Allen crept through the house, his weapon at the ready, his ears still ringing from the blast.
Floorboards squeaked and creaked under his feet, and the place smelled stale, unlived-in. Yet (what was left of) the kitchen was modestly stocked, the queen bed in the single bedroom had been slept in, and the electricity was still on. The faucets ran hot, and a pair of worn sneakers sat empty near the back door. The overall feel was that someone had been living here fairly recently, but perhaps not actually been here for a week or two.
Allen confirmed the property was clear, and holstered his gun.
A screaming banshee came bursting through the back door and knocked him to the floor before he could turn around and face it. The wind knocked out of him, he scrambled from face-down to face-up, only to find himself straddled by his attacker.
She held a baseball bat high over her head, poised like the Sword of Damocles, ready to come down at any moment and put the lights out for Allen.
“Wait!” he said, hands held in front of his face. He realized his gun was now lying on the floor a few feet away. “I’m not here to hurt you!”
“Who are you?” the woman breathed heavily, keeping the bat raised high, prepared to strike.
Allen figured he had only one chance to get the answer right. In situations like this, something closer to the truth often worked out better than something closer to a lie.
“My name is Allen. I’m an agent.”
She looked perplexed for a moment. “Real estate?”
Allen shook his head. Sometimes blowing cover was the right move. Something about his assailant’s scared blue eyes told him she needed someone to trust right about now. “No. Well, yes. I mean, that’s my cover. But I’m not our here doing geographic farming. Because I’m also a law enforcement agent.”
The woman’s shoulders raised and lowered with her deep breaths. “Which agency?”
Allen stared up at the woman. Other than looking extremely stressed, she was quite attractive. Wavy light-brown hair streaked with sunshine, clear blue eyes, smooth warmly-tanned skin, full lips. “I’m with an international organization called The Outfit. You’ve probably never —”
“I know about The Outfit,” she interrupted. “It was my husband’s job.” Little tears filled the area above her bottom lids, and she slumped slightly, but kept the bat over her head. “Sixteen years he survived The Outfit, only to get murdered after he retired!”
The woman stood up and tossed the bat into a corner of the room, then buried her face in her hands. Allen pushed himself up off the floor slowly and stood in place. “Was your husband Jim Greaves?”
The woman turned to Allen, her cheeks wet, and nodded. She took a ragged breath and said, “I’m Cyndi Greaves. Will you help me find Jim’s killer?”
Tune in next week for another exciting installment of Agent Allen!