Pretty Girls in Dirty Jeans

To all my loyal readers (a.k.a. Beth and Dad), I will be taking a break from blogging for a couple weeks. Lots of summer fun coming up. Don’t worry I’ll be back soon.

I wrote this story about something that really happened to me during field camp in college, but from someone else’s perspective.  I used all facts available to me including what the rancher’s son later said to his father who repeated it to the professor. It was really fun to write from this perspective. Can you guess who I am in the story?


In the far northeast of the state of Utah there is a rural town that sits on the border between two places that have the same name. To the south, the Uinta Basin stretches down and away, a desert good for oil drilling, ATVing, and slowly dying of thirst. It is not the picturesque type of desert one sees in the movies, but rather the kind you sleep through on a road trip, secure in the fact that you will not miss anything significant as the miles roll by. To the north, the Uinta Mountains rise, billions of years in the making. They start imperceptibly in the desert, dusty, with hardly the fertility to support the gnarled sage brush and juniper trees whose lot it is to grow where no other flora would. As the elevation rises on the bones of ancient seashores, the sage mixes with lusher vegetation. Meadows of wild flowers, moist with dew, carpet the soil.  Sparkling streams and peaceful lakes are more beautiful for the lack of water just down the slope in the basin below. Up higher, proper trees grow straight and tall unlike the hunchbacked junipers; pines and aspen who have scares in their trunks that almost tell a story if you only knew the language. Finally, the trees give way, and at the very top where, again, almost nothing can grow, are the lichen cover rocks. Everywhere there are the rocks. Continue reading

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Previous Chapters

The man in the black suit sat in the airport coffee shop staring at his laptop computer and manically tapping his foot. His agents had called in for pick-up a day early, which made him more nervous than he’d already been. He’d handled the man—called Ethan this time—on more than one occasion and he knew that the only reason this agent would call in early was because things were going really well, or really poorly.

He also knew that Ethan hated working with a partner. He always made it very clear that he considered partners a burden—babysitting was a common term he used. Ethan had been their best option, but he had so little experience in impersonation, that the-powers-that-be had insisted on a partner. The man had tried to argue this point, but no one had listened to him. The-powers-that-be had also chosen the girl—Kathleen—without knowing a thing about her except she was young and good at impersonations.

It’s true that she had impressed him with her persona change in the back of the car, but her snarky personality had been keeping the man up every night since she’d stepped onto the airport curb. He couldn’t think of a personality more poorly match to Ethan’s dead seriousness. It was a disaster. The agency would be shamed. Millions of dollars would go to someone else. Lives may be lost. Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 4: It Wouldn’t Be a Mission

This is the second to last chapter, just so you know to expect one more, next week.

Previous Chapters

Ethan hurried back to the dining room, wanting to get away before Smith pulled himself together. He was met quickly by the Durrants, who rushed to him as soon as he entered the room. Karon Durrant gave him half a hug as she said, “Major James, you’re back. Is everything okay? How is Kathleen? Where is she?”

It was perfect. Ethan didn’t even have to try. Karon’s purse hung directly under his wrist. With just a slight twist of his hand, the flash drive was loose. It slipped into the woman’s purse, without anyone suspecting a thing. Now, Ethan just had to wait and see what she did with it. He had a theory. “Everything is okay, I think,” Ethan said, answering Karon’s question, as she released him from the hug. “Kath just wanted to go clean up a bit.”

“Glad to see she didn’t murder you,” Colonel Durrant said. The Blacks and Burgstein had swarmed around their group as well, so that when Chance Smith walked stiffly into the room, massaging his shoulder with his hand, he had to brush right by the group. It was only Ethan’s super human self-control that kept him from decking the guy. Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 4: Press OK to Proceed

Previous Chapters

“You’re pretty good at this,” James said, as if she was pleasantly surprised by the insight. “I didn’t know if you’d pick up on the shocked and confused husband act, but you played it perfectly.”

Ethan decided the best response to this would be silence. That whole “open your mouth and prove yourself a fool” mantra. It occurred to Ethan that she—like him—had assumed her partner would be incompetent; and she—like him—was realizing that wasn’t the case. James was leading them down a narrow, dusty staircase in the passageways. She hadn’t been idle this morning. When the Blacks’ room (former and present) were dead-ends, she’d slunk around until she stumbled upon an opening to the secret passageways in a supply closet at the end of a hall on the first floor.

“Did you plan on the baby thing from the beginning?” he asked as they reached the basement. She pulled out her phone where she had uploaded the map overlay and blueprints.

“It was a possibility,” she said dismissively. “I didn’t decide for certain until last night.”

“And you told Karon Durrant?”

James looked back at him as if he was crazy and then turned back to the phone and started down the hall to the right. It was so narrow, they had to walk single file. “The Durrants were watching us. I needed remove the suspicion. Karon followed me to the drug store last night after dinner,” she said as if he had known she took a trip to the drug store. They came to an intersection and after consulting the map, turned left. “Something is up with the Durrants.” Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 4: Call Me Buddha

Previous Chapters

Ethan didn’t often doubt himself. His instincts were almost never wrong. But with the breakfast speaker concluding his talk and no sign of Black, he was worried he may have played this one the wrong way. Maybe James had been right, they should have tried to get to the Blacks’ room last night. Or, instead of going back to their hotel room to get a couple hours sleep after the evacuation was lifted, they should have tailed the Blacks, as James had also suggested. Ethan had been sure that nothing else would happen in the night, but with Black a no-show, he was beginning to doubt.

Another obvious no-show this morning was Chance Smith. Ethan had to consider the possibility that Smith had disposed of the Blacks after finding the drive. As the speaker wrapped up, Ethan pulled out his phone, ready to text his partner—also a no-show (feigning exhaustion, but really investigating the Blacks’ old and new rooms)—when Black and his wife made their appearance.

They were immediately swarmed. Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 4: Alarms and legs

Previous Chapters

Ethan didn’t remember falling asleep, but there was no doubt about when he woke up. The screaming alarm and flashing strobe light jolted his eyes open sometime in the painfully early hours of the morning. He was lying facing James whose eyes popped open at the exact same moment as his. He was almost as startled by the woman sleeping next to him as he was by the blaring alarm.

About four seconds after both their eyes opened, hers widened with apprehension. “The recording!” she hissed, and stumbled out of bed, grabbing for the wire she had installed on the bug near the bed. Ethan rolled off the bed and into the bathroom, pulling out the wire for the bug in there. When he came back out he said, “Are we okay?”

“I hope so,” she answered, speaking loudly to be heard over the screaming noise. Ethan hoped so too. If anyone was listening closely they might notice that the alarms started about 45 seconds later in their room than anyone else’s. James was closing files on the computer. “Do you think this is a coincidence?” she asked. There was no need to worry about them being overheard in this racket.

Ethan grabbed his gun and her knife off the bedside table and shoved them back under the bed. “A fire alarm going off in the middle of the conference? No I don’t.” She gathered the computer and bug wires and shoved them under the bed. A quick survey off the room revealed no red flags. It looked like any innocent hotel room. Ethan thought he could make out sirens over the sound of the alarm, which meant that this wasn’t just a drill. “We need to go.” Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 3: Fools Rush In

Previous Chapters

In keeping with her cover of being ill, James ate very little at dinner that night. (Except for mashed potatoes. She ate all her mashed potatoes and half of Ethan’s. He had no idea what that was about.) But Ethan was beginning to realize this fake illness had more than one advantage. When Burgstein, whose entourage had finally dissembled, approached them, she only had to mention having a bug of some sort and he immediately backed away.

And another advantage of having a sick wife was that now he would have an excuse to duck out of tonight’s dancing. Ethan didn’t know how to dance. He read a book about it once, but it didn’t seem like the kind of thing you learned from a book, and he’d never been given an assignment that required dancing before. Continue reading

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