Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Two Guns - Chapter 9 - Invisible Touch

The worst of the storm was over when the tender clipped the waves, leaving a burning soon-to-be-wreck behind in the depths of the Atlantic. Owing to its long-range applications, the tender was rather a bit bigger than the Zodiac our heroes had used on the way to the yacht, featuring a small cabin below deck and a half-open pilot house on deck. The latter was where Mark stood, trying to make it back to solid land, while Sharon perused the former to locate dry clothes. When she did walk out, Mark reduced the speed to account for the potential distraction, because no thinking and/or feeling female should ever be forced to wear a pearl-white disco suit with a flimsy silk shirt underneath.

"If you even think of the Bee Gees," she said, "I will smack you." Her dark reddish hair still hung in small clumps over her shoulders. It just refused to dry fully, though it had been downgraded from dripping wet to merely damp. "So, uh, about what Silvestro said..."
"Bullshit," Mark said emphatically.
"Yeah, I guess," she said, biting her lip. She let out a short, nervous laugh. "Probably thought he could mess with me."
"Something on your mind?" she asked and saw him flinch. Truth be told, she was getting better at reading him.

"Well, I was looking for a good excuse to mention it, but...thanks."
"Okay, but what for?"
"For that crazy stunt in the pool. I don't have a clue how you came up with that, but that was a damn good way to get down quickly, break your fall and bail me out."
"That's a little too much credit," she said, smiling. "I was mostly saving myself."
"Look, you can't know this, but I don't often say 'thank you'."
"I do appreciate that...I just couldn't leave you with a, well, false impression of my motives. Or technique. By everything I know, that shouldn't have worked."
"Frankly, Sharon, all I care about is the what, not the how. So, thanks."
"You said that already."
"Guess I did."

Mark shut down the engines. There was a horrible, ghastly silence as they drifted through some winter fog.

"I don't know what to say," he admitted.
"Maybe you just don't know how to say it."
"Yes!" he exclaimed, then calmed down and blushed a tiny little bit. "Er, I mean, yes, it's more a problem of how than what."
"So what?"
"Detective...Sharon. Would you like to go out for dinner with me?"
"That was it?" she asked.

He nodded.

"It's three minutes past Midnight," she said.
"...but there is a small galley down there."

She gave him a mischievous smile, and he returned it. They were drifting out of the the fog, gradually revealing the glittering lights of the coast in the distance. When it came into full view, Sharon took a look and caught her breath; Mark slipped the tattered remains of his trenchcoat off and draped them around her shoulders like a cloak.

"Enjoy the silence," Mark said. "I'll fix something."


The pilot house was too cold to sit comfortably, so they'd relocated to the cabin below and were now camped out on the bed, sitting in sukhasana and eating out of bowls made when Emiliano Zapata was still trying to stick it to The Man. The glittering lights of New York City were visible through the small forward view ports of the cabin, and the maritime radio was softly whispering summarily ignored weather reports.

"That's certainly something," Sharon admitted after her first taste of the rice & beans dish in front of her. The concoction was, well, hearty and wholesome, but there were a few elements to the flavor she couldn't place. "What's in it?"
"Banana and red pepper," Mark said with an earnest expression.
"Wow," she said, eating another sporkful.
"You know, stakeout food."
"I usually make noodles. You know, with tomato sauce." She smiled softly and added "Old Irish family recipe."

"Do you like it?" he finally said.
"Um-hum," she mumbled, awkwardly pulling the spork from her mouth and swallowing the latest bite. "I do."

In eating, Sharon realized how much she hadn't eaten those past few days. The dish was incredibly rich and filling, but she still managed to finish her bowl, which left her with a cozy, warm feeling when she just let herself fall back onto the bed. The boat swayed softly, as if in response, and she closed her eyes. She felt like she was floating in a warm, tropical ocean, far away from the shores of New England.

"Something nice?" Mark asked.
"You're smiling."
"Something very nice," she admitted. "Do you have family, Mark?"

He stopped chewing for a second, then thought about his response.

"That must be hard on you."
"It's okay," he said. "My Dad's been gone a long time, my mother passed away a few years ago...but I hadn't spoken to her since I left. I guess Alfredo was there when I needed a father. I owe him a lot."
"Basics of criminal psychology," Sharon said as if she was reciting something. "Sharp focus on personal loyalty."
"Are you analyzing me again?"
"Yes. It's annoying me, too. Please stop being fascinating."
"Oooh, I'm fascinating?"
"I think you are."
"Well, you're not exactly boring either."
"Does that pass for high praise from you?"

Mark stowed the plates on the floor below and crawled over to Sharon.

"No, of course not. You're also daring, capable and good-looking."
"Not beautiful?"
"Not in that suit," Mark quipped. Sharon jumped up and grabbed his shoulders, rolling him onto the bed and sitting on his chest. "I've half a mind to get out of it," she said with a twinkle in her eye.
"Don't let me stop you."

She bowed down, as if to kiss him, but stopped a few inches short.

"What are we doing?" she whispered, genuinely curious rather than scared.
"I don't know, I'm making it up as I go along..." he said, closing his eyes.
"Do you have any more cliches like that?"
"You'll see, won't you?"
"...hang on," she said, then climbed off and scrambled away from the bed. Mark kept lying there while she scrambled through the various drawers in the small cupboard.

"I don't want to pressure you or anything," he said, "but you, Madam, are a goddamn tease. I didn't go into this with any unclean intentions, you know, but certain expectations have been built up..."

As if in response, he felt a little item being thrown at his chest. He opened his eyes, sat up and reached for it - a condom. He glanced to the side and saw Sharon throw the tattered trenchcoat aside.

"Get dressed," she said.
"Yes, Ma'am," he replied.

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