Mike looked at his watch. “It's late,” he said to his companion in the dark bar. “Jen is getting suspicious. A lot of questions.”
“You had to go and get a wife. In spite of all our training, all the warnings.”
Mike shrugged. “Can I help it if Jen fell in love with me?”
A pretzel stick hit Mike's cheek.
“You’re just jealous.”
“Not of your complications.”
“See you next month.” Mike's chair rumbled against the plank floor as he stood to go.
Once home, Mike avoided the floorboard that squeaked. But it didn’t matter. She was sitting in the dark on the sofa.
“I’m leaving you. I’m taking our son.”
The words were like a bullet hitting his flak jacket over his heart. In three steps he was over to her, down on his knees beside her.
“Baby,” he said, “please, I need you to trust me.”
They argued for an hour. She finally agreed to wait, to give him another chance. Then a text message buzzed in. He had to go.
“If you don’t trust me, why should I trust you? This is the last time. Or I won’t be here when you come back.”
He couldn’t lose her, or their son. “Okay, but you must, absolutely, no exceptions, not tell a soul. Ever. Even in fifty years. They can’t know about me.”
He told her about the Time Travelers, vacationers who came from the future, they'll have the technology then. But they messed with the present, for their own entertainment, never thinking of the dire consequences. They had to be stopped.
“You kill people?”
“I’m just following orders.”
“That’s why you stay off the grid?”
“If the future ever gets any trace of me, they’ll kill me. Erase me. I ruin their business. They lose money.”
“Wow,” she said several times. “This is so cool.”
Later when Mike was at the hotel where the suspects were staying, he wished he’d not told her. “Wow” and “cool” bothered him. His concentration wavered. He needed to focus. They’d tracked this couple from a huge lotto win, one of the usual tip-offs. And they’d wasted no time buying up real estate with the winnings. Noiselessly, Mike opened the door, the locked bypassed with his own keycard. Two silenced bullets in each sleeping form. Not a sound.
On the way home, he knew she wouldn’t tell. He would trust her.
Ten years later, Jen was at her mother’s, her son nearby on his bike. It’s been so long. What does it matter now? Her mother always had a better story. Not this time. “You can’t tell a soul, but you wouldn’t believe what Mike used to do.”
When Jen got home, she flicked on the lights and her two cats ran up, bumping her shins. She tossed her keys and mail on the table. The life of a spinster. She should have listened to her mother and been a better person. Maybe she wouldn’t have such a lonely life.
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