My Secret Talent

My hands were sweaty, the friction beginning to loosen between my palms and the metal bannister that separated me from the tall men perched below. I tried to readjust my body by rotating my legs, but my arm muscles staunchly protested, my hands slipping another inch. I held my breath and tried to concentrate on what they were discussing…perhaps I could hold on a moment longer.

“John, when does the shipment arrive?”

“Two am on the dot.” John was a large man, looked to be fifty and was donning a hefty Colombia jacket that he had draped over his shoulders. A large weapon was visible underneath its folds, creating a sickening static bulge that moved with his every turn.

“I’ll be here.” According to his name tag, the man who answered went by Florence. He was much smaller, had a meek face and large nose that appeared to have been broken more than once.

John turned abruptly towards Florence, slamming his body against a row of lockers without notice. The loud noise it produced covered up a squeal that emanated from the palm of my hand as it slipped another inch. If either man cared to look up, they would be shocked to see a woman of thirty, dressed in all black with a shotgun strapped to her back. It wasn’t my gun of choice for this situation, but I had to improvise.

“You won’t only be hereFlorence, but you’re taking the package.”

Me?”

“Did I stutter?”

“No sir…”

“Excellent. And if you do well, consider this an application for promotion.”

Florence smiled a sick smile, hiked up the pants that were too large for his body and followed John into another room, leaving a puddle of mud and slush behind as the only indicator of their existence.

I waited another second and dropped to the ground, arms shaking in relief. The two men answered the question I came to ask, making my job much easier than expected- Florence wouldn’t be the only one here for the package.

I decided to take a small respite across from the lockers, standing out of view from the direction they strode to catch my breath, planning to sneak out the front door. Before I could continue, I heard them walking back towards my stance.

“How am I supposed to trust you if you can’t remember if the door is locked?”

“Better be safe than sorry?” Florence retracted from John as if knowing an arm was going to reach out and smack him. As they approached closer, I was able to see their bodies move towards my hiding place, their figures reflected in a small metal scrap placed just perfectly so.

“You’re lucky your uncle runs operations…” John coughed haggardly as he lit a cigarette and left it dangling in between his fingers as if an extension of his person.

Unfortunately, the front door was left of the lockers. I would have to cross in front of the men if I wanted to leave, and presently stood in a small alcove without anywhere to crouch. There was a small vent, but doubt I had time to pry it open and fit my body inside.

I decided to wait, pulling out my weapon as I watched their silhouettes approach.

Florence seemed to be backtracking a previously made statement and was failing. “But I knew that’s where it was located, I just chose to wait.”

“You have more excuses than I can count. Just stop blabbering, you’re sounding dumber than a bag of rocks.”

I counted a few seconds before they would pass my alcove. There was little chance they wouldn’t see me.

Before I could cock my shot gun, I heard a noise I wasn’t expecting from above.

“Naomi.” A small whisper, but someone was speaking my name. Looking up, I saw June, one of my accomplices, holding a rope down. I buried my confusion and stream of questions for later. Grabbing the rope, I used the side of the small alcove as leverage for my legs, and slowly made my way back where I originally came.

“Did you hear something?” I stopped walking up the wall and both men appeared to halt, listening. The warehouse scene looked as if someone pressed pause, each party waiting for the next to move.

Glancing up, June was motioning me to slowly continue. As I found myself two-thirds of the way up, Florence shouted.

“I knew it! John, there’s someone here!”

Both men pulled out their weapons. June scrambled to pull me faster, all plans of a noiseless rescue long gone. Bullets rang out, the small area amplifying the shots noise three-fold while my ear begged for relief.

As June pulled me up the final leg, I felt a sting shoot up my leg, originating from my left foot.

As I collapsed in the upper rafters, June pulled me up and out of reach from the deadly weapons assault.

“Are you alright?” She sank back, breath rapid as she had my entire weight held between her hands.

“I think I was grazed, but let’s worry about that later.” We both crawled to the opening in the large metal roof, prying it open and creating a great clatter as the metal hinges released the weight of the door. I limped up to the apex of the roof, a helicopter waiting.

June said, “come on, let’s get inside and talk.”

Climbing into the helicopter, it hovered as we discussed plans. “The shipment is coming in at two in the morning tonight but I’m unsure if my presence will force them to change plans.”

“I’ll take care of it, let’s get you seen at the Medic tent first.” June shouted to the pilot to take us to home base, five miles south of the warehouse. We had been positioned there for days, waiting to see about the shipments progress. When none came, I decided to enter the facility myself, hoping to uncover more details.

As we landed and I was taken in to see the doctor on staff, I was briefed and my foot bandaged. I was lucky, it only grazed my heal, I would need only a few weeks recovery.

Unfortunately, I would be unable to finish the mission at hand and was sent home early. I was secretly glad for the early release; I would be able to see my family.

“Mom!” My son Harley ran up to me, embracing me in full as my husband approached.

“Hi, honey, how was your sewing convention? I thought it went through the weekend.”

“It was cut short, one of the other wives got the flu.” I lied under my breath so easily I almost believed it myself.

“What’s wrong with your foot?” He asked as I limped through the front door towards the living room.

“I tripped and cut it on the side of the hotel bed, you know me, so clumsy.”

“You’re always stumbling around when you leave on trips. Good thing your home.” He noted as he kissed me on the cheek. “Carl and I got out to the shooting range yesterday, I won’t bore you with details, but we had a good time, shot off some interesting rounds.”

My exhaustion finally catching up to me, I made an error and slipped. “Shoot any full metal jackets?”

I paused mid motion as I sensed my husband gazing at me curiously, I’d always claimed ignorance when it came to guns. Catching my mistake, I said with a giggle, “I heard that phrase on Law and Order last week.”

He smiled and continued to cut the vegetables for dinner, not another thought about it. I wondered again as I so often did, what would it be like if they really knew my secret talent?

This was in response to Reedsy Prompt #15 found at https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/.

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