Red Flag Part 1


Nina Patel glanced around casually and then when it seemed the coast was clear crossed the street diagonally and walked along until the next turn. She pulled the handle of the parked black SUV passenger side door and sat down, then slid her legs in and handed a take out coffee to the driver.

“You don’t ever lock it?” she teased.

Martin Lysenko took the take out cup, now dwarfed in his huge hand “Think someone’s gonna steal me Patel?”

Nina pulled out her phone and rolled her eyes “Not likely. As long as you lock it when the clients are riding along…I don’t care.” Her finger stopped scrolling and tapped on a message. “Dammit, we may have to go in…or one of us does…”

Martin sipped and then shrugged “Now?”

Nina didn’t answer him but started dialing and held the phone to her ear “Commissioner Caulfield please. Thank you.” There was a pause and Nina ignored Martin’s questioning look. Martin just took another sip and then directed his attention towards the property they were keeping an eye on. Nina in the meantime began her conversation.

“Commissioner, I got your text. We’re halfway through the process here….how significant is this red flag?” There was the muffled sound of a reply through the receiver and Nina interjected “We’ve got Fleetwood already sealing the purchase deal. Can we negotiate on th……yes Sir I understand. I’m sure he can stay. I’ll see you soon.”

She clicked to end the call and turned to Martin “We may need to divide and conquer. Can you go solo for a bit here? Commissioner Caulfield says he has a car on the way to take one of us for a briefing on this supposed little red flag in Corran. Then I’ll brief you. For now, let Fleetwood proceed as planned.”

Martin looked nonplussed “Yeah sure. Hope it’s not a deal breaker. It would suck to waste all this time. Can you grab me some Chinese before you go?”

Nina nodded “Sure, I might be awhile. Actually, do you want to get it…that way if you need the washroom…?”

Martin shook his head “I’m OK.”

She gestured at the coffee cup “But when you finish that?”

Martin grinned “Then I have the cup don’t I?”

Nina shuddered in revulsion “Alright. That’s disgusting….what do you want from the Chinese place?”

“I dunno…some kinda beef stir fry thing. Nothing too spicy. Hold the MSG…that shit’ll kill you.”

Nina looked mildly put out but exited the vehicle again and walked to the Fortune Cookie Buffet. It was typical of a small town Chinese restaurant and she scanned the menu while waiting in line. Beef and broccoli stir fry. That would do for Inspector Lysenko. She ordered that and a bottle of water in case he wanted more than just coffee. The staff was pleasant and efficient and she thanked them graciously after making her purchase. She was approaching the SUV when she heard an odd sound. Martin had put on the radio to a local station that was currently playing a John Denver. But the voice she distinctly heard belting out Take Me Home, Country Roads was Martin Lysenko’s. He stopped abruptly when she opened the door.

Nina had to work hard to hide her amusement “Were you just…singing?”

Martin actually blushed “What?! No! It’s the radio.” He gestured and took the bag of takeout rapidly.

Nina stifled a giggle and got in “I hope that works for you.”

Martin frowned at it “What’s all the green?”

Nina snorted “I’ve heard they call it broccoli. It’s a known vegetable. Supposed to be good for you.”

Martin made a bit of a face “So they say. Thanks. You want some?”

Nina shook her head “No, I don’t do red meat.”

With a mouthful he quipped back “Sacred cows?”

Nina gave him a sideways glance “No. Colon cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure…general health concerns. I don’t think cows are very sacred at all despite my last name.”

Martin kept cattle and culture prodding “Aren’t you Indian?”

Nina sighed “I was born here Lysenko. My parents were born here too. My grandparents are from Mumbai and don’t eat beef for religious reasons but my father sneaks a McDonald’s double cheeseburger anytime he thinks my mother’s not looking. We do a few traditional foods and observe some holidays but we’re not very devout. Truth be told, I’m an atheist but not even very devout at that either.”

Martin laughed “So no curry every meal, no Bollywood movies, sitars?”

Nina looked jokingly annoyed “No. Besides if we’re stereotyping, Caulfield told me you were born in a barn in Poland or something. Is that right?”

Martin scoffed “It was Odessa, Ukraine and it was a stable…thank you very much!”

“Explains the Jesus Complex then.” She deadpanned.

“Ah fuck off Patel. You and your non devout atheist cows just got uninvited to my last supper.”

An almost identical black SUV pulled up behind them and Nina thumbed back at it “And not a moment too soon. See you in awhile Lysenko, unless they call you in too. Enjoy the broccoli.”


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