bar – laptop – insect – Germany – baseball
nervous – embark – protest – swing – sentence
Laptop open, Marc was only feigning browsing the internet. Café des Coureurs was the meeting spot listed in the text. It was a nice place; windows from floor to ceiling on both street-side walls on the corner. A bar ran along the back. Tables populated the space in between and on the balcony floor above. It was bright — middle of the day. Nothing to worry about. Marc clicked idly and his legged shook on the stool where he sat looking out to Versailles Blvd. The black van pulled to the curb right where he was looking. Two men and a woman stepped out. The men stayed at the car with their hands crossed at their waists; the woman entered. Natalie, Marc knew. She wove through the restaurant and sat beside him without ordering. She faced the glass, her sunglasses still on. A tense minute passed. She didn’t move until, out of the corner of Marc’s eye, he saw her flick an insect off the counter. It hit the glass and fell. Marc cleared his throat, but before he got a sentence out, Natalie said: “You seem nervous.”
“I’m— well, I haven’t done this before.”
“Give it,” she said, still looking forward.
Marc reached down and swung the briefcase from between his legs over to her stool. All she had to do was accept this, he thought, then he could embark to Belgium, then continue home to Germany.
“Stay here,” she said. Then she took the case and went out to the van. One of the men opened the side door and she got into the back. Another tense minute passed. Marc’s body screamed to leave. He made eye-contact with the men through the window; he couldn’t see into the tinted van. Then one man turned his head, as if hearing something over his shoulder from the van, before turning back and reaffirming contact, this time with a layer of knowing behind his eyes.
Marc moved quickly through the café, leaving his things behind. When he placed a foot out the door, he sprinted left, away from the van. But he felt an immovable grip at the back of his collar. He choked and his legs skidded under him. He fell backwards.
“No,” he protested, looking up at the men — one of whom now had a baseball bat in hand.