I woke to the smell of bacon cooking downstairs. Despite my brush with death and the mythical creature in my barn, I was able to sleep fairly quickly after finding my bed. As I sat up the insanity of last night soaked in. I dressed and pulled my stainless Smith & Wesson model 629 .44 magnum out of the nightstand. I opened the cylinder; it held six hot loaded hollow points. In it went on my belt. I grabbed a speed loader and stuffed it into the pocket of my jeans.
Saturday morning, bacon, eggs and pancakes, maybe having Kim around wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I staggered down the stairs and wandered into the kitchen.
“Good mornin’ sunshine!” She said with a smile. How was she up this early? I looked at the clock on the stove, 9:53 used to be early for her.
“What happened to my sister the night owl?” I asked.
“Three years of getting up at the butt crack of dawn, happened.” She noticed the revolver on my hip. “What’s with the hand cannon?”
I took a seat on a bar stool in front of a place setting, “I heard some coyotes last night when I was changing the tire.” I lied.
“Isn’t a .44 magnum a bit overkill for coyotes?”
“There’s no such thing as overkill…”
“…just under targeting.” She completed the little idiom for me.
“How’d you know that?”
“The ending to that phrase.”
She shrugged, “I worked with a former Marine.” She quickly changed the subject, “So what are you going to do with that piece of junk?”
I shrugged, “Tow it to a junkyard.”
“But you can’t afford a new one can you?”
I shook my head, sending a twinge down my spine, I could still feel where I had been tossed up against my car. “No but I’ll drive dad’s F-150 until I can get something else.”
“Didn’t he tell you not to drive it when they left for Europe?”
“Yes, but since my Taurus is now a big paperweight I think he’ll understand.”
She nodded, “Anyway Chris, when did you get the new bull?”
I froze, “Umm… I.”
“Don’t remember?” She said as she flipped a couple of pancakes.
Had she seen Toro out in the barn? My heart began pounding had she gone out? If she had how could she have not seen he wasn’t a normal bull. “No, he’s the Millers bull, he got out a couple of days ago and they haven’t come and got him yet. He should be gone later today.”
Kimberly nodded as she scooped up a couple of pancakes, a few strips of bacon and two over medium eggs and tossed them on my plate.
She smiled, “Enjoy.”
It was good to see my sister; it hit me that I had hardly heard anything from her in three years. “So where do you work in Alabama?” I asked.
“You wouldn’t be interested. It was boring.”
I took another syrup drenched bite, “Oh come on. You never said what you were doing in your sparse emails, and now that you’re sitting in front of me you don’t even want to talk about it?”
“Chris, it’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, I… can’t talk about it.”
That peaked my curiosity; she was hiding something, something big. “Can’t talk about it? Are you kidding me? My big sister is some kind of secret agent?”
“It’s not like that at all.”
Definitely something big, “Come on sister, throw me a bone here, there must be something you can tell me about your job.”
“NSA? CIA?” I asked and she shook her head, “FBI? KGB?”
She laughed at the last one, “Oh that’s rich, Kim Gundersen works for the Russians. No I don’t work for the government, or any government for that matter.”
“So who do you work for?”
“Fine. I work for Overseas Security Services.”
“OSS?” I wrinkled my brow, “Wasn’t that the CIA before they became the CIA?”
“Yes, but OSS is a private security company.”
Wow, I had expected my petite sister to be waiting tables, or work behind a coffee bar inside a bookstore. “That’s so cool! What do you do for them?”
She scooped up the rest of the food and turned off the burner, and took a seat across from me. Her dark red hair was pulled up in a pony tail. She looked tougher than I remembered.
“I do a little of everything, but mostly I teach shooting courses.”
I had to pick my jaw off the floor. “Wait a minute… you’re teaching shooting?” My sister was a good Texas girl, she had fired a .22 when she was five, a .38 special at nine, and a .30-06 at thirteen but she hadn’t ever been what I’d call a gun nut.
“You didn’t come back here just to see me did you?”
“Of course I did, don’t be silly.” I could tell she was lying; her eyes were too interested in her syrup drenched bacon.
“Something strange is going on around here and OSS sent you to scout for them didn’t they.”
“Don’t lie to me Kim, I’ve been able to tell when you’re lying since I was four.”
“Yes, okay I am on assignment but I can’t tell you anything else.” She was serious.
“Fine I understand, you’ve probably got your John Hancock on a whole bunch of non disclosure agreements.”
“Something like that.”
Wow my little big sister was playing Jane Bond, while I was slaughtering cattle for a living. Life wasn’t fair. I looked out the kitchen window toward the barn, sticking out the window was Toro’s head; he was scratching one of his horns on the side of the barn.
“So how’s your job for the meat packing plant?”
“Shitty what do you think?”
She frowned, “Sorry, I…”
“I’m quitting come Monday.”
She didn’t say anything for a while. “Why?”
“I’m done killing cattle.”
“Really, that doesn’t sound like you.” She set her fork down, “What happened to Mr. beef it’s what’s for dinner?”
I took a deep breath, “The last bull of my shift came up the ramp as I grabbed the stunner it looked at me. Like he knew what I was going to do to him.”
“So what did you do?”
“I left him there and went to the locker room.” I lied, but it was close enough to the truth of what happened last night.
She finished eating and rinsed her plate in the sink, “So what are you going to do? The economy isn’t too hot right now.”
“I hadn’t planned that far ahead.” A sick feeling crept into my gut. I couldn’t go back to the slaughter house. Maybe the scuffle with Toro last night had been a blessing in disguise. The last straw that made me quit that crappy job.
Kim turned to put the syrup bottle away and I noticed a slight bulge on her hip. “So you’re packin’ heat now. What are you carrying?”
She put the bottle of sticky maple away and turned around, “Is it that obvious?”
“No, but since you work for a private military company and all.”
“Security service provider.” She corrected.
She shrugged, “We’ve got to play word games due to the media these days. We don’t want to sound too cavalier.”
She slipped out a black handgun dropped the magazine and emptied the chamber all while pointing the gun in a safe direction. She handed me the pistol with the slide locked back, even though I had just seen her unload it I checked the chamber for myself to be sure it was empty.
I looked over the angular black pistol, it felt nice in my hand, I looked at the slide it read, P220. I flipped it over the barrel had .45 ACP stamped on it. I slid the slide forward, it moved like it was on rollers.
“It’s my Sig P220 Carry. I’ve had that pistol ever since I started at OSS.”
I aimed at the fridge, and noticed it had night sights. I pulled the slide to the rear, checked the chamber again and handed it back to her. “Nice piece you’ve got there.”
She reloaded the weapon and holstered it. “So brother what are you hiding?”
“Hiding?” Had she seen more of Toro?
“I’m not the only one around here who knows when someone is lying.”
I glanced at the barn reflexively then back at her.
“So you’ve got something hidden in the barn, well let’s go take a look.” She said as she opened the back door and strode toward the corrugated steel dome. Some people commented that it looked like an airplane hangar.
I followed her out the door the dogs barked playfully and followed us.
“Take a look at what? It’s just a musty old barn.”
“Sure Chris, I saw the way you looked at it. You’re nervous about something.”
“Kim wait!” I said as I grabbed her arm. The next thing I knew I was looking up at her from the ground with fire shooting up my wrist.
She twisted a bit harder until I couldn’t breathe, how could a hundred and thirty pound woman be doing this me a two hundred and twenty pound man? She let go and I collapsed to the ground.
When I could say something all I managed was “How?”
“It’s Ju-Jitsu, with a dash of Krav Maga.” She said with a devious smile.
By the time I managed to get off the ground she opened the small side door and disappeared inside. I ran and made it to the doorway when I heard her scream.
I found her standing in the middle of the barn next to a pile of hay kicking at something.
“You’re just going to piss him off!”
She looked at me like I had hit my head on the door coming in. “Piss who off? I stepped in cow shit.”
I looked at her shoes they were covered in stinky fresh green cow crap. “Oh.”
“Who are you hiding?” She said pointing her finger at me.
I held up my hands “Alright, I’m going to level with you, but you need to give me your gun first.”
“Hell no, why?”
“I don’t want you to shoot him.”
She shook her head, “Chris are you nuts? Why would I shoot anyone?”
The floor above us creaked. Toro had climbed into the hayloft. “Give me your Sig.”
“Piss off.” She said as she moved toward the ladder.
“Kim, I’ll go up.”
The last thing I needed was for my sister to shoot Toro; I doubted a .45 auto would drop such a tough beast.
I called up through the hole in the floor. “Hey Toro come on down. I’d like you to meet my sister.”
“Toro? What kind of name is that?”
“Are you sure she isn’t going to shoot me. I’d really hate to get shot today.” He called down from the hayloft.
I looked at her and she nodded.
“Yes I’m sure.”
The floor creaked as he walked over to the hole in the ceiling. He paused for a moment before climbing down. I looked at my sister to make sure she wasn’t going to Mozambique him with her Sig.
She took it better than I thought. “Chris, why do we have a minotaur living in our barn?”
“Umm, it’s just for one night. I was going to take him home when it gets dark.”
She looked at me, “Do you have any idea how many laws and treaties you’ve violated!”
“Umm no.” How did she know about their existence? OSS couldn’t be your average private military company.
Toro looked down at the hay, “It’s alright Chris, I’ll leave.”
“No, your leg isn’t healed up yet.”
Kim rubbed her temple like she was having a migraine. “So you didn’t hit a cow last night with your car, you hit a cowboy. Little brother you’re in over your head.”
I didn’t know what I feared more an angry bull or an angry redhead.