“So, what’s the plan?” junior investigator Jacques Rouxelle said into the microphone cunningly disguised as a cigarette. There was a delay of several seconds, after which he spat the word “Over” through the imitation tobacco.
“The chief says you are to wait there and report any developments, Jacques. Over.” The reply from dispatcher Nicolette Labrie came through the miniature speakers concealed in the plain glass spectacles they told him he should wear for this very purpose.
“What’s he expecting to happen? Over.”
“The chief wouldn’t tell me, Jacques. National security, he said. Need to know basis. Over.”
“If it’s national security, Nico, that means it’s dangerous. So why did he insist I bring his kid along for the ride, for God’s sake?”
“You forgot to say over. Over.”
“If I didn’t have this blasted kid with me, I’d tell you what I think about your protocols; and exactly where and how far you can insert them.” At that, the chief’s child, seated in the back of the – shall we say for the want of a better word, vehicle – started to cry.
“Now look what you’ve done, Jacques. You’ve upset little Yvon. Over.”
“And what sort of name is that for a boy? No wonder the poor kid is mixed up and unhappy. That’s a girl’s name.”
“Not spelt like that, it isn’t. Over.” Yvon’s crying passed through the tantrum and hysteria stages and settled into deep, uncontrolled sobbing.
Jacques turned to face the boy. “What’s the matter, boy?” he asked.
“You’re shouting,” the boy sobbed.
“So? I’m shouting. Get over it!” Jacques yelled, pushing the boy back into hysteria. Turning to his cigarette-microphone, he calmly said, “Put the chief on. I want to talk to him directly, not through his flunky.”
“No can do, my friend. He’s having, erm, quality time with one of the new recruits. You’re stuck with me, I’m afraid, and I have no information for you. Over”
“Who is it this time?”
“Can’t give you the name; He didn’t confide in me to that extent. Over.”
“Male or female?”
“You know the chief, Jacques. Takes equal opportunities to the extreme. Could be either. Over.”
“So that’s why I’ve got the kid. It’s his turn to have custody, and he’d rather be enjoying quotes quality time with one of his new recruits than take care of his own son. If it is his.”
“What are you saying? Over.”
“Me? I’m saying nothing, specially not in the hearing of ouyay owknay oowhay.”
“Okay, Jacques; just drop it, right? You’ve been given the job. Just stay there, look after Yvon, and let me know immediately anything happens. Over.”
“It would help if I had some idea what I should look out for, Nico.”
Yvon chose that moment to stop crying and announce, “Yvon need pipi. Monsieur Rouxelle, Yvon need pipi.”
Before he could deal with that emergency, Nicolette came back to him, “Do you want me to read the brief to you, Jacques? Over”
“Brief? Brief? All I had was a verbal instruction. I’ve seen no brief. What’s it say?”
“Okay, it’s more of a job sheet than a brief, but it says, and I quote: ‘Take undercover vehicle eight, and Yvon (for authenticity). Proceed to parking by Grand Frais and maintain observation. Do not relocate. Do not leave the vehicle for any purpose. Remain inconspicuous.’ That’s all it says; no mention of what you’re looking out for. Over.”
“Remain inconspicuous? In eight?”
“Oh. Hang on. It might say three. You know the chief’s writing. Over.”
“It might say three,” Jacques whispered then, more loudly, “I take it you know the difference between UCV3 and UCV8?”
“Of course. Over.”
“Just to remind you, UCV3 is an unmarked Citroen Picasso in an anonymous shade of grey; the sort of vehicle that loses itself in a parking, blending in with the other cars.”
“Yes, I am familiar with that. Over.”
Jacques increased his volume to screaming pitch; “UCV8 is a bright red tuk tuk. Stands out like a sore thumb. How the hell can I be inconspicuous in this?”
The screaming had no effect on Nicolette. She was, after all, a seasoned dispatcher at the agency, with more than eight years service under her belt (or was it three?). She was more than capable of dealing with the near tantrums of her agents on those sadly less than rare occasions when her lack of accuracy, clarity and attention to detail let her down. Little Yvon was less prepared.
“Yvon done pipi,” he announced, sobbing.
I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 59, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.