the pures

by rachel yong

Jean Paltron was on the move. Her Outside Man – or Woman, apparently – was in transit, and she needed to be intercepted. She made a quick call on her comm.

“Ros,” she began, “I need the full read on a Ms. Monica Davis. She’s the Outside Man.” She loosened the bun of her hair as she made her way across the street. “Yeah, I need to know if she’s dangerous. Or armed. I don’t know, that’s your job! You tell me! I want to know it all. I want to know what her parents did, who her 1st grade teacher was, I want her fucking bra size. Everything.” Paltron unbuttoned her suit jacket, and yelled into the comm, “Now, Roscoe!” She dropped the call. That jackass. He’d never had the nerve to question her before. Maybe he was just beginning to understand the stakes, Paltron realized. She sighed. Every new player in this game just added to the complexity, and her modus operandi was to reduce complexity. If he wasn’t such a good lay…

She’d have to figure out what to do with him later. At this point her plan was to have Ros intercept Davis, bring her to a central rendezvous point, personally propose an arrangement that would hopefully be too sweet to resist, and then get back to the office as soon as she could. There was news to control. If she could’ve done it any other way, she would’ve, but this was the sort of thing that needed a personal touch. Women were not Paltron’s forte, but she would manage. She’d have to.

Before she knew what was happening, a vice grip had taken hold of her arm and a woman with twelve color curls was walking fast by her side. “Keep walking,” the woman said, her head angled down.

Paltron rushed to think quickly. Could this be her Man? Twelve color hair could only come from the Inside, and that wasn’t even counting the curls…

“Keep walking!” the strange woman insisted, pulling Paltron forward. They went just a few more steps before the woman was shoving her into an alley.

Paltron felt the heel on her right side snap. “Watch it!” she yelled, pissed. Those shoes were expensive.

The woman brandished a gun, and Paltron's hands flew up. Guns had been banned on the Outside for decades. “Shut it!” the woman hissed. Suddenly her face was so close, Paltron could see the freckles dotting her cheeks. Freckles, for agatha's sake? When was the last time she’d seen those?

"I'm listening," she offered calmly.

"Okay, good. You listen close, okay?” the woman's hand shook in her face. She seemed unkempt. She couldn't possibly be the Man. “No questions," she insisted. "And I mean none! I know who you are. You don’t know who I am, but I know you.” Paltron smelled the sour stench of her breath and tried not to pull back. “You’re Jean Paltron. Don’t try denying it. I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Pleasure,” Paltron said drily, suddenly aggravated by the situation and her broken heel in particular. “And you are?”

The woman looked her square in the eyes. “I’m Judy. Judy J. I’m an ex-Abolitionist, and um,” she paused for a second, “and I’ve got a story for you.”

Paltron’s eyes narrowed. Looks like things just got interesting.

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