George - The Regulars of Amanda Lexie Part 4- Short Story
J. J. Hanna © 2020
I pulled up to the drive through and let my car idle. It was going to be a long day. I could already tell that things weren’t going the way they should have.
After all, when you’re the leader of Avalon, a criminal network connecting criminals to patrons and jobs, and you’re coordinating criminals across the country, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to make sure everything goes the way it’s supposed to.
I pulled up to the speaker box and took a deep breath.
“Good morning! How are you today?” Amanda’s voice floated out toward me.
I put on my cheeriest voice and responded, “I am doing fantastic. And how are you, miss Amanda?”
“Hi George! I’m doing so good. Are you gonna have your regular today?”
“Yes ma’am. Can I also get a muffin warmed up?”
“You got it. We’ll see you down here.”
I always made it a point to be as polite as possible to the baristas. They had done nothing bad to me, and if I kept being kind to them—overly so, perhaps—they would never have reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary happened in my life.
Right before I pulled up to the window, my phone rang. This would have been fine, of course, if it was the phone my family used to call me. If it was the smartphone stored securely in my pocket, nothing would have been the matter. But it was the burner phone I kept in my center console, which meant it was work related.
It was six in the morning. There should not have been an emergency yet.
I fished it out of the console and glanced at the number, just to make sure it wasn’t a scam call of some sort. No. It was my partner.
“What is it?”
“That hacker you recently contacted—the police are looking for him.”
“Did you cover his tracks?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t find him.”
“Give me two minutes and I’ll call you right back.”
I pulled up to the window and rolled my window down.
Amanda greeted me with her charming smile, and I watched a weight lift off her shoulders. There was a sort of magic that happened when you were no longer just another customer. Being one of Amanda’s regulars felt a bit like coming home. And from the look on her face—the way she was genuinely happy to see me—I was pretty sure she felt the same way.
“Hi George. How are you today?”
I forced a smile. “I’m doing well. And how are you?”
She shrugged. “It’s been a crazy day. We’ve had some weird rushes. But it is what it is, right?”
I handed her a five dollar bill and she instinctively put all the change in the tip jar. It only took her two weeks to learn the pattern. I’m sure it helped that I came back three times a day and got the same thing. Was it a problem that I routinely spent at least $15 on coffee? Maybe. But if I could do my part to make sure people like Amanda had job security . . . I felt I ought to.
She grabbed my traditional latte—eight ounces of pure goodness—off the counter next to her and handed it out the window to me.
“You got it, George. See you later?”
I like to think I was a breath of fresh air—a relief from all the other customers for them. The way they greeted me—each of them, not just Amanda—seemed to confirm that I was a welcome release from the constant customer service persona. Customer service workers were the real con artists of the modern age. Anyone who could remain faceless and cheerful even when talking with that many people could excel in the con.
I drove away and took a sip, letting the bitterness of the latte coat my tongue. Delicious.
I couldn’t go anywhere else now. Not when they always made it just right.
I called my partner back. “What’s your assessment of the threat level?”
“I’d say we’re probably at a level red. The police may not find him, but even so, he should lay low for a while. And we’ll definitely have to launder his cut a bit more before we give it to him. Just in case.”
I nodded, even though my partner couldn’t see me. “There’s no way for them to track it back to us, is there?”
Silence lingered on the other end of the line for a few moments too long. “The chances are slim. He’d have to mention Avalon to them, which he might, given that he’s new.”
George took another sip. “Get a containment plan ready. I’ll be at the office in eight minutes.”
This story, segments of this story, and ideas from this story are not to be duplicated or replicated in anyway. This content belongs to J. J. Hanna alone.
Please note: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real life events is unintended by the author.
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J. J. Hanna is a writer and reader from Colorado. She loves suspense stories above all else, and is currently working on a debut novel of her own. When she's not writing, you can find her cuddling with a cat, drinking a caffeinated beverage, and watching one of her favorite shows. Go find her on social media @authorjjhanna to keep track of her most recent reads, current adventures, and to get the most up to date news on all things publishing.