Marty lay his head back down on the pavement and gazed upwards in defeat as if wishing upon the shooting stars that revolved around his head. He did not want to investigate. If importance had anything to do with the number of Newtons applied to his head, then that smack could bloody well prepare a slideshow for him.
He groaned as a few heads came into view. He blinked up at their concerned faces, frowned, and then applied the most dazed expression he could manage. "Am I dead?" he asked. "Cause you all look so familiar."
A man with a bushy mustache gave him a pitying expression. "You're lucky to be alive, son."
Marty felt rather annoyed by this claim. So he gave his biggest wide-eyed expression and asked in a drawn-out and soft voice, "Fa-ther?"
The man glared, realizing that Marty was all too alive and far too snide for his own good, and he pulled away angrily. And then another head appeared. It was a red-haired woman with a smile that sent warmth flooding through Marty's entire body.
"You're fine. Get up," she whispered.
Marty gave his first sincere expression, gazing in wonder as the girl slipped away. And then he recognized the beautiful sensation within his heart as something far more profound than a smack in the head.
He gasped, made a full recovery in two point five seconds, and was on his feet with his eyes on a mission. But his eyes did not see what they were looking for because they were met with a startling discovery. And then he tried his best not to run.
Marty was surrounded by a crowd of people. And they were all watching him. Staring, rather. He cleared his throat. A few whispers rippled to meet him. He raised his hand in the air as if to acknowledge their presence.
"I'm okay," he announced.
"...But I would like to know what hit me."
It took him a moment, but he suddenly realized that the eyes were gazing past him. And the crowd's expression was intense. Hungry almost. Marty went pale. Then he turned.
To his utter shock and regret, he found, standing right behind him, the very same cop he had seen earlier. And her gun was drawn. Marty nearly fainted on the spot. And he would have, had he not recognized a promising piece of the puzzle.
There was a bulky bag sitting on the sidewalk beside the cop. Marty reached up to feel the bump on the back of his head. Forget the gun; the bag was the real weapon. And then Marty realized what was within the bag. The explosion of hundred dollar bills that littered the sidewalk were a rather good clue.
Well, that explained the large crowd. But where had the bag of money come from, and why was the cop here? Marty took a step backward, and the gun quivered.
"Good to see you again," the cop said sweetly. "Do you know this man?"
Marty was confused. He didn't see a man anywhere. And then he saw that the cop had one foot planted on the back of someone who lay spread-eagled on the ground. Somehow, her expression and the way her foot was planted seemed to indicate that the gun was but a prop.
Marty shook his head. "What's all this money doing here?"
"You're an actor, aren't you?" asked the cop with another smile. "An artist, right?" The cop was frightfully smug.
Marty looked back to the man on the ground. Then back to the cop. Then he made a terrible connection. "Um," he said.
The cop gazed back through the crowd. "Is the woman with the red hair still here?" she called.
Marty perked up at this, and asked, "Yes! Where did she go?"
The cop frowned. "Do you know her? She is the one who tripped the first bank robber...and," the cop paused, "momentarily knocked out the second one."
Marty gaped. "Second one? You mean me?" His shock couldn't have been more sincere. "I was hit in the back of the head by that bag of money! If anything, the money should be charged with attempted homicide!"
The cop narrowed her eyes. "No need to get...dramatic," she drawled. "We'll be getting to this bottom of this. You know, in the Second Act. And don't worry, I'll be an honest critic."
Marty hadn't thought it possible for his desire for the return of the red-haired woman to increase. But somehow it had doubled.
"She should be here," Marty said. "If she truly tripped the bank robber, she should be here."
The cop was being far too patient.
"Do you know the red-haired woman?" she asked. "Because if you know her, then there is a chance that we may track her down. Then she can tell us how it really happened."
"You know," said Marty with a smile. "I've been trying to track her down all day."
The cop raised an eyebrow.
Marty felt his heart beating with a passion. "All I know is that her name is Katie."