He walked into the Dispensary with great trepidation. He decided to continue but resolved he would abort everything at the slightest sign that anything was amiss. Suddenly that small bulge in his waistband felt huge again. It was no larger that the size of a wrist watch face. He had basted it into the seam of his waistband the night before. The lobby of the Dispensary lead straight to the food court area and he walked to the third vendor down from the front entrance, as instructed. He bought an apple. It was not in good shape but that was one of the signals to proceed. He was wondering what she would sound like and look like after all those encounters with a scrambler and a voice synthesizer. Her age had never been discussed or disclosed to him. He only knew to look for the silver pin in the hair which was to be braided into two parts. Just as he was paying and leaving he heard the voice behind him. “Don’t turn around, go to the table by the fish pond”. He had thought she might wait longer to make contact and was a bit rattled by the voice. It was softer than he expected and had a huskiness to it that was distinct. As he turned he got only a glance out of his peripheral vision. She was in pants and a jacket. He could see the slim waist and that the hair was dark, auburn.
As he sat at the table he realized he hadn’t noticed if the hair was only pulled back or actually in braids behind her head. If it wasn’t or there wasn’t a silver pin in her hair he would act like he had not heard her and didn’t know who she was and just ignore her. He intentionally didn’t look around but bit into the apple and gazed out at the mountain tops over the educational building across the street. She came and seated herself with her back to him at the next table but a couple of feet down so he could see her as he looked out the window. There were two braids and a silver clasp in the middle of her hair. She had a sack with her and reached in for some roll or bagel and slightly turned to him as she did. He could see most of her face when she did. The skin was smooth and those eyes sparkled even though they were grey. “Do you have it?” She asked without turning to face him. The question ended his perusal of her abruptly. Her voice was firm and businesslike. This was the Rubicon. He could still walk away as though he heard nothing. His voiced cracked a bit when he said “Yes” so he repeated it softly the second time. “Ok, I will leave the sack on the table, call to me and tell me I left my sack, drop it in there as you pick it up and then hand it to me.” She took another bite of her roll and munched as he did the same with his apple. Those around them didn’t appear to be paying them any mind. Her voice had been low so no one should have even known they were talking.
He took his hand to his waistband and worked his fingers under the seam. It only took a gentle tug to pull it loose and he had the disk in his hand. All of this and he wasn’t even sure what he was handing over. He knew it was the “backdoor” code for his entire department. It was for all the Cleaners and supposedly covered their work over the decades. He knew from his own work that nothing was ever really completely erased from any computer or the Cloud. He had no idea what really happened to the data he swiped clean from the websites he reviewed. Someone better than him was going to try to take the disk and retrieve those lost sites removed by him and all his cohorts over the years.
“Now” was all she said and stood and began to walk away but the sack had been left on the bench behind her. He leaned over and took it and slipped the disk into it as he called to her “Lady, you left your bag”. She turned and walked only a couple of steps to him but they showed she was trim and lithe as a cat as she moved. Now face to face he could see she was in her middle years but fit and a proud face. When she took the bag she gave him the briefest lo0k and their hands touched lightly as the exchange was made. “Thanks” was her only response, with that she was away and he did the same.
He went to his seminar and tried to not worry but he did. He kept expecting the door to slam open and the Security to come for him. The material was boring and routine. They always said there was new material and methods to learn but they were really a rehash of the existing protocols he had worked with for over 20 years, nothing had ever changed. He knew the Security people would be watching and reviewing the logs from the lobby of the Dispensary. Would they see anything that happened between them that would attract their attention? Was she careful with the device and would she still have it? If she was caught he knew he would be too. Even with the cutouts and circuitous routes on the net and telecommunications, they would track back to him unless she had physically destroyed her puter and that was dangerous without a permit and spot inventories were taken all the time. But the two days passed without nothing more than one presentation after the other.
As he left the dorm for the educational building for his return he lifted his carry bag and headed for the main exit across the lobby. As he walked he saw her at a work table. He stopped for a moment but quickly composed himself and walked on for the exit trying all the while to not look at her but he watched out of the corner of his eye as much as he could and veered so he would walk past her by a mere few feet. When he was close she took her hands to the top of the lid and crossed and uncrossed her fingers fast. The “all clear” signal although he had been told he might not see it or to even expect in necessarily. She flashed him the briefest but brightest smile. Just as he passed her she said “We’ll meet again.” He never broke stride but his steps were light. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com