The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin
“Oh yeah! Okay!” Agent Jameson said. He raised his gun and started firing randomly. Every time it went off he blinked, as if the noise and flash were unsettling. He moved his hand spasmodically, as if hoping to get lucky without actually aiming. “Run!”
I stood in the doorway of the warehouse that would be the temporary headquarters of Franklin Investments. I had my hands deep in my coat pockets as I watched light rain drizzle down outside. It was just before four o’clock.
A taxi pulled up a few moments later, and the lanky form of Agent Jameson emerged. He smiled pleasantly and waved. I nodded back.
“Hi there, Mr. Franklin!” He said, in his eternally cheerful voice. “So, it’s still raining, huh?”
Agent Johnson reached into his suit jacket, as we watched the door swing open. I tensed, slowly lifting my beer bottle. It wasn't a great weapon, but I'm not a gun-carrying C.I.A. agent.
"Digger?" A familiar voice called out as the door opened.
"Hey, Matt," I said, waving Johnson off. He slid his hand back out of his coat and resumed his relaxed posture.
Matt entered my apartment, smiling as he saw me. "Hey, bud, feeling any better since Friday?"
He cut himself off there, seeing that I wasn't alone in the kitchen.
After recounting my meeting with Zebediah to his satisfaction, Agent Johnson let me up off the floor. I rubbed feeling back into my arm while he went to my fridge. He got out two bottles of beer and then went directly to the right drawer for the opener. Popping the caps with practiced ease, Johnson slid one down the counter towards me. Smiling, he sat down casually.
"No hard feelings? It'll wear off soon."
"I know," I said, taking a seat at one of the stools against the counter. "I used the same manuver on Friday. I put Ford Jones against a wall."
Completely drenched, I trod towards home. Even my shoes felt water-logged, sloshing around my feet. The rain slowly petered off as I walked further and further away from the park. For the first time I found the September weather cold, but the wind on my wet skin probably didn't help.
I had already done my running for the day, so I found myself with a lot of pent-up anger that I didn't have the energy to deal with. My arms and legs ached. I rode up in the elevator, slumped against the wall.
I laced up my sneakers and stretched in the elevator, hoping for a good, pulse-pounding jog. I walked across the lobby and hit the sidewalk. And a butt-load of pedestrians. I actually had to bob and duck backwards to avoid getting run over by three. It seemed like a mad rush of people.
I slept late on Sunday morning, recovering from the activity of the past few days. I sat down in my kitchen, wearing just my boxers, and ate three bowls of cereal. I really wasn’t in the mood for cooking. I just wanted to take it easy for the day.
After my final bowl of Rice Krispies, I reached for my phone.
“Good morning, Calla!” I said cheerfully as she picked up.
“Oh, Diggory! Hello!” She sounded glad to hear from me.
“Hi! Just thought I would call and thank you for a wonderful time on Friday. Thank you for going with me.”
“I see,” Hank said with a grin. “Would this friend of yours also happen to be the young lady you were so upset with last week?”
I blushed, unexpectedly. “How’d you guess?”
“Well, you were quite upset the day I met you, over this young lady. Today you are in considerably better spirits, despite the explosion. In fact, you’re more interested in talking about science fiction than you are your current dilemma. I’m guessing things have improved between the two of you?”
“What do you know about time travel?” I asked my aged friend, Hank.
“Time travel? You mean in literature? Obviously, there’s H.G. Wells’ pre-eminent work, groundbreaking in the field of science fiction. His time traveller only visits the future. There have been numerous writers since that era who have seized hold of the theme for their writing.”
“Any good ones?”
I slept fitfully, with unsettling dreams. They featured Sean Connery in a shootout with Don Corleone, with me stuck in the middle. I woke up thinking I’d watched too many action movies as a kid.
But, in daylight, my problems didn’t seem much smaller. I was caught in the middle of a vast web, with spiders all around me. The C.I.A., the F.B.I., a dangerous terrorist, and apparently the mob, all interested in me and my father’s company. The stakes kept getting higher in a game I didn’t really want to play.