My name is Taylor and I'm a spy. Well, technically I'm a teenager who is training to be a spy. My mom runs the Academy, so you can guess I don't get a lot of favors around campus.
LATE AS USUAL
You never think death punches a time clock, but there is a time for each of us to walk through our door and into eternity.
I learned that the hard way when my mother‘s beau, a man who had everything to live for dropped dead at my feet. He couldn‘t be more than thirty-five. Too young to die.
In my line of work you’d expect Ralph would have died in a car chase or in a shootout with Russian mobsters. But that’s not how it worked out for Ralph.
His death was plain and uneventful.
We were waiting on a park bench a few hundred feet from the traffic on West Broadway. My sister, Abby, had dropped me off minutes earlier. It was a peaceful day. Birds chirped and a stream babbled nearby. It really was a perfect day.
The only problem was that it totally screwed up my first day at spy school.
Ralph Magnuson, my mother’s new beau, said the entrance exam would be the hardest part of my entire school experience. So, he‘d asked me to meet him at the park a little before school so he could go over a few things with me.
I sat there for an entire minute, but Ralph hadn’t made a peep, not one attempt at conversation. In retrospect, he must have died while we were sitting there. He wasn’t the type of man to have a heart attack. Ralph Magnuson was calm, cool and collected. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he was good at it. He was definitely not the type to get anxiety.
When our ride showed up, I stood, approached the vehicle as if I was just another kid visiting the park that day getting a ride to school. There was no time to dally, however. The people meeting us were very important to the owners of the Knights Foundation Academy.
I stepped into the shocking yellow Hummer and turned to say something to Ralph, but he wasn’t there. I looked back toward the bench. He was slumped over sideways and his eyes open staring at me.
I gasped. The men in the Hummer went into immediate action mode. One of them roughly pulled me into the car and slammed the door. They thought Ralph had been taken out by a sniper, and I guess that was a good assessment of what could have happened. A hefty Chinese bodyguard shoved me into the backseat as the Hummer squealed away from the scene.
“What are you doing?” I said trying to right myself to sit in the lush leather captain‘s chair.
“Were you followed?” asked a deep male voice from the front seat. The only people in the Hummer were me, the Mysterious Voiced Man, and the Chinese bouncer.
“Of course, we weren’t,” I said.
I couldn’t see who was behind the sexy voice. Hell, I didn’t even know what was going on. Ralph said he’d let me in on everything when our ride showed up. Now with him dead, I was completely in the dark.
“Where are we going?” I muttered as the Hummer took a sharp left turn throwing me against the right side door. “And who exactly do you think is after us?”
Zen boy in the front seat grunted and I assumed that was some sort of communication. He hadn’t said a word to me yet, not that I was hoping for small talk, I doubted he and I had much in common.
It took a few minutes before I discovered that the Chinese man’s name was Chen Sun. The stranger driving continued to be an enigma. He seemed to be someone senior to Ralph. Maybe Ralph’s boss or a superior with the Academy.
As Mysterious Voice Man drove the Hummer through downtown, I noticed a gun glinting at me from under the front seat. It was silver and looked like my mother’s Glock. I wasn’t certain of the allegiances of my two new friends so I decided I might need a little back up just in case the two of them went all Die Hard on me.
I nudged the Glock with the toe of my tennis shoe eyeing the men as I moved it closer to my position. The Hummer suddenly lurched as it made an unexpectedly hard stop. I pitched forward, grabbed the Glock and reached for the door.
It opened suddenly and I did the only thing I could, I pointed the gun. It was an almost an inborn instinct to survive. It took me a second to realize at whom I was pointing my gun.
From behind her stood Ralph, alive and well. My quick intake of breath nearly caused me to pass out.
My mother was smiling and Ralph was clapping.
“What?” I clearly wasn’t in on the joke.
“Best of the lot, I’d say,” Ralph said, stepping forward. Attached to his blazer was a Knights Foundation Academy name tag.
“You’re a teacher? Here?”
My mother came forward and hugged me, her own name tag digging into my shoulder. I pulled back and stared at it.
It said GLENDA MACKENZIE, Administration.
“Relax Taylor. You’re being fast-tracked into advanced training.”
I stared at my mother in shock. She was supposed to work at a real school, not here, not my school.
MVM (Mysterious Voiced Man) and Chen Sun didn’t stay to chat. They disappeared into the east building like two cowboys into the sunset.
I felt a little bit like a circus freak. Everyone at school was standing on the lawn in groups of two or three staring at me. MVM and Chen had made their scene right at the steps of the Knights Foundation Academy. It was already mid term and fitting in would already be a bit tricky. I had a feeling this would make it a lot more challenging.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I looked up at my mother with betrayed eyes.
The bell rang and the crowd gathered outside began filtering into the large brick structure. Out of the corner of my eye I could see MVM standing in half shadow in one of the upper windows in the left wing. Chen was in the same level in the right wing.
“There’s no need going into that now. What’s done is done.” She smiled. “Why don’t we move forward.” She paused as we walked up the steps and entered the KFA. “It should prove to be exciting, huh? New school, new challenges.”
I frowned. “You know, new is not my favorite color these days. It is kind of like a dull gray in my book, bland and lifeless. I’ve been there and done that so many times I’m over it.”
My mother patted me on the back. “Cheer up. I know you’ll love it here.”
She handed me a large manila envelope that contained everything I’d ever need for my first day at spy school.
“Your first class is up those stairs and to your right.” She began to walk away, but stopped. “Oh, and my Glock, if you please.”
She held out her hand and I placed the Glock into it. She smiled again.
“You really were very good.”
The bell rang a second time as kids darted from the hallway and into various rooms.
Already late on my first day. It just figured.