A plain manila envelope rested on the table by the steaming to go cup. Dale Burgess didn't see it until he lifted his coffee to take a sip. It hadn't been there when he sat down a minute ago. He smiled. His employer wasn't a rookie to this game.
Dale didn't touch the envelope and instead casually glanced around his surroundings. A cold morning in January on the West Coast meant few people were hanging around the local park. He noticed several solo joggers, bundled up in colorful athletic clothes on the sidewalk nearby. A few parents and their children walked the path through the trees several feet away. The tables around him had only two other people, both of which had sat down before him. No one seemed to be a likely candidate to be the deliverer of the envelope.
The people in the park continued their mundane activities while Dale watched closely. His past few jobs had earned him a bit of scrutiny from larger organizations so he needed to be extra careful with this mission. His coffee slowly disappeared as the people surrounding him left and were replaced with new comers. Eventually Dale felt sure that no one nearby was watching him, but he waited an extra thirty minutes just to be safe.
Standing up from the table, Dale grabbed his empty cup and the mysterious packet. He made his way out of the park, dropping his cup in a trash can as he went. His apartment was only a few blocks away and certainly the safest place to examine the envelope's contents. The only problem would be Warren.
Dale took a lounger route to his building, just in case someone was following him. Eventually he arrived at the somewhat run down apartment. The elevator was still out of order, so he took the stairs to the eighth floor.
"Hey Warren. I'm back," he said as he entered the living room. The entire apartment had been a mess when he left earlier since Warren had insisted on having a "small get together" to celebrate the last day of his stay the previous night. Things had gotten a bit out of hand, but Dale didn't mind. Warren was his younger brother by twelve years, which had made it hard for the two to form any kind of bond. Now that Warren was an adult though and going to school at a university only a few hours away, Dale had become close with his brother. It helped that Warren spent every break at Dale's since their parents had passed away a few years ago.
The apartment was spotless now, in stark contrast to the state he left it in. Water was running in the bathroom which led Dale to conclude that Warren was showering after having completed all the cleaning.
Dale fingered the envelope in his hands. He couldn't be sure how long Warren would be showering so he forced himself to have just a little more patience. Warren was catching a ride back to school with a friend who was planning to pick him up in less than an hour. Besides, as important as this new job was, his brother would always be his top priority.
Moving a stuffed duffle bag from the couch, Dale sat down and placed the packet on the coffee table. With nothing better to do, he turned the TV on and watched the local news. The sound of water stopped only a few minutes later making Dale extra grateful he had waited to open the envelope. His brother walked into the room with only a towel around his waist.
"I didn't think I'd see you before I left," Warren said as bent down to pick up the duffle bag Dale had moved.
"My meeting was shorter than I expected," Dale explained. "Are you going to put clothes on or just spend the next three hours in a towel?"
Warren grinned. "I wonder what Jenny would say if I got into her car dressed like this."
Dale shook his head. "Don't scar the poor girl. She is your way back afterall."
"You're right. I guess I should put on something else. Thanks for reminding me. I would have forgotten," Warren joked.
"Knowing you, I wouldn't be surprised if you actually did."
Warren scowled at him. "That's not true. Whenever have I ever forgotten something as important as clothes?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?" Dale smiled.
Warren thought for a moment. "No, I actually don't. Anyway, I forgot to not pack my clothes for today so that's why I'm in a towel, just in case you were wondering."
"I figured. You'd better hurry though. Jenny normally shows up early," Dale reminded his brother.
Warren didn't say anything else as he stood up with clothes in his arms. He walked back to the bathroom and closed the door.
Dale chuckled to himself and began flipping through channels on the TV. He was going to miss Warren, but the packet on the table was just begging to be opened. Dale wasn't sure how much longer he could resist the call. This was going to be an exciting day.