A thief takes on a bad job
Someone’s following me.
No, wait a second.
I noticed it first last Wednesday when I was having my lunch. I always go to this same place, on the corner. I pretty nearly always have the same thing; a cheese salad sandwich, a coffee and an apple. Except when they’re out of cheese salad I might have ham, or something.
So I was sitting there, reading the paper, failing to finish the crossword. I was trying to think of a synonym for impecunious. I happened to glance up - maybe I thought I’d find inspiration in the hoarding across the street – and I saw this car.
I noticed it because I once had a car like it. Same model. Same make. I checked the license and the year was the same. It was a battered blue saloon with mud on the tyres, rust everywhere else. It could have been mine - the owner obviously shared my attitude to vehicular maintenance.
The car was still parked there five hours later, when I walked to the station. As soon as I got close to it the engine started and it drove away. I got home, did all the usual things you do like eating dinner and so on, and went to bed. In the night I was thirsty so I went to get a drink of water. I stared out the kitchen window into the quiet street. I’m on the seventh floor so the view is good - not so low down its blocked by anything, or so high as to turn the street into an anthill. That night, there was nothing to see but a few leaves blowing about and the odd scrap of litter.
Then it drove by. That car. It slowed down, changed into first just as it drew level with my building. It almost stopped. Almost. Soon as it passed the last bit of fence that belonged to my building, the driver floored it.
I didn’t drop the glass. I put it down and went back to bed, but do you think I could sleep?
I imagined it, I said to myself. It’s nothing. Really nothing. I’m being paranoid. Why would anyone follow me? Maybe it isn’t even the same car. It can’t have been. Plenty of people live in the building, and - judging by the things I hear - they all have way more interesting lives than me. Maybe one of them has a stalker, I thought. Maybe one of them is in trouble. Maybe. Maybe.
Why would anyone follow me?
The next day there it was again, that car. I saw it tucked behind a van advertising a dog-washing service.
Why? I mean, why?
I’m such a liar. I know very well why.
It started like this...