NO STRINGS ATTACHED
By Kathy VanWey
“Hey, baby,” the man’s liquidly, velvet voice rumbled.
There was silence on the other end of the line. “It’s been a long time,” she replied.
“I’ve been thinking of you . . .”
“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” The trio of voices chimed as
they burst into the kitchen igniting an explosion of book bags and school
papers. They surrounded her like baby birds in the nest waiting anxiously for
mother bird to feed them. “I’m hungry,” one chirped. “Me too!” Another piped.
“I need help with my homework!” The third demanded.
“It’s been ten years.”
“We can start up again . . .”
“Mommy! The sghetti’s boiling over.”
“Mommy! My snake got loose yesterday.”
“Mommy! My teacher said my science project is due tomorrow.”
“Hang on a sec,” she said into the receiver. “What science project?”
“The one she told us about a long time ago. I gotta give a report and have some sort of dem’stration like a working volcano.”
She muttered under her breath.
“Baby, I really, really need you,” he persisted.
“I can’t! My family.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said derogatorily. “Mini-van and white picket fence.”
“No one can do for me what you do.” The Barry White tonal quality reverberated down to her toes.
“Mommy! The baby pooped. It stinks like … totally bad!”
She thought for a few seconds. “No.”
“Mommy! Mrs. Pain-in-the-Ass is at the door again,” the second grader pointed. A grumpy neighbor indignantly glared at her through the screen door, turned around and left.
“Honey, let’s not call Mrs. Jenkins that again. Mommy should have never have said that.”
“Baby,” he continued, “nobody can satisfy me the way you do.”
“No. Too much is at stake.”
“Just one last time. Our class is having its 15th reunion. It will be perfect.”
“I wasn’t going.”
“Change your mind. I’ll arrange first class accommodations. Besides, you need a break.”
“You know I’ll make it worth your while. I always do. Just come to the reunion and I’ll have everything ready.”
“Mommy!” They chorused. “Daddy’s home. Yeahhhhh!” They scampered off to the garage.
“If anyone ever found out, it would destroy my whole family.”
“Baby. It’s one client. One extraordinary client I owe big time. Trust me.” He chose his words carefully, “This client has unique and distinctive needs. Only you have the talent and specialized skills that he requires. I promise you. No one will ever know.”
“I told you I was out of the business and I meant it.”
“Baby, look at this as a coming out of retirement for … one last …‘consultation.’ You know, prove to yourself you still got it.”
She listened to the kids squealing with delight as their dad played basketball with them. “No. I got out of this business once. Some of these people suck you in and never let you go.”
“Baby…I promise…no strings attached. Just this one last time. Bring the hubby along. Enjoy the reunion, go back to the room and slip him a sedative. The consultation will only take twenty minutes or a half hour. He’ll never know you were gone.” He paused listening to the silence at the other end. “I bet you both could use a weekend away.” More silence. “Come on baby,” he coaxed. “How ‘bout it?”
She breathed deeply.
He pulled out all stops. “Inflation and the cost of living have gone up. I’ll pay you ten times your old fee.”
“Ten times the former fee.”
She glanced over at the huge stack of bills and late notices.
“Ten times your old fee for a half-hour’s work.” He let that soak in. “I promise, no one will ever know. Just this one last time,” he pleaded.
“I have to go! My husband’s coming!”
“Does your cell have email?”
She hung up the phone. “Hi, sweetheart!” She gave her spouse a big smack. “I missed you! How was your day?”
She woke up Sunday morning after the reunion and stretched as she looked around the elegant hotel suite.
“Morning, gorgeous!” her husband walked over from the couch kissing her. “Thank you for last night.”
She kissed him again, “You were magnificent.”
He reached for the tray sitting on the dresser.
“Breakfast in bed! How romantic!”
“Thought I’d splurge,” he poured her coffee. “Especially after you won the weekend in this suite. We could have never have afforded this.”
“Did you hear the sirens last night?”
“After the workout you gave me,” she purred, “are you kidding? Besides, it was my first night of uninterrupted sleep since the baby was born. Why? What happened?”
“Some big shot was found dead.”
“You’re kidding! How did you hear that?”
“A maid told me when I opened the door for the newspaper. She said everything is hush-hush and that lots of government agents are running around.” He picked up the tray setting it back on the dresser. “Guess we’ll have to wait till we get home to find out who it was.”
As the kids were ripping open the gifts their parents brought them, their dad turned on the news. “Honey,” he called. “They’re showing the hotel we stayed at! You might want to see this.” She walked in from the kitchen wiping her hands on the dish towel.
“. . . government authorities are baffled by the death of Senator Henry Parkerson. His body was found at the Kingston Hotel in New York City. We have discovered he was there for secret meetings. Let’s go to Shane Smith on the scene. Shane?”
“We’re here with Congresswoman Lizabeth Carlile. Congresswoman?” He held the microphone for her.
“This couldn’t have happened at a worst time,” she stated. “Senator Parkerson was the Chairman of the Task Force investigating International Drug Trafficking He was making huge inroads uncovering the hierarchy of the Columbian cartel and their connections with the Middle East suppliers.” Her anger flared, “I don’t care what forensics will find. This was an assassination!”
The camera went back to the network host. “Authorities say a thorough investigation will be conducted, but at this point there is nothing to suggest foul play.”
Her husband kissed her. “All that excitement and we were sound asleep.”
“Completely zonked.” She turned and picked up a few dirty glasses carrying them back into the kitchen. Grabbing her cell phone she checked it. The email message read:
“Client pleased. Gave you substantial bonus. Wants two more consultations next month. Will contact you later.”
Her stomach violently churned. Doubled over, she staggered to the kitchen chair. Holding her arms around her mid-section, she rocked her body, “What I have done? Oh my God! What have I done?”