ch03sec07 wagonThe bell jingled and the door hung perfect as Roger made his entrance. I know I know I promised but hell, first the girl and now him. It seemed like bums were going off like fireworks everywhere one looked. He started for a moment; losing perspective must be the shock and his balance. Crouching down waiting for the momentum to swing back, he felt the eyes of the salesman and asked for a bottle of Black Jack. Down that aisle, in the corner, Roger went to fetch it, that tumbling in his gut, but he rationalized that this was just what he needed. Shit! So close to being burned alive who wouldn’t need a snootful. He swayed petrified, his equilibrium leaving him for an instant; a wave of terror, sleeplessness and alcohol washed across him, as he contemplated his brush with death. Who would be there to mourn him, not many, his close friends from the paper were no longer close, eighteen months now appeared like light years in the new world order. Maybe McNamara would allow for a day off, probably not. The anchorman on a minor network I really could be dead right now might mention his name in passing. Whatever happened to that guy, a new empty existence without any hope of redemption. He shook his head, took several long slow breaths of air must be an adrenaline rush contemplated his navel. The last twenty four hours were beginning to well up inside, he shook it off, not realizing that he was already at the counter, bottle of Jack in his hand. He rifled some bills on the counter but came up short; handed his credit card to the unimpressed clerk, and hummed a tune let me go down in the mud while the man stiffly waited for him to insert the card in the chip reader, waited for the card to respond, waited for the retina scan. Roger took the package and aimed for the door, wonder if they have cameras outside? moving like a bat out of hell.

Looking up along the awning to remain inconspicuous, stay in the shadows Roger noticed the crowd still hovering around the scene at the curb, above he found the cameras, the police would too. He watched as the ambulance pulled away, the siren wailed then died down Bye Ben! and then slipped into the shade caused by the building’s façade. He leaned into a shadow when he saw the large woman, who had helped him up, her skin now more orange than mahogany in the growing morning. He observed her speaking animatedly to the two plainclothes cops, the same guys from yesterday. He skirted around the corner just as he heard one of the men in the crown saying, “He blowed up real good,” hugged the side of the building, “That’s the fellow officer over there, hey mister!” Roger ducked into an adjacent alley and made his way around the bend, picking up the pace.