The man in the blue windbreaker leaned against the building, his eyes intent on the tall redhead across the street.  Oblivious to him, she walked out the glass doors of the fancy-schmancy high-rise, ‘Winslow Publishing’ printed on the awning in swirling green letters.
            The man glanced up at the dark clouds gathering overhead and pulled the hood of his jacket up around his face as the first drops fell.  He took a sip of cold coffee from his Styrofoam cup, pulled out his cell phone and pushed the redial button. 
            “It’s me,” he said gruffly into the phone.  “Alice has left the tea party.  Repeat, Alice has left the tea party.”
            An impatient rush of air came through from the other end.  “Spare me the drama, OK?”
            The man huffed.  “It’s code, not ‘drama’.  It helps to--”  
            “Fine.  Thanks for the update.  Call me the second she gets off the sub--”
“But I was about to go home,” the man interrupted, his officious tone dropped in favor of a high-pitched whine.  “It’s raining.  Can’t you just--”
            “Look, I don’t care if a friggin’ Category 5 hits.  Just do your job.”
            Now it was the man’s turn to let out an irritated breath.  Unfortunately, the line went dead mid-sigh.  No satisfaction.  
            He took one last sip of coffee then threw the cup at the trashcan by the curb.  Of course he missed.

*     *     *

Luke Janssen put down his cell phone, shaking his head.  If there was one thing he hated more than yellow journalists and summertime in Manhattan it was incompetence from his employees.
            He should have fired that so-called ’Private Investigator’ the first time he’d switched on the whiny mode.  It made the man sound like a five-year old.
            Knowing time was short, he got back to the matter-at-hand, ripping up sheet after sheet of yellow lined paper into tiny unreadable pieces, taking tremendous satisfaction in the sound of every long tear, knowing each one helped delay the publication of that wretched book. 


N e l l   C a r s o n

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