Alexander Waverly was a man not to be trifled with; everyone in headquarters knew that except one person.
Her name was Gladys Wentworth; she was a temporary fill in for Lisa Rogers who was off on a well earned long weekend off.
Of anyone who worked at headquarters, it was Lisa who was at the Old Man’s beck and call, and never hesitated to put in late hours if he needed her.
She wasn’t just his assistant, she was a fully trained agent quite capable of operating in the field. In many ways she was like a bodyguard to Waverly, as well as his sometimes confidant.
He’d call her to his conference room to have her just listen, and often she’d anticipate his summons and have a pot of tea and a listening ear ready for him
Waverly referred her his right hand on many’s the occasion.
Now Gladys, like Lisa, had graduated Survival School, but opted to work in the Intelligence Section. Her personnel file indicated she was thorough and well organized. Still her training made her ready should the need arise for her to go out into the field, just like Rogers, protect Mister Waverly if necessary.
Still there was something about the woman that just didn’t seem quite right. Many of the other female employees at headquarters didn’t care for her, then again she tended to make herself scarce.
There were whispers about her being a Jonah, though that was once a nautical reference it was now extended to a person who carried a jinx, one who would bring bad luck to any enterprise.
Why they called her that was odd as few people had contact with her, except for those who worked with her in her Section. They were closed mouth when questioned about Wentworth, though some let it slip that she was highly superstitious...that was about it.
Then again there were those who said odd things about Illya Kuryakin, but it was put off to quirks in his personality.
There were only a few female field operatives with the Command at present; the U.N.C.L.E. was somehow behind the times when it was compared with the opposition’s male to female ratio of agents. So Glady’s training made her an obvious choice to fill Lisa’s job as assistant to the Old Man; he selected her himself and that was final.
No one dared to say anything to him about the woman being a jinx...
It was Friday the 13th when Gladys arrived at Lisa’s desk. Of course it had been cleaned off, leaving little for the woman to do but see to it that people came and went into the conference room in an orderly fashion.
At the moment she had her compact in her hand and was powdering her nose.
“Hello there,” Napoleon Solo.” He smiled at her as he sauntered up to the desk and introduced himself. “I take it you’re Lisa’s replacement for the next few days.”
“That would be me Mister Solo. Is Mister Waverly expecting you?”
“No, not exactly, but I do need to speak to him, Miss Wentworth.” He made sure he knew her name, though he’d never met her before.
“And it’s regarding?”
“Excuse me?” Napoleon wasn’t expecting that sort of question and hesitated answering. “It’s personal.”
“Well you’ll have to make an appointment; Mister Waverly is a very busy man.”
Of course Napoleon found that a bit off putting.
“You do know who you’re speaking to, don’t you?”
“You just introduced yourself, so of course.”
“I mean my position Miss Wentworth.”
“Oh, I know you’re the Chief Enforcement Agent, if that’s what you’re referring to?”
“Yes I’m CEA and the senior operative, and I do need to speak to Mister Waverly. It’s part of my job.”
“And what is this personal business you referred to?”
Napoleon, though maintaining a smile, spoke through gritted teeth. “It’s classified, and well above your paygrade.”
“I think not Mister Solo as I am part of the Intelligence Section and have top security clearance. Now I do have a twelve o’clock opening...wait, Mister Waverly will be having lunch at his club. Oh darn, I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Miss Wentworth, it is my business to know the comings and goings of our boss.”
“I can squeeze you in at 11 a.m.”
Napoleon realized there was no getting around it. “Fine, put me down for 11 a.m.”
“And it’s regarding?”
“It’s class…” He saw her tapping her bright red fingernails on the desktop.
“Would you please stop doing that Miss Wentworth?”
She did so immediately, but gave him a cold stare, somewhat reminiscent of Illya’s blue-eyed gaze, though her eyes were green.
He figured he’d turn on the charm, “Has anyone ever told you that you have the most gorgeous eyes?”
“Not going to work Mister Solo. Now what is your appointment regarding?”
“Fine! I need to discuss the ummm, Recollectors Affair.” In reality he needed to speak to the Old Man about his expense account request. Accounting was rejecting it... again. ”
“Really? Wasn’t that over a year ago Mister Solo?”
She was good. “New information has come to light.”
He leaned on the desk, looking her straight in the eye, unfortunately he brushed against her compact now sitting there on the desktop and knocked it to the floor, and in the process the mirror broke into several pieces.
“Really? That’s surprising as a member of the Intelligence Division, I haven’t heard a word.”
“My information is from a private source.”
“Angelique La Chien? I know about you and she. Really Mister Solo, how can you even look at yourself in the mirror...sleeping with the enemy? By the way, speaking of mirrors, that’s seven years bad luck for you and you owe me a new compact.”
Napoleon took out his hot pink rabbit’s foot from his pocket and dangled it in front of her.
“That’s not going to help you.”
“Miss Wentworth, as far as Miss La Chien is concerned, you’re overstepping. Please keep such comments to yourself.”
“Napoleon are you not done yet?” Illya walked up behind him.
“Get in line if you need to speak to Mister Waverly. We have Atilla the Hun taking Lisa’s place.”
“Napoleon, I would hardly call a lovely woman such an insulting name. Miss Wentworth is quite an intelligent and capable person and she is someone with whom I would not recommend locking horns.”
“So I’ve discovered. I’ll be back at eleven sharp.” Napoleon turned on his heel and walked away, obviously in a snit.
“Miss Wentworth, I am here for my appointment with Mister Waverly.”
“An expense report.”
“Shouldn’t you be speaking with Accounting?”
“I did and I am getting nowhere with them. It is odd that I had a clothing expense rejected, as I rarely put in for them. I wonder if they are getting mine mixed up with my partner’s.”
“That is strange Illya.” She looked at her wristwatch before flicking the intercom switch.
“Mister Waverly sir, Mister Kuryakin is here for his appointment.”
“Very good Miss Wentworth. Could you bring in a pot of tea, make it that lovely Georgian tea would you please?”
“Yes sir,” there was hesitation in her voice as she flicked the intercom switch closed.
“Tea from Georgia? A southern tea?”
“No Miss Wentworth, Georgia as in Soviet Union. I believe Miss Rogers has it labelled as ‘the brooms.’ If you could also bring along with the sugar and cream, a bit of raspberry jam.”
“Jam? Would he want biscuits too?”
Illya gave her a shy smile. “The jam is for me. Russians sweeten their tea with it. By asking for the Georgian tea, it is my presumption that Mister Waverly would like to have a longer discussion with me beyond the expense report topic. By the way, may I have your broken compact? I would like to do something with the mirror.”
“Sure,” she handed it to him as she was just going to toss it in the trash can. Be careful that the bad luck from it doesn’t rub off on you.”
Like Napoleon, Kuryakin held up his hot pink rabbit’s foot.
“Was the Five and Dime running a sale on them? She chuckled.
Illya didn’t quite get her quip and responded ‘no’ in all seriousness.
“And thank you for that information. You can go in now.”
Napoleon went to the Commissary to get himself a cup of coffee but as soon as he walked inside, he slipped and went flying, landing hard on his back.
Someone had spilled coffee and Cookie was just coming over to mop it up.
“Sorry. You okay Napoleon?” He grabbed Solo’s hand, giving him a lift up.
He wasn’t. As Napoleon tried to straighten up, he felt a sharp pain in his upper back, and moaned.
Cookie grabbed a chair for the injured agent to sit down.
“Maybe you should go to Medical and have them check you out?”
“That’s a good idea,” Napoleon slowly rose, leaving as soon as the pneumatic doors opened; he walked into the hallway, hunched over like Quasimodo.
Cookie called after him to tell him the back of his suit jacket had a coffee stain on it, but the doors closed too quickly.
As Napoleon turned the corner he ran smack into a ladder as someone from maintenance had just used it to replace a lighting fixture.
That resulted in a sizeable lump on his forehead, and he wrenched his back further as he recoiled.
“Sorry Mister Solo. You need to be more careful,” the maintenance man said. “Maybe you should go up to Medical and have them check out that lump?”
“Teddy, I’m on my way there now.”
“Well feel better Mister Solo.”
“Where are all the beautiful ladies around here when I need some tender loving care?” Napoleon mumbled to himself.
He finally made it to the Medical Suite and was diagnosed with a sprained back and a good lump on his head.
“Bed rest Mister Solo, and take these muscle relaxers,” Doctor Greene said. “They’ll make you drowsy so don’t drive please. I’ll notify Mister Waverly that you are temporarily out of the field.”
“Peachy.” It suddenly dawned on him that perhaps he was experiencing some bad luck after all because of the broken mirror. He, along with most of the other field agents had their own superstitions and idiosyncrasies, including Illya. They all carried their good luck charms to ward off the negativity of Friday the 13th, but apparently they weren’t working.
It was then his communicator called to him.
“Napoleon are you all right?” It was Illya.
“How did you know?”
“That I fell and sprained my back in the Commissary, thankfully no one was there to see it except Cookie...wait, did he tell you?”
“No one told me anything. It is the mirror Napoleon. I was there when you broke it. We need to unjinx you.”
“Unjinx?How the hell do you do that?”
“I have the broken compact and will come get you.”
“Please tell me it’s not some convoluted superstition about...oh never mind. When are you coming to get me? I’m going home as I have a sprained back.”
“Perhaps you should stay in guest quarters tonight as the solution to your bad luck will require your presence.”
Napoleon huffed. “What exactly will it entail, and please don’t tell me some voodoo priestess?”
“There are two options, first is to take all the pieces of the mirror and grind them down to dust and scatter it in the wind. The second method will require you to take a single piece of the mirror, large enough to reflect but not big or sharp enough to be dangerous to yourself or anything else. You must wait until the next full moon, which, as luck would have it, is occurring tonight. So some of your Solo luck must be intact.”
“And what do I do with said mirror shard?”
“You must use the piece of mirror to reflect the full moon while you gaze into it, as it nullifies the bad luck. You then bury the piece of mirror.”
“That’s it huh?” Napoleon chuckled.” Sorry tovarisch, but it sounds like you made it up.”
Illya’s lower lip protruded as he frowned. “It is old gypsy lore. Now do you want my help or not?” Of course she was lying, but the power of suggestion was a powerful tool.
Napoleon stood, and somehow his knee gave way and he nearly fell had he not not grabbed the bed rail in time.
“So tonight we will go to the roof of headquarters, and perform the ritual,” Illya said.
“All right,” Napoleon shrugged. “Why not?”
At the height of the full moon, Illya helped his partner up the short flight of stairs to the entrance leading to the roof of headquarters. Not many people made a habit of going there except Kuryakin, usually when he needed to clear his mind while having a cigarette.
There was a small bucket filled with dirt along with several dozen cigarette butts sitting beside a milk crate. That was about as much comfort as the Russian would permit himself.
The sky was a little cloudy, and it took a few minutes before the moon finally revealed itself with a bright halo surrounding it.
“That means it’s going to rain, “ Napoleon said.
“It is merely light bending or refracting as it passes through ice crystals from high-level cirrus clouds,” Illya said, hesitating.” And yes I suppose it could mean rain.”
Napoleon smiled, knowing his partner was humoring him.
“Quickly, use the mirror before the clouds cover it again,” Illya said.
Solo caught the reflection of the moon in the mirror shard, and stared into it.
“Okay now what’s next?”
“Here, bury it in this,” Illya held up the bucket.”
“You mean I have to dig in that with my hand?”
“I cannot do it for you, now hurry before the moonlight disappears.”
Napoleon scrunched up his face in disgust as he dug a small hole, placed the piece of mirror in it and quickly covered it up.
“That should do it,” Illya said. “I will dispose of the contents of the bucket in the morning.”
“This better work.”Napoleon looked at his hand, thinking he was going to need a manicure.
The returned downstairs and no sooner did they step into the grey corridors of headquarters, Napoleon found himself inundated by several ladies from the secretarial pool.
“Poor Napoleon, we heard about your accident. Is there anything I can do,”Jessica purred.” A massage maybe?”
“I can help, Glenna offered. “Me too,” Dawn said.”
“Ladies, ladies. Thank you so much,” Napoleon grinned.”I’m staying up in guest quarters tonight. How about you all join me for some late night supper and we can discuss everything in private.”
Illya smiled, standing behind his partner Nothing like the power of suggestion. “I will leave you to your recuperation my friend. Good night. Ladies, be gentle with him.”
Kuryakin headed to the office he shared with Solo and there waiting for him was Gladys Wentworth. She was dressed in a skimpy black negligee, over it a fur coat.
“Why hello Gladys,” he swallowed hard.”I was not expecting company.”
“I just wanted to thank you for the kind things you said about me this afternoon. Everyone thinks I’m a jinx, but I’m not really. I’m just superstitious like most of you agents are. I keep to myself, so a lot of untrue things are said about me. Thanks for seeing past all that.”
“I have experienced such things myself, so I can sympathize with you.”
“Good,” she smiled, while pressing a button on Solo’s desk, locking the office doors.
“That’s an awfully comfortable looking sofa you have there.”
“Why yes it is,” Illya smiled. He took his hot pink rabbit's foot from his pocket and looked at it for a second before tossing it on his desk.
This was definitely not a case of bad luck...