After another long night running from one open mic to another, I faced a decision I could either get a ride home or eat tomorrow. By the end of my journey I basically have to crawl the last block and half as well as the three flights only to see an eviction notice taped to my door as well as a handwritten note from Ms. Johnson my sweet landlord who I guess I pushed my luck a bit too far with
” I’m sorry it has come to this I gave you all the time I possibly could I still think you are very talented but maybe it’s time to get a real job come back tomorrow around 10 and ill let you in to grab your stuff”
I decided to sleep right there in front of the door, but considering I know this neighborhood I decide to sleep with my knife in my hand. Just in case.
I woke up as the sun was rising and the lock on the door had been busted. Knowing Ms. Johnson is going to blame me for the lock I head in to grab a few things. Throwing as much as I can in my high school gym bag. I’ve got just about everything I need walking through a final time just be sure. Only as I am leaving do I finally see her, a woman sitting in the corner smoking a thick Cuban cigar the cherry of which stares into my soul once I notice it. I turn and ask
” How long have you been here”
” Since before you woke up Mr. Observant”
” Who are you?
“For the time being let’s just say I’m someone who cares about you but you can call me Natasha”
“Alright so assuming I trust you which I’m not saying I do why should I listen to what you have to say”
“Based on the lock I had to break to get in here I think the real question is why not listen to me ?”
“Fair enough, you said were business partners whats our business”
“Privacy. Well my department is privacy yours is transportation”
“I understand this is probably pretty confusing so I am going to make it as simple as I can. I’m going to leave a suitcase right here on the table the tag on the suitcase has all the information you’ll need: a drop-off address, and instructions for after you make the drop-off. If the suitcase is still here when the sun rises another associate of mine will be by to retrieve it and this will be the last you hear of us. As long as you do not open the briefcase No Harm No Foul. Understand? ”
“Uh … Yeah”
As soon as I eek out that response Natasha stands and strides towards me swinging her hips from one side to the other she grabs me by my shoulder bends me at my waist and gives me a quick peck on my forehead and whispers in my ear
“You know it’s worth the risk”
After that, she proceeds to leave the apartment leaving me with my choice. I sit down across from the briefcase to think it over. Through the window, I can see the first rays of the day’s sunlight peeking over the mountains. I figure that I can’t go much lower than homeless, unemployed and exhausted so I check the tag grab the case and head out. As I am leaving the building I come across a short barrel chested bald man that can only be Natasha’s associate because after not so subtly checking out my briefcase he let go of the door to the building and kept walking the opposite direction I was going. The address is far but I only need to take one train to get there. I try to stay calm but it’s impossible everywhere I look I see people watching me. Whatever is in the suitcase is giving off an unimaginable amount of heat but the handle is cold to the touch, despite that, my hand has never sweated this much. Probably not a great idea to drop this. I’ve never worked as a courier before but I doubt it is as stressful as this.
Who was that woman?
Why did I take the briefcase?
What’s going to happen when I drop this off?
The instructions for post drop off just said to go to Gino’s Diner order a chicken fried steak with hollandaise and a chocolate shake sit at the counter and wait. I’m in way over my head. If I run I might be able to catch her associate. I could just put it back to buy some time at least he. Even on my best of days I cannot focus and I haven’t gotten good night sleep in almost a week, however, I haven’t felt this sharp in a long time. Probably not a great idea to be late. I’ve never taken Adderal but I wonder if it feels something like this?
When did the last train come?
Where the fuck is the next one!?
.WOO sa WOO sa WOO sa. Alright better. I am on edge right now. It feels like my eyes are trying to memorize everything they see. My mind is continually running down all of the possible tangents to my scenario. After running through a particularly bad possibility it felt like my brain couldn’t communicate with itself. I watched as more than one train zoomed past my face but for some reason, despite telling my body to make it happen I just sat and watched as the third pulls up. The left side of my brain begins to broadcast as loud as it can
“GET ON THE TRAIN! GET ON THE TRAIN !! GET ON THE TRAINS!!!”
I shoot up and sprint onto the train and immediately need to plan where my stop is and I figure I shouldn’t sit down. I should have realized eventually I would snap from this pressure.
“Let’s list exactly what we KNOW”
“A Russian beauty gave me a suitcase that has something HOT in it and it’s been vibrating”
“After I drop off the crazy suitcase I have to go to a restaurant I don’t know if exists order a meal and not eat it ”
” These people don’t want me to know who they are”
“Daddy who is that man talking to?” A young girl calls out her father
“Are you okay sir?” he says to check on me but mostly to calm his daughter
“I’m fine just uh…… forgot I was in public”
Even more confused all he says is ” Well please relax your scaring my daughter”
The train pulls up to my stop and I throw myself out the door because my left brain did not stay in control for the whole ride. I wonder if anyone called the cops on me? I wouldn’t be mad I mean I would probably call them on me too. As I walk past a particularly reflective store window I realize I look like a lunatic. I remember I decided on food instead of a taxi last night so I stop into A small deli buy some food and use their bathroom to clean myself up. The man refuses to let me use the bathroom, I smack down my last 10 dollars and say ill buy something after I go to the bathroom.
I comb my fingers through my hair
I wash my face
I put on the nicest shirt I have with me
I tell myself I can handle this
I get a pastrami sandwich a bag of chips and a lemonade and continue on my way.
I make it to the drop off point. It’s a bank. The tag says to go in and ask for Jacob and sign whatever he gives me. As I walk into the bank I can hear just how loud my footsteps are so tiptoeing I walk up to a teller, she hollers for a small balding man to come over and his nasally voice said
“I’m jacob, the suitcase please? ….. and we are good I need you sign a few papers and you can be on your way ”
I just nod my head and go with him, sign his papers when he hands me a small manilla envelope and says Natasha told him to not let me open it until I get to where I am going.
Considering the fact I thought I was going to die made the relatively normal experience of speaking to a decently nice banker seemed a bit strange but it works.
I walk to the library and look up ginos dinner it’s across town so I track down a bus and talk my way onto it.
I am still dumbfounded on how regular the drop-off was. The bus ride is an absolute blur I don’t remember it well but it felt good.
I saunter up to Gino’s only to find a shutdown restaurant
–Six Months Later–
At the end of the lunch rush, she walked in sweet old Mrs. Johnson. She looks even frailer than I remember. I come out from behind the counter and help her to an open table. She cuts right to the chase just like she always did.
“I have been looking for you since I did it I need to know what happened when i “evicted” you?”
“Oh, that’s a bit of a long story”
“well go grab me a slice of lemon meringue pie and a cup of coffee I have plenty of time”
“alright Mrs. Johnson I’ll be right back”
There is no way she is going to believe me.
“So… things are going to go a lot quicker if you let me run through what I have to say and I can answer your questions after is that okay?”
sipping her coffee, She nods.
“So two years before I moved in I married the woman of my dreams and things went pretty well for a couple months until I tried cocaine she tried to keep me off of it but I was insatiable, Once coke became too expensive I moved to cheaper stuff I did some things that I doubt I deserve to be forgiven for I stole from my wife, I told her I had paid the rent when really I spent it to get high. On our one year anniversary, I told my gorgeous wife that I was going to figure myself out and get myself right I made it sound like it was for her. As you know I was on the streets for several months before I moved into your building. I was so far gone that when I saw her just a year after I had left I didn’t even recognize her ”
” I just have one question. Whats with this restaurant?”
“I think my wife would be better to answer that HEY GORGEOUS!”
“Don’t yell like that in the restaurant”
“Mrs. Johnson here helped me during my “trip” and she was wondering why you bought this restaurant”
“Well, that’s simple I knew if there was anything I could do for him this was it, he always told me that when he was a kid he dreamed of owning a place. It was a last shot type of thing”
“that’s beautiful whats your name sweetheart”
The two ladies who saw me through the worst part of my life sat and swapped stories for hours after that.