I waited for Alastor to return to me with information about the American actress. I was not especially interested in talking to her since I had never heard of her. Now if Susanna had been conversing with let’s say, Uma Thurman, Kate Blanchett or Jessica Chastain then I would’ve made my way to their table far sooner. All three are not only beautiful women, but accomplished actresses and therefore would have something of interest for me.
“That actress keeps glancing in this direction” remarked Jonno.
I nodded in acknowledgement, noting that she was clearly interested in me. However, I decided to shift topic and asked Jonno if he had heard from a mutual friend. He confirmed that he had. And he thus began to update me on what Birksy had been doing. Apparently, he was engaged in some infrastructure project in Qatar and was finding the Qataris somewhat difficult and intransigent to deal with. I listened to Jonno provide me with this update about our mutual friend whilst I decided that I would order a round of drinks. I motioned for the table waiter to attend our table and he duly did so. I then took my time in selecting the drink for myself but also in terms of encouraging those at our table who already had half full glasses to order another drink. This meant that the ordering of drinks took a little longer than it ordinarily might do so and this of course was entirely intentional on my part because it then enabled Susanna and the American actress to see that I was actually in no rush to speak with them.
I savoured the thought of Susanna’s impatience and although I had my back to her, I could picture her frowning as she saw me ordering more drinks. I felt a buzz from one of my phones. It was not the one Alastor would respond to, however. I knew that it would be Susanna messaging me. I reached for my phone and indeed there was a text message from her.
“Hurry up!” she had written.
Predictable, I thought. I paused for a moment, considering whether to reply. And then I did so.
“With you soon. Just learning about the impact of wet underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort in the cold” I wrote, smiling to myself.
Susanna, you see, lacked patience and had repeatedly sent messages to me on many previous occasions when she was waiting for me albeit impatiently and treating me to, “Hurry up.” Accordingly, in order to nullify the threat to control posed, I started to make it a standard response to any of her pestering, and therefore responded with gems such as,
“I’m understanding more about the unhidden dangers of swordswallowing” or
“I’m engaged in a discussion about the fracture threshold of bottles on the human skull”, or
“I’m intrigued by the topic of the pressure experienced on avian defecation”, or
“I’m gaining traction in relation to whether chickens prefer beautiful humans”, or
“I’m getting on top of the fact that fellatio by fruitbats prolonged copulation time.”
Reference to these ludicrous topics amuse me but more importantly, wound Susanna up. My phone buzzed again.
“Sod your underwear. Come over now,” she had written.
This time, I opted not to respond, doling out a short burst of silence to impose control. And then there came a different buzz. Aah, Alastor. I held my hand up to Jonno, cutting his story short. “You have to excuse me, Jonno. Urgent matter.”
He nodded in understanding and turned to Cameron to his left and began to speak to him. I stood up and looked across to Susanna’s table. She turned and noticed me walking towards her table, her eyes widened in delight. And she turned to the other two women and said something. She then turned back to me and I indicated with two fingers in the direction of the bathroom. She shook her head in mild annoyance. I winked at her and started to veer left. I noticed that Meghan Markle looked me up and down as I neared. I gave her a smile of acknowledgement and I was immediately flashed a toothy smile which immediately signalled to me that she wanted to consume me; interesting.
There was no warmth in the smile; it flashed into being as if a button had been pressed. It did not grow across her face, but rather appeared as if transplanted there. The eyes were fixed on me, the low lighting in the bar causing them to appear rather beady. I decided that I would give them a momentarily delicious dose of H.G. I approached their table, the actress continuing to keep her gaze fixed on me. It was not uncomfortable for one such as I, but it was intrusive in the manner that she continued to keep a laser beam stare upon me. I stood behind Susanna and gently placed my hands on her shoulders so she wouldn’t be able to turn around or stand up, thus interrupting me. The actress and the ash blonde lady both looked up me from their seats.
“Good evening, ladies,” I smiled. “And Susanna.”
The ash blonde laughed immediately and then the actress did a second or so afterwards. I noted that micro delay and Susanna brought her hand up and slapped my right hand in playful chastisement.
“I will be with you shortly,” I explained. “I have to visit the bathroom. “Susanna, would you order drinks for everyone, please, on me? Whatever you ladies would like.” I smiled again.
The ash blonde said thank you.
Susanna declared, “Champagne, since you’re paying.”
The actress clapped her hands in obvious delight like a child would, before placing her right hand on my left arm and saying, “Thank you so much.”
The vocal fry was evident in what she said even in that short sentence as was the unnecessary hand placing. I removed my hand from Susanna as if burned, causing the actress to jerk her hand away awkwardly. I saw a momentary flicker of irritation before her fixed grin popped back into place.
“Back soon,” I assured them and I headed to the bathroom, having given them a little taste and heightening the anticipation.
Once in the bathroom I headed over to the sinks and smiled at myself in the mirror. There were two other men using the facilities, both of them at the urinals. I retrieved my phone and there was a waiting message from Alastor. I opened it and began to read. The information was a standard background check which would essentially give me initial and sufficient information about the subject: name, age, nationality, residents, career details, notable achievements marital status, wealth bracket, notable connections, criminal convictions, and so forth. And also, a flag; the all important flag which would determine whether I needed to know more, or whether I could proceed on the basis of the information Alistor had dug up for me. If it was a green flag, it essentially meant: citizen; no issues. If an amber flag it meant: no threat; details of interest. In essence, there was more to be learned about this person then I would benefit from allowing Alistor more time to dig up for me. If a red flag, in that instance, that meant that I was facing potential threat, and discretion was advised. And if I received a black flag, it was known threat: further action necessary. I was aware of one of the bathroom users making his way to the sink area. So I turned so he could not see my phone nor its reflection in the mirror.
“Evening” he said. I replied similarly without looking at him.
I was scrutinizing the information sent by Alastor, speed reading through it and noticed this actress went by her middle name and was aged as I had estimated; the same generation as me. She was indeed from the United States, as Susanna had explained. I observed she was divorced. Her wealth bracket made sense as to why she was sniffing around in this bar. I felt a flash of irritation as I saw a rererence to being an influencer, and that she had some kind of lifestyle blog. How tedious, I remarked under my breath.
As the first man exited the bathroom the second made his way to wash his hands. There was a summary of her acting career, which was wholly unremarkable. I noted though she had appeared in ‘Horrible Bosses’ but I didn’t recall her appearance. I’d not hear of any of the productions listed, the longest of which was something called ‘Suits’. The consideration then began to form in my mind that she was an unremarkable individual; not worth bothering with. And I would be better served returning to my group and instead inviting the ever gullible steward to tackle to proposition of possibility of unicorns (Kripke v Dummett) and construct an argument with him to be boiled over in frustration when, as I continued scrolling through background information, I came to the end. And there, nestling, was an amber flag. I held my mobile phone as I watched the second man leave and I then turned to the mirror and smiled the smile of the uncaring, perfect, predator.