Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Stranger's Secret. . .

This writing prompt is from the beginning of the year, and I confess to writing the following story then. The date on my entry at writersdigest.com is January 13, 2012.
The plane lifted off the runway and into the air. The person next to you turns and quietly whispers in your ear, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.”
credit: writersdigest.com 

The plane lifted off the runway and into the air. The man next to me turned and quietly whispered in my ear, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.”
My eyes popped open as I turned to him and asked the loaded question, “What?”
“The president is scheduled to die today,” he whispered.
My jaw dropped, and with shocked indignation I asked, “Excuse me?” As a presidential aide, this was a very touchy subject for me.
My eyes scanned the man, trying to profile him into one terrorist group or another. I found no flaws. Literally. He was dressed in a crisp navy-blue business suit with a tidy knot in his pale-blue tie. Not a blond hair out of place on his head. Even his shoes were polished to a shine.
His eyes darted around the cabin, then he leaned in again, whispering, “It’s a government plan. He’s destroying the country with his policies and forced beliefs, so he’s being taken out. They don’t want to rely on citizens to vote him out.”
I was utterly appalled by what this man was saying. How could he think our government would take out our president? He must have been crazy, a mental patient of some kind.
Deciding this was the logical explanation for the man’s ludicrous claim, I laid my head back and closed my eyes. It was a short flight to DC. I could just lose myself in the music streaming from my iPod. Maybe the wacko would leave me alone if I pretended to be asleep.

Once in DC, I met my contact, Joseph, at the baggage claim. Wacko was there, too, bypassing the luggage belt about twenty feet behind me. I wasn’t the paranoid type, but this guy had my nerves tingling.
Joseph and I walked in silence until we were inside the armored sedan waiting at the curb. Wacko waved to me as the door closed.
“Friend of yours?” Joseph asked.
“No. Just some wacko I sat next to on the plane,” I said.
“Yeah. He thinks someone is going to kill the president today.”
“Oh,” he said, “One of those.”
We started going over everything that was to be done that day. What was on schedule. What wasn’t. All in all, everything seemed to be running smoothly. We were meeting with the head of the president’s personal Secret Service guards in a few minutes. We would notify him of what the crazy man said. After that, it was out of our hands.

Hours later, I attended the president and his wife at a meeting with some worldly ambassador. The vial in my pocket would disintagrate in water, leaving no trace, but my job was complete as I placed the president’s drink in front of him, standing back to watch as he took a healthy swallow.
Maybe that guy wasn’t so crazy after all.

1 comment:

  1. Nice job, Jamie! You got me with the surprise ending.