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"Final Exam" by Michael Mallory

Twist #300 - August 2015

(Page 2 of 3)

Sonia No-Last-Name-Please, the beautiful bronze goddess, who in person was very professionally and conservatively dressed, withdrew another manilla folder from her briefcase. "Before I show you these, Mrs. Cargill, I need to make sure that you fully understand the particulars of our arrangement. The pictures you have seen thus far are damaging, but not legally incriminating. You may decide now that you wish to see no more, and if so, this case will be closed. The entire file will be destroyed, except for one set of photos, which we will retain. But the minute I show you further evidence, all aspects of our agreement, including payment, must be carried out."

"I understand," Margie said. "Let's see them."

"Very well." Sonia unsealed the envelope and slid out the photos, arranging them on the table, and even though Margie had been doing her best to prepare herself, she gave a sharp, involuntary gasp upon seeing them. It was no longer possible to see how beautiful Sonia's body was in this set of photos, since Patrick had wrapped himself so tightly around it.

"I am very sorry," Sonia said, placing a comforting hand on Margie's arm.

"No, it's alright," Margie answered. "I can't honestly say that I'm surprised." In truth, if she had not at least suspected that Patrick would cheat on her at the first opportunity, she would not have spent the money on a professional spouse testing service.

The encounter had taken place during Patrick's last business trip in Seattle, according to Sonia, and Margie had no reason to doubt her. Sonia had been posing as a lawyer in town for a convention and had finally introduced herself to Patrick in the bar of his hotel. As Margie understood the procedure, it was up to Sonia to instigate the encounter and send out unmistakably flirtatious signals. But after that, it was up to the testee to either carry or drop the ball for a score or an incomplete pass.

"If it is any consolation, Mrs. Cargill," Sonia was saying, "I've personally tested over one hundred men during my time with the Agency, and your husband showed more initial reluctance than most."

I'm sure that's a lie, Margie thought, but it's a considerate lie. In spite of everything, she had come to like this woman who, behind the fashion model face and swimsuit-issue figure, seemed like a real, caring person. Scooping up the horrible photos and handing them back to Sonia, she said: "I imagine you need these back?"

"Yes, we keep them on file," Sonia answered. "It's a kind of insurance plan. So, if there are no further questions, Mrs. Cargill, I am going to have to ask you for the payment and then be off. I have a 2:00 appointment."