page 12, chapter 12
I stood on the middle of the parking lot just before 4pm, smoothing down the edge of the grey trenchcoat nervously. Honestly, I don't know what was causing the butterflies more; the fact I was on an official case or that I didn't want Ryan to bump into Rudolph. Or Rudolph to bump into Ryan for that matter. It was becoming very clear, that none of the men in my life really seemed to want me hanging around any of the others. All for different reasons of course, but still. My jitters were intensified when the sleek black car drove up; letting the sounds of the overly motorized window fill the air as it was opened. Detective Whitechapel smiled his too wicked smirk as he nodded for me to get in.
"You look nice." the words were spoken without a hint of sarcasm. "So our cover story is really basic. We've been together four years, we met when I came into your video store."
"We did meet when you came into the video store." I commented without thinking. Ryan winked at me. I swear, even his facial ticks had a British accent. "And what do you do for a living? Should anyone ask. As I'm assuming you're undercover."
"I am a lowly office worker who pushes paperclips and counts copy ink." he said turning off the cd player. He'd been listening to a jazz cd when he'd pulled up. "You assume right. The team has been trying to get these guys for awhile now. A couple of embezzlers. No one's been able to get close enough to them yet." he guided the car onto the freeway.
"Wait. You said we were just the decoy." I replied as I squinted trying to see the scenery and cars zipping past us, but the tinted windows were too dark.
"We are." he went quiet again for a moment, unsure if he should be telling me much more of the actual case. "Look, Desdemona, all I need is for you to play the part of the doting wife. The main guy is all about family values and the whole suburban lifestyle. Smile, keep it simple like what your book club is reading..."
"I'm not in a book club."
"...talk about your favourite meatloaf recipe..."
"...and whatever else wives find interesting."
"I'm not married."
"Tonight my dear, you are." Ryan winked at me again. "Since when?"
"Since when what?" I asked flipping now through the few cds he had sitting between us on the seat.
"Vegetarian?" Ryan shifted in his seat before looking at me in the rear view.
"Since college many many moons ago." I stopped flipping through the cds nearly laughing suddenly. "It's a bbq we're going to isn't it?" I watched as he blushed. "Don't worry I'm sure I won't die if I miss one meal."
I found myself staring at a painting just outside the hosts bathroom, a half glass of wine in hand as I waited for Detective Whitechapel to return. He'd been ushered into the company of half the husbands in the neighbourhood seconds after we had gotten there. I was left to awkwardly try to figure out how to fit in with the wives while Ryan traded tips on how to keep the car wax from smudging. It was like high school only with bank accounts. Not only did our hosts buy into the suburban ideal, it was like they were Stepfords. A total paint by numbers version of what suburban life looked like in movies. I immediately thought of that scene in Edward Scissorhands where they throw the big bbq and all the horny housewives are feeding him trying to get his attention. Each one of them trying to outdo the other while not appearing like they were. That's how these neighbourhood wives seemed to be. Each had a mommy and me group they were running, each seemed to be on the council for this or that at the school making it seem way more important than it should have been. Ryan's plan to fit in failed to account for the fact I could pass as a doting wife, but there was no way in hell I could pass as a soccer mom. I was politely snubbed the second I stepped foot over the threshold. The sliding door to the backyard opened up suddenly, allowing not only the host husband and Ryan back into the house, but the sounds of the party itself. Detective Whitechapel was beside me in a half a heartbeat, his arm snuggly around my waist. I had worn a basic black pants that draped in a mini flare from the knees down, and a black and white floral print sleeveless shirt. Of which I had just bought two hours before. All the other Stepford Mums were dressed in vintage style cocktail dresses. The kind that are all the rage with the rockabilly crowd.
"Did you learn anything new?" I asked still staring at the painting. It was of a goat standing in the middle of a fishing boat, the waters calm and reflective.
"Only that I could use another beer." Ryan said nodding to the host husband. We watched as he went back out to the patio getting one from the cooler nearest the pool. "I might need you to play the loving wife a bit longer. I need to get invited to another get together."
Tune in again for another installment of the Cinema Files starring your heroine...me(straight up story. Stuck in an unfriendly group at dinner time. Talk about fresh hell.)