Deacon silently berated himself, pacing slowly back and forth. A loud group of seven lawyers passed by rather close to them, talking animatedly about past cases, both won and lost. They were remarkably similar in looks, as if it were some requirement of a retired lawyer to wear a mustache, be overweight and balding. Their suits were similar in color, style and cut. The only real difference, Deacon noticed absently, was the ties.
As a designer, he had an eye for color, line and texture. He was a stickler for coordinating, if not a dead on match. Items of clothing should compliment one another, just like set pieces, working as a unified whole. That was something about Mr. Stevens that had always bothered him. The man had no taste in ties. The more colorful and outdated, the more he seemed to like them.
These lawyers had more taste. Most of their ties were dark reds, russets and blues, complimenting their suits of black, brown and navy. Except one, on the far side of the group. He walked quickly, trying hard to appear casual and inconspicuous as he passed their little huddle in the lobby. His tie was an unspeakable shade of orange, with splashes of chartreuse and scarlet, like Jackson Pollock had vomited on it. That was the singularly most hideous tie Deacon had ever seen. Puzzled, he focused on the face. The lawyer refused to look at him, though Deacon tried to catch his eye. He hustled past the others, keeping his face averted.
Deacon was certain it was Stevens. He’d seen the man often enough to be familiar with his features. His ties had excited comment from Kacy more than once. They both despised his garish, flamboyant accessories that always clashed with his suits.
“Dino,” he whispered to his companion. “Is that Stevens in that group?”
“Where?” Dino was looking everywhere but at the receding group of lawyers.
They were getting closer to the exit, their pace steady and relaxed. Only the man with the ugly tie looked nervous and tense. He held himself in check, trying hard not to rush. The group got to the outer doors, then stopped just inside the lobby.
“Dammit,” one of them said angrily. “I can’t believe I forgot my other bag! I bet I left it on the carousel.”
“How could you leave that, Harvey? Retirement already making you feeble minded?”
“It’s a new bag, Bob! The wife gave it to me last week. Besides, those bourbons are catching up with me.”
“Let’s go back for it,” another lawyer chimed in. “With all of us looking, it won’t take long.”
“But all the security,” Harvey replied. “It will take us forever to get through. I’ll go back and meet you at the hotel.”
“Don’t be silly, Jim and I will come with you at least,” Bob offered politely.
“I’ll wait for you here,” another of the group said. “I have to take a piss again anyway. Damn prostate!”
All this conversation washed over Deacon. The man with the garish tie looked alarmed that his escort was dwindling away to nothing. Left with only one other lawyer for a cover, he was vulnerable. It was doubtful he’d go back to the luggage carousel, because of the extra security. Waiting in the lobby was risky, but walking into the parking lot alone was, too. He looked ready to panic and run.
Deacon forced himself to act. He couldn’t let that man get out the door. “Dino, Ev, find a security guard fast. He’s going to bolt on us.”
Dino turned to Ev, smiling as if they were best friends. “Ev,” he said loudly. “I think the car rental desk is right over here. Why don’t you and your wife find a map, and ask directions to your hotel? I’ve got to make a trip to the little boy’s room.”
“Sure thing,” Everett entered into the spirit of the small drama as it unfolded around him. “Honey?”
Nancy nodded quietly, picked up her bags, and walked stiffly with her husband to the car rental desk. Everett leaned over the counter, pretending to ask directions, but he was really talking to the car rental representative about Mr. Stevens. Smiling and chatting happily, he told her all about the man in the ugly tie. Glancing quickly in the general direction of the front door, she picked up the phone and placed a call to security, pretending to check on a particular car.
Deacon had to move quickly to keep Stevens inside. He limped over to the lawyers, grinning happily, hand extended.
“Howdy, gentlemen! Did I hear you say you were here for a convention?” He shook both their hands, holding onto Stevens a tad longer, his grip firm and unyielding.
“I represent a small real estate office here in town. Would either of you gents be interested in buying a time share while you’re here? Fine place to vacation.”
“No thanks,” Stevens grumbled. “My wife hates Florida.”
“As a matter of fact,” the other man said. “I’ve been thinking about doing just that. What’s the name of your business?”
Deacon, having heard the speech more than once since he’d arrived, named one of the major time share condos on the beach strand. Having been approached a few times, he had enough of the sales patter memorized, he could rattle off a fairly convincing pitch.
Stevens looked anxious to leave, but having attached himself to this group, he was committed. Besides, there was no one else around. He was fresh out of options, except one. Deacon expected him to bolt, and had prepared for it. As he spoke, he moved closer to the door, careful not to step into the range of the automatic opener. Stevens countered his movements, maneuvering himself closer to the door as well. With a burst of speed that would have made an Olympic runner proud, he dashed toward the door.
©2021 Dellani Oakes