They drove in silence to a nice hotel on the east river. As they pulled up to the concierge, Justin stepped out of the driver side and shook his head to the valet, hand at the ready. The valet stepped back, and clasped his gloved hands in front of him. Justin placed a rolled up one hundred-dollar bill in one of the valet’s hands. The valet nodded and returned to his post, squinting at the limo, but making no attempt to go near it.
Justin jogged into the hotel and spoke briefly to the maître d’hôtel, then returned to the limo. He stepped into the back and emerged ten minutes later with the trench coated Anne. The valet tipped his cap with a single word, “Ma’am”
Anne stopped and stared at the valet. “You will address me as Miss Toppan,” she snapped.
“Come, now, Jane.” Justin spoke softly to Anne, mimicking a Bostonian accent. “I’m sure the lad meant no disrespect.” He steered her by the elbow into the hotel, directly to an elevator, dinging as a bellboy stood preventing the elevator from being used.
Justin and Anne stepped into the elevator and before the bellboy could stand aside, Anne leaned toward him and whispered, “Queen Mary the first was very much a misunderstood monarch, and the Bishop of Winchester spoke beautifully at her funeral.”
Justin shoved a crumpled bill into the bellboy’s hand and shoved him out the elevator door. The bellboy staggered back, looked at the crumpled up one hundred-dollar bill in his hand and stayed only long enough to watch the antique elevator indicator rise to the top floor.
* * *
Major Jacob Globe heard a soft knock on his office door. “Yes?”
The doorknob rotated and the door swung inward. A technician walked through the door and cleared his throat.
“I said, ‘yes?'” Globe said, allowing his frustration show through.
“General, you asked to be notified if a listening post picked up one of your keywords.”
Globe scowled. “It’s ‘Major,’ young man.” He leaned back in his chair. “Which keyword?”
“Toppan, Sir. Jane Toppan.”
“Shit!” He exclaimed. “What tower?”
“By the east river, Sir.”
Globe nodded. “That’ll be all, thank you.”
The tech returned the nod and backed out of the office. Globe pressed a button on the phone perched on his desk. “Denisha, please have the motor pool ready a car for me.”
“Yes, Doctor Globe.”
Globe sighed. It wasn’t that he was ashamed of his doctorate in medieval history, but the honorific of ‘Major’ held more weight in the circles he kept to. He knew attaining the rank of General wasn’t in the cards. He’d been saddled with the off-book operation and off-book meant redactions in his time-in-rank counter. He could possibly trade in his gold oak leaf for a silver one in the next few years, but he doubted he would remain on active duty long enough to get the silver eagle symbolizing the rank of Colonel.
His phone beeped and a voice emanated, “your car will be ready in twenty minutes, Doctor.”
He pushed a button and replied, “thank you, Denisha.” A beep indicated his assistant was no longer listening.
* * *
Justin had helped Anne wash her face. The tattered dress was placed in a garbage bag. He wasn’t sure what manner of DNA or other evidence was left at the scene, but he knew no one would find any matches in the National Crime Information Center database. Aside from helping found the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Anne employed a team of computer experts who’s sole purpose was keeping their people out of such databases.
Anne soaked in a warm bath and Justin waited for a delivery. Anne’s measurements were 36-28-38. She usually wore a tall size six, but most of her clothes were custom fitted. He sent out for replacement clothing and now waited for their arrival. A knock at the door should’ve indicated his delivery, so he though nothing about it when he walked to the door.
When he opened the door, it wasn’t the delivery he expected, but an older gentleman in a military uniform. Justin needn’t’ve searched the man’s uniform for rank insignia for he recognized the man when he saw his drawn face.
“Sergeant,” replied Globe.
“It’s been a few years since anyone’s called me Sergeant.”
“Should I call you Justin, then?”
“Whatever. What do you want?”
“I want to not stand out here in the hallway. Is her majesty here?”
“You know that’ll only piss her off.”
Globe bowed slightly at the waist, and Justin motioned him inside.
“She’s not ready yet.” Declared Justin. “Shall I pass along a message?”
Globe sat in an oversized leather chair. “I’ll wait.”
Justin shrugged and started for the door after another knock. This time, Justin utilized the peephole. Satisfied it was the delivery he was expecting, he opened the door, accepted the three boxes and tipped the delivery boy.
“Dressed for time?” Inquired Globe.
Justin ignored the barb and walked the boxes to the master suite. He stepped through the door, but before he closed it, he called out over his shoulder, “no snooping.”
* * *
“Major! What an auspicious occasion!” Anne breezed through the door to the master suite wearing a yellow sun dress and matching pumps. She sat in a chair adjacent to Globe. “To what do I owe this visit?”
“I was in the neighborhood.”
“Oh, Jakey, you mustn’t make excuses! I’m always happy to entertain a man of your prominence!” She squeezed his knee and winked.
Globe brushed away her hand and looked sullen. “How long is left of your visit to the city?
“Oh, I’ve accomplished everything I came here to do, and you?”
“I just wanted to know if you needed assistance back to wherever you spend your nights.”
“Why mister Globe, that sounds like some sort of sordid invitation.”
Globe struggled out of the chair and straightened his tie. “You know very well it’s ‘Major.'”
Anne smiled. “And don’t think I didn’t overhear your little quip earlier.”
“I trust you’ll be leaving soon?”
“Only your visit prevents me from leaving post haste.”
“Very well. I’ll leave you to your leaving.” Globe strutted out of the room and slammed the door behind him.
Justin came from the master suite grinning. “It sounds as if you’ve won today’s battle.”
Anne looked at her sometimes lover and rolled her eyes. “The day I need reassurance from you is the day I’ll figure out how to die.”
Justin’s face reddened. He opened his mouth to retort, but Anne held up a hand. “I’m sorry, Justin, it’s been a hell of a day.” She wrapped her arm around his waist. “Please take me home.”
Justin mimed tipping a porter’s cap. “Right away, mistress.” He bowed deeply before continuing. “After you, Ma’am.” He finished his overt pantomime with a flourished wave towards the door.
Anne smiled and allowed Justin to hold the door open for her.
In yo’ face, BJ! This kinda wraps up this little mini-arc for 16Sunsets. I wrote to inspiration Monday, so here’s another 1200 words for ya’ll.