by Rex Kramer
Prompt: You find a man sleeping in your car.
|“911, what’s the nature of your emergency?”
Excellent question, thought George. Was this even, he wondered, an emergency at all? Yes, he decided, this is the definition of an emergency, although not of the kind, he suspected, that the police routinely handled. “Well, it seems there’s a man sleeping in my car. That is, I hope he’s sleeping. Wait…yes, sleeping. Definitely breathing. He’s looked better, though.”
Through the phone George heard the sound of the dispatcher’s keystrokes stop with his last sentence. “Do you know this man, sir?”
Another excellent question. “Um, yes. Possibly. It’s, well, difficult to say. I suspect he’s not the man I think he is. That is, I hope not. No. Definitely not. Complete fake. Stranger! Complete stranger, is what I meant to say.”
The keystrokes had not resumed. The dispatcher sighed heavily. “Can you describe this complete stranger for me, sir?”
“Yes, yes, of course. Let’s see.” George quickly peeked again through the window at the man sprawled over the rear seats of his sedan. “6 foot, 200 pounds or so. Light brown hair with a touch of gray. Brown eyes, one slightly darker than the other-“
“I thought he was sleeping, sir. How can you see his eyes?”
George knew it was part of the dispatcher's job, and yet he silently wished he would stop asking such excellent questions. “Excellent question. Excellent, excellent question.” George paced as he paused. “Well, you see, he, um, opened them briefly. Just long enough to notice that they were brown. Different shades of brown, as I said.” When the dispatcher said nothing for several seconds George continued. “Oh, and he has a pretty significant appendectomy scar where, well, I suppose where his appendix would have been.”
“Is he naked, sir?” The calmness in the dispatcher’s voice indicated to George that this was a completely routine and normal question to ask strangers over the phone.
“Naked? No, no, not naked. That would be weird. No, he’s wearing my suit from yesterday and a- I mean, he’s wearing a suit. A suit. His suit, that is. Definitely not mine.” Good save, thought George. “And it’s a bit wrinkled and, oh my, torn, and so I suspect it’s from yesterday and that he slept in it. In my car. Did I mention that he’s sleeping in my car?”
“You did sir.” The keystrokes resumed. “I show you near the intersection of Time Square and Space Boulevard, next to the Rift nightclub. I’m sending two officers to…help you.” George thanked the dispatcher, leaned against his car and awaited the officers’ arrival.
Moments later George saw a patrol car appear across the street. Two uniformed officers stepped out and walked deliberately toward him, and George, hopeful that these men could explain what it is that he had seen, stepped smilingly from the curb.
Until he saw their identical faces.
The same face as the man asleep in his car.
The same face he saw in the mirror each day.
BANG BANG BANG. The man in the back seat was no longer sleeping, but rather rapping loudly on the rear window. “Get in and drive, George!” He demanded. “Things are about to get weird!”