Invigorated by real events, waltzing in from the twelfth division.
The man with the rifle tipped his head back, wiped the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve from his left forearm, removed his sunglasses and cleaned the lenses with his green shirt. He had been sitting on this wobbly, black bar stool for a week with no sign of the other man he needed to deliver alive to the territory on the other side of the river away from the city. The instructions were very clear. Wait outside the old train station the color of ochre blossoms for a grey pharmaceutical transportation van. Swivel the prism in the sunlight so that the driver knows to stop.
He hadn’t slept more than a couple of hours for days, ate even less, and hated having to weigh the risks and rewards with completing this mission. He was just relieved his employer was very understanding on the matter of the first man.
We all must do our part, even if our generosity sets us back on our own travels.
The man with the rifle adjusted the position of his sunglasses when he heard an engine in the distance. He took the prism out of his vest pocket, ready to put it in the light. When the approaching car rounded the well, he released the prism. The car was gold, not gray. He reached for his rifle since the car did not stop but actually accelerated. He quickly repositioned himself behind a tree and looked through the scope.
A driver, a front passenger, and in the backseat, a pair of argyle socks kicking in every direction. The man with the rifle held his gaze and aim steady, hesitant to take any actions out of context.
The girl with the argyle socks. It had been over a month since the man with the rifle left her as she slept in the night. He hadn’t counted on seeing her again, assuming it was his girl with the argyle socks. The car’s wide turns and uncontrolled movements swept up gusts of dust, some of which got into his eyes. He had to look away to brush his face. When he looked back at the car, the argyle socks were gone and so was the car.
The man with the rifle whipped his head to the left and right but saw no one.
“Hazel 38,” a voice cried out from behind him. “You didn’t even say good-bye.”
The man with the rifle turned around and took off his sunglasses to see her better. The girl with the argyle socks. His girl with the argyle socks.
“I, had to–” the man with the rifle started to explain, wanted to explain but the sight of her made porridge of his words.
The girl with the argyle socks was soon upon him, deeply breathing the air around him. “You still smell like honey suckle,” she said as she wiped excess caramel off of her hands onto his vest pocket.
“Have you been touching snakes?” the man with the rifle lurched backwards.
The girl with the argyle socks smiled and shook her head. “Do you have anything to eat?”
The man with the rifle motioned for her to follow him inside the train station. Standing with a view of the door and the now very late pharmaceutical van, he gave the girl with the argyle socks a white paper bag filled with what he could only guess were a cow’s liver and kidneys.
“It’s all I could find.”
The girl with the argyle socks offered a sliver of the organs to the man with the rifle. He shook slowly his head and gave her a look of both disgust and enchantment.
“How did you find me?”
The girl with the argyle socks stopped eating. “After walking for a few days I saw a tiger on the side of the road and followed him. He let me rest in his den and shared his food with me. And then those two idiots in that car found us. The tiger took a bullet for me. I didn’t get very far.”
The man with the rifle studied the girl with the argyle socks as she continued. For only the second time in his life, he was thankful for other people’s idiotic behaviors. If they hadn’t taken her, he wouldn’t be watching his girl with the argyle socks do things with cow organs he never thought he’d live to see.