The Terrorist’s Game
“I feel that certain things are best kept inside a family and not discussed with anyone else.”
Cameron waited for a few minutes. Bitsie came to the table and told him that Talia had to go. He was baffled and frankly, furious, not to mention embarrassed. He deserved better than to be run out on with no explanation. He felt that the least she could have done, the very least, would have been to tell him herself that she was leaving. His opinion of her went quickly from how interesting he found her to the idea that she was nothing but a rude, spoiled princess. He knew that she saw him as a lab rat from the world of computer programming, but even lab rats have feelings. All the fame and all the money in the world still gave her no right to act as though his feelings and common courtesy didn’t matter.
“Mr. Walker,” Michael said, appearing at Cameron’s table side. “Are you ready to leave?”
He thought for a moment that he would love to unload all over Michael about how rude, spoiled, selfish, and pompous his employer was, but then he gave it another thought. It wasn’t the employee’s fault when an employer was a jerk. He used to hear about the carryings on of people from the call center associates at work. They told horrible tales of people yelling at them for something that they had no control over. Therefore, he promised himself that he would never be the person who unloaded on the employee that had no control over the situation at hand. She probably came that way from her mother, and there was nothing he could do to change that. Her mother, in her earlier years, appeared as a heinous princess on many episodes of TMZ. Since she had not allowed him to get to know her at all, he presumed that the irrational behavior of spoiled brat ultimately must run in the family.
“Sure,” he replied. “It was a nice dinner while it lasted.”
Michael said nothing. The waiter had come with the remaining dinner packaged to go. Michael picked it up and walked with Cameron to the Escalade. He didn’t say a word. He was loyal to Talia, but he didn’t always approve of her behavior. There were many times that he wanted to scold her like a small child for her inappropriate behavior, but he was the employee. It wasn’t his place to make his rude, pompous boss behave like a demure lady.
“What happened?” Cameron asked once inside the Escalade. “Even I have never behaved like that.”
“I’m not at liberty to say. I’m sorry,” Michael replied. “It’s not as outlandish or rude as it seems. There was an emergency, and she had to leave. She should have said something, but she was upset over the problem. It wasn’t your fault.”
“What could have been such a problematic emergency?” Cameron thought. “It had to have something to do with the Russian Election, but what?”
In a few minutes, Michael pulled up to the Radisson and stopped for Cameron to get out. Michael exited the vehicle and walked around to open the door for him.
Cameron sat in the seat and looked at Michael. “This is it? I don’t ever get to know what happened?”
“It’s complicated,” Michael answered. “I wish I had an answer for you, but I’m not at liberty to discuss Talia’s business. Discretion is part of the job.”
He grunted and got out of the car. He snatched his dinner container from Michael and walked away to the building.
“What kind of bullshit is this?′ he wondered.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Michael said. “I told her she should have explained it to you. She’s extremely secretive about her life, and to a great degree, her work as well. To be honest, I think she likes you, but you didn’t hear that from me.”
“That’s great, but she’s impossible,” Cameron replied.
“Yes, she is,” Michael agreed.
Cameron walked away from the Escalade and into the hotel. He stood by the door, phone in hand, typing while holding his leftovers in the other hand. He watched as Michael drove the Escalade around the corner. He texted for an Uber. He wasn’t giving up just yet.
“Sir, can I help you?” the latest attendant at the counter asked.
Cameron shook his head and walked back out the door. He waited on the sidewalk, container and all, for a few minutes, and then a blue Dodge Caravan that looked as though it had seen better days, most likely in the 1990′s, pulled up to the cur. He opened the door and got inside.
“Where would you be to going?” asked the apparently Indian gentleman who was driving the Dodge Uber.
“Do you know the Billionaire Row section of 57th Street?” Cameron asked.
“252 East 57th Street, please,” he ordered.
The driver didn’t say a thing, and neither did Cameron. It was a fairly long drive from lower Manhattan, just blocks from Pier 11 to the Upper East Side where Talia lived on 57th Street.
Cameron was absorbed in thought. He was hurt and angry and needed to tell her what he thought. He wasn’t a manly man historically, but he had an ego just like any guy; no matter how deeply inside his psyche it was buried. He wanted her to have a good impression of him, but he didn’t want her to see him as someone whom she could treat like a doormat. He hated how uncaring she was toward everyone. She didn’t even have a pet. He saw her as heartless, emotionless (except for anger), and selfish with a touch of over confidence and an over inflated view of herself that needed to come down about 20 pegs. He felt that it was his duty to find this woman and put her emotionally and intellectually in her place. Then she might respect him.
There was a doorman at Talia’s building. “Is Ms. Anderson in?” Cameron asked politely.
“Why yes, shall I ring her for you?” he answered.
He realized that this could be quite difficult. The doorman was older and he was pretty sure that he could take him and get by, but he didn’t want to seem like a madman. He only wanted to seem like an angry man. He also didn’t want to hurt a guy that reminded him of an older Charlie Chaplin, outfit and all.
“Is there any possibility that you would let me go up and ring her bell? My name is Cameron Walker, and I was her dinner date for this evening,” he told the man. “Surely, if you’ve known her for long, you must have some idea what I’m dealing with.”
“I’m sorry; I really can’t do that Mr. Walker,” the doorman replied. “If you know her, then you know that I don’t dare go against her wishes. I’m too old to be unemployed or worse.”
He knew that he couldn’t argue about it. God only knows what she would do to a doorman for not following her orders. He waited as the doorman went to his desk and called her apartment. He came back smiling.
“I know, she doesn’t want to see me. Thanks anyway.” Cameron turned to leave.
“She doesn’t wish to see you,” the doorman said. “However, her bodyguard, Tyrell, said to come up right away. I don’t know how he handles her, but he is the master.”
After what seemed like an eternity, the elevator reached the penthouse. When the doors opened, Tyrell was waiting for him.
“Mr. Walker, I’m so sorry about her behavior this evening,” he said. “She’s a handful sometimes, like a child with an adult lifestyle. It can be frightening. Rest assured, it’s not about you. She has a lot of irons in the fire and a lot of baggage in her head.”
“Fair enough,” Cameron said. “I just want to know one thing. What are the odds of me getting her to talk to me?”
“I don’t know. Probably the same as the Browns winning a Super Bowl,” Tyrell said smiling. “But, you’ve come this far. I respect your determination. Maybe she will talk to you. Even polar ice caps can melt. And if you tell her I said that, I’ll deny it until the day I die.”
Tyrell liked Cameron and thought that he was precisely what Talia needed in her life. He was the first man to get a date with her since before she had married her now dead husband. He was impressed that Cameron would follow her after she left him sitting by the street in Little Italy. He had a confidence that she needed to keep her grounded, and Tyrell wanted to give the computer geek a fighting chance.
“Let me talk to her for a minute. I’ll see what I can do.” He put his hands out to him as if to stop him from moving. “Whatever you do, do not open that door,” he said, pointing to a door at the end of the hall.
Cameron waited in the annoyingly pink and gray living room for at least ten minutes until Tyrell returned from the room down the hall which he hadn’t been allowed in during his earlier visit. He didn’t know whether he should sit, stand, get a drink from the bar. He was anxious and had no idea what was going to happen next.
Finally, Tyrell came out of the room and back to the living room.
“Well?” Cameron asked him.
“She said she has no time for you. However, please understand what it’s like for her. She has issues with men and relationships. She can’t trust anyone until she’s known them for a while; a long while. There’s a lot of things that you and the rest of the world as well, don’t know about this woman. You have to accept that. If you don’t respect her need for sometimes unbearable privacy, she will shut you out. You can’t get to know the woman if you try to get to know her too fast,” he explained. “I know she’s got a reputation as being an ice princess, and a bitch, and God knows what. That woman is a sensitive creature, no matter what she wants you to think. She’s got mood swings that would rival any case of menopause, and she’s real passionate about certain things. Do not belittle those things. She’s completely female, no matter what she would like us to think. No matter what she seems like, you have to treat her with compassion and understanding. Otherwise, she may kill you. You got me?”
Cameron understood everything Tyrell said, but he was frustrated at that point, and barely cared. “What difference does any of that make if I never get to talk to her again?”
“I thought that, against my better judgment, I would let you go in there,” Tyrell said.
“I thought you said that she didn’t want to see me.”
“She positively does not. Sometimes I have to treat her like a child. I’ve known her since she was a kid. There are times when I know what’s best for her, and I think that she would be better off with you by her side right now. I don’t think that she knows what she needs. She’s having a crisis and shouldn’t be alone.”
“Won’t she fire you?” Cameron asked.
“Won’t be the first time, it probably won’t be the last. I’ve been fired more times than you can possibly imagine. She is having an emotional crisis right now. I’m not going to tell you about it. I wouldn’t break a confidence, and I won’t push her to explain her deepest secrets to you. Tread lightly. Her life is complicated. The Russian election really set her off.”
“She has to explain that to you herself,” Tyrell said. “I value my life too much to tell you something like that without her permission. Be caring, but insistent, and don’t push too hard. Good luck.”
Cameron was ushered into the room at the end of the hall as she emerged from behind a giant desk, wearing a Michael Kors puffy jacket in maroon over her outfit from earlier, and pulling a bright pink hard sided suitcase behind her.
She took one look at him, then looked past him to Tyrell who hadn’t closed the door yet. “You’re fired!”
Tyrell closed the door, smiling.