OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Shh... - Part 5

Fiction Series: Shh... - Part 5

“Oh, you’re gonna put up a fight, Mahogany?” Marshall asked, tightening his grip around her. I stepped behind the bar.

“Last time someone called Charlie ‘Mahogany,’ she punched them in the face,” I told the bartender.

“Oh,” he said.

“She’s about to fuck him up real bad,” I said, pointing towards the liquor on the far left. “You might wanna move some of that.” He quickly moved the bottles. I looked at my watch.

“I take it you’ve seen this before,” the bartender said.

“Who do you think taught me how to fight?” I asked. “Uh, Charlie? You done playing?”

“Yeah, just about,” she said, strained.

“Okay,” I told the bartender. “I think I know how this is gonna go. Head-butt, thumb lock to break his grip, jab to the solar plexus, upward palm to the nose, breaking it.” Charlie drilled Marshall with a head-butt, quickly broke his thumb, separated from him, then jabbed him in the windpipe, almost entirely at once. He fell to the ground and went fetal.

“Light work,” Charlie said, fixing her pants.

“No jab to the solar plexus?” I asked. “No shot to the face with a barstool so hard that half the thing flies off and takes out some liquor behind the bar?”

“I had PMS when that happened,” she said.

“Oh,” I said. Marshall slowly rose to his feet. I finished my drink as Charlie walked back to her seat. Marshall pulled out a gun. I quickly pulled one of mine and aimed at his center mass. “Down, boy. Remember what happened last time?” I flicked the safety off and pulled the hammer back slowly. Charlie stepped to the side and pulled hers. The bartender crouched behind the bar.

“You bitch,” Marshall said. He raised the gun. I squeezed the trigger, placing a hollow-point directly below his right pectoral. He collapsed, grabbing his chest. Charlie walked over, looking at the mess on the floor. He reached inside his shirt, fumbling around gingerly. The bullet fell out of his shirt and onto the floor.

“How did you know he was wearing a vest?” She asked me.

“I didn’t,” I said. The door opened, and Milo walked in.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” Milo said, looking down.

“Every time I’m here and you’re not, some shit happens,” I said. I clicked the safety back on.

“I have an office,” Milo said. Marshall continued writhing.

“You’re never there,” I said.

“I like the burgers here,” Milo said. He approached Charlie. “I take it you’re the legend?” He asked her.

“I don’t know about a legend, but I am Charlie,” she said. They shook hands. I stepped out from behind the bar.

“Hey,” I said, looking down. “You can go, but your gun is mine now. Unless you’d like another bullet.”

“That’s a Baby Eagle,” Marshall whined. “You know how hard it is to find those?”

“Not really,” I said. “I have four. Now five. Leave.” Marshall groaned.

“They are pretty fun,” Milo said. “From my Mossad days.”

“You want it?” I asked. I put my gun away as Marshall limped out.

“A drug dealer’s illegal handgun with the serial number likely filed off and several likely crimes traceable right back to it… pass,” Milo said.

“Don’t say I never offered you anything,” I said, putting a pair of gloves on to examine the weapon. “Could we get another round? And the usual for him.” The bartender walked off to fill the order as we took our seats at the bar.

“So how can I help you?” Milo asked.

“We reached out to a friend of ours through our typical protocols,” I said. “No response. You remember Nick?”

“I’m guessing you want me to dig a little through my source at the NSA?” Milo asked.

“That would be great,” Charlie said.

“Why not just use your own?” Milo asked me.

“Because it’s best it not come from me,” I said. “Also, out of all the acronyms I work with, they’re my least favorite. Too shifty.”

“Why not just pick an agency and stick with it?” Milo asked.

“You know he withdrew his request to work with this black ops unit?” Charlie asked Milo. They stared me down, annoyed.

“This is a better arrangement for me,” I said.

“Working as a ‘security consultant,’” Milo said. “You have no home. No official affiliation.”

“I make more money doing this,” I said.

“So what, money is everything to you?” Charlie asked.

“You ask me this as someone who’s seen my apartment,” I said. “But no. Money isn’t everything to me. It’s nice, but it’s not what stirs me.”

“We know, violence stirs you,” Milo said.

“Well, that,” I said. “But also good food, great sex, peace, comfort, and freedom.”

“And you think you can’t get those with a title and acronym behind your name,” Milo said. “Sometimes I wonder just how much you’ve grown.” Milo and Charlie nodded in agreement.

“Could we talk about how you’re gonna make sure our friend is alive?” I asked.

Now…

We pass a diner. An SUV pulls out in front of us. The sun intensifies and I reach forward for a pair of shades. “Now, what are we gonna do,” I say, stepping on the gas to try and pass the SUV.

“With no way of identifying who or what is in that car?” Andrea asks.

“Yeah,” I say. “I’m wondering if there’s even the slightest chance in hell that they’re friendlies.” The SUV speeds up, keeping me from passing.

“I know your natural instinct is to shoot everything in that car up,” Andrea says.

“Naturally,” I say. “But I need to know if my channels have been compromised. These people did reach out to me, after all.”

“Look at you being all calculative,” Andrea says. I speed up again, and the SUV follows suit.

“When am I not calculative,” I say. “And what the fuck is this asshole doing?” I point to the vehicle in front of us.

“You can’t go faster?” Andrea asks.

“This is a BMW M3,” I say. “Built for speed. Goes from 0-60 in 4.2-”

“Guns!” Andrea exclaims, pointing ahead. Two shooters, with submachine guns, lean out of each side of the SUV and open fire on us.

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