Thursday Doors, StoryADay May: Steffie and Teagan

This post is part of StoryADay May (https://storyaday.org/) #StoryADay #StoryADayMay @storyadaymay #freeshortstory #ThursdayDoors

Y’all, I couldn’t get started this morning! Steffie flatly refused to kill anybody, so I had to make do.

Steffie In Florida

On one hand, Steffie thought, being on a road trip with another agent meant she didn’t have to pretend to be someone she wasn’t. On the other hand, it meant traveling in silence, since not presenting a persona meant not presenting anything. She wasn’t one of those jolly agents who joined the Agency softball league and stood around the water cooler bragging about how small their spy equipment was.

Luckily, Agent Teagan wasn’t one of those, either. Pleasant but private, Teagan was the perfect traveling companion, as far as Steffie was concerned.

They had already discussed the mission, which was so simple as to be too possibly complex to plan for: A retired agent in Florida had dropped off the radar and they needed to find her.

Gone rogue? Taken by one of the oppositions? Dead, by the opposition’s hand or her own hand or the hand of fate?

The last the Agency knew of her, she had moved from Minneapolis to Orlando, then from Orlando to Key West. In order to avoid any uninvolved opposition getting wind of the disappearance, another team had handled the Minneapolis investigation, which suited Steffie just fine. Her handler, Pete, laughingly called her “the spy who stayed in from the cold”, which she allowed.

A second team had handled Orlando, and now she and Teagan were pulling into a moderately priced motel on Key West.

No leads had turned up at either of the other locations, so the trail ended with Steffie and Teagan, one way or another.

A wordless conversation conducted by micro-expressions ended in Steffie taking the bed by the door and Teagan the one nearer the bathroom. Steffie opened her suitcase and transferred a sleep mask and a scruffed up beach romance onto the side table. She would move each every morning, dog-earing pages of the novel to simulate reading it, but both were just window dressing.

She noted Teagan’s lavender-scented lotion bottle and hair net, neither of which Teagan had never, to Steffie’s limited knowledge, used. The agents nodded approvingly to each other.

They changed into their tourist disguises and Steffie, as lead agent for this operation, said, “We’ve been best friends since junior high school. You’re the prettier one and got slightly better grades, but everybody thought I was funnier. We’ve been talking about this trip since we met, and we’re finally taking it. We got into an argument over nothing on the way down, but we’re tired of it and want to pretend it didn’t happen. I drink too much.”

Teagan said, “I was always secretly jealous of you because I thought everybody liked you better because you were so funny. I drink a little white wine, but not too much. I’m a little bit snooty, but I try to hide it.”

They had already decided they wouldn’t answer any personal questions – the best cover for an agent, since agents usually had detailed backgrounds prepared and drew from that well as if it were reality.

Steffie in Florida was Isabelle and Teagan in Florida was Barbara. Variations would be accepted.

Teagan/Barbara led the way out of the motel room and they strolled, two middle-aged women in shorts, t-shirts, sandals, sunglasses, sun hats, baggy purses, and too much jewelry, through the neighborhood and toward the beach.

On the way – the motel was moderately priced because it was half a mile from the ocean – they passed the apartment building where the missing retiree had lived.

As they did, Steffie/Isabelle turned to Teagan/Barbara, covered her mouth with a red-nailed hand, and gave a high-pitched laugh that blended the worst elements of a giggle and a bray.

Teagan slapped her gently on the arm and said, “Oh, you’re terrible!”

By this, Steffie meant, “I see someone we know,” and Teagan meant, “I see him, too.”

“I need some suntan lotion,” Teagan said, meaning, “I think we should follow him.”

Steffie handed her a bottle, signifying agreement.

They made no effort to be inconspicuous, talking over each other, bumping playfully into each other, telling random strangers things like, “Don’t pay any attention to her; she’s crazy!”

Their mark headed toward the beach. Enough people headed to the same place from so many directions they had no trouble keeping him in sight.

Then he was gone.

“I’m tired,” Steffie/Isabelle said. “Is there someplace we can sit down? Maybe get something to drink?”

“We might have passed a place,” Teagan/Barbara said. “Let’s look.”

They followed the scent of grilling meat to a fence tall enough to be called a wall, made of thin strips of wood woven through posts. A similarly-built gate stood open, showing a cement patio dotted with tables and chairs beyond, and a ramshackle building beyond that. Gas grills liked up like soldiers at attention, smoke rising from each. On the wall, next to the open gate, hung a rusty sign: NO TRESPASSING. WE’RE TIRED OF HIDING THE BODIES.

A woman’s hoarse voice bellowed from inside the building, “We cater! Catering only! We don’t restaurant, we cater. CATER, understand?” Slight pause. “I don’t give a flying fluff if we got tables and chairs, we don’t got a restaurant! LEAVE!”

It’s a common misconception of the viewing public that guns can have silencers. Nothing silences a gun. A suppressor changes the sound, but it’s still there, and still easily identifiable to the initiated. Steffie and Teagan were initiated.

Steffie held her baggy purse in front of her chest and tiptoed through the building’s door.

“Hello?” she called. “Can we get some service out here?”

Meanwhile, Teagan circled around to find another entrance.

The room Steffie had tiptoed into was probably the kitschy-est place she had ever seen, it being understood she had only been in Key West for a couple of hours. She was still partially stunned when a door opened in the opposite wall and a woman walked through, closing the door behind her.

The woman had faded blond hair with a pink tinge, bright green eyes, orange lipstick, and a cigarette hanging out of the side of her mouth. Her sleeveless shirt showed more baggy, wrinkled, age-spotted arm than most women Steffie knew would permit. Leg equally painful to look at. Feet misshapen by fancy footwear in better days were bare, the toenails painted flamingo pink.

“Not a restaurant,” the woman said. “We cater. Go away.”

Teagan stepped through the door behind the woman, and held a gun to her temple.

“Easy,” Steffie said. “We’re the good guys.”

“Well,” Teagan specified, “we’re your guys.”

The blond relaxed and so did Teagan and Steffie.

Teagan jerked her head toward the room behind her. “He’s dead.”

“Of course he’s dead,” the blond said. “I shot him. They usually die when I do that.”

She gave Steffie a bear hug.

“How you doing, Kiddo?” She hugged Teagan. “Looking good.”

She sighed. “You never really retire, do ya? They kept after me up north, they kept after me in Orlando, they kept after me in Key West. I thought maybe I could go underground, become somebody else and hide in plain sight, but they just keep coming.”

“It’s a compliment, really,” Teagan said.

“I guess.”

Teagan tucked her gun into the holster built into her baggy purse.

“Can we help you hide the body?”

“Naw, it’s okay. I got it down pat. Say, this ain’t a restaurant, but I can cook for a couple of friends. Come by about seven for some dry-rub barbecue? Best in the keys.”

Teagan glanced toward the door behind which lay a fat, juicy body.

“Um….”

The woman laughed. “Naw, this’ll be chicken.”

“All right, then,” Steffie said, reading Teagan’s agreement in her face. “Would you like me to ask Pete to send you some protection?”

“Nah. The day I can’t protect myself is the day I retire permanently. I’m okay with that. Meanwhile….” She shifted the cigarette from one corner of her mouth to the other. “Did you know there are saltwater crocodiles around here? True fact. There’s a whole family of them right in my back yard. Crazy, eh?”

“Crazy,” said Steffie.

“We’ll leave you to it, then,” Teagan said. She crossed the room and hooked an arm through one of Steffie’s. “Come on, Isabelle. I’ll buy you a drink at the beach.”

“I’ll get Pete a souvenir,” Steffie said.

“How about a nice belt buckle?” said the blond. “I got quite a collection.”


MY PROMPT TODAY: Steffie the Spy, Teagan Geneviene, and photo by Brenda Cox.

About

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Thursday Doors, StoryADay May: Steffie and Teagan

  1. Teagan Riordain Geneviene

    May 9, 2024 at 12:34pm

    Haha! Marian, I’m tickled (flamingo) pink for Agent Teagan to come back — and with such a big part in this Steffie story. The belt buckle collection is a rich detail. You cracked me up with ” stood around the water cooler bragging about how small their spy equipment was.”
    LOL, how did you know that I always need to be close to the bathroom? But only in this fiction has Agent Teagan ever even come close to being the prettier or the smarter one.
    I’m having way too much fun here Marian. 😀 Huge hugs from the Scoobies (Daphney & Velma) and me. Sharing.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 9, 2024 at 2:16pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed Agent Teagan! Actually, I know that I always need to be close to the bathroom. HA! Tipper, Chickie, and Adi wave paws to the Scoobies. Hugs!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Dan Antion

    May 9, 2024 at 6:20pm

    Two of my very favoritest characters working in deadly tandem. I love it. “Naw, this’ll be chicken.” cracked me up.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Maureen O'Hern

    May 11, 2024 at 7:24am

    I loved the part about the wordless conversation conducted through micro-expressions. I’d like to see that acted! A good story if somewhat grisly at the end: I’d not be so sure it will be chicken.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 11, 2024 at 7:40am

      I binged LIE TO ME while my wrists were broken, so that’s where the micro-expressions came from. And you know what they say in Key West: Having freshwater crocodiles in the back yard means never having to eat the people you kill. No, I’m wrong, they only say that in Key West in my head.

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  4. olganm

    May 11, 2024 at 3:12pm

    Fabulous story, Marian, and love Steffie, Teagan, and the retired agen. What characters! I hope they reappear again in the future!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author
  5. acflory

    May 11, 2024 at 5:48pm

    -giggles- I’d forgotten and Steffie too! Lovely to see her back, and as psychotic as ever. 😀

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  6. Resa

    May 13, 2024 at 10:32pm

    This is a hoot, Marian!
    Thank you for the fun write. I’ve got a water pistol. Maybe I can join ya?

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  7. Brenda's Thoughts

    May 22, 2024 at 9:04pm

    Nice to see Steffie back, and with agent Teagan. A very entertaining story, Marian. I’m so glad the photo inspired!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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