Carter Huffington | Teen Ink

Carter Huffington

June 24, 2013
By Natalie Brancaccio, Mequon, Wisconsin
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Natalie Brancaccio, Mequon, Wisconsin
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Author's note: The music from the 1940's began to inspire me to write something. After a few rough drafts, I began to really picture what the story could turn into. People can be on their toes while reading it and understand the specific personalities of characters.

   “Carter, I don’t know if I can stop the bleeding.” I cried as I dragged him and myself across the parking lot. It was so dark, I didn’t know if this would be the end for us. I found my way to the car and sped off as soon I got Carter in. We were silent. I must have driven for what seemed like hours before we reached the hospital. I stood in the waiting room and watched as they pulled Carter into the operating room.
    Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Penny. I’m a waitress at Moe’s Bar in the beautiful and loud, San Francisco, California . This story is about a man by the name of Carter Huffington. A spy who’s life, is falling apart. It involves betrayal, sacrifice and collaboration. It starts during a cool springtime evening in New York, 1942. Grand Central Station, 11:59 pm to be exact.

I waited for that clock to strike. Iris would hand me the briefcase and I would be out of here at that very moment. She had a mink coat on and her sharp, black hair pulled back under her hat. Her lipstick blood red. She would walk across the floor, tip her hat and hand me the briefcase. I was afraid that there was a cop waiting for the right moment to snatch that briefcase right out of her hand just before I could grab it. I had to go for it and as she stood up, I put away my lighter and threw my cigarette to the ground. I buttoned my trench and slipped my gun behind my right leg. I began to walk towards her and she slowly handed me the briefcase and kissed me at that same moment. I quickly pulled away and instantly a bullet became lodged in her skull.
She fell to the floor and I ran to the doors. As soon as I got there, an officer pulled a gun to me and walked me to his car. I threw the briefcase in the front and he shoved me into the back. We began driving down the road. It was pitch black out and I sat silently. I began to hear a subtle but clear, beeping noise. I leaned my head against the passenger seat. I could hear it getting louder now. I knew that the briefcase was a decoy. It must contain some sort of time bomb. And by the sound of it, I’m not gonna have a lot of time if I don’t get out of here soon.
I quickly grabbed the door handle and slowly pushed down so that the car door was slightly open. I saw a lamp post up ahead about a half a mile and as soon as we got closer I would jump. I knew that either way, I was most likely going to die. If I stayed in the car, we would be blown to pieces but, if I jumped from a moving car going about 60 mph, it didn’t look good. Now is my chance, I pushed the door open and shoved myself from the car. I fell tumbling to the ground and as I began to feel myself losing consciousness, I saw in the distance that cop car blow up in a fiery haze. My eyes slowly shut and I fell into a deep, painful sleep.

I awoke in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in my right side. My head felt heavy and my hands burned from the scrape of rubble that was now enlodged into them. I looked around and saw the lamp post up ahead. Across from it was a phone booth. I didn’t know where I was or how I could even get any help out here in the middle of nowhere.  I tried to stand up but, I fell to the ground from the stabbing pain in my left ankle. It must be broken or at least sprained considering that was the foot that hit the ground first when I jumped from the car. I reached for my right leg and my gun was still luckily intact. I saw that my right side was bleeding as well as my hands. I hopped up on one leg and limped my way to the lamp post. After that I made my way to the phone booth. It looked unused and old. I picked up the phone and waited for a dial tone. As soon as I got one I asked the operator for one person: Penny. She was the only person I trusted and probably the only person who would spare the time to even talk to me. As soon as I got her on the phone, I realized that she wasn’t the girl I had met years ago. She was a fiancee to a man in the war. She sounded like she was in love with him. I didn’t think she would take the time to even consider coming to New York and getting me. The second I mentioned what had happened to me, she screamed and told me she could get me by morning if she got a flight in the next hour. I couldn’t believe how happy she was to come and rescue me, after what I did to her I figured she’d leave me out here in the dust. I hung up the phone and suddenly felt tired. I began to doze off and before I knew it, morning came.

I awoke to the sound of a car speeding down the dirt road. My hands and feet were swollen and my ribs felt like they had taken a beating. I looked up and the car stopped right in front of the phone booth. I squinted, the sun was bright and the sky was a clear blue. This green plymouth car, looked as if it was owned by a millionaire. The passenger door opened and I saw a light brown oxford shoe step down to the ground. A cocktail dress emerged from the car along with a pale, blonde girl wearing a rosy pink lipstick shade. She had her hair in finger curls at her shoulders. This was Penny as far as I could tell. She still wore her fedora that I had gifted her, many years ago. She smiled at me and ran to hug me. I tried to hold her up but, my ankle gave out and we both fell to the ground, laughing.
“Oh, Carter! I can’t believe it got this bad. I brought a first aid kit, it’s in the back of the car.” Penny said as she began to get up. I didn’t know what to say. I just kissed her, right on the lips at the glimpse of her crystal blue eyes. She looked at me and didn’t change her facial expression. She looked angry and upset at the same time. “Don’t even start that with me. I don’t love you anymore. My heart belongs to my fiancee in Germany. I love him and I can’t even begin to explain to you how I feel right now.” Penny cried to me as she helped me up. I still don’t understand why she came here to help me. She took me to the car and as I sat on the soft, leather seats, she handed me a scotch on the rocks. She kissed me on the cheek and said, “I love you but, never the same way as before.” The driver turned the car and we began to head towards the city.
She had bandaged my hands, tight. I couldn’t even imagine how bad they would’ve gotten if she hadn’t came. She was asleep when I woke up. I didn’t see any skyscrapers in the distance or behind us. Where were we? I pushed Penny and she yelled, “What is it, I didn’t really get sleep last night, thanks to you!” She looked up and looked worried. Penny slid forward on her seat and grabbed the driver’s shoulder. “Excuse me, where exactly are we?” She said when we realized that we weren’t in her green plymouth anymore.
The driver looked to be a man wearing black gloves and shades. He looked at us and stopped the car. He reached for the dashboard and put a gun to Penny’s head.
I didn’t know what to do. Penny cried out, “Please, what do you want? I have some money in my purse. Name your price, I’ll do anything, just let us go!” The driver looked at me and pointed the gun towards me. Penny reached for her purse.
She grabbed her wallet and nail file. She started to pull out a hundred dollar bill when the man shouted, “I don’t want your money, I want his life!” Penny grabbed her nail file and that’s when I noticed. The sharp tip on the end of nail file. It almost looked like the sharp point of a knife.
She gripped the nail file and jabbed it into the driver’s hand that was holding the gun. She yelled, “Come on, Carter! We need to get out of the car, now!” I opened the car door and began running away. The blinding pain in my ankle made me want to stop but, I kept running knowing Penny was right behind me. As soon as we got far enough I stopped and reached for my right leg. My gun was still there and I pulled it out. Penny stood behind me and waited with me as the man got out the car. As soon as he did, I put two bullets in his head and four more in his chest. He collapsed to the ground. Penny and I ran back to the car. She helped me pull his body to the curb. I got in the driver’s seat and Penny got in the passenger’s. We made the decision to go the opposite direction that the driver had been going. We didn’t make it to any towns or cities for at least five hours. By then, the gas tank was almost empty.

We finally made it to New York City! I was so exhausted and Penny had slept most of the ride. I figured that we probably should lay low tonight. I woke up Penny and took her to a hotel for the night. We were staying at the finest hotel in the city, The Plaza Hotel. We got a room and passed out the second we got on the comfortable warm beds. I went to sleep feeling like a new man. I looked over at Penny just before I shut my eyes and knew instantly that I was still in love with her.
We both woke up to the sound of birds chirping right outside our window. I called room service for some clean clothes for us to wear. Penny decided to put her engagement ring on the bathroom counter so her ring wouldn't get lost when she got cleaned up. After we both had showered and had gotten dressed, we headed to the lobby for breakfast. I left my gun in the room, and if I would’ve known earlier what was going to happen this fine morning, I never would’ve left it.
As soon as we got downstairs, we got glares from everyone in the restaurant. I grabbed a plate and picked up some food from the buffet. Penny on the other hand, grabbed a bowl and filled it with cereal. We grabbed a table and sat down to eat. We ate until a woman tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out the window. It was a man who was known for wanting money that I owed him. He probably had something to do with Iris getting a bullet driven through her skull. I gave the woman a code to get everyone down and she did. She yelled, “Everyone get down!” I pushed Penny and myself to floor and began to crawl towards an ice machine. Penny followed me but, I told her to get away from me. “If you go down, I’ll be right by your side.” She said as she leaned in to kiss me on the cheek. I grabbed her head and slammed it into the cabinet. She was unconscious and now was my chance to save her life and mine as well. I pushed her body behind a shelf. I stood and began to walk towards the door.
My hands were waving in the air when the man saw me. He entered the hotel and strut right towards me. He reached for his pocket and pulled out a gun. He casually put it to my side and whispered, “Follow me or I’ll kill you without a second thought.” I did and told him all my money was in my room. “I don’t want your goddamn money.” He yelled, “I want you to suffer and not by being shot dead but, by standing by while I kill your little friend, I know you’re sweet on her or else you wouldn’t have knocked her unconscious.” He aimed his gun at the shelf and pulled the trigger.
I was soon dragged to the ground by Penny. She had awoken moments beforehand and crawled out from behind the shelf. Now that I was on the ground, we jumped and ran for the door. The man with the gun turned around and three shots rang out. Once we were outside, we turned left towards a bakery and ran inside. We went out the back and soon were in an alley. I saw the street to the right and I gripped Penny’s hand so tight that I was practically breaking it. We got to the street corner and waved for a cab as soon as we got in, I yelled, “Manhattan and step on it!”

We were in the car for about twenty minutes and soon arrived in Harlem. I gave the driver an address and Penny was sleeping in my lap. Once we arrived at an old alley, I saw a wooden door painted black and a window with a candle lit in the inside. I woke Penny up and she paid the driver with the cash she had in her pocket. I was surprised considering all our money and possessions were in our hotel room. I walked to the door and rang the doorbell. I heard a creaking noise in the distance and then a loud rupture. All of a sudden the ground underneath us fell through. We fell at least ten feet until we landed on the hard, cold ground. Penny let out a sound of relief and held onto my right shoulder. The floor began to move forward. It was almost as if we were on a conveyor belt. It was dark as we continued moving forward and I had a pit in my stomach that knew we were in for a treat.
We dropped instantly! My stomach felt as if it were in the back of my throat. Penny and I screamed at the top of our lungs. Her hand gripped tighter to me but, there was a sudden jerk and she let go. We became separated and I feared I would never see her again. It started to get brighter in the dark room. I saw a light up ahead and then I saw Penny across the room. Then we both came together again and the floor stopped moving. I heard a door opening and then a deep, older voice yell, “Who are you looking for, this is a private residence!” I knew who this guy was and I was so excited to see him again. I cried out, “It’s me, Carter Huffington!” A large, bright light shined down on Penny and I. “Carter, is it really you, after all these years?” He said as he walked towards us. “Sal, I need your help and I need it soon.” I remarked, “You have gotten old, how do you still get around these days?” He laughed and pulled Penny up. He reached his hand out to me and I pushed it away. I stood up and hugged him.
Sal is a world class secret agent from the early 20s. He taught me everything I know today and practically raised me. I haven’t seen him in years and now that I need his help, it will be just like the old days. “So, why are you here, are you in some kind of trouble?” He asked as he turned off the lights and walked us into another room. “Well, I need to get our money, belongings and my gun from the Plaza but, if we go back there, we’ll probably get killed.” I answered and gripped Penny’s hand, tightly. “That will be taken care of immediately. But, in the meantime, why don’t I lend you a few things.” Sal said and walked over to a closet. He reached inside and grabbed something. He came back and handed Penny a small leather bag, with some gloves hanging out of the sides. Penny laughed and grabbed the bag from him. She looked inside and found a gun. “No one would ever suspect a woman to carry a gun.” Sal said and smiled.
We walked into his main kitchen and my jaw dropped. His home was elegantly amazing. “The craftsmanship of this home is so exquisite and absolutely stunning.” Penny exclaimed. I was in complete agreement with her. “My wife and I designed this part of the house but, when she passed away a few years back, I couldn’t stand to leave it messy. I spent her savings decorating it to perfection. Of course, my gadgets are all over this house.” Sal said and began to laugh. He took Penny’s bag and hung it up. “Go look around! Trust me, nothing good will come of you, sitting around, talking to an old man.” Sal explained and left the room.  Penny ran with glee to the dining room and then up the spiral stairs. From the outside this house looked god awful and just plain pathetic, but from the inside I felt as if I were in the home of a millionaire. The walls were painted gold with landscapes of rolling hills from the countryside. It had a crystal clear lake with birds in the distance. The amount of artistry was so fine and masterful, I felt as if it could be put in an art museum. The red wine carpet was flawlessly cut and clean. The ivory railings on the staircase were smoothed and polished to perfection. I ran up the stairs to find Penny, when I heard a sudden shriek!
Penny was on the floor of the bedroom staring directly down. I looked and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
To my amazement, there was a fish tank covering the floor. It felt like we were walking on water. There were tons of fish covering the surface of the water. We were in wonderment. I helped Penny up and we continued to explore the bedroom. A bookcase to the far right of the room looked suspicious. I walked over and began reading the book titles. “Philosophy on Life”, “War and Peace”, “Diary of Anne Frank.” All such generic titles. I needed to find one that stood out. Penny was looking through, trying to find something to read for when she returned to California. “Oh, this is perfect, Stuart Little has been talked about in the Times.” Penny exclaimed as she reached for it. She yanked at the book until she fell to the floor. We both yanked at it until it moved about half an inch. The bookshelf began to rotate. I grabbed Penny and we stepped back. The bookshelf was now facing sideways. The wall on it’s other side was now tunneled. We grabbed a candle that was lit on a nightstand and began to walk. It was darker than night as we walked through the cold tunnel. We reached the end and got to a door. I turned the knob and opened the door.
Sal was sitting on a chair that faced us. He turned around and smiled. “I’m so glad you found me.” He said as he stood up. “I have a car that you may use, the people after you are smart but, I purchased two tickets for California. I suggest you spend the night here but, I only have one guest bedroom so you’ll have to share a bed.” He explained. Penny looked at me and smiled. “That’s so generous of you but, I think I need to get back to California and stay as far away from Carter as possible.” Penny said. I don’t understand. She didn’t mind being with me when she almost got shot but, now she wants to leave? I have to make her stay.
“Penny, if you want, I could sleep on the floor. I don’t want to go on the run if you’re not going to run with me.” I said as I walked up to her. I put my hands to her cheeks and leaned in to kiss her. She began to close her eyes and as our lips touched, I felt a spark. She pushed her body against mine and we had the most passionate kiss. I pulled away and looked at her. “Do you still love me?” She asked as she touched her lips with her fingers. I couldn’t answer her. She was my dream girl but, I didn’t know if I truly loved her. I wanted to say yes but I just couldn’t fathom seeing myself with her in the next five years. She was engaged for god sakes and I wouldn’t want to ruin that considering what I’ve done to her in years past. I said the only thing I knew I could say at this point, “Penny, I don’t love you.”
“Oh thank god. I don’t love you either but, I promise I’ll stay with you.” She said as she ran and leaped into my arms.

That night I slept next to her on the bed. She ended up curling up against me. We both woke up early and to our surprise, clothes sat on a chair sitting near the door. Penny showered and came out looking like a million bucks. She had her hair in curls, dangling onto her shoulders. She wore a beautiful spring dress that went to her knees. She had on a pair of brown mary-janes. I smiled and kissed her on her shiny, red lips.
I took my shower and came out to an empty room. The bed sheets was folded and the chair that had clothes on it was now empty. I quickly ran downstairs and saw Penny sitting at the dining table eating toast. Sal was in the kitchen blending something. I sat down on the couch and a girl walked by me. She was wearing black and white and she carried a feather duster. “Miss Melanie, can you bring Mr. Huffington something to eat.” Sal yelled as he blended more fruit. “Of course Sir, what would you like Mr. Huffington?” She asked and smiled at me. She had a short maid’s dress on and tights that ran along her legs. Her hair was bright red like the color of wine or a rose. Her skin was pale like a beautiful angel and she was ravishing. “If you have any cereal, that would be great.” I said and smiled back, lightly stroking her arm.
Penny didn’t seem too happy that Melanie and I were talking while I ate my breakfast. The truth of the matter was that Penny was engaged and I had no feelings for her. Melanie was stunning and had a great personality. I figured that she was the perfect girl to date. At that moment I didn’t want to go to California with Penny. I could stay here until I found a place where trouble wasn’t around every corner. “Hey Carter, why don’t we get going so we don’t hit traffic.” Penny said as she dumped her dishes directly in front of Melanie. She sat back down and folded her arms in her lap. I was now annoyed with how Penny was acting. She thought that if I flirted with any girl, I must want to marry them too. “I’m actually starting to think that I could stay here and you could just go back to California, hassle free.” I said and looked at her. “What happened to me running away with you?” She shouted and got up. “I didn’t say it was set in stone. We don’t know what could happen once we got to the airport!” I yelled back. Penny just stared at me in disbelief. She started to tear up. She wiped her tear off with her finger and walked out of the room. “Sal, where’s the door?” She shouted from the other room. Sal walked out of the kitchen and came back in moments later. “She’s gone.” Sal said as he poured me a smoothie.
I drank my smoothie in anger. She is so stubborn! Melanie was now washing the dishes. I came up behind and wrapped my arms around her hips. “So, she’s gone, what do you want to do now?” She said and turned around. Our faces were centimeters apart. I looked into her eyes and leaned in to kiss her when I heard a bang from upstairs. We both looked up and saw as Sal fell from the railings. Another bang shot off and the window near us shattered. Melanie grabbed me and cried, “Follow me if you want to save your life!”
We ran through the hallway until we got to a door. She reached underneath a plant that was on the shelf near us and found a key. Her hands shaking, she pushed the key through the hole and shoved the door open. It was a dark room and she flicked the lights on. She squeezed my hand and ran to the closet. A carpet covered the floor. She ripped the carpet off and there was a handle sticking out. “Go down there and follow the tunnel until you see daylight. It will take you right outside the subway station.” She yelled and kissed me, our lips pressed for only a second. She hugged me tight and ran out the room. I opened the panel and jumped down. It was pitch black. I ran as fast as I could. I kept running until I could barely breathe. I soon saw a light up ahead. I went up a small hill and came up directly in front of a subway station. I looked at the road and called for a cab. "Take me to the airport and hurry!" I yelled as I got in. As I was being driven I realized that my money was in my wallet and I don’t have my wallet. I didn't say anything until we arrived. I reached for my pocket to make it seem as if I was looking for money when I found a folded envelope. I opened it and inside it had a note attached with some money. The note said:
   Dear Carter,
I am so sorry that you couldn't stay longer. I hope all is well and that you find this before its too late. I am safe. I really enjoyed talking to you and if you ever return to New York, look me up.
  Sincerely,
Melanie Richards

I couldn't believe that she knew all this would happen. Things were starting to fall into place. I'm beginning to think she wasn't even a maid. I paid the cab driver and ran inside. She had put my plane ticket in the envelope as well. I ran inside and I knew right away that things were not going to go smoothly. Cops were everywhere and planes were delaying like there was no tomorrow. Penny must be somewhere in this crowd. I knew in my heart that I would find her but, how?

Something in my head was telling me that Penny wouldn't leave without me. If Melanie left a note in my pocket, she must have left a note for Penny as well. Penny wouldn't leave this town without one thing. Her engagement ring. I remember her putting it on the bathroom counter in the hotel room. If she wanted that ring, she would be at the hotel.
I bolted to the door and ran outside. It was now raining out. I called for a cab and said "Plaza and if you can get there in under an hour I'll pay you double!" The car went into full acceleration and I sat back and relaxed. Once I arrived at the Plaza, there were police tape covering the lobby and witnesses crying. I ran up to a cop and asked, "What the hell happened? I'm a cop from Manhattan and I was sent here to help a fellow, such as yourself, solve this thing." He made a face of suspicion at me and pulled me under the tape. A body was under some blankets and my stomach dropped.  
Penny ran up to me and hugged me. She had tears covering her face. "I was so scared Carter, I'm so happy you found me." She said as she began to kiss me. The body was the woman who had helped us out earlier. Penny had came here to get her ring and saw a man carrying a gun as he entered the lobby. The woman saw and recognized Penny and made motion to get down immediately. The man pulled his gun and began to shoot at Penny. She hid behind the concierge desk and watched as the woman jumped in front of the man causing him to fall and fire at her. Multiple people were injured and she died from the blows to her chest. "I found my ring. He had it in his pocket. He must've raided the room after we left." She said and pulled it out to show me. It glistened and I knew right then that she was truly happy with this guy. I didn't know where to go next or what to do. People were after us and there was only one person left who could help us.
I went outside to a phone booth. “Operator, can I get Melanie Richards number?” I said as Penny walked into the booth. The operator connected me to her and a voice answered that didn’t sound like Melanie, “Hello, if you’re looking for Melanie, you will never hear her voice again. She is on the verge of death and if you don’t find her soon, she’ll be swimming with the fishes.” I didn’t know how to respond. Penny grabbed the phone and yelled, “Where is she? How much time do we have? Who are you working for?” The person on the other line only responded by saying, “You have twenty four hours until her brain is blown to pieces and my only hint to where she is, the sun always shines when it’s “gold” out.” And then the line went dead. “What does that even mean?” Penny exclaimed and slumped to ground. I went back inside the Plaza and asked for a piece of paper and a pen. I gave Penny the pen and paper to her and said, “Write down all the words I say.” I began saying everything he said forwards and backwards. She had a concise list written out:
*Swimming
*Fishes
*Sun
*Always Shines
*Gold
Penny was beginning to think he was talking about the Hudson. I knew it wasn’t somewhere near here if the sun always shines. And what about him saying “gold out” not cold cold out. A bus drove by and it was an advertisement for the tickets to California. It was the state’s slogan. “The Golden State” wants you to spend your summer here!
It hit me like a bus! Melanie was in California. It all made sense now! California is sunny and there are oceans covering all of the west coast. If we got to California, we could find Melanie and catch this guy.
Penny called the airport and asked if our flight had already left. Luckily, if we left right now, we could still make the flight. I called us a cab and we were rushed to the airport. I held Penny’s hand as we ran inside and got to the gate. I gave them the tickets and we were escorted to the plane. I felt good about what we were doing. The plane took off and Penny and I dozed off for the next three hours.

We awoke to the warm window and shining sun. The flight attendant announced that sunny California was a scorching 86 degrees and getting hotter. We were wearing clothes for an early spring in New York and we felt like sweaty idiots. I asked the man sitting near us if there was a clothing store in the airport but, Penny interrupted me and said, “We can go back to my house and you can borrow some of Bill’s clothes since he isn’t here to wear them.” I smiled and we were escorted off the plane. We walked through the airport and got to the main entrance.  Penny walked towards a payphone and put a dime in. She dialed a number and someone answered on the other line. “How may I help you Miss Pritchett?” The woman on the line asked. “I need Rupert to come pick me plus one up. Can he take the limo?” Penny said and winked at me. “Very good ma’am.” The line went dead and Penny hung up the phone and smiled at me. “We’re taking a limo? Won’t that seem a little suspicious?” I asked and held her hand. “No one knows that I am a rich woman with maids, butlers, drivers and a house fit for a queen.” She said and began walking towards the door. I stopped her and asked, “Excuse me, since when are you rich?” “Since I became engaged to man whose parents own a jet. I mean I didn’t date him for his money but, that’s just a bonus to his good looks.” Penny said and pulled me out the door with her. A limo was waiting at the curb and a man walked out, tipped his hat and opened the door for us.
I slipped inside the limo and Penny slid next to me. She smiled and asked the driver to take us to Maurices Clothing Shoppe. “Penny, you said you had clothes at your house.” I said and gave her a look. She laughed and replied, “I’m in a good mood and plus, you have way bigger biceps than Bill so you wouldn’t fit into his clothes.” We sat and talked for a while. The driver even had complimentary drinks in the mini fridge for us. When we arrived at the clothing store, my eyes glistened in disbelief. How could they fit so much clothes in such a tiny yet, glamourous store?
Penny yanked my hand and pulled me to the men’s clothing section. She figured I would need a nice suit for this evening. She insisted we would go out to dinner this evening. She also felt that I needed a bathing suit. “Penny! This isn’t some vacation, our friend is in danger and if you don’t take this seriously then don’t bother helping me!” I shouted and pushed her away. I began to walk out the door and she screamed, “Our friend? You mean your friend right? I am not going to consider some half dressed, damsel in distress, my friend! Go ahead, walk out, you can find your own place to stay!” I walked out that door and didn’t bother looking back.
I sat on a bench and covered my face with my hands. When I looked up, a hand was on my shoulder and a smile crept upon my face. It was the driver. “Sir, is Miss Pritchett joining you? Or shall I drop you off at the house at this moment?” He asked. I told him what I wanted to do and he opened the car door for me. He drove me to Penny’s house. When we arrived, the car circled the miniature court and I saw a large fountain that had water flying through the air in the center of the drive. Beautiful flowers were growing all over the front of the house. He dropped me off at the front door and gave me a code to let the housekeeper know that I was permitted on the property. I knocked on the door and waited for someone to answer. I peeked through the window and saw blood smeared on the floor. I ducked my head down and started to crawl around to another window. I peered inside this one and saw even more horror. The housekeeper was lying on the floor bleeding out and probably dead. I smashed my back against the brick house and started to panic. What do I do next? I have no gun, no way to get help and Penny will soon arrive and get her head blown up. I am completely helpless. I got down on my knees and began to crawl around the house. I got to the back and found a pool. It was filled with crystal clear water until a moment later when a man in black grabbed the housekeeper's body and threw her in the water. He walked back inside and began shooting. I thought I was a goner for sure. I heard a car pull up and crawled as fast as I could to the front of the house. I saw the passenger door being opened and to my surprise was the person I never expected!
It was the man from the Plaza and he was carrying a body over his shoulder. Melanie was that body! I watched as he set her body on the concrete and ran inside. The car drove away and I heard a faint moan. Melanie needed me and I wasn’t just going to sit here and watch her slowly die. I ran around back and crawled to a garden shed. Inside the shed were plenty of defense weapons. I grabbed a small shovel and continued searching. I found a suspicious pot and looked inside. To my advantage, a small, loaded handgun was there and I knew the game wasn’t over yet. I took both the gun and shovel and made it back to the front of the house. Melanie was still laying there, helplessly. I put the gun in my back pocket and ran to her. I picked her up like a baby and carried her to the side of the house. I laid her on her back and tapped her cheek lightly. She opened her eyes and smiled at me. “Car-C-Carter, Is that yo-you?” She asked and closed her eyes again. “Melanie, listen to me, you look like you’ve been beaten pretty badly. I am not going to let you die on me.” I ripped a piece of my shirt off and wrapped it around her bruised head. There was a garden hose nearby and I began wetting her bloody arms and legs. She opened her eyes and began swatting frantically in the air. She was going through shock. I got some water and began patting down her face. “Melanie, I want you to get some rest okay? If you can understand me, blink twice.” I said and looked at her. She blinked twice and whispered, “I am not going to let death beat me, promise me, when I wake up, you’ll be there?” “I promise.” I said and she closed her eyes again. I carried her to some underbrush. I covered her body and made her undetectable from the naked eye. I put the small shovel in her right hand for protection. Now I had to get ready to run because sooner or later, someone is going to notice a body that’s missing from the front. I heard some shouting from the inside of the house and then the door slammed open. “Where is she?” The man shouted and looked left and right. I saw in the distance, the limo driving up. Now was my chance to save my life. I grabbed the gun and shot three bullets into the guy’s body. He fell to the ground and I ran to Melanie. I picked her up and began running down the driveway. She opened her eyes and smiled at me. I met the limo at about halfway and saw Penny inside. She opened the door and slid Melanie in. I shut the door and ran inside the passenger seat. I told the driver, “Head back to the city and just to let you know, you may die today.” He turned the car around and we began to head for the city.

As soon as the began driving they could tell trouble wouldn't be far along. Carter climbed in the back to check on Melanie, who was now awake and in a lot of pain. The driver was heading for the nearest hospital. Penny hadn’t spoken a word the entire drive. She eventually asked the driver to make an appointment for a small car to be waiting at the hospital to drive her from there on.
I couldn’t believe how Penny was acting. Melanie was bleeding out and I was now drenched in the blood coming from her left side. She could barely speak but, she did ask me to tell her a story about my years beginning as a spy. “It all began on a rainy day. It was early springtime just an average day in New York. I was sprinting down the street trying to catch a ride to Manhattan. I jumped inside just as a young woman was leaping inside as well. We both were soaking wet and cold. I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever met. I pulled out some money from my pocket and handed it to the cab driver. I said to the girl that her ride was on me. She smiled and told the driver she was headed to Manhattan. I smiled at her and reassured her that I would be riding to Manhattan as well. We spent the drive laughing and talking about everyday things. As we were driving, I saw the man I was after, standing out on the sidewalk. I asked the driver to stop and I ran out the door. The young woman realized that I had left my wallet in the cab. She eventually found me later that week and..” I stopped in mid story when I heard Penny sniffling. She began to lean in to kiss me when I looked down at Melanie. She was smiling and said, “I think that’s the sweetest story I’ve ever heard.” She began to sit up and put her head on my shoulder. Penny began to realize that the story wasn’t for her benefit. It was for Melanie. I liked Melanie a lot and Penny finally came to the conclusion that she was just another friend to me and she felt the same about me. She leaned in and put her head on my other shoulder and whispered into my ear, “Don’t let her go.” I turned my head and kissed Penny’s forehead.
We came to a sudden stop and Penny opened her door. We had finally arrived at the hospital. Penny helped me carry Melanie to the main entrance. We got Melanie to the doctor at the front of the Emergency Room. I kissed her. It was the kiss of hope and it was the first time, in a long time, I felt safe. I walked with Penny outside. Waiting out front was a small, blue car. Penny jumped in the passenger seat and yelled for me to get in. She decided to take me to a beach carnival that was happening in a few hours. It was near the coast so it would be about an hour away. We drove for awhile until we reached a crowded beach. I held her hand and it was just like old times. We began to walk along the beach. “Hey, you never finished the story.” Penny said and looked at me. I began to continue the story. “She eventually found me that week and we decided to meet up in a tiny cafe just outside the city. We slowly began falling in love. I was coy with her when it came to discussing my work. I was never supposed to tell anyone I was a spy. She always knew I was hiding something. In fact, my secrets is what drove her to breaking it off. She gave me the choice of telling her the truth or never speaking to her again. I made the decision to tell her on the next Friday at dinner and then propose. That Thursday, my boss called me in to go on a secret mission and I was gone by Friday morning. I couldn’t contact her and explain where I was going to be for the next three months so when I returned and found that she had gone to California, I assumed she hated my guts for standing her up so, I gave up.” I said and looked her straight in the eye. “You never told me you were going to propose when you explained this to me the first time.” She said and began to tear up. I didn’t know how to respond. “I guess I just felt that I would have ruined your new life by telling you I was planning to propose. But, when you returned that summer, I did catch up to you and tell you the truth.” I replied. Penny smiled and said, “Yeah and remember how I threw that dinner platter at you when you walked into the restaurant.” I smiled and then turned around to see the beautiful sunset that was behind us. Then we ran back to the carnival. As soon as we got back we heard music playing near us. It was Vera Lynn singing We’ll Meet Again. Other couples began slow dancing to the soothing rhythm. Penny wrapped her arms around my shoulders and began to rest her head on me. I held her tight and we danced in silence. I continued to think about how Melanie was doing. Time was slowing down and the music soothed my soul. When the song ended I heard a woman screaming. A man was carrying a gun and began shooting every living thing in his way. He was heading right towards Penny and I. I shoved Penny to the ground and dove right into the man. He fell to the floor and we began to roll around in a struggle. I pulled the gun away but, he grabbed it back. Everyone was screaming and I could barely breathe because I was trapped in a death grip.
As I sat on the ground staring at Carter as he and this man rolled around I began to panic. I got up and ran looking for some sort of weapon. I got to the parking lot and found a couple running to their car. I said to them, “Please, do either of you have a gun or knife?” The man reached into the car and handed me a handgun. I thanked him and began to run back but, I stopped in my tracks when I heard a shot ring out. I ran as fast as I could to Carter and saw him lying on the ground next to the man. He had a red blood stain on his shirt and the gun in his hands. I aimed my handgun at the man and yelled, “Get up! You lousy excuse for a human being. You shot him! Are you happy now?” I aimed the gun at his heart and pulled the trigger. I shot him three times before I was certain he was dead. I put the gun in my pocket and began to drag Carter. I yelled to him, “Carter if you are alive squeeze my hand.” I felt him squeeze me and then he moaned and said, “I am bleeding out, put pressure to stop me from dying.” I began to cry and stopped in my tracks. “Carter, I don’t know if I can stop the bleeding.” I cried as I dragged him and myself across the parking lot. It was so dark, I didn’t know if this would be the end for us. I found my way to the car and sped off as soon I got Carter in. We were silent. I must have driven for what seemed like hours before we reached the hospital. I stood in the waiting room and watched as they pulled Carter into the operating room. While I paced nervously, I remembered Melanie was still in the hospital.
I ran to the nurse’s station as fast as I could. As soon as I got there I asked for Melanie Richards’ room. As soon as they pointed me in the right direction I sprinted down the halls and finally arrived to her room. I knocked on the door and I heard from inside someone say, “Come on in Carter!” I walked in and said, “Sorry, I’m not Carter. I have to tell you something right off the bat and then I’ll explain something else. First off, I know we got off on the wrong start but honestly, I was just so jealous because you’re so pretty and Carter was so in love with you the second he saw you. Secondly, Carter was shot in the chest about two hours ago and now he’s in surgery because he may die!” Melanie just sat there in shock trying to absorb everything I just said. “I can’t believe this!” She said and looked at me while her smile slowly disappeared. “I know! Carter was shot and he never has been so close death before this.” I said and walked towards her. “No, not that, you were actually jealous of me! I can’t believe you think I’m pretty. Have you looked in the mirror lately? I mean I am so scared for Carter right now but, you can’t be serious about the whole jealousy thing.” Melanie remarked. We just stared at each other, motionless and then all of a sudden we both burst out laughing. After that we spent all night talking and becoming best friends.

It was now six in the morning when I awoke. I was laying in an empty hospital room. I paged a nurse and asked the woman who came in if Penny had been here. She explained, “Miss Pritchett was in the waiting room last night but went to visit a different patient.” I asked if the nurse could get her for me. She left the room and I decided to go back to sleep.
“Morning sleepy head!” Penny said as she towered over me. I smiled and looked to see Melanie next to her. They both looked exhausted. “We were just going to go get some coffee. We’ll see you in a little while okay?” Penny said and walked out the door. Melanie walked up to me and kissed me. It was filled with warmth and passion. She walked away and smiled back at me. I checked the clock and it was only six thirty. I dozed back asleep and awoke to the bright sun shining through the window. Penny was sitting in the chair near my bed and Melanie was staring out the window. “I think it’s about time you get up and take a shower.” Penny said and pointed to the clock. It was nearly eleven o’clock. I quickly sprang out of bed and ran into the bathroom. When I got out, a collar t-shirt and shorts were folded on my bed. I got dressed and walked to the lobby. Melanie was waiting for me. “Where’s Penny?” I asked and hugged Melanie tight. “She went back to her house with the entire city’s police force and bomb squad.” Melanie said and held my hand. “Let’s do something fun today. How about visiting the beach or taking a stroll around San Francisco.” Melanie said and walked us out the door. We looked pretty battered up. Her arm was in a cast and she had dark bruises along her face. I had a large bandage covering my head and a few bruises on my arm. Under my shirt was a bandaged chest. “I think we better take it slow and lay low.” I said and called us a cab. We got inside and asked for a tour of the city. At around one o’clock we stopped a nice restaurant and got a delicious lunch. When it was around two, I stopped at a pay phone and called Penny’s house. She answered and met us at a small market outside of San Francisco. When she arrived we bought a few small souvenirs and some fruit. I decided that we should go out to a fancy dinner for our departure and then finally end the evening at a Penny’s luxurious house by having a good night’s sleep. Penny got Melanie and I tickets back to New York for tomorrow at around nine in the morning. Melanie and I shared the guest bedroom and stayed cozy all night. When we awoke, breakfast was laid out on the dining table for us. Scrambled eggs, french toast, juice and cereal. Penny wasn’t anywhere to be found. I looked for a note when Melanie ran up to me and read me a note:
“As luck would have it, Bill has finally been released from service. I got a call early this morning and took off for the airport at around seven fifteen. I hope you both have a safe flight home. Sincerely, Penny.”
I was so happy for Penny. Her life was falling back into place. Melanie and I packed up our things and called a cab to take us back to the airport. We got on the plane right on time. New York City, here we come.
I drove to the airport to pick up Bill but, there was a lot of traffic. I finally got to the airport about a half an hour after he was supposed to arrive. I walked up to a man in charge of flights and asked if flight two sixty three had arrived. He had said no and walked away. I sat down and stared at the board that would say if a flight was on time, delayed or had arrived. It was now eleven o'clock and his flight still hadn't arrived. In fact, his flight number wasn't even on the board. I began to feel nervous about that strange phone call this morning. I got up and walked to a phone booth. I dialed Carter's number and waited for him to answer. Nothing.
When Melanie and I arrived, we decided to check into a small hotel that was very low-key. After that I called us a cab and we went shopping to get some nice dinner clothes for this evening. I wanted to check up on Penny but I didn't want to interrupt her if she was seeing her fiancée for the first time in a while. I bought us tickets to a broadway show to see after dinner. Melanie asked me when we were sitting in the lobby of the hotel, waiting for our ride, "Should we check up on Penny, just to let her know our flight was safe?" I walked over to a phone booth and dialed her number. The line was busy and then someone answered. All I heard was a yell in the background and then the line went dead. I knew something was wrong. "Hey Melanie, how bad would it be if I left you tonight and got a flight back to California.” I shouted. "Is something wrong with Penny? If you're going, I'm coming with you." She said and walked up to me. We took a cab back to the hotel and changed into more casual clothes. I called a friend who I worked with me a couple years ago and asked him to bring me a gun. When he showed up I took the gun and ran out the door. I couldn't risk anything bringing Melanie with me. I ran down a back alley and caught a cab just in time. He took me to the airport and I got a direct flight to San Francisco. When I arrived I borrowed a car from the rental place and sped down the roads. When I saw Penny's house turn from brightly lit to pitch black, I knew something was completely wrong.

I pulled my gun out and parked about a mile away from her driveway. I began to run around to the back of the house, it would be more secretive than going to the front. I stopped in my tracks and ran back to the car. A flashlight might have been more useful than sprinting around in the dark. When I got my flashlight, I ran faster and more carefully. When I reached the back of her house, I began looking for a window to crawl into. I saw one near the far right of the house. It was on the second level so I would have to climb my way there. I put the gun behind my right leg, like always, and then turned the flashlight on. I coiled the carrying string from the flashlight around my neck so I would have two free hands. I saw ivy that was stretched up along the side of the house. I began to climb when I heard a large crash coming from inside the house. Then I heard Penny screaming and crying at the top of her lungs. I began to climb faster and faster. When I finally reached the window, I dove inside. I fell flat onto my face. I picked myself up and uncoiled the flashlight off of my neck. I held it in my right hand and reached for my gun. I began walking through the pitch black house. Even with my flashlight lit, I could barely see anything. I got to the top of the stairs and slowly crept down them. I got to the bottom and saw Penny across the room. She was just standing there, emotionless and staring right at me. I stepped towards her when all of a sudden, the lights flashed on and I saw the room covered in decorations and all of these people standing in the room. They all yelled at me, "Surprise!" A smile crept across my face and everyone laughed. Then, Melanie ran up to me and kissed me on the cheek. "So I'm guessing our plan worked?" She said and hugged me tight. I was so confused. I ran up to Penny and said, "I thought you were in trouble, where's your fiancée Bill?" Her face lit up and she pointed to a man who was standing near the refrigerator. He saw me and waved. I waved back and then squeezed Penny in a hug. I lifted her up and spun her around the room. Why would they do this to me and when did they have time to plan all of this?
Our plan was perfect. When Carter sat me down, I began to explain to him, all of our scheming. When we spent the entire night talking in the hospital, we decided to thank Carter for everything he had done for us. I wasn't sure how to do it in the most sincere of ways and then it hit us. We could trick him into thinking I was in trouble. Melanie would catch the flight with him and some how beat him to my house. We would wait for him to show up and then make him think he had to get into the house and save me. It was brilliant and it worked. "Yeah well your little plan cost me a plane ticket and a waste of a tuxedo." Carter said and laughed. He got up and kissed Melanie. I knew he was truly thankful for being tricked into coming back to California and than getting a cake that said "Thanks A Heap." I didn't care, I just wanted him to be happy.

I was so surprised that Penny would do this to me. I can't believe Melanie was in this too. I never would've guessed they tricked me. We spent the rest of the night eating cake, talking and Bill even made a warm fire for us. We all had a really good time. By morning, Melanie had gone to sleep in the guest room and I fell asleep on the couch. Melanie and I got a flight back to New York but, we were exhausted from spending the night before, running around the country so we slept the entire flight there. I left California knowing Penny would be protected and secure with her fiancée there to take care of her. As for Melanie and I, we were going to be together for a long time as far as I was concerned. “I think we’re here.” Melanie said when the flight attendant was helping others off the plane. We got up and when we left the airport, I called her a cab and she left to go back to her apartment. I decided to walk to my place, since it was so close. I came across a small, red bricked apartment. I walked up the steps and checked the mailbox. Inside was an envelope that had been opened. I looked inside and found a photograph. I folded the picture and placed it in my pocket. I unlocked the door to the apartment and walked inside. I sat down on the couch and took the picture from my pocket. I unfolded it and just stared at it. Then, there was a knock at the door. I got up and answered the door. I looked at her and I watched as a teardrop rolled down her cheek. She hugged me and then left. I looked down at the picture and saw my entire life flash before me. I walked over to my phone and dialed a number. “Hello, can you meet me here.” I said and hung up the phone. Melanie soon arrived and I threw the photo in the garbage.
When I left Carter, I noticed the photo in his hand. It was of us. We were sitting in the cab from that rainy day. I’m surprised he left this part of the story out. I had my camera with me that day and I took it of us for some sort of memory. When I arrived in New York a few days ago, I placed the photo in his mailbox and then went to rescue him. Today, I came back to New York because I had to see him one last time before our lives went separate ways. I hope this story makes it clear to understand one thing: Never fall in love with a spy, especially Carter Huffington.

The End.



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