I’m taking a brief hiatus from Reclaiming the City to catch up on other projects. For now, enjoy this flash piece I wrote in February.

Madame Carmine consulted the astrological charts spread out on the desk in front of her as she scribbled some kind of arcane math on a notepad. Avery nervously tapped his heel against the leg of his chair. If his superiors knew how he was spending his lunch break…

“Yes, I’ve got it.” Carmine smiled as she circled a block of shorthand.

“You calculated the time?” Avery asked her.

“The best date and time. I’ve pinpointed two others next week that are equally good.”

“No. It really needs to be this week.”

“Time’s of the essence, huh?”

“You could say that.” Avery’s contact was only going to be in the country for a week. They couldn’t hang onto the goods for long. The drop needed to happen soon.

“Alright. Tell your contact to meet Wednesday at 2:35pm.”

“That’s… oddly specific. Don’t you think that’d be suspicious?”

“You’ve never told me much about your job,” Carmine observed. “I get there’s a lot of secrecy involved. But whatever this mission is, you want to succeed, right?”

“I have to.” The country’s future was at stake. “Fine. I’ll tell ‘em. Just surprised you could calculate it down to the minute.”

“You’re not the first. A lot of clients are intimidated by this level of specificity.”

Avery chuckled. “I can imagine. Thanks again for seeing me on such short notice.”

“No problem.”

Avery stood and walked to Carmine’s office door.

“You know, Wednesday would be a great day to buy a new suit.”

Avery stopped, caught off-guard by the astrologer’s suggestion.

“Or a tie if you don’t have the money. Something not black.”

“Why?” Avery asked.

“While calculating the meeting time, I found a new love opportunity for you. It won’t open up until next month, but now is the time to prepare for it.”

“What’s wrong with black?” He always wore a black suit.

“Women like color. Trust me.”

Romance was the last thing on Avery’s mind. Yet he understood the value of preparation and a legitimate cover story. “I’ll consider it,” he told Carmine as he left her office.

©2021 Joyce Lewis. All rights reserved.