Secret Agent Paniel Diper: Chapter 1 - The Cafe
Paniel entered the cafe, causing female heads to turn in his direction because of his good-looking face. He walked deliberately, like a panther. As he approached the counter, he took his vape from his pocket and inhaled gorgeously.
‘Flat white, please,’ he said in a deep voice with a hint of vulnerability because of a past trauma.
‘Coming right up,’ said the barista, turning away.
‘Wait,’ said Paniel. ‘What’s the Wi-Fi code here?’
‘It’s espresso,’ she replied. Paniel leaned forward onto the counter. ‘All lowercase?’ he whispered. The barista was visibly aroused.
‘Yes,’ she said, audibly aroused.
‘Thanks,’ said Paniel, blowing vape smoke into her face and arousing her even more (visibly and audibly).
Paniel took a seat by the window and skilfully opened the lid of his Macintosh Air. With a few deft swipes on the trackpad, he skilfully opened a tab in the web browser. He checked his email. Nothing. Then LinkedIn. Nothing. Paniel sighed. It was Sally’s job to find work for him, yet he hadn’t heard from the damned bitch in months. The last secret agent job she’d got him was back in 2015. Since then it had all been social media work. He’d told her several times; he was a secret agent, he didn’t want to write tweets for Absolut Vodka. And every time, she would say, Paniel, babes, I hear what you’re saying, but there just isn’t a lot of secret agent stuff out there. Social media, however… Look, the Absolut guys are great. And they really want you to have fun with it, they’ve even said you’re allowed to be a little bit edgy with the tweets.
Damned bitch, thought Paniel, as he logged into TweetDeck.
Then, suddenly, like the hard full stop of a bullet firing directly into his train of thought, Paniel’s phone rang. It was Sally. He swiped to answer, skilfully.
‘Sally, you damned bitch.’
‘Paniel, babes! How you doing!?’
‘Well, if I have to write one more tweet—’
‘Babes, I’ve told you, the Absolut guys are loving your work. Although they have asked if you could be a teeeny bit less edgy with the tweets. Content-wise they’re after fun and irreverent but not too fun and irreverent if you know what I mean? Anyway, babes, good news. I’ve got another job for you, and I think you’re going to like it.’
‘Really?’ said Paniel. ‘Who for?’
‘I’m not doing tweets for MI6.’
‘No, babes, not tweets. Secret agent stuff.’ Paniel’s eyes widened. ‘Go on,’ he said.
‘One of their agents has gone missing in America. Fran Sansisco or somewhere. They need a freelancer to start investigating straight away. It’s a decent day rate and, as it’s abroad, you’d be working remotely which I know you prefer. What do you think, babes?’
Paniel closed his Macintosh Air. ‘I’m in.’
‘Great, babes! They want to brief you over Skype in one hour, can you pop yourself somewhere quiet with good internet?’
‘There’s a meeting room at my co-working space,’ said Paniel. ‘I’ll head there now.’
As he left the cafe, a voice called after him.
‘But sir, what about your flat white!?’
Paniel glanced back at his untouched coffee, then at the barista.
‘Let’s just say… it was rather hot,’ he said, raising an eyebrow and placing a lot of emphasis on the word ‘hot’.
‘Oh, sorry to hear that,’ she said. ‘Although it’s probably cooled down now—’
He was already in an Uber.