"I used to be a spy," the overweight, bearded, fifty-year old man bragged to the willowy blonde sitting next to him.
Thomas Smythe remained focused on his laptop and the presentation due Monday morning. He could usually bank on two productive hours of work every Saturday while sitting in the waiting room of his daughter's ballet class. At least when Max Drivel, former-spy/blowhard, wasn't being a distraction.
"Really, a spy, how exciting," said the blonde, Cecilia, in the 'I'm listening' tone that parents the world over used with attention hungry five-year-olds. Cecilia pushed the last of twenty odd bobby pin her six year old daughter's hair bun. "Now, that should hold," she muttered.
Max continued talking. "Yes, I can't tell you which of the three lettered acronyms I worked for, but it was central to the our intelligence efforts, if you get my drift."
Thomas had witnessed this dance of Max's many times over the last year. No thin, young, mother was safe from his attentions. Cecilia, who's daughter was wearing the pink leotard that denoted a beginner, had yet to learn the drop and go. A few more weekends of being pigeon holed by Max and she would discover that trick.
"There you go honey, head into class," Cecilia said and her daughter scampered away. Finally she turned her attention to Max. "So, you were in the CIA?"
"Shhh," Max gave a conspiratorial glance at Thomas across the room. Thomas made no indication of having heard, though he did watch Max from the corner of his eye. Max seemed disappointed by Thomas's lack of attention.
"Did you capture any terrorist?" asked Cecilia.
"Well, after a fashion. I was part of the team that brought down the illuminati. That was my last mission, two years ago. Then I retired and became a professor."
"The who?" Cecilia asked.
"The illuminati," Max said. Cecilia's face remained blank. "It was an diabolical organization dedicated to taking control of the democratic governments of the world. I personally discovered their headquarters in London and literally saved the world."
Cecilia's eyes widened. "Really?"
"Yes," Max warmed to his story. "You see..." He was interrupted when his iPhone started playing the Jaws theme.
Max answered the call from his wife.
"Hello," Max said. "Uh huh. Why don't you pick some up?" Max cast a glance at Cecilia who pulled a Kindle from her hand bag. He was losing his audience.
"Uh huh," he said. "No, but... Fine, fine, I'll go now. And you'll come and pick Jenny up? Ok. Are you feeling ok? You sound off. Uh huh. Take some Dayquil then. Ok. I'll see you later." Max hung up.
"I gotta run over to the hardware store. Looks like we need lightbulbs and the dog has gone and put a hole in the screen door so I need to patch that," he explained to Cecilia.
"Oh well, we can catch up next week and you can tell me all about the illuminations," Cecilia tried to sound disappointed. She wasn't convincing.
"Illuminati," Max corrected.
"Sure, see you next week." Max left and Cecilia started reading.
Thomas put the final touches on his presentation. He struggled with the title, but decided he would go with his boss's quote even at the risk of coming across as a suck up. Never Forget, Never Forgive
He closed the laptop as other parents arrived to pick up their ballerinas. His daughter, Evie came out of her class wearing a braces-filled smile.
"How did it go?" Thomas asked as he slipped his laptop into his backpack.
"Great, we got our parts. Even though this is my first year with the school they're giving me one of the leads!"
"That's great!" Thomas gave her a hug. Evie prattled on and on as they left.
There was a commotion in the parking lot. Thomas recognized Helen Gradwith, the mother of one of Evie's classmates, talking to a police officer. As they walked past, Thomas heard her say, "It was going 100 miles per hour. They nearly ran me down, that's why I called you. And I think I saw Max Drivel pressed up against the rear window."
Thomas slowed slightly, straining his ears.
"Did you get the license plate number?" asked the police officer.
"No, it was all covered with mud and dirt."
"And what type of car was it?" asked the police officer.
"An SUV. "
"Do you know the make?"
Thomas sighed with relief as he and Evie walked out of ear shot. Helen was a pleasant, if scatterbrained, lady who ran the bake sales for the ballet school. It would be a shame if she had seen too much.
"Do you have to fly to England next week? Can't you stay home? I'll miss you." Evie said as they climbed into the car.
"I'm afraid I have to go to see my boss. But don't worry, it'll be a short trip. I've got nothing but good news." Those were always the easiest presentations to give.
THE END copyright 2013 John Lance