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.


We got hit with a snowstorm this morning. Not much but enough to whiten the territory.

By noon the sun was out and the snow was rapidly melting. But my buddy, Reed, has visitors in from Juneau, Alaska, and they (Princess ME and her guy JO) said it was colder with more snow than they had at home!