Alice Meets the Thin Man, But Wished She Hadn't

    

Alice retained her crouched position for what felt like an eternity to her, leaning against her disabled bicycle as if for support.  When she was certain the sleek, black Lincoln had passed by her, turned the corner, gotten on the interstate and driven a few miles, then and only then did she feel safe to uncurl her body from the crouched position.  Her body was stiff from staying in one position so long, and she wondered just how long she had been in the curl-crouched position.  

She considered running away from the situation, leaving the unfortunate thin man stretched in an unnatural position in the parking lot of the defunct Dairy Queen.  It would be so easy to leave.  Easy, yet so difficult it was almost impossible.  She considered herself to be a basically honest and honorable person when it came to the enormous ethical situations in life.  Sure, she had stolen a candy bar when she was a kid, and she had cheated on a test or two in high school.  Who hadn't?  But leaving a dying or possibly dead man in a parking lot without getting help?  It was definitely not her nature.  She wouldn't be able to sleep at night thinking she let another human die when she could have helped that human.  Even if the man were still alive but dying, she believed he had virtually no chance of survival if she left him where he was dying.  The Dairy Queen had been closed for a few years, and traffic in the parking lot was almost nonexistent.  There may be a few homeless people wandering through the parking lot, which may or may not be as generous with an offer to help.  Most of the homeless appeared to be in the own seedy world, incapable of providing any help whatsoever to Mr. Thin-Man.  It was completely and utterly up to her to save him.

She lifted her bicycle onto her left shoulder and cautiously walked toward the parking lot, toward the thin man who was in desperate need of her help, toward her destiny.  She looked around to be absolutely certain the Lincoln driven by the corpulent Mr. Barrel-Chest had indeed fled from her and Mr. Thin-Man.  Thankfully, Mr. Barrel-chest was nowhere to be found. She supposed maybe, just maybe, he had not seen her after all.  If he did, perhaps he considered her to be one of the many homeless who frequented the neighborhood.  Under normal circumstances she would have been offended had someone confused her with a homeless person.  Today, thought she did realize the insanity of the mistaken identity, she was ecstatic to be mistaken for homeless.

She reached Mr. Thin-Man, who was still sprawled in a seemingly physically impossible position on the ground of the parking lot.  "Mister, are you okay?" she nervously asked Mr. Thin-Man.   She believed Mr. Thin-Man to still be among the living because he was still making horrid moaning noises.  Mr. Thin-Man did not answer, and she did not expect him to do so.  He had a humongous wound in his chest from which blood gushed forth. She thought his chest looked grotesquely like a fountain, and she shuddered as her mind even lightly touched upon such morbid thoughts.  She left him for a moment while she checked his car for something, anything that may prove to be useful in her efforts to save Mr. Thin-Man.  For a car as old and unkempt as the outside of the car appeared, the interior was pristine.  The interior was exceptionally well-kept and the acrid scent of Armor-All bit her nasal passages.  Odd, she thought, but did not have the time to comprehend the discrepancy of old exterior/pristine interior.  There was nothing on the spotlessly clean car seats, nothing except a cell phone which just happened to be the absolutely newest cell phone on the market. 

"He could afford a state-of-the-art cell phone, yet he drove this piece of crap car?" she thought to herself, not giving herself ample time to adequately formulate an answer.  She whisked the cell phone from the passenger seat and rushed back to the side of Mr. Thin-Man.  He was still pretty much functioning as a horrid human fountain, still moaning and groaning horribly.  "Mister, are you okay?" she asked again.  Again, no answer from Mr. Thin-Man beyond the agonizing moans and groans. 

      She was thankful he had a cell phone, as she had forgotten hers on the nightstand in her rush to leave home this morning.  She briskly dialed 9-1-1 on Mr. Thin-Man's state-of-the-art cell phone. While she explained the urgent need for an ambulance, she did not explain in exacting detail to the 9-1-1 operator how Mr. Thin-Man came to be in need of said ambulance.  She realized such vagueness may put her at risk of the first officer on the scene who may consider her to be the shooter, but she knew time was of the essence and Mr. Thin-Man needed help now.  She did not have time to waste explaining the as of yet unexplainable to an unknown 9-1-1 operator on the other end of the phone line.

     She sat down on the ground of the dirty, littered parking lot beside Mr. Thin-Man while she awaited the arrival of the ambulance.  She constantly spoke to Mr. Thin Man in an effort to keep him from fading from consciousness as she prayed for the speedy arrival of the ambulance.

     After what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a matter of minutes, the ambulance at last arrived at the parking lot with red lights blearing and sirens breaking up the relative serenity of the neighborhood. Following closely behind the ambulance was a police car, also with lights blearing and sirens screaming.  The bleach-blonde, overly-muscular policeman wearing a skin-tight, two-sizes-too-small generic standard-issue and pressed to knife-sharp pleats navy blue Police uniform pompously stepped from the cruiser with a stride that screamed "I own the world, thank you very much”. For a split second Alice's mind somehow raced to all the cheesy pictures of Norse Gods she had seen in textbooks while studying Mythology in high school.  She related to the massively muscular policeman the events of the morning which ended with Mr. Thin-Man's shooting, and the policeman asked her to accompany him to the police station.    She was keenly aware his request was more of a courtesy than anything else as both he and she were keenly aware the invitation was more of a demand than a request.

     The policeman casually lifted her bicycle with one hand and tossed the 10-speed into the trunk of his squad car as she yelled at him to be careful with her ride, her only ride. They climbed into the dusty, dirty, originally white Crown Victoria which carried the scent of French fries and felons: a stale, greasy smell of men who sweated too much, had an aversion to bathing, spit a lot on everything they could reasonably spit onto, and urinated on themselves and their surroundings whenever the mood hit them. She shuddered at the repulsive nature of the malodorous stench.

The policeman and Alice drove out of  the parking lot, not at a hurried pace as she would have believed was protocol, but a casual, leisurely one which should have unnerved her, but strangely enough, didn't.

 She leaned her head back against the padded headrest for a moment, her heavy eyelids settle into a comfortable resting position and thought of nothing.  Not oversleeping this morning, not her cranium meeting furniture, not the unfortunate tango of nail and tire, not Mr. Barrel-Chest playing the role of shooter, not Mr. Thin-Man playing the role of a human fountain.  Nothing.  Sweet nothing.

As the cruiser entered the police station garage filled with its identical brethren of black and white Crown Victoria police cruisers, she was jolted back to reality, a reality she did not wish to, but was forced to, face.  If only she had awakened on time today, the day would not have unfurled in this festivale-de-weirdness she was currently desperately grasping for comprehension.

The End

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