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The Coffee Shop

The full moon reflects in every puddle that splashes around my ankles as I stride into the twenty-four hour coffee shop, my angular face hardened into an unreadable grimace. “Irene,” the young man behind the counter greets me. “Your order’s on the counter.”

“Thanks, Al.” I dip my head in a slight nod of respect and snatch my coffee from the glass countertop, dropping into the swivel chair and spinning to face the small, round table. As I sip my coffee, a crooked half-smile creeps up my face. I’m a regular here.

My name’s Irene Wilkinson, but most people don’t know that. It’s only because I’ve paid here with a debit card that the kids working at the coffee shop over their Christmas break know my name. For a little piece of plastic, a credit card sure is a dangerous thing.

Behind me, Al lets out a hollow yawn. I glance at my watch: two o’clock in the morning, the American equivalent of the middle of the night. I chuckle to myself. People sure are vague here. Of course, it’s not two A.M. where I come from; a miniscule island in the Mediterranean Sea with no name that I’ve ever heard. People here think I’m nocturnal, but although it’s been a year, I’ve never taken the liberty to adjust to the time change. I figure that someday I’ll be going home; probably in a casket, but home nonetheless, and I’ll be glad I never lived on California time. Besides, although most of my colleagues are asleep, my enemies are wide awake.
I pull my black sweater tighter over my hands as the wind howls outside, tossing snow in ever possible direction. My light hair is limp in my face, and I blow it out of my line of vision. “How’s the case?” Al asks between strokes of a wet dish rag sliding across the counter.
“Dead halt,” I reply quietly, conciously avoiding discussion of the very reason I’m here, not back on my safe little island and the isolation that came with it. I was summoned here by a secret government agency to sniff out a couple of bombs that evidence points to being somewhere in Los Angeles: my least favorite place in the world. I almost told them, Just let them explode and then we’ll know exactly where they are, before recieving a stern lecture from the segment of my morality that still exists. I worked with a collection of agents with silly code names that had no purpose, like ‘Firebreather’ and ‘Pepperoni Pizza,’ before striking out on my own. Spies don’t need cover names or fancy gadgets to solve a crime, in my opinion. All they need is a lead and an intellect.
“Okay.” Al amends his statement. “How’s the famliy?”
“Dead,” tell him bluntly. It isn’t exactly true, but my family followed my devotedly all the way to L.A. and sending them to my mother-in-law’s house in Colorado rocks me with guilt. But I couldn’t have them as deep in such a dangerous case as I had gotten myself. Al goes dead silent, and I’m glad he doesn’t express sympathy for my candid fabrication.
I toss my coffee cup into the trash can. “Thanks,” I mutter, slinging my knapsack over my shoulder. My blue eyes reflect in the lights that hang from the ceiling over each table. I shove my chair back under the table and stalk out the door, listening for the clear ring of the bell as the door closes behind me.
Once back in the frigid, biting winds that are whistling through every open window on a night like this, I reflect on my other little white lie. I know exactly who is about to place a bomb where, and when it is timed to go off, but I had set that aside for tomorrow night’s work. It is a detective’s nature to live in other peoples’ business, and a detective’s instinct to procrastinate their own business. I shiver and turn down a slim alleyway, hoping to escape the flurries of snow that are spiraling onto the sidewalks. It is the biggest mistake of my life.
The hand comes out of nowhere, pinning me against a red brick wall. I taste the salty, familiar tang of my own blood, trickling from my nose. The man is nothing but a stocky silhouette and a pair of menacing eyes. His fleshy face is scunched up in fury, and his nostrils flare in the numbing cold.
“You’ll die here, Ivy Wilkinson,” he snarls, and I choke out an ironic laugh.
“No,” I say hoarsely. “I’m going home.” I reach slowly for the handgun in my pocket, and point it up at his chest. “This is your home.” He is partially unsure of what I’m saying, with my occaisional cough of blood and my thick accent. “So you wouldn’t understand.”
“Any last words, Wilkinson?” he asks me and tightens the pressure on my throat.
“Yes,” I mutter. “My name is Irene.” And I pull the trigger.



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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

holly1999 said...
today at 6:12 pm:
Wow, I really liked this. The description you used was amazing, and I loved the ending. Great story and I'd love to read more! :)
 
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ZozeyThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 18 at 5:05 pm:
Wow I really liked this! I really really want to know who and why that guy was attacking her. Anyway I loved how I could really get into it!
 
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TheSkyOwesMeRainThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 9 at 6:53 pm:
Wonderful! I love the ending! :)
 
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guardianofthestarsThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm:
That was good!! I could really get into this story and wanted to read more.  And then when that 'bad guy' popped up I held my breath until the end!
 
AthenaMarisaDeterminedbyFateThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Dec. 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm :
Thanks. I wanted to make her solve the case during the story, but I decided that I should try to make my writing more concise, which was why I wrote this as a short story.      :D
 
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