Short Story 10 of …

blog post
The 10th in this series of those not accepted by journals for publication. Just as for my “Alice” story, the first line is from The First Line Literary Journal a few years ago.



Spies in Prague

The window was open just enough to let in the cool night air. The lights were off in Edward Paddington’s third-floor Prague hotel room. He couldn’t be seen from the street.

Heavy, swirling fog obscured the gas street lights to nearly uselessness where trench-coated Mannford Atwell sat alone on an iron bench facing the river across a recent-rain dampened cobblestone street.

A pre-WWII French Citroën sedan passed and stopped out of view to Paddington at the window and Atwell on the bench. Paddington struggled but was able to get the weather warped window high enough to rest his Mauser rifle on the sill.

Both Atwell and Paddington heard the muffled sounds of the Citroën door closing and echoing footsteps approaching the bench. Atwell pulled his fedora down tight to his ears, tightened his coat collar and stared straight ahead. As if to protect it, he took his black valise from the cobblestone walkway and placed it on the bench next to him.

Paddington sighted the approaching man through the precision Zeiss scope.

The footsteps man stopped behind the bench and said in Slavic accented English, “Cold! Cold as it can get without snow and the cursed wind from the east.”

Hearing, “cursed wind from the east,” Atwell stood, turned, and loosened his hat. At the signal, Paddington relaxed and put the rifle aside. The man who spoke rounded the bench and sat placing his identical black valise on the bench. “I need a light,” the man said.

Atwell leaned over and lit the man’s cigarette with a nickel plated, monogrammed American Zippo lighter. He said, “American.”

“Yes,” the other man said. I recognize it. A friend has one like it.”

“No,” Atwell countered, “I meant the cigarette. It has the smell of a Kool menthol. I’ve not had such a good smoke in years.”


The set director shouted, “That’s a take. I’ll look at today’s work tonight. Someone make sure that window is at the exact opening we started with in case we have to shoot that scene again”


As my octogenarianism continues, my mind wanders as I wonder.
Or could it be that my mind wonders as I wander?