Adam checked his cell phone. Two a.m. His flight from Phoenix was supposed to arrive in Atlanta at eight o’clock. First it was delayed, then they sat on the tarmac for over two hours, finally they took off, only to sit on the tarmac here in Atlanta. And, he’d promised Miriam he’d call her when they landed.
He didn’t know why his sister insisted on having him call her every time he took off and every time he landed. Ever since their parents died a year ago, Miriam got nervous if she didn’t hear from him every few days, if not every day. At least his older brother, Daniel, didn’t keep tabs on him as much. But Adam had noticed that if Miriam hadn’t called, Daniel would. And, she and Daniel wondered why he didn’t want to get married.
Well, a few more minutes wouldn’t make any difference at this hour, he thought. He ducked into the men’s room at the airport. He hated taking his overnight bag with him everywhere. He automatically put it in one of the stalls and started to turn around to walk to the urinal when he heard the shot. He put his hand over his mouth and sat on top of the toilet seat, holding his feet up. Not moving, trying not to breath, as he listened to four more shots. The cartridge had to be empty. But, who knew if there were more cartridges. Then the sound of running feet and the slamming of the bathroom door.
Adam sat there. He had seen the face of the man holding the gun from the slit in the bathroom stall door. He didn’t know what to do. He regularly taught people how to use software programs and he knew how to prevent anyone from hacking their files. He didn’t know how to prevent anyone from shooting anyone else or from being shot.
The bathroom was beginning to smell and he really needed to get out of there. He didn’t remember any other door out than the one he had walked in.
A beautiful lithe blonde walked through the door. She was wearing a long-sleeve black shirt, black pants, and short black boots. He couldn’t gauge her height from his current position, but she looked to be a few inches shorter than him. She examined the body then murmured into her watch. Her eye caught his.
“You can come out now. It’s safe,” she said in perfectly manicured British accent.
Well, if she’s going to kill me, there’s nothing I can do about it except run, which would be easier on the other side of the bathroom stall door, he thought.
He gingerly stepped out of the stall, careful not to tread in the blood on the floor.
“Um. I’m going to get my bag now, if you don’t mind,” he said pointing to his black overnight bag.
“Leave it. Security will want to go through it,” she replied succinctly, in a British accent. “Let’s go chat.” She turned and walked out of the bathroom. Adam followed along in her wake, feeling that there must be a movie camera somewhere.
She led him down a few hallways and went into a small room with a desk and a few chairs. She motioned for him to sit down.
“Did you get a good look at him?” she asked, sitting down easily.
“Unfortunately, yes.” Adam described the man with the gun in detail. “What’s all this about? Who are you? Can I go home now?”
“This is classified information. My name is Agent Martin. According to the passenger list, you must be Adam Levy. Is that correct?”
Adam nodded. Agent Martin looked him over from the corner of her eye. Good looking next door neighbor kind of chap. Dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, trim, and a few inches taller than her. He was wearing tan microfiber slacks, a light blue button-down Oxford shirt, maroon loafers with navy socks, and a matching maroon belt. His heavy navy coat was with his bags. He looked like someone’s brother or son. Too nice to be mixed up in all this. She’d have his full history report uploaded into her iphone in a few minutes.
“What you saw in the bathroom didn’t happen.”
“Okay. I’m fine with that. Can I go home now?” asked Adam. He was exhausted.
“Let me check,” she replied, leaving the room. She shut the door behind her. Adam tried the door after she left and opened it to a security guard. He went back and sat down. He put his head on the table and was beginning to nod off when she walked back into the room.
“We need to be able to identify this person whom you saw. You are our only witness. It could have been one of several thousand people. We need to know who it was to know who was behind this.”
Adam looked at her blearily. “Look, I’ve been up since five a.m. yesterday. I didn’t sleep well last night. It’s now,” he paused to check his cell phone for the time, “four a.m. I’m beat. I need to get some sleep. Can we discuss this tomorrow sometime?”
“Sorry, no. You will be escorted home tonight. Then, tomorrow…”
Adam interrupted her. “I don’t need an escort. I was supposed to see Miriam and she’ll kill me if I bring someone home without clearing it with her first. Sorry, no pun intended.”
“Your file doesn’t say you’re married or involved with anyone,” said Agent Martin, surprised.
“I’m not. Miriam’s my sister. She and my brother, Daniel, live in our folks old house. When they died, it came to us jointly and we’re still going through and boxing up stuff in our spare time. Sometimes I stay there overnight when I’m coming back from a long business trip and I’m planning on taking the next day off.”
“Oh. Well, it probably would be best if you went back to your own home tonight, in case anyone is watching you.”
“Okay. But my neighbors are almost as nosy as my siblings.”
“You will still be escorted home. We will make the surveillance more unobtrusive for now, until I can be brought in during the next few days.”
“Huh? Brought in where, Agent Martin?” Adam said.
“You may call me Anna as I’m to be your new girlfriend in order to protect you,” said Anna succinctly.
“No, no, no.”
“Your file states that you aren’t dating anyone,” Anna said matter-of-factly. “Am I that unappealing?”
“Nothing personal. Do I really need protection? For all we know the shooter didn’t know I was there. Otherwise, he would have killed me too.” Adam was amazed he could be logical at this hour.
“We don’t know that. The shooter may have known you were there, decided you were a civilian, and that you could be picked off later.”
Adam gulped. Not a pleasant thought.
“Okay. But, do I need a girlfriend? How about a new guy friend I can go to a hockey game with?”
“Your girlfriend can go more places with you than any guy friend can. Unless you’re homosexual? Your file didn’t mention that, but files can be wrong.”
Adam shook his head. “My brother’s going to have a conniption fit if I bring home a blonde shiksa. He’s an assistant rabbi and he redid the kitchen in my folks house. I can’t even have a roast beef and cheddar sandwich when I go to visit.”
“Oh! That isn’t an issue. This isn’t my natural hair color anyway. I didn’t really like being blonde. What color would you prefer?”
“What’s your natural hair color?” asked Adam.
“You don’t know me well enough for that,” replied Anna, smiling. “I’ll be a nice brunette. Will that do?”
“Daniel and Miriam aren’t going to buy that your Jewish. You’re British.”
“I’m not British, I’m Scottish. And, what does being British have to do with anything? There are Jews throughout Britain, including Scotland. I should know, I am one. I grew up Orthodox,” rallied Anna, wondering why she felt she had to defend herself. She made it a rule to never discuss her past with anyone. She didn’t want anyone finding her family.
“There’s no such thing as a Jewish spy!” said Adam.
“There most certainly is! The term is agent and I am a Jewish agent! I didn’t like my parents, specifically my father, organizing my marriage and my life for me. As if I was some inanimate object he could move here or there or wherever it pleased him.” Anna couldn’t believe she was having this discussion.
“All Orthodox aren’t like that, you know.”
“I didn’t say they were. My father is well known for being a…” she paused and wondered how she had digressed. “Now back to the matter at hand. My assignment is to protect you and in order to do that, I have to assume a role close to you. The closest role would be as your girlfriend.”
Oh. Okay.” Adam was too tired to argue. “Fine. I suppose we could have met on the plane. Do me a favor, when you dye your hair, could you also find a Star of David necklace somewhere to wear? That’d be great. I was planning on taking off tomorrow already and we can discuss it over lunch, or something. Call me. I’m sure you know where to find me. Can I go home now?”
A security guard walked him to his car. He arrived home as the phone was ringing in his townhouse.
“Where have you been?! I’ve been worried sick! The airline said you landed hours ago!” exclaimed Miriam.
Trust Miriam to have called the airlines already. “Took different flight. Delayed for hours and hours. Just got in. Going to bed. Already left voicemail for boss that I’m not coming in today,” he muttered, hanging up the phone, and stumbling off to his bedroom.