Tale Number Sixty-Eight – This Isn’t Amsterdam

This Isn’t Amsterdam

prompt:  crime caper/a cigar shop/a pocket mirror




“What about Amsterdam?”

“I can’t even believe you’d bring that up right now.  Seriously.”

“Why not?  It worked.  Sort of.  You killed five guys that time.”

Vanessa’s silence told him she was glaring at him.  Didn’t mean much in this pitch-black closet but he knew.  He chuckled.

“Dammit, Mike!  It isn’t funny!”

“Is,” he said, his voice still amused.  “I can actually hear you glaring at me.”

“Shut up.  It was four, not five.  Think of something,” she said.  She shuffled around, undoubtedly trying to work the ropes off her wrists and ankles.

“I did.  Amsterdam.”

“Amsterdam was entirely your fault!  You and your ‘I can speak nine languages, I can handle simple instructions!’  I was so hopped up on cold medicine, it’s a wonder either one of us lived.”

“So, you’re saying you couldn’t repeat those moves here,” Mike said, clarifying.


“Okay, okay.”

The job was so simple.  Get the jump drive before Poliokov’s people did.  The little tobacco shop just outside St. Mark’s Piazza was the pick-up point.  Then, a short walk to the taxi stand on the Grand Canal where they would board their boat, hand over the drive, and done.  Hard to believe something so straightforward had become such a mess.  Not even the tobacconist knew his clerk had been paid off.  Made for some very awkward moments before they had been shoved into a stock closet to be, as the clerk put it, dealt with at another time.  Even Vanessa had rolled her eyes at that.  So theatrical.

So, here they were.  Bound and locked into a very small, very dark cupboard and very little with which to manage an escape.

“Did they find your set of lock picks?” asked Vanessa.

“Yeah.  Yours?”

“Yeah.”  She shuffled around, bumping into his side.  “Can you get your hands free?”

“Doubt it.  The ropes are looser but I can’t get out of them.”  Mike did some wiggling of his own until he felt her against his side again.  “We need a light or something.  You still have that laser pointer on your keys?”

“Yep.  What’ll you do with it?” she asked.

“I’ll reflect it off your compact mirror.  Blind ‘em when they come in.”

“Off my what?” Vanessa asked.  “Compact?  Who do I look like?  Emma Peel?  Who was the last woman you met who carried a compact?”

“That woman I had drinks with last night,” Mike said, shrugging.  “She carried it everywhere.”  He gave the bonds around his wrists another yank.

“High maintenance,” she said.  “I carry tissues.  Which, by the way, I wouldn’t mind having.  I think I’m allergic to the tobacco dust in here.”  She snuffled.  “Quiet and let me think.”

Mike kept working at the ropes, focusing his attention on his ankles.  Maybe if he slipped off his trainers, he could pull his foot loose.

After a moment, he felt Vanessa scoot so her hands brushed his hip.  “She borrowed your jacket last night, didn’t she?”

“Yeah.  How’d you know?”

She sniffed next to his ear, then pulled away to sneeze.

“You don’t usually wear Red Door.  Hold still.”

He could feel her poke around, trying to get into his coat pocket.

“Hey, now,” he said, mildly.  “That’s not my coat pocket.”

“Sorry.”  Vanessa’s hands fumbled around some more.  “Ah.  She did leave it behind.  Bet you she calls tonight.” She withdrew from his pocket and flopped flat on the floor behind him.  “Okay.  Got it.  Now, you’re going to have to get my keys,” she said.

“Your sense of smell seems unaffected by the tobacco dust.  I couldn’t smell perfume.  All I get is cheap cigarettes.  Where are they?”


“Where are your keys?” he asked, again.

“Oh.  In my shirt.  Hooked to the front of my bra.  Just pinch the metal loop.  They should come right off,” she said and flopped around so his hands brushed against her shoulder.

Mike probed around reflecting that some people might find this oddly personal interaction uncomfortable but, after all the jobs he had done with Vanessa over the years, all the strange places they’d seen, and all the weird situations they’d been in, her hands down the front of his jeans or his hands down the front of her shirt seemed pretty tame.  He grasped the key ring from where it was tucked in the front of her bra.

“Got ‘em,” he said.  “Hey, you have a flashlight on here, too?  Why didn’t you say so?”

“It doesn’t work,” Vanessa said.  “I just carry it around.  The pointer is on the other end.”

Mike handed her the pointer and heard her keys clank against the plastic of the clamshell compact mirror.  Experimentally, she focused the laser pointer on the mirror, aiming it over her shoulder at the door.  A brilliant jet of red zapped a spot about eye-level on the panel.

“Okay.  I’m only going to get one shot,” she said, “so you’re going to have to draw their attention.  Got your feet?”

“Gimme a sec.  Yeah, my feet are loose,” Mike said, poking her leg with his sock-clad foot.  “I’ll kick the first one out from under and you aim for the back up.”


They waited another forty-five minutes before they heard voices approaching the door.  In that span of time, Vanessa had also freed her feet and was demonstrating some frightening dexterity as she worked on the ropes around Mike’s wrists with her toes.

“That’s them,” he said, pushing her feet away.  “Get ready.”

A few thumps, some yells, and one surprising scream from a very large man, and it was all over.  Mike found the chain that turned on the bulb in the closet and bent down to retrieve her key ring.  He read the gold lettering on the pink plastic flashlight and laughed.

“Shut up,” Vanessa said without much heat.  “My mom sold Mary Kay.”

“She would have had a compact,” he said.  “And it was five.  You’re forgetting the guy in the recycling bin.”

“Shut up.”

Leave a Reply