Scream of the Butterfly
By: T.G. Browning
Jon Wild pursed his lips, his expression darkening and accented by the welter of deep wrinkles that marked his face. His graying hair contrasted with his dark complexion and mustache of pure white. His anger was plainly visible. From his vantage point on the corner of 4th St. and Garvey, he could see across the intersection to where two figures stood, an island of calm in a sea of wandering pedestrians. The woman beside Wild, Sarah Hamilton, muttered softly to him, “So that’s McKinley.”
“Yes. And the woman is Whitby, his partner.”
Hamilton looked closely at Wild, “So? He’s the problem. She doesn’t have any power at all. She’s just a glorified PI.”
Wild shook his head impatiently. After a moment, he said, “Sarah. Look at her. Really look.”
Hamilton didn’t reply but frowned and complied. After thirty seconds, she shrugged. “Jon, I don’t see anything worth mentioning. Why? What do you see?”
Wild continued to stare at the pair across the intersection for a few more moments and then looked at his companion. “Something has marked her. I don’t recognize the signature — in fact, I’m not whether the mark is new or old. I can’t tell. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in an aura. It’s dark, a shadowy mark of some kind.”
Sarah regarded the pair across the street for a moment, her face now intent. Her eyes narrowed as she concentrated. “You’re right. I can almost see it. I know something’s there but I can’t actually call it into view.” She fell silent for a perhaps half a minute and then looked back to Wild. “If you’re worried about it, take them both out. They’re not expecting anything and I’m sure we can find someone local to do the job.”
Jon Wild slowly shook his head. “No, this we’ve got to handle ourselves. They’re going into that restaurant. We’ll give them a minute to get seated and then we’ll join them. Once we’re inside and close enough, I’ll handle things. You handle the rest of the restaurant. Keep everybody focused on something else.”
Sarah nodded her head. They’d done this a number of times before and while she didn’t see the need, she was confidant they’d finish up before their target had time to finish a cup of coffee.
Inside, Kevin McKinley regarded his partner, Pam Whitby, with a slight smile as she briskly ordered a club sandwich and a beer, much to the waiter’s dismay. Cocktails and expensive wines were the staple of the restaurant and beer struck their waiter as low class and gauche. When the waiter recovered his polished, supercilious air, Kevin blithely ordered a cup of soup and black tea.
Within the space of a few moments, the waiter returned with Pam’s beer and Kevin’s tea, made sure that neither one could be coaxed into a full meal and then left, somewhat in a huff.
“Well, now that we’ve got the contract, when do you propose to start?” Pam’s voice remained low and neutral, though the set of her gray eyes conveyed a faint amusement.
Kevin poured his tea and drank some before he answered. “Oh, I suppose we can start setting up today.”
“You’ll need to get some stuff from home, won’t you?”
Kevin nodded and shifted in his chair. For some reason, he felt as if a cool breeze had begun to blow around them. He casually surveyed the restaurant visually but didn’t spot anything out of the ordinary. “Yeah, I do. Might make for a long day, running back and forth between Newport and Boston.”
“Then let’s not. I say we find ourselves a great restaurant, which this doesn’t appear to be, and a great meal and then possibly do some shopping.”
Kevin, who had already guessed her intent, smiled and nodded and then drank some more of his tea. As he set the cup down, he happened to glance into it and noticed the few scattered tea leaves that it held.
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