes. Before she talks herself into an early grave.”
Henny opened the door to her little house, and Mike stood on the step. It would be nice, she thought, if Sid was wrong once in a while.
“Uh, hi,” Mike said. “I tried calling, but you didn’t answer your phone.”
“And you didn’t think that meant anything?” Henny was a little surprised to hear that come out of her mouth. Even though she was thinking it, she didn’t really mean to say it.
“Uh, well, I guess I just wanted to see you, so I took a chance.” He tried to see past her. “Is your roommate home?”
“Stop it.” Henny stared at him for a long time. He frowned, but didn’t retreat. “Hell, why not? Come on in.” Henny knew what was going to happen. He’d ask questions; she wasn’t in the right frame of mind to avoid answering those questions; he’d think she was weird; and then she’d never see him again.
Might as well get it over with.
“Listen, if this is a bad time, just tell me. I don’t wanna--“
“I said, come in.” She left the door open and walked away from it.
He stepped in gingerly. Henny sat down on the sofa. Mike casually strolled around the living room looking at the pictures on the walls, glancing at Henny every few seconds.
“Why don’t you just look the whole house over?” she said in a brittle voice. “Go upstairs. You want the key to the basement, too?”
“Sorry,” he said; and he hurried back to the sofa to sit down beside her.
“I just told you to go look!”
He frowned again. “Are you all right?”
The corners of her mouth turned down. “No.”
There was a long pause. Mike said, “You don’t really have a roommate, do you?”
“Not the regular kind.”
“I didn’t mean to be pushy. I just…..I just was having a good time and I didn’t want to go home. You didn’t have to make up somebody.”
“I couldn’t face explaining the truth.”
“Oh. What’s the truth?”
Henny sighed. She rubbed her temple. “My roommate’s name is Sid. He lives in there.” She pointed at the tower on the table.
Marian decided having duct tape over her mouth was worse than a punch in the face. Lucky her, she got to have both. Soon as she got her hands free, somebody was going to be sorry……
It was a good thing she couldn’t talk; when some fellow on the radio started negotiations with the hijackers for the ransom they hadn’t even thought of asking for, she might have given the whole thing away if she could have opened her mouth. It took her a long time to get it. She thought later the reason she was so slow on the uptake had to be jetlag……ok, maybe the blow to the head in the bathroom had something to do with it……or the punch she’d taken outside (yeah, somebody was really gonna be sorry for that) or the fact that she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for hours…..
Whatever it was, she was mystified when the fellow who said his name was Dino started talking about the large amount of money her father would be happy to pay to get her back in one piece. And when her captors turned and looked at her like she was the goose that laid the golden egg, she said, “Hey, don’t look at me, I don’t know anything about it,” but thankfully no one could understand her through the tape.
PL&BN glowered at her, said something in his own language that made the others uncomfortable. He walked over to her.
“Want to know what I said, bitch?”
Yeah, that’s right, ask me questions when I’ve got a piece of tape over my mouth, bozo.
“I said, maybe we won’t give you back. Maybe after we get the ransom, we rip all your clothes off and take you. And then we kill you. What do you think of that?”
Marian shut her eyes and pretended to snore, which is really hard to do with tape over your mouth. She could feel his rage; he was so flushed with it, he was radiating heat. I really, really hope somebody shoots you before this is all over, she thought. And I hope it really hurts.
Dino kept talking; Marian stopped listening. Didn’t know what he thought he was doing; didn’t care. Hardly paid attention when all the hijackers filed outside, save one, who she assumed was supposed to be watching her. Actually he was playing with a cd player she was almost certain didn’t belong to him. She got tired of Three Dog Night before he did---she’d loved “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” as much as anybody when it came out, but that was thirty years ago. Enough was enough.
She blessed the sudden silence at one point……then Jeremiah started up again. She could have screamed.
A hand on her shoulder…..a voice in her ear…..that said, “Is there anybody else in here except the music lover?” She was a little slow again…..more than a little confuzzled.
“Miss,” the voice said. A lovely low voice, masculine and clear…..and speaking English. ”Are you awake?” She tried to turn to see him. Whoever he was.
“Are you all right?”
She growled. Wondered why no one seemed to understand about duct tape.
“Hush,” he said. “Be quiet.” His hands were at her ankles, efficiently slicing through the tape there. “We’re going to be leaving, I’m taking you out of here, but you have to be quiet. Can you walk?”
She nodded, although she wasn’t sure she was telling the truth; she couldn’t feel her feet.
He cut the tape from around her wrists; she reached for the tape across her face, he put his hand over hers, and moved so he could look her in the eye. “R’member, you have to be quiet.”
His face was covered up with makeup--like the camouflage stuff kids put on their faces for Halloween, green and black and greasy-looking--and half hidden with a black stocking cap…..but she thought he was beautiful. OK, alright, she couldn’t really tell what he looked like, she only thought he was beautiful because he was there to rescue her. She thought afterwards he could have looked like Max Klinger, and her reaction right at that moment would have been the same…..
He ripped the tape off her face. She was too happy to scream when it took the top layer of skin off her upper lip. Instead, she grabbed the collar of his camouflage shirt with both hands, and planted a kiss on him that should have singed his eyebrows.
When she had to breathe, he grinned. “Better wait till we’re out of here before you thank me. Ok? Ready?”
She nodded. She was ready. Man, was she ready.
Everything went well till they had to crawl through a little square opening in the floor into the belly of the plane. She eyed it doubtfully.
Her savior went first. “Come on, I’ll catch you,” he said.
Her skirt caught on the edge of the opening, and bunched up around her waist as she wriggled down through the…..hatch, she supposed it was. It was sorta like an attic hatch only in reverse. If she’d been made of lesser stuff, she might have been embarrassed when she felt his arms around her legs, catching her, then her thighs, keeping her from falling; but she’d worn her best underwear, so she decided she didn’t have anything to be ashamed of.
She’d learned her lesson a long time ago--any time you were not in your own little house, it was imperative to wear nice underwear. You never knew what might happen or with whom. Well, hmmm, even if you were in your own house it was a good idea, she thought; there was that time the insurance adjuster came to look at her roof……and she convinced him he could see better from inside the house……..
No, this wasn’t embarrassing in the least. It was a nice experience, in its own way; he was very strong.
As the rest of her slid through the opening in the floor, he let the part he had hold of slide down his body, till she was on her feet. Suddenly her jacket seemed hot and confining. She shrugged out of it after he let go of her, and left it where it fell.
“Now,” he whispered, “comes the tricky part.” He led her to another hatch in the floor. “When we get out of the plane, we need to run this way,” he pointed “very quietly. It’s a bit of a jog to the edge of the runway, but we don’t want them to see us and shoot at us. All right?”
“Good girl.” He grinned at her again. Lifted the lid of a rectangular hatch and jumped through. She could see it was just after dusk outside; presumably that would make it harder for them to be seen. She hoped.
She sat on the edge, stuck her legs through the hatch…….and jumped. And he caught her.
Dependability in a man is a fine trait. Nothing much better than that, Marian thought as he steadied her on her feet. OK, there might be a couple things just as good…...but she hadn’t had time to find out about those yet.
As they ran toward the edge of the cement, toward the tall weeds, she thought about the kiss she’d given him earlier. His reaction time was excellent. He hadn’t stiffened in surprise, he hadn’t had to think about it, he hadn’t argued with her. No waffling at all. Made a split second decision and followed through on it. When their lips met, he kissed her back. She liked a man like that.
They were not quite to the foliage when she heard shouting behind them, and a zing! in the concrete close to her feet. “The music lover must be awake.” Her rescuer grabbed her hand and ran faster, pulling her along. They slid down a small incline into the unmown verge.
Of course, sliding down that teeny tiny incline into the weeds shoved Marian’s skirt back up around her hips. “The next time I get hi-jacked, I have to remember to have slacks on,” she thought. Her next thought was that she must still be a little fuzzy. Slacks would only get in the way later.
He glanced at her skirtless bottom, and grinned. “Come on, now, luv; we’ve got to run some more. I think Dino can keep the rest of them bottled up till we get safely to the transport, but best not to take any chances.”
She thought she had something, some weedy, itchy something or other inside her underwear, but she didn’t suppose he’d want to wait till she found it and removed it……so she ran when he ran, and dropped to the ground when he dropped……and itched.
And scratched. And gasped for air. He was a much better runner than she was.
“OK,” he said when they had reached a fairly dense group of trees. “Let’s stop here for a minute. Catch our breath.”
Not “our” breath, Marian thought. He was breathing just fine. She dropped to the ground all on her own this time; scratched her bum through her skirt, tried to find the foreign object with her fingers, decided she was going to have to…..
“What’s the matter?” he said.
“Oh. It’s…..there’s….a weed or something…..up under here…..sticking me.”
“Turn over.” He was very business-like, pulling up her skirt, palming her rear, feeling for the weed…..putting his fingers inside the fabric, though one of the leg openings, and drawing it out. Very business-like. She sighed.
“There it is. Not a thorn, thank goodness; just a bit of local flora coming along for the ride. That it?”
Marian almost said, “Yes, that’s it, thank you,” but thankfully stopped herself at the last minute.
“Ummm…..actually I think there might be a little bit more…..there…..somewhere…”
“Over here?” He patted the other side, slid his fingers under the fine polyester of her panties, searched.
“Well, not exactly there, over just a little…..”
She lay her head on her folded arms, closed her eyes…..enjoyed the search….until his fingers were still. Warm and dry and under her panties, but unmoving.
“You,” he said, and squeezed what he had his palm around, “are a very naughty girl.”
“I am,” she said, and turned on her side, facing him. “You’d be surprised.” This time when she kissed him, she thought he hesitated a little.
“I don’t have relationships of any sort with clients,” he said. “Except business relationships. I just don’t. It never works out.”
“All right,” Marian replied. “I won’t pay you. Now I’m not a client.” He chuckled. She kissed him again. “We’re just two ships, passing in the night.” She kissed him again. “And hopefully bumping into one another.”
“Like the Titanic and the ice? Is one of us going to sink?” She could almost hear his eyebrow go up.
“I’m no iceberg,” she said, and rolled onto her back, taking him with her. His hand was still on her rump, pulling her against him, his weight pushing her into the weeds. “But I guess it’s possible,” she said as he settled himself full on her, “you might be the Titanic.”
She thought she was very close to finding out, when there were shouts in the distance.
His head lifted, he was listening. “We have to go.”
Damn. Damn, damn, damn. She thought she recognized one of those far-off voices. If she ever caught up with PL&BN again, she thought, he was gonna be sorry. Really, really sorry.