|This Week’s Theme: Give a virtuous character a sordid past.|
"Shh!" Karly stopped in mid-moan, her breasts glistening with perspiration in the moonlight filtering through the rattan blinds. The blinds rattled a little when the ocean breeze came up, a sort of lonely sound that made it feel like we were alone in a beach hut, not on the third floor of a full service resort. So far it was a great honeymoon, and I had no interest in shushing right at this moment.
"Seriously, Tom, stop." An edge I had never heard in Karly's voice before chilled me, and I stopped moving and tried to slow my breathing so I could be quiet for her. Even in the darkness of the room I could see her intense frown, a look of sheer concentration in her eyes. Her warm weight on top of me was tense, absolutely motionless.
"What the..." In a swift move that only an Olympic gymnast could have managed, Karly slid off me and rolled off the bed, landing silently in a low crouch just next to the window. She glanced briefly back at me, where I lay on my back feeling pretty naked, then lifted the rattan blinds a half inch and peeked out. "Oh, shit."
"What?" I whispered it, barely breathed it. Something in the way she crouched looked catlike, predatory. Something in the way she'd said "shit"--the first time I'd ever heard her curse since meeting her three years earlier--announced danger.
Without answering, she stood and padded without a sound to the closet. She rummaged in my suitcase and threw my blue sweatpants and my black fleece jacket at me. "Put those on." Her voice carried to me with urgency and precision. Then she was in something black herself, and she was hissing at me to hurry as she moved to the door.
I sat up and swung my feet over the edge of the bed, pulled on the sweatpants. I had heard of new brides going a little nutso on their honeymoons, but this was new. Maybe she wanted to take our lovemaking out to the beach. Maybe this was a kinky side of her I didn't know about before. Maybe this elementary school librarian had a sexual appetite she hadn't shared with me. I had to admit that I found it a bit exciting. But the way she was going about it was weird.
Pop, pop-pop. A noise outside, somewhere on the resort grounds, sounded like someone had just let loose on a snare drum buried under a pile of leaves. Then there was a yell, a man's deep grunt of a syllable. And I looked at Karly.
"Russian," she said. "I think it's an AK-47. That's what they'd have. Probably." She glanced at the window. "Hurry up."
"Hurry the fuck up, Tom." She said it casually, like a drinking buddy eager to get out to a party and being held up by his friend combing his hair or something. She raised one eyebrow at me. I slipped the fleece over my head. "Forget shoes. Too much noise. No time." She pushed open the door to the hall and walked out. I followed, trying my best to remember how I used to pretend, when I was little, that I was an Indian and able to walk silently through the forest. I never could then, and now I found I was just as noisy in a carpeted hall. Karly made no noise whatsoever. If I didn't know she was right in front of me, I could have stumbled past and never noticed her.
We took the stairs to the ground floor, then went through the deserted kitchen and out the back door of the hotel into the service parking lot. Dark trucks huddled around us, and every few steps Karly stopped to listen. I felt like a puppy on a leash, or maybe like a five-year-old following his mother. Or following a stranger after picking the wrong pair of legs in a crowd.
As we hustled and paused among the trucks, then across the pool patio among the umbrellas and lounge chairs, then on into the tropical garden that bordered the jungle, I watched her. I'd known her four years. We met through one of those online dating services. She was young, only twenty three when we met, only a year out of Berkeley and newly hired as the school librarian at my nephew's school. Four years later, here we were on our honeymoon, and she was acting like some sort of soldier of fortune, leading me into the jungle, talking about foreign firearms.
Suddenly she stopped and put one hand out behind her in a clear signal for me to stop and be quiet. My breath was heavy again, but not like it had been in bed just a few minutes earlier. With a glance, she indicated I should come up next to her and look at something ahead, just inside the jungle, just outside the resort compound. I looked, and at first I saw nothing. Then there was a brief flash of something in the moonlight, and my eyes found it in the darkness: A man, holding something that glinted black. He wore dark clothes, maybe even camouflaged. He moved the black thing again, and I realized he was whispering into a walkie-talkie.
Karly made some hand signals that I interpreted as "stay here, don't move, don't make any noise." OK, I figured, but what are you going to... then my eyes went wide as I saw her do that gymnast thing again and slide silently between two low hedges, coming up on the man from behind, and doing something to his head or neck. He fell backwards quietly into her arms, and she lowered him gently to the ground. Within seconds she was back at my side.
"Twelve others, I'm guessing. Eight inside by now, and three others stationed at the obvious watch points. I'll take care of them first. You. Do. Not. Move." Her whisper was a hiss I could not disobey even if I wanted to. But I was distracted by the pistol in her hand. I felt like my heart had stopped and my breath would never come again.
Karly noticed me staring at the pistol. "Oh. Yeah." She hefted it. "Not mine. His." She jerked her head in the direction of the man she'd just apparently overcome. She grinned in the dark. "You didn't know I shoot lefty, did you?" As she sped off across the pool deck again, I observed my brain trying to grab hold of the scene. Yeah, that was her left hand. I think it was her left hand. I didn't know she shot lefty. Jesus, I didn't know she shot at all.
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