Into The Maelstrom – Snippet 42
The advantage of the reverse cowboy position, thought Reeva Fairhead, is that you can feign passion with just a few theatrical moans without the tedious business of also having to simulate an expression of ecstasy. The disadvantage is that it is hard work involving bouncing up and down especially when your protector is elderly and tired. By the time Grimes climaxed she was exhausted. She leaned forward for a few moments to catch her breath.
Pointing down the bed, she had a good view of herself in the mirror. She examined her reflection with a professional eye. By most standards she was beautiful but the competition from younger hetaerae grew ever fiercer. Her breasts were sagging just a little and lines were showing in the skin around her neck. She was, she thought, getting too old for all this exercise.
Reeva was a great deal older than she looked. As the years passed the degree of rejuvenation treatment required to give her the right appearance of bubble-headed youth became more costly and uncomfortable.
It would be nice to retire. She had built up a decent little nest egg by the simple expedient of running a number of protectors simultaneously. Each paid the rent on her villa unaware of the others’ existence. Additional revenue accrued to her pension fund by getting each protector to buy her identical presents such as clothes and jewelry and then selling off the surplus. She only needed one of each item to wear for each doting admirer in turn.
Nevertheless prices never came down. One’s nest egg could never be too well padded. There were too many horror stories of elderly courtesans who had overlooked the effect of inflation forced out of retirement in their dotage. Reeva did not intend to be reduced to hanging around docks doing favors for sailors for the price of a hot meal. She shuddered at the thought.
At one time she had hopes of marrying a suitable financially endowed protector. Somehow no offer ever seemed quite good enough when she was younger and they had dried up as she aged. Reeva was enough of a realist to grasp that this situation was unlikely to change now.
A snore behind her back indicated that Grimes had gone to sleep. Charming, she thought, not even a thank you for her efforts. She carefully lifted herself off but she needn’t have bothered. Alcohol and sex had worked their usual magic on the male body.
Reeva wore clothes that could be donned as well as removed easily. One of the attractions of a professional companion to gentlemen is that unlike a wife they leave without fuss when the business is concluded and let a chap sleep in peace. She forced herself to dress quietly even though her mind was racing.
Grimes like many men had the urge to try to impress the woman he was about to screw. That was wasted energy as far as hetaerae were concerned. She regarded him in much the same way a farmer considered a dairy cow. To wit, it was only as valuable as its milk supply. In Grimes’ case said attempts to impress took the form of boasts about the importance of his work projects. He recounted these in tedious detail despite his patronizing expressed view that she wouldn’t really understand.
Actually Reeva understood far more than he gave her credit for. Her wide-eyed expression of awed stupidity was purely professional courtesy. Hetaerae entertained by massaging egos as well as bodies. She understood that what she had heard tonight was probably worth a great deal of money to someone. On the taxi ride home she thought long and hard about her future and how it could be best secured.
Suntalaw tapped his fingers on the blank surface of a switched off desk while keeping a subordinate called Preson waiting outside his office.
His official title was Director General of the Terran Commonwealth Social Welfare Directorate, in which role he chaired the Committee for Public Security that was his true powerbase. Public Security covered a wide remit including counter insurgency, counter espionage, and public morality. The counter insurgency hat gave Suntalaw control of the internal security troops but his public morality brief was even more valuable. In the final resort everyone was immoral in some way or other. A case could be made against any person whom he decided needed removing. He kept files on anyone who mattered in the Terran power structure and many who did not but might someday become important.
The only individual more powerful than Suntalaw was the Advocate General himself. He perched atop the various silos of state, playing off one DG against another.
Suntalaw drummed his fingers, impatient to hear Preson’s news but it wouldn’t do to let an underling think he was important. Always make ’em wait outside the door to establish the pecking order.
Finally he keyed the desk on and said, “Come.”
Preson oozed in, oilier than a seabird caught in a petroleum disaster.
“Well, what is it?” Suntalaw asked, injecting just the right amount of boredom into his tone. “You claimed that you had to report something to me personally.”
“Important intelligence from the Exoworld Directorate spooks, sir.”
Preson placed a plastic file on Suntalaw’s desk with exaggerated care.
Suntalaw gave it a sneer but refrained from opening it. Preson claimed to have a snout, an informer, in the Exoworld Directorate that among other things ran Terra’s outworld spy networks.
“I don’t have all day so summarize the salient points.”
Preson did as he was bid and when the man finished Suntalaw sat back in his seat.
“And Exoworld buy into this fanciful tale of magic Hinterland colony metal that will revolutionize naval warfare.”
“They have independent verification from two separate sources. The first is a secretary that they turned using a honey trap. She thinks her beloved an imprisoned Rautmalan dissident,” Preson said.
“I presume the boyfriend is an Exoworld operative.”
“The other source is a mistress of a Brasilian general.”
Suntalaw wondered how this could be worked to his advantage. His mind plodded carefully through the various possibilities, each scenario more paranoiac than the last. Should he sit on the information, pretend he’d never seen it, or report the matter to the Advocate General. What spin should he apply if he decided to pass it on?
His first reaction was to ignore the whole affair and let matters take their course. He would have to impress upon Preson the need to keep his mouth shut if he chose that option. The Advocate General undoubtedly had spies within every DG including Home Security. Could he trust Preson? Now that was a stupid question.
An unfortunate fatal accident could be arranged of course but suppose Preson was the Advocate General’s spy in Suntalaw’s directorate. Terminating him might seem like an attack on the Advocate General himself. That thought brought Suntalaw out in a cold sweat.
He forced himself to think through the logical possibilities. It was of little concern whether this magic metal actually existed but who thought it existed. Could this be an elaborate and convoluted scam by Brasilian Security to discredit Exoworld? In that case it would be better for Suntalaw to lie low and let events take their course.
Suppose it was a plot by Exoworld to discredit Social Welfare and hence him? If he misled the Advocate General with false information it could be construed as treason. The AG had a swift way with traitors, real or imagined.
Suntalaw examined Preson carefully, trying to read his mind. Life would be so much easier if he could read his subordinates’ minds. Preson was supposed to be his pipe line into Exoworld but it often occurred that Preson could just as easily be Exoworld’s pipe line into Social Welfare.
An even more horrendous idea erupted into his consciousness like a gas bubble from a swamp. Suppose the Advocate General himself had set up the scam to test the loyalty of his Director Generals? In that case not reporting the information could be construed as treason.
The more he thought about the matter the more Suntalaw convinced himself that it didn’t matter whether the information was true or untrue. The only issue was whether the Advocate General believed it might be true. He had developed paranoia into a high art form. The AG was likely to believe any tale no matter how fanciful where his own personal safety was threatened.
He would prepare a report for the AG. If it all blew up he would just have to find a scapegoat. Suntalaw smiled at Preson deciding to let him live a little longer. The man might yet be useful.