"What would you do if you could get away with anything?"
"Excuse me?" I put my newspaper down an looked across the table at the young man who'd been sitting there. I usually sit alone, but the cafe was crowded this afternoon and I figured it would be okay to share my table. As long as the guy didn't talk. I hate people who can't stand silence. Here I was, enjoying my afternoon caffeine in peace, when my table-mate decides to start up a conversation. Okay... if it'll make him feel better: "What do you mean?"
"I mean anything. What would you do if you could do anything and get away with it."
"You mean like not go to jail or-"
"I mean never get caught. Never even be a suspect."
"I don't know." I shrugged, and gave the man my 'please let me get back to my coffee' look. He didn't get it.
"Sure you do. Think about it."
"Really. I don't know. Rob a bank or something."
"Come on... you can think of something better than that."
"No. I can't'"
"It'd be great though, wouldn't it? You'd have it made. Want to know what I'd do?"
"Everything. I have, too. You name it, I've done it. I've robbed a bank before. It wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be."
I looked closer at my table-mate and noticed that he wasn't nearly as young as he first appeared. At first, I thought I had been sitting across from a man barely out of his teens, but tell-tale wrinkles and age-lines placed him in his mid thirties. His boyish expression and silly smile, though, still make him seem younger than he was.
Judging from the course of the conversation so far, I was obviously talking to someone 'special.' The kind of 'special' that meant he had to go to 'special' classes in high school, and I don't mean the honors classes, either. I always wondered what became of those kids. Now I knew... they grew up to annoy strangers in cafes.
"I'm untouchable, see," the man continued, "I can get away with anything. No matter what. It always just...works itself out. Coincidence. Luck."
"Really. I mean I haven't won the lottery five times in a row or anything. My luck is more... selective. No, that's not it. Protective. That's it. My luck protects me."
"Like I said, things just work out for me. You know those people who seem to get away with everything. The ones that drove you crazy when you were a kid. You'd all be out doing something that you weren't supposed to be, and you'd all get in trouble except for that one kid. The one who lucked out. That's me."
"The lucky kid." I said in my most patronizing tone.
"Only it's not really luck... it's like... design. It's as if the whole world is looking out for my best interests. I can do no wrong. I can't get caught, no matter what I do. I couldn't get arrested even if I tried. I'm untouchable."
"It started in college. Man, I could kick myself for wasting all those years... I remember the first time. Me and three other guys were coming home from this bar. I was driving, and it wasn't because I was the most sober, either. It was my car and I wasn't gonna let anybody else drive it but me, nevermind the fact that I was totally shit-faced. So we're going down the road... both lanes and part of the shoulder, too... and we get pulled over by this cop. I roll down the window and the smell must have told it all. He didn't even bother with the 'walk the straight line' bit...he goes straight for the breathalyzer. So I put my lips on this little plastic straw and blow into the machine and guess what..."
"I'm sober! Oh yeah, I was still drunk as... well... as a college student on a long weekend, but the machine said I was cold sober. It malfunctioned, see. I saw it. This little 'error' light came on as soon as my lips touched the damned thing. The cop didn't see it, so he didn't know it was broken. He shined his flashlight around in the car, and didn't find anything. I guess he figured I was the designated driver. The machine said I was sober so he had to let me go. Can you believe that shit?"
"Neither could we. We just chalked it up to luck, except for Billy. He started talking about God and how we should stop drinking all this other crap... hell, Billy was out drinking with us the next day. We talked about that one for weeks."
"You just got lucky. Real lucky. The cops are really cracking down on-"
"Oh, come on. I haven't even gotten started yet. Check this out... about two months later I'm getting some gas at this shitty overpriced gas station. You know the kind. I'm in such a hurry that I just drive off and forget to pay... I don't even notice until I'm thirty miles down the road. Wanna guess what happened?"
"Nothing! I mean not a damned thing. So I go back a few weeks later and I'm checking the place out. I see their little security cameras tucked away in their little cubbyholes above the pumps, and I KNOW they were there last time. Why didn't they catch me? I mean, it was an honest mistake, but they still should have caught my license plate, right? Nope. The camera above the pump I was using was out. No little red light... no nothing. So I'm not trying to scam these people or anything, but I get this little voice...no, not a voice... a feeling... one of those annoying little feelings that nag at you to do something until you can't help but do it. This feeling is telling me to take the gas and run, just like I did before. You know what... I did it. I pumped my fucking gas and got in my car and drove off. Not a damned thing happened. Not that night. Not the next week. Not ever. So I did it again. And again. It was funny... no matter what pump I went to, the stupid camera was always broken. I even walked around and checked out the other cameras while my gas was pumping. Guess what... they were all on and working just fine. It was only the one I was using. I started telling my friends, and of course they didn't believe me. I brought them along one time, and I knew for sure that it was gonna go bad just because they were there. It didn't. Then I'd fill up their cars for free too. It was like a game... how many cars could I fill up in a day. Mine and everybody else's that I knew. But I was the only one that could do it. Billy tried it one time and they sent the cops after him. Seems they thought HE had been stealing all that gas and they locked his hypocritical ass up. They let him go...couldn't prove anything and, hey... it's just an honest mistake, right? But me... hell... I never paid for gas for the rest of my college career. Amazing, huh?"
I nodded, truly amazed. I had never met a pathological liar before...
"I never tried to figure it out... I just reaped the benefits. And pretty soon, the benefits went beyond free gas. I mean, if these assholes didn't care who boosted their gas, maybe they didn't care about anything else, either. I started going inside their little store and snagging shit. Snacks. Candy bars. Whatever. And this is AFTER I already filled my tank with gas that I had no intention of paying for. Is that wild, or what? And they had their little cameras and fucking funhouse-mirrors up all over the place, but nobody saw a damned thing. I walked out of their with my pocket overflowing. Daily.
I don't know what got into me; I mean, I'm not a klepto or anything. I didn't do it for the thrill. I just figured - why pay for shit when I can just get it for free. Then I started hitting the grocery store. Scared as hell that first time. I mean, I'd had all my good luck at that one shitty store... maybe the mojo wouldn't work anywhere else. You know what I stole that first time? One pack of Kool-Aid. No shit. I'm walking around so nervous that I had no idea what I wanted to steal. I just grabbed the smallest, most easily hid thing I could find and stuffed it into my pocket. What a waste. That same day, I went back and scored two steaks. Dinner. I stuffed them down the back of my jeans and up my shirt, then just walked out. The next week, I did my entire grocery shopping for free. I was a college student, so I didn't need much in the way of groceries, but it's much better to get what I need free instead of paying for it, right? Took me ten trips to the store. All fucking day. A little bit stashed here... a little there. Ten trips. I wasn't having that... I had to study, after all. Then I figured that if nobody was seeing me steal this stuff - and believe me, I was making no attempt to hide it - that maybe nobody was watching the registers or the doors. The next week, I filled up a shopping cart and just walked out. Nobody said a word. I mean, was I fucking invisible or what!?!
So there I was... In college, sponging off mom and dad, but still flat broke half the time. Then I start getting free gas and groceries. I even learned how to COOK! So what else could I want, huh?. Yeah, that's right.... spending money.
I figured I could rob that little gas station. I'd been robbing them all this time anyway, right? I must have spent two weeks going over the thing in my mind.... trying to make everything perfect. I didn't have a gun, but Billy did and I knew where he kept it. I started scheming about how to get the gun and what kind of mask to get and a thousand other details. What a waste. Anyway, while I was doing all this planning I got my first lesson in how this good thing of mine worked.
I'm at the grocery store with my usual cart-full of goodies. I walk right past the registers and into the parking lot just like I'd been doing for the past three weeks, only this time somebody noticed. That little asshole assistant manager yells something and runs out the door after me. I figure I'll ignore him until I get out to the car, then I'll just say I forgot to pay or something. Or maybe I could pay him off. Never happened. I heard him yelling at me, and then I heard screeching tires and then this...this... *thud*. I turned around and saw the assistant manager lying on the ground. Dead. This kid... this little fucking kid that didn't have a license anyway... had just ran smack over him. The kid's out of the car crying and screaming about how he didn't mean it and how the guy just stepped in front of the car. He went to juvie jail... vehicular whatchamacallit. And the manager... deader than Elvis. I stood there looking at him; I couldn't look away. I'd never seen a dead body before. Most of his bones were on the outside of his body, and his head was... well... I didn't eat any melon that summer.
I was shaken, but you know what? I wasn't to shaken to figure out what really happened. Yeah, the kid was speeding and it was all his fault, but if that little asshole hadn't ran out after me he never would have been hit. If he had just left well enough alone, he'd probably still be at that store. Maybe be manager by now. I was caught. He had seen me steal that food, and he was going to do something about it. I was on my way into some deep shit and then *BAM,* fate steps in and takes the asshole out. Heh, heh, heh. I laughed my ass off when I figured that out. I was untouchable. I couldn't be caught.
I robbed that gas station. Broad daylight. No mask. Hell, no fucking gun either. I just walked in and snatched that little Indian prick by the throat, put a knife in his face and told him to give me the money. He did it, too. I told him that if he ever told anybody what I looked like, I'd come back for him. Heh, he was scared shitless. If I'd have thought about it, I'd have checked his pants before I left; he probably pissed all over himself. I scored a couple hundred bucks; which was a lot of money for somebody who was broke. Me and the boys drank like demons that weekend.
Now I know what you're wondering... what happened to the store attendant. Well, I went back the next week for some gas and some candy bars. There was somebody new at the register. I did some small-talking, and came to find out that Akmed - or whatever his name was - had been deported the day after I robbed the place. He never had a chance to get brave enough to tell the cops what I looked like. I'm sure he reported the robbery, but I guess the inside camera wasn't working that day. Imagine that.
That was college. I got a degree in some bullshit, and had a pretty decent GPA, too. Hell, I cheated my way through the last two years. Blatantly. I'd bring books and notes to the exams, throw 'em on my desk and look through them as soon as the professor's back was turned. This one guy, some geek who USED to have the highest average in the class, saw me do it one day in a Physics final. He raised his hand like he was going to tell the proctor. Soon as the proctor turned around, this guy starts having this wicked asthma attack. He starts coughing and wheezing and shit. Finally he excuses himself and leaves the room. After all, he was disturbing the class with all his bullshit. He came back and finished the exam, but he never bothered me or told anybody. Always looked at me funny, though, like I had done something to him. Hell, it wasn't me. I didn't even know he had asthma. I'll bet he didn't know either.
So I cheated my way from barely passing to the top of the dean's list. I should have joined the honor society, but that geek from Physics was the president and... well... I guess it was an oversight on his part. I still had the grades, though. I got an entry level job with this advertising company. I was pretty good, too, but entry- level just wasn't paying enough. I found out where the secretary kept the petty cash and started dipping into it. Well, perhaps 'dipping' isn't strong enough a word. 'Emptying it' would be more accurate. Yeah, I bypassed the office supplies and went straight for the cast. How many pens and staplers could one man use anyway? The secretary, her name was Debra, eventually got fired, but what do I care? Nobody ever asked me anything. I didn't find out until later that management had installed a camera by the secretary's desk. I never knew it, but the damn thing kept shorting out just before the money went missing. They figured the secretary must have found the camera and turned it off whenever she got the sticky fingers. Right. She never knew there was a camera. I know because I was dating her. Nobody knew. We broke it off right after she got fired. Damnedest thing too, she was let go not too long after I admitted to her that I had been the one stealing. I wonder if she was planning on telling anybody?
I guess I could have continued with the petty cash after Debra left, but by then it was... well, 'petty.' I wanted more. I got a promotion, completely on the merits of my own work too. I was talking to customers, now. Flying out to California, New York, Atlanta. The company paid for everything. They paid for more than they knew, since my expense statements were padded all to hell and back. I damned near doubled my salary, and nobody said a damned thing.
I got other promotions. More money, more responsibility, but, to tell the truth, it was beginning to get boring. Maybe I missed Debra; I don't know. One of my co-workers named Harold White was bored, too. Harold had a... substance abuse problem that took all his money. It had already taken his wife and family, so all he really had left was work. He was good, too. Not as good as I was, but good. Anyway, you know how companies are, always cutting back. The latest wave of layoffs was targeted at high-level execs like me and Harold. Neither of us had anything to worry about, but Harold worried anyway. He was on that shit, and it made him paranoid. Harold figured that his layoff was a forgone conclusion, and he wasn't the type to just let things go. He wanted to get back at the company, even though they hadn't done anything to him yet. I don't know why he figured he could trust me, but he did. He had this plan for embezzling damn near one million dollars from the company and he wanted me to be in on it. I jumped at the chance. After all, I had nothing to worry about. All it took was some creative bookkeeping and fancy paper shuffling and all of a sudden we were millionaires. It was a lot easier than you would think. Harold took his cut and was about to resign when everything went south. I don't know how, but I guess we didn't cover ourselves as good as we thought. Maybe I let a detail or two slip, after all, it wasn't as if I was going to go to get caught or anything. Harold, however, was another story. The police came and marched him out of the building on the day he was going to resign. They walked him right past my desk. I'll never forget the look on his face... like he was mad at me or something. Why? I didn't do anything... besides, it was all his idea.
The thought never occurred to me that Harold was going to inform on me and try to take me down with him. Not that it would have mattered.... Harold died during his first night prison. Some kind of riot broke out and he just happened to get caught up in it. He died without a trial or an investigation. I always wondered what that look meant when he was being escorted out. Was he intending to flap his lips to the police? I guess I'll never know.
I got another promotion not too long after that, but I want to tell you about some other things first. See, I was making good money now, even without what I had embezzled. What made it even better was that I had hardly any expenses. My car was free. I just drove it off the lot. Went out for a test drive and never came back. Never bothered to register it... hell, I hadn't gotten a speeding ticket since... now that I think of it, I've never gotten a speeding ticket. I got in an accident once. I had no insurance. Lucky for me, it was dark with no one around and both people in the other car died. I wasn't hurt at all. I got out to check on them. The passenger was still alive, but I watched her bleed to death right in front of me. Then I just got in what was left of my car and drove away. I guess I was in shock or something. Hit and run. No cops so much as breathed in my direction. I trashed the wrecked car and stole another one.
I was still getting my food free with my old supermarket trick. That place lost so many managers, assistant managers, and bag-boys that people said that the place must be cursed. Employees were always getting run over in the parking lot.
Clothes were the same way. I'd go and pick out five or six of the most expensive suits available. The latest fashions. I'd get them tailored, and then I'd give them with a check written on an account I'd closed years ago. I'd do this all the time... sometimes two or three times at the same store.
I did pay rent for a while, and then I bought a house. I paid hardly a dime in utilities. Any idiot can steal cable, but his nerdy neighborhood kid showed me how to hook up the phone and electricity so that it shows up on someone else's bill. He said he learned how to do it on the internet or something. I paid him to show me, and I did it myself. He got caught a few months later hooking up one of the other neighbors. The cops and utility people came out to inspect the houses, but I guess they forgot about mine. I never bothered to disconnect my stuff, although most other people did before the cops got there. I'm sure they tried to scare the kid into telling them who he'd done business with, but they didn't get much out of him before he died. I think it was that same riot that Harold died in. Or maybe it was another one.
I robbed the bank a little while after that just for the hell of it. They stuck one of those exploding ink cartridges in my bag, but it malfunctioned and didn't go off. I mailed it back to them as my little joke. I heard on the news that it went off and blinded somebody, but I wasn't really paying attention. The money I stole? I put it back in the bank. Same bank. Yeah, it was a different branch, but somehow I don't think it would have made a difference.
I didn't have very many friends to help me share my wealth, though. I'd find a new crowd to hang out with, but they always got jealous. I guess you can tell I'm not one for keeping secrets. They'd ask how I could afford the things I had and I'd tell them Most of them wouldn't believe me, so I'd prove it. We'd go out and steal a car or rough up some homeless guy. I even robbed this store just across the street from the police station while two of my 'buddies' watched. I guess their conscience got the best of them, because one had a heart attack and another had an aneurysm, all within two days of each other. It was always like that. Pretty soon it became common knowledge that the people I hung around with tended to get sick and die real suddenly. But it wasn't my fault. Jealous bastards couldn't stand to see someone else getting ahead. They always had to try and fuck it up.
So I was mostly alone, which was a shame because I had so much to offer. I had lots of women, though... three or four at a time. I never got caught in a lie, and it wasn't because my lies were unusually good, either. It just worked out that way. I could keep women in the dark for as long as I wanted, which was usually until I got bored. Either that, or they'd start asking questions; I'd answer them, and then something bad would happen. I didn't care though, there were always more women, and I could have as many as I wanted.
So after all that, what more could I ask for, right? I tell you what... I got that last promotion and I had more money than I knew what to do with. It wasn't like I was spending it or anything. Hell, I hadn't filled out an income tax return since college. I owe Uncle Sam so much money that it's ridiculous, but, hey, they have to catch me first, and we both know that'll never happen. No... money just wasn't doing it for me. There was really no reason for me to work at all; I don't know why I got up and got dressed every morning. I should have quit a long time ago, but I'm glad I didn't.
That last promotion put me just two levels away from VP. My boss was a woman named Anne. I liked her. I liked her a lot. She was so damned beautiful... not some middle-aged prune like what you'd expect. She was in her thirties. She'd worked her way up the ladder of some other company, and then jumped ships for more money. She wasn't married, but she was engaged to Rob... this... yuppie asshole who belonged to the same country club I did. Only difference is his membership check didn't bounce like a truckload of rubber balls. I met him and disliked him instantly. He kicked my ass regularly at racquetball, and then went home to screw the most attractive woman I'd seen since my early college days. He always rubbed my nose it, too. His was always making his little comments, like 'I gotta stay in shape for Anne... Anne likes it when I come home sweaty...I haven't been this tired since last week in the sack with Anne.' Asshole. I bet he didn't even love her. He put up a good show, though. I watched them at the Christmas party, pawing all over each other like kittens. It made me sick. Sick... because I wanted to be the one with her. Only I couldn't because.... Then it hit me that there was no real reason she couldn't be mine. I mean, what was stopping me?
I left the party early and brooded for the next couple of weeks during my vacation. I though, made plans, scrapped them and made new ones. Then I said to hell with the plans. Plans are for people who are afraid of getting caught. I guess for a while there I forgot who I really was, but it didn't last long. Soon, the only question was did I want to do this the easy way or the hard way?
It ended up being both.
I challenged Rob to a late game of racquetball. He kicked my ass as usual, but this time I begged for a rematch. Then another. By the time he had beaten me four times in a row the club was almost closed. Rob gave some snotty comment about my enthusiasm and how I must not need to save my energy for anything else. I laughed and followed him into the locker room where I strangled him with a shoelace. Can you believe that shit - A shoelace!
Anne was devastated, and, of course, I was there to comfort her. I'd hold her and she'd cry on my shoulder. She'd talk about Rob, and I'd say that he was a good man and the cops would eventually catch the bastard that killed him. Her performance began to slip at work, but that was understandable. I was there to pick up the slack. I was in the perfect position to be the next person to get in between those thighs, all I had to do was wait. And wait. And wait.
I guess I'm not the most patient of person.
I confronted her one day, about four months after I killed Rob. Four months is a long enough time to grieve, right? I mean, they weren't even married for chrissakes! I went over to her house, brought her dinner. Lit the candles... poured the wine. I guess she was still so messed up in the head that she didn't even see that I had something to tell her. I just came out and said it. I asked for it. That's more than what most guys do, right? I said I'd come to love her over the weeks, and that I wanted to be with her. You should have seen her eyes. I'm a pretty good judge of people's expressions, and what I saw then wasn't what I had hoped for. She sat there staring at me like I just told her that there was no Santa Claus. Then she says that we have a special friendship and that she didn't want to ruin it and that she hoped I understood. Friendship. She dared to use the word that no guy ever wants to hear from a woman he's trying to screw. I knew that I had been fucked, and not I the way that I wanted.
I mean, what was I to do? I had invested serious time and energy in this bitch. I had canceled dates when she had one of her crying spells... I had told more than my usual share of lies to keep things quiet...worked overtime to finish up HER projects... I had even gone out and actually PAID for shit because she wanted to be with me. I didn't tell her how things were with me because I didn't want anything to happen to her. Well, not any more.
She was still sitting there flapping her lips about 'friendship' when I got up and grabbed her by the throat. For a second there I caught a flash of that Indian kid at the gas station, and then of Rob when I wrapped the shoelace around his neck. I pushed it out of my mind. I had more enjoyable things to occupy my time.
I took her right there on the dining room table. Then on the floor. Then I dragged her to the bed and took her there. She stopped struggling after a while and just lay there crying. She looked so cute. I had her one more time. Before I left, I told her that I was the one that killed Rob. I could hear her screaming all the way to the end of the driveway. That was when I turned the radio up loud and drove home.
She didn't come to work the next day. I was expecting to hear that she had killed herself or something, but she didn't. She was still alive. 'Nervous Breakdown' is what they called it. I never knew what they meant by that. The police said she had been raped, but that she was in no condition to talk and wouldn't be for quite a while. They said that they didn't have any leads. Like hell, I must have left five gallons of semen in her. Not one cop showed up at my door to ask me any questions. They didn't even know I was there that night.
I wasn't surprised, but I did feel... different. Liberated. That's what I meant when I said I was glad I didn't quit before. If I had quit earlier, I never would have met Anne, never would have killed Rob, and never would have taken my... talent... to it's logical conclusion. I thought I had done everything... pushed it to the edge, but I wasn't even close. Not until after Anne. After Anne, I knew. I could do anything. I mean, I'd been telling myself that for years... hell, I'd been LIVING it for damn near a decade and a half. But I didn't know what it meant until that moment when the secretary told me about Anne's breakdown. Then, I KNEW.
I quit that very day. Everybody thought that it was because of what happened to Anne; they knew we'd been friends. That wasn't it at all. I simply had more interesting things to do. I sold my house... probably the only legitimate thing I owned. I stole another car and simply drove away.
I said that Anne was the most beautiful woman I had seen since college. Well, I still have those college memories. Names and faces. Hell, this is the information age - all I need is a name. I've been traveling from city to city, getting caught up on old times. Any woman I've ever wanted... or even looked at for more than a two seconds. If I can find her... she's mine. For a couple of hours, at least. The same goes for people that pissed me off. I just came from this construction site downtown. I went to middle school with the foreman there... a big, huge fucking asshole. I remember he and one of his buddies beat me up and stole my money in the bathroom one day. Well, he just had a nasty accident with a nail gun. Well... not really an accident. Plenty of people around, but you know what? I bet nobody saw a thing. Had a picture of his wife in his wallet...yeah, I took his money... I'm going to go and visit the pig when I leave here. I'll bet she's already got the news about Lewis. She'll be distraught. I'll cheer her up.
So what do you think? A hell of a lot better than what you said, right?"
I sat and stared at the man, a blank expression of shock on my face. The things this man had been telling me for the past half-hour...
"You said you'd rob a bank. Hell... I'm robbing the WORLD! I don't pay for shit. I do whatever I want, whenever I want, to whoever I want. I guess that's the answer isn't it."
"What I asked you. 'What would you do if you could get away with anything?' Whatever you want, right? Whatever you fucking want."
"That's a nice story." I said, finally coming to my senses. This guy had me going for a minute. I knew that a lot of strange people hung out in the cafe, but THIS?!? This guy was delusional... a walking head-case.
"Story-hell. It's true. I can do anything. See that skinny waitress over there? I can snatch her by the hair and bend her over this table in front of everybody in here. Nothing'll happen to me. If she wasn't so butt-ugly, I'd do it. Right here, right now. I'm not modest."
"People would see you. A lot of people."
"Nobody'd say anything. Even if they wanted to, something would happen to them before they could."
"Oh, I don't know. Anything. I stopped paying attention to the details a long time ago. But I do know that all the witnesses would be taken care of before the cops even got here. And without me even lifting a finger."
"A whole cafe full of people?"
"Hey... gas leak or something. It could happen."
"What about me? Why'd you tell me all this?"
"Just making conversation. I don't like people sittin' around quiet all the time. Just though I'd liven up the table a little."
"And you don't think I'd tell? Not that I could... I don't even know your name. But just suppose..."
"My name is Richard Howard Wallace. I was born in Miami, Florida. I just drove up from south Georgia - the fucking armpit of the United States... where I just raped my way through a little shitty town that I can't remember the name of. My car is stolen, and the license number is AL4-1359. The man I just killed downtown was Lewis Stark. I shot him in the head with a nail gun, but not before I made some nice Christian art out of him and two big pieces of wood. His wife... who I'm about to go and rape... is named Ellen. And you can't do a damned thing about it."
"Uh-huh." I said.
"You don't believe me."
"Not one word."
"Good. Otherwise you'd be tempted to fuck it up for me. And that would be bad for you."
"Oh, come on, man... haven't you been listening?!?"
"I guess not. And I really have to go."
"Scared you off, huh?"
"No. I just have to go." I folded my newspaper, stood up, and left without looking back at the stranger. I didn't leave a tip, although I usually do tip quite well. I just didn't want to leave money with that lunatic. Untouchable, indeed.
I stepped out of the cafe and onto the sidewalk. It was a beautiful day outside, but my mind kept going back to that psychopath in the cafe. The things he said... I made up my mind to stop my the library and look some things up... recent crimes in south Georgia. Embezzlements in major advertising firms. I'd be sure to check the news in case something nasty had happened downtown. Not that I expected anything, but I'd check anyway. I didn't believe him, of course. He'd be insane to come to a cafe and brag about the things he did. But then, if he actually DID do those things, he would be insane.
As I stepped out into the crosswalk, I wondered what had ever become of Andrew, and old friend of mine. He had joined the police force, and I wondered if I could have him do a favor for me. I was already running the conversation through in my mind when I heard the shout. I looked up, for I frequently look down when I'm deep in thought, and saw the truck bearing down on me. My legs froze. I stumbled, lost my footing, but then managed to regain my balance. I made a valiant leap for the sidewalk. I was too slow.
Copyright 1998 by Marc Washington (Dark Icon)