Fiction Series: Shh... - Part 4
“I have no idea,” Andrea says.
“I’m gonna do something I had no intention of doing and care,” I say. “What exactly happened back there?”
“As I’m sure you know,” she says, “I was on a deep cover assignment. That’s a weapons trafficking group you just mowed down back there. Things went awry, I was blindsided and captured.”
“So you were made?” I ask.
“No, I don’t think so,” she says. “I think they just assumed I was a little too nosy. First thing people tend to ask you when they think you’re a fed, is who you work for.”
“There’s standard operating procedure for when you get abducted in the field?” I ask.
“Somewhat,” she says. “From what I’ve heard.”
“I honestly wouldn’t know,” I say.
“Because you kill everybody,” she says. “You are the most violent operative I have ever worked with.”
“I do not kill everybody,” I say. “I do, however, very much believe in the efficacy of an effectively placed hollow-point round. I find it helps people gain perspective.”
Two Weeks Earlier…
“So you haven’t heard a thing from him either?” Charlie asked.
“No,” I said. “But that’s how he’s always operated. Disappears for weeks to months at a time.”
“Yeah,” Charlie said. “But he’s always there when you need him.”
“True,” I said. “So you needed him?”
“Not urgently or anything like that,” Charlie said. “But I did reach out, and I didn’t hear from him. That’s not like him. You don’t think…”
“Nick?” I asked. “Not a chance in hell.” I felt a twisting sensation in my gut. I grabbed my phone and fired off a message. “Nick can finesse himself out of or into anyone and, slash, or, anything.”
“You sounded just like him saying that,” Charlie said, chuckling.
“I should have,” I said. “He’s the one who said that goofy shit.”
“Any idea of what he was working on last?” Charlie asked.
“Some weapons cartel sort of thing,” I said. “I think.” My phone buzzed. I read it and laughed a little.
“Not Nick, right?” Charlie asked.
“Not Nick,” I said. “Someone else.”
“Oh?” Charlie asked. I tossed her the phone. She started reading, and laughed. Then scrolled.
“Oh hey,” I said, taking the phone back. “No scrolling.”
“So, Kenneth?” She said.
“Works for the ATF,” I said. “I like his taste in weaponry. Carries a Glock 22 with extended controls, and a 27 with a nickel-plated slide.”
“I thought you didn’t like Glocks”, Charlie said.
“I… have my preferences,” I said.
“You have better taste in guys than I’d thought,” Charlie said. “I’d give him a shag.”
“Shag?” I asked.
“When I go expat, I go full expat,” she said. “Plus, I can’t shake this damn accent.”
“Okay,” I said. “We should probably go see about Nick.”
“Who are we seeing?” She asked.
“I have a friend who knows someone who knows someone,” I said. “That is, if we go by his place first and that doesn’t check out.” I walked over to the kitchen drawer and pulled out a Glock 23.
“What’s that for?” She asked.
“The guy we might have to meet, works out of this bar, where I kinda had an altercation with this heroin dealer…” I trailed off while loading my brand-new H&K P30.
“What did you start?” Charlie asked, sternly. She tucked the pistol into her waistband and took another magazine.
“I didn’t start anything!” I exclaimed. “He started it. I finished it though.”
“It was bad, wasn’t it?” She asked. I avoided making eye contact, and then grabbed a second gun.
“We should go,” I said. “I think you should take another magazine.”
We approached the bar. In the middle of the day, it was empty, save for a couple of people. “Let me, uh,” I said, walking in first and approaching the large bouncer-like doorman. He held out a portable metal detector.
“Uh, shit,” he said. His arms drooped.
“We gonna go through this again?” I asked.
“I’m going on break,” he said to the bartender. Charlie and I stepped aside as he walked out.
“Your friend just stepped out,” the bartender said. “He should be back soon.”
“Which one?” I asked, jokingly.
“The one whose orbital bone you didn’t fracture,” he said. I raised an index finger to my lips quickly, gesturing for silence. The bartender didn’t oblige. “And the other guy still walks with a limp.” Charlie folded her arms and stared at me, with a look of parental annoyance.
“He started it!” I exclaimed again. “Stop looking at me like that.” Charlie smoothed her hair, tied back into a bushy ponytail. She then gave me a vicious side-eye.
“He did start it,” the bartender said. “Your guy here finished it, though. Could’ve killed him, honestly.”
“Thanks, bigmouth,” I said, walking up to the bar. “Let me get a Laphroaig, neat. Double.”
“Make that two,” Charlie said.
“Whiskey before noon?” The bartender asked. “You guys okay?”
“I was okay until you snitched on me,” I said. I handed the money to him and took the drinks.
“What, no tip?” He asked.
“I got a tip,” I said. “Stop snitching.” He smirked and resumed wiping the bar down.
“You said you changed,” Charlie said. We took a seat at the bar. “I specifically remember hearing the term ‘mellowed out.’”
“I mean, I could’ve shot him,” I said.
“Yeah, you’re never more than three feet away from a handgun at all times,” she said.
“Exactly,” I said. “I’ll be right back. I need to go wash my hands.” I got up and walked towards the bathroom.
“Oh, mahogany,” a voice behind me said. I raised an eyebrow, and then walked into the bathroom without turning around.
I stepped out of the bathroom and stared, tickled. “Wrong friend,” I muttered. The person I didn’t want to see had his arms wrapped around Charlie, in a restraining embrace from behind.
“Aren’t you gonna help your girlfriend?” The bartender asked.
“Oh, this’ll be rich,” I said.
“Uh?” The bartender asked.
“So this is Marshall,” Charlie said, strained. “Marshall has ego issues.”
“You again,” Marshall said. I reach for my gun. Charlie shakes her head. I walked up to the bar and stood next to the bartender. “Your friend Mahogany has no manners.”
“You’re not gonna help your girlfriend?” The bartender asked.
“My friend doesn’t want me to,” I said. “I’d be better off obliging her.”
“You sure she’s not biting off more than she can chew?” The bartender asked, noting Marshall’s six-inch, hundred-pound advantage.”
“Nope,” I said. I took a sip of my drink.