There are only five places in the world, where he less wanted to be than amongst all these screaming bastards on rollercoasters. His assignment was clear, though. Spend the day as casual as possible in there and keep an eye open.
Steven Harrison was 34 years old and lived for his job. He didn’t stop having girlfriends, of course, but being an agent required a lot of dedication. He never before took his girlfriend with him onto an assigned trip; this time he had changed his mind for two reasons: to please Anastasia and to find a cover-up. He didn’t expect it to turn out as an adventurous task.
She was hanging at his shoulder as they were walking down River Drive, next to the Swan Lake. His girlfriend pulled on his arm. “Could you bear with me for just one second, please? I want to ride a swan boat with you.”
“What?” He was watching a black haired man who just came out of a toilet stall, zipping his pants up.
“See, that is exactly what I mean.”
“Honey, you know I’m not here for pleasure. If I wanted to ride a boat with you, then I would take you to the Virgin Islands and not to Disney World in Orlando.” The guy walked to a crossing path and disappeared.
“So you don’t want me here. Why didn’t you take one of your colleagues then?”
“I told you about a hundred times. I thought you might like Disney World, although I honestly can’t see how that could be.”
“Oh, shut up. If Marian hadn’t been called to Turkey for some mysterious reason, then you would have never asked me.”
His lip twitched. “Go on, ride your Swan. I’ll meet you at the Duck’s Donut on the other side.” He pulled his wallet and gave her five dollars.
She snatched the money and stared into his blue eyes. “I didn’t want to ride on my own. Where is the fun in that? And you can watch whoever you’re watching from the lake, too. Aren’t you supposed to act as normal as possible. That’s what couples in love do.”
He glanced at a girl, barely 18, who made a sandwich in a stand. The knife shimmered in the sunlight. “We don’t have to act like couples in love.”
His girlfriend followed his gaze; then she hit him with the five dollars. The note stuck to his reddening cheek as he watched her run away. “Fuck you”, she shouted back at him.
He stood there for a moment, watching her run while her blonde hair covered her face and swung to all sides. As the note fell off and floated to the ground, he saw the girl from the stand pass a brown package to a customer. He whispered something into her ear and walked away, into the direction where Anastasia disappeared.
Steven casually walked on, following both. He kept his head on the ground and tried to get the noise from the waterfall and the chattering passengers out of his head. Why did she run away? And why did she have to make a scene like that?
The brown package hidden in his black leather jacket, the guy left the path and went through a bunch of trees. Steven stayed on the sand path and passed a few stands where the smell of chocolate and fresh fruits filled his nose. Anastasia’s favourite.
Between the stands, he caught glimpses of the black figure in the trees, but his thoughts were back at the Swan Lake. His fingers touched his cheek, where the feathery dollar note had been. She needed him. She didn’t have any money and couldn’t even afford her chocolate banana sticks.
With a sudden gasp, he halted. He turned around and scanned the trees way behind him and the nearby paths. The package was gone.
He threw his head around again and walked on. He hadn’t realized how fast he was walking before, now he did it on purpose. Anastasia needed him.
At a table on the patio of a log house, he saw her. Slowing down, he approached her table and sat down in front of her. His audible breathing through his nose stopped shortly, while his girlfriend’s nose still pointed away from him.
He said in a low voice: “On our third date, you said you always wanted to go to Disneyland in Paris. I said you shouldn’t be too hopeful to ever get me into one of these theme parks.” She looked at him, her eyes expressionless.
“That was two years ago; you remembered that?”
With a smile he answered: “I am an agent, of course I remember such important details.” He leaned forward and added: “Here you have another five dollars. I found some chocolate fruit sticks you might wanna get for us.”
“I know that you can remember my love for chocolate sticks. Gosh, you’re unbelievable. Whenever there is a problem, you hand me money and you think that’s it. Problem solved. But not this time. I don’t want your money. I wanted you. Now go on with your assignment and watch this place. I’m going home and I definitely don’t need you.”
She got up, bent over to lay her hands on her socks and pulled a five dollar note out. She slammed it on the table and left.
A waitress appeared next to him. “I guess your friend is the kind of girl that doesn’t need her men’s bucks. Would you like to order something? We have cocktails for five dollars today.”