Quinn let the rising heat from the stove burner warm her cheeks as she waited for the water in the tea kettle to boil. She detached from her thoughts to turn her attention back towards the TV to continue watching tonight’s entertainment. Her ears picked up the all too familiar tea kettle whistle and she carefully poured the scalding water into her mug. She reached for her phone to check her messages while the tea ruminated. When she felt enough time had passed, she glided her fingers around the mug’s handle and walked around to continue watching TV. As Quinn nestled into her couch corner, her shoulders dropped and the wave of calm crested, crashed, and washed over her as each muscle in her body began to relax.
Quinn’s eyes flitted up to the window behind the TV as what she assumed were headlights cut through the night’s veil of darkness. She noticed, however, that the light did not diminish and as her attention continued to divert towards this peculiarity, the silhouette of a head and shoulders made itself visible.
It’s probably just the neighbors.
To stifle the anxiety that was starting to tiptoe down the hallways of her mind, Quinn glanced to her right at the deadbolt lock on her front door. The tiptoe turned to a run as the visual of Quinn’s unlocked door hurried through her retina, down her optic nerve to her occipital lobe, and then sprinted towards her frontal lobe. As the silhouette motioned towards the front door, Quinn’s frontal lobe began to scream.
Quinn’s forearm muscles flexed as she pushed herself up from the couch and with a swift movement rivaling that of a baseball professional, she slid into the empty space under her stairs. Quinn’s heartbeat was pounding so intensely in her ears, she almost didn’t hear the door creak open and the sound of a single footstep cross the threshold into the townhouse.
Every movement was precise and calculated as Will brought his body into what seemed to be the living room. Trained to scan the entirety of his surroundings, his focus shifted to steam rising from a mug on the coffee table.
You were just here weren’t you Quinn.
Will continued to keep his weapon in front of him as instinct whispered in his ear to move toward the less illuminated rear of the townhome. With precise steps, Will engaged.
Quinn huddled in the corner, curled in fear as she waited on hold for death. Instead of irritatingly catchy instrumentals, Quinn listened to the footsteps of her intruder as a left foot, then a right entered her field of vision. To fill in the rest, Quinn scaled the figure with the one part of her body that could move without making a sound. The two feet were anchored to slender legs and a tall torso adorned with broad shoulders serving as the mount for two equally slender arms. For an instance, Quinn thought the night itself had entered her home, but logic interrupted to detail the more accurate conclusion of black clothing. She abruptly held her breath as her eyes continued to paint the picture of the figure before her; the final stroke being the only visible part of the man in her home and in his hands, Quinn’s intended demise: a gun.
Quinn relaxed for a the faintest of a moment as the intruder made his way past her towards the back, guest room. Waiting until he was far enough away, Quinn launched from under the stairs and in two strides was at her coat closet directly in front of the stairwell, pulling out a wooden bat. With the same precision only a hint faster, Quinn followed the invisible track of the black-clad figure.
Will entered what his eyes told him was a bedroom as they panned around the scene in front of him. He lowered his weapon as the realization made itself clear that Quinn was absent. Will almost flinched as something hard materialized and pressed itself against his left temple. The silence in the air made Quinn’s voice almost echo in Will’s ears.
“Don’t move. Drop the gun.”
Will slowly unlatched his left hand from the gun’s grip and moved his arms outwards in the shape of an L, gun nestled in his right hand. Before Quinn could decide what to do next, Will shifted his balance and brought his left arm around until he felt his fingers curl around the barrel of the bat. He ripped it from Quinn’s hands, tossed it on the bed, and resumed his hold on the gun. He processed the image of Quinn standing now in front of him, the gun aimed dead center between her light brown eyes. Something was different about her, but that didn’t matter to Will now. Second to break the silence between them, Will spoke the last words he intended his target to hear.
Diving across the finish line to win the race of the last sound Quinn heard before she became a distant memory, Will’s phone rang in his jacket pocket.
Of all the times this damn phone has rung…
Knowing not to ignore the call, Will let one hand fall from his gun to answer his phone. He was careful to stay aimed for the kill shot. The pixelated voice of The Operator jutted out of the speaker.
“We have intel that Quinn has boarded a flight to Havana. Why isn’t he dead yet?”
Will’s facial muscles contracted from confusion to realization as it hit him like the bullet waiting for Quinn inside of his gun.
The glow of Quinn’s laptop screen illuminated the faces in front of it as the pair scrolled through the airport’s website. Will sipped the still hot tea that had alerted him to Quinn’s presence only moments ago.
Orange and cinnamon spice. How did she know?
Will’s enjoyment was interrupted by Quinn rapidly tapping his arm with the back of her hand.
“Oh look! This flight leaves in an hour.”
“Perfect. And again, I’m so sorry for the misunderstanding.”
“No worries,” Quinn eyed Will’s gun and her instinct for using sarcasm to curb her anxiety kicked in, “Happens all the time.”
Will furrowed his brow and decided to end this engagement that had already gone on for too long with a completely different conclusion than detailed in the brief given to Will at The Agency.
Will set the unfinished tea back down on the coffee table, giving it one last heartfelt glance as he got up and walked towards the door. He turned the knob and started to leave but before he made his way back across the threshold, he turned around to Quinn.
“You might want to lock this behind me.”
Quinn got up, closed the door behind her almost Grim Reaper, and turned the deadbolt. She pressed her back to the door and let out a long sigh as she lowered herself to the floor.
Huh. The movies get it all wrong.