Undercover agent, Ryan Roberts zipped into Quinn Security Agency. Outside Ronny Quinn, his boss, made eye contact with him, nodded towards the agency's building, and went inside. He grabbed his phone, the image of a battered woman that his boss sent him the previous night, on it's screen. Ten years on the Newport Beach Police force got Ryan's foot in the door at Quinn’s agency. He was getting his first assignment this morning and hurried inside wanting to make a good impression.
Agent Sylvie Sanders, who started her career with the F.B.I., placed a coffee pot with a tray of amenities on the table’s center, jousted her cold coffee with fresh caffeine, and grabbed the seat next to Ryan.“Okay, this morning’s meeting will start with ‘Who’s on First.’ Ryan, you’ve got Kat Barringer detail.”
There were a few meows and purrs from the room. Ryan laughed. “This cat doesn't know she's a Manx, right?
Ronny spoke. “This young lady is with us for the duration. Her father has taken care of the obligation. And yes, this cat doesn’t know she has a tail.”
A few operatives chatted among themselves. Ronny gave the timeout hand signal and the room grew silent. “We’ve been covering realtor, Kat Barringer since she was attacked a few months ago at a property showing. Detail was restricted to only home showings, but her father’s recent death has changed things. She’s now on our daily detail schedule.” Ronny turned the page on a printed report he was holding up. “I’ve been working it with a few operatives. It’s been uneventful until yesterday when she made a call to a friend, Lexi Meyer. Our op came back to verify Barringer had been shopping. Kat was heard saying she ran into a man later in the day at a Beechwood Coffee shop, a few days prior he'd engaged her in conversation at La Regardez, a cosmetics store. She told her girlfriend it was 'kinda weird.”'
Ronny pushed a button on the table’s electronic communication system. Kat Barringer’s voice entered the room.
“Lexi, this guy that chatted me up at Beechwood Coffee was at La Regardez the other today.”
“Is he cute?”
“He’s okay looking.”
“Are you interested in him?”
“I’m not sure. I think it was kinda weird.”
“Weird? What was he doing there?”
“He had a box of perfume in his hand.”
“Maybe he has a girlfriend or wife.”
“I don’t know, but he gave me his card with a number on it.”
“Did he? What does he do?”
“Let me get the card.” There was silence for a few seconds. “ It says he does tile. He’s a tile guy.”
“There’s a lot getting laid in the floor business, Kat.”
“Oh my god, Lexi.”
A little laughter rung out in the room, but it died down quick.
“Well, maybe he’s good. Did you tell him you were thinking about getting laid on a new floor? I mean getting a new floor.”
The agents could hear Lexi and Kat laughing.
Then Kat spoke. “The market’s bad. If this keeps up, I’m going to lose my house. I won’t have a place to get laid.”
“The good news is you can always get laid, home or homeless.”
They could hear Lexi and Kat and one of them was snort laughing. A couple agents covered their mouths to muffle their own laughs, so they could hear the recorded conversation.
“I think he’s a little creepy, though. He’s gotten quiet a few times, both times that he spoke to me. He just stared at me, not saying anything, like dead conversation.”
“Okay, that’s unsettling.”
“Yeah, it is. I’ve got to go eat.”
“Let’s do lunch on Tuesday.”
“I can’t be spending money.”
“My treat. I’m not about to give up our lunches.”
“Okay, about 1 o’clock the usual time?”
“Yeah. I’ll call you Tuesday morning so we can decide where. Ciao.”
The agents hear the connection go dead.
“Anyone want to pay for my lunch today?” Agent Maverick Astolfi, an eight year operative with a military background, asked.
“You wash my car, I’ll buy you lunch,” Ronny answered.
Ronny hit the off button on the equipment console. “No description on the guy, so we’re going to 24/7 her.” He threw a few photos of Kat in front of Ryan. “Brunette , age thirty-two, Caucasian, five foot six, slender, blue eyes, fair-skinned, but wears self-tanner. No tattoos or piercings, but for pierced earlobes. The only unusual thing about her is hair twirling.”
One of the agents stuck his finger in his short hair and twirled it. “What’s that all about?”
“Habit,” an agent said, leaning over her photos. “Not bad looking.”
“Eh, she’s nothing special,” said another.
“I think there’s something cute about her,” Astolfi chimed in.
“It doesn’t matter what we think of her looks. It matters that nothing happens to her.” Ronny pointed at Ryan. “Joe Coffee, you’re to report back immediately on any findings. I want to know who this guy is that’s engaging Miss Barringer.”
“What’s the Joe Coffee name for, Boss?”
“She frequents Beechwood Coffee shops, and whoever is tailing her is Joe Coffee.”
“Get Joe Coffee, ya hear?” Maverick joked.
They cracked up over it.
“Who’s on Second,” Sylvie announced, indicating the next agent’s assignment.
Next: TRACING HER STEPS - Segment 3
Find out what Joe Coffee learns about the guy that “so-called” ran into Kat Barringer while she was shopping in Segment 3 of JOE COFFEE CHRONICLES.
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R.J. Grand is the author of the Fortier Series Mystery Books - THE PAINTING OF DECEIT and ON THE INSIDE.