Accessories

Accessories

By Tim Avers

“She left me wonderin’ wonderin’ all day long
Can a good woman ever be found,
Can a good woman never be found?”
—Morphine, “A Good Woman Is Hard To Find”
 
They smashed in the door with one of those rams you always see on COPS. They even shouted something that sounded official, but wasn’t quite memorable, just for good measure. You might have expected more from counter-intelligence, but these guys weren’t secret agents—they were corporate muscle, decked out in suits and ties, and lucky to have a brain cell between them. The lead was a white called Harrison.
 
Harrison wasn’t content to let the men do his dirty work, and there were two reasons for that. First, Harrison didn’t know what sensitive information might be lying around the high-rise apartment. Their mole inside the Agency said that she—that is, the spy—had probably developed the photographs herself. Second, there was a rumor at the office that she’d seduced a group of men on a similar op, braining the last of them with a heavy, glass ashtray. Due to the nature of the business with which she was involved, Harrison just wasn’t going to take those kinds of chances.
 
Harrison swept the common areas himself first. There was a little smoke coming from the kitchen.
 
The apartment was littered with clothing and hardware of various types, from computers to surveillance equipment, the likes of which Harrison hadn’t seen since the summer of ’84. Back then, when the CIA had teeth, Harrison was lead on a team of West German intelligence assigned to smoke out Libyan terrorists posing as students. The Germans were a bit ahead of their US counterparts at the time, and anyway, it all flashed back in his head.
 
Except for the part that, as it turned out, the Libyans were just students.
 
Minx got to the laptop and started pulling up files the way he always did. He knew stuff about finding hidden data in programming code, for which the Agency was somewhat infamous.
 
Harrison made his way to the bedroom while Jorges and Miller detailed the kitchen and dinette. Nothing there but a couple loaves of bread, one slightly moldy, and a burned pot of Cajun on the stove. The fire alarm started going off and Harrison yelled…
 
“Jesus, people—shut it down! We don’t know if it’s monitored!”
 
“Hellhole,” Miller said.
 
Jorges climbed a chair and removed the unit from the ceiling, plaster falling into his face.
 
“Damn,” Jorges replied.
 
* * * * * * * * * *
 
"Christ,” said Harrison, peering into the bathroom.
 
There was a trail of fresh clothing and undergarments leading to the bathroom, and inside, a woman’s hand hung over the edge of the bath. A pool of crimson grew, refreshed by each new drip from the fingers of her hand. They were clean cuts, it looked, nearly to the bone, but Harrison was no doctor. The tub was murky, but her face showed through, eyes closed.
Looking at her cheekbones, Harrison became suddenly aware of how easily she might play the seductress. Until, now, of course.
 
“Harrison! Get out here!” screeched Minx.
 
Harrison withdrew his glove and put on a second, this one latex. He grabbed a handful of her short, curly hair and drew her, head and shoulders, out of the spoiled water. Harrison carefully applied two fingers to her throat. Her submerged arm dragged behind her body, and for a moment, he entertained a fantasy—she would draw a stiletto from behind her body and in an instant, plunge it into his neck.
 
But no movement was forthcoming. She was dead.
 
“Harrison, get the fuck out here!” came the voice of Minx, the zealot.
 
Harrison came out of the bedroom, the latex glove still on.
 
“Hell, boss,” said Miller. “If I’d have known it was that kind of job, I’ve got this cousin whose a…”
 
“Shut up,” he answered. “Minx, what have you got?”
 
“The List,” Minx replied. “Every mole in the company. How about the spy?”
 
“Dead. Slit her wrists.”
 
“That’s a stroke of luck,” Minx teased.
 
“Not for her.”
 
Like that, they were gone.
 
* * * * * * * * * *
 
Thump.
 
Thump-thump.
 
Thump-thump, thump-thump.
 
The shadows and light that stretched across the apartment floor faded. Outside the building somewhere, church bells chimed nine.
 
Anna’s leg twitched. Her breasts heaved slightly. Then, her hand grasped the edge of the tub.
 
Anna sat naked and in the dark on a small stool beside the tub, water and pig’s blood gurgling down the drain. The epoxy was more difficult to get off than DeLacroix had implied, so she bit the edge of her “wound” between her teeth and ripped if off with a “fuck” under breath between her semi-pursed lips. She spit the little piece of special effects out onto the floor.
 
After a towel-off, Anna picked up the trail of fresh clothes that led from her bath to the bedroom door. She pulled a .22 from the security of a flesh-colored bandage in the small of her back, and tucked it into the front of her pants. As she walked out the door, she pulled on a child-size coat, a pink one with fuzzy trim at the edge of the hood she had stolen from the neighbors’ daughter.
 
* * * * * * * * * *
 
A week later, a handful of Intelleron executives were indicted for conspiracy to distribute classified documents to foreign agents. It didn’t really matter what they were or to whom Intelleron was selling them. It was classified. Meaning none of your business.
 
Harrison decided to end his career in the business with a noose. Or at least, that’s what it looked like.
 
He never did find those moles.