Cold Shoulder

Sarah expected the room to be white. The rooms in the movies were always white. When the black suits with ear pieces showed up at her door, she’d just assumed it would be a white room.

The brown, overstuffed couch was covered in leather so soft she couldn’t believe it used to be skin. The door opened and a generic man in a pressed blue suit with a white shirt and red tie stepped in. He pulled off his frameless glasses and rubbed them on his sleeve. “Good evening, Mrs. Stewart.”

“It’s Begress.”

He stopped cleaning and lifted his eyes. “My apologies, Ms.” He raised an eyebrow.

Sarah gave a curt nod.

He put his glasses back on. “Ms. Begress.” He walked to the desk and picked up the manila folder. “I apologize for the mistake.”

Sarah hadn’t seen the folder there, blending into the oak desk. But now she couldn’t unsee it. Nobody kept anything good in manila folders. It was always taxes and divorce papers. Even the good stuff, like property or car deeds, were all there just in case something went wrong. “It’s ok.”

“You’re file still has your name as Stewart.” He laid one leg up on the corner of his desk and unbuttoned his jacket.

“I haven’t filed the papers yet. I’m going next week.”

His lips drew to a line and he ran his hand through his thinning, brown hair. “I see. It’s a hassle, all that paper work.” He flipped through the papers in the folder. His fingers had thick calluses in strange places and the edges of his nails were rough.

“Second biggest hassle I’ll have to deal with this week.” Sarah leaned back and let herself sink into the couch. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and gave her best annoyed look.

“Yes, I’m sorry, Ms. St… Begress. I apologize for the secrecy, it’s part of the job.” He slid off the desk and extended a chewed-up hand. “My name is Agent Johnson.”

His handshake was too firm. He had her locked in his office in the middle of DC and he still had to show how strong he was. Sarah wanted to slap him for it, but she just waited, trying to keep the frustration off her face. “Nice to meet you.”

Johnson turned away and retreated behind his desk. “You must be wondering why you’re here.” He looked up, waiting for Sarah to answer, but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of answering useless questions. He continued, “It’s about your husband.”


Johnson looked at her over his glasses. “Paperwork hasn’t gone through on that either?”

“Not yet. It’ll go as soon as I can get him to sign it.”

“How long have you been separated from your husband?”


“Can you be more specific, please?”