#5 - Lottie & Lisa

      "Here is where I keep all the things I've stolen."

      He's pointing to a collection of assorted items on the otherwise bare hardwood floor. VHS tapes, unopened DVDs, crumpled coffee cups, a can of waxed beans. It's a pile really. A pile of awkward glances, tense moments, and little tiny adrenaline rushes. The pot of gold at the end of the shoplifting rainbow.

      "It's all very nice," I manage, looking around the abandoned apartment.

      I feel his crazy eyes scanning my face for sarcasm, or any hint of belittlement. When he finds none he continues.

      "Yeah I usually hit unlocked cars, that's the real easy score. Sometimes when I want some excitement I'll go down to the Giant Tiger at the bottom of the hill there. The manager knows me so I try'n go in when he's on lunch, take some DVDs or some gum."

      He's pointing to a spot in the pile that consists mostly of double mint wrappers. I wonder if he'll offer me a piece.

      I turn and walk down the short, empty hallway into the bedroom. It's a large room, made to look larger by its vast emptiness. There’s a small, old mattress in the corner and a pile of clothes beside it.

      "It's not much, I know. I fought a woman and a crow for that mattress, but I won by Jesus."

      I look at him. His grey, dirty beard hides his mouth. His shiny eyes glance up at me quickly.

      "Aww I didn't hit the lady er nothin, if that's what you're thinkin."

      It wasn't.

      "I swear, she just yelled a lot, seen me comin outta her spot 'neath the bridge with her mattress. Hit me with a shoe a whole bunch. I managed that away from her too though."

      He laughs like he's telling a funny story to an old college buddy. There was a single brown running shoe in the opposite corner.

      I turn to him. This would do. Anything would do really.

      "Listen," I say, "I'm going to speak very deliberately to you now and I want you to listen to what I'm saying. This is how it's going to work. I don't want any contact with you after this is over. No going back, no strings attached, no changes of heart, you understand me?"

      His glassy eyes scan mine, I see the gears turning. I see the pieces coming together, slowly. He nods.

      I slip off my jacket and my tie and lay them on the floor beside the mattress.

      He hesitates and then slowly removes his coat. I could tell it was at one time, green, but had since taken on a mostly brown/grey tone. We stare at each other for almost a complete minute. Silence is everywhere, filling the empty spaces.

      He hands me the coat.

      "The driver out front will take you to your new house. You'll be led to a bathroom where you'll have the chance to shave, and bathe. New clothing will be provided for you. Your new wife and children will be home at 5:30. The dog's name is Charlie, feed him twice a day."

      Silence. He stares at me.

      "Mom thinks y... I'm dead. When you see her, act naturally, nothing to give us away." I slip on the coat. "Do we understand each other?"

      He nods. He's crying I think, I'm not certain.

      "This is better for both of us." I say finally, sitting down on the mattress.

      A knock at the door thunders through the apartment. The driver leads him out and down the stairs to the car. I shut the door behind them.


      My footsteps echo in the entry way and I make my way to the living room. I scan the pile of stolen garbage, before bending down for a piece of double mint.

©2009 Broken Chair