I ran down the slick pavement of the boulevard. The gargantuan I was chasing moved like a motorman, heedless of the streaming waters.
My lungs were on fire. My heart was pounding like a drum. I had that taste of blood in my mouth that comes when I push myself too hard. The cops were falling behind, but I stayed in the fat man’s wake, even though he continued to put distance between us.
He put on a burst of speed like Kent Herbeck rounding third base and heading for home plate.
I stayed behind him like I was following the North Star.
He turned hard into an alley that was as black as a canyon on a starless night.
I saw him bust through the back door of a tailor’s shop. The dim illumination coming through the transom was the only point of light anywhere in that deep dark place.
He left me standing there; feeling as limp as a ribbon on the wet concrete.
The alley was narrow. I ducked into an alcove and waited while I watched the cops run past me. I had no idea what I was doing here, why I was chasing this man, other than the fact that I felt something momentous was taking shape.
I kept my eye on the back door to the tailor’s shop as I caught my breath, and the only thing I was thinking about was getting back to the shack I was renting, so I could begin to type this story.
Suddenly, a pair of headlights, turned into the alley.
The car sped up as it passed me, and then it turned into the loading ramp of the building next door to the tailor’s shop. It stopped in front of the garage doors at the top of the ramp. A light came on, and I ducked deeper into the shadows.
The car lights were tilted up toward the garage, and a small square box sitting on the dock next to the back door. The fat man, with his baleful eye came out of tailor’s shop. I watched him go down the alley, up the loading ramp toward the car; arms stretched out in a gesture of greeting, of welcome, and quite possibly of menace.
It suddenly occurred to me that I had seen that car before; downtown, by the park where I was staying. I remember seeing that car, by the dandelion fountain while I sat at my window drinking and smoking, and waiting for what seemed like hours for it to go away, so I could watch the college girls while I got sauced. I watched the car that day because everyone with a hundred yards of it seemed to instinctively avoid it, and if I was not crazy, it also seemed like the brids and the squirrels of the park avoided it too. Those minutes dragged from afternoon to evening, and I think now that it might have been that same man; the fat man with his glass eye, who finally came out of an apartment building, got into the car and drove away.
Maybe that is why I chased him when I saw him running from the bar; because I had recognized him. Even though it was only now, as I watched and waited again, that I put the pieces together in my mind.
Two squad cars came into the alley from opposite ends. I was lingering, still; hiding deep in the shadows with the garbage. It was clear to me that these cops knew what they were doing. These guys were not the paddies chasing us blindly down the street. They approached the loading dock with caution. There were no sirens. The squad cars were quiet, but the cherries were flashing, and the searchlights blaring all down the alley, and out into the street. It was like they were sending a message to anyone who might wander down the corridor…“KEEP OUT!”
The lights drove me back. To keep my cover; I ducked, and bobbed, and wove my way further into my hole, deeper into shadows, out of the driving rain. It was pitch black where I stood, but I still had my eyes on the car, and the fat man.
The squad cars turned off their searchlights. The glowing filaments were like eyes staring at me, bright with that halogen heat, steam rising off the glass as they slowly drove past.
Then, as if the presence of the cops did not matter, or maybe because they were expected; a door opened, and a slim woman wearing a broad-brimmed hat, and a fitted-transparent rain coat, stepped outside. She did not have much of anything else on beneath her sheer slicker, and she had those large brown cow eyes, with which she appeared to drink in her surroundings. She walked right past the fat man; who was looking at her with amazement on her face.
She stood by the driver’s door. The window cracked open, and it was clear she was saying something to the man at the wheel. The fat man was glaring at her with a look of hunger on his face. It seemed that a light sparkled in his stone-eye. As if on cue the rain let loose in another extra heavy burst. With that, the lady looked up, she turned toward the man and together they went into the building by the side door of the loading dock.