"I can't believe you arrested those two!" We sat on my front porch. Rush slobbered scraps from a pan at Josh's feet.
"You were magnificent!" Josh wrinkled his forehead as he drained his tea.
"They didn't even look at me when I apologized."
"Ricocheting that bench off the guard rail was brilliant!'
"They'll have to get their daughter Cecilia to run their tiende de comestibles now."
"They don’t have a Mexican grocery store."
"And she's pregnant."
"How would you know she's pregnant?"
"If they're not Mexican, what are they then?"
We had finally converged into the same conversation. Josh answered me, "They are known assassins. Mercenaries. It's quite a star in my crown."
"Where'd the gun come from?" I stopped rocking.
"Right here." Josh patted the small of his back.
"You've had a gun on all this time! And you haven't shot yourself?"
"I do not shoot myself." His voice deepened in anger.
"Guns go off around me. It's just a fact." I stood and put my hands on my hips. "Ask anyone. Go down to the Bow and Bullet and ask anyone how Mark got his nickname!"
Josh templed his fingertips and pressed them to his lips. "All right, what is his nickname?"
Josh pressed his fingertips into his eyelids and sighed deeply.
The phone rang.
"I need to answer that." Josh stood up.
"I'll answer my own phone." I pushed him gently back into the rocker and stepped across Rush.
"Miss Olson, this is Special Agent MacGregor from the Bureau. I'd like to thank you for your cooperation today. My men and I were quite impressed."
"Thank you, I mean, you're welcome?"
"You're lucky to be alive, young lady."
"May I speak with Agent Dylan, please." It was not a question.
Josh stood at my side. "Yes, he's here. It's Special Agent MacGregor." I handed him the phone.
"Dylan, sir." He paused, listening, and then remarked, “No sir, my blackberry doesn’t seem to work in this location.” Another pause. “Yes, sir, I realize its range is world-wide.”
I started to walk away. He reached out and caught hold of the fabric of my sleeve. He slowly pulled me back to his side. “Perhaps it has more to do with proximity than location. As in, proximity to a black hole phenomenon.”
I stuck my tongue out and tried to walk away again. He shook his head and mouthed ‘Stay’ at me as he 'Yes-sir'-ed and 'Understandable sir'-ed.
Dylan cleared his voice, "Would you explain the situation to Miss Olson?"
"No, no problems. She's --” he looked deeply into my eyes. "Formidable."
"Thank you, sir."
He hung up. He let go of my sleeve and took a deep breath. "I'll be right back."
He returned carrying a flight bag. "I'll just bunk down on the couch."
"It makes into a bed. My sister has one just like it."
"Agent Josh Dylan, you can not move in with me." I gave him teacher-look number seven, reserved for the most defiant second graders, right before I send them to the office.
"Yes, ma'am, I can."
"You have no right --"
"By the authority of Governor Douglas himself, I am to move in with you, spend every waking moment with you, and guard every breath you take."
"Frank Douglas told you to move in with me?"
Josh nodded, "Yes, ma'am, the Governor of Florida."
"I'll kill him." I jerked the phone off the cradle and punched in eleven numbers.
Josh unfolded the couch and got sheets from my linen closet. "I'd like to advise you, all phone calls are being monitored."
"Pug!" I shouted into the mouthpiece. "Who do you think you are?"
The man on the other end of the phone tried to soothe me, but I was livid.
"I'm never speaking to you again. Not ever. Not ever ever!" I slammed the phone down in frustration and stood fuming.
"You call the Governor 'Pug'?" Josh's voice was humorlessly calm. He leaned nonchalantly against the door frame.
“His name is Francis Ignacio Douglas. In college, he used to eat like a pig. Ignacio became Pignacio, and then Pugnacious, and then just Pug."
"You went to college with the Governor?"
"He wasn't governor then, just a kid, like me."
"How about some coffee?"
"What do you mean my phone is being monitored? You mean tapped?" I followed him into the kitchen.
"All incoming calls will be monitored for your own safety."
"What are they going to do, say 'Boo' and scare me to death?"
"A laser beam can be directed through any optic fiber. Just dial your phone number, and when you answer, press the trigger. I'd like to suggest you route all calls through your answering machine."
"It doesn't work."
"Get it fixed."
"I tried to. Tony of Sylvester's Videos and Electronics said he didn't know the thingy-whatsit could melt. He called to discuss it with his cousin in
, but his cousin
thought Tony was pulling his leg and hasn't spoken to him in a month." Milwaukee
Possum Playing Poker
© Evelyn Rainey
Available for publication.