OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Shh... - Series Finale

Fiction Series: Shh... - Series Finale

“Hey buddy?” I ask rhetorically. I scowl and pull the trigger. The bullet ricochets off of the hood and digs into the bottom of the windshield.

“It’s a rental!” He exclaims. I lower the pistol.

“You can’t answer the fuckin’ bat-phone?” I shout. “You know Charlie was looking for you?”

“I had it in rice,” he says.

“Rice,” I scoff. Andrea lowers her gun. I gesture between her and Nick. “Andrea, Nick. Nick, Andrea.”

“Milady,” Nick says, bowing. Andrea chuckles. “It’s good to see you all.”

“I’d agree,” I say. “I have a couple of bruised ribs that won’t, though. Oh, and Ricky’s car.”

“That car’s Ricky’s?” Nick gasps.

“Yep,” I say. “Somebody’s gonna have to explain to her what happened. Won’t be me.”

“Then who?!” Nick exclaims.

“One of you can decide,” I say, pointing back and forth before my index finger rests in Nick’s direction. “And you need to wire me the rest of my money.”

“I’ll get right on it, chief,” Nick says, mockingly. “So what the fuck happened here?”

“What the fuck is happening everywhere, would be a better question,” I say. “What is going on?” We step away from the vehicles and the mess, standing in a circle.

“Well, uh,” Nick begins. “Wait. Can we talk shop with her?” Andrea squints.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She asks.

“She’s good,” I interrupt.

“But what’s that supposed to mean?” She asks again.

“I mean, I know of you, and I know about where you work,” Nick says, gesticulating. “But I don’t know you personally like that.” Andrea frowns.

“He means your office is a fuckin’ sieve,” I say.

“That happened one time,” she says. “Once.”

“Per fiscal quarter,” I say. “That place is a counter Intel agent’s worst nightmare. Just another reason why I passed on that job.”

“Ugh,” she says.

“Wait, you passed on a job?” Nick asks.

“Focus. Tell the story,” I say, folding my arms.

“We’re gonna talk about that later,” Nick says. I roll my eyes. “Fine. Fine. I’m deep in this weapons trafficking thing. Your lady and I, we’re investigating rival organizations.”

“Not my lady, but okay,” I say.

“Anyway,” Nick says, “it’s an arms race going on between the two. That warehouse you went to, I was tasked to clear the area for processing.”

“And by that, you mean kill everyone inside and steal their shit,” Andrea says.

“Well, yeah,” Nick says. “I was gonna have my guys do it, but I heard they had a hostage. Did a little digging and found out it was you.”

“At which point you decided to have someone contact me, make me fly all the way out to this fuckhole, and extract her,” I say. “Without thinking of letting me know that you were behind any of this.”

“Players fuck up,” Nick says. I scoff.

“Players?” I ask. “Could you be a little bit whiter next time? It’s ‘playas.’ Playas. We’ve been through this.”

Two Weeks Earlier…

 “Good grief,” I said, walking out of the kitchen. I turned the fan on in the living room and stood directly in front of it.

“You’re all sweaty,” Charlie said. I gulped down the glass of water on the coffee table.

“That was intense,” I said. “I never move that quickly.”

“So, you’ve cooked for him before?”

“Nope. This would be the first time.”

“I’m surprised. You usually break out the food when you’re trying to put someone in your bag.”

“I was undecided.” I pour another glass of water.

“What, he’s mean or something?”

“No, nothing like that. But, I mean, he’s got a decent job, works for the ATF, got a couple years on there. From what I’ve seen, he’s clean.”

“You think you’re gonna break him?”

“Exactly. Like Kelsey.”

“Yikes.”

“Yeah.”

“You usually don’t mix that well with folks on his side of the law, anyway. Like Rachel.”

“You mean, the ex of mine that you stole?” I stared as Charlie quickly looked away.

“Umm,” Charlie said. I finished my water and stared some more. “I love the paint colors you’ve done in here. So nice and bright.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “I painted not too long ago. So how is Rachel?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t know,” Charlie, said. “Went back to dick.”

“Welp!” I said. “You miss her?”

“Hell no,” Charlie said. “I do miss that espresso machine she had, though.”

“That was a very nice machine,” I said.

“So, on a more serious note,” Charlie said. “I was wondering how you’re really doing.”

“We talked about this,” I said. “I’m fine. The worst six weeks of my life have passed, and I am completely around the corner.”

“This isn’t the first time you’ve turned a corner,” Charlie said. She started pacing a bit. “Turn the corner enough times and you’re right back where you started.”

“I know. Let’s just… move forward, okay?”

“Does your new guy have any idea about…?” I interrupted Charlie by shaking my head slowly. The doorbell rang. I wiped my forehead dry and uncovered the peephole. It was Kenneth. I opened the door.

“You’re all sweaty,” he said almost immediately. I frowned.

“Your observation skills are impressive,” I replied sarcastically as he stepped inside. “Oh, this is Charlie.”

“Um, hey,” he said, seeming a little jarred.

 “Oh, when the acne hit,” Charlie, said. “I could not.”

“Hey, I thought we were going to shut the fuck up on that one,” I said. I downed my glass of red and poured another, generously.

“Puberty happened to us all,” Kenneth chuckled.

“It was more than puberty to me,” I said. “My forehead looked like someone was practicing Morse code in turbulence.” Charlie refilled her glass.

“I think we’re going to need another bottle,” she said.

“I’ll get it,” I said, getting up. “Fries should be done by now anyways.”

“So, steak frites with homemade fries,” Charlie said. “I love a nice bone-in strip steak.”

“How much did you help him?” Kenneth asked.

“I peeled the potatoes,” Charlie said.

“Bitch, I told you I cook,” I said, laughing and turning the stove off.

“Well, seeing is believing,” Kenneth, said, standing up from the sofa. Charlie, sitting in the chair cater-corner to the sofa, took a moment to check him out, then nodded. I observed with a straight face.

“Dinner is ready,” I said.

Now…

 “This is a hot fuckin’ mess,” I say.

“Tell me about it,” Nick says.

“So, question,” Andrea, says. “Those guys in the truck.”

“Looks like you had stragglers,” Nick says. “They’re not with me.”

“I’m at the point where I’m ready to tap out,” I say.

“But we’re not done sorting this out,” Andrea says.

“Oh, I’m about done,” I say. “I’m texting Ricky for a ride to the airport. My part of this job is complete. Hostiles neutralized, allegedly kind soul recovered and transported to what I will assume is the extraction point you were talking about.”

“Wait, Ricky’s picking you up?” Nick asks. “Oh shit, let me get going.”

“I don’t think so,” I say. “You’re not going anywhere.”

“But Ricky and I,” Nick stammers, “there was this thing and-”

“Not my problem,” I say. “I need her to fly me to the airport. Y’all need to figure out how to explain what happened to this car. She wants a picture of it before she comes to get me.”

“Why?” Andrea asks.

“There was this thing with a speedboat,” I say, staring Nick down.

“Yeah,” Nick says. “That’s why I should get going-“

“I absolutely will shoot your car up,” I say, drawing my pistol. I send the picture to Ricky.

“I think you can buff some of those out,” Nick says, looking at what’s left of the borrowed vehicle. The phone rings.

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