There could be no witnesses.
They met on the roof of an abandoned parking garage next to some long defunct mill miles from anything. Two cars, the only cars as far as the eye could see, were parked on opposite ends of the empty platform. Two people, equally isolated, stood a yard apart staring out at the barren landscape as though there was nothing in the world so interesting.
Curiously, they dressed alike. Both wore ordinary suits of a forgettable color and neither carried a briefcase or bag. Any identification, be it personal or issued, had been discarded hours ago in locations known only to the individual the credentials belonged to. Furthermore, had they been discovered, their orders were joint termination, immediate and unquestioned.
Even comprehending those terms the agreement to meet had been mutual. They had to see each other; they did not have to like it. Doubtless though it was the depth of their comprehension that produced in two people who were, at the core, so different an identical wish; to be somewhere, anywhere other than where they were right then.
“We’re losing her,” said the first, eyes focused over the horizon. The silence that dominated the meeting so far had gone on long enough.
“Tell me what happened,” replied the other feigning concern for the sky and the approaching sunset.
“Nothing happened,” snarled the first.
The second drew a speck of dirt into his mouth and milled it between his teeth. This meeting was dangerous. He did not enjoy risking his life for nothing.
“Then why do we have a problem?” He asked.
“Because, Simon, we don’t have her like we used to,” came the reply.
“I don’t understand.” Simon said, and truthfully, he didn’t. He rarely did.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming.” The first agent’s annoyance was clear. If it continued to grow the tone of the meeting could turn. Then there would be trouble.
“Saw what coming?” Simon held his ground. “You still haven’t told me what is wrong.”
“Damn it Simon, she’s almost eighteen.”
“I am aware.” He spoke evenly and without haste. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for.” Simon was a man of power. It grated on him to stand there listening to someone so junior tell him he didn’t know how to do his job.
“Get your head out of the manual Simon,” the first agent sighed carelessly airing frustration now. After all, Simon was in charge. “Didn’t Carlos brief you?”
At that Simon lost his cool.
“It must have slipped his mind.” He spat out aware, even before the agent flinched, that his words were salt in an open wound.
“That isn’t funny.” The other whispered. There was a tremor in her voice.
Simon withdrew. He had crossed the line. Carlos had been a good man. His accident and Simon’s subsequent rise were events of the past. Resurfacing them now wouldn’t make the project succeed and no matter what Simon thought about the team, or what they thought of him, the project must succeed.
“I apologize.” He said. “I know you were close. You know everyone…”
“Skip it.” The words were cold, the damage done. Simon didn’t care, so long as they moved on. “We have bigger problems. She is separating. She’s pulling away.”
“Can you stop her?”
Laughter then, “No.”
The first agent turned and for the first time that day looked at Simon directly. “It’s time.”
The face that stared at him was not at ease. The eyes flashed determination then desperation then back again. Simon knew this expression. He was familiar with every tic. This was the look of an agent locked into the same assignment for too long. Before him was the face of someone whose job had become secondary to their sentiment.
Too many years had passed. The agent was attached.
Simon decided right then to keep a close eye on the roll this agent played. Retirement could very well be in order.
“You think it’s time for Marco.” He said.
“We’re only going to get one shot at this.”
“If we jump the gun, if this call is premature…”
“It isn’t.” The agent cut him off. “Simon it’s time. Bring Marco in. Before it’s too late.”