999 words, Writer's Cramp. Good birthday or bad birthday? What do you think?
|Generally, I live a very unexciting life. Even my birthdays are bland. Other than having dinner with family and lunch with my friends, there is one birthday that really stands out in my memory.
It's been years now since I've thought about it but now that my birthday is coming up again, I find myself thinking about that day. I still can't make up my mind about that day. Was it a good day or a bad day?
On that birthday, my friend Roger took me out to lunch. I'd just moved to a new city and Roger was the first new friend I made. Barely seven days here, he made my birthday when he insisted on taking me out when he found out at the last minute. I was thrilled that he wanted to hang out with me especially since, geographically, the closest friend or relative I had was an airline ticket away. I was lonely and he made me feel special by insisting that we celebrate on my real birthday.
It started well enough. He picked out an Ethiopian restaurant. No special reason, just to be different, not to mention pricier than the diner I liked to frequent. I'm not a big spender when I go out, but he wanted my day to be special so that's where we went.
The food was good. We were waited upon by a real Ethiopian. At least according to her, we were. She had dark skin and curly dark hair pulled tightly behind her head. She spoke with an unfamiliar accent. If she fibbed to make the restaurant feel more authentic, it worked. I loved my table. I loved my food. I thanked my lucky stars that someone like Roger cared enough about me to take me out.
A friend of his loaned him a bike, a real fancy looking one, all decorated with calligraphy and awesome depictions of wild predators like mountain lions, sharks, and snakes. We blasted through downtown a few times.
Everything was going so great. Then, as we were nearing one of the government buildings again, we sped up. I thought he was trying to beat the yellow light, not that I could see since I had the back seat.
Some guy jumped out of our way. I was so glad we missed him. To my surprise, Roger slowed down to a stop, spun the bike around, and blasted forward again. To my horror, we headed straight for the guy.
The guy ran. Had it been another time, another day, maybe another reason such as shooting a scene for some movie, I would have thought the guy looked comical running for his life the way he did; arms flapping up and down, his right arm swinging the briefcase through the air like a lasso.
Before we could run him over, we crossed an intersection. A car from the intersecting direction ran a red light and nailed our back tire. Thrown into the air, I don't know how I managed to stay in one piece because when I landed, we were twenty feet apart and on different sidewalks.
Roger tore a ligament somewhere near his right shoulder so he might have gone to the hospital. I and the driver of the speeding car spent the night in jail. It was disgusting and humiliating. I wasn't even sure that I wanted to call anyone to get me out because then I'd have to explain. Luckily, Roger did have a bit of conscience in him. His friend bailed me out and he later stated to the federal investigators that I was innocent.
Would you believe me if I told you he'd planned to murder someone that day? Would you believe the guy that smashed into our bike with his car was really aiming for the same target?
I remember thinking to myself when I was interrogated, "Who in the world is Jack Anderson?" and "Why in the world would I want to kill him?" It turned out that he had some incriminating memo on some telephone company I never heard of and the car driver and Roger were hit men hired to kill him.
I can chuckle now that the past is behind me. They might have succeeded. I remember how close it was. Roger and I were almost on top of the guy when Jack crossed the street. Unfortunately for Roger and the other hitman, they'd been contracted by two different parties so they didn't know about each other until they collided, spectacularly.
Gosh. When I think back to that day, I think, thank you Lord, that no one hates me that much. Either Jack Anderson is one of the most hated men in the city or he was carrying around the most dangerous piece of paper. I don't know which, but if I were him, after that day, I'd be looking for a new line of work. There's no way I could live looking over my shoulder every day for the rest of my life. No way.
I can laugh about that day now. I still burn knowing Roger used me although he keeps insisting that he really was trying to give me a happy birthday. It just happened to fall on his workday. We still keep in touch, although it's mostly on the phone when he calls collect. I don't know if I'll visit him or not. I don't know why but I actually feel sorry for the guy. I should cut him off after all the trouble he put me through but when I think about it, he was my first best friend when I came here. In a way, he did put me ahead of his job. I mean, it's possible he might have finished off Jack Anderson if he didn't have me on the back of his bike. Who knows? So the least I could do is take his calls. Maybe someday I'll pay him a visit at the federal penitentiary. We'll see.
Background: 1972 Jack Anderson discloses Dita Beard (ITT) memo indicating antitrust charges were dropped for $400,000 contribution to Republican Party.