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Dick Winchester in… The First Date

A Dick Winchester Book 2 Adventure

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished 4 months ago Updated 18 days ago 10 min read
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Dick Winchester in… The First Date
Photo by Carson Masterson on Unsplash

Hello! If you're new to the Dick Winchester series, I highly recommend starting with Chapter 1 of Book 1: The Box with No Name

This is Chapter 3 of Book 2. If you haven't already, I recommend starting at Chapter 1 for the sake of continuity:

***

Book 2, Chapter 3

Maybe it was the dim lighting.

Maybe it was the three Jim and Cokes.

Maybe it was the MP5 submachine gun hanging at her side.

But I couldn’t remember feeling so at ease during one of these things before.

I guess my face betrayed my inner calm as Officer Teresa leaned in. “What’s going on, Winchester? Bored of me already?”

“Nope,” I said, smiling as I reclined in my seat. “Just taking it all in.”

Her eyes flicked to her left hip. “Usually my dates are put off by my accessories.”

I chuckled. “If anything, I’m more relaxed by them. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, you know?”

She gave me a small grin of her own at this.

“Besides,” I continued, “the day they say you can’t open carry Heckler & Koch’s finest addition to the gun world into a bar is the day I give up on the delivery business.”

“And when might that be? You certainly haven’t taken my warning to heart.”

I straightened up. “Hey, I’m behaving myself!”

“Getting into a brawl with Leedos Insider Threat Protection?”

“They were trying to kidnap an innocent rose-ringed parakeet who just happened to overhear sensitive information pertaining to the next-generation guided-missile destroyer! Anyway, Jordan did most of the damage in that tussle, anyway. Don’t ever get on the wrong end of a parakeet’s talons, I tell you what.”

Teresa waved her hand at that. “Thankfully I get to leave that to those sorry saps at Animal Control.” Then she cocked her head. “Not that I wanted this for the parrot—”

“Rose-ringed parakeet,” I corrected without thinking.

“—rose-ringed parakeet,” Teresa accepted the edit, “but why kidnap it? Why not shoot it?”

I put my elbows on the table. “Now that’s where it gets really amusing. They didn’t want her because they were trying to plug a data leak. On the contrary. One of the idiots spilled coffee on the laptop with the technical specs for their point-defense system. The same specs they had been reviewing in the meeting where they had left the window open because Leedos had cut the budget for office HVAC. They needed Jordan to recover their work.”

“Recover their— they didn’t have any backups?”

“I know, right? No cloud backups in this day and age? You can’t make this stuff up.”

Teresa laughed at that. “Says the guy who runs an underground delivery system that only takes orders through an anonymized phone line and only accepts cash.”

I held my hands up, reclining again. “All I’m saying is commit. Either go digital or go traditional, but don’t go halfway like those morons.”

“Well, at least this was a rare Dick Winchester escapade where the Homicide Squad wasn’t called, but antagonizing the second-hand-man of one of your main rivals? Are you trying to get gunned down in the street?”

“Hey, Vincent and I are square now,” I replied even as I rubbed my throat. “He said he won’t make a move until the higher ups approve it.”

“And you don’t think that making enemies of the defense industrial complex might tip the scales?”

I resisted the urge to put my feet up on the table separating us. “If Leedos is too cash strapped to air condition their offices, I’m not all that concerned, no.”

“All I’m saying is it might be better to not keep growing your list of enemies every chance you get.”

“In an ideal world, sure. But this is the world of business we’re talking here. Can’t make an omelet without killing a few of the competition’s middle management.” I gestured to her. “In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to wear Kevlar out in public, but here we are.”

She looked down at her navy-blue uniform and black vest with ARLINGTON POLICE in bright white block letters. “Oh, this? Just couldn’t decide on what to wear, so I figured I’d go with the same outfit from last time.” I saw the briefest flash of tongue across her pink lipstick. “Seemed to catch your eye, if I recall.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “Between the flashing red and blues and the Arlington PD cruiser, you could almost say I stopped dead in my tracks. But let’s not get it twisted: you kissed me.

“It’s the 21st Century. Women can make the first move, can’t they? Besides,” her foot tapped mine under the table, “I wouldn’t exactly call you an uncooperative witness.”

Just in time, the waiter appeared with a fourth Jim and Coke. With the room much warmer than I remembered, I drank half before the ice could melt. Never mind that Teresa was still nursing her first pilsner across from me.

“Say, you’re really hitting the sauce over there,” Teresa said, running her foot up my shin. “You aren’t planning on getting behind the wheel after all that, are you?”

“Of course not,” I said with a wink, despite that being the exact plan.

“Good, good.” She nodded. “Would hate to have to slap cuffs on you.”

Memories flashed through my mind of the prior night and the lurid details of Katie’s sex life. So vivid that I almost missed what Teresa said next.

“You’ll just have to come back with me, instead.”

For a moment, the room hit 90 degrees. Then my phone buzzed.

“Visit favorite shape in 30 minutes” the calendar notification reminded me, sending the room temperature into the sub-Arctic.

“Favorite shape” was code, of course. Anything to throw off the spyware apparently infesting my phone. Truth be told, my favorite shape is a hexagon.

I had opened my mouth to apologetically inform Teresa “I’ve actually got plans after this” when the “plans” approached our booth.

“Mr. Winchester?” The first of two men in matching dark suits and sunglasses asked.

“That’s right,” I said, appreciating the fact that each had gone for charcoal versus the stereotypical black two-piece suit. And were those pin stripes?

“What’s going on?” Teresa asked behind me.

“Sorry, it totally slipped my mind, but I’ve been invited to…” I glanced at the pair of G men “…a meeting.

“A meeting? At 7:30 in the evening?” Confusion morphed to a scowl. “This isn’t some elaborate scheme to get away before I ask for a second date, is it? Because it’s starting to feel like it.”

Uh oh. I wanted to tell her what was actually going on, but I didn’t know if I could. Not to mention, I doubted the two standing beside us would tolerate any more delay.

I played for time. “That’s not what this is, I swear.” I turned to the retrieval team. “I still need to pay our bill.”

“Your drinks are on the taxpayers’ dime tonight, Mr. Winchester,” the second man said, flashing a black credit card that had “U.S. Treasury” where the American Express logo would normally go.

“Boy, Winchester, you really know how to treat a girl,” Teresa said, leaning back with arms folded across her bullet-proof vest.

I was torn between delight at the free drinks and meal, wonder at the thought of having a direct line into the limitless supply of money that was the Treasury, and despair that I was being forced to choose between Teresa and the Secretary of Defense. Pissing off either would make my life more difficult than I cared to think about.

Thankfully, Agent 1 bailed me out. “Don’t thank us, ma’am. Thank the Secretary of Defense.”

A new light entered Teresa’s eyes. “The Secretary of Defense? That’s where you’re going?”

I nodded before turning to mouth a silent thank you to Agent 1. He gave me a quick thumbs up.

Her next question appeared to catch him as off guard as it did me. “Can I come?”

I watched his default expression return and assumed he was about to deliver a firm no.

Instead, he replied, “I’ll need to run that up the chain of command.”

Agent 1 pulled out his phone and dialed a number, stepping away to speak with whoever was on the other end of the line. While he talked and paced, the waiter approached Agent 2 with a warm smile.

“Can I bring you anything to drink while you wait?”

I waited, expecting a firm no this time for sure.

Instead, Agent 2 pulled out his own surprise with “Jameson. Two fingers. Neat.”

“Right away!” The waiter practically sprinted to the bar.

Agent 2 met my raised eyebrows and jerked a thumb toward his colleague on the phone. “Hey, he’s driving. And this is official government business, so it can all go on official government expense reports, right?”

I swore he winked at me through his aviators.

The waiter returned in record time. I thought having a fully uniformed and armed police officer at our booth had inspired good service, but this man nearly bowed as he presented the whiskey glass to Agent 2.

“Thank you kindly,” Agent 2 said, pulling out his Treasury black card.

On the house,” the waiter said, waving it away and performing his version of backing out of the room so as not to turn his rear to royalty. “After that thousand-dollar tip, it’s the least I can do.”

“How about that?” Agent 2 said to us as he took a healthy sip. “One less expense report for me.”

Just as I was starting to contemplate switching careers, Agent 1 reappeared with the phone speaker cupped in his hand. “You know how to use that?”

I followed his finger to Teresa’s shoulder slung MP5.

She gestured to the ARLINGTON POLICE block letters running across her vest.

“Fair point.” Agent 1 raised the phone back to his ear. “Yes, ma’am. Qualified shooter.” He glanced at Teresa again. “Plus, we don’t need to fit her for a vest.”

Vest? Kevlar vest? For a meeting at the Pentagon? They must take their security even more seriously than I thought.

“Very good. See you soon, ma’am,” Agent 1 concluded the phone conversation. “Sec Def says you’re in, Miss…?”

“Knowles,” Teresa offered.

I grinned at her. “So she has a last name after all.”

Before she could respond, Agent 1’s voice drew both our gazes. “Hey! You didn’t order anything for me?”

Agent 2 shrugged. “You were on the phone. And we’re on the clock, after all.” He quaffed the rest of the Jameson to emphasize his point.

Agent 1 sighed. “I suppose it wouldn’t be good to keep the boss waiting.” He nodded to Teresa and me. “Let’s go.”

As we stood, Agent 2 looked for a place to set his empty glass. On cue, the waiter materialized out of thin air, making me and the G man flinch slightly. “I’ll take that,” he said, shaking each of our hands with his free one. “Please come back any time.”

As we marched into the street, the Feds led the way with Teresa and I behind. Agent 1 leaned into Agent 2. “How much did you tip the man?”

“Department standard.”

“Ah, no wonder he was so happy to see us.”

I grinned, imagining how the young man’s prospects might have changed for the better because of this fortuitous meeting of an Arlington Police Department lieutenant, Department of Defense escorts, and the head of Winchester Delivery Services.

I would bet this sort of thing happened to a lot of servers. Servers, the backbone of this country, right alongside our indomitable deliverymen.

As if to emphasize the point, the police lieutenant took my hand and squeezed it, our shoulders brushing as we approached the black Chevrolet Escalade with unmarked plates.

I squeezed back, far less nervous for the biggest meeting of my career with Teresa at my side.

Yep, I concluded, think of how many service workers might go hungry if not for a few well-connected men like Dick Winchester.

***

Tune in next week when the story continues in the next thrilling installment of Dick Winchester—and Teresa Knowles—in… The Pentagon

Author’s Notes

If you’re confused about the sudden introduction of Officer Teresa Knowles, rest assured: it’s not as sudden as you might think. It only feels that way because she first appears in the print-exclusive chapter of Book 1 titled “The Cop Out.”

In that vein, if you also were wondering if you should know more about the Leedos incident discussed at the start, once again, yes. However, that one isn’t a “buy the book and find out” affair. More like I *cough* still need to write it. But it will be on Vocal sometime in February. Honestly, the synopsis provided here sums it up nicely.

And I know set up this chapter to be “The Pentagon” proper in the last installment, but what was supposed to be a 500-word vignette of the date turned out to have a chapter-worth of material, so in true Dick Winchester fashion, we’re rolling with it. Or I am, anyway, and you as the audience are either here for it—or you aren’t. Both equally valid takes.

Besides, after two more serious chapters, I thought this would be a fun, lighter, and shorter chapter to cleanse the palette. Remember when I could get a Dick Winchester adventure to under 2,000 words? Me neither.

I’m also balancing the demands of the Dick Winchester saga with a novella I’m writing up based on one of the old “give us the first chapter” challenges. Even though I entered them, I never liked the idea of providing something incomplete. Everyone would always counterpoint with “you could always write the full book.” I’m not going to the effort to alternate caps that whole sentence, but imagine I did. That argument always made me roll my eyes.

Until now, when I find myself doing exactly that. So, there’s that. Look out for a novella-length Sci-Fi offering from me sometime in the next couple years. Sci-Fi, a genre that fits into exactly 0 of my strategic plans, but I’m still doing it because I like the story. And if I write it, I will publish it. At some point.

Point being, Dick Winchester production may be a bit slower in the meantime. Until I see another Vocal Challenge that lets me kill two birds with one stone, at least. Appreciate you sticking with me.

More Dick Winchester in...

The Opening Salvo (Book 1)

  • Opening chapter: The Box with No Name

The Counterattack (Book 2)

  1. The Deflation
  2. The Interrogation
  3. The First Date — you are here
  4. The Pentagon Part 1
  5. The Pentagon Part 2
  6. The Movie Night
  7. [The rest of the book] — drafting in progress

AdventureThriller
5

About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

I am an award-winning author from Arlington, Virginia. Started with short stories, moved to novels.

...and on that note: A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛

StephenARoddewig.com

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Comments (4)

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  • Mackenzie Davis10 days ago

    But Teresa was in the parakeet story right? Wasnt that on Vocal? Is it not anymore? What have I missed, lol! Love their back and forthing over dinner and the Agents are hilarious! I am getting the sense that they could be in disguise. Maybe two of Dick’s associates? But if not, they’re a fun addition. Onto the next! I can’t tell you how impatient I am for all the stories to be in one bound place!

  • So happy to finally Knowles her last name! Another fantastic chapter, Stephen. Doesn't bother me at all to make the Pentagon wait.

  • Lamar Wiggins4 months ago

    Ha! Great episode! And thanks for the Authors note. It answered a couple questions. As usual this is entertaining. I love how you infuse the little nuanced descriptions for the characters gestures and mannerisms. Very effective And adds to the overall humor.

  • Donna Fox (HKB)4 months ago

    As always Stephen I love Dick's inner monologue and POV on the happenings around him. I love that you've created a woman that's equally as interesting of a character, really excites me with the possibilities as to where this is going!! Can't wait until you finish the trilogy and I can buy the books!! 💚

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