After a few seconds to pay for my meal and to wave goodbye to Rebecca, I walked across the street and made my way to the university campus. Underneath the main square pavilion, I waited for my employer. Dark clouds bulked up over the campus, and soon, rain began to fall. It started as a sprinkle, then came down in sheets. Students rushed by trying to open their umbrellas, some shouted for others to hold the door open.
Soon, I was the only person outside, everyone else was safely tucked away from the deluge that fell. In the distance, I watched as a thin man wearing a black trench coat and a florescent green bowtie made his way toward me.
“Do you have the device with you, Walt?”
“Yes, sir. It’s in that bag over there,” I said pointing at the diner bag that held my current project.
“Does it work?”
He picked the bag up and looked in it. I waited for him to say something else, but he never did. His narrow eyes were sharp and clear, like a hawk sitting on a branch waiting for an unaware field rat or chicken to make a mistake, and he looked at me with the same hunger and grunted.
“You do good work, Walt.”
He handed me an envelope filled with money. I didn’t count it, I never had before. Instead, I tucked it in my pocket and waited. Thin man handed me a piece of paper with a dampened corner. On it was the next item he wanted me to make for him.
“How soon for you to build this?”
“Do you have the material?”
“No, we’re missing the combustible we want to use. Once we have it, how long?”
“Can you get it done in one?”
“Don’t tell me yes and not deliver.”
“I can do it in one, but I won’t promise the quality of work. If you need it in a rush, then you shouldn’t expect my normal quality. It’ll be done, but that’s it.”
The man frowned. His eyes darkened and his thin, colorless lips pressed together into a fierce straight line. From a normal perspective Thin Man would never strike anyone as dangerous. Now though, he looked like he might kill you for breathing.
“Two days is fine. We need your best work.”
I watched the rain continue to fall. Thin Man sat on a bench with his back to the rain and lit a cigar. The gray smoke drifted lazily to the rafters.
“You don’t ask many questions, Walt. Tell me about yourself.”
“Ain’t nothing to tell. I’m me. I piddle.”
He smirked and nodded. I kept on watching the rain.
“You’re just a good ole boy then?”
We sat that way until he finished his smoke. The rain tapered off some, and Thin Man took the package in his left hand. He gave me a nod, I nodded back.
“I’ll contact you when we have the material ready to go. Keep your phone on.”
He turned and walked out into the rain. I waited until I was sure he was gone, and then I walked in the opposite direction. After a mile in the wrong direction, I turned and circled back. My watch said it was almost eleven.
Rebecca would get off in an hour. I would spend my hour at the local bookstore and coffee shop until her shift ended.
Then, we’d see what she had to say.