My heart knocked all the way up to my temples. Spinning around in the office chair, I stared at an impeccably dressed giant of a man in a well-tailored suit, clean shaven, close cropped hair, a military bearing with unblinking blue eyes, in his mid-thirties.
The big guy made a shooing motion toward the mop man. "Go about your business."
"Should I call the police?" Mop man asked.
"No. I will handle this." He leered at me the way a cat sizes up a mouse.
Hailee spoke to me through my earpiece. "Oh, god. Trent and I are collaborating. Give us a minute to come up with something."
I said nothing.
The cleaning crew wasted no time in leaving. After the office door clicked behind them the big guy asked, "Who are you?"
"I have a plan. I'm coming over," Hailee said.
"NO!" I shouted.
The man narrowed his eyes. "No is your name, or no you refuse to tell me your name?"
My revolver was buried in my rear waistband. He'd be on top of me before I could get to it.
"Very well, then. I'm not shy. I'll go first. My name is Alex." He paused. "Now tell me, what is your name? What are you looking for at this desk?"
I remained silent.
Next, Alex did something I've only seen in movies and didn't think was possible in real life. He snaked out a hand and lifted me off the chair by my throat.
The pain was blinding. I clawed at the man's wrist, but it had no effect. I couldn't breathe. Things quickly went black.
A moment later, I lay on the floor, flat on my back, and gasping for air. Alex held my revolver, cell phone, and wallet. He rifled through my wallet. Finding nothing interesting in there, he tossed it back to me. He walked over to a mail chute and dropped my Vaquero into the slot. I heard it clatter as it banged against the side of the drop on its long journey down to the ground floor. He smashed my phone under foot. "What are you doing in this office?"
A violent rattling of the office door caught our attention. I pulled myself into a chair while Alex went to the door and unlocked it.
Moments later, Hailee stormed toward me. Alex followed, ogling her. A boulder dropped into my gut. Why was she being so stupid? This was real life and not a movie. Disarmed, I couldn't protect her. Why? Why? Why? Damn it.
She shook a finger in front of my face. "What the hell is taking you so long? Did you think I'd wait in the car all night for you? I'll bet there never was a birthday present. You're lying to me again. I'm sick and tired of your lies."
She grabbed my hand, pulled me from the chair, and made like she was going to bodily toss me from the premises. "Come on, we're going to be late for our counselling appointment, so quit bullshitting with this man."
Her performance was so good that stunned Alex seemed like he would let us go.
From the shadows came the sound of clapping. Slow applause. Into the light stepped Myna, handgun pointed at my chest. "Hello, Hailee Morgan, American movie star."
I was fuming angry at Hailee and was also terrified for her. I understood what she had tried to do, helping me out of a jam, but this was exactly the nightmare scenario I dreaded. It didn't have to be this way. I could've handled it. She should've stayed in the room.
Alex grabbed Hailee by the arm and pushed her into an adjacent office chair.
Myna approached and regarded us with a bemused expression. In her accented English, she asked, "How do you know about this place?"
YOU ARE READING
The Story of SingTeen Fiction
[2018 Wattys Short List] - Sixteen-year-old Sing strives to do well in school so that he can find a decent job and provide a better life for his crippled mother and younger brother, Jacko. That goal becomes derailed when Sing is falsely accused of a...