Sam Tank looked as his reflection in the mirror. He adjusted his tie and smoothed out the fit of his suit. He was smiling; his reflection wasn’t – it was not part of his demeanour to reveal a true emotion. Each expression was a construct of his will and a tool of manipulation. Like a method actor he found it fitting not to let the facade down in between scenes, and coming off the interview with Tony Holdsworth he knew there would be a slew of attempts to gain his opinion from the journalist body. He would give them a soft smile; a warm ambience; he would break them through patience and earnest sense of duty, all the while reinforcing his message, and guiding them to their next conclusive headlines. People like Brian Smithwaite would dictate a headline; Sam would orchestrate one.
The door to his dressing room opened aggressively. Tony Holdsworth came in like a domesticated bear, or an overgrown Labrador, looking to slobber his affection in hugs and kisses – Tony did not know the full boundaries of the game.
“Sammy!” he said, with a buddy-esque gravel to his voice. He reminded Sam of Boss when he was younger, over excited at the success of a powerplay. Sam reciprocated the sentiment, keeping Tony in his vulnerable comfort zone. “We fucking knocked that one out of the park, Sammy!”
“I think we had them before you even finished your monologue.” Sam replied enthusiastically. It was important to let them think you were on the same level, any condescension would make it clear that you do not value them – he had perhaps condescended Boss earlier than he would have liked. But Boss would have seen it all tonight anyway; Sam was awaiting the retaliation eagerly. He expected Boss to be thuggish and overt, but expectations always required caution. He re-centred his focus on Tony. “I would suggest we go and celebrate with a drink but of course you can’t do that.”
“Ha!” Tony burst out, verbalising his laugh, “Yeah sobriety is a great until it’s time to enjoy yourself.” He put his arm around Sam’s shoulders like two friend’s who had just scaled a mountain and were enjoying the view, “but thanks to your wisdom I’ve been able to rediscover what enjoyment really is: Hard work and doing what you love. No need for the booze and pills.”
Sam took in the view with his partner – he would have preferred not to have the sweat-stained arm between them but it was important not to take this away from Tony just yet. It was also comforting to hear Tony’s faith being pledged in such a genuine form. He had thought perhaps Tony was aware of the final veil, but he still appeared to be staring out over the mountain vista with an impaired vision. Tony had discovered a strength and happiness – if that is what it is wished to be called – but it still only arrived through a co-dependence, a belief in Sam’s words. His foundation was still not his, he was only able to borrow it, and his debt was building.
“Well we gotta get back out there and face the maggots, right?” Tony said, still buoyed by pure self worth. “Let’s finish the job!”
Sam’s phone rang. “After you, buddy, I’ll be right out.” Tony left the dressing room, his Labrador entrance topped by his puppy-like exit. Sam felt a little embarrassed. He answered his phone, it was his contact from the agents centre, the Boss-titled “Cit Soldiers.”
“Sir, Walter escaped.” He said bluntly, pausing a moment. Sam let it go, preferring to hear the explanation before revealing any response. The agent continued confidently, “Coulter and Steyne were there to escort him the Towers, but they reported that Dr Blues arrived claiming she was in on the whole operation and was to escort Walter herself.”
“And they let her go.” Sam stated, not hiding the sarcasm in his disappointment.
It was an interesting idea that Lucy would step back into the picture like this. She apparently could not keep running as was so often her wont. More intriguing still was the manner of her actions. The rigid thought patterns of an agent is not easily coerced, and Sam never took Lucy for one to hold the sort of devious cunning to pull off such a manoeuvre. He felt a spike in his pulse. “Leave it for now. Do what is necessary with Coulter and Steyne.” Sam said with finality.
“Sir.” The agent cut in quickly. Sam again waited without speaking. “The order came through from Boss.”