“With all due respect, sir, do you really think all this is necessary?”
Mona had always liked the phrase ‘with all due respect’ because it didn’t specify how much respect was due. In Mr. Clyde’s case, the amount due happened to be none.
“Of course it’s necessary. If you can find out more about how the resource behaves in the ‘wild’, so to speak, it’ll help you learn to avoid careless mistakes with the fabrications in the future.” Mr. Clyde chuckled. “I don’t think I need to remind you about a certain poisoned cup of tea.”
Mona swallowed the anger that welled up inside her at the mention of the poisoned tea. He was hoping to make her emotional, to get a rise out of her. He should have known she was better than that.
“No, sir,” she said.
“Good,” he said.
“You have scientists based in Australia. Perhaps one of them would be better suited for this…”
Mona trailed off, unsure what to call this fool’s errand Mr. Clyde was sending her on. Didn’t the CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation have better things to do than accompany her on… whatever this was?
Mr. Clyde chuckled again.
“Well, it’s certainly a little late for that after we’ve flown down here and gotten you all dressed up.”
“Right. All dressed up.”
Mona glanced down at her ridiculous costume, shifting in the car seat and tugging at her too-tight top. It was a band t-shirt in a size youth medium–borrowed from her daughter–that was stretchy enough for her to squeeze into, but constricted her chest and pinched around her arms whenever she moved. Her jeans were the correct size, but they came with a whole other host of problems. They were those skinny jeans teenagers were wearing, and they were so low-waisted she felt like her underwear would show if she made one false move. Her studded belt was another loan from her daughter; it was a bit big on Emily, but on Mona, it fit when she wore it on the hole closest to the end.
This job so wasn’t worth $7 an hour.
“You’ll blend right in looking like that,” said Mr. Clyde.
“If you say so, sir.”
“You understand why this is necessary, don’t you Mona?”
“Yes, sir,” Mona said.
It was a complete lie. She didn’t see why this was necessary at all, because it wasn’t.
“If anyone else had gotten ahold of the resource we could have taken care of them in other ways,” said Mrs. Clyde, “but apparently, this rock and roll band has quite the following. They’re public figures, and the resource has been spotted and photographed with them multiple times. It’s a tricky situation.”
Taken care of them in other ways? Mona felt a chill run through her. What kind of ‘other ways’ was he talking about?
“Since we can’t take care of this little situation in the traditional way, we might as well make lemonade out of these lemons your nephew gave us,” Mr. Clyde continued.
He emphasized the words ‘your nephew’ as if to imply Mona was somehow responsible for what her idiot nephew had done.
“Here we are,” the chauffer mercifully interrupted. “Centenary Place Park.”
“A park?” said Mona. “Is this where the concert is happening?”
She looked out the window, searching the park for a stage or amphitheater, but she couldn’t see one. She didn’t even see many people; the park seemed mostly deserted at this time of the evening.
“Oh no,” Mr. Clyde said. “The concert’s about a ten minute walk away from here. We don’t want to draw too much attention to you, and your ride here isn’t exactly inconspicuous. You’re a smart young lady. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding it, kiddo.”
He wanted her to walk ten minutes alone in a strange city when it was this dark and find the venue on her own? She shouldn’t have been surprised.
She climbed out of the car, fighting to keep the waistband of her pants at an acceptable level. It was light enough out now and there were enough people around that she’d probably be okay walking to the venue. But what about when she was leaving?
“Mr. Clyde, will I be picked up outside the venue after the concert?” she said, “I’m concerned that it may not be safe–“
Mr. Clyde reached over, pulling the door closed. The car begin to roll away.
She ran her fingers over the metal studs on her belt.
At least this ridiculous thing would make a pretty effective weapon if I need to defend myself, she thought as she headed through down the path through an avenue of old fig trees.