Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Shh... - Part 3

Fiction Series: Shh... - Part 3

“You could say that,” I said. “Serial number and everything.”

“Good to know,” he said.

“So what federal law enforcement agency do you work for?” I asked.

“ATF, actually,” he blurted quietly. “How’d you know?”

“Way too smooth to be local PD or FBI,” I said. “And you’re definitely highly trained as an observer because even the average law enforcement officer isn’t seeing my gun.”

“Oh, I get to see your gun?” He smirked.

“Mmm, yeah, I think that could be arranged.” I finished my drink. We closed our tabs and walked out of the bar. The night air had a slight bite to it, and my body responded with goosebumps. I shivered briefly. “I live about five blocks from here.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said. I raised an eyebrow.

“You know?” I asked. “I never told you where I lived.” We started walking.

“I guess I should admit something here,” he said. “I ran a background check on you.”

“Oh,” I shrugged. “Same.”

“I mean, it’s nothing personal,” he said. “But after dating a married guy, a Republican, and this guy with a fifty shades of grey thing, I thought I really needed to make a change in my process.”

“Ew,” I cringed. “You dated a Republican?”

“Fresh out of the academy,” he said. “I was assigned to a field office in the middle of nowhere. He was cute.”

“I’d never,” I said. “My blackness prohibits it.”

“Good thing I’m not one of those.” He draped his arm around my shoulder. “I mean, a Republican.”

Kenneth sat on my sofa, wearing just a towel. His service weapon was on the counter. I meddled in the freezer, looking for ice. “Again, I’m so sorry about your clothes,” I said.

“Really, it’s cool,” he said. “Though if you wanted to get me naked, you could’ve just asked.” I chuckled. The washer hummed in the background.

“I just knew that bottle was closed,” I said.

“I’m actually really devastated about the whiskey,” he said. We both took a moment of silence.

“I have another bottle, if it helps,” I said. “Though this time of night, I’d think tea is in order.”

“I feel the same,” he said. “But I find myself wondering just how often I get the chance to drink expensive whiskey.”

“It’s not going anywhere,” I said, closing the freezer and filling the kettle. “I have like three or four other bottles.”

“This is valuable information,” he said.

“I’d agree,” I said, turning the stove on and picking up his weapon.

“So, Glock 22,” I said. Kenneth nodded. “I see you have an extended slide and magazine release. Nice.”

“Yup,” he said. “That’s my baby.” I unloaded it and took a closer look.

“You should clean your baby a little more often,” I said, peering down the empty barrel. He nodded again and reached for mine on the coffee table.

“Colt Defender,” he said, unloading it. “A petite, .45 caliber machine. Custom ambidextrous controls. Pretty piece of hardware.”

“I do prefer to shoot left-handed,” I said. I squinted. “Wait. Did you just call me a bitch?”

“Not at all,” he said, looking down the sights. “It’s a lovely gun. Reminds me of my last girlfriend, actually.”

“Oh really?” I asked. The kettle began to whistle. I turned it off and grabbed two mugs.

“Yep,” he said. “Small, attractive, lots of bite. The only woman who made me regret not liking women.”


I’m still speeding. I decide to ease off the gas so we’re only going about 15 over the speed limit instead of 40. “I mean, I get that I put you through a lot, and I was wrong for that,” Andrea says.

“Okay,” I say. I grip the steering wheel harder.

“I mean, I should’ve just come out and said it,” Andrea says. “I didn’t want to date a guy who’s bisexual.” I stare at her for a moment.

“You fuckin’ think?” I ask sarcastically. “I would’ve preferred you just do that instead of the shit you pulled.”

“Yeah,” she says. “I felt awful about it.”

“If you felt so awful about ghosting on me, you shouldn’t have done it,” I say.

“I wanted to say something, but then I found out that you pulled your application and then I just couldn’t…”

“Wait. You really thought I’d pull out of a job I wanted over you?” I start paying closer attention to the road.

“I didn’t know what to think,” she says. “I figured that was it.” I roll my eyes.

“Well, no,” I say. “There were other reasons, and I don’t care to go into them.”

“Is it about your friend?” She asks. “Have you heard anything?”

“You know something?” I ask rhetorically. “Even when we dated, listening was never quite your strong suit.” I pinch the bridge of my nose.

“I’m an intelligence operative,” she says. “I have a thing for information.”

“I have a thing for information too,” I say. “I also have a thing for minding my own business.”

“But you’re not an intelligence operative,” she says. “You could’ve been, but you decided not to.”

“Because not making a full-time thing of it was to my benefit,” I say, looking in my rearview mirror. I see a red sedan.

“Oh,” she says. “So you’re still a contractor.”

“Among other things. We’re not far from your extraction point, by the way.”

“Extraction point?” Andrea looks confused.

“Your benefactor told me you’d know about it.”

“I… don’t know about that.” I feel a pulling sensation in my stomach. That ain’t good.

“You never had an extraction point set for this assignment?” I look in the mirror again.

“No, I needed to contact my handler to arrange for that.” The sensation gets worse.

“Was your handler a chick, about 5’5”, 115 pounds, early thirties?”

“Dude, 5’10”, 175 pounds, late thirties. You really haven’t been on your game lately, huh.” Shit. I pull one of the pistols out of my waistband and set it in my lap.

“No chance they’d change your handler on you, huh?” I ask.

“During an assignment of this nature? Not a chance,” Andrea says. “I seriously think they’d pull this guy out of the grave just to see it through if they had to. I think you’ve been had.” She looks in the rearview mirror and sets her pistol in her lap too.

“Andrea,” I say crisply. “What fresh hell have you gotten me into?”



Strange Love

Strange Love