by Rebecca Carenzo
“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”
“Excuse me?” I ask, turning to face the harried-looking stranger who’d just addressed me out of the blue. I didn’t have a chance to finish my answer before I felt the forceful jab of hard steel against my stomach.
“Give me all your money, now.”
It was spoken in a whisper but the words had might.
“I don’t have anything on me,” I said truthfully, simultaneously glad that I didn’t but wondering what he would do to me because of that.
He looked taken aback by my answer and began darting his eyes back and forth between me and an invisible point of focus that he seemed particularly worried about. The way he was sweating and shuffling his feet you’d think he was the one who had the mouth of a gun in his abdomen. After what seemed like a long deliberation but was only a matter of seconds he replied, “Come on, you must have something. Anything. You look like someone who has money. PLEASE.” The desperation from his voice rained on me as hard as the rain drops of water that were pelting our heads.
It was true, with my brand new matching L.L. Bean slicker and rain boots I was not merely playing the part of someone who had money – I did. But none of it was on me at the moment. It wasn’t often that I went out for a walk in the rain, so when the thought occurred to me to do so today I didn’t think to grab my wallet. If this man shot me dead right now there would be nothing to identify me by. And maybe worse, no one who would miss me if I were gone. The pressure on my stomach receded and I felt his grip on the gun loosen. If I were a strong-willed man I would be seizing this opportunity to struggle free and knock it from his hand. But at the moment I didn’t much care whether I lived or died which was why I had been out walking in this cold, God-awful rain to begin with; it was a self-imposed physical discomfort that carried with it a chance at internal cleansing. I heard a crash of metal and saw the six inch piece of pipe hit the ground at my feet. The man who one minute ago I mistakenly thought was threatening my life with a gun was now looking up at me from beneath his soaked hat brim, tears mixing with raindrops.
“I’m so sorry…so sorry,” he mumbled as he began backing away and then running, footprints splashing puddles in his wake.
“Wait!” I called out and for some reason I don’t understand, I ran after him. I watched his form weave in and out of signposts and across several streets before he came to rest, panting and hunched over the door of a car. As I approached the car from behind I could tell it was densely packed as if it held a lifetime of possessions. Stretched out in the backseat was a young boy, asleep and clutching a teddy bear. The man was oblivious to my presence over the pounding rain on the car. I took off my jacket and laid it on his back. He jumped and turned to see me; fear permeated his being.
“Please, I said I was sorry!” he began.
That’s when I remembered it. I touched the front left pocket of my button-up shirt; it was still there.
“If you can guess what’s in my pocket, you can have it!” I shouted over the rain.
I unbuttoned the pocket, slipped out the folded up one hundred dollar bill and placed it firmly in the palm of his hand. He looked at me incredulously and began to sob. I gave him a smile and a quick pat on the back, and turned to walk the five blocks in the opposite direction home. As I walked, a thousand raindrops hit my head and rolled off my back, cleansing me, just as I’d hoped they would.
Category: Featured, Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student