Chapter 5

chapter_five

Several weeks went by before anything controversial occurred at their workplace. Or it was more like within their environment.

“Another murder,” Chun rattled out during lunch break one day.

“Don’t jump to conclusions,” Enson said, grabbing the newspaper from Chun. “Possible OD.”

“Doesn’t look like it,” Chun returned, still sticking with his original answer.

“Where’s Tammy?” Wallace asked at that time, walking out from the conference room.

“She and Van left together,” Chun replied, glimpsing his watch. “About fifteen minutes ago, Boss.”

Wallace didn’t care to acknowledge Enson’s existence, like many times before, but just nodded at Chun’s answer and stepped toward the entrance.

“Wallace, where are you going?” Penny asked around then.

Enson and Chun were actually sitting around the longue and eating lunch, instead of eating at the break room like usual. So when they heard Penny, they turned to see her coming out from her side of the shop and heading toward Wallace.

“I have to check something with Tammy,” Wallace responded, reaching for the door handle at the same time.

“I’ll go with you,” Penny said, her voice persistence.

Wallace released his hand on the handle then and scanned the room before looking at Penny again. Enson and Chun had turned in time and pretended that they were busy eating and discussing the newspaper article from minutes ago.

“I’ll update you later,” Wallace said, not showing traces that he was giving in.

“But…”

“We’ll talk when I come back.”

As if that was final, Wallace turned to leave. Penny attempted to follow him yet he turned to give her a sharp look when she caught up to him past the door. Enson and Chun had abandoned their fake conversation after Penny stepped out and had witnessed the last bit. What surprised them was how Penny had actually stopped and returned to the shop. Yet they didn’t want to speak up and ask Penny either, considering how it was none of their business.

“So, what do you think?” Chun asked, looking at Enson. “The blue one or the red one?”

“Blue,” Enson answered, tapping on the newspaper. “I’ll check it out after I finish eating.”

“I’ll go with you,” Chun returned, playing with his food. “I need a ride to the nearby shop.”

Enson nodded and continued eating. That was also when Penny walked past them and toward the break room. Yet she wasn’t entering the break room. She walked past that into Van’s territory.

“What was that about?” Chun muttered, watching Penny’s back.

Enson shrugged, not wanting to contribute.

*****

That afternoon, Enson walked out of the tapestry shop that he and Chun discussed earlier and was on his way to check on Chun’s progress when he spotted Penny down the street. She had turned at the corner. Curious, he followed her but at a safe distance. He soon realized that it was a side street, quite deserted. It led into a more eerie side of town. Feeling unease, he continued to follow Penny.

“You brought it?” Penny’s voice was heard several minutes later.

Enson paused and searched the area with his eyes. He edged slowly along the wall and stayed quiet, waiting for the other person to respond.

“Here,” An unfamiliar voice said.

Enson heard some rustling sounds then. Or it was more like some slamming sounds. But it wasn’t exactly like that either. Or perhaps it was some sort of metallic material scrapping against one another. He wasn’t too sure. But he didn’t dare to risk a glimpse. He didn’t know why he was suddenly feeling a sense of cowardly washing over him. Yet he focused on listening after several minutes more of scrapping sounds were heard.

“This is unacceptable,” Penny’s voice spoke up again. She didn’t sound too happy. In fact, her voice was edging toward upset with a mixture of disapproval.

“Take it or leave it,” The other person said. His voice was also reeking of hostility.

“Silver Fox won’t be happy with these.”

“Tell him to call me then. I don’t need his lackey to tell me what I’m capable of.”

That was when the slamming sound returned, but much faster this time. Then there was a groaning sound from the man.

“Say it again!” Penny yelled out then.

“Crazy bitch!” The other person returned. “You…”

That was also when Enson reacted. He stepped into the alley then and stopped short after just two more steps. What he saw had shocked him into speechlessness. The man who was in disagreement with Penny was being held at gunpoint. So those slamming sounds that he heard earlier were of Penny testing the guns. Yet Enson’s pause wasn’t too long. Because when he jumped out, it had caused Penny her concentration and the other party had escaped from Penny’s grasp. Luckily, Penny recovered as fast and had aimed the weapon in her hands at the other party.

“Go ahead and make a move,” Penny taunted.

“Crazy bitch!” The other person bellowed once again.

But Penny didn’t say anything else. She tossed a duffel bag she had by her side toward the other person. That was also when Enson got his answer as of what the contents from the bag were since he saw Penny carried it the moment he followed her. It was money.

“You’re short,” The other person blurted out after opening the bag.

“These aren’t even worth the current amount, you expect me to pay full?” Penny returned. “Get out of here before I use this on you.”

The other person rattled out another set of foul words before leaving. Penny made sure he was gone for good before turning to Enson. Enson finally unfroze himself from his spot and approached Penny.

“What the hell is going on here?” Enson blurted out, not caring if he had lost his manner and patience.

“I should be asking you that question,” Penny returned, lowering the gun in her hands already. “Why did you follow me?”

“I was worried,” Enson answered honestly, his voice had returned to its normal, calm tone, unlike seconds before.

That was when Penny’s expression softened. She tossed the gun inside a large duffel bag before zipping it up. “Don’t tell the others.”

Enson grabbed a hold of Penny before she could leave. “What’s really going on here? Why are you involved in these gun dealings? Does Ruby know? Who’s Silver Fox?”

Penny shrugged Enson’s hand off then. “You don’t need to know any of this. Just don’t tell anyone what you saw today.”

Enson followed Penny the rest of the way back to their side of town again.

“I know it’s none of my business,” Enson tried again when they were out of the Taxi that Penny hauled somewhere along the way. “But what you’re doing is dangerous. As a friend, I have the right to worry.”

Enson knew his tone wasn’t going to help in the “convincing” department, but he was still trying to sort out his own thoughts–and what was the real version behind the madness he just discovered.

“I told you already, you don’t need to know,” Penny repeated of her words from earlier.

“Does Wallace know?” Enson tried at last, knowing that Wallace was probably the only person whose opinion she valued.

Penny halted–just like Enson had predicted. Yet she just gave him a sharp look before continuing on her way. It was also then that Enson realized they were heading toward Wallace’s villa. And he knew he was supposed to leave, because it would put Penny into a difficult situation if Wallace saw them together like that. Yet he didn’t want to go. He had to get to the bottom of this. It wasn’t just because of curiosity, but because he was truly worried for Penny’s well-being and her involvement with those shady characters like the gun dealer earlier.

“Leave,” Penny spoke up again after she unlocked the door.

“How could I when…”

But then he stopped short. Because Penny just opened the door and they were able to hear some laughter inside the house. The door remained ajar, because Penny had stopped and exchanged a puzzled look with Enson. And it was like they understood each other without needing words, Enson shook his head, indicating he didn’t know either. How could he when he was with her the whole time?

Penny finally turned to face front and pushed the door open halfway. Enson followed Penny in and shut the door behind himself–with no objections from Penny. They walked past the hallway and toward the doors that Enson and Chun had spotted during their last visit. The laughter intensified the further down the hallway they were. When they reached the third door from the right, Penny pushed the door in without any hesitation. That was when the laughter stopped. Because Penny had used enough energy that had caused the door to slam in with a thud before swinging back and forth again. Penny reached her hand out to stop the door while staring directly into Wallace’s eyes with much anger. No, anger didn’t describe it. It was way beyond anger. Enson’s expression was of confusion and shock. Because what he and Penny saw was Wallace and Tammy on the sofa, and they weren’t watching TV. Their clothes were a mess. In fact, they were quite intimate seconds ago.

“You’re back,” Wallace exclaimed around then, getting up from the sofa–and far away from Tammy. “I thought you said you’ll be back tonight.”

Penny still didn’t say anything. She still had on her fierce expression. Yet she quickly regained herself and tossed the duffel bag on the floor toward Wallace’s direction before turning to leave. Understanding registered for Enson then, especially the contents of the duffel bag. However, he didn’t remain to investigate. He chose to run after Penny. Wallace wasn’t far behind.

“Where are you going?” Wallace yelled out when they were outside. He managed to grab a hold of Penny’s arm and stopped her.

“You still dared ask me?” Penny returned, yanking her hand away from Wallace before turning to Enson–who had fallback on purpose to let Wallace step forward. Penny grabbed a hold of Enson’s hand before Wallace could react and pulled Enson toward her. “It’s all the better that I found out anyway. Because I was going to tell you that I’m with Enson now.”

“Uh…” Enson uttered as Wallace’s glare reached him. He didn’t know why he was suddenly in fear of Wallace’s wrath, considering how he was the one Chun sought out the last time they were there to gain a sense of security. Now?

“Let’s go, Enson,” Penny said, tugging Enson along the sidewalk.

Enson had to increase his pace because Penny’s energy had been fused by her rage. For some reason, Wallace didn’t chase after them. It was like he was still shocked of the development of the situation. Or was he confident that Penny would return later?

*****

The next day at work, the cold war between Wallace and Penny continued. Penny had spent the night at Enson’s place. Enson had opted for the sofa and didn’t get much sleep either. It was hard to. Not because he suddenly cared for Wallace and Penny’s relationship that much. He was still trying to make sense of what had happened since he found out about Penny’s involvement in the gun dealings. Then there was Wallace and Tammy. So that had added to the already awkwardness surrounding the four of them.

“You want to eat lunch with us later?” Enson asked Penny as they were wrapping up some details with the latest clients.

Enson had been keeping it normal since they entered the shop, not even nagging Penny about the gun dealing matter. So when Penny turned to look at him, he just sent her a casual smile.

“Does Chun know?” Penny returned.

Enson wrinkled his face. “What?”

“About what you saw yesterday.”

“Which part?”

“Both.”

Enson shook his head. “You were with me since last night, remember? When did I get a chance to talk to Chun?”

Just then, Wallace walked by. That also meant Penny turning on her sweet smile again, but toward Enson.

“Let’s go to the café around the corner later,” Penny said–loud enough for Wallace to hear as well.

“Penny, let’s talk later,” Wallace said, ignoring Enson completely.

Penny didn’t care to turn to him but continued to talk to Enson.

“Penny…” Wallace urged. “Stop this childish game. We really have to talk.”

After saying those words, Wallace had grabbed onto Penny’s hand. That was also when Enson reacted. Enson had grabbed a hold of Penny first and steered her toward him, even shielding her from Wallace’s grip. And that was when Wallace finally acknowledged Enson’s existence.

“Stay out of it,” Wallace warned, his eyes icy cold.

“If you haven’t noticed,” Enson said, his voice still calm. “Penny doesn’t want to talk to you.”

Wallace’s hostility toward Enson had intensified–if that was possible. “You’re obviously taking advantage of the situation.”

Enson wasn’t threatened by Wallace though. “Whose fault is that?”

Wallace directed his eyes toward Penny again. As if answering Wallace in some subtle way, Penny reached for Enson’s hand, tugging him out of there just like yesterday.

“Penny,” Wallace called out once again, his voice persistence.

As the three of them were still engaged in a stalemate, Van walked in at that time.

“Good that you guys are all here,” Van said, his attention on them. “Emergency meeting.”

“What happened?” Enson asked, wrinkling his face.

Van pulled out a newspaper hidden from his jacket and handed it to Enson. “Page 5.”

That was when Enson detached his hand from Penny’s and reached for the newspaper. Since he was standing next to Penny, they were sharing it. Yet he still read it aloud for Wallace’s benefit as well.

“Aesthetic had recently collaborated with a small wedding business known as Felicity. They hoped it would be a breath of fresh air for their line. However, it was discovered that Felicity was only full of copycat experts instead of an innovative group like Aesthetic had initially thought.”

“Who did it?” Enson asked, looking up from the paper.

Van shook his head. “That’s what this meeting is for. I just received a call from the boss. He sent Megan along to investigate into this.”

“What does it have to do with her?” Penny demanded, her voice hostile.

Enson turned to look at Penny, pondering why her reaction was so strong. It wasn’t like it was Tammy. He would understand if it was Tammy that Penny was directing her hostility toward. Or was she just looking for some target to jab at while she was still dealing with her internal turmoil?

“It’s not optional,” Van said before making his way toward the conference room.

Enson and Penny exchanged a look before following Van. Wallace soon joined them but caught up with Van and began a discussion. When they arrived at the conference room, they spotted Tammy and Megan inside already. Van must have alerted Tammy.

“All right,” Van said, somehow ended up directing the meeting. “Let’s get it over with. Who did it?”

Penny scoffed, crossing her hands in front of her at the same time. “If anyone of us did it, would we admit it?”

Penny was obviously looking at Tammy with much sternness.

“Why are you looking at me?” Tammy asked. “I didn’t do it.”

Van had looked at both parties, one after another, knowing too well their disagreement wasn’t because of this sudden meeting. Yet he didn’t want to touch that ground yet. “All right, if no one wants to admit it, after the investigation’s out, you’ll be facing a very severe consequence.”

“We have to do a check on the other employees too,” Megan pointed out.

“I’ll hire a PI to take care of it,” Wallace said. “But what is being said in this room stays here.”

Wallace had looked at Enson when he said the last part.

“Of course,” Enson returned, knowing too well Wallace was already accusing him of disclosing the matter to Chun sometime in the future.

As if that was a done deal, each of them left the room one by one, except for Wallace and Van who were seen talking to Megan regarding further details of the investigation.

*****

That night, another meeting was commenced in the woods between the four parties that had been there from time to time.

“The truth, who did it?” Van asked, scanning the other three.

“It wasn’t me,” Penny said, her voice as sharp as earlier in the day.

Wallace didn’t say anything, but his grim expression had said it all.

“I already said it wasn’t me,” Tammy said, her voice frustrated.

“That means it’s either Chun, Rainie or Brad,” Van said.

“I already contacted the PI,” Wallace finally spoke up. “We’ll know soon.”

“As of now, Penny, be more careful,” Van said, looking at Penny with a stern expression. “I don’t know what’s going on with you two lately, but it can’t affect our missions.”

“As long as someone would stop sleeping around, we won’t get caught,” Penny snapped, her face showing apparent anger.

“Penny,” Wallace said, reaching his hand to grab onto her elbow.

Penny had reacted in time and dodged from his touch, sending him a livid expression. “Don’t touch me with those filthy hands.”

“You two better knock it off,” Van warned once again. “I don’t care what happened. Just be more careful in the future. I think Enson knows something. If you’re careless, we might have to kill him too.”

“No,” Penny objected, turning to Van. “He doesn’t know anything. He’s just trying to impress me with his intelligence thanks to someone.”

Van wasn’t convinced. “Are you sure he doesn’t know anything?”

“I’m positive. I live with him now. Of course I know what’s going on with him and his conjectures.”

“I overheard Chun talking about the recent murders,” Tammy said then. “He might be a bigger threat than Enson.”

“Chun’s just gossipy,” Penny said, giving Tammy a disapproving look. “If you can’t tell that, I don’t know how you entered our agency.” Penny paused and then had on a mocking smile. “But of course we all know now why and how you landed the job, don’t we?”

“You!” Tammy bellowed then, lunging for Penny.

Penny wasn’t fearing Tammy’s wrath. In fact, she lunged forward and tried to attack Tammy as well. It was also then that Wallace and Van tried to separate both parties.

“What is wrong with you?” Van yelled out when he had a hold on Tammy.

“Let go of me!” Penny yelled around the same time as Van, pushing Wallace away.

After that, she stormed past them all and made her way back to civilization. It was also then that she ran right into Enson who had been following her and had been spying on them from a distance.

“What are you doing here?” Penny asked, her face reflecting obvious shock.

“I should be asking you that question,” Enson returned.

Penny turned back to check on the others before grabbing Enson’s hand and rushed out of there. Enson didn’t know what was going on yet increased his pace, keeping up with her. They didn’t speak up until they arrived at Enson’s car.

“What’s going on?” Enson asked after locking the car.

“Get out of here first,” Penny ordered, pointing toward the safer direction.

Enson could see the anxiousness in Penny’s eyes so he powered up his car and left the area.

© Friday, September 19th, 2014

Posted: January 1st, 2015

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