Everyone was whooping and hollering and backslapping. Even those in the group that didn’t want to play were in the spirit. They had made the escape with 20 minutes to spare, but more importantly, they had crushed the time turned in by legal by nearly 10 minutes. Now it was time for dinner and some beers.
Brad stood on a chair and got everyone’s attention, he was about to give the directions to the restaurant when Lisa asked “where’s Angela”?
Everyone looked around and started arguing. Some swore they’d seen her in the room, others were just as sure that she’d never been in the room. What everyone agreed on was that she had been in the lobby with the rest of the group. The prevailing theory was that she’d gone to the restroom and missed the start of the game and rather than wait she’d gone ahead to the restaurant.
Brad picked up his phone, and texted her “drinking at the bar already?”. Less than a minute later “I’m good. Had to leave. Gotta go. Bye.” “What the hell”, Lisa got out her own phone and called her. She listened for a minute and put the phone back in her purse. “Straight to voice mail”. The crew was getting restless. One of the guys spoke up “screw it, she’s got some drama, I’m thirsty, let’s go.” Everyone filed out.
Outside, as they walked past the adjacent building, a homeless man jumped up from a grate he’d been sleeping on, “listen! do you hear that!”. The group sped up, the men putting themselves between him and the women. “Listen, listen please!” But they were moving away briskly now and he plopped down on the grate dejectedly. A few other people came by and he implored them to stop but they too walked away. Why do they think I’m crazy…I’m an alcoholic, not a nut case.
Around midnight Kim came by. She was the beat cop for this area and always made a point to make sure her street people were okay. “How you doing Larry?” Larry ran over to her, “can you hear that?” She listened patiently and then said “I think you’ve been hearing voices again Larry”. She pulled a protein bar out of her pack and handed it to him, “try to get some sleep, the street cleaners will be through here early tomorrow”.
Larry watched Kim walk away. He admired her, she treated all the street people just the same as if they were the mayor. But she thinks I’m crazy. Maybe I am. If I were would I know it? He took her advice and curled up under the moldy old sleeping bag. But then there it was again, fainter now “please help me…”, then silence. She’s right, must be I’m crazy. And then he was asleep.
© Glenn R Keller 2020, All Rights Reserved
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