When X. entered the room,
there were, to his great surprise, several people waiting
for him, among whom he recognized only F. and O., two
former business contacts, tied to not very pleasant
memories. Even a hard worker like X. needed a chance to
forget certain things. One of the unknowns stood up and
"My name is Q., X.," he said. "You may
have heard of me. Anyway, I won't add anything. We hope
you have a vague idea why we're here." X. denied
this flatly. He took off his hat, and all of a sudden two
silvery weapons shone in his hands as he made a backwards
exit. He slammed the door and laughed loudly outside.
Just once, gruffly.
That night he rented a
highly anonymous mass production car, an R., drove around
for a while to see whether he was being followed, and
developed a liking for the R., a brand he'd always heard
plainly disdainful things about. He finally turned into
M.'s L. in W., where he knew O. lived. O., "globes
noirs" - telling on him for something way, way in
the past that he'd even made up to her.
He didn't have to bother much with the lock downstairs,
frightfully careless for a medium range agent like O. But
then he'd learned to think of her as just a frivolous
young thing out for some not so serious adventures. O.'s
apartment wasn't even locked. Too damn careless. The door
was pulled open violently. O. in some excitingly tight
silky thing that went down to her elbows and the middle
of her calves and showed plenty of the sections in
between ... She'd always known how to tease his eyes
"Step right in, I had expected you," she said.
He made a sign that asked whether she was alone, she
nodded, and he still had enough of the old trust. There
was a man in the living room, however, and if X. hadn't
had his hand on the trigger beneath his trench coat he
would have been dead instantly. Instead of a tall wimp he
seemed to remember as A. from way back when ...
"Another trench coat ruined," said X. coolly as
he took it off and handed it to O. O. seemed an idol of
obedience all of a sudden. Her moist eyes didn't leave
X.'s face for a second, and was it true or not? there
seemed to be some admiration in them. Cherry black
beauties, and the rest of her just the same.
X. sat down on the sofa he vaguely remembered having seen
somewhere else. His memories seemed out to trap him
today. Without asking, O. served him a B. M., X's
favorite drink. "I have been waiting for you all
these years, and when I finally get to see you, you
probably won't believe me," O. said, kneeling at
"Depends on the action that goes with it," X.
said with a cool smile. "You know I've always had a
soft spot for you as far as that's concerned," she
"Saying it might not be good enough for once,
O.," X. said.
O. pulled her dress apart. Underneath she was entirely
and adorably naked.
"Sex, to me, is just
another deal, as you know, O.," X. said, "and
please pull those in." (He touched the brown points
of her perfectly rounded breasts.)
O. lowered her eyes and wrapped the dress around herself
once more. "You despise me," she said in a
toneless voice. "Yes, indeed, I do," X. said,
bending forward and taking her chin in his strong hand,
"especially for what you done to me tonight."
"Believe me, I had to," O. said, and tears were
welling up in her eyes. X. made a neglectful motion,
raised her chin and let go.
"Kneel down with your backside to me and slowly lift
your dress in back," he ordered. O. smiled a little
- she seemed to remember the game - and did as he had
said. X. looked at the beautifully exposed rounds and the
tuft of black hair between them for a long time, then he
got up and left the apartment.
He hadn't even touched his
favorite drink, so deep in thought was he. Was it really
true what O. had told him? Was there such a thing as true
love among agents? He didn't know, and he didn't care
much at this moment. There were a couple of other people
he had to take care of first.
He blasted right into a
party that was going on at E.'s house outside of D. in the
mountains. Luxurious living room/dining room/kitchen
unit. Big black stereo blasting away with the sound of J.
B., all the people stoned out of their minds, of course.
Those were things X. never went in for. Nobody noticed
him at first, but then his presence, like a cold draft,
was noticed by one person, then by another, and so on,
until the whole party stood staring at him. He then took
out his blackjack and walked straight up to E., the host.
E. stood there in a sleazy bathrobe. X. hit E. on the
left shoulder, probingly. The man sounded hollow.
"Where's your wife?" X. asked.
E. pointed at V., a ravishingly naive blonde in a black
sexy leather dress who was about to put another record
"Tell her I want to take her right here in front
of you all," X. said coldly, "and no surprises,
please, you mucker! I'll be holding this dreamer all the
The blonde had obviously listened, for she gave X. an
"Aren't you L., the lousy bastard who licked me in
P.?" she said menacingly. Everybody started
laughing. Of course everybody knew about it, they'd never
known it had been X., but it made a lot of sense. Only he
could have done it. X. smiled. There were some old-timers
here, and he sure appreciated it.
"Come on, baby, let's strip," he said to the
She slid one zipper down and stepped out of the leather
device. She had not a single hair on her body.
"There, you kiss-ass," she said haughtily,
walked over to X. , turned her back to him and bent over.
X. enjoyed the sight of her face through her thighs for a
while, then he turned, lashed out with the blackjack and
let E. have it.
"Back to work now," he said, moving his hat
That night he showed the
blackjack and the silvery ones quite a bit. Once he had
to be somewhat explosive, but he always had his way. This
is what X. was known for. It was not what L. had been
known for. L. had been a slight number everybody could
push around. L. had had some surgery done and now he was
X. And before he had been L. he had been U., with another
masterpiece of surgery. It was amazing what medicine
could do nowadays, and right in the middle of B.!
Q. was the hardest case. X.
used his card for the computer room and searched for Q.
He found that Q. had a wife - they were divorced - and
three kids who stayed with the wife. Q.'s current
location was supposedly M. Uhuh, X. thought, that's why.
And Q. sure wasn't in M. tonight. But X. had a good idea
of where he was ...
She was cute, had cute
little legs as if made on a lathe, a cute little shy
smile, and she was as deadly as acid. You didn't fool
around with this specialist. For that she was. She was
generally known as "The K." That said enough.
She was also Q.'s closest co-worker. She was elusive, but
X. had ways. She was having a Chinese meal at a place
named K.F. X. sat down at her table and didn't say
anything for a while. He just kind of leered at her. You
didn't show fear when you were afraid. But this had to be
Finally he said one word, and it was: "Q.!"
He felt something sharp penetrating his thigh under the
table. One of K.'s famous r.b.s. Well, nothing was for
free. It slashed up, then a little sideways. He knew he
must be bleeding like an h. by now. Was it worth it? The
pain was so sharp he could not speak any more. K.'s lips
formed two words, without saying them. They were:
"Fuck Q." Then she smiled a slow, long,
She got up, but when she did something unexpected
happened to her. X. shot her right then and there. And
his silvery weapon sure didn't make a lot of noise. He
was out before anybody noticed.
By the time he reached the
top of the stairs he was pulling himself up with his
arms. His legs had long ceased to function. There must be
a trail of red behind him. Q. didn't matter anymore. One
word had told him that K. had really been the head of the
entire blague. O. and F. stepped out of O.'s apartment,
arm in arm. X. had never seen such pity, and yes, such
everlasting love, in two women's eyes. For O. was F.