Dmitry Ivanov felt the Rossiya Airline Boeing 767 plane go through turbulence. He gripped the armrest of his chair hard and tried to relax. He inhaled deeply then exhaled slowly, thinking of anything but the fact that he was 35,000 feet in the air and only in-cased in a light metal coating relying on the engineering of the plane to hold, the engines to remain in working order and a well-trained pilot at the controls. His brain worked hard taking in the specs of the plane and brought them together revealing how a plane was able to soar across the open sky.
This was how he handled stress. His mind, which never shut off began comparing or breaking down information until he found solace. Dmitry hated to fly and he especially hated turbulence. He could feel the contents of his stomach churn and sweat beaded on his forehead. He dabbed at his face with the napkin leftover from dinner. His friend, the man seated next to him in the cramped Economy section, Ivan Anisimov, chuckled.
Dmitry glared at him, not daring to move much in case the movement caused the tasteless airplane food to return.
“Can it man,” he told Ivan.
Ivan grinned. The bastard was enjoying his suffering. He’d never been much of a flyer and Ivan was always happy to point out that fact. He’d known Ivan since they were small boys and had grown up together. Up until the age of sixteen when they each had discovered girls they had been inseparable. Ivan was one of those men who was always out to make the quick buck, having tried every scheme under the sun into getting on the money train. Unfortunately the man had never had any luck and was often short, at least until recently when he and Dmitry had started a business together. Using Dmitry’s computer expertise and Ivan’s fast talking, they were doing really well and it was completely legal, a new detail for Ivan.
While their business had been mostly contained in Russia, with a few odd jobs in the Ukraine and Estonia this was the first time that they had been specifically requested to cross the Atlantic Ocean. While the job was set to be interesting and he could play tourist once the job was completed, Dmitry was seriously second guessing the decision to come now.
He placed his palm on his stomach and prayed he would not embarrass himself by throwing up. They were six hours into their flight, having had to catch a connecting flight in Paris before continuing on to Washington D.C. Only roughly another five hours until they touched down at Dulles International Airport. He hoped they went quickly and that he didn’t have any lasting ill effects since they had an eight am meeting in the morning.
It was a big deal for their business, their first international job. He and Ivan were still in the process of building up their business and reputation meant everything to the type of people Dmitry wanted to attract so he wanted everything to run smoothly tomorrow. He still had no idea how Ivan had managed to sweet-talk the clients into bringing them over from Russia—all expenses paid—when a local company could have done the same work they were asking for. He wasn’t about to argue. The client was looking into expanding their small business and if they played their cards right hopefully they would give them a glowing recommendation that would let them go far in the industry.
Dmitry closed his eyes and tried for sleep. He knew it was a long way coming but he attempted the feat anyway. He didn’t usually like to waste valuable time that he could be working on one of his many trademark firewalls or security programs but the motion of the airplane was not conducive to concentrating and his laptop screen would more than likely make him even sicker.
Four hours and a bit later, he was still wide awake. He had begun reviewing code in his head after he found that sleep was evading him. Making internal notes of what he would need to fix or update when he got a chance. Ones and zeros rotated about in his head. He never knew where the talent for computers came from. His sister, Elena, certainly wasn’t technology-minded. He had just been born with the gift and used it to his advantage, the elite programming just appearing in his head while he slept.
The fasten seat-belt sign came on and he felt the landing gears beneath them extend. He let out a calming breath as the pilot begin the decent toward the ground. Thank God for that. Any longer and they would have had a crazy person on board. Beside him, Ivan sat up in his seat and wiped away the drool that had escaped his mouth as he’d slept. The man could sleep anywhere. He pushed away his envy.
“We there yet?” Ivan asked, sleep still evident in his voice as he spoke. He yawned, and the man’s jaw cracked.
Dmitry shook his head. “Almost.”
“Get any sleep?” Ivan enquired, looking him over with a critical eye. Frowning at what he saw. Dmitry wondered fleetingly what he looked like. It couldn’t have been pretty after the eighteen hours of airsickness he had just suffered through.
“No not yet. I’m too wired at the moment. That and along with this ridiculous airsickness, it didn’t exactly let me rest.”
Ivan nodded, clearly understanding through the haze of sleep. He was beginning to wake up. “Well we’ll be at the hotel soon and you can rest there.”
The thud of the tires against the tarmac had his muscles relaxing. About time. He was about to go stir crazy. He might be a bit claustrophobic. It would certainly explain some things. As soon as the seat-belt sign turned off, Dmitry shot up out of his seat. He collected his carry-on and was halfway down the aisle before Ivan had even stood.
Another forty-five minutes and he was through customs and immigration. Another twenty and he and Ivan were driving out of Budget Car Rentals in a black Ford Focus. Ivan took the wheel and turned on the GPS—because men don’t ask for directions. But it was okay for a computer to tell him where to go. Dmitry refrained from commenting as he listened to the male computerized voice telling Ivan to continue east on I-66 toward the center of D.C and eventually to the Marriot Hotel near Dupont Circle where he and Ivan would be staying. Their route bypassed the White House, and if it hadn’t been so late in the evening he would have asked Ivan to make a detour and drive down Pennsylvania Ave so he could have a look. But instead they continued on, weaving through the late night traffic.
Outside the scenery blurred as they sped on by, the landscape so different from home it was almost alien. Dmitry had lived in Moscow his entire life. He and Elena’s parents were working class who had done everything they could to further their children’s lives and education. Unfortunately for them they had passed away before either of them could see the success their children had become.
Ivan slowed the car as they came up to a fender bender, merging into the lane beside them when it was clear that the motorists required no help from them. Dmitry leant back in his seat. He was in Washington. He had known he would be for the past few weeks but the reality of actually being in the city was only just hitting him. He had always thought he would visit Elena in D.C but that had yet to come true. He took a deep breath letting the polluted smog filled air into his lungs and for the first time was happy about it. He’d had enough of breathing in the regulated stale airplane oxygen.
He thought about what he needed to do and wondered if he would get a chance at some point of his trip to take a look around Washington before he flew back home. Maybe he could tell Elena what she is missing. He already had a list of things he wanted to see such as the Ford Theatre and Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument was also featured. He only hoped that the American’s computer programming did not take up the entire week.
The twenty-six miles to the hotel only took half an hour, but had it been rush hour it would’ve more than likely taken them over fifty and he thought Moscow’s traffic was bad. At least in the morning they only had to go twelve miles east to get to the office of their client.
The Marriot was a large brownstone and the check-in desk was still attended, even at the time of their arrival, the young college aged desk clerk looking bright and chipper for the late hour. He quickly found their reservation and made them out electronic swipe keys. The two double beds however uninviting with their floral designs were the best thing he had seen in a long time.
Dmitry made his way towards the bed furthest from the door and dropped his luggage down between the bed and wall. He opened the nearby window letting in the as-fresh-as-you-could-get-in-the-city air as he looked out at Washington’s nightlife—at the pretty lights and felt no excitement. He was utterly exhausted, the twenty-one hour flight having taken a toll on him. Ivan however frustratingly looked well-rested, his eyes alight with mischief.
“So are you up for hitting the streets of D.C? Doing some partying hopefully also some American woman?”
Dmitry shook his head, “Nyet, I want to be fresh for the morning. You go ahead I’m just going to call Elena before I crash.”
His sister worried a lot about him these days, having lost her husband to a traitor and then a potential lover to his home country. She was always afraid of losing him too. Since their parents had died he and Elena were the only family either one of them had left.
Ivan shrugged. “Okay but you don’t know what you’re missing.”
Dmitry was sure he knew exactly what he was missing. That was another reason he was quite happy to stay at the hotel. He and Ivan’s tastes were entirely different and he for one had never woken up in a foreign jail cell sleeping off the night before, with no recollection as to what he had done that had caused him to be arrested.
“I’m sure I can guess and if not, you’ll certainly tell me. See you in the morning,” he replied, stifling a yawn.
Ivan gave him an exaggerated wink. “All right. I’ll try to keep it down when I get back.”
Ivan turned toward the adjoined bathroom to prepare himself for lady catching. He had an entire routine he completed before heading out on the town, all in a way to maximize his return. Ivan was the type of man to leave broken hearts wherever he went, that or at least a trail of one night stands and names and faces he would never remember. The last long relationship Ivan had, had lasted about two weeks. He certainly wasn’t one in for the long haul.
Dmitry flopped down on his bed and stretched out. He lifted up the hotel’s handset and dialed the international number. Moscow was eight hours ahead of D.C so he should just be catching Elena before she left for work as a liaison officer for SVR—Russia’s alternative to the CIA. She had worked at the Yasenevo office for over five years now and had married her then supervisor Nikolai Nagregor shortly after joining the agency. Their bliss was short lived when two years ago Nikolai had been murdered by close friend and fellow agent Alexei Dimitrovich. For a while he had thought she would get another chance of happiness with CIA agent Lucas Gates who had come to Moscow after a case in the States had involved another SVR agent. But eighteen months on she was still in Moscow and Lucas was in America. He had often tried talking to Elena about Lucas but each time she had shut him down and moved the conversation on, his sister the Queen of Denial.
The phone rang in his ear and kicked over to Elena’s voicemail. He must have just missed her. Her message was short and to the point, “Leave a message.”
Dmitry cleared his throat before speaking after the beep. “Hi Elena, sorry I missed you. Just letting you know I arrived here safety. I’m at the Marriot now and am about to hit the sack, talk to you later.”
He hung up the phone and placed the handset back in its mooring. He would try her again later if he found the time and if he remembered, the important thing was that she knew he was all right. He had already organized a wake-up call with the front desk when they had checked in. He didn’t want to rely on his cell to wake him up. He was well past tired and knew he would more than likely hit the snooze button if it was left up to him. But tomorrow was too important to be late.
He yanked off his shoes and crawled beneath the covers, he didn’t even bother to brush his teeth. It was past midnight and he could feel his eyelids getting heavy. He was asleep within minutes and didn’t even stir when Ivan exited the bathroom and left the room.