Two

   He turned left on Upton and stopped to pluck a cell phone out of the trash receptacle under the street light at Union Street.  As he examined the seemingly undamaged Samsung, a reflection in the hardware store window caught his eye.

   Across the street, two blurry youths in hoodies shambled almost out of view, then abruptly turned and walked slowly back. They stopped and stood under an awning, swivelling their heads to look up and down the street.

   Dingus MacPherson sighed. He crossed the street in five giant strides, paused to peer quickly into a 2009 Lexus, then needed only two more strides to enter La Marseilles, Cuisine Francais.

   "Monsieur, have you a reservashon?" asked a tuxedo'ed host, rolling both his R's and eyes.

   Rudely ignoring him, Dingus scanned the candelit restaurant and walked quickly towards a middle-aged woman sitting by the fireplace.

   "Madame," he said, "Forgive the interruption. Your car is about to be stolen."

   The woman held her martini glass to her lips.

   "And who are you?" she asked quietly.

   "Dingus MacPherson, at your service," he answered, doffing his soggy bowler and bowing slightly. "But, if I may, Ma'am, gaining my name while losing your car is an imbalanced equation."

    The stern host and a waiter were hustling to the table.

    "Zees man is a bother to you, yes?" announced the host.

    "No, Gaston," said the woman, sipping imperceptibly from her glass before placing it delicately on the table. "But please go out and see to my car. It's the grey Lexus parked illegally directly in front. Go now please. Quickly."

    With subdued snorts, the two turned and made for the door.

    "Please sit, Mr. MacPherson," said the lady. "You will share a small drink with me, won't you?"

    Another waiter materialized, and Dingus folded his frame into the proferred chair.

    "I do not know you," she offered. He shook his head.

    "And yet you knew that a certain car belonged to me," she continued, looking steadily into his blue-green eyes.

    A car alarm and muffled shouts from outside brought the dim restaurant chatter to a momentary halt. The woman cocked her head and smiled faintly.

    "Aside from the precognition that my car was about to be hijacked, how exactly did you know that I was the owner?" she asked.

    The waiter drifted in with another martini.

    Dingus MacPherson sniffed it slowly. He raised his glass to the woman.

    "It is, Madame, a question well warranted. The answer, I fear, is very much complicated."

         

The End

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