A MYSTERIOUS MAN
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A MYSTERIOUS MAN
John took a bite of the roasted chicken leg, scowled at the wall clock and muttered, “Damn it. Son of the bitch is too late.”
The wall clock showed 2:15 PM. John had been sitting alone at his table, in the far right corner of the restaurant for over forty-five minutes, away from the hearing distance of all the people. He had been waiting for his partner in crimes, Bill Hammond, and after having two cigarettes, three beers and half a chicken, he felt a bit angry for being kept up.
John Locke a Caucasian male in his prime at the age of thirty was a tall, strong, wiry man. He was not bad to look at; and could have passed on himself as handsome, if he had the decency of keeping up with the prevalent standard of personal hygiene by shaving his beard, brushing his teeth, bathing and combing his hairs more often than he actually did. Moreover, the dark grey overcoat, the dirty black jeans, and the unpolished dusty shoes that he wore – gave his personality a somewhat repulsive look.
However, no one seemed to mind his looks or him, as most of the people present there knew that this is what you find in a cheap third grade restaurant in the dilapidated part of the city, which was notorious for being dangerous even in the broad day light.
No one was paying any attention to John except the mysterious man dressed in a black suit. He was constantly staring at John as he sat across the hall on a similar kind of table – all alone. He was a white man in his late thirties with immaculately combed blond hairs, clean shaven good-looking face, and stylish black glasses on his eyes – which added charisma to his persona. He had the best clothes, best shoes and best personal accessories on his body, and it was evident that he did not belong in a restaurant like that.
It was also palpably clear that the mysterious man was staring at John as there were not many customers in the restaurant at that time, and most of the tables between John and the mysterious man were empty.
John knew that a stranger was taking some unusual interest in him. At first, he had tried not to make a big deal of it, but now the constant staring and annoying wait for Bill was creeping into his skin, brewing his anger that had a knack for breaking bones whenever such an opportunity availed itself.
John took another bite from the chicken leg and looked straight. He saw the beautiful red-haired waitress in her early twenties, dressed in a white shirt and tight blue jeans. She was bent over a table as she picked up the plates and her tip left by a customer.
John admired the full view of her lush hips for as long as she was bent, but as she straightened herself, and turned around, holding plates in her hands, inadvertently looking at John in the process, he quickly turned his head to the left to avoid her gaze, and found that the mysterious man was still looking at him.
“What the hell is his problem? He is still staring at me,” John muttered.
His attention shifted to the restaurant entrance as Bill Hammond entered the hall. Bill was a black, short, hefty man in his early forties who seemed like a man who knew two or three things about prison life. He had round face with big black eyes, broad nose, thick dark lips and a dreadful scar on the left cheek. He was bald with absolutely no hair, and as result had a round shiny pate that improved his menacing look. He wore a full-sleeved dark green sweater with brown pants and black shoes that were noticeably squeaky for a quiet walk.
John waved to Bill to let him know where he was sitting and Bill started to walk to his table.
“Where were you?” John demanded as Bill took the seat opposite to him.
Bill took out an envelope from the pocket of his pant, placed it on the table, and then slid it toward John with the flick of his right hand.
“That’s your share,” Bill said.
John took the envelope in his hand, weighted it for few moments and said, “It does not seem like five grands for hundred-dollar bills or any other.”
“That’s three,” Bills said as he picked a chicken bone from John’s plate.
“Are you shitting me?” John retorted as he put the envelope on the table with disappointment.
“What can I do? Max did not budge. He only gave me six,” Bill said while chewing on the chicken bone.
“That stuff worth fifteen grand. You ought to get at least ten for it,” John said with a frown.
“He only agreed to pay eight and kept the two as the charge for providing the tools, the car, and taking care of that cop.”
“Max is getting too greedy. We have to do something about it,” John said as he picked up the envelope and slipped it under his overcoat’s inner pocket.
“Like what?” Bill said and attempted to pick another chicken bone from John’s plate with his right hand.
“Like changing our fence,” John said and hit on Bill’s right palm with his right hand – preventing Bill from stealing more of his food. He continued, “Get your own plate.”
“And you think Max would let you do that?” Bill asked while nursing his right palm with his left hand. He continued, “Don’t forget that he is connected to both the cops and the mob. You don’t mess with a man like Max.”
“You know for man of a body like yours, you are too chicken,” John said in a sneering tone.
John leaned a bit forward toward the table and continued in a hushed tone, “Remember what I did to Shawn for being a smart-ass. Cops are still searching for him. Some think that he has left the country, but you and I both know what actually happened with him.”
A cold surge seemed to pass through Bill’s body as he remembered something, something horrible, something that he wanted to forget.
“Sometimes you really give me creeps man. I don’t know why I work with you,” Bill said in a grim tone.
“Because it is good business,” John said with a smile.
John inadvertently looked to his left and found that the mysterious man was still staring at him.
“Fucking stupid asshole,” John blurted out.
“Hey, hey, mind your tongue man,” Bill said with irritation in his tone.
“It isn’t you. It is that freaking bastard,” John said as he made a gesture of his neck in the direction of the mysterious man.
Bill also looked at the mysterious and then looked at John.
“Looks like he is staring at us,” Bill said.
“This guy has been staring at me since I arrived here,” John said while staring back at the mysterious man.
“Really?” Bill said with doubt in his tone.
John looked at Bill with an annoyed expression on his face and said, “Why would I make something like that?”
“May be he has got a homo crush on you?” Bill suggested with chuckle in his tone.
“I know your sex appeal is awful but the heart wants what the heart wants,” Bill said with a broad smile.
“You are not helping.”
“Why don’t you just go and ask what is his problem?”
“Great idea. Look you go and ask him why he has been staring at me?”
“Why should I go? You go. He has been staring at you not me.”
“Do as I say or…” John said in a threatening tone.
“Or your ass man. I am not your slave,” Bill said in a confident tone with a twitch of his neck, which suggested that he was adamant about what he said.
“We have been friends for so many years, and you can’t do me such a small favor,” John requested as he applied a different tactic to convince Bill.
“Hey I would have done it if he were she and a beautiful she, but I am not gonna stick my neck out for this one. Besides my mom taught me in childhood not to talk with creepy strangers.”
“Who else can be creepier than you? You are just afraid of him. You think he might be a cop.”
“Exactly. Now since you know my reasons, you should try to chat with him.”
John looked at the mysterious man from the corner of his eye and found that he was still being stared at.
“Am I nuts to go near a cop?” John said.
“Don’t know about you but I am certainly not,” Bill said.
“What are the chances that he is cop?”
Bill looked at the mysterious man for few moments. Then he said, “He is too well dressed for a cop.”
“May be he is under cover.”
“If he is tailing you then don’t you think that his constant staring would blow his cover?”
John took another glimpse at the mysterious man from the corner of his eye.
“One thing is certain though. This guy is certainly not afraid of me or you or both of us together. The way he is staring at us without a flinch suggests that he is a man of authority, and certainly power.”
“Perhaps he is FBI. Remember the job we pulled at that senator’s mansion last year. I told you, it was too risky and now the FBI is finally catching up to us.”
“He can’t be a cop or FBI. They always show in the movies that Undercover Cops or FBI Agents always act very naturally. It is very hard to spot them, and what we have here is entirely opposite of that.”
“You mean to say this guy wants you to spot him out but why would he do that?” Bill asked with a frown.
“Perhaps he is a private detective. I heard that Shawn’s dad hired a private detective to look into his disappearance,” John suggested.
“Was he here when you arrived?” Bill asked.
“Did you tell anyone that you were coming here?”
“I often come here.”
“Did you specifically tell anyone that you were coming here? Anyone at all?” Bill said emphasizing on the importance of the question.
“Now that I think of it, I remember who I told,” John said as if he suddenly remembered something important.
“Who?” Bill inquired anxiously.
“You mean to say he is with me?” Bill said as if offended.
“I have never seen this guy before in my life. I swear.” Bill defended himself.
“Then prove it.”
“Go and ask him who he really is and what he wants with me,” John ordered in a forceful tone.
“Very clever, you are tricking me into jumping into the frying pan,” Bill said with a smile. He continued, “I am not gonna fall for it.”
“It was worth a shot,” John said with a smile.
Bill took a glimpse of the mysterious man and it was enough for him to know that the mysterious man was still staring at them.
“Coming back to the point, he could be the private detective,” Bill Said.
“He could be a private detective, the one with expensive taste in clothing, but it does not explain that constant staring.”
“He could be a serial killer you know, searching for a prey. I mean look at his face, his clothes, and his glasses. He clearly does not belong in here. Then what he is doing here? I am telling you, he is searching for his next victim or should I say he has chosen his next victim. It’s you.”
“Like a white-collar like that can take on a beast like me?” John said airily. He continued, “Besides serial killers are even harder to spot than FBI Agents, and this guy is a fucking ostrich among the turkeys.”
“Then he could be a client,” Bill suggested.
“Client?” John muttered with confusion in his tone.
“Yes. He is some white-collar who wants us to retrieve something from somebody. Basically, he just wants us to pull a job. Thus he is a client. Don’t forget that we are famous in some infamous circles, and we have done those sorts of things in the past.”
“Then why doesn’t he come and talks with us? Why stare?”
“Because he is a white-collar. He has never done this sort of thing before and is hesitating to come to us. He wants us to go to him that’s why the stare. We should better go and talk with him.”
John went silent and took his time staring back at the mysterious man who again beat John at the stare game.
John looked at Bill and then said, “Perhaps this is what FBI wants us to think. This could be entrapment. We go to him; he baits us into a lucrative job that we accept then wham. We are busted with our necks stuck in a sting operation.”
Fear of prison float in Bill’s eyes for a moment and he said, “Then I suggest we mind our own business and ignore him completely.”
“Holy shit! Why didn’t it occur to me earlier?” John said with a worried expression on his face as he remembered something.
“This may sound a bit alarming but he could be one of our victims whom we robbed. We don’t know how many of those fools are walking around.”
“That would certainly explain the odd behavior. He has recognized me but does not have the guts to confront me or he can’t be sure that it was me. That’s why the constant stare; he is trying to place where he saw me. This makes a lot of sense.”
“Then we should better get going before he recalls where he saw you before.”
“Hold on a minute. They know me in this restaurant.”
“What if this asshole goes to police? Police makes him sit with a sketch artist and they would have my picture. Then they show that picture to people in this restaurant, and next thing you know, they have my name and address. Police gets to me, starts digging up my past, and there is tons of shit that they are gonna uncover.”
“That would be disastrous.”
“We will have to silence him forever before he goes to police.”
“OK. You go ahead and do that but I have to leave. See you later,” Bill said and stood up to leave.
“Sit down. Do not try to hang me dry. You are gonna help me,” John said in commanding tone.
Bill kept on standing.
“Look man, he is your problem not mine. I am not gonna take any part in your bloody adventures anymore,” Bill said firmly.
“So he is my problem. What do you think will happen if police catches me?”
“You will probably go to jail.”
“And you think I am not gonna rat you out to police for we are best friends and you did not help me out in my moment of need,” John said with a sarcastic smile.
“Shit!” Bill exclaimed as he slumped to his seat.
“This is what gonna happen. We are gonna wait for him to leave and tail him. Then as soon as we get a chance we are gonna finish him off in a drive by,” John said unemotionally. The coldness in his eyes suggested that he meant every word of it.
“Look somebody is at his table,” Bill said as he looked at the mysterious man.
John looked at the mysterious man and saw that a young chauffeur dressed in a black dress was helping the mysterious man in getting up. Then the chauffeur led the mysterious man out of the restaurant by holding his left hand. Apparently, the mysterious man was blind.
“He is…” Bill started to say something.
“Don’t say a word,” John interrupted him.
A Modest Request
Thank you for reading this short story. If you liked this short story then please review it. If you don’t have the time to review it then please at least recommend it to your friends. If you don’t feel like recommending it then please let me know why do you feel that way? So that I may improve this story to your satisfaction.
That’s all a humble writer asks of you.
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