- Crowning Achievement
- Part 5
- by Jan Hedblom
As always, this story is dedicated to Irish Dreamtime, Inc.
I'd like to bestow a belated dedication on Alan Trustman, without
whose long-ago efforts Thomas Crown would not exist. All quotes
used in the movie are the property of their respective authors
and are used here only to further the plot of my story. This
is being written for entertainment purposes only. I'd also like
to thank my Brazilian TCA fan, Caroline, for all her help and
suggestions. Some artistic license was necessary to further the
plot. All references to locales, customs, people, security or
police procedures are mine, and are not intended to reflect actual
people, places or situations.
"And I just KNOW we'll have the best time tonight! I mean,
I feel like a schoolgirl, what with all the music and the sandy
beach. It feels just like California!" Gladys was on auto
"You've never BEEN to California, Gladys," Marty sighed.
"Well it WOULD feel like California if I HAD been there!"
she said defensively. "I watch those travel programs on
TV. Just last week they had one on about the ocean!"
"And that makes you a world authority on the habits of the
local flora and fauna."
"Oh no! They've never had a program about those."
Catherine looked skyward. It was all she could do to keep from
screaming. They'd been mired to this same spot for fifteen minutes.
"I get it. I'm in the Twilight Zone and this little episode
is entitled "Gidget Goes Goofy". If we stay here much
longer roots'll sprout from our toes. It'd be worth it if I grew
palm fronds and they stopped up my ears!"
She was just about to seriously consider jumping into said
ocean when Sir Galahad, in the form of a very amused billionaire,
arrived on the scene. She glared at him. "Whadda you
Much as he would have enjoyed needling her, he was aware of the
need to keep a low profile. He stifled his grin, secure in the
knowledge that his shades hid the twinkle in his eyes. Striding
over to motor mouth, he deliberately stepped into her path and
turned on the charm. "Good evening. Thomas Crown,"
he said, extending his hand. "I do hope you're enjoying
yourselves. I trust your suite is satisfactory?"
Being in close proximity to the man himself rendered Gladys temporarily
speechless. Marty and Catherine could only watch in amazement
as her eyes glazed over and her jaw dropped. She struck a mannequin-like
pose, arm outstretched stiffly and fingers splayed. Grasping
the proffered paw Tommy thought, "If I pump hard enough,
maybe she'll gush fresh water."
Catherine locked visual horns with Tommy. Her eyes bore into
his. "THAT'S all it took to stop her? I'm standing here
for twenty minutes getting calluses on my eardrums, you just
SHOW UP and she quits? She not only quits, she goes catatonic!"
Tommy returned her gaze without flinching. He gave her an ain't-nothin'-but-a-thing
"Gladys, Mr. Crown asked you a question," Marty encouraged,
clearly embarrassed by his wife's sea saw personality. Living
with her was like being on a perpetual teeter- totter.
Tommy was about to snap his fingers in her face when she gurgled
a response. "Aaaaaaa." She blinked twice quickly and
shook her head. "Where was I? I mean, where were we?"
"You were right the first time.," Tommy sighed.
"I was just wondering if your suite was to your liking?"
"Oh! Yes! It's really the most beautiful room! We can see
the beach from our window. And we don't even have to ask for
room service. They're always coming and going."
"Naturally lady. That's what I pay them for. Three grand
a night and she calls it a room."
"And we can swim in the pool anytime we want. And this afternoon
we went fishing on a big boat."
Tommy smiled indulgently. "How come there's never a shark
around when you need one?"
"And tomorrow we're going on a tour of downtown and then
at night we're going to the casino!
"Hang onto your balls mate. Poor bastard." Reaching
up with his left hand, he whipped off his shades.
Smoothly extricating his right hand from her clamp-like grip,
he turned his head and looked out to sea.
Marty sensed his host's growing impatience. The audience was
over. Unwilling to piss off the goose that was currently laying
all these nice fat golden eggs, he took the bull by the horns.
Grabbing her shoulders, he turned her to face him. "GLADYS!
Shocked, she shut up in a hurry. "You've NEVER talked to
me like that!" she started to blubber, tears running freely
down her cheeks.
"Maybe it's about time I did!" He puffed up his shoulders
like a peacock spreading its tail feathers.
"Yeah well, mother always warned me about you! She said
you had a temper!" She threw out her chest, bent forward
and started talking with her hands.
"Shut up! For once, just SHUT-UP! Why is it every time you're
losing an argument, you drag your mother into it? She's got a
bigger mouth than you do!"
"Don't you talk that way about my mother!" she yelled,
"Why not!" came the hot retort, "your father always
Taking advantage of the momentary break, Tommy took Catherine's
hand and pulled her out of the fray. Flipping her husband a quick
salute, he smiled. Marty smiled back and winked an "I'll-take-it-from-here",
then leaned in for the coup de grace. Now nose-to-nose with his
wife, he pointed an index finger in Tommy's direction. "You
see that man over there?"
Gladys attempted to back away but was stopped by a convenient
palm tree. She pulled a hankie out of her pocket and dabbed at
her eyes. "Of course I see him, you big jerk! Wasn't I just
talking to him?"
"Yes Gladys, YOU were! But didn't you notice HE wasn't?"
He gave her an "I-rest-my-case" look and slapped his
thigh in frustration. "TALKING! He stopped cold after you
got started. You monopolize every conversation you're involved
"He asked! And I was just trying to be friendly!"
"NO! You were TRYING to be a pain in the ass!"
"I just thought they'd like to know.."
"There you go, thinking again!" He continued to sweep
an arm toward Tommy and Catherine's retreating forms. "You
offended them! They're leaving! Think about THAT!"
"I did NOT!"
"You DID!" On a roll, he spat the words, then gave
them a beat to sink in. When he continued, his voice was quiet,
every syllable measured, "HAVE you enjoyed yourself Gladys?"
She shook her head in the affirmative. "Well, I suggest
you make nice for the rest of the trip, `cause he's one man you
DON'T want to offend. You mentioned my so-called temper. Which
by the way, you never mention unless I try to stand up for myself.
I'm a rank amateur compared to him!" He swept the landscape
with his arm. "He'll pull all this faster than you can sing
"California Hear I Come", and I sure as hell can't
pick up the tab! He gave her a full minute to think it over.
"So, if you want to get BACK to that milk of human kindness
you call your mother, KNOCK-IT-OFF!" Having said his peace
he turned and strode off in the opposite direction.
Tommy heard Marty's parting salvo and smiled, a faraway look
in his eye. He rather liked that bit about the California song.
He'd have to remember that one. Catherine picked right up on
his mood. "What?"
"Spit it out."
"Got a nice touch, that Marty."
"Much as I appreciated getting out of there, aren't you
being a little harsh? She's really a nice lady, just LOUD. And
"Obnoxious?" he ventured.
Catherine flashed back to the previous twenty minutes and swallowed
her next sentence. Weeeell, yeah. But I really wouldn't wanna
feel responsible for their divorce!"
Tommy chuckled and folded his arms across his chest. "Don't
worry. I have a feeling that little tiff was a long time coming.
Hadn't been us, it would've been somebody else. They'll land
on their feet." No, I wasn't talking about their argument
per se. I'm more interested in the way he handled himself. Diplomatic
when he had to be, forceful when he sensed it was in his best
interests. But it was a CONTROLLED forceful."
"So?" Catherine said absently. "All this fuss
over an argument?" She could almost see the gears spinning
in his brain. He was about to go corporate on her.
He'd reached into his shirt pocket for his cell. Punching in
a slew of numbers, he waited impatiently for the connection to
go through. He practically pounced when his party answered. "Daria?
Yes, we're fine. Yes, it was quite a coup. Yes, I'm sure they
are. No, we'll be away indefinitely."
Catherine strained to hear, but he'd turned into himself and
covered his right ear. All she could catch were the remnants
of a professionally friendly tone on the other end. "What's
that? Sorry, this connection's bloody awful. No, filter everything
though the team for now, Wallace is here with me. Just keep me
advised. Listen, is John still tied up? Well, give it to Jimmy,
he likes crunching numbers. I want John to do a full background
on a Marty," he rested the phone on his shoulder while he
fumbled his wallet out of his back pocket and found the Rio flight
manifest, "make that MARTIN Feldman. F-E-L-D-M-A-N. Yeah,
the works. I wanna know what he had for breakfast on his third
birthday. John can get the particulars off the manifest. And
Daria? This is eyes-only. Have him FedEx it to me here at the
condo ASAP. What? Don't know yet. Maybe. Right. You too. Bye."
Popping the antenna down, he closed the phone with an authoritative
snap and stowed it back in his jeans.
Always the investigator, Catherine was dying to be let in on
the gist. "What was that all about? And who was that anyway?
Jimmy? I thought he was with us? Since when does he crunch numbers?"
Tommy held up a hand. "Never try to listen to one-sided
conversations my sweet. One tends to miss vital pieces of information
Catherine swallowed hard. "Does he know I heard him at
the condo this afternoon? But how could he? You know the answer
to that one genius! He's got eyes in the back of everybody else's
Tommy noted her discomfort, but decided to let it go for the
moment. There was something she wasn't telling him but then,
they were even. There was something he wasn't telling her. "THAT
was Daria. My personal secretary. Or is it administrative assistant
"Will you FORGET the PC! I'm sure she doesn't care what
you call her, as long as you don't call her late to the bank
when she cashes her paycheck. Besides, she's not here. Pray continue,"
"Seems we've still got star status in New York. Whole financial
community's buzzing about our little flight of fancy."
"OUR little flight of fancy?"
"OK, MY little flight of fancy."
"Buzzing? Swarming's probably more like it. Wanting to know
how they're gonna divide the spoils."
"There's no spoils to divide. CA is, and shall remain, MY
"Famous last words."
"I assure you, the last word will be mine," he said
"What else did you two talk about? How can Jimmy be in New
York, did he fly back?"
"Not our Jimmy. Office Jimmy. Junior exec. Best in the business
if you want blood squeezed out of a turnip."
"Oh. Who's John? Why's he running a check on Marty?"
A sudden horrible feeling crept up on her. "You're not thinking
"Burying him? Relax. I told you, I like the guy's style.
He could be useful."
Catherine breathed a sigh of relief. "Doing what?"
"Oh, this and that."
"Here and there."
"My we're certainly a wealth of information tonight, aren't
"I always play my cards close to the vest remember? Besides,
I won't know until I see his dossier."
"Give Gladys a little taste of the high life?"
"Why not? At least he'll be able to afford the trip home."
They both laughed heartily.
Tommy heard Catherine's stomach growl. He decided to remedy that
little situation. "I see the party's in full swing. Let's
GO!" He grabbed her hand, pulling her along with him as
he raced across the sand. He snapped his knees and pumped his
free arm in the style of a trained runner.
The short but vigorous sprint turned Catherine's legs to rubber.
"Whoa big boy! This isn't the Olympics!" Stopping abruptly,
she clutched her side, breathing heavily.
The loss of momentum nearly pulled Tommy off his feet. He turned
to her, a devilish grin planted firmly in place. "If I'd
known all I'd had to do was RUN to keep you off my tail.."
"You'd have run right into a cross town bus and dotted the
landscape with various body parts!"
"But just think of the fun you'd have had, getting me back
into.condition, " he said slyly.
"You son of a bitch, you're not even breathing hard! I'M
the one that should be in intensive care!" she panted.
"Then allow me to care for you . . . intensely," he
said, covering the space between them in two quick strides. She
drew back, arms raised at shoulder height. He stopped short.
"Wait a minute. You're not gonna hit me again, are you?"
"If I was gonna hit you . . . " She placed her hands
on his shoulders and looked him in the eye.
"Yeeess?" he said, drawing out the word.
"You'd be on permanent display in one of those museums you're
so fond of."
"As what?" He couldn't WAIT to hear this one.
"The world's first living Picasso! I'd take you apart and
put you together wrong!"
"Why the sudden interest in advancing the cause of evolution?"
"That's definitive. Care to elaborate?"
"Good idea." He didn't know what was up, but wasn't
sure he wanted to. "DAMN she's touchy tonight! Switches
moods faster than a chameleon changes colors." He did
a quick mental sift though the night's events, trying to put
a handle on the source of her pique. The conversation of the
past few minutes replayed through his mind. "Ah, so that's
it!" The pieces began to fit. He knew what he had to
do, but now was not the time.
He tried a soothing tone, "I know you're cranky when your
"Could've fooled me!" Holding up a hand to head off
her next blast he continued, "Some good food, fun and fellowship
and you'll be good as new." He'd managed to get them to
the buffet table. He handed Catherine a plate, then picked up
one of his own.
"You sound like a travel brochure," she said, filling
her plate with seafood and salad.
Inspiration struck. Balancing his heaping plate in his right
hand, he wrapped his left arm around her waist. "See those
peaks over there?" He nodded toward the distant section
"That's Sugar Loaf and Unca Hill. They've got a cable car
that runs between them and you can tour the area. Would you like
to go sometime?"
"Are you trying to change the subject?"
"Only if it's working."
"Whadda you think?"
"I think . . .", he stopped mid-sentence. "Bandit
at 3 o'clock," he muttered.
"What ARE you talking about?" She studied the intense
expression on his face. He'd set his full plate back down on
the buffet. "Now I KNOW you haven't lost your marbles, so
what gives?" He hadn't heard her. She trained her eyes on
his line of sight. A uniform stood at the edge of the picnic
grove. Medium height with just a touch of middle aged paunch,
regulation-cut black hair, trousers creased along the seam, shoes
spit-shined and captain's stripes on both sleeves. Whoever he
was, he had Tommy's full attention. "Friend of yours?"
"Passing acquaintance." Tommy stood his ground. He
was making deliberate eye contact with the mysterious flatfoot.
They stood like that for some minutes, sizing each other up like
two heavyweights before a title bout. It seemed as though they
were playing a visual game of chicken. At last the cop turned
smartly and began walking away at a fast pace. Catherine knew
there was more to this than a simple check of the perimeter.
The man had left because he's gotten what he'd come for.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
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