Monday, February 22, 2010

Magpie Tales II (Two)

The Hotel Forum. Now, the Hotel Crowne Plaza. In Bratislava. How the times have changed. Slovakia. It dates back to 270,000 BCE. Before the Christian Era. Not the hotel. The country. But it’s all changed. Now the Hotel Forum is the Hotel Crowne Plaza. It’s still across the street from the Presidential Palace. But it’s different.

Restaurant Magd a Lena is still there. But there is now Restaurant Fusion. Fusion? What the hell is that? Fusion music is awful. What can the restaurant be like?

But . . . the Forum. Let’s take it back in time.

I was there in 1959. It was dark then. The rooms were lit by multiple candles. It was warm, from the heat of many fireplaces and by the ambience of those candles. Hundreds of candles, throughout the restaurant and the hotel and the halls. Candles in sconces on the walls. Warm. Beautiful.

There were exotic women in gorgeous gowns. Men in tuxedos. Gourmet meals. Champagne.

And then.

(No, I didn’t wake up.)

There was more.

I was posing as a businessman but I was really an operative for a government agency I won’t identify, even now. I waited inside the hotel lobby, looking for a certain man.

Then I saw him. He was tall. He had a dark moustache. He had dark hair. His eyes were intense, also dark, betraying nothing except that he was dangerous. He and I had long been enemies. I had been told he was in Bratislava to assassinate the president. He was Drago.

Our eyes met and he smiled slightly as we nodded to each other. I walked slowly into the cognac bar at the hotel. He followed. I sat at a small round table. He gazed around the room. We were alone in the room except for a bartender who was watching a noisy soccer game on the television over the bar. Then he approached me, pulled out a chair and carefully sat down at the same table. We each ordered and the bartender brought us our cognacs. I gazed into his eyes as we both sipped from our glasses. We knew we were enemies. Yet friends.

I drew a cigarette from my pack of Gauloises and offered him one. He declined and took one from his own pack. A Russian cigarette. He took out the matches from his box . . . Hotel Forum, Bratislava . . . and moved to light his cigarette. In the glare from his matchlight, I quickly pulled my silenced gun and shot him between the eyes. And killed him. The bartender heard nothing over the blaring sound from his television.

I left Drago’s burnt match lying across the open box on the table and slipped quietly out of the bar.

The president was safe.

For now.


This is the second in a set of writing exercises under the name of Magpie Tales, organized by Willow. You can read more and join the fun by clicking here.


  1. So I switched to yours when I saw your comment to Willow that you had posted...I loved this! The intrigue...the cognac! The shot!

  2. Very Raymond Chandler-esque with the short, sharp sentences building up the atmosphere well.

  3. I just told Kat that the guy in her piece looked like Anthony Dawson (the actor who played Swann in Dial M for Murder) in my mind's eye. Well, he's in your post, too, only you've killed him! Well done. Really fun read.

  4. wickedly cool. i am a bond fan from way back so you had me from the get it!

  5. Beautifully written. But watch out -- those Gauloises will kill you!

  6. Wow.. you're the man!! Great read and story. :) The Bach

  7. I love the rhythm of this story. I can see the whole piece in my mind's eye. That is good writing, to be able to do that. This is fun to read what Willow has found for us each week. She certainly is a creative person and has stimulated many of us to stretch ourselves. Fun!

  8. I think your guy is in my poem. You have an assignation with a lady coming up next. You're not a very nice guy! ha ha.
    This was great!


  9. Wow! I'm impressed. This is a side of you I wasn't aware of. A cold blooded killer. Well done!

  10. What a satisfying tale! I love the ending.

  11. I didn't expect this! Nicely done.

  12. Great piece of writing, I really enjoyed the espionage-type mood setting and the build up to the final shot.

  13. Cat, I enjoyed the read. Good stuff. Only one small thing that bothered me. The local with all of the candles was a fine setting, but the bartender watching a soccer game on TV might sound better if he was listening to a radio. I got the impression there was no electricity. Just my thought.

  14. Steve - excellent point. I originally had the tale set in the 20's but had to change that because I realized TV hadn't been invented then. I never thought of radio!


    the limits...or perhaps the lack of limits to man, you have captured well.

  16. As I told the last writer, I am out of my element here with you spy guys. Gonna have to dip from a different story reserve for the next go around.

  17. Well! Here I was all caught up in the mood, and in the pictures in my mind (like a Bogart movie) and then you snap me out of it with the ending! Great job Catalyst.

  18. To all of you who read my little story (vignette), thank you, thank you, thank you. I am overwhelmed.

  19. Love a story with tension and twists.


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