The Terrorist’s Game
“I love fashion. I think it’s so important, because it’s how you show yourself to the world.”
Cameron arrived at the Financial District Radisson Hotel late that afternoon with several packages in tow. He’d gone out and spent a fortune with Michael, who had acted as his personal shopper. Michael had taken Cameron to Ralph Lauren for a classic look that never goes out of style. He was in much need of some style, and the Ralph Lauren look upscaled him nicely. Michael tried to use Talia’s card to pay, but Cameron was insulted and insisted that he could pay for his own clothes. He was way too old fashioned to allow himself to be bought by a woman. He enjoyed his new look and purchased so many runway worthy new things that the bellboy at the Radisson needed a cart to take everything to his hotel room.
He’d been lucky in selecting the hotel previously known as Club Quarters for many years in the Financial District online. He looked into staying at The Plaza and the Waldorf Astoria, but the budgeteer in him made him look for a bargain in Manhattan. The tall, but old hotel on William Street in the most congested office building section of town seemed like a bargain to him. South Manhattan was long known for its narrow, virtually undrivable old streets and a lack of sunlight that comes from so many tall buildings within spitting distance of one another. Many of the buildings were all but empty since the Covid-19 pandemic a few years back, but the New York Stock Exchange still kept the neighborhood fairly busy. Fortunately, for him, having only looked at the site online, the old Club Quarters was quietly one of the nicest hotels in town.
Cameron was definitely new in town, and so far, had luck in all of his adventures. He enjoyed the fact that the subway was right on the corner, that there was a ton of coffee all around, including his native Starbucks. There were groceries at Duane Reade, a deli that served breakfast, and all of the highlights of the Financial District of South Manhattan. He was even walking distance from the waterfront, Wall Street, Trinity Church, Federal Hall, and the World Trade Center Complex. He was proud of himself for choosing such a grand location.
Cameron had been staying at the Radisson Hotel for several days, and the staff had gotten to know him a bit. The hotel manager, Rudolf, noticed the change in his walk when he entered the lobby followed by Chip, the bellboy and the cart of Ralph Lauren fabric shopping bags with scenes of the Manhattan Skyline on the sides, filled with new clothing.
Rudolf, a white haired older man, originally from Jamaica, had worked the hotel circuit in New York for many years and knew that he shouldn’t get involved in whatever life changing experience his new patron might be having. Even so, he couldn’t stop smiling to himself as he watched Cameron Walker.
“I wonder if his new pants are plaid,” Rudolf thought. “Good afternoon, Mr. Walker,” he said as Cameron approached the front desk.
“Good afternoon, Rudolf old man,” Cameron replied, smiling. “Are there any messages for me?”
Rudolf smiled. He liked the new Cameron. His first impression had been that of a backward, geeky, socially hopeless man. Then Mr. Walker didn’t come back the night before. Now he was buying new clothes, and there was a message from someone named Melissa for him. Why Melissa would be calling the hotel instead of Mr. Walker’s cell phone he did not know, but it was none of his business. Maybe he had misjudged the man. Maybe he wasn’t as socially awkward as he appeared. Rudolf loved people watching. It was why he enjoyed the hotel business. Rudolf was rarely if ever wrong about people, but he believed that Mr. Walker might be one of those rare instances.
“Yes, Mr. Walker. A Melissa Cooper called. She said that she would like it if you could call her back before 5:00 p.m.”
Cameron smiled like a cat that had just eaten his owner’s pet canary. “We’ll see if I get around to it. I have plans.” He took his message slip, an old but time honored tradition at the Radisson, from Rudolf and stepped to the elevator. “Thanks, Rudy.”
Rudolf’s eyes grew wide. “Rudy, indeed,” he thought.
“Is there any way to get a haircut immediately around here?” Cameron asked Chip as they arrived in his mini suite.
Michael had bid them adieu in the lobby and been on his way. Cameron had forgotten that he should get a haircut, and maybe a shave, before his dinner with the most impossible woman in the world. He’d thought about calling Michael and asking him what to do about it, but then he reconsidered, deciding that he should learn how to navigate such affairs on his own. He was trying to impress Talia Anderson, and he didn’t want her hired help to tell her stories about how inept he was in basic matters of grooming.
“If you’re willing to pay, you can have a style artist come right to your room. The hotel provides all kinds of services upon request,” Chip answered.
“Great,” Cameron said. “Who do I call? I want a brand new haircut to go with my new persona.”
Chip smiled. “I’ll arrange it for you, myself. You decide what to wear, and I’ll send someone up within half an hour to fix the rest.”
“Thanks,” Cameron said. He tipped the young man $50 and then Chip was on his way.
He was restless and bursting with energy for the evening that lay ahead of him. He walked around his mini suite that consisted of a partially separate bedroom and a living room with kitchenette. The living room area was contained by the hotel on one side and nearly floor to ceiling windows on two sides. The fourth wall was a partial that separated the living room from the bedroom with a TV mounted on each side of said wall. There was a desk under the TV and a sofa and tables by the window opposite. The bathroom was a small affair just off the bedroom which was on the way into the living space after entering from the hall. Everything was Swedish Modern right down to the coffee maker.
He used every flat surface of the suite as he got out every new piece of clothing that he’d bought and laid it everywhere so he could see them all at once. He tried to decide what to wear to dinner with the infamous Talia Anderson. He did his homework on this one. He had read endless articles about how difficult she was, and that was putting it gently. Men hated to encounter this woman even more than other women did. She was hyper intelligent, over confident, and apparently angry at the world. From everything he had learned about her, it seemed as though she would sooner rip your head off and stuff it down your neck than listen to a word you had to say. The men who worked for her were the only ones, it seemed, that didn’t have horrible things to say about her. They simply refused to discuss her with him.
Cameron was having dinner with Talia Anderson. He couldn’t believe it himself. No one would believe that he had any kind of a date with the world’s most undateable woman. No one would believe that he had a date at all, much less the most impossible to get date on Earth. He felt incredible, like a celebrity. He had done something that was all but impossible. Even her assistant and bodyguard, Michael, said that he’d never set up a date for Talia in his years of working with her. Michael had escorted her to numerous parties but never driven her out on the town with a man for a purely social engagement.
He knew when he retired from the computer industry, that he needed an adventure. He worked in a research lab for a major Seattle based software company for 20 years. He was comfortable because of all the patents that he made residual money from. After 20 years of being in the background, letting CEO’s and spokespeople take all the public credit for the fact that he and his team kept the public’s files safe from hackers and scammers, Cameron wanted to live. He wanted to go places, meet people, achieve some of his own personal goals in life. He wanted a chance to win a competition, have a wife and family, and travel the world. He wanted to be in charge of his own destiny.
So far, his life change was turning out to be everything he dreamed of. In a matter of hours, he would definitely be experiencing his first real adventure. Dinner with Talia Anderson. He hoped he wouldn’t blow it. She promised to be an important part of his new and improved life. He wanted to be part of her life, and tonight was his big chance. He didn’t know how he was going to do it, but he was determined to prove to the most impossible woman on Earth; the woman that trusted virtually no one, that he was really a nice, intelligent, sensitive guy. How, he had no idea.
He knew that Talia believed that he was following her to get a chance to meet her mother, the infamous Clarissa Anderson. He knew the minute he mentioned her stunning, yet hermit like mother, that it had been a mistake. He thought it would sound better, but instead, it really set Talia off. He hadn’t followed her because he wanted to meet her mother. To be frank, he always thought that Clarissa Anderson was just a mental case princess, who disappeared from sight after her final movie, 20 years before. The reality was that he wanted to meet Talia. He was fascinated by the red headed beauty that was in charge of the personal and professional security of some of the most important leaders in the world. The fact that she was regarded as an expert on international terrorism, made her even more fascinating.
He was deep in thought when his room phone rang. He listened to the phone ring five times before he gave up and answered it. He knew who it had to be. Melissa Cooper was the only person that he was aware of, who knew where he was.
“Hello,” he muttered.
“You need to get a real phone Neanderthal man,” Melissa Cooper replied. “I’ve been trying to reach you all day.”
“Hello, Melissa,” he replied. “I have a phone. I’ve designed phones. Maybe I turned mine off, or maybe I didn’t give you my number. What can I do for you?”
“You can tell me what went on at the party in the Hamptons last night?” she snapped. “I heard that you were dragged out of there by someone’s body guards by the seat of your pants. Are you okay? Where have you been all day?”
“I’m fine. I’ve been out. Who are you, my mom?” he asked. “Look, I’m really busy right now. I have to go.”
“What about those photos we discussed? The ones we agreed that you’d shoot for me?” she pushed him. “I thought you wanted a job here. What about Talia Anderson?”
“What about her?” he asked.
“Did you get any pictures of her?” Melissa asked.
“You know Melissa; I’ve decided that I really don’t want to work for you. It didn’t work out for me.”
“You met her!” she screamed. “You mean to tell me that you actually met Talia Anderson? Did you talk to her? What’s she really like?”
“Yes I met her,” he replied. “And, I’m still finding out.”
“What the hell does that mean?” she screeched.
“Good-bye, Melissa.” He hung up as she was continuing to yell.