Nolan's next Rolinska/Daniels thriller
Senator Samuel Hennessey and his small army of congressional aids strolled towards the Jefferson Memorial, paying little attention to the elderly woman checking her watch, armed with a worn-looking autograph book. Her research about the Senator had revealed that a bench across from the memorial, the very bench she stood close to right now, was his favorite early-afternoon spot to reflect on the challenges facing his country—weather and his schedule permitting.
This sunny yet crisp late-October day provided the perfect opportunity to accomplish her task, so she waited, hoping the Senator would sign her book. Timing her approach for that optimal moment when the aides gave the Senator some space, but before he got comfortable on the bench, she tightened her grip on the small pen.
She shuffled forward with both hands outstretched, ready to offer the Senator her autograph book and pen. But before she could speak, an aide spotted her. Determined and unwilling to be thwarted at this point, she continued her quest forward.
“Stop right there, please,” the Senator’s aide said.
Senator Hennessey turned. A gray-haired woman, dressed in her once-stylish but now threadbare pantsuit, struggled to approach him. He held up a hand to his aide indicating I’ve got this.
In response, she hurried her steps and reached out even further—not the best move for an elderly woman with slightly compromised balance. She tumbled towards the Senator, her hands remaining outstretched.
Without hesitation, the Senator reached out for the woman to break her fall. They both wobbled and then fell onto the bench. The Senator’s butt hit hard against the seat of the bench, yet he managed to keep the woman in front of him, landing askew across his chest. The ever-alert aides moved forward in a scrum and helped the woman to a seated position on the bench next to the Senator, verifying that both their boss and his groupie were okay.
Through it all the woman had somehow managed to hold on to her autograph book and pen.
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you want an autograph.”
When she saw the Senator’s smile, she nodded and offered a sheepish grin.
“I’m so sorry, Senator. I’m usually not this clumsy.”
“No need to apologize. Why don’t you hand over that book and I’ll sign it for you?”
“Oh, thank you so much,” she said, handing him her book. “You have no idea how much this means to me.”
She pushed the pen forward, but the Senator pulled one from the inner pocket of his suit jacket.
“No need. I have a pen.”
She nodded and pulled her hand away.
Poised to write in her book, he asked, “What’s your name?”
“Candace, but my friends call me Candy.”
“Then Candy it is.”
The Senator jotted a short note in her book, and handed it back to her.
Accepting her book, she nodded her appreciation. As her index finger grazed his simple unadorned penmanship she mouthed each word to further enjoy reading his note.
What a wonderful surprise to literally bump into you today!
Senator Samuel Hennessey.
Hugging her treasured book to her chest, a smile peeked through the wrinkles on her face as she lifted her eyes to the Senator in gratitude.
“Thank you, Senator, I’ll always treasure this.”
As she struggled to get up off the bench, one of the aides appeared at her side and helped her stand and steady herself. Her autograph mission accomplished, she headed for her hotel, a favorite of tourists.
The aides gave the Senator his space, and the Senator began his contemplation of the country’s most pressing issues.
* * *
Back at her hotel she checked herself out in the bathroom mirror, pleased with how well her encounter with Senator Hennessey had gone. Anxious to get rid of the itchy makeup—she made a mental note to never buy this brand again—she pulled off the gray wig with one hand while reaching into her case with the other to grab the cream she used to remove makeup. She covered her face, neck, and hands with a thick layer of the cream and then let the cream sit on her skin for a few minutes before rinsing it off. Her wrinkles, along with the cream, circled the drain and disappeared.
A simple change of clothes and Candy would disappear forever.
Dressed in her own street clothes and looking sixty years younger, one final task remained. She tore all the pages from the small autograph book, and placed them on the bathroom counter next to the toilet. Holding the flimsy cardboard cover in one hand and a lighter in the other, a simple flick of her thumb released the greedy fire that raced to destroy its newest victim. As the fire came close to her fingers, she used the almost-expired flame to ignite a few pages at a time, alternating hands, and dropping the charred carcasses of the paper into the toilet.
As she watched the flames eliminate any trace of the autograph book, her mind reviewed the scene with Senator Hennessey. Her stumble and near-fall had been perfectly timed. It allowed the hand holding the pen access to his neck, puncturing him right at the edge of his hairline—a good spot to avoid detection in an autopsy.
The prick of the needle, encased inside the pen, went unnoticed because she landed on top of the Senator with just enough force to create the perfect physical distraction. Her task required such a small quantity of poison . . . a single jab in a fraction of a second got the job done.
Dropping the last of the book’s burned pages into the toilet, she flushed. Just like her wrinkles, evidence of her contact with Senator Hennessey disappeared. Soon the nearly-undetectable poison would do its job.
She checked her hair in the mirror and straightened the collar of her blouse. Satisfied, she walked out of her room and through the hotel lobby looking exactly like the woman who had checked in—and exactly like hundreds of other tourists.
Hello fellow thriller fan,
Thanks for taking the time to read this sneak peek of my next thriller.
I appreciate your support!