“A stranger rushes up to you and says, “Trust no one!” before shoving an envelope in your hands and dashing off. What happens next?”
– a prompt for this week’s CW piece.
Two days ago, I was just an average guy. Five feet and nine inches tall, just under 200 pounds. My closet is filled with jeans and T-shirts and dress pants and shirts. During the day, I work in a bank. As soon as I get home, I take the fancy clothes off and put on a comfier attire. After I get back home from work, I eat a microwave dinner in front of the TV, looking at whatever show is on, but not really watching it. After a day filled with numbers, my brain is mush. All of that changes on Date Night, which is at every Thursday. Then, I take Julia out to dinner at a fancy restaurant to show her that I can provide for her and am a stable man. I wish we saw each other more often, but we both work a lot and have a busy social schedule. Well, at least she does. We have been together for a year and a half, and I have asked her to move in with me, but she was raised in a traditional household and wants to wait until we are at least engaged. She does not know yet, but I plan on proposing on Christmas. She is the love of my life. Anyway, back to two days ago.
Working downtown can be a hassle. There is no place to park, so I took the train to work just like any other day. As I walked from the train station to the bank, I wondered if I would be able to act naturally in front of Julia, knowing that I have the ring sitting in my sock drawer. I was so deep in thought that the chilling wind did not even bother me. The sky was grey, and it looked as if it was about to rain, but my heart was warm, and so I had no choice but to smile as I walked. Half a block away from my workplace, I almost tripped and landed on my face.
“Man, I am clumsy” – I was about to say when I got elbowed in the stomach.
“What the heck?” – I asked, gasping for air.
The people around me slowed down and looked at me. I like to think they were concerned, but they were only probably wondering what was wrong with me.
“It’s alright. I’ve got him” – said the man standing in front of me and dusting off my jacket.
“Did you just punch me…” – I asked the mystery guy.
“Shhh! Lower your voice. I do not need the extra attention” – he answered.
“You punched me in the gut!” – I growled.
“Trust no one!” – he said and rushed off.
“Hey! Heeeeey! No apology, asshole?“
This time I know the people looked at me as if I was crazy. The man disappeared into the crowd, and all that was left of him was a crumpled envelope in my hand. There was a “Top Secret” stamp on the front, and the back was sealed. Still angry and confused about the whole situation, I shoved the envelope into my jacket and walked into work.
People came, and people went, numbers were added and subtracted. A day like any other day. I picked up my jacket and left promptly at 5pm, even though the phone was ringing. That was one of the perks of being the branch manager – you could answer or not answer your calls. There was no one to yell at you. Julia was so excited when I got promoted. She said that men with power turn her on. I switched off the lights and was on the train back home fifteen minutes later.
While on the train, I realized that I have not had the time to look at the mystery envelope all day. My hand reached into my left pocket, but there was nothing other than a gum wrapper. I checked the right pocket for good measure, but the envelope was not there either.
“Oh, well. It might have fallen out at work when I was putting the jacket on. The pockets are quite shallow” – I thought to myself.
Since there was nothing I could do about it now, I decided to forget about the whole situation and focus on the task on hand – getting home and then meeting Julia for dinner. At home, I stripped from my work clothes and threw them in the laundry basket. Then, I jumped into the shower to “wash away the boring from my skin,” as Julia liked to joke when talking about my work. Being a hairstylist, she could not understand how I can sit in a suit all day and look at numbers.
At the restaurant, Julia ordered her beloved lobster, and I had the halibut.
“Anything other than boring happened to you today?” – she asked with a smile.
Comments like that bothered me at the beginning of our relationship, but I stuck it out because she was the prettiest girl I have ever seen. Or the prettiest that has ever given me the time of day, anyway. Now, her comments almost seemed affectionate. It was our own love language.
“If fact, yes. Something unusual happened” – I answered, happy that for once, I actually had a story to tell.
She giggled and then propped her head against her hands to show that she was listening. I told her before that one should not place their elbows on the table, but this time I let it slide. I told her about the man punching me in the gut and giving me the envelope.
“Did you punch him back? How did he look like?” – she asked, caressing my hand and making puppy eyes at me.
Pity is an emotion I have grown to like. It usually led to more passionate … interactions … later on.
“What did the letter say?” – she asked after the waiter dropped off our order.
“I don’t know” – I answered, squeezing the lemon onto the fish.
“You don’t know? Where is it now?“
“I think it slipped out of my jacket pocket at work.“
“What if someone finds it?“
“The janitors might, but they have been nothing but trustworthy. I am sure they will place it on my desk, and I will look at it tomorrow.“
We spent the rest of the time talking about everything and nothing. Surprisingly, the ring has not entered my mind the whole time.
“I have a crazy idea. I have never done it in a bank. Or any other business after the closing hour” – she winked at me and patted her lips with the napkin.
“I spent there the whole day. I will go back there tomorrow. I do not want to be there at night, too” – I complained.
“It will be fun. The risk of getting caught will get your adrenaline going. I’ll make it worth your while” – she said with a smile.
It did not take me long to agree to her crazy plan. She definitely had the ability to take me out of my shell and push me out of my comfort zone. I liked the new me, and so we went. She started unbuckling my belt before I even fully opened the door. We made out for a brief moment in my office, and then she rushed off to the bathroom to “freshen up.”
“Is there the last time you saw Julia?” – the FBI agent asked.
“Yes. Why?” – I asked, still unsure why they asked me to describe everything about that day.
“Is this the woman you know as Julia?” – he asked, pointing at a picture he pulled out of his folder.
“Yes. Yes, it is” – I answered utterly confused.
“She’s a Russian operative that we have been tracking for a while, Joe” – the other agent said.
“So, I will not be getting engaged on Christmas?“
P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post so that I can get an alert and check out your piece. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!
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