Held By The Enemy
Secret Agent Beansilver leaned against the desk for a moment. Then she texted a number not in her contact list.
Got through territory, she typed. Fewer landmines and enemy forces than usual.
Succeed? The person at the other end asked.
Congrats. Begin drafting report immediately. Will send you out again in 2 days.
Secret Agent Framley looked around. She looked around again. As far as she and her radar could detect, there were no enemies in sight. At least overt ones.
She whispered to someone hidden by the awning, “Just the usual amount.”
Framley waited quietly. A few people walked by, but offered no comment. She tried not to turn or fidget. The wind whipped up a little, then settled down.
“Here it is,” the voice whispered.
“Wrapped well?” she whispered back.
Framley looked around quickly, one more time. Nighttime is our friend, she whispered to herself.
Unfortunately the person from whom Framley had heard or read this line probably didn’t encounter drunk young Saturday night summer partiers, for as she continued to walk down the main artery of her district, she spied a band of them outside one of the more popular watering places.
She had two choices: to sail through and hope no one said anything or tried to touch her or harass her, or to cross the street and try her luck there. The seemingly easier choice wasn’t always the best one, she had learned from hard and bitter experience. Once a man had actually crossed the street in an inebriated state and tried to walk with her.
The warm air with a cooler breeze in back of it carried a faint hint of lake weeds. Framley inhaled. Her next assignment involved the lake, which pleased her. Still thinking pleasant lake thoughts, she walked almost absentmindedly past the doorway of the bar and the young hellraisers.
“Going so soon?” one called out.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” she shot back and kept walking.
When she was five blocks beyond the bar, she stopped and took a deep, relieved breath. She walked another seven blocks for good measure, passing a few walkers who were out for purposes of their own and were pressing along without looking at anyone or anything in particular.
Jessamine had drawn what most of the agents considered the most difficult assignment: that of going to a restaurant and ordering a meal. Alone. She consoled herself with the fact that it was only for a couple of hours, if that. She reminded herself for the tenth time or so that if the atmosphere at the particular restaurant assigned seemed too dangerous or ominous, she was allowed to refuse. It was a point of honor, however, with agents that none of them had yet refused an assignment. She didn’t want to be the first.
She walked into Bessie’s, which served kosher-style foods approved by the Food and Diet Administration Board. Which of course meant that the menu was extremely limited these days.
Looking at the now-sparse menu reminded her all-too-painfully of the items that were no longer allowed. As if it couldn’t quite take in the eerily reduced menu, her mind started to craft a shadow menu over the actual one with all of the forbidden items put back.
Sour pickles – too much salt/sodium. Corned beef, pastrami, salami, bologna, tongue – too much fat, too much salt, nitrites. Chopped liver – too much fat, too much sodium. Knishes – too much sodium, too much fat.
They’d even gotten rid of the rye bread and mustard, she thought mournfully (too much sodium).
So..she could order a lowfat chicken sandwich on light wheat bread. Or she could order a lettuce and tomato sandwich. Or an eggwhite omelet with zucchini and mushrooms. The last sounded tolerable.
When the waitrobo came around, she ordered.