A pre-series glimpse at Young Mr. Bishop's worldly endeavors...

The Gun Epiphanies

It was from his knees on a threadbare carpet of a hotel in Liberia that Peter Bishop first reconsidered his line of work. The inner reflection was not so much about location as the shaking gun barrel pushed against his temple. Of course, the money was limitless if one had an angle and a plan. Plus, sticking it to authorities, militants and debutantes was fulfilling. And naturally, using the talented mind genetics kindly bestowed could be labeled as gratitude. Peter had made more contacts here in one month than the CIA had in a decade, many holding the alluring promise of a quick return on minimal effort. Associates were all he had in this world and the safer was his sanity for it.

The gun was certainly no friend.

Nor was the body attached to the trembling hand that held the pistol. To be shot for trying to make a buck was bad enough, but to be bested by a nervous first-timer was unforgivable. The kid in the borrowed suit was merely playing dress up for a very mature game, likely for a ridiculously low sum and would dive for the safety of the priesthood should he pull this off. Peter hoped his blood stained this would-be killer to the bone.

People, normal suburban people, worked steady hours for a regular check and hurried back to their Rockwell families. Peter worked two hours for a thousand Franklins and came home to a quaking killer. Some jobs, no matter how easy, just weren't worth the cash. His career revolved around creating opportunities, selling the pitch and sealing the deal. It was never to become a target of disgruntled men who hate competition. A moment after the gun misfired and the boy fled, Peter swore he'd get out.

Retirement lasted two days.

It was from his back on a sticky nightclub floor in Prague that Peter first missed the bars of Boston. At least the homegrown drunks threw punches and then helped up the beleaguered opponent. Less neighborly sentiment existed in the 'old world.' Clearly the local patrons enjoyed the breathing effigy of American pride swiping at a bloody lip with the cuff of his sleeve. Staggering gracelessly to his feet with the aid of a toppled stool, Peter scanned for the perpetrator, who apparently got swallowed by the snickering crowd. The stool bore the brunt of falling backwards as gravity had pushed his stunned weight to the tile-covered concrete. One thin wooden leg splintered into three jagged bits and he knew how it felt when he realized a tooth had been dislodged. Once a new stool was commandeered, a local draft was ordered and he tried to fathom what had occurred from the time he was flirting with the barmaid to the moment he swam in a pool of spilled drinks.

He remembered someone accusing him of stealing a family's savings, but he'd refused to look behind him. Disembodied voices were far easier to handle without faces attached. The waitress stepped away from him mid-sentence and yet he proceeded to blissfully ignore the rambling. But when the jukebox cord was yanked from the wall, it was hard to miss the threat.

Yet another unfriendly firearm.

This time it was the bartender and Peter wasn't sure exactly who was being targeted, as the barrel swayed between the hostile man and himself. Finally maneuvering around on the padded stool to face his condemner, Peter had been greeted with the walking destitute. A small man with tight features and baggy clothes, he looked far too sober for the festive gathering. While without a detectable weapon, if the man's fury equaled muscle, Peter would be spending several families' savings on reconstructive surgery. No petty thief, Peter focused his energies on governments and corporations that willingly paid for his services. The notion that individuals held little potential for profit was the logic he used to keep his ever-changing line up of bosses from requesting he defraud citizens. In a conciliatory spirit, Peter had tried to ask how he'd wronged the man.

And the fist was the answer.

Luckily, he'd tipped back in avoidance, catching only an edge of the inbound knuckles. Perhaps it was more severe punishment, not knowing how a scheme had managed to touch the stranger. Plus, he'd never be certain that it wasn't mistaken identity that led to his kissing the floor. But it was knowing that he'd never make it right that kept him up at night for quite some time. It was naïve to think even his most careful plans couldn't trickle down to the unfortunate masses.

But mourning unidentified sins was no sort of hobby.

It was from his view of the Dubai skyline outside his luxury suite that Peter first realized he'd grown indifferent to the perils of his life. The thin and greasy form of a frequent contact was racing out of the room after being dangled from his ankles off the 28th story balcony. Two days prior, the new boss had sent a bodyguard, a message that Peter was being openly watched. But the Big Brother gesture gained appreciation when the familiar face burst in, gun carelessly waving while demanding his share of a job gone bad. A different waving followed as the former source was upended and made to swing in the breeze. In a nearby alley, children abandoned their soccer game to watch the man who would splatter all over their filthy play area. This should have bothered Peter. Surely there was much fault to be found in a display worthy of a cheesy, late night movie. The hastily discarded gun lay at his feet as his numb eyes took in the spectacle.

This dance with firepower was tiring.

Stepping back into the room, Peter noted a suspicious wet trail leading across the room and out the heavy doors. The unnamed guard, not one for conversation, didn't need to speak. Massive knuckles were cracked with an air of accomplishment not to be questioned. There was still a balcony available and Peter didn't fancy seeing the city upside down. Apparently, the deed left the silent man hungry and the gun was kicked under the bed before room service arrived.

Later, that alley helped him elude his protector and he never looked back.

It was from a bare-bones airplane heading to a place hesitantly labeled home that Peter first realized that the abrupt conclusion of his Middle East adventure arrived without a bang. Instead, it went the way of his dreams and ended with a blonde. Aside from the resurfacing of his father's specter, it wasn't such a bad trade. But her demeanor was as taut as her ponytail and her desperation to save someone through an institutionalized scientist meant a guy of significance was involved. File or no file, he'd needed substantial convincing to get mixed up in this mess.

The government issue piece at her side was a fine start.

Sitting across from a stern, focused woman, Peter was more chilled by her invisible wounds than the indelicate bruises on her pretty face. He'd tangled with his share of determined females, the challenge of coaxing softness from them a worthwhile test of his charms. But this one, with her military posture and inch-from-snapping tone, was no game he wanted to play and he was glad for every minute that gun remained holstered. Still, some of the numbness that had plagued him lately dissipated as her locked-down control clashed with pent up emotions, crating a rather entertaining facial display. Conflicted women do something to the gallantry he'd long tried to straitjacket. American airspace crept into view and he considered all the places he'd ventured through to avoid this very landmass, the home of all that is distressing in his life. Despite all that he'd seen in recent months, the only sight more fearsome than impending death was the face of a stranger his mother married and he'd make sure they understood that. No amount of waving guns would put him in a room with the man who destroyed what should have been a typical, generic life.

He'd allow this agent to speak to the madman. He'd sign waivers and consents and the old man's death sentence if need be. Peter could only trust that his latest deal would remain intact a day or two until his return. There was work left in the hot dust of Iraq and fees to be collected that solved all manner of issues.

But it could never pay off his memory.