Shawn Douglas woke quietly. He lay on his back, his eyes still closed. Even as a young child, he was able to catch himself in the process of waking up. Instead of jumping out of bed and slamming his alarm clock like most kids, he would use the first few minutes of every morning to think. As a kid, he thought about how to deal with bullies or teachers he didn't like. Now as an old man, he thought more about back pain and the logistics of everyday life in an office. Somewhere along the way, he also learned how to wake up at a specific time. He could time it to the minute.
Shawn was a man of routine. He woke at 4:30 a.m. and was out of bed by 4:45 a.m. His small one-bedroom apartment was as immaculate as his routine. It looked like an Ikea showroom. At 5:00 a.m. he ate a bowl of buttered grits. He then took a three-minute cold shower. Weekday or weekend made no difference to him; he would always dress in a navy suit with a white shirt and black tie.
He made his bed and cleaned his gun, a stubby jet-black .357 Sig Sauer. Then came his cup of Folgers, jet black as well with an extra scoop of coffee bits. Out of habit, he touched a picture frame with an old faded photo of his wife. It was a gentle touch, more of a graze, but he never looked at it. He didn't need to. His hand would grab the keys on the nightstand next to the photo and then he would make his way to his black 1993 Jaguar.
He kept his Jaguar clean, like everything else in his life, taking it through the same car wash every Sunday at 7:00 a.m. The car didn't look a day older than when he had driven it off the lot. He bought one tank of gas on the same day every week (fill it, regular), no matter how much of the tank he had used the week before. The commute to work was just five minutes long and there was never any traffic. This wasn't an accident. He had chosen the apartment to minimize his commute. He parked behind a large unmarked building with dark glass windows all around. He would always park in the furthest parking spot from the entrance, a spot nobody else wanted. He liked to know that his area would always be available, even on busy days like holidays or elections.
Shawn walked slowly and deliberately to the front of the building, no matter if it was showering or scalding hot, and in Washington DC, he experienced both in equal measure.
He worked on the fourth floor of the square glass building. However, inside it was so dim that you might think it was a basement. The office was sterile, like an operating room, filled with cold stainless steel furniture and low-set cubicles. The building's air-conditioning was always set on high, even when it was cold outside.
On his desk was a leather desk pad with a worn-down green velvet surface, a few Bic pens, a lamp, a stack of note-pads (always neatly ordered), a telephone, and a nineteen-inch beige screen connected to an old IBM workstation. He took out his wallet and keys and placed them carefully, but without paying attention, on the desk pad and began work.
Shawn had worked for the Secret Service for most of his life. His career spanned eight presidents, twenty assassination attempts, forty-three terrorist plots and two bullets (one in the left shoulder and one in the right leg). He'd served presidents, presidential wives, presidential children, vice presidents, and occasionally even a few presidential pets.
Shawn was promoted through the years and was now the Senior Director of Transportation, one of the most prestigious desk jobs in the Secret Service. Of course he relied on his team to manage much of the day-to-day activities, but this was a welcome change of pace for a lifetime of service. His team handled the small and mundane events like visiting local schools without his intervention. However, he still personally oversaw high-profile events like inaugurations and international summits.
Shawn's phone rang.
"Hello, this is Shawn Douglas. How can I help you?"
"Mr. Douglas." It was a young lady's voice. "Head Director Stephenson is on the line. I'll put you through now."
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The Term Sheet | Wattys 2016 WinnerMystery / Thriller
2016 WATTY AWARD WINNER - HQ LOVE THE TERM SHEET is a fast-paced technothriller about entrepreneurship, startups, encryption, and the delicate balance between national security and individual privacy. Its complex characters explore thought-provoking...