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by Colleen 9 months ago in fact or fiction

"Little Black Book of lies, deceit, and finally death."

What a perfect morning, coffee in hand, the view of the snow-capped mountains and the sounds of morning conversations of ravens planning their day! Speaking of the day, why do I feel like it's going to be a strange one? As my cell started ringing, I thought, what, it’s only 8:23 AM and someone already wants to talk to me, come on people, why do they forget I don’t take calls until after 9:00 AM. Whoever it is they’re going to have to wait if anything because they know better.

Time for my shower and then get some cream for my latte. Three missed calls from Clarissa, she must really want to talk to me. “Hi Gorgeous, what’s up, you called me three times?” Clarissa replied and I listen. “What, why me?” I replied, Clarissa spoke and once again I listen then replied, “You trust me, hey thanks, but you have lots of people you can trust, come on be truthful, or I just can’t help you?”

As I listen, she was making little sense but then she told me she would tell me more when we met. I certainly wasn’t prepared for her conversation, what’s that adage? Oh, yeah “Who needs enemies when I have friends like you.” What am I getting myself into, God, I should just call her back and tell her I can’t do this, but then I’d feel bad, she sounded desperate?

Got dress, jumped in my car and was on my way to meet her. Note to self, book an appointment with my mechanic to find out what’s the sound coming from my car engine. I wonder why Clarissa wants me to meet her so far out of town, although I do love coming out here.

Hopefully, we’ll have time to have lunch at that quaint little restaurant, a restaurant you see on the side of the road going from Paris to Lyon, most famous for their delicious mouth-watering crepes. There it is, how picturesque, a stream to my right while surrounded with a forest of trees and simple sounds of nature, I must come out here more often.

There she is, but who’s the guy with her? Why is she crying? "What are you waiting for Ebony", I said to myself, "Get out of the car and go ask her"? As I was walking towards Clary, yes, Clary that’s my pet name for her. I notice the man with her leaving and walking toward the restaurant, hopefully, to make reservations for lunch, that would be amazing, I’m hungry.

As I got closer, she began walking towards me, wow, what’s wrong with her, she looks scared, I hope she’s okay? We greeted each other with a genuine hug, and I looked into her water-filled eyes and said, “What’s going on? And who is the guy?” She immediately replied, “Let’s go for a walk, and I’ll tell you everything or almost everything.” I replied, “You mean we’re not going for lunch?” Clarissa answered, “No, we don’t have time, I must talk to you where no one can overhear our conversation.”

We started to walk along this wooded path and with the gentle sounds of nature, Clary spoke, and I listen. As she began her story I could sense and hear her desperation, but more concerning her fear. Thinking to myself, maybe I should stop her right here tell her I can’t be a part of this and just leave, but once again, I couldn’t for two thoughtful reasons, I love her and the other my curiosity. Once again, another adage, “Curiosity kills the cat.” She continued speaking, and as she did, I began mirroring her fear, yet the more the story became clearer the more I knew I had to help her.

We started heading back to the beginning of the path and she stops just before the exit where she went into her too large to carry Gucci bag and pull out three things; one a large envelope, a flight ticket, and this little black notebook then handed them to me. I asked, “What is this?” Clarissa replied, “The envelope has twenty thousand dollars to pay for your time and any expenses, the ticket is your flight that leaves at eleven forty this evening for Beirut, and the little black notebook has the instructions and names you will need to complete our task.”

As I counted the money, read the ticket, and confirmed with her, I took the little black notebook and kind of chuckle to myself, and thought little black books were usually kept by guys who had no balls but thought they did. I replied, “Why is the book so small?” She smiled, “You know why it’s quite acceptable for the modern-day women to have their own little black books!” That was the only moment of our time together where the air was lightened with our giggles. She continued, “It’s less conspicuous, you’ll understand once you read it!”

I replied, “Clary, I’ve never done anything like this before, again, I have to ask, why me?” Her reply, “You know that’s not true; do you actually think I have had no idea what you actually do? I also trust you and know you will get this done for me. I had no one else I could trust nor feel confident they would be capable of doing this.”

“Can I think about this, and phone you later?” I replied, “No, there’s no time. Please, I’m begging you to help me, I have no one else.” Clarissa replied, then I answered, “Okay, Okay, I’ll do it even though all my senses are telling me to say, no, and leave.” She countered, “Another thing, you must not contact me in any way, not by phone or email. You must take me off all your social media until this has been completed”. She continued, “From this point on, we no longer contact each other.”

I replied, “Hey, Clary, you are asking a lot, and I’m feeling alarmed, but then again, I agree with you, you don’t have anyone who would be capable of completing this insane journey. By the way, who is the guy?” Clarissa replied, “You don’t want to know, but I also can’t tell you. I’ve got to go, please be careful and know this, I love you very much, and thank you. Oh, one more thing, you can’t open the little black book until your in-flight, promise me”.

I replied, “Yeah, okay! I love you too, I’m always careful, and don’t thank me yet.” At that very moment, we were at the entrance of the path and the guy, who personified the look of a bouncer protecting the main door of a nightclub, nodded at me with no reference I was even human. Clarissa nodded to him, and at that very moment out of nowhere a black limousine drove up they both got in and drove away.

I got into my car saying to myself, “What have you gotten yourself into Ebony, if you make it out of this one, promise yourself at least for Belle, this is your last one. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up the crème for your latte, you’re going to need one when you get home.” Once I got home, I called my daughter, Belle, and told her I was leaving town on a business trip and would be back in a couple of weeks, we had a bit of a chat and confirmed we loved each other and hung up.

I began packing and organizing for my trip but also prepping for the possibility I would not be returning home, and I want to make sure my prepping will make it easier for my beautiful daughter. I must remember to leave the key on the sink near the cookbooks so Belle will find it and have access to my safety deposit box where I left the envelope of twenty thousand in cash. If I don’t return, it will be for her, and of course, the letter I have left with the envelope will explain.

I always like being at the airport at least three hours before departure, it gives me time to prepare myself for the flight and Beirut is a long one. You see, no matter how much I have travelled I still have anxiety when it comes to take-off and landing. I know it’s silly, but we all have them whether it’s about height, spiders, confinement, another three I’m fearful over. How did I ever get into this business being so paranoid? Although, once you learn fear has less control over you because it’s a situation in which you must influence and lead your own survival, you gain the confidence you're also completely insane with a little bit of stupid!

Oh, time to board, I think I’m ready, oh whose kidding who, I’m never ready for take-off, but I'll have to suck it up and get on the plane. Engines started, seat belt on, little black book in hand, glasses in place, now ready for a scotch or two on my flight to Beirut. My Arabic is a little rusty, but my French is fluent, I’m ready, let's put this baby in the air. I must say it's never as bad as I think or maybe I prepare myself well. Here she comes, the flight attendant with savoury goodies. I love first class the only way to fly.

There’s my scotch; the scent, texture and exquisite taste is a truly orgasmic experience for anyone’s palette but particularly mine. I thought it time for the little black notebook, smiling on my face thinking about years gone by, and what those three words meant at a certain point in my life. “What’s in this book that I couldn’t read until in-flight”, I asked myself. I thought, open it and begin to read, then you’ll know what Clarissa’s instructions and expectations are, I felt hesitant, what a strange feeling. I placed the book by my side and decided to read it later.

We were about three hours outside of Beirut when I decided to open the notebook for a read. As I got further into the book, I started feeling a variety of emotions from anger to sadness but worse betrayed. Clarissa had lied to me, most everything she had recited on the path we walked had little or nothing to do with the instructions and expectations she made me believe.

In the decades I have been doing this, I have learned to always prepare for the unexpected and never trust anyone and I mean no one, so far that’s kept me alive. But this one truly hurts because there have only been three people in my lifetime I have entrusted with my life and I theirs: my mother, Veronique, my daughter, Crystal Belle, and Clarissa, my dear friend and sister. “Why would my sister do this”? saying to myself in dismay, I continued my inner voice, “Come on, Ebony, you have no time to think about it, you must prepare for your landing in Beirut.”

Once again, another adage, “Don’t fear the enemy who attacks you, but the fake friend that hugs you.” Thank God I brought another passport, and disguise, the last time someone did this to me I was at their Celebration of Life sipping on scotch in satisfaction. I must destroy the little black notebook, the information in it will get me killed. I have a photographic memory, the book will be destroyed when I land. Yes, that will create a distraction and I'm going to need one.

Beirut the ‘journey of completion’ where those involved will die or my death will be the legacy of my life. Smiling, I said to myself, “Little black books certainly aren’t what they use to be!” I signalled the flight attendant, "Where is the bathroom?"

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