TRUCK STOP - DES NNOCHIRI
"Oh, sh-- !" I blurted it out, as cold espresso sloshed down onto my pants leg. Cold, because the same cup had been sitting on the table in front of me, since I'd ordered it, an hour ago.
The waiter had given up on asking whether I wanted a fresh cup. He'd tried it six times, then accepted the twenty I laid on the table, without a word. And made a point of avoiding me, ever since.
I can do that, sometimes. Give off an aura that says, "Stay the hell away from me. If you know what's good for you." It's useful, in my line of work.
So's the ability to look at a scene - a busy street, a landscape, a skyline - and instantly spot anything that looks out of place.
I'd been sitting on the cafe terrace, scanning the streets opposite for an hour. So far, nothing.
Course, if I'd had eyes in the back of my head, I would have seen the truck coming, and had time to compose myself. As it was, I didn't. Have eyes in the back of my head. Or see the truck.
I heard it, though. The whizz of its wheels, as it passed beneath my seat, and slammed into the table leg, opposite. One of those little toy dumpsters with ball bearings and flashing lights, whatever.
The kid it belonged to arrived about a second later. Hurtling in from my right, hunkered down, and skittering to a stop, under the table.
That's when my coffee went into orbit, plotting a flawless trajectory to my thigh. I jerked violently in response, lost balance, and spilled out of my chair. I felt the warm rush of air passing close to my head, as I hit the ground.
The kid's mother arrived then, all flustered and apologetic. I looked at her. The street. The chair. Very attractive. A flash of light, and hurried motion in a third-floor window. Two slugs embedded in the back cushion. Back to Mom. She really was something. Reminded me...that it had been a long time.
Junior picked himself and his truck up off the ground, pressed in close to Mom, and looked at me. A little boy of about 7 or 8, not sure whether to cry, apologize, or what. Mom spoke up for him.
"Um, sorry about that. I--"
"Not at all," I said. I got to my feet. Snatched my paper (the one wrapped around my reserve piece) off the table. Grinned at Junior.
He smiled back, weakly. Still unsure.
I left them there (they must have thought I was crazy) and hit the street. Before someone noticed the bullet holes in that chair.
I headed toward the building where the shooter had been.
BIO: Desmond (Des) Nnochiri was born on May 13th, 1965 to the family of Ambassador Pascal Nnochiri, of the Nigerian Foreign Service. He spent his early years traveling with his parents, and was educated in England, the USA, and the Republic of Ireland (Eire). A film buff and avid reader, he spent several years at the Architectural Association in London, England - where multiple disciplines and mixed media are a way of life. He writes freelance now, and has taken his first steps into the world of screenwriting.