Closing the car door, Sean Dugan chirped the remote, then pocketed his keys. He’d worked late again and was beat. Making his way down the sidewalk he contemplated dinner and a hot shower.
Sean thought he saw movement in the shadows, but the streetlight above him was out and the dark revealed little information. Shrugging it off, he continued toward his apartment.
A flurry of shadows in motion; a man behind him, and a knife at Sean’s throat. “Wallet?” the man ordered.
“Back pocket,” Sean managed, his mind racing. There wasn’t much he could do with a jackknife against his jugular, but maybe, if the man had a moment of weakness . . .
The mugger struggled to pull Sean’s wallet out, finally gave up and released the knife from his neck. He held the blade up though, so Sean could see he meant business.
“Now take out your wallet and hand it to me. Don’t try anything. I mean business.”
You can say that again, Sean thought. He pulled out his brown leather wallet and handed it over. Where’s a cop when you need one, anyway? Sean wondered what he should do next.
The mugger shoved Sean’s wallet into the pocket of his dirty trench coat. Sean finally got a good look at him. He was thirty, maybe. His hair fell in unwashed mats around his face, and his beard was thick. He looked like he’d been living on the streets. Something clenched in Sean’s gut. “Hey, if you need help,” he started, “all you have to do is ask.”
“Not a word,” the man said. His hands were shaking. “This isn’t a game.”
“I know.” Sean wavered in indecision, then took off his watch and handed it over.
His mugger looked confused. His dark gaze flashed from Sean’s outstretched hand to his face, then back again.
“It’s not a trick,” Sean said. “And I know this isn’t a game. This is your life we’re talking about.”
The mugger snatched Sean’s watch out of his hand, buried it in his pocket. Sean noticed how worn his coat was. It had a rip big enough to pass a T-bone steak, and couldn’t possibly keep him warm on the streets at night. The knife was still bared, though wavering uncertainly in the air between them.
Sean backed up a step, his hands spread out before him so he wouldn’t threaten the man. “There’s something you really need.” Sean took off his suede jacket and held it out to him.
Again, the mugger looked from Sean’s hand to his face, cautiously, as if waiting for his deception.
“Go on,” Sean said. “Take it.”
He grabbed the jacket quickly, pulled one arm in over his trench coat. The knife was in the way. He closed it, watching Sean the whole time, then jammed his other arm in the jacket as well.
“If you check the right-hand pocket you’ll find what you need,” Sean said.
The man’s eyes narrowed. He hesitated, then finally reached in and pulled out Sean’s bible. He stood there for the longest time, looking from the bible to Sean’s face and back again.
“Can you read?” Sean ventured.
The man shook his head.
“I’ll read it to you. But first let’s get some coffee.” Sean shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “I’m freezing. You’ll have to pay though, you have all the money.”
He flipped through the bible with clumsy fingers, the closed knife still in one hand. “Coffee,” he repeated.
“Yeah. You won’t get anything stronger out of me, sorry. What’s your name? I’m Sean.”
“Rob,” he said quickly.
“Nice to meet you Rob.” Sean held out his hand.
Rob had the bible in one hand, the knife in the other. It took him a long time--Sean watching with eager anticipation--to make his next move. Finally he pocketed the knife, then reached out to Sean.
“Great,” Sean said, noting how two of Rob’s fingers poked right through the tips of his knitted gloves. “Nothing like making new friends.” Rob pulled away and Sean shoved his hands in his pockets again, shivering. “Now how about that java? Can you spare a couple bucks and buy a friend some coffee? And how about a burger? Come to think of it, I’m starved.”
Together they walked down the street and into the local diner.
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