“What do you mean the line’s dead?”
There was a pause. “I’m sorry, sir, but exactly that,” came the crackled response. “The line is dead.”
The man frowned and paced across the room. He paused by the window looking out over the busy city street. The sun was beginning to set and people were rushing home from busy days at work. More like lazing about drinking coffee, he thought angrily to himself. Without turning back around to look at the receiver on his desk, he spoke again. “I need you to get a hold of him no matter what the costs,” he said.
“Sir, I don’t think that’s possible,” the man on the other line responded.
He whirled around as though to slap the other man in the face, dropping his hand a moment later when he realized he was alone in the room. He cursed under his breath.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that sir.”
He shook his head and moved back over to his desk. “Nothing, Julio, don’t worry about it,” he replied. “Just get through to Mantle if it’s the last thing you do.” He didn’t wait for Julio to respond before jabbing the end call button on the receiver.
With a sigh, the man moved around his desk and dropped into the chair, worrying his eyebrow with his hand. “The line is dead,” he repeated. “You don’t call me to tell me that Mantle’s line is dead! Of course it’s dead! He knows we’re looking for him!”
The phone began ringing as if in response. The man frowned and stared down at the receiver. The little window was glowing a green blue color as it flashed Unknown Caller across the screen. He tapped the speaker phone button and waited.
“Is this the office of David Stalls?”
David flinched, recognizing the voice instantly. He leaned forward in his chair, torso hovering over the desk as he studied the phone. David didn’t answer.
“I know you can hear me,” Mantle continued. “I don’t appreciate the . . . attention your hounds are giving me. I told you before that I’m done with you and your organization. I want nothing more to do with you. I’m done.”
“You don’t understand!” David shouted, slamming a fist down on the desktop. Pens and pencils rattled in their mug holder. “Whether you like it or not, you’re the only one that can take this case.”
“I don’t want the case.”
“Sorry Stalls. I don’t belong to you anymore.” Mantle paused and David could hear him draw in a deep breath. “Actually, my papers have been handed to Anderson Mitchell.”
David slumped low in his chair. “Anderson . . . Mitchell,” he repeated.
“That’s right, Stalls.”
“Dammit Mantle!” With a sweeping gesture of his right arm, David knocked the phone and pen filled mug to the floor. The cord ripped out of the back of the phone and the mug shattered on impact. David pounded the bare desktop with both clenched fists, roaring. After a moment he dropped back to his chair, breathing hard. “I guess you’ve won this round . . . Mitchell.”
B. Valdez 2.7.14