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The Job Offer
Growing up, Anne dreamed of becoming a cop. An old man’s tales were what got her started. All she wanted to do. She knew the dangers and the risks but that only made her want to do it more.
Her dear old father told her he didn’t approve of her life’s choice. He called her an unfilial daughter and that she should take Home Economics and work as a secretary in a big company. Then she would at least start to become a filial daughter. Marry the CEO and produce a grandson who would take after his grandfather. That led to countless arguments.
Anne saved up all of her money from working Parking Enforcement and found a place to live. Not a glamorous job, but she wasn’t looking for that. The thing she wanted to do would take money and time that she needed to find a way to do.
A few years after that, she got accepted into the police academy. Not at all easy, but she did it, and graduated with top scores. Too bad her Dad didn’t come, although she wasn’t too sure his presence would’ve changed things.
That led her to today. Online courses were great because she squeezed them in. She dreamed of becoming a lieutenant or captain but needed more education to do that.
The term paper was due the next day. That meant endless hours spent at home putting it together. The research was already done. Well, she thought, she might go out and walk around town and get a feel of the outside before burrowing into a hole to complete the paper.
On her return, she found a pot on the Welcome mat. Red clay, engraved flowers, water-stained on the bottom, and no indication who it belonged to. No Made-in-China sticker either. A rolled-up piece of paper was inside. She took the pot into her apartment and locked the door.
She pulled out the note and unrolled it, half expecting spiders or scorpions to appear, but that was her magination. The note said in order to fulfill her duties, she needed to fill the pot with pure water from one source. A map drawn on the bottom showed her where to find it.
Fulfillment must be the word of the day. It seemed to be the focus of everything. She was about to get the coffeemaker started when the doorbell rang.
She looked through the window to see a tall woman, her head reached the top of the door, black suit, white shirt, and sunglasses. Why the sunglasses when the sun set a long time ago? Hard to tell if she was armed or not.
It rang again.
Anne opened the door and smiled. “Well, Zody Meriwether Whipple. Made Wallstreet Journal’s list of top five corporate owners. Personal worth of five-hundred-twenty-five million dollars. Single no lovers. The strange thing that nobody is sure of what your real name is. It’s one in a long line of aliases. There are theories that you are responsible for the murders of various people, but no evidence and no witnesses. Therefore, no prosecution because it’s conjecture.” She let the woman in.
Zody laughed. “I suppose I should be flattered and reassured that I made the right choice. We’ll go over those minor details later.”
“Minor details. Interesting.” She walked to the kitchen to start the coffee. The woman in her living room was the focus of that paper. With her right there, it made things more difficult. How she wasn’t sure yet.
The woman spoke. “You already know my name. Interesting.
“Tell me what this pot or pitcher is all about. Why me?”
“That’s strange. I thought a woman of your intelligence would be able to figure that out.”
Anne grabbed a cup and poured the coffee while she ground her teeth. “It’s a pot. It had a lot of uses before this. Anything else? A test or initiation into an exclusive club? Of which, you would provide very little detail if any? A society so secretive nobody knows about it and that’s how you’re able to stay away from the law. Along with enough doctors and lawyers to inhabit their own country. The underground tunnels that form a network under the streets are used constantly for your purposes only and if anyone asks they’ll only say that the Chinese used to use them centuries ago.” She took a big sip of the hot liquid and felt the burn all the way down. “You see, I don’t have the answers to those questions and only you do. So excuse me if I’m not begging at your feet to let me into a network of women across the globe to do your bidding.” She slammed the mug on the counter.
“All right. All right. Let’s calm down. Nothing can be solved with hostility.” She put her hands up.
“Hostile? You think this is hostile? You haven’t seen anything yet, lady. I use that term loosely.”
“Please what? Huh?”
Zody approached Anne with open arms. “I am not the enemy. Despite what you might think, neither is your father. His ideas might be centuries old but—”
Anne opened the door and watched Zody.
She had it with this woman. “Please what? Fill that pot with tap water and tell you here you go. Here’s your precious water. Oh. Not what you wanted? OK. How about a nice tall bottle of melted ice from the great iceberg of the north instead?”
“That’s not what it is.”
“Isn’t it?” She opened the door wider. “I’ve got work to do. Thanks to you, I don’t have much time left.”
Zody let out a big breath and walked out.
Anne slammed the door behind her. She went back to the report to put it together. It would take all night.
Out of all the choices available, she had to get that one. It looked interesting at first. After the encounter though, it was anything but. Nevertheless, it still needed to be finished. “You can’t pick the vics or the perps.” She laughed as she remembered the TV series that line came from. All too true.
Typed up, read through, and errors fixed, it was emailed to the professor. After that, wait two weeks to get the scores back. Three o’clock in the damned morning which gave her three hours to sleep. She took it.
Nothing too out of the ordinary on her next shift. The drunk with the triple-F name, was still in holding. Rumor had it they were waiting on a psych eval since he kept going on about how the aliens were going to gather up all the humans and make them their new food source. Problem was, he stole a truck’s worth of aluminum foil to hide the cheese.
Granted that was a TV show once upon a time, but unless they came back to TV in rerun form, it caused her to take a few steps far and away from him. A few calls here and there, nothing too far out there. She was happy about that.
With the paperwork completed and taken care of, she went home. She sent up a silent prayer for no calls as she worked on her homework assignment. That report was turned in but there were still some questions and answers that needed to be done.
There was something soothing about brushing teeth. It always relaxed her and made it easier to fall asleep. The phone rang as soon as she finished. She looked at the screen on her phone before she answered. Unlisted number. She turned it off and went to bed.
She got up and got ready. Once out the door, it felt like somebody was watching her. An unseen presence she passed off as work-related stress. Car started OK, and once out of the parking lot, she started her radio. Maybe some tunes might help to ease things.
She kept looking around but everything seemed normal. There were the typical Cadillacs, Lincolns, Toyotas, and a few Harleys but nothing to say these were the people following you. Not that anyone would have a billboard on their car stating as such.
Even at her desk, that feeling was still there. She used every bit of will she had to stop herself from jumping every time somebody came up behind her. With the following day off, she planned to use that day to work on her studies and maybe relax a bit. A day away from everything was maybe what would work.
As much as she would love to turn her phone off, she couldn’t. She put it on vibrate instead. The way it rattled on the table always got her attention.
She opened her text and her laptop to start studying for a midterm. Too early to find out how she did with that report. She included everything she needed to, but in the end, it always depended on whether or not the teacher liked it.
Her phone rattled. An unlisted number again. Jorge knew how to get a hold of her when he needed to. Dad would never call and Mom didn’t want to do anything that would get him angry. So she would never call. Chances were it was a telemarketer. There was always a loophole.
She knew she was hungry but for what she had no idea. Nothing sounded good. The doorbell ringing brought her out of her endless search.
“I tried getting ahold of you but there was no answer,” Zody said. “That’s why I’m here. I really could use your help.”
Not again. Anne leaned against the doorjamb. “We’ve already been through this. So unless you want me to beat something over your head in the hopes a hole would open up to let in the information it’s going to get, I suggest you leave now.”
“Please, Anne. Somebody is after me.”
Oh, how funny. “Let’s see, between the white Cadillac, blue Ford F-150, and the yellow Mustang, none of them could protect your precious soul.”
“What? What are you talking about? I don’t own any of those cars. None of my people do either. How long have they been out there?”
“You know, for someone who has a rather large bank account, you don’t have very good bodyguards. And they’ve been there since your arrival. What was I supposed to think?”
“We’ll talk about that later. Could I come in now?”
Anne stopped leaning when something clicked from behind Zody. She grabbed Zody’s arm and pulled her inside to shut the door. There were multiple law enforcement personnel that lived here. Nobody dared to do anything. Ever. Did someone not get the memo?
A shot fired before she had a chance to shut the door. She ducked. “Down.”
Zody was face down on the floor. Blood didn’t pool around her, but she had to check. “Are you OK?”
“Now do you believe me? For the record, I have bodyguards. It is a necessity. With so many here in law enforcement I didn’t believe I needed them.”
A short black woman banged the door open. “Ma’am… .”
“Which one? Your boss is alive and on the floor. Your humble servant is the one talking to you. Get out of my doorway and call 9-1-1 if you haven’t already. I take it you know the details.”
“Right.” The black woman reached into her pocket and took out a smartphone.
“I need you. Please? Don’t ask me where that thing came from. That cheap jug, jar, ugly rotten vase thing. It has a way of showing up without me knowing about it. I need someone by my side. You’re it.”
Anne stood up. She looked outside her doorway to see red and blue flashing lights with a noise she would never tire of. That ol’ familiar yellow convertible.
“Jorge. Come in.” She laughed as he jogged through the bushes. “You could just walk around.”
He shrugged. “Don’t you know it’s dinner time?”
“Gee. Sorry to disrupt your enchilada.”
“How did you know?”
“Right. What happened?”
She pointed at Zody still on the floor. “Talk to her.”
She went to the kitchen to make coffee again. One of these days, the ol’ coffee maker was going to refuse to work. That would be the day she would cry. It’s been a lot of years since they found each other. It was love at first mug.
It took some time before the police left. A quick glance at the microwave told her it was twelve-eighteen. Zody found a way to get up off the floor it seemed. She covered her eyes and laid her head back.
“Are you going to suggest, might I suggest you call one of your bodyguards and escort you home? I’d agree except there’s one thing. You see, I have this thing about following something through. I came with the intent to put you by my side. I’ll even pay your tuition. Just come with me. You’ll receive full benefits, accrued time off, and whatever else you may need that I’m sure I’ve got the documents for.” She uncovered her eyes and stood from the couch. She walked past Anne and opened the door. She had that lady’s shirt in her hands. “I don’t care what time it is. You get your ass to my assistant’s house and get her over here. I don’t care if she’s in her PJ’s. It’s clothes. Get moving.” She pushed her out the door and closed it. “I’ve had contract negotiations that weren’t as deadly. Close but not quite.”
Anne raised her eyebrow. “Ma’am. Perhaps you should reconsider. If you’re looking for someone with law enforcement experience, this building is full of them. The apartment right above me, he works for the FBI. The one next to him works homicide. Three apartments on this floor alone, are all ADAs. All you need to do is knock and be prepared to answer a whole lot of questions.”
“I understand that. Who I want is you. I don’t know what I want. When I want it is now. Where I do I want it? I’m not even there yet. What’s taking so long?”
“Road construction. Look, I’ve got things I have to get done.”
Zody dropped her head and shook it. “No. No. And no. You tell me who I need to talk to and let me take it from there.”
Someone knocked on her door. Zody opened it. “What do you want?”
“Excuse me, young lady, didn’t your mother ever talk to you about manners?” An old woman asked.
Anne smiled. “Welcome to comedy central. Coffee?” She hoped her mother would accept the attempt at humor.
Zody laughed. It worked on someone.
“Just who are all of these people and why is it I had to find out what happened from Mrs. Stone?”
“Because you have nosy neighbors who are insomniacs. To answer your question, most of them are hers.” Anne pointed to Zody.
“You will not—”
“I will talk to my daughter in private. This does not concern any one of you here.” Dad stood in the doorway.
Could this night get any worse? “Just come right in. Good to see you, oh dear Father. Gee, I don’t even remember the last time we saw each other. It’s been ages.”
“That is quite enough. After this event, I expect you to leave the police and return home where you will learn how to be a proper housewife.”
Anne approached. “You need more practice at the shooting range. Get out. Now.”
“Hmph.” Her father stuck his nose up in the air. “I did no such thing.”
“Leave. Now.” Anne was done with the night.
He opened the door and slammed it on the way out.
Anne fell to the floor and dropped onto her knees. Too much going on and she still didn’t know what the jug meant. Maybe, she will take Zody’s job offer after all.
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