Life gets real odd now and again. And in my profession, there's a fine line between odd and real odd. Odd is everywhere.
Odd is when a man hides behind a trash can for three hours, spots a pretty girl, and runs into a donut shop. Odd is when a boy sits on a bench, draws gruesome stick figures for half an hour, and then takes a picture of the atm machine. And odd is very often the type of person who hangs out downtown just to feel human.
Real odd, however, is another story. A real long story to be short. But being short is never enough. If I allowed my investigations to be short, I wouldn't be paid such an absurd amount. And really, I can't survive being short. Otherwise this whole fucking thing would be way over my head. Even still, this one has gotten me into something I'd rather leave to the characters of a bad sci-fi chick flick. The details are boiling, but as soon as I let them overflow, they vanish like liquid nitrogen.
But maybe you don't care. Maybe you'd rather live your oblivious life, and be odd like the rest of them. I tell you, it's far easier to make shit up then to sort through it looking for sense. Fuck, half the time I feel like I'm only spreading it around with a stick. I mean, they pay me to be suspicious. They pay me to see the back story to every action whether there is one or not. And that means I act like a tripped out imaginary detective.
Of course, the official title they stamp on my forehead declares that I'm an Observatory Agent and Investigator of Suspicious Behavior. I track and keep tabs on suspicious people in the downtown core. Heck, that's the job description. But I still feel like a creepy stalker. Except of course, I get more creeped out by the people I watch. You'd be sick if I told you some of the shit I've had to watch through a lens.
But let me get to the long story I mentioned. Let me get to the real odd shit.
It was on a Tuesday afternoon that I spotted this kid about eighteen years old. He was loitering around in the square. But not a fancy square with vendors or artwork. This is the place where we make a lot of drug busts. So I was suspicious. At least, I was suspicious enough to sit down with a coffee and keep my eye on the kid.
He wanders, he tries his best to be casual, and he puts on this real confident expression. So I expect to be watching a drug deal. It's pretty obvious. But then I start to notice some odd tendencies.
The kid is noticing every person who walks through the square. I have a sense that can tell me how aware people are. That's how I make sure I'm not picked up on. But this kid is more than paranoid. He's checking every person who walks by. And I mean, he's checking for weapons, ear pieces, badges, and contractible illnesses. He's positively analyzing the risk of every person who enters the square.
I don't how I know this, but he's going to pick up on me if I make a single stiff motion.
Next moment, as I am carefully not looking in his direction, I see a blur out of the corner of my eye. And the kid is running. Sprinting. Fastest bolt I've ever seen. You would have thought he'd just spotted a fucking sniper on the rooftop! I see that his back is turned from me, so I jump up to follow him.
And this is the part that just gets me. I round the corner and am just in time to see the kid jump a car. Yes, that's right. I suppose, he'd decided the cross walk wasn't good enough for him, and those cars, well I mean, you can never trust them to stop fast enough. So he jumped it.
Lucky for me, I can still follow. I just go around the vehicles that have now screeched to a halt. And what do I find? The kid is sitting in a coffee shop. I mean, if he's got that much of an addiction, why doesn't he get a travel mug for fuck's sake?
But he's not buying coffee. No, he's picking up a cell phone. A cell phone that was sitting on the table when he'd arrived. Had he heard it ringing from the square? Or had he suddenly remembered he'd forgotten it, and it was worth his life? Either way, he's happily answering a call while the cars on the road continue on their way.
I sit down at the bus stop and wait. And while I wait, I bemusedly try to calculate the height of that car he'd jumped. I mean, what the fuck? Who jumps a car? I don't think I've even seen James Bond jump a car before. So you gotta realize, I don't have a clue what I'm getting myself into. But it's not going to involve small bags of weed or dirty habits carried out behind a trash can. This is real odd. And that's what frightens me.
I see the kid exit the coffee shop, and I wait a second or two before turning my head. He's carrying a hemp bag. Not a clue where it came from. But before I can check him over for any other changes--I mean, he may have changed into a tuxedo when I wasn't looking--I watch him drop the cell phone into a trash can!
I jog to the trash can as the kid rounds a corner, and I dig it out as quickly as I can. Not taking the time to even look at it, I run to the corner. I can't lose this guy. So what happens? I peek around the corner into the alley, and all I see is a ten foot wall.
No one's there. There are no exits. Nothing. A ten foot wall made of solid brick. A few used condoms. The lid of a trash can. And a battered magazine. Nothing more. No kid.
Now you gotta be wondering right? Cause I sure am. My eyes never left the corner that he'd rounded. Even as I reached into the trash can, I kept my eye on that corner! And then, like I'm not fucking nutso already, the phone rings in my hand!
So I answer it. What else am I going to do? Return it to the trash can, quit my job, and move to Cuba? Nope. I answer. Guess who's on the other side.
I can only guess it was the kid, judging on what he says to me. I almost shit myself.
"Stop following me."