tab After a few minutes of nervous movement and awkward silence, the door bell rang. I glanced over at Richard, he had stopped his constant moving and motioned for me to get the door. I stood up slowly, I had never been a host, and was terrified that I might do the job poorly. The person was ten minutes early, but I was grateful. There were two people standing on my door post. At first I thought they came together before I noticed that they were standing as far apart from each other and were looking any where but the person next to them. The person who had knocked was a tiny woman, with bright red hair, she smiled brightly at me before stepping through the door. The man was more severe, he had dark jeans, Converse® and a bright t-shirt, but his large bald spot gave his age away as he looked suspiciously at me before following the red head.
tab They all arrived early, it would appear that when everybody you know is gone, there was no reason to be late to anything. I looked around the group, they all had one thing in common, they all supported gloomy looks on worn faces. I appeared to be the youngest, but the ages varied from twenties to mid fifties and sixties. It was 3:10 when we finally got the meeting to order.
tab “Hello, everybody. I would like to thank you all for coming,” Richard said, but was interrupted by the bald spotted man.
tab “Cut to the chase man, we don’t want any of your crap, just tell us what you plan on doing so we can get this over and done with,” he said, and others around him nodded in agreement.
tab “Um, well the thing is we don’t have any idea, that’s why we brought this group together. To discuss some plans that you might have. We have absolutely nothing at this time, but if we brainstorm, something might come up,” Richard said. His words were not received graciously, there was many a grumble among the people there, most coming from the bald spotted man.
tab “I have an idea,” said the oldest woman in the room. Her face was wrinkled to the extent that it was almost nothing else. Everybody stared at her with interest as she told her plan. “We get them at the source, we have an infiltration of some sort. We can have somebody make up an identity, go in and get a job and we’ll have full access to their records and I’m sure something will come up,” she as if this was the most obvious answer and she was shocked that we all hadn’t come up with it sooner. There was a moment of shocked silence before an eruption of sound occurred.
tab “We can’t do that, if somebody gets caught, we all get caught, its suicide!” yelled a man in a bright yellow scarf and red beret throwing his hands up in the air dramatically.
tab “And what are the rest of us going to do when one person just waltzes into the lion’s den?” shouted the woman with red hair. It was mass chaos as everybody shouted over each other, I had no idea seven people could be so loud.
tab “HEY!!” I shouted over everybody, they immediately stopped talking and looked at me, shocked that such volume could come from such a small person, I shared in their surprise.
tab “Arguing is not going to get us any where, so why don’t you all shut up. Now, do any of you guys have a better idea?” I asked. They all looked around and shook their heads, the man in the scarf grumbled loudly to himself and crossed his arms noisily. Apart from him, there was total silence. “Alright, I think we should go with her idea,” I said, pointing at the wrinkled woman. She smiled at me and I couldn’t help but return it.
tab “There’s only one problem,” said a quiet girl in the corner, she had remained silent the entire time, “What happens if the person going in is caught? What if they give us away?” she asked fearfully, the idea truly frightened her more than anything.
tab “We’ll just have to pick somebody who would do anything rather than get captured. But I think we had better send in the just one person at a time. If that person fails, we can send in another person somewhere else until we find what we need,” Richard said. Everybody fell silent, nobody was looking forward to walking into certain death. Myself included.
tab “How bout we pick numbers or something, you know, let chance decide,” said the woman with red hair. Everybody seemed to be fine with that. The man in the scarf grudgingly allowed us to borrow his hat to pile numbers into it. Richard went around the room and stuck the hat into everybody face, allowing them to pick their own fate. The person who got the number one would be the person who would be doing the infiltration and number two would go if number one failed. The room was dead silent as the hat was passed slowly around. When the red barrette came to me, my hand was shaking slightly as I reached to grab a number. When all the numbers were handed out, we opened ours up. I almost fell off my chair in relief. I had number two. It was apparent immediately who had number one, all you had to do was follow the stream of curses to see that the bald spotted man had the unlucky pick. I felt truly sorry for him, but not sorry enough to switch numbers.
tab “Good, so you’ll be first. Meeting adjourned everybody, now if I could get everybody’s numbers so we can call you if we have another meeting…” I stopped listening as he went into the details. I just stared at the number one man. He was visibly sweating and shaking. He looked as he was going to fall apart at that very moment. But all the compassion in the world could not make me switch numbers with him. I could see the other people gazing with pity, but I assumed the same feelings were going through them as well for none of them stood up either. I heard a sudden intake of breath come from the bald spotted man and looked over. He was crying...
tab An hour later the guests were all gone and I was still staring at the paper. Richard walked slowly up to me, and took my hands in his.
tab “Is there another option,” I said, looking and sounding depressed. Richard could think of something, he always did.
tab “No, not this time,” he said, putting my face in his hand, his hand was nice and warm against my skin. He quickly removed his hand and walked to the kitchen to throw the paper away. With that simple touch he had stolen my heart and I was his as long as he wanted me.
tab I’m sorry, but I have failed. I can’t do it. My family’s dead, and my friends with them. It’s suicide no matter how you look at it. There’s nothing I or any one can do for them, do yourselves a favor and stop now, before you all get yourselves killed. It’s not worth it. Good bye, I will see you all soon, hopefully not too soon if you have any brains at all. Bob Finnley
I had never known his name was Bob, but I knew it was him as soon as I had read the first line. Richard had come over and said there was something I had to see, opening his email up on the computer. All I could do was stare. Everything felt like a dream, reality made no sense whatsoever. I knew I was next in line, but I had lost my will, there was no way I could do this.
tab “I can’t. If he can’t do it, I can’t either. I’ll give everything away or something awful…” I said trailing off.
tab “Yes, you can. I know you can. You’re a wonderful person, who is smart and creative and funny. They won’t stand a chance. You can do this. Do it for your family and friends. Remember them? If you succeed you may be able to see them in a month, maybe less. Come on, don’t give up,” he said, bending down to gaze into my eyes. I hated when he cheated like that.
tab “Fine, but I’ll need your help,” I said, smiling at the prospect of Richard walking with me into the police station, doing crazy spy moves. His face dropped as he spoke.
tab “I can’t. I’ve already tried to get information and got caught. They have me on a black list. They would arrest me and you if we go in there together. For your own sake I have to stay away from you, probably should go ahead and leave now. Before I go, here’s a number for a fake I.D. guy I know, you’ll need one and you’ll need to change your look. Get a hair cut and buy some new clothes. I have to go, see you soon,” he said, standing and heading towards the door after he threw a business card on my table. He had walked three steps before I shouted at him to wait. He stopped in his tracks and turned to look at me, confusion in his eyes.
tab “Can I at least say goodbye?” I asked, walking over to him and giving him a big hug. It felt like the last time we were ever going to be together and I was going to make it count. He was hesitant at first before wrapping his arms around me returning my hug. After a few seconds, he let go and kissed my forehead.
tab “See you later,” he whispered before turning to the door. He left without a backwards glance. I went to go sit down on the couch, my heart racing slightly. I picked up the card and went to the phone, telling myself I could do this the whole way there.
tab “I would like some fake papers please. Driver’s license, birth certificate, the works,” I said, praying that this small, square office crammed with filing cabinets was sound proof and that nobody was listening in. I twiddled my thumbs together, more nervous than I had ever been in my life. I glanced up to see the large man in the messy desk in front of me smear bits of the glazed doughnut he was eating on his brown pants. A box of doughnuts lay in front of him. Since the moment I had stepped in, he had eaten three. He gave me a quizzical look before returning to his feast. I was in a crunch for time, the man in black was due to check in on me iin little more than a week and I needed to be far from here by the time he found out I was missing.
tab “When will you need it by?” he asked while stuffing his fat face with another doughnut. I glared out into empty space, angry that there wasn’t another person around who could do this. I didn’t want to be around when he had a heart attack, which looked pretty soon in his case.
tab “A week, if that’s all right,” I said, trying to sound business like. I made a face as he coughed and bits of doughnut flew out.
tab “A week? Are you kidding? These things take months! Deals off, I can’t help you. Now if you excuse me, I have to finish my breakfast,” he said, waving me off with his large arm. I didn’t budge. I did not come all the way here just to watch a fat man eat.
tab “I’m not leaving until you give me what I need. I’ll pay you full in advance, even extra depending on how good it is,” I said. He looked up. The fee for this kind of thing was slightly ridiculous. More than five thousand dollars just to be another person. I wish I was smart enough to do this myself. I had to completely empty my bank account for this. I got a few shady looks from the bank employees, but I hardly look like the kind of person who would be doing anything illegal. Good thing too.
tab “You’ll pay the five thousand up front, eh?” he said, putting the doughnut down and for the first time putting all his attention on business. I knew I was getting somewhere.
tab “Yes, I’ll even throw in a bonus thousand if you can get it done before two on Thursday,” I said. I saw the idea bounce around in his head. I knew my plan was working. Money can do wonders on people.
tab “We have a deal. Do you have the money with you now?” he asked checking under the desk to see if I had a brief case with me. I was not that cool. I had just stuffed all the money in my bag. I started pulling the money out, and then realized what an idiot I was being.
tab “I won’t give you the money until I get my identity. Not a cent until then,” I said, stuffing the money back inside. The man’s face visibly dropped, but he nodded, he was used to that kind of thing.
tab “I’ll have your papers waiting for you by two in a week. I need to take a picture of you first for your driver’s license,” he said pulling a drawer out from his desk. Thank goodness I had gone to the salon before this. My hair was dyed black and cut to my ears. It was a weird feeling; I had never had my hair cut that short before. He told me to sit still and don’t smile as he pulled a camera out. I tried my best not to blink as the flash blinded my eyes. He nodded, returned to his doughnut, not even saying goodbye.
tab Time flew by, it was hard to believe that a week had already passed as I ran down the street with an umbrella, it had refused to stop raining since I got back. I headed back to the small building with its small office. I had been staying in a hotel, and it was very boring, they didn’t even have cable. Richard and I had decided that it was for the best that we did not stay in touch, now that I was a new person, it was better if I severed all acquaintances, for both our sake. Although I knew that this was for the best, I still couldn’t keep from feeling depressed, I missed him ,though we had barely known each other a week. I could relate better with Juliet now than I had ever thought possible.
The doughnut man was waiting for me. However, now his doughnuts were replaced with a foot long sub crammed to the limits with everything imaginable from pickles to chips and at least ten kinds of meat. He nodded at the papers, unable to speak. I spotted a pair of gloves on his desk where the doughnuts had been before. Well, I thought to myself, at least he knows what he’s doing. I picked up the papers, making sure they didn’t have any residue from his lunch. They were in pristine shape. I was going to ask him how he did it, but he interrupted me with a question of his own.
tab “So how did you find out about me anyways? I usually don’t do stuff for kids like you,” he said taking a bite out of his sandwich.
tab “I heard about you from a friend,” I told him as I piled the money on his desk. He nodded, clearly not interested in my life story as he eyed the money on the desk, making sure I hadn’t short changed him.
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