A One Shot
At night in the dark when the sun goes down
Presentation was everything.
Whether you were on a job interview or a blind date, first impressions made all the difference. They could be the deciding factor that determined whether or not you got hired, progressing yourself in the professional market of your choosing, or they could make or break a potential relationship. If a man and a woman weren't impressed with each other upon first perusal, a courtship would inevitably fail. Hell, even he, perpetually single and always misunderstood by the fairer sex Damien Spinelli, knew that, and that was why he had taken it upon himself to make sure that his four best friends made good first impressions upon each other.
After some rather compelling research, he determined that, while men, generally, judge a date literally by their cover – going for the more base, animalistic, sexual approach and determining whether or not they wanted to see a woman for a second time based solely upon their attraction towards her, women were of a completely dissimilar nature, preferring to base their decision upon whether or not they had an emotional connection with their date. Killing four birds with one stone, he had arranged it so that both predilections would be catered to that evening.
The process had been so simple, really, it was laughable. By hacking into the fair ones' credit card statements, he had been able to scan their purchases, both determining a sense of their clothing style and their physical size, and, thanks to his rather adept memory, with the bank account numbers he had memorized years before, he had been able to purchase two brand new, designer, jaw-dropping dresses for his favorite female acquaintances, all in his employers' names. When the two medically skilled ones received their before-date presents, it would engender within their tender hearts feelings of affection and tenderness towards their blind dates, and, in return, their blind dates would be foaming at the mouth with attraction and desire with only a single glance.
Following his shopping excursion, he had simply rambled on and on to his four closest compadres, pestering them until they agreed to go out with each other. Because it would be a double date, things would be less tense, and, with less pressure, the general ambiance of the Metro Court Hotel would, hopefully, inspire the four of them to separate into their predetermined pairings to bond, befriend, and, eventually, romance. And, all the while, thanks to his own skillfully crafted presentation that evening, he would be watching – like a hawk, studying for tips and tools capable of putting to use in his own love life, and gloating in the presence of his own pre-eminence.
His employers arrived early, as was their customary habit in order to scoop out their
surroundings, and they each ordered a beverage of their alcoholic choice – Stone Cold an imported, dark ale and The Trusted Turncoat a whisky sour on the rocks. They stood at the bar, slowly sipping at their dewy bottle and crystal glass, respectively, appearing agitated and uncomfortable in their former attire the entire time. While his mentor tugged at his already loose and unbuttoned collar, the organization's protégé fiddled with his cuff links, twisting and turning the stylist adornments in a distracted manner. Neither of them noticed the other's apparent nervousness, and, luckily, neither of them noticed his disguised presence either.
Not that he expected them to. After all, he had taken great precaution in picking out his disguise, going for simplicity. Projecting the demeanor of an elderly professor, he sat at a shadowed corner in the rooftop restaurant. Dressed in khakis, a sweater vest, and loafers, the look was further enhanced with a white, balding wig and wire framed glasses perched precariously low on his nose. Appearing to be buried in his papers, grading away at the supposed essays and research reports piled about him, he was left with the perfect opportunity to observe the two men he shared the top most floor of Harbor View Towers with, all the while hiding in plain sight from them.
If it wouldn't have been for his master's and his master's understudy turning towards the eating place's entry, he would have missed The Fair One's entrance, so enraptured was he in studying the older two men's behavior and nuances. However, as his friends converged to meet in the center of the restaurant, all eyes in the establishment were fixated upon the ridiculously pretty party of four.
The ladies looked lovely in the wares he had selected for them and his male neighbors had, unwittingly, purchased for them. While the artistic and quick witted Elizabeth stunned in her violet, strapless dot-print silk dress with the bow detailing on the bodice, the light, summer appropriate material leaving her shoulders and arms bare and falling to just above her lovely knees, the sweet and quirky Nadine glowed in her short pleated turquoise and white ombre dress with the one shoulder neckline and tied waist. They, together, were a magnificent sight to behold, and, if he wasn't The Assassin of Cyberspace, The Jackal seriously would have considered going into fashion.
However, that ship had sailed, so, refocusing upon his duties as cupid, he used the listening device he had planted in Stone Cold's cell phone which was, as always, located directly in his right front pants pocket to hear the first, initial exchanges his four closest companions would share. Somehow, and he suspected it was because men in the mobular business always strived to avoid the local hospitals at all cost, and for some reason, Jason and Johnny and Nadine and Elizabeth had never been introduced before, his lax social skills even embarrassing Spinelli as he ruefully chided himself, but, nevertheless, he had righted the mistake that evening by hooking them up into, if he did say so himself, two quite fetching couples, and, now, he was prepared to sit back and watch the sparks ignite.
So, he listened as Stone Cold greeted The Elegant Elizabeth first, miscalculating her as his actual blind date, and he cringed when he realized that The Trusted Turncoat had innately done the same thing with The Noble Nadine. Granted, he could excuse his master for such a
mistake, for it had been quite some time since The Blonde Don had even attempted to actually date a woman, preferring, rather, to simply limit his knowledge of the fairer sex to anonymous carnal pleasure about Jake's, but, with his mentor's understudy, he was quite disappointed. He had always believed Johnny to be suave one, the debonair ladies man of their little group, and to see him crash and burn so horribly, it left The Jackal with little hope for the rest of the evening. He'd just have to have faith that the lovely ladies were more proficient at dating than the bungling boys.
He was a complete and total failure.
Smacking his head against the table and not realizing that it was messing up his wig, Spinelli lamented the fact that his coworkers were such inept apes. How difficult was it to compliment a woman? Why did ordering dinner turn out to be such a difficult task? And forget about conversation. There were figurative crickets chirping at the table several paces away from his as the four individuals sitting there stared blankly down at their plates, shoving around and around their untouched food.
To the casual, outside observer, they appeared to have nothing in common, but he knew better. After all, he had entered in his four friends' pertinent, personal information, cross referencing their interests and their histories, and, in doing so, had come to the conclusion that Stone Cold and The Noble Nadine were perfectly suited for each other. After all, they had both lost their sisters, they enjoyed outdoor activities, and they matched – blue eyes on blue eyes, blonde hair for blonde hair. Their babies would be gorgeous, blue eyed, blonde haired freaks, children that would scare Spinelli with their sheer bright and shininess, but, for some reason, the two were simply not connecting. He dismissed the failure, though, on their inability to socialize, because, surely, his computer generated match ability projections were absolutely and completely accurate.
As for The Trusted Turncoat and Elegant Elizabeth, they were even worse. Both had been a student of the humanities while in college, both were lovers of the arts, Johnny of music and his brunette nursing friend of painting and sculpture, but neither of them could find a point to talk about if their very lives depended upon it. And, just as with their blonde counterparts, they had been teamed up because of their corresponding looks as well, their future children, thanks to Photoshop's fortune seeing abilities, intriguing the world with their dark and mysterious haunting qualities.
He wanted to send little airplanes of suggestions to them. He wanted to call Stone Cold, ream him out for disappointing The Noble Nurse Nadine, and then run and hide in fear of his sensei's wrath, and he wanted to text the organization's protégé, provide him with some anonymous dating know-how, but he knew that Johnny would recognize his finely developed speech patterns almost immediately. So, rather than be productive, he sat in complete dejection, humbled by his own failures and infuriated by his friends'.
The awkwardness had progressed to dismal sighing on the lovely ladies' behalf and fervent watch checking on the maladroit male's, and Spinelli had retired to the lavatory in desperate need of a reprieve. So, hiding away from his complete collapse of cupid-intended capabilities, he sat on the cold, marble floor of the restroom, hitting the back of his head against the tiled wall behind him. His forehead was already bruised from the mistreatment he had offered it out in the restaurant's main dining room, so it seemed only fair, in his mind, that he had a goose egg to match underneath his hair.
With an umbrella cloaking his appearance outside despite the fact that the June dusk was perfectly clear, not a cloud in sight, The Jackal watched as the four people closest to him in the world uncomfortably exited the upscale hotel, their bodies separated by several paces as they waited for their respective rides home. As he knew without asking, The Trusted Turncoat had driven one of his prized Porches out that evening, and, of course, Stone Cold would have his motorcycle, leaving their dates to each flag down a passing taxi. Because none of them had wanted to spend another second in each others' presence, they had opted to pack up their dessert to take home with them, well, at least, the girls had, and, as they stood there, practically ignoring each other in absolute silence, Spinelli found himself hoping that someone would make the grand gesture to offer the trusted nurses rides home.
However, those annoyingly persistent and unyielding figurative crickets started to chirp, once again.
His employer's Harley was the first vehicle to be brought around, and, completely baffled by what he was witnessing, The Assassin of Cyberspace watched as The Elegant Elizabeth's face lit up with excitement and genuine glee for the first time that evening, eliciting a smirk of amusement from his master. With a carefully disguised eager attitude, Stone Cold offered to take the petite brunette for a ride before dropping her off at home, completely forgetting about his own blonde date, and, when The Elegant Elizabeth accepted, simply offering her best friend a shrug of apology before smiling elatedly, he found himself wondering just what the hell was going on.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. It was supposed to be Johnny and Elizabeth and Jason and Nadine, but, to further taunt him, The Jackal watched as his boss' protégé courteously yet with obvious fascination requested the presence of The Noble Nadine in his two seated Roadster, the two of them zooming off and leaving the sputtering computer expert in a cloud of exhaust.
It was no wonder he was still single, for he had always operated under the rule of first impressions, but, apparently, they were as trivial as Gateway computers were now in the hacking industry, and, sadly, when it came to the ladies, he was just as inconsequential. Turning around to slowly plod his way home, the umbrella above him shielding him from even the faintest illumination the new, recently revealed moon had to offer, Spinelli realized that attraction was just one of those bewildering unknowns he would never truly understand, and, maybe, he… and the art of the blind date… were better off that way.