By Art Proctor
We met in the fall of 1945. The place was Mindy’s Deli. It was 7:06 pm. I remember that because my watch had stopped and I looked up at the café clock to set my timepiece.
I finished as you crossed through the doorway into the restaurant. I was transfixed; I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. Your face told a story that I wanted to read.
A flash of deja vu hit me. I flipped through my mental diary, attempting to place you. It kept coming up with a blank page, almost like a placeholder missing a photo. I knew your face even though I was sure we had never met.
The café was packed with wall to wall mayhem. There was one seat available at the counter and, as fate would have it, it was next to me. Without hesitation, you sidled up to me, sat down, introduced yourself, looked me up and down, grabbed my hand, checked my wrist, pulled me in, whispered in my ear a cryptic phrase, ” I am here to take you home”, kissed me on the cheek, passed me an envelope, and walked away.
My urge was to run after you, but I froze in shock. I couldn’t even talk. My eyes followed you as you exited.
Unbeknownst to me, a pair of eyes was scouting me back. Stowing the letter in my inside pocket, I waited a moment before moving. I was still in shock by the interaction. However, I thought it would be smart to leave, get out of sight, while I figured out who you were and why I was the lucky mark.
Before making it halfway across the room, I was interrupted by a man in a blue pinstripe suit, who edged up to me, put his hand on my shoulder and gently, but with intention, directed me towards a back office.
In the back of my mind, my inner voice was having an emergency preparedness meeting with my heart, brain, and body; they all agreed that I needed to 23 skidoo out of this joint. This had “this won’t end well” tattooed on its forehead. Besides, I was too good looking to die this young.
I scanned the room to plot my escape, if there was one. A door flew open and closed just as fast as I could blink. It was a side door on the back left corner. It looked like it exited onto the street. I saw out of the edge of my eye a bus boy struggling with a trolley full of dishes. He was coming straight at me. On the count of two, I exhaled and stepped in front of the boy, hooking his leg and tripping him, which toppled the cart, sending both the boy and the dishes crashing to the floor. I felt bad for the kid, I really did, but it was me or him.
In the midst of the commotion, I silently sidestepped my thug escort, and made my exit out of the door into the back alley. The sour, fowl aroma of rotting food mixed with urine assaulted my nostrils, which propelled me down the back laneway towards the lights onto Rue St. Denis.
My eyes now adjusted to the evening sky, which was grey, wet, and backlit by a big blue moon that revealed an intersection of options: left, right, and forward. I put my legs on self-drive, with the compass set to safety.
I got a shiver in my right shoulder blade: that’s not a good sign. A shiver to me is a physical premonition that something strange is afoot. And I was right. It happened immediately. I saw you, or what I thought was you. You were in a green car traveling north. I started to run after you. You had answers I needed to questions I hadn’t been able to ask. You weren’t going to get away from me this time.
I raced full tilt, weaving in and out of traffic, up and off the sidewalk and around the corner. I stopped in frustration to catch my breath. It was pointless to keep running; I would never catch up on foot. I flagged a taxi. Hastily I hopped in the back seat and told the driver catch up to that green Ford convertible.
We were closing in; they were about five vehicles ahead of us. I heard a shot fired. I looked behind me and, to my shock, there was a speeding truck with what looked like a granny with a gun; an old bitty hanging out the window with a stogie in her mouth and a rifle in her hands, pointing in my direction. She started shooting; her aim was erratic, unfocused. Granny got lucky and caught the back bumper of the taxi; their truck inched its way up in traffic, about two car lengths behind now. They were so close I could see granny’s bloodshot eyes, looking straight at me. She mouthed obscenities, too filthy to repeat, blew a kiss at me, adjusted her boobs, cocked the rifle, and shot again.
This time I dropped to the floor. The bullet pierced the back window of the vehicle and ricochet off the headrest on the driver’s side. A second bullet immediately followed, and this time it made contact. The car started to swerve. I felt like a chip in a pachinko game. I looked up to see the driver; he was slumped over the steering wheel with a bullet in him.
I jumped over the seat and while standing got a hold of the wheel with one hand and used the other to push the dead man driving over to the passenger side. The car stalled in the middle of the intersection and suddenly there were cars coming at me from all directions. I saw a bright light. That was the last thing I remembered…
Art Proctor: Connector, Community Builder, Administrative Services Professional, Social Digital Media Consultant, Multi Platform Story Coach and Film Stage Technician.
I have been a Digital Media and Arts Admin Consultant in the corporate and entertainment industry for ten years – developing and implementing digital media strategies and tactical initiatives for some of the most well known brands in the Canadian entertainment industry.
I work across organizations to ensure their digital media strategy is tightly aligned to their brand, corporate values and key messaging; using a variety of digital and social media technologies creatively to achieve measurable results.
Read it in the November issue of Opal Writers’ Magazine
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