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A Tiger's Enemy
He sat waiting in line by himself. The room he was in was empty, the cold blank, off-white walls seemed to press down on him and squelch the feelings of freedom he had been feeling. He realized that he was not escaping but joining yet another part of life were people would loom over him and tell him what direction to take. Never would he be free to make his own choices. The sharp metallic click of high heels on tile floor came toward him and stopped in front of him. “This way to the office.” The voice was calm and smooth. Another person to direct him, to tell him what to do. The hallway was the same off-white color as the room he had been in. It was also empty. Only the sound of the high heeled shoes on the tile echoed through the long, thin hall. They did not speak and he almost dared not breathe.
The office was such a different color than everything else that it shocked the eyes at first. A splattering of pinks, reds and earthy browns squirmed their way down the walls of the room. A painting hung lopsided on one wall, it looked as though a four year old had decided to redecorate the room. The thick, rich carpet was a horrible yellow that when looked at could almost make you smell the rotten eggs. A single light with a bedraggled looking shade stood faithfully over a worn out wooden desk. Behind the desk sat a man. He was not easy to distinguish at first from the piles of thick magazines and brightly colored books that sat on the desk; he was short and rather round. His hair sat in a mass at the top of his head and fell almost down to his shoulders, a true dust mop if there ever was one. His suit was a faded brown that looked as though it had been worn out gardening several times, with a tie that had an undistinguishable blue and purple design.
When the two men’s eyes met, the first got up from behind the desk and said silkily, “You have come.” The voice was out of place in the room, so elegant, so smooth. Rich with a history, a story.
“Indeed.” Said the second softly. He knew not to let this man’s appearance fool him; he was a tiger waiting to pounce.
“No hiding in the shadows for you Lane?” The first asked, his eyes glittering dangerously.
“Jack. It has been a long time since I have had the pleasure of seeing you, despite all that I have been hearing. No, I could not deny myself the pleasure any further.”
Jack chuckled softly, “Oh, what games you play. I could have had you any day I wanted, as you well know, of course. But I chose to let you play your little game of fame. But when you started getting braver I knew I had to bring you in.”
“You had to do nothing.”
“Ahh, but I did. You are a wanted man. Thirteen murders, trading national secrets…It was too much to just let you go; few have a track record as impressive as yours.” Jack said lightly, conversationally.
“I would think that your track record holds a far more impressive inventory than mine.”
“Perhaps. But you see, I, unlike you, turned to the right side of the law before I was caught.
“Which is the right side?”
“The side which allows you to stay a free man.” Jack said evenly.
Lane glanced around the cluttered room and spotted a worn green chair with one leg missing. He sat down in it anyway, but not before wiping away a layer of grime with his jacket sleeve nonchalantly. “I see. But what do you wish me to do with this advice? You have me caught in your web—there is nothing I can do.” Lane’s eyes flitted around the room as he spoke observing everything, it was how he survived. He didn’t allow himself to move any other part of his body—he knew if he did the other man would sense his fear--like a tiger after its prey--and the game would be lost.
Jack smiled, “You sum up your predicament very well. Indeed, you have nothing to do but to heed my wishes.”
Lane suddenly realized exactly what Jack meant, “You son of a b****.” He said softly.
Jack smiled again, “You are too valuable to be locked away—yet. Until then, we’ll work together, and we’ll both be free men.”