Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Chuckle - Part 4

Fiction Series: Chuckle - Part 4

"Well, ain't this a bitch," I mutter.

One Week Earlier...

"So, you're sure I can stay at your place, right?" Nick asked. I took another swig of chardonnay from the bottle and set it down on my coffee table.

"Like I said, yes," I said. "Might be your last chance to see this particular apartment, anyway."

"Oh, you're moving?" Nick asked.

"Uh, yeah," I said. "You know how much a two-bedroom apartment costs in my neighborhood?"

"Pockets getting slim?"

"Uh, never. I'm thinking about buying, actually. Maybe a loft or something. Smaller."

"One bedroom?"

"Studio with an alcove, maybe. Getting rid of the furniture too."

"Oh, she picked out-"


"Speak to her since?"


"Speaking of women who left you, have you spoken to Charlie lately?"

"You mean since she stole my girlfriend before this one?" I snarled.

"You're still mad about that? Come on, it's funny."

"You weren't laughing when she did it to you," I chuckled.

"I should have. That young lady wasn't about shit."

"I'll tell you this damn much. That'll be the last time I ever let her meet a woman I'm dating."

"Same, brother. Same."


"Charlie," I say, sitting up and staring directly at her. Out of the corner of my eye, the .40 round I dropped smoothly glides off of the table and clatters onto the floor.

"Devin," she says, giving the appropriate head nod. I abandon the round on the floor and continue loading my magazines. The director continues speaking in the background as Charlie takes a seat across from me.

"Any questions?" The director asks, wrapping up his speech.

"Nope," I say. I slam a magazine into the black H&K loudly while standing.

"Alright then," he says, turning towards the projector. "I'm done. We roll out at 1900." I grab everything I brought off of the table and barrel through the door.

"Um, Devin," Andrea says.

"Hey, we should talk," Charlie says, coming up to me. I look up and say nothing.

"I'll catch you later," Andrea says. I start walking towards the shooting range. Charlie follows.

"Got a weapon?" I ask. I look around the corridor and find an abandoned bin in a chair. I dump everything from my hands into it and grab it.

"No," she says. "I was told that-"

"We'll have to stop by the Armory then," I interrupt. I lead her to the sacred place, walking quickly. I burst through the doorway.

"Back so soon?" The armorer asks.

"She needs something," I say. "I'd wager something nice and light for her purse. Like a Walther PPK." I chuckle and look for more ammunition.

"Actually," Charlie says, "I'm looking more for a .45. Something compact, like the H&K-"

"I have just what you're looking for!" The armorer interrupts, dashing off towards the compact semi-automatic pistols.

"He really likes his job, huh?" Charlie mutters. He quickly returns and hands her a pistol. "This is perfect! Exactly what I was looking for."

"He's got the gift," I say, as he produces a second weapon for Charlie and four more boxes of ammunition for me. We gather our respective hauls and head off to the shooting range.

"So, how's life been?" Charlie asks. She separates everything and begins loading magazines.

"Eh," I say. "The same, mostly."

"I spoke to Nick," she says. "You're gonna do therapy?" I pull targets to set up and lay everything on the counter in front of me.

"I don't know what you're talking about," I say, looking around. Charlie quickly realizes, then bites her lip.

"Yeah, that should heal on its own."

"Smooth, nigga. Real smooth." Charlie and I put on protective gear and prepare our targets. "They're already calibrated," I say as I pull earmuffs on and send the paper target as far back as it can go. I pick up both pistols, disengaging the safety on each with the flick of a thumb. I set the pistol in my right hand down and put my left index finger inside the trigger guard, pulling the hammer back smoothly. I line up the shot in my peripheral as I watch Charlie prepare to shoot. I squeeze the trigger once. The gun fires. Definitely not like my old Walther. Dead center. Walther liked to pull up and to the left a little. Just a little. I squeeze the trigger eleven more times, emptying the pistol quickly. I change magazines and set it down, still smoking a bit.

* * *

"Lo mein?" Charlie asks. "That sounds like a blatant rip-off of what I did at that bar when we snuck out senior year."

"How?!" I exclaim. You left survivors. And. And! You were drinking. I was eating. With chopsticks."

"Yeah, whatever," Charlie says as we walk out to the car. "You still copied me." I roll my eyes hard.

"Anyway," I say, "I'm guessing you're gonna want to stay at my place too, huh."

"Maybe," Charlie says. "I'm traveling on the Queen's dime anyway. Where are we off to?"

"Got a side project you might want in on," I say. We get in and pull the doors closed.

"Oh, really?" Charlie asks. "Can we talk in here?"

"Yeah," I say, pulling the gun out of the back of my pants and stashing it under the seat. "I sweep it every now and then. Some bug killers in here too." I start the car and ease out of the parking space, tugging on one of the concealed devices in the volume knob on the console. Charlie nods approvingly.

"So how's life?" Charlie asks. "For real."

"Ups and downs," I say. "The usual." I shift into drive and we dart from the parking structure quickly, but smoothly. "Life is going how one would expect it when they do contract work for an agency under the CIA's umbrella."

"But wait, you guys do operations in the country, right?"

"Yeah." I speed up.

"Isn't it illegal for the CIA to do stuff within the United States?"

"Because the United States cares so much about not breaking laws?"

"You right. So, about this side project?"

"Oh yeah. We're headed to the meeting site now."

"This isn't some crazy shit like the other time, right?" Charlie pulls down the visor and looks in its mirror.

"Umm, could be. I don't know yet." I speed up some more.

"Look, I know you wanted to get back at me for stealing your ex, but I just paid off my car, and this hair is new." I chuckle and speed up again.


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