take the train

The man had gotten nearly three blocks when he heard the unmistakable CLUMP-CLUMPing of someone running in big rubber boots, and getting closer with each awkward stride.  His night had already been entirely too exciting for him, so he clutched his bag and veered into an alley, out of the reach of the street lights, to wait for the newcomer to pass him by.

This was not to be.

Just as the boot runner was about to pass, a young, waifish girl with long blonde hair turned the corner and almost ran him down.  She hit the brakes and put her hand over her mouth in a vaguely Victorian show of witnessing a dreadful display of poor taste, then giggled, "You would not BELIEVE what I just saw this taxi driver do to these big dudes back there!"

"I should probably keep going."

She deftly assumed Daniel-San's Crane Position and continued explaining as if the man had asked her to go on, "You see, it was like this three-sixty spinning ninja kick to their heads!  It was awesome, man."

"Oh," he said, and then wondered if the angry taxi driver had the motive to track down his missing fare.

"And then he picked up one of the guys, took off his shoe, and clubbed him over the head with it!  His own shoe!  Man, that's a classic.  So, where're you off to this time of night?"

"I really must be going.  I'm sorry, but--"

"Drugs, then?"

"What?" he stopped dead in his tracks.

She shrugged, the little sundress she wore bobbled on her scrawny shoulders.  The man couldn't help but notice the hideous rubber boots which covered her feet: neon green with ugly pink frogs sitting on lily pads.

"You're kind of a shady-looking dude.  I figure you're out here looking to score some crank."

"No!  That's not true at all!"

"Shh, you'll wake the police."

"I--I... I have an appointment to get to."

"Uh-huh.  At twelve-thirty in the morning?  You got an on-call dentist with a drive-up window or something?"

"I'm not shady," he remarked.

"See, I figure... nefarious-looking guy like you, the dead of night.  I mean, it's gotta be drugs, right?"

"No, not at all."

"Booze then?  Did Ronnie and those kids by the park ask you to buy them booze?"

The man hurried his pace as he tried to stretch the distance between him and this annoying succubus-like girl, "I'm just... very late."

"I'll say!  Like twelve hours late."

He stared at her and she stared at him, locking horns of will power in the silence of the empty street.  Finally, the girl shrugged, "I don't even know why I'm talking to you: sketchy old guy like you, virtuous young innocent like me.  I mean, you read about this stuff all the time but you never think it could happen to you.  Right?"

"I'm thirty-four," he said.


"You called me a sketchy old guy, but I'm only thirty-four.  Thirty-four isn't old."

"I also insinuated that you were a pervert, but you haven't denied that yet."

"Why would you think that I am old?"

She eyed him for a moment before continuing, "So being called a creep doesn't bother you, but the age thing does?  Is this some midlife crisis thing?  Are you gonna buy a convertible and start trolling the high school parking lots for girls who make you feel young again?"

"Thirty-four is not middle age!"

"Well, I just thought that you must be old and infirm cuz you wet yourself."

"Oh God," he put his head in his hands and tried to erase this girl from this very moment in his life.  Peeking between his fingers, he noticed a train depot just up the street.  Maybe he could take a train instead of a plane.

The girl stood on her tiptoes and shook her head, "Wow, your hairline is really receding, mister.  Do you wear adult diapers?  Cuz there's a Walgreen's just around the corner; I could get you some, if you'd like."

"I am late for a train," he grumbled.

The End

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