Joshua L. Boutell | Hannah Nolan
Ryan stood in the hotel room, listening to the water trickle past in the stream behind the building. They hadn’t shut the sliding glass door. He shuffled his feet, and he stared out at his mother and the stranger in the blue suit. He bit his lip, watching the man rest his two button suit jacket on the table, followed by his hat.
“You know why I’m here, Missus Johnson?” The stranger wiped a white cloth across his forehead, collecting droplets of sweat.
“I have an idea.”
The stranger nodded. Ryan inched a couple of steps closer to the open door to the patio, praying he would not be spotted.
“This is about my husband’s situation,” Mrs. Johnson said.
“That’s correct ma’am. I’m Agent James Conner. I worked with your husband.”
“Past tense?” Mrs, Johnson asked. Her eyes flicked to the polished silver badge on the man’s belt.
Ryan clutched the tattered blue blanket. He’d worried and frayed the edges since he was a baby. The nervous tick resumed.
“I’m afraid so.”
Mrs. Johnson placed her hand on the seat next to her. Her eyes finally met the agent’s.
“What can you tell me?” Her voice was unwavering.
“Very little, ma’am. Your husband worked under cover for a top secret government agency, and his work is still regarded as an ongoing investigation.”
Mrs. Johnson had been studying the badge at some length, finding that there was no organization titled upon it.
“I ca-” Conner began, but was cut off.
“Don’t feed me that shit. CIA? FBI? Secret Service?”
Ryan’s heart skipped at the tone in his mother’s voice.
“What then? International? Was he with MI-6?”
“No ma’am,” Conner said.
She huffed out a sigh, wiping her hand across the tear that formed in her eyes.
“So where’s his body?” She asked.
Her hand reached out, sliding along the glass vase that sat between the pair, tracing beautifully cut lines that held water. Yellow flowers drank from the water.
“I’m afrai-” Conner began again, taking his hat into his hands and running his fingers over the brim as they sat in his lap.
Mrs. Johnson moved fast, faster than it seemed she should be able to. Her fist wrapped around the stem of the vase, and her feet hit the concrete floor, just as the base of the vase met the table. It shattered, pieces of glass littering the ground, and the sharp, jagged edges sticking out of her hand. The edges had cut the flower stems, which still clung to the inside of the vase, even as she pointed it threateningly at the man.
Ryan jumped at the sight, the sound. His mother’s free hand tightened into a ball at her side, knuckles going white.
“Where?” she asked him.
Conner’s eyes didn’t even rise from his hat during this. “You’re threatening a government agent, ma’am.”
“Goddamn right I am.”
Tears streamed down Mrs. Johnson’s cheeks. She didn’t seem to notice.
“If I divulge that information, it would put the investigation at risk.”
Her hand moved. Clutching the vase, she raised it and brought the edge down across Conner’s cheek. The yellow flowers fell from the glass towards the ground. The pair of them hit concrete, landing softly. It wasn’t a moment later that the first droplets of blood fell upon the petals.
Conner refused to react.
“Boston Police have him.”
She dropped the vase and stormed inside the doorway, right toward Ryan. His right hand clutched his blanket, and she snagged his left.
“You’ll never get him back, Mrs. Johnson,” Conner called from the door. He held his jacket in one hand, hat in the other, now standing.
The hotel door slammed behind the woman, child in tow.
Conner placed a white cloth over his cheek, picking up the hotel phone. He began to shrug his jacket on with one hand.
“Sergent McArther?” he asked. “I just sent you a present. Patricia Johnson is activated.”
He waited a moment, sliding his other arm into the jacket.
“Well you just see that he stays alive and you might buy yourself another day of life. Whoever wrote hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…well, they was writing about Mrs. Johnson.”