The Portal

Chapter 1

     Things were relatively quiet in the office that morning, and it was that lack of something to do that made the two people sitting in the office that much more restless. It appeared to the two US Marshals that were sitting in the near empty building that even criminals liked to celebrate the holidays, as the office was deader than Dillinger. One of those Marshals was trying to clear some paper work to help her pass the time, while the other had his feet on his desk and was using a baseball cap to cover his eyes so he could nap. If anyone were to ask he was just resting his eyes, but he was bored to tears. While the lady on the other side of the room wasn’t pleased with her partner, she had no one else to blame as she did volunteer to be there that day. So did her partner. Neither of them had family they wanted to spend the holidays with, so it made sense for them to volunteer. All their hours were being clocked as overtime, the greatest motivator any single person could need to show up.

     “Don’t you have paper work to do?” the woman called out, frustrated by the laziness of her counterpart on the other side of the room.

     “All done,” he shouted back, “I thought it would be nice to get it all out of the way before today.”

     “So you could be lazy all day?” she implied.

     “Not exactly,” he tried to explain, “Well rested means well prepared.”

     “Uh huh,” the lady grunted back at him. “Are you expecting a call today?”

     “No,” he answered, “But you never know… we might get one.”

     “Fat chance,” she called back, “We’re not getting any calls today, Jones.”

     “Probably not,” Marshal Jones replied, “But my paper work is done none the less. You can bust my chops if I’m ignoring my duties Lindsey, but not when I have my homework finished before yours.”

     “I prefer Ms. Fletcher or Marshal Fletcher,” Lindsey said, slapping down the papers she was working on for added emphasis of her disapproval.

     “Understood Marshal Fletcher,” Jones said, cracking a smile before putting his baseball cap back over his face.

     Just as Jones was getting back into a very relaxed state, the phone on his desk began to ring. Jones looked across at the desks at Fletcher with a look in his eyes that were just as disapproving.

     “See what you’ve done,” he called out, “You jinxed us!”

     “I did not,” Fletcher called back.

     “Marshal Service, how can I help you?” Jones said into the receiver. He sat there and listened intently, “Slow down there, I can’t help you when you’re talking so fast. Take a deep breath and slow down.”

     “What is it?” Fletcher asked, “Does someone need to be pulled out of their witness protection? Are they in danger?”

     Jones held up a finger as he continued to listen to the phone. “Uh huh, I got it. Tell me more… okay. You’re doing all right. Don’t worry about that, just lower the temperature to three twenty five, and baste every forty five minutes until the internal temperature is one hundred and ninety. Don’t worry about how long it’s in the oven; you do not stop cooking till the internal temperature is met. Don’t worry about the stuffing, its precooked and will be fine. Yes, no problem. Is everything else okay? Good to hear, happy holidays.”

     As Jones put the phone down, he looked up at his partner and could see the look on her face, which was one of complete shock.

     “What the hell was that?” She asked.

     “That was Malcolm,” Jones said as he put his feet back up. “He always panics when cooking a big bird and calls in to for advice.”

     “Why would he call us?” Fletcher demanded.

     “He’s our witness,” Jones replied, “We ordered him not to call anyone else for his own protection. So by default we sometimes have to take the calls for the shit they normally would call family for, like how to properly cook a turkey.”

     “Son of a bitch,” Fletcher said, sighing. “You’ve worked this shift before, couldn’t give me a heads up about that?”

     “And spoil the look on your face right now?” Jones said, laughing. “That would suck all the fun right out of it.”

     Fletcher was tempted to toss something at Jones, but everything within reach had value so she thought better of it. As the temptation started to wane, the phone started to ring again. She looked over at Jones with a look that could have killed. “I’m not helping him cook his damn bird.”

     “No wonder you have no plans this year,” Jones said, “You have no holiday spirit.”

     “Kiss my ass,” Fletcher said as she stood up and left the room to get herself a cup of coffee.

     “I don’t do requests,” Jones called out before picking up the phone. “Marshal Service, how can I help you?”

PJ Lowry

Edited: 21.09.2020

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