Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Ding-Dong (05/16/13)
TITLE: Witness Protection Program
By Michael Throne
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It's the attitude I can't stand. That sense of entitlement.
"Shoot. That's all I've been doing."
Rick's impatient. He doesn't seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation.
I peer through the curtains.
"Don't be so paranoid," he says.
I see an empty street. Nothing more.
"I'm safer now than I was in my own neighborhood. Give it a rest, would you?"
As I gaze outside, a van pulls up across the street and parks. I watch, forcing my breath to be slow and controlled.
"Is there any food here?" Rick asks.
"Check the fridge."
I see a man with a tool box emerge, finally, and amble up to the neighbor's front door. As he's let inside, I let out a sigh of relief.
I study the street another minute, then sit down.
Rick comes back with two whiskeys.
"Here," he says. "I brought you something."
"I don't drink."
"No problem. I'll have both."
Rick isn't taking this seriously. He hasn't from the start.
"You need to be prepared."
"I get it, already. I give my testimony and afterward I get a brand new life. Easy enough."
I stand and peer through the curtains.
"So why don't you chill with all that spy stuff."
I look at Rick. "Why?"
"It's making me nervous."
"You should be nervous. There are plenty of powerful people, colleagues of yours, who don't like what you're going to say. They want you dead or in jail."
"Yeah. I suppose."
"Did you think this was going to be easy?"
"You should have thought it through before you agreed."
I take another glance outside, then sit back down.
"Are you having second thoughts?"
He pauses. "No."
"Good. Because we have a lot riding...."
I'm interrupted by the doorbell.
"Get down!" I hiss. I step to the front and peer through the curtains. There's a Domino's delivery car in the drive. I stare at Rick, incredulous.
"You ordered pizza?"
"Yeah. I got hungry."
I shake my head. At the door, I peer out and see a pimply-faced kid.
I open the door, take the pizza and hand the kid a twenty. As I turn to shut the door, Rick's there, grabbing the box.
I think I see a curtain move in the neighbor's house, but I can't be sure.
At the table, I confront him. "Do you want them to find you? Because I'd rather not be here when that happens."
"Whatever. Look, if they come for me, they aren't going to be ringing a doorbell...."
"Of course they will! Everything will appear completely normal. You won't even see it coming. Listen. No more calls to the outside. Understand?"
"Alright, already." He looks bored. "So now what?"
It's that same arrogant, expectant attitude. He's a throwback to years ago, when people were so casual about this kind of thing.
"All this drama," Rick says. "Not like the old days, huh?"
"No. Not like the old days."
It's a different time. There are a lot of bad people in the world, especially in the government.
He opens the box. "Here. Have a slice."
"So how long have you been with this witness protection thing?" he asks.
"A long time," I say.
"Do you like it?"
"Sometimes." And I do, sometimes. Like when I'm guarding someone who really understands what's at stake, who's actually trying to change things for the better.
I glance out the window while Rick noisily eats his pizza.
"So what do we do if they find me here?"
I shake my head. "If it gets that far, it's probably too late."
"I'm not James Bond and they won't come alone."
I sit on the couch. Rick finishes the pizza and settles back into his seat. To Rick, it's all one big free ride.
"So now what?"
"Why don't you go over your testimony. What are you going to say?"
He looks a little uncomfortable.
"I'll say that that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior."
"I guess it's enough."
I peer through the curtains. The van's been there almost an hour. It's probably fine, but....
"How do you get the satellite to work?"
"The satellite TV. How does it work?"
"I don't know. Look, Rick, are you really prepared? Are you ready for all this?"
"For all what?"
"Are you serious?"
He looks at me, uncertain, as the doorbell rings.
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