He choked dramatically on his drink when he opened his eyes mid-sip to find the waitress standing in front of him with a plate of food and a soft smile. As he tried to recover from his surprise and near-death experience in a manly fashion, Laurie put the plate in front of him, expertly unrolled a napkin containing a fork and knife, and stood, waiting for him to get his breath back.
“You finished playing, then?” she asked, a smile in her eyes.
“What? Hm? Oh yeah, yes, done… what?” Mac frowned internally. What was wrong with him?
Laurie nodded in the direction of the plate of food. “That’s on the house. Me da wanted to thank ya, even though he’s still chargin’ ya for bustin’ up his beautiful bar.”
Mac glanced at the food. On a bed of salad was an oblong roll of some sort, like a sausage. The skin of the meat was split on top and each side was tied with twine. The filling looked like ground beef mixed with fried okra and peppercorns. He didn’t have any clue as to what it was supposed to be.
“What is it?” he finally asked, trying to avoid sounding rude or stupid.
The girl grinned excitedly. “Why sir, it’s haggis! Only the most deliciously delectable delicacy this side of the English Channel. Me ma cooks it just like her ma cooked it- all the way back to the eighteenth century. Please,” she added hastily, seeing his uncertainty, “won’t ya try just a bit then?”
MacGyver made the mistake of looking into the girl’s eyes. Oh boy. A guy could really get used to blue eyes like that. Especially on such a pretty face. Gee whiz, she really wanted him to try it. It would mean a lot to her…
“Of course, miss. I’d be honored.”
And with that, MacGyver Phoenix to his first bit of Scotland’s National Dish- a pudding made from sheep’s liver, heart, and lungs mixed with oatmeal and some seasonings, all encased in the sheep’s stomach.
A few seconds later, his face revealed his innermost thoughts.
“Sweet gravy, this is fantastic!”
Laurie’s grin got bigger as the young American tucked into her mother’s haggis with a voracious appetite. As soon as she was sure he was engrossed in his food, the girl slipped off to the shed outside the pub.
The phone her father kept inside the shack was in her hand in seconds, and after three rings, the person on the other line picked up.
“Call number four-nine-sixty-three reporting. Yes, the American is here. No, not really suspicious. He hit poor Hank. Mm-hm. Ya, he’s etin’ it now. Da’ll get ‘im out as soon as the poison takes effect. Alright, call ya later.”
With that, twenty-four-year-old Laura Kerr finished reporting her day’s work to her boss at Agency 202. Whoever that American was, Laura thought, he had about three minutes before losing consciousness and waking up to find himself in her boss’s interrogation room.
The young male spy had been under Agency 202’s observation for the last eight months after he pulled a rather interesting job in Uzbekistan. When it was discovered he was on his way to Scotland to meet up with his partner, Jack James (an Agency 101 operative also under watch), Skellyten had called Laura and given her the task of ensuring that the teammates never met and that at least one of them ended up in an Agency 202 protodermis cell.
Laura glided back into the pub just as the poison began working on the American’s system.
MacGyver Phoenix had polished off the haggis in record time and was just putting the last lettuce leaf into his mouth with a satisfied sigh when he found, to his surprise, that he could no longer breathe.
“Hack-humph,” he coughed, trying to get oxygen past his windpipe. Mac was shocked for only a second. It wasn’t like this was the first attempt ever made on his life. While trying to breathe, he examined the room, looking for anything that might give him a clue as to his attacker. He reached for his gun.
The safety was already off the gun when he caught a smug smile on someone’s face. The waitress? She was standing in a corner, arms crossed, smiling like he was dancing the Hokey Pokey and not about to die from asphyxiation. Mac would have twisted his mouth in a sour expression, but his mouth was otherwise occupied.
It was then that he realized that he wasn’t dead. In fact, breathing was becoming easier, but his vision was getting blurry. Ah, he thought. That’s it. He wasn’t going to die, but he was going to pass out. That was what the girl wanted.
Well, maybe the girl, whoever she was, could do with a little shaking up. With an indiscernible smile, MacGyver settled his rushing nerves, bulged his eyes out, and flopped dramatically onto the floor. Sixty seconds later, the large American was declared by the village gossip (who happened to have stopped by for a spot of tea) to be absolutely dead.
“After all,” she rationalized to her friends later, “he certainly looked horrible as he lay there, all jostling and groaning and grabbing at the air.” And, she added to herself, no one can corpse that well. No one. The woman should know- she was in Agency 202’s employ for the simple reason that she could fake a death better than anyone, and hence knew just how to spot a faker.
Laura, for her part, had watched first in disbelief and then in absolute horror as her plan went horribly wrong. The man couldn’t be dead; she’d been so careful about the amount of powder she put in that haggis. But as the emergency crew pulled the sheet over his head and wheeled him out on a gunnery, Laura realized that she had made the most appalling mistake of her life.
She had killed a man, and a nice one at that. One who’d smiled at her and eaten her mother’s haggis. One who’d been chivalrous enough to take on that ugly Hank Harris for her. Murder had been one thing she and her family had not signed up for when her father told her that the Agency was ready to offer her a position. She was simply to watch the customers at the pub, for heaven’s sake!
Gulping down tears and terrified of what Skellyten and her father would say, not to mention God, Laura put her apron to her face and ran, as fast as she could, away from The Lucky Three Pups Pub.