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Put Camo Green Up Somewhere, Anywhere

The sun is cold. I’m staring into Boomslang’s eyes. Actually I’m staring into his sunglasses. He holds out a thin stack of papers. I can tell by a fleeting look they’re copies. He’s never given me copies -- always originals. Anchoring my gaze on the face of the man in front of me, I take the sheets from him and gradually tear them in half. I tear the halves into fourths and let them fall from my fingers. The fragments flutter to the gravel.

The information on them was what I came for, but, now, now it’s not important. What is important is the person who’s brought it to me and I want him to know that. Hence the shredding. Boomslang’s jaw is squared with tension. I consider touching him. On his solid forearms, which he’s crossed. On his cheek, which is faintly flexing. Except it won’t help either of us so I keep my hands to myself.

“Aren’t you going to worry I’ll ‘out’ you on I heart jade?” I ask, ribbing him to fog my disappointment.

“No,” he says seriously, “because I know you understand why.”

Yes, I understand why he’s told me he can’t do this anymore. He’s nervous. He thinks it’s gotten too risky for him to keep being one of my Task Force sources. Fine. He’ll change his mind. But not today. Not here. I’ll make do until he snaps out of it. He’s not the only person whose toes someone in JADE has stepped on.

“You already wrote about me anyway.”

“Yep. And you’ve just given me a reason to write about you again, too, Boom. Be happy no one’s gonna believe me when I mention you’re a cop.”

A hint of a smile teases around his lips but, when I turn to go, it melts away faster than cotton candy on a wet tongue. I settle in my car, reach to pull the door shut. He grabs the edge of the metal frame to stop it from closing and my brown irises swing up at him. For a second we are both motionless, silent. He drops down to a squatting position and gives me a grin so perfect it’d make an angel jealous. I wink at him, tell him he really is my favorite.

I leave him, there, in the backwoods parking lot, on the tiny crushed rocks, picking up the pieces of pressed pulp. I won’t miss him. I won’t miss him because I refuse to believe he’s gone.