Daily Distraction: DARK FIBER – a serial thriller, episode 4
Posted on June 24, 2014
It was past midnight when the bartender shouted something and started cleaning the bar. People emptied their glasses, paid their tabs and left.
“Closing time,” Matt said. He pushed his chair back and got up, watching the man, who lolled against the window. He’d been asleep for the last hour or so, but no one had seemed to bother.
“Thank God,” Victoria said. “This is worse than a fucking red-eye. I so need a drink. A real one.” She pushed her half-empty glass away from her, gathered her things and stuffed them in her handbag.
“Go order a cab and wait outside. I’ll pay and see what happens to him.”
Matt watched the snoring man from the corner of his eye. A drop of saliva trickled down his stubble. It left a glistening snail’s trail. No one seemed to worry about him. Not even the bartender. Matt slid his wallet back and pulled out his iPhone. He pretended to search for something and waited for everyone else to leave. He stepped outside when no one but the bartender and the sleeping man were left.
Victoria leaned against a mailbox across the street. He joined her. She did what she was supposed to do and wrapped her arms around his waist, tilting her head back and speaking to him softly, like they were a couple debating on where to go next, allowing Matt to keep an eye on the door. “Goddammit, Turing. If it wasn’t for the fact that your chest actually moves when you breathe, I’d say you were dead.” She pressed closer, rubbing up to him. “I know you’re not gay, but dammit, could you at least pretend?”
“It’s a business deal, V. Not a romance.” He slid away a little, just enough to open up some space between them, not enough to tick her off. “Business,” he repeated.
“Yeah, yeah, I hear you,” she said, but she pressed closer again and tightened her arms around him. “Fucking business.”
It took the man another ten minutes before he stumbled out. The bartender called after him, but didn’t wait for him to answer. He shut the door and pulled the curtains closed.
“Ja, ja, ja,” the man muttered. He staggered across the street, missed them by a hair and stopped at a bicycle that sat against a lamppost. He groped about in his pockets, fishing out a set of keys. The clinging sounds of a key bumping against metal, froze Victoria instantly.
“Fuck,” she whispered. “Where’s that Uber?”
“When did you order it?”
“Even before I was outside.” She checked her iPhone. “Nine minutes said the app.”
“Stupid Dutch,” Matt grumbled. “No clue about service. Go talk to him. Keep here. Or find out where he lives.”
“Jesus, V. That’s about the one thing that you ace in, get a guy in your bed.”
“Jesus, Turing,” she hissed back. “You’re such an asshole.” She strutted over to the man. “Can I help you?” she asked. She kept chatting the man up until the Uber glided to a standstill at the corner of Prinsengracht.
Matt whistled softly through his teeth. Victoria nodded. She wrapped her arm around the man’s waist and guided him to the cab. Together they squeezed him in the back.
“Where to?” the driver asked.
Victoria nudged the man. “Where to?” she whispered, her lips almost touching his cheek.
“Antillenstraat,” the man mumbled. And something that sounded like a number.
The driver didn’t seem to have a problem with the almost inaudible directions of the man. He revved up the engine, made a U-turn and sped away from the city center. The man was fast asleep by the time they’d left the Elandsgracht.
“Did you get the number?” Matt asked the driver.
“Yes sir.” The driver repeated the number in English.
“That’s right,” Matt said. “Nine.” He sat back and tapped the address in his iPhone.
“Fucking long night,” Victoria muttered.
Matt shot her a warning look.
Victoria looked away, her face reflected in the window like an ashen blob with huge dark holes where her eyes were.