Writing Prompt: Eavesdropping
Write about someone who overhears something shocking or interesting.
I knew better than to eavesdrop.
After all, my grammie always warned me that eavesdropping would put a strike on my karma card and would land me straight in Hell when I died.
That superstitious, little old woman. God rest her soul.
It wasn’t like I purposely went looking for it. I didn’t perk up my ears or put a glass to a wall to try to overhear private conversations. Just like I didn’t go out of my way this time.
It just kinda happened. I always do my best to ignore it when I can, but I couldn’t tune out what I heard today.
Tucked into a corner of my small town’s local (and only) coffee shop, I minded my own business, my nose in a book.
And then I heard the whispers.
“Finlay Griffin,” the woman said with a snort. “He thinks he can simply get a new alias, skip to a pass-through town, and not be found?”
The man sitting across from her looked around and leaned in, keeping his voice low. “He probably thought he had more time.”
“He obviously underestimated us,” she whispered harshly. The woman twirled her pearls around her fingers, looking like a perfect suburban housewife, but the glare in her eyes and the sharp lines of her face made me suspect it wasn’t as it seemed.
The man sipped his coffee and opened a newspaper, giving off an air of casualness. “So what’s the plan?”
“Same as before. Find him. Kill him. Dispose of him.” She said the words so quietly, I almost thought I misheard.
I wish I had.
As the man shifted while flipping to the next page, the glint of his gun peeked out from under his jacket confirmed I hadn’t.
Sure, we were in a small town in Colorado and guns were common around these parts, but most of our gun owners were hunters.
This man didn’t look like a hunter…not for animals, at least.
Finlay had moved to our small town–population 8,291–a little over two months ago. He was charming and handsome, but somewhat aloof. Our town was tight-knit, sometimes to a fault. Everyone knew everyone, which was both comforting and suffocating.
Finlay had somehow kept us all at arm’s length despite the onslaught of welcome baskets, overly friendly neighbors who unexpectedly popped by to see how he was settling in, and the fact that the next closest town was twenty miles away.
It was just us in this postage stamp town.
His method was bulletproof. Both polite and helpful, he made the residents feel like they’d bonded without him ever revealing anything about himself. I didn’t know how he pulled it off, and now this the conversation made me realize how little we actually knew about him. For instance, where did he come from and why did he choose here out of all places?
Against my better judgment, I was compelled to warn him.
We’ve had a total of three conversations over the last couple of months, which consisted mostly of pleasantries. I owed him nothing. For all I knew, he might be a fugitive or a serial killer. But despite that logic, I needed to tell him what I heard. Maybe it was a misunderstanding that we’d have a laugh about, and then we’d go on our way as perfect strangers.
One could hope.
Acting as naturally as I could, I stood from my chair, trying to slow the hammering of my heart. Although I wasn’t looking back at them, the couple’s gaze burned into the back of my head as I left the coffee shop. Slowly. Casually. Just another day.
Once out of their view, I all but ran down the main road and skidded down the nondescript side street where Finlay rented a small bungalow on ten acres. It was quiet and somewhat secluded. Perfect for someone with a fake identity to hide from assassins.
I banged on the front door with rapid succession. Seconds later, he swung it open.
“Peyton, this is a surprise,” he said as he leaned against the doorjamb. “What’s up?”
My heart was still racing. “I...I.” I couldn’t catch my breath without the overwhelming urge to puke.
He straightened, concern etching his face. “What’s going on?”
“I overheard something at The Grind,” I started, frantically gulping down air. “Two people. A man and a woman. They...they said they were going to kill you.”
He grabbed my arm and dragged me inside the house, swiftly closing the door behind him. He locked five different deadbolts before turning around and addressing me again. “The woman. Was she in her late thirties with auburn hair? And did the guy have a Jason Statham vibe going on?”
He rubbed a hand down his face and let out a string of curses under his breath. “I’m sorry you got involved, Peyton. I appreciate you giving me a heads up, but this means danger for you. You’d be safer sticking with me.”
“What? What are you saying, Fin?” I was near hyperventilating, my knees going weak.
“Give me your phone.”
I handed it to him and protested when he smashed it to pieces on the ground. “What the hell do you think you’re doing!”
“We’re going off the grid and we have to leave right this second. Those people will make good on their threat and don’t like loose ends. You’re a part of this now.”
He threw a few things into a duffle bag and took my hand as he led us to the back door.
I tried to dig my heels in. To get him to stop. To make him explain what the hell just happened. “Where are you taking me?”
His strength overpowered me, pulling me to his truck with ease. “We have to get away from here. Once we get to a safe location, we’ll have to contact my guy to get us new identities. IDs. Passports. Bank accounts. The whole thing.” He threw the bag in his truck, picked me up, and put me in the passenger seat.
Fear washed over me. Was I getting into a car with a murderer? “I don’t even know you!” No one would even know I left. And without a phone, no one would be able to find me.
He slid into the driver’s side and fired up the engine. Turning to me, he looked directly into my eyes. “You’re going to have to trust me. I’m one of the good guys.”
He pulled out a badge from a pocket hidden inside his jacket. “My real name is Nick Steele. I was undercover for two years, trying to infiltrate a human trafficking ring in Atlanta. I was compromised and had to go into hiding.”
He cut me off. “I’ll explain everything later. I promise. But we have to go. Now!”
I may not be in Hell yet, but it sure felt like I was on my way.
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