Seroje: The Seeing Eye
Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
January 17, 2018
Seroje is a high-functioning autistic with a photographic memory. She has found a niche in mainstream society, hired as an investigator by OSLO, a watchdog company, because of her unique ability to observe, recall and report with a high degree of detail. But OSLO prefers well-balanced employees and, as a loner, she’s become a blip on their radar. So when quiet billionaire Craig Manor asks her out to dinner, she agrees, thinking to please her employers. When Craig becomes her next assignment after a failed attempt on his life, she even begins to enjoy his company. But why is she being followed? Why does she feel everyone is after her--Including OSLO and Craig, the one man she thought she could trust?
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Seroje lifted the gun with both hands and aimed. Her eyes stared downward, jittering across the firing range. The gun was a large nine mm pistol, much larger than she preferred. The gun was a loaner.
“No, you need to aim. Look through the sights of the gun,” the instructor said, using his hand to lift her chin.
There was a single target, a black shadow representing the upper torso of a man in front of her. The target was ten yards away.
“I got it,” she said, wishing the man would step back and stop touching her. She needed to get this over with since she didn’t have much time.
Her eyes dropped again.
“Eyes upward. Trigger finger along side the gun until you are ready to fire,” the instructor said, touching her hand to point out how he wanted her to hold the gun.
“Back away,” Seroje said in a terse voice. “I can’t fire with you right there. You’re right in the path of the shell case ejection.”
“You need to get your form correct,” he said.
“Back away,” Seroje said in a low whisper. Neither of them were wearing hearing protection as the gun had a silencer.
The instructor sighed and took three steps back.
Seroje jittered her eyes, calculating the distance. She raised the gun just a bit and fired twice. The shots hit the target in the heart region. She changed her aim and rapidly fired, alternating between the center of the eyes and the heart until she’d fired the remaining fifteen shots. She knew the gun was empty.
Seroje ejected the gun magazine and cocked the gun, showing there was no other shell loaded as that was the protocol taught by her instructor. She set the gun down on the table.
The instructor remained silent.
“I only needed to fire one full magazine, right?” Seroje said. “To get my quota in for the week for work?”
“Yeah,” the man said in a quiet voice, staring at the target.
Seroje pressed the button and the target came to her. She pulled the paper target off the clips that held it and walked out of the firing range. Her shift at work started in an hour and she didn’t have much time to go home and change.
Seroje sat on a tan sofa in the second-floor lounge of a large hotel in the middle of Annapolis, Maryland. She was wearing a gray skirt and suit jacket with a white blouse. Her laptop was positioned on her lap. Beside her, she had a stack of folders and her phone. She was masquerading as an office worker catching up on work.
There were two wooden end tables at each end of the sofa containing lamps with swirling black designs. Two tan overstuffed chairs, facing each other, squared off the furnishings of the lounge.
Off to her left was a large sweeping staircase that went down to the main lobby. There were large open hallways on her right and left, encircling the entire hotel. Looking down over the railing, one could see the entire lobby from a large section of the hallway.
Voices and laughter from people in the hotel bar and the lobby rose up, reaching her in the lounge. The only conversation she was able to register and understand was the one man with a deep voice who talked non-stop about his dogs. Seroje figured he was in the lobby near the stairs. She found him annoying.
All these details flooded Seroje’s senses. Her hazel eyes, unfocused and jittery, captured every detail around her like a camera filming, no matter how unfocused she kept her eyes. Her ears captured every sound; the two women walking, the man walking behind them, and the people down below. Her nose caught the whiff of someone’s aftershave. The sofa was hard.
The two women power-walked by. As soon as Seroje became aware of them, she realized the second floor was used like a walking track for those in the hotel, especially after dark. She gave no indication that she was aware of them. They were of no concern to her.
Seroje curled some of her shoulder length hair, strawberry blond, over her ear, out of her face. She wanted another soda.
The time was ten forty-five pm.
The man walking down the hall sat in the chair to her right, making a phone call. She guessed he was in his late thirties. He had some gray in his brown hair. His eyes were brown. His dark suit was expensive and well tailored. He seemed toned and fit. His phone call appeared to be a conference call with his people about the customer that was to have met him there and never showed.
Seroje gave no indication that she was aware of him. He also was of no concern to her.
The man talking about his dogs must have walked away. She no longer heard him and now all the conversations in the lobby and bar were nothing but background static, easy for her to tune out.
Two male hotel employees, dressed smartly in their red uniforms, trotted up the stairs with purpose. As soon as they were far enough away from the stairs, they stopped, pulling out cigarettes. Smoking was prohibited in the hotel. They used a soda can for their ashes.
Seroje typed on her laptop, sending an alert to the manager of the hotel. She’d been hired by the hotel in a sting operation to catch employees misbehaving. This was her third night there. She’d been sitting in different lounges, but this one seemed to be the right one since she was seeing the first instances of inappropriate behavior. She typed in her report a description of the employees for the manager’s sake. Her memory photographed them and she’d remember them forever.
The manager of the hotel, Patel, dressed also in a dark well fitting suit, walked up the stairs, looking stern. He slid his phone into a pocket, looking as if he’d just read the alert from her. His dark eyes spied the two employees and he approached them. The two employees flinched, putting out their cigarettes in the soda can, starting with their excuses. Patel hushed them and walked them away toward a back staircase.
They’d be fired, Seroje knew.
The man in the chair ended his call and made another. This call sounded like he was breaking up with a girlfriend.
“Look, I can’t make you happy and you’re not making me happy,” the man said in a quiet voice. He sat very still as he listened on his phone for almost ten minutes. “You’re still not making me happy. I think that’s all we can do. Bye.”
Seroje now knew for a fact that he’d just broken up with a girlfriend.
Another male hotel employee walked through the lounge followed by a maid. The maid looked sheepish, keeping her head down. Seroje remembered having seen the male employee earlier; his name tag read Chris. She didn’t know the maid’s name. Her ears picked up a door closing. Seroje knew the area. The two had gone into a maintenance closet. She sent an alert to Patel.
A woman walked through the lounge hiding a dog in her coat. Pets were not allowed in the hotel. Seroje guessed it was a Bichon Frise by the fur on the woman’s coat. A furry white head poking out of the coat confirmed her suspicions. Seroje was here to spy on employees, not guests. She ignored the woman and the dog. The woman trotted down the steps to the lobby.
Two other male employees appeared, coming from the back staircase. They stopped to look around the area.
Seroje read their lips, despite the fact that they were speaking in Spanish. They were looking for the other two guys to go out back and smoke a joint. She needed names before she could alert Patel.
“Excuse me,” she said. “Could I get another soda?” She held up her empty soda can.
The two employees turned, taking a couple of steps toward her. Now she could read their name tags.
“Of course,” one of the employees said, and they both left, heading down the back staircase.
Seroje sent their names on to Patel with an explanation and added this information into her report. She didn’t add anything about her request for a soda or about her perception that she’d not get one from either of the two.
The man in the chair stared at his phone, looking perturbed. She figured it was due to the customer who’d not appeared rather than the girlfriend, since he had seemed rather relieved during that call to end the relationship. His phone rang and he answered the call.
Patel walked up the stairs, looking peeved as he headed toward the closet. A door