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Nothing


(Catch up, here)

“Why does this not surprise me?” Grampy says between laughs. “You’re not surprised to see all this?” Grampy shakes his head. I rummage carefully between the lethal contents of the chest and pull out a knife bigger than my arm and yank it from its sheath. It’s a buoy knife of death. “Not even this?” Grampy takes it from my hands and turns it over. “I gave this to Ruthy for our one year anniversary.” “True love,” I mutter. The chest is filled with weapons of every sort. Strapped to the inside of the lid are knives of every size and shape. Some of them look more designed for cooking and slicing and filleting than killing a person. I let that thought sink in and try to suppress a shiver. Barrett’s muscled arm reaches in past mine and pulls out something black. It looks like the skeleton of a gun folded in on itself. He makes some quick movements and with a few snaps, the metal is unfolded and has extended into a nasty looking weapon. He puts the butt of the gun up against his shoulder and looks down the line of the gun as he points it to the ceiling. “A gun man, huh?” Grampy asks. He’s studying him closely. “I grew up around them.” Barrett brings the weapon down and slides something back while looking down a hole of something else, and then lets something snap into place. It’s all too loud and makes me jump. He hands the gun across the space to Grampy’s waiting hands. “You seem pretty familiar with assault rifles.” A leading question. “My dad was a gun nut.” Barrett shrugs. I study the contents of the chest more as I speak. “What about this to-do list, Ruthy?” Hand guns, boxes of bullets, money, passports, maps, papers in languages that are completely foreign to me, bundles of what look like surveillance photos of men. My heart stops when I see one of my direct supervisor. I bury the stack at the bottom of the chest and try not to think about it. “Well,” Ruthy says. “I happen to have started one sixty-some-odd years ago.” She smiles and unsnaps the lining of the trunk lid. The knives fold away, revealing a hidden compartment with a manila envelope. She un-sticks it and lays the contents carefully on the table. Inside is a stack of twenties, two passports, a folded piece of paper and a gun so small, it could fit in the front pocket of my skinny jeans and be hardly noticeable. Ruthy unfolds the scrap of paper and smoothes it against the wood.

Gene

555-6297

That’s all it says. “I don’t get it. I thought you said there was a to-do list?” My heart starts to speed up. That guy in the photograph is lethal. We needed a plan if we’re going to escape, and if all we have is a name and a phone number? We’re royally screwed. “Gene is the list,” Ruthy says. “Barrett, give me your phone,” Grampy says. Barrett hands it over without any questions. Grampy dials the number. I can hear it ring. There’s a beep, like an answering machine’s picked up. Grampy punches some buttons and hangs up. “What are you doing?” I ask in a panic. “If this guy’s our list, don’t you think you should at least talk to him?” “I did,” he says. “It’s a code. By dialing that number and leaving the message I did, Gene knows the situation and what he needs to do.” “But he doesn’t know you left the message. He doesn’t know where we are!” “Junebug?” I stare at the man I’ve known my entire life, and suddenly, I don’t think he can make everything better like I once used to. “Things will be okay.” I take a few breaths. “What do we do now?” “Nothing.”



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