Duncan MacLeod spilt his popcorn.
Kiem Sun was watching on a plasma screen, strategically placed between two aquarium windows. The browsing sharks were uninterested in the movie, but the girl in Kiem's lap was, and she wailed piteously when he tipped her off and fast forwarded to the credits. It was unfortunate for Lee Chin that he'd only downloaded the movie, not the cast list, onto the DVD. Now that did have the browsing sharks interested.
So did Joe. Duncan stood, heedless of the murmers behind him.
Cassandra's watcher only noticed her subject's unusual posture when the film ended. The Immortal sat frozen in her seat, watching the credits with unblinking eyes. She was there long after the theatre had emptied, and Mercedes had to duck down behind the rows of chairs to avoid being seen. She crept nearer, mindful of the occasional spills of salsa and chorizo grease. Nearing her Immortal (a miraculous opportunity, she'd never been so close) she was surprised to hear an unpleasant grating noise.
Three rows away, pressed close to the seat back, Mercedes realised that the noise she heard was Cassandra grinding her teeth.
Four hours later she was above the Atlantic.
Duncan looked at Joe: Joe looked at Duncan. Duncan sat down. His mouth was still open.
It was shown on a white sheet hung on the schoolroom, and the print was a copy of a copy someone's second cousin's niece by marriage had sent from Taiwan. Nevertheless, Huynh didn't believe that the quality was that poor, certainly not bad enough to justify the shouts, in unison, of the three ex-Vietcong servicemen who always hunted together. He'd always worried about their presence in the village: he worried even more when they held a sword to his throat and made him replay the reels into the night.
"Have you got a pen?" Duncan hissed loudly.
There were aggrieved rustlings behind him.
"No" Joe said. He fished in his pocket, knowing already that all he would find would be a ticket stub and a ringpull.
It was suffocatingly hot in the little art deco theatre off the marketplace. The room was crowded, but even the small boys sitting on the floor in front of the screen were silent and enthralled, eyes flicking with the action. Everyone was shocked, then, when Madame Ysabet started screaming. She was a big woman, majestic in the batik pants she sold through the week, and her voice carried through the room like the crackled loudspeaker of the new mosque. Beno, next to her, fanned her face with a copy of the Daily Nation, a practice that necessitated pressing himself against the generous yielding curves of delicious flesh.
He was most surprised when her eyes flashed open and she pressed a knife to his throat.
"Get one," said MacLeod. His eyes were fixed on the screen, but Joe had never heard that particular tone in his Immortal's voice before. He went.
Amanda saw the film in the little cinema in Montparnasse, the one where they showed half hour porn shorts during the day. She felt pleasantly daring, slumming it, with Nick by her side and a glass of good red wine in her hand. She'd say this for the French, at least they understood the pleasures of cinema going, no health and safety executive to decree plastic glasses and root beer.
She was less grateful forty minutes later, mopping the wine from the serge skirt of the French matron who had sat next to her and fending off the short, sharp teeth of Madame's Pekinese. Worse, they could not but sit there, damp and embarrassed, until the credits came up.
Renn was enthralled when his immortal had suddenly upsticked from the small Somerset cottage he'd lived in for three decades and moved to New York. Evidentially, the man felt that three unaging decades were enough and Renn, fresh out of Watcher college and on his first, undemanding assignment, was so excited he could burst. He discovered, however, that that he disliked the subway and found the dating rules incomprehensible, missed his garden and the cat next door that had always greeted him at the front gate. He was less than pleased when his Immortal stalked out of the multiplex (Renn had just opened his second Hershey bar) and went straight to the airport.
Joe brought two napkins from the hot dog man and two pens charmed out of the woman at the ticket booth who had a soft spot for Duncan MacLeod and knew that where Duncan went, Joe followed. He took the second half of the credit list and Duncan the first, both of them writing furiously in the half dark.
Michael O'Mara was astonished. It was an unusual feeling for him. He prided himself on his hard-won acumen, his inside knowledge of the Business. Tickets to the Vanity Fair post-Oscar party? Ask Michael. A word in Lucas' ear? He could do it. But he had never expected such a response to his most recent signing's first film. The man had a bit part. OK, a named bit part, but the phones were ringing off the hooks for the loose-limbed untidy actor who'd ambled in off the street and charmed him into a contract. He frowned, though, as he put the phone down on yet another inquiry, for even to his jaded ear some of the calls seemed remarkably odd. He began to think, generously, of arranging security for his new investment, who'd insisted that his address be freely available, but then the courier arrived with a pre-press edition of the National Enquirer and he put it to the back of his mind.
"Peter Wingfield," Duncan said. His hand, with its broad fingertips and olive skin, tapped on the list. "It's him."
"He'll have an agent," Joe said, but Duncan was already picking up the telephone.
Texting Watcher friends, Mercedes was surprised to find that many of them would be in New York on the same night as herself. She'd already booked into the Sheraton, courtesy of standing three paces behind Cassandra in the queue for the turista información, and was correspondingly miffed when her immortal did not even leave JFK but booked a flight to the city of angels right there and then. She was even more surprised when she found two of the people she'd meant to dine with on the same flight.
By the time Joe made it to Regional HQ after driving Duncan to the airport, he was already too late. Red lights flashed on the ceiling high maps, telexes buzzed, phones went, faxes spewed paper, and the air was thick with the smell of black coffee and testosterone. Mac was in the air, his cellphone necessarily switched off.
Sandy was having absolutely the worst day of his life. The first sword that went through the X-Ray scanner, he'd been happy to check the paperwork and confirm permissions. He was startled by the second and suspicious by the third, and by the fifth Security was already reporting two separate incidents in the lounges downstairs. He swallowed an Advil and called on the next blade, only to find himself facing a pair of eyes that reminded him forcibly of the praying mantis he glimpsed last night on one of the nature programmes Joan loved to watch. By the twelfth, he was sitting back in his seat looking at the loose coping by the light that always flickered when it rained. His wife had always said he went conveniently blind the moment he walked into the house and saw something that needed doing: right now he was happy to agree.
31,000 feet above Ohio, Duncan MacLeod wondered if Methos still fled into the bathroom half asleep, still wandered out to make morning coffee with his toothbrush tucked half forgotten into the corner of his mouth or behind his ear. He'd never met anyone who faked somnambulance like the old man, for Duncan knew perfectly well that the lightest of caresses across the smooth skin of his hips or the small puckered nipples would have the old man wide awake and demanding within seconds. He smiled, remembering, and then gritted his teeth: by all the Gods, he'd do it right this time.
Sofitel Hotel, Beverly Hills
Methos sat comfortably in the bath tub. It was a large bathtub, as bathtubs go, but then it was a wildly expensive bathtub in a wildly expensive hotel. Its taps were gold, and its trim purple: it had little shelves that came in very handy for soap, oils, beer and knives. The world's oldest living Immortal was smiling to himself, whistling between his teeth, listening to the answerphone in the master bedroom click on and off between messages.
He was cleaning his sword.
Postcards has been translated into Russian by Weiss - you'll find it
Please consider feedback to the translator.