Flash fiction entry. Words: Cape, Senator, Gloves, Motel

The door closed on Senator Morgan’s final meeting of the day. He sat back in his chair, loosened his tie and sighed as he pressed the intercom.

“Margaret, can you come in here for a moment, please?”

He was always polite to his mousey, prim little personal assistant. She was a good organiser with an OCD for desk tidying and made excellent coffee, black with two sugars, just the way he liked it. Margaret entered the room, notepad ready in hand.

“Take the rest of the day off, honey,” he said, “go home and enjoy yourself.” She smiled at him, welcoming the slight flirtation, but her eyes didn’t portray any relief.

“But Senator Morgan, your conference, do you not want to go through your speech one last time?”

“No. I know it inside out. Just need to get myself to the airport now. I’ll see you next week.”

She nodded, “Good evening then, Senator Morgan.”

“G’night, Margaret.”

She walked back out of the door, stopping only to delicately place her notepad back on her desk at the correct 45 degree angle and to pick up her bag before she left. 

Morgan rose from his chair and walked to the window to watch her exit the building. He sighed again.

It was going to be a long night. He removed his tie completely, tucked it into his shirt pocket and picked up his two suitcases. Then he put them back down as he caught a brief glimpse of the gloves laid neatly on the side table. A treasured present from his ex-wife on completion of drama college, dark red leather gloves, worn with use over a great many number of years. He slipped them on before leaving.   

The car journey to the airport was slow and frustrating. It seemed to Morgan that every stop sign was against him. Eventually, way after dark, he reached the place that would be his shelter for the night. A space to prepare himself before a plane journey to perhaps the biggest speech of his career. He parked up, grabbed his bags and checked in to the motel. If the security guard recognised him he was too tired or too bored to mention it. Morgan found his room just as a young couple found theirs. They waved a bottle of whiskey and giggled as they fumbled with their lock. He smiled back and raised a gloved hand in greeting.

The accommodation was basic but fine for the one night. He put his luggage down and jumped with surprise as he saw his reflection in the table mirror over the other side of the room. He wished he too had a whiskey but he needed a clear head tonight. A plane flew overhead which made Morgan look up to the cracked, white ceiling. It didn’t matter, he wouldn’t sleep much tonight anyway.

After removing his gloves and putting them safely on the table, he picked up the larger of the two suitcases and changed into some dark jeans and a shirt, neatly folding away his suit. He didn’t bother to empty any other items of clothing. Then he turned to the smaller suitcase. He laid this on the bed and tapped in the code for the combination lock. Beneath a folder containing the speech he had prepared for the conference, was a dark grey cape and black hat. He removed both items of clothing to reveal a red box. Morgan took out the box and placed it on the table. He sat on the stool next to the dressing table, looked in the mirror again, then opened the box. Inside were two layers of stage make up, a false beard and a wig. He wished that the lighting were better but, even so, his training as an actor meant he knew exactly how to change his face so that no one would recognise him unless they were up close and personal. He wasn’t intending to get close enough for any living soul to recognise him that evening. He finished by placing the hat on his head and tying the cape round his neck.  He slipped his gloves back on and headed out into the early hours of the morning. As hoped, there was no one else around.

What followed was another frustrating journey which took longer than necessary. Morgan slipped on mud, tripped over stones and branches and almost had to crawl up the bank to his intended destination. Finally, he reached the top of the hill and the wooded area which would hide him from sight. He dropped down to the ground, sat and watched as another plane flew overhead. He gathered his breath then removed the cape and took the cord out from inside the top. He pulled it tight with his gloved hands and felt it flex between his fingers. Slowly, he moved to the edge of the copse.

What he saw was a green sports car. The occupants were a woman and man, illuminated by the in-car lights. He kept his distance and listened to the laughter and noises which finally turned into relaxed conversation. Eventually, the man left Morgan’s ex-wife in the car and headed towards the trees for relief. Morgan was counting on this…

Bad news travels quickly. The newspapers printed pictures of a body covered by a cape. The strangled man was not only Senator Morgan’s rival in love but also in career. Twice the betrayal. Double the feelings of hate. Now that there was no other major candidate, Morgan was first to perform his career boosting speech.

“Good luck, Senator Morgan. Knock ’em dead. As they say.”

“Thank you Margaret.” Morgan winked at her as he strode onto the stage. He entered the crowded room to a huge round of applause. His face was blemish-less under the lighting. He put down his notes on the podium and adjusted his dark red gloves. Then he looked up, smiled to the crowd and began the act of a lifetime.

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Created for THIS.

Books!

I have two shelves of books to read, a great deal of which are classic crime fiction, those I bought cheaply recently. So, please attempt not to be shocked if you see allusion to a review or two of a crime novel. For example, Bulldog Drummond by Sapper. Pre-Bond and very influential on same, an excellent (though occasionally dated) half Secret Agent/half Private Eye novel which is very well written and occasionally funny.  Only a few bits that irritated me, the unerring ability for the writer to tell the reader that Drummond will win out before the action has taken place, the intrinsic racism & sexism of the time which is apparent and the use of “get gay with” or similar, meaning something completely different to what it does today but I had to check myself every time. Still, the first of a series of 10 and I shall endeavour to read the rest.

The other task I am setting myself is to read ALL, yes ALL, the SF Masterworks series. Even if it takes me all my life, which to be fair is the ultimate deadline anyway. Here they are:

*Itallics mean I have read it already…

The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
Cities in Flight – James Blish
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester
Babel-17 – Samuel R. Delany
Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
The Fifth Head of Cerberus – Gene Wolfe
Gateway – Frederik Pohl
The Rediscovery of Man – Cordwainer Smith
Last and First Men – Olaf Stapledon
Earth Abides – George R. Stewart
Martian Time-Slip – Philip K. Dick
The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester
Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner
The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Drowned World – J. G. Ballard
The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut
Emphyrio – Jack Vance
A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick
Star Maker – Olaf Stapledon
Behold the Man – Michael Moorcock
The Book of Skulls – Robert Silverberg
The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
Ubik – Philip K. Dick
Timescape – Gregory Benford
More Than Human – Theodore Sturgeon
Man Plus – Frederik Pohl
A Case of Conscience – James Blish
The Centauri Device – M. John Harrison
Dr. Bloodmoney – Philip K. Dick
Non-Stop – Brian Aldiss
The Fountains of Paradise – Arthur C. Clarke
Pavane – Keith Roberts
Now Wait for Last Year – Philip K. Dick
Nova – Samuel R. Delany
The First Men in the Moon – H. G. Wells
The City and the Stars – Arthur C. Clarke
Blood Music – Greg Bear
Jem – Frederik Pohl
Bring the Jubilee – Ward Moore
VALIS – Philip K. Dick
The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Complete Roderick – John Sladek
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said – Philip K. Dick
The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells
Grass – Sheri S. Tepper
A Fall of Moondust – Arthur C. Clarke
Eon – Greg Bear
The Shrinking Man – Richard Matheson
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick
The Dancers at the End of Time – Michael Moorcock
The Space Merchants – Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth
Time Out of Joint – Philip K. Dick
Downward to the Earth – Robert Silverberg
The Simulacra – Philip K. Dick
The Penultimate Truth – Philip K. Dick
Dying Inside – Robert Silverberg
Ringworld – Larry Niven
The Child Garden – Geoff Ryman
Mission of Gravity – Hal Clement
A Maze of Death – Philip K. Dick
Tau Zero – Poul Anderson
Rendezvous with Rama – Arthur C. Clarke
Life During Wartime – Lucius Shepard
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang – Kate Wilhelm
Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Dark Benediction – Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Mockingbird – Walter Tevis
Dune – Frank Herbert
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
The Left Hand of Darkness -Ursula K. Le Guin
A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
Inverted World – Christopher Priest
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke
The Island of Doctor Moreau – H. G. Wells
Dhalgren – Samuel R. Delany
Helliconia – Brian Aldiss
The Food of the Gods – H. G. Wells
The Body Snatchers – Jack Finney
The Female Man – Joanna Russ
Arslan – M. J. Engh
The Difference Engine – William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The Prestige – Christopher Priest
Greybeard – Brian Aldiss
Sirius – Olaf Stapledon
Hyperion – Dan Simmons
City – Clifford D. Simak
Hellstrom’s Hive – Frank Herbert
Of Men and Monsters – William Tenn
R.U.R. and War with the Newts – Karel Čapek
The Affirmation – Christopher Priest
Floating Worlds – Cecelia Holland
Rogue Moon – Algis Budrys
Dangerous Visions – Harlan Ellison
Odd John – Olaf Stapledon
The Fall of Hyperion – Dan Simmons
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
The Caltraps of Time – David I. Masson
Unquenchable Fire – Rachel Pollack
The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe – D. G. Compton