American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson Read Online (FREE)
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Son, after I’m gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy’s country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion’s mouth. I want you to overcome ’em with yeses, undermine ’em with grins, agree ’em to death and destruction, let ’em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.
—RALPH ELLISON, Invisible Man
I UNLOCKED THE SAFE BENEATH MY DESK, grabbed my old service automatic, and crept toward my bedroom doorway, stealthy until I was brought to grief by a Lego Duplo that stung the sole of my foot. I hobbled the rest of the way to the door and crouched behind it.
A few moments passed, just enough time for me to feel ridiculous. I told myself that what I’d heard was the house settling. That was always what it wound up being.
The room was still and dark; the only light was from the moon. Poochini, our German shepherd mix, was closed in your bedroom with you. He let out a single, cautious bark. I heard the whoosh of tires on asphalt—a car passing on the Boston Post Road, which was hidden just behind the tangle of woods at the back of our small house. Then it was quiet again.
That night I’d been up late working on a translation at the desk in my room, so it was after two when I’d finally shut off the light and climbed into bed. I hadn’t been able to sleep. As I was staring at the ceiling, I’d thought I’d heard a floorboard creak in the hall. Instinctively, I’d climbed out of bed and gone for my gun.
Your room was across from my own. I pictured you both asleep, and told myself I was being irrational. I told myself we were safe.
Then a man appeared in my bedroom, and my heart picked up speed as I watched him approach my bed. I lunged low at him from behind, toppling him to the floor with a crash. His gun thudded against the hardwood and disappeared into the darkness. He tried to stand, but I climbed on him, pinned him down. His lean, hard body bucked beneath mine. He shoved me off and my back collided with the bedside table. My lamp clattered to the floor. I’d lost my gun too. I tried to get to my feet, but he grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked me back down. He rolled on top of me and his hands searched for my neck. They found my mouth instead, and I bit him so hard he screamed. Spat out an expletive that was the first word uttered by either of us. I clawed the skin I could get at—his face, his arms—and struggled against his weight. He went for my neck again, and as he started to squeeze I reached behind me, flailing my arms, hoping to find the fallen lamp in the dark; instead my fingers curled around a 9mm that didn’t belong to me. I lifted it to the man’s temple. Squeezed the trigger.